Jul 012015

One confidential intelligence document obtained by CNN links Venezuela’s new Vice President Tareck El Aissami to 173 Venezuelan passports and ID’s that were issued to individuals from the Middle East, including people connected to the terrorist group Hezbollah.
    The accusation that the country was issuing passports to people who are not Venezuelan first surfaced in the early 2000s when Hugo Chavez was the country’s president, interviews and records show.
    A Venezuelan passport permits entry into more than 130 countries without a visa, including 26 countries in the European Union, according to a ranking by Henley and Partners. A visa is required to enter the United States.
    Over the course of the CNN investigation, Lopez provided documents that show he repeatedly told Venezuelan officials about what he discovered. But he said instead of investigating his allegations, the government targeted him for disclosing confidential information. U.S. officials were also made aware of his findings.
    “You cannot be a cop, and a thief at the same time,” Lopez said. “I decide to be a cop and do the right thing.”
    Doing the right thing has cost him.

    Unwelcome surprise

    It didn’t start out that way.
    Lopez, a lawyer who worked as a police officer in Venezuela, said he thought becoming a diplomat was a great career opportunity, which would also allow him to serve his country. With that in mind, he moved to Baghdad to start his new life at the Venezuelan Embassy.
    Jonathan Velasco

    But, he recalled, he got an unwelcome surprise on his first day in July 2013.
    His new boss, Venezuelan Ambassador Jonathan Velasco, gave him a special envelope, he said.
    “He gave me an envelope full of visas and passports,” Lopez recalled. “He told me, ‘Get this, this is one million U.S. dollars.’ I thought it was like a joke. Then he told me here people pay a lot of money to get a visa or a passport to leave this country.”
    About one month later, Lopez said he realized it was no joke.
      An Iraqi employee of the embassy, who was hired to be an interpreter, told him she had made thousands of dollars selling Venezuelan passports and visas, he said. And he could make a lot of money, too.
      But Lopez said he told her it was wrong and he refused.
      The employee pressed the issue, telling him there were thousands of dollars to be made, he said, even discussing an offer to sell visas to 13 Syrians for $10,000 each.
      And, Lopez, said, she told him he could get a cut of the money, too.
      Again, he said he refused.
      “I suspect it might be terrorists; that’s why I reject, of course, immediately,” Lopez said.
      And he said it just got worse.

      Lists of names

      Lopez said he was stunned when he found a document inside the embassy. It was a list of 21 Arabic names with corresponding Venezuelan passport numbers and Venezuelan identification numbers. A Venezuelan immigration official told CNN that a cross-check of the passport numbers indicated that the passports are valid and match the names on the list Lopez found — meaning the people on the list could be able to travel using those passports.
      But incredibly, a publicly available database in Venezuela examined by CNN shows 20 of the 21 identification numbers are registered to people with Hispanic names — not the Arabic names listed on the passports.
      Lopez kept investigating what was going on inside the embassy. He said he even found the case of a convicted drug dealer with an Iraqi identification certificate that appears to show he was born in Iraq. But the man had a Venezuelan passport that said he was born in Venezuela.
        He kept evidence and notes of what he found.
        Concerned that the passport and visa scheme was continuing without his knowledge, Lopez investigated the embassy employee who he said had offered to sell passports. He took photos of her desk where he says he found the embassy’s official stamp, used to authenticate visas, as well as sheets of papers printed with the Venezuelan government seal.
        He eventually fired the employee. Lopez did not have any other documents that would confirm the allegations against her.
        The employee did not respond to repeated requests from CNN for comment.
        In April 2014, only nine months after he started the job, he emailed a report to Ambassador Velasco about the alleged selling of passports and visas. By then, he said he was convinced that Velasco knew about what was going on inside the embassy.
        Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez

        “He’s been there since 2008,” Lopez said. “How could he (have) been there so long, couldn’t notice that?”
        He said Velasco did nothing and even threatened to fire him.
        By 2015, frustrated that no one would investigate, he took what he found to Delcy Rodriguez, Venezuela’s foreign minister. His emailed report said there was “fraudulent issuing of visas, birth certificates and Venezuelan documents.”
        He said nothing happened.

