Thursday, January 17, 2019

Islamic imperialism expands in the sword

Kirk Woodman: Canadian mine worker killed in Burkina Faso

Kirk WoodmanImage copyrightLINKEDIN
A Canadian mining worker kidnapped earlier this week in the West African nation of Burkina Faso has been killed, Canadian officials confirm. 
Kirk Woodman was abducted by gunmen on Tuesday night from a mine near the country's border with Niger. 
Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland condemned those responsible "for this terrible crime". 
Mr Woodman, a geologist, was the second Canadian to go missing in Burkina Faso in recent weeks. 
Ms Freeland said that Canada is working with the Burkina Faso government and other international partners "to pursue those responsible and bring them to justice. The government's priority is the safety and security of Canadians". 
So far, little is known about the circumstances around his kidnapping and death and no group has taken responsibility. 
Islamist militants have established a presence in northern Burkina Faso in recent years, carrying out attacks in the region and far beyond.
The country recently declared a state of emergency in some of its northern provinces.
A recent photo of Luca Tacchetto (left) and Edith BlaisImage copyrightFACEBOOK
Image captionA recent photo of Luca Tacchetto (left) and Edith Blais
Burkina Faso's Foreign Ministry released a statement on Thursday saying an investigation had been opened into Mr Woodman's death and that all measures are being taken to find those responsible. 
It said the body of the Canadian geologist was found on Wednesday near the country's borders with Mali and Niger in Gorom Gorom. 
A spokesman for Burkina Faso's security ministry told AFP that Mr Woodman was found dead of gunshot wounds. 
A pair of aid workers also went missing in Burkina Faso last month.
Canadian officials have told media they are treating the disappearance of Canadian Edith Blais, 34, and Italian Luca Tacchetto, 30, as a kidnapping.
The two were last heard from on 15 December in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in south-western Burkina Faso. Family members say the pair were supposed to travel to neighbouring Togo together for a humanitarian aid mission, but never arrived.
Canada warns its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Burkina Faso due to the threat of terrorism, and to avoid travel completely in northern Burkina Faso up to the Mali and Niger border "due to the threat of banditry and kidnapping".

Oxfam told to do more to tackle sexual misconduct and abuse

Oxfam told to do more to tackle sexual misconduct and abuse

by Sonia Elks | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 17 January 2019 13:19 GMT

LONDON, Jan 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Bullying and elitism within global aid charity Oxfam have created "toxic" work environments and enabled sexual harassment by staff, an independent commission has found.
Many workers said they had faced entrenched elitism, sexism and racism, while problem staff members were often not held accountable for their actions, found the interim report released this week.
"There is still a lot to do in terms of building trust within the organisation," Shannon Mouillesseaux, one of the commissioners, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Oxfam said it was making changes to clamp down on misconduct and would act on the report's recommendations.
"It is painfully clear that Oxfam is not immune from sexual and other forms of abuse that stem from the abuse of power," Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam's international executive director, said in a statement.
"To those who have experienced such unacceptable behaviour: we are sorry, I am sorry, and we will follow up on any cases passed to us by the Commission as a matter of urgency."
Oxfam was embroiled in a scandal when it emerged last February that its staff used prostitutes during a relief mission in Haiti, sparking a wider scandal over sexual harassment and abuse in the charity sector.
It appointed the independent commission to review the charity's practices and culture in response to the Haiti revelations and is also conducting its own action plan to improve its culture and safeguarding.
The commission said Oxfam was not the only charity to face issues over sexual harassment and other misconduct, but its investigation had revealed significant problems remained.
Workers described elitist behaviour and bullying in many offices, while "drastic inconsistencies" in handling safeguarding issues meant complaints were not always properly acted on, it said.
Former victims and whistleblowers said they had faced a lack of accountability when raising complaints, with some saying they had been effectively pushed out of the organisation.
The commission said work was needed to build trust with staff and recommended changes including action to create a single unified safeguarding system and to diversify the charity's leadership.
Sexual misconduct claims at Oxfam have sharply risen since the Haiti scandal, reaching 155 in the 2017-18 financial year compared to 87 in the year previously.
(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

Coming to a California highway...

