President Nicolas Maduro accuses the international media of distorting the situation in Venezuela, making it seem it is on the verge of civil war
12:28PM GMT 22 Feb 2014
Anti-government protests continued in several parts of Venezuela on Friday.
Protesters returned to the streets in the capital, Caracas, and the states of Carabobo, Zulia and Tachira, demonstrating against shortages of basic goods, high inflation and high crime levels.
Protesters set makeshift barricades on fire and banged pans and pots to show their frustration at the unravelling situation.
Public transportation has yet to be restored, many stoplights are out and students are gearing up for what they promise will be an extended fight.
"We are (protesting) because we're demanding rights here in Venezuela. We cannot continue with this corrupt government, we are now allowed to do anything, there is no freedom of expression, students are mistreated," said medical student Jose Bandares, who was demonstrating in the streets of Valencia in Carabobo state.
President Nicolas Maduro blamed the international media for distorting the situation in the country and making it seem like it was on the verge of civil war.
"You all," he told reporters at a news conference in Caracas on Friday evening, "with your broadcasts to the world, the international media have filled thousands of people with hate, desperation and fear, a dangerous mixture."
BY ALICIA A. CALDWELL, ELLIOT SPAGAT AND MARK STEVENSON
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexican authorities captured the world's most powerful drug lord in a resort city Saturday after a massive search through the home state of the legendary capo whose global organization is the leading supplier of cocaine to the United States.
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, 56, looked pudgy, bowed and much like his wanted photos when he arrived in Mexico City from Mazatlan in Sinaloa state. He was marched by masked marines across the airport tarmac to a helicopter waiting to whisk him to jail.
Marines arrested Guzman at 6:40 a.m. in a high-rise condominium fronting the Pacific without firing a single shot. Mexican officials late Saturday said he was apprehended with a man identified as Carlos Manuel Hoo Ramirez, contradicting earlier reports that he was arrested with a woman.
An American official said that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Marshals Service were "heavily involved" in the capture.
Another federal law enforcement official said intelligence from a Homeland Security Department investigation also helped lead U.S. and Mexican authorities to his whereabouts.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the capture a "victory for the citizens of both Mexico and the United States."
Mexican authorities, based on a series of arrests in recent months, got wind that Guzman was moving around Culiacan, capital of his home state for which the cartel is named.
Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam described an operation that took place between Feb. 13 and 17 focused on seven homes connected by tunnels and to the city's sewer system.
He said they had Guzman in their sights several times during that period but were unable to mount an operation earlier because of possible risks to the general public. The house doors were reinforced with steel, which delayed entry by law enforcement, presumably allowing Guzman to flee several attempts at his capture before Saturday.
A U.S. law enforcement official said members of Guzman's security team helped Mexican and U.S. authorities find him after they were arrested earlier this month. The official was not authorized to discuss details of the case by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the U.S. and is on the DEA's most-wanted list. His drug empire stretches throughout North America and reaches as far away as Europe and Australia. His cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war that has torn through parts of Mexico for the last several years.
His arrest followed the takedown of several top Sinaloa operatives in the last few months and at least 10 mid-level cartel members in the last week.
Michael S. Vigil, a former senior DEA official who was briefed on the operation, said the Mexican navy raided the Culiacan house of Guzman's ex-wife, Griselda Lopez, earlier this week and found a cache of weapons and a tunnel in one of the rooms that led to the city's sewer system, leading authorities to believe Guzman barely escaped, Vigil said.
As more people were arrested, more homes were raided.
"It became like a nuclear explosion where the mushroom started to expand throughout the city of Culiacan," Vigil said.
Authorities learned that Guzman fled to nearby Mazatlan. He was arrested at the Miramar condominiums, a 10-story, pearl-colored building with white balconies overlooking the Pacific and a small pool in front. The building is one of dozens of relatively modest, upper-middle-class developments on the Mazatlan coastal promenade.
"He got tired of living up in the mountains and not being able to enjoy the comforts of his wealth. He became complacent and starting coming into the city of Culiacan and Mazatlan. That was a fatal error," said Vigil.
Vigil said Mexico may decide to extradite Guzman to the U.S. to avoid any possibility that he escapes from prison again, as he did in 2001 in a laundry truck - a feat that fed his larger-than-life persona.
"It would be a massive black eye on the (Mexican) government if he is able to escape again. That's the only reason they would turn him over," Vigil said.
Because insiders aided his escape, rumors circulated for years that he was helped and protected by former President Felipe Calderon's government, which vanquished some of his top rivals.