        Going to the FBI

        Eventually, with nowhere else to turn, Lopez contacted an FBI official at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. The two met at a restaurant across the street from the embassy, and the official sent Lopez’s information to FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., a law enforcement source said. The FBI would not comment about what happened with the information.
        For Lopez, it was his final attempt to get something done.
          But it was too late.
          By the end of 2015, the Venezuelan government accused Lopez of “abandoning his post” and removed him. A police official showed up at his home in Venezuela with a document that said he was under investigation for revealing “confidential documents or secrets.”

          Looking for answers

          In an email, Velasco strongly denied Lopez’s allegations.
          “This embassy is ready open to be audit [sic] and investigated for any international organization and intelligent [sic] Services as well, I don’t have nothing to hide or fear. I be sure [sic] that under my duties this embassy don’t never [sic] and ever sell Venezuelan nationalities, this will be a joke for all the international security organization [sic] and we already cooperate with the (Iraqi) government and international intelligent [sic] service,” the email read in English.
          In an attempt to get answers, a team from CNN en Español traveled to Caracas last June. In a letter, the government restricted CNN’s coverage to stories related to tourism, weather, alternative energy sources and relations among the different government institutions in Venezuela.
          Rodriguez, the foreign minister, ignored reporter Rafael Romo when he tried to question her at a press event.
          A government official told the CNN en Español team that any questions about the passport allegations would be grounds for expulsion from the country.
          On a second visit to Caracas last August, a CNN en Español producer and videographer were forced to leave the country after Venezuelan authorities impounded CNN camera equipment at the airport.
          Last September, Rodriguez represented Venezuela at the United Nations General Assembly. Inside the UN, she again ignored CNN’s attempt to ask her questions.
          Finally, CNN was able to speak with her as she was walking with a small group on the sidewalk across from the UN. As she walked away from the crews, she said, “You’re going to hurt yourself for following the lies of a person who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” She said allegations of selling passports and visas were “totally” false.
          But it’s not the first time allegations about Venezuelan passports have been made public.

          Links to terror

          U.S. lawmakers heard reports about Venezuelan passport fraud during congressional hearings as far back as 2006. In fact, a congressional report warned, “Venezuela is providing support, including identity documents that could prove useful to radical Islamic groups.”
          And a state department report at the time also concluded that “Venezuelan travel and identification documents are extremely easy to obtain by persons not entitled to them.”
          Roger Noriega

          Roger Noriega, the former US ambassador to the Organization of American States and former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said in prepared remarks before a congressional in 2012 that “Venezuela has provided thousands of phony IDs, passports and visas to persons of Middle Eastern origin.”
          Noreiga, who is now managing director of Vision Americas and works for a conservative think tank, told CNN that evidence began to emerge in 2003 in Venezuela that passports were being issued to non-Venezuelans.
          “I absolutely believe, and I state it so publicly, that if we do not get our arms around this problem, people are going to die, either our allies or our own personnel or facilities are going to be attacked by networks abetted by the Venezuelans,” Noriega said.
          The U.S. State Department declined CNN’s request late last year for an interview, instead emailing a link to its 2015 country terrorism overview. That report concluded, “There were credible reports that Venezuela maintained a permissive environment that allowed for support of activities that benefited known terrorist groups.”
          A 2013 confidential intelligence report from a group of Latin American countries obtained by CNN says that from 2008 to 2012, 173 individuals from the Middle East were issued Venezuelan passports and IDs. Among them were people connected to the terrorist group Hezbollah.
          Tareck El Aissami

          The official who ordered the issuing of the passports, the report said, is Tareck El Aissami, who was appointed vice president of Venezuela in January. He is the former minister in charge of immigration as well as a governor.
          El Aissami “took charge of issuing, granting visas and nationalizing citizens from different countries, especially Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Iranians and Iraqis,” the report said.
          He did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
          Ghazi Nasr Al-Din