Mexico City (AFP) - The speeding cars pull alongside a semi-truck, box it in and force it to a halt. Then the robbers, firing AK-47s, hijack its cargo and make their getaway.
It seems like something out of Hollywood, but it is happening on a daily basis on Mexico's highways.
And the mounting dangers on the road have fueled a booming new business as the trucking industry seeks to fight back: welcome to the world of armored and bullet-proof tractor trailers.
Jorge Coronel is one of those trying to stop these highway robberies, which have more than doubled in Mexico since 2015 to more than 30 a day, according to figures from the trucking industry and the government.
Coronel runs a company that specializes in transporting high-value cargo such as electronics, appliances, pharmaceuticals and luxury clothes.
Many insurance companies operating in Mexico will no longer protect such shipments unless they are transported in vehicles capable of withstanding assault-rifle fire.
"It's a growing niche," Coronel told AFP.
"It's expensive. It's very expensive. But insurance companies are demanding armored equipment for shipments worth more than a certain amount."
- 'Hand over your cargo' -
Mexico is caught in the seemingly never-ending spiral of violent crime driven by its powerful drug cartels and other organized gangs.
First, the criminals branched out into fuel theft, which has cost state oil company Pemex billions of dollars.
Now, they are plaguing the country's highways.
Mexican police received 11,425 reports of armed robberies of cargo vehicles in 2017 -- or an average of more than 31 a day.
In 2018, there were 11,062 reports from January to November -- 33 a day.
To defend against the scourge, armored truck companies are coating tractor trailers in steel and putting bullet-proof glass in the windows.
It costs around 550,000 pesos ($27,000) to equip a semi-truck to withstand AK-47 fire.
But for many shipping companies, there is little choice. A single high-value shipment can be worth nearly half a million dollars.
The trucking industry estimates it is losing $4.6 billion a year because of violent crime.
Coronel has experienced the consequences firsthand.
In 2017, one of his company's trucks was transporting a load of clothing when it lost contact with its escort near Ecatepec, in a dangerous area outside Mexico City.
His team used remote-control technology to bring the semi to a stop. As the robbers threatened the driver, the client shipping the merchandise decided to take no chances.
The client told him to "hand over the cargo and not put the driver at risk," he said.
Attacks are getting more sophisticated, and also more violent, according to Daniel Portugal, who runs armoring company Diamond Glass.
"These days, they use cars in front to block the road, and then they pull up on both sides. They don't even try to damage the semi-truck, they go straight for the driver," he said.
- Trust the truck -
An industry that once focused mostly on armored trucks and VIP cars has had to adapt to new demand for the bullet-proof semis.
For Esteban Hernandez, head of the Mexican Association of Armored Automakers, the industry is locked in a technological race with the criminals.
"The trucks have GPS devices that send their location in case of an unplanned stop, but the criminals have their own devices to jam the GPS," Hernandez told AFP.
"Their modus operandi is to climb the steps and enter the truck, so we developed a mechanism to retract the steps inside the vehicle when the driver isn't using them."
Mexican trucking firms spend an estimated six percent of their revenues on security, versus about 0.5 percent worldwide, according to industry figures.
Companies are increasingly telling their drivers that they are safer inside their trucks in the event of a robbery.
"We give them training so they'll trust the truck. The most important thing is not to get out of the vehicle," said Rigoberto Sierra, of Diamond Glass.
"If you're inside the truck and it gets hit by a bullet, you might have your doubts. But we need our drivers to hold on tight and say, 'I'm not budging.'"