In the bilateral assault on organized crime and Mexican drug cartels, Sinaloa had not only been relatively unscathed, but has seen its enemies go down at the hands of the government.
Aggressive assaults by the Mexican military and federal police have all but dismantled the leadership of the Beltran Leyva and Zetas cartels, both huge rivals of Sinaloa, as well as the La Linea gang fighting Sinaloa for control of the border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Calderon congratulated Pena Nieto on the capture Saturday via his Twitter account. Many also noted the huge boost that capture gave to the credibility of the Pena Nieto government, whose commitment to fighting organized crime has been questioned since he took office in late 2012.
But there were rumors circulating for months that a major operation was underway to take down the Sinaloa cartel.
Zambada's son was arrested in November after entering Arizona, where he had an appointment with U.S. immigration authorities to arrange legal status for his wife.
The following month, Zambada's main lieutenant was killed as Mexican helicopter gunships sprayed bullets at his mansion in the Gulf of California resort of Puerto Penasco in a four-hour gunbattle. Days later, police in the Netherlands arrested a flamboyant top enforcer for Zambada as he arrived in Amsterdam.
But experts predict that as long as Guzman's partner, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada is at large, the cartel will continue business as usual.
Amazon.com is testing delivering packages using drones, CEO Jeff Bezos said on the CBS TV news show 60 Minutes Sunday.
The idea would be to deliver packages as quickly as possible using the small, unmanned aircraft, through a service the company is calling Prime Air, the CEO said.
Bezos played a demo video on 60 Minutes that showed how the aircraft, also known as octocopters, will pick up packages in small yellow buckets at Amazon's fulfillment centers and fly through the air to deliver items to customers after they hit the buy button online at Amazon.com.
The goal of the new delivery system is to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less, the world's largest Internet retailer said. Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take "some number of years" as Amazon develops the technology further and waits for the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with rules and regulations, the company added.
Bezos told 60 Minutes that the service could be up and running in as few as four years — although he noted that he is an optimist when it comes to such things.
"One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today," the company said.
This is the latest futuristic effort by Bezos, who was an e-commerce pioneer in the 1990s and more recently popularized the e-reader — while pursuing personal projects such as private spaceflight and a 10,000-year clock built inside a mountain.
By Alec Torres
October 21, 2013 9:56 AM
Consumer Reports, which publishes reviews of consumer products and services,advised its readers to avoid the federal healthcare exchange “for at least another month if you can.” “Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they’ve made,” the magazine said, having tested the site themselves over the course of the past three weeks.
Noting that only 271,000 of the 9.47 million people who tried signing up in the first week managed to create an account, Consumer Reports then provided a few tips to those attempting to slog through the application process. From attempting successive logins because “error messages … may not always match reality” to checking your inbox frequently because if you miss an e-mail you’ll be timed out of the site and forced to start from square one, none of the suggestions guaranteed success.
The magazine has also released a string of scathing reviews. On October 1, the day the Obamacare exchanges went online, the magazine told people to be patient: “Don’t worry if you can’t sign up today or even within the next couple of weeks.” A week into enrollment, they urged again to “wait a couple weeks and hope that the site irons out its many problems” because the HealthCare.gov is “barely operational.”
As the editors continued to review the website over the next few days, they only had one positive statement: “On the plus side,” they noted, “consumers coming to HealthCare.gov are no longer stopped cold by an error message or a screen saying they’ve been put in a waiting line.”
Now three weeks into the exchanges, having offered reviews and advice, Consumer Reports said that “If all [these suggestions] are too much to absorb, follow our previous advice: Stay away from Healthcare.gov,” at least for the time being.
Via Washington Times.
By Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller, Published: September 24
The U.S. military has been forced to relocate a large fleet of drones from a key counterterrorism base on the Horn of Africa after a string of crashes fanned local fears that the unmanned aircraft were at risk of colliding with passenger planes, according to documents and interviews.
Air Force drones ceased flying this month from Camp Lemonnier, a U.S. installation in Djibouti, after local officials expressed alarm about several drone accidents and mishaps in recent years. The base serves as the combat hub for counterterrorism operations in Yemen and Somalia, playing a critical role in U.S. operations against al-Shabab, the Somali Islamist militia that has asserted responsibility for the Nairobi shopping mall attack, which killed more than 60 people.
The Pentagon has temporarily moved the unmanned aircraft from the U.S. base in Djibouti’s capital to a makeshift airstrip in a more remote part of the country. U.S. military officials said the disruption has not affected their overall ability to launch drone strikes in the region, but they declined to say whether it has forced them to curtail the frequency of drone missions or hindered their surveillance of al-Shabab camps and fighters.
The Djiboutian government’s growing unease over drone flights casts doubt on its commitment to host the aircraft over the long term. It is unclear whether the temporary drone base can be transformed into a permanent home or whether the U.S. military will have to hunt for another site in the region, according to previously undisclosed correspondence between the Defense Department and Congress.
(Reuters) - The FBI released surveillance video and photos of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis on Wednesday and said he believed electromagnetic waves were controlling him for months
There are no signs that Alexis, 34, was targeting anybody in the September 16 shooting at the Navy Yard in southeast Washington, said Valerie Parlave, the FBI assistant director in charge of the Washington field office.
"We have found relevant communications on his electronic media which referenced the delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by extremely low frequency electromagnetic waves for the past three months," Parlave told a news conference.
Surveillance video released by the FBI showed Alexis driving into a Navy Yard parking garage in a rented blue Toyota Prius shortly before 8 a.m. Carrying a backpack, he then entered the Naval Sea Systems Command building, site of the shootings, through a door.
The brief video also shows Alexis, armed with a Remington shotgun and dressed in dark clothing, walking down a stairway and corridors in a crouch with the weapon held at the ready.
People can be glimpsed at the end of one corridor. At one point, he aims the shotgun into a room but does not fire.
Parlave said Alexis, a government technology contractor, had been armed with the shotgun, which had a sawed-off barrel and stock, and a pistol he obtained during the shooting.
"MY ELF WEAPON"
(Reuters) - Hours after U.S. President Barack Obama was re-elected, the United States backed a U.N. committee's call on Wednesday to renew debate over a draft international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global conventional arms trade.
U.N. delegates and gun control activists have complained that talks collapsed in July largely because Obama feared attacks from Republican rival Mitt Romney if his administration was seen as supporting the pact, a charge Washington denies.
The month-long talks at U.N. headquarters broke off after the United States - along with Russia and other major arms producers - said it had problems with the draft treaty and asked for more time.
But the U.N. General Assembly's disarmament committee moved quickly after Obama's win to approve a resolution calling for a new round of talks March 18-28. It passed with 157 votes in favor, none against and 18 abstentions.
U.N. diplomats said the vote had been expected before Tuesday's U.S. presidential election but was delayed due to Superstorm Sandy, which caused a three-day closure of the United Nations last week.
An official at the U.S. mission said Washington's objectives have not changed.
"We seek a treaty that contributes to international security by fighting illicit arms trafficking and proliferation, protects the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade, and meets the concerns that we have been articulating throughout," the official said.
"We will not accept any treaty that infringes on the constitutional rights of our citizens to bear arms," he said.
U.S. officials have acknowledged privately that the treaty under discussion would have no effect on domestic gun sales and ownership because it would apply only to exports.
The main reason the arms trade talks are taking place at all is that the United States - the world's biggest arms trader accounting for more than 40 percent of global conventional arms transfers - reversed U.S. policy on the issue after Obama was first elected and decided in 2009 to support a treaty.
'MONTHS AWAY' FROM DEAL?
Countries that abstained included Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Belarus, Cuba and Iran. China, a major arms producer that has traditionally abstained, voted in favor.
Among the top six arms-exporting nations, Russia cast the only abstention. Britain, France and Germany joined China and the United States in support of the resolution.
The measure now goes to the 193-nation General Assembly for a formal vote. It is expected to pass.
The resolution said countries are "determined to build on the progress made to date towards the adoption of a strong, balanced and effective Arms Trade Treaty."
Jeff Abramson, director of Control Arms, a coalition of advocacy groups, urged states to agree on stringent provisions.
"In Syria, we have seen the death toll rise well over 30,000, with weapons and ammunition pouring in the country for months now," he said. "We need a treaty that will set tough rules to control the arms trade, that will save lives and truly make the world a better place."
Brian Wood of Amnesty International said: "After today's resounding vote, if the larger arms trading countries show real political will in the negotiations, we're only months away from securing a new global deal that has the potential to stop weapons reaching those who seriously abuse human rights."
The treaty would require states to make respecting human rights a criterion for allowing arms exports.
Britain's U.N. mission said on its Twitter feed it hoped that the March negotiations would yield the final text of a treaty. Such a pact would then need to be ratified by the individual signatories before it could enter into force.
The National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. interest group, strongly opposes the arms treaty and had endorsed Romney.
The United States has denied it sought to delay negotiations for political reasons, saying it had genuine problems with the draft as written.
(Editing by Xavier Briand)
Source: Megahan Neal/ New York Daily News