Democrats should be held responsible for creating the deadly attraction

The remains of 127 dead migrants were recovered in southern Arizona in 2018

On the weekend before Christmas, a group of volunteers set out to search for the remains of dead migrants on the Barry Goldwater Air Force Range, a remote desert area in southwestern Arizona where military jets from bases in Arizona conduct live bombing exercises.
The volunteers from the non-profit group Aguilas del Desierto recovered the skeletal remains of eight migrants in two days. 
The San Diego-based group posted pictures of some of the remains it recovered near Ajo on its Facebook page, including a skull, a jaw and a set of leg bones, bleached white by the sun. 
The photos were reminders that high numbers of migrants continue to die annually in southern Arizona after crossing the border illegally, as increased border security over the years has pushed some migrants to take more treacherous treks to avoid being caught by the Border Patrol.
In 2018, the remains of 127 dead migrants were recovered in southern Arizona, the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office said.
The office conducts autopsies on the remains of migrants found in Pima, Cochise and Santa Cruz counties, where the majority of migrants die.
The 127 remains recovered in 2018 were slightly below the 128 remains recovered the previous year, Medical Examiner's Office data show.
Over the past two years, the number of migrants recovered in southern Arizona has dipped to some of the lowest levels in recent years. In 2010, the number of migrant deaths recorded by the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office peaked at 222.
Although the number of remains recovered dipped in 2018, "we are not down to where we were," said Gregory Hess, Pima County's chief medical examiner.

Deaths in desert went up after 2000

A USA TODAY Network investigation finds the number of migrants who died crossing the U.S. border with Mexico since 2010 is higher than what federal officials have reported. A USA TODAY NETWORK video production.
Before 2000, the remains of fewer than five migrants were found each year, the Arizona OpenGIS Initiative for Deceased Migrants shows. 
In 2000, just one was found. In 2001, the number soared to 79 and then to 151 the year after that. The number of annual migrant deaths since then has remained well above 100, according to Humane Borders, a Tucson-based group that compiles data and logs it on the OpenGIS website
From 2001 through 2018, the remains of at least 3,011 dead migrants have been recovered in southern Arizona, according to the Humane Borders website.
Migrant deaths have remained high despite a sharp decrease in the overall number of migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol, which in fiscal year 2018 totaled just less than 400,000, down from 1.6 million in 2000, when Border Patrol apprehensions peaked. 
Of the 127 remains turned over to the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office in 2018, 91 remain unidentified, and 36 have been identified, according to The Arizona Republic's analysis of data provided by the office.
Ninety-seven of the 127 remains have been identified as male, and 10 as female, the analysis showed. The gender of the remaining 20 had not been determined, the data show.
Of the 127, 86 remains found in 2018 were skeletal or partially skeletal, with the cause of death unknown, the data show. Another 25 migrants died of probable hyperthermia, the data indicated. Hyperthermia is when the human body becomes too hot. 

Group looks for remains once a month

Aguilas Del Desierto conducts searches about once a month on federal lands in southwestern Arizona, including the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, said Vicente Ruben Rodriguez, a volunteer spokesman for the group.
The searches are usually conducted after the group receives information from family members about migrants who have gone missing after trying to enter the United States illegally by crossing through the desert. 
"Sometimes we find nothing," he said.
In December, the group received the military's permission to search the bombing range, he said. About 30 volunteers participated in the search, aided by a dog trained to sniff out cadavers, he said.  
The group also has found high numbers of remains on several other recent searches on the bombing range.
The high numbers of remains found on the bombing range during recent searches suggest the area has been a well-traveled corridor for migrants despite the dangers, and has not been effectively searched in the past, he said. 
But it's difficult to tell how popular the range remains because several of the skeletons discovered appeared to be several years old, he said.

The fight for privacy

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the FTC should let people track and delete their data 'on demand'

  • Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission should form what he called a "data-broker clearinghouse."
  • He says he and others are calling on U.S. Congress to pass "comprehensive federal privacy legislation."
  • Cook has been increasingly calling for new U.S. regulations to help boost user privacy and data protection.