          Another high-profile Venezuelan linked to terrorism is Ghazi Nasr Al-Din, a former Venezuelan diplomat who worked in the country’s embassy in Syria. He is “wanted for questioning” by the FBI for “his fundraising efforts” with Hezbollah contributors, according to a notice on the FBI website. The bureau confirmed that the information was still active, but would not comment further.
          U.S. officials say he has “facilitated the travel” of Hezbollah members to and from Venezuela, according to a 2008 press release from the U.S. Treasury Department.

          Leaks in the process

          What allegedly happened in Iraq is no surprise to General Marco Ferreira, who was in charge of Venezuela’s immigration office in 2002.
          Today, Ferreira is living in Miami after being granted political asylum after he supported a 2002 failed coup against Venezuela’s then-President Hugo Chavez. He told CNN that he personally witnessed corrupt senior officials ordering passports for people who were not citizens when he was running the department. He added anyone could get a passport at a local office because each worked independently.
          Marco Ferreira

          He said it was “very easy” to assume someone else’s identity.
          “One of the problems was the corrupted people that was working in that place,” Ferreira said. “The second one was the fragility of the system because everything was very old and they have a lot of leaks in the process.”
          He said it was “very, very easy to go and be Venezuelan, or pretend being born in Venezuela.”
          Asked about what Misael Lopez described as the alleged passport and visa-selling operation at the Venezuelan Embassy in Iraq, he said he was not surprised.
          As for Misael Lopez, he’s living modestly in Spain, where he also has citizenship; he knows he can’t go back to Venezuela.
          With his safety always an issue, he still says he had to tell his story. And going public, he hopes, will help protect him and his family.
          “I did the right thing and I’m proud it,” he said. “No regrets at all.”



           Posted by at 9:00 am  Tagged with:
          Jul 012015

          Roger Noriega served as US ambassador to the Organization of American States between 2001 and 2003 and soon after was appointed assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs until 2005. He has been a strong critic of the Venezuelan government, denouncing the alleged proximity of former President Hugo Chavez to radical Islamic groups. Noriega now works for the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute and is also managing director of Vision Americas. He has testified before Congress about passports and other security threats connected to Venezuela.

          Marco Ferreira

          Marco Ferreira is a retired Brigadier General of the Venezuelan National Guard who headed Venezuela’s Department of Identification and Immigration between 2001 and 2002. He left the position after supporting a military coup against then-President Hugo Chávez. Ferreira told CNN that while running the country’s immigration office, he discovered countless irregularities in the identification system, including cases of suspected drug traffickers and terrorist groups with multiple Venezuelan passports and identification cards.

          Tareck El Aissami

          Tareck El Aissami is the vice president of Venezuela and the former minister in charge of immigration. He has been identified in congressional testimony for allegedly collaborating with terrorist groups in the Middle East. An intelligence report from a group of Latin American countries obtained by CNN says he used his political influence to provide identification cards, passports, and visas and to naturalize citizens of different countries connected to international terrorism. El Aissami has not responded to multiple requests for comment from CNN.

          Delcy Rodríguez

          Delcy Rodriguez has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela since 2014. She is accused by Misael Lopez of dismissing important information on the alleged sale of Venezuelan passports and visas. During the 2016 United Nations General Assembly, Rodríguez said the allegations were not true.

          Jonathan Velasco

          Jonathan Velasco is a Venezuelan politician, appointed in May 2013 as Venezuela’s ambassador to Iraq. Misael Lopez, who worked for Velasco when he was the legal advisor at the embassy, said the ambassador was aware of the alleged sale of passports and visas to non-Venezuelans by an embassy employee, who was an interpreter. Velasco has denied the allegations.

          Ghazi Nasr Al Din

          Ghazi Nasr Al Din is a former Venezuelan diplomat who served as counselor of the Venezuelan Embassy in Syria and later as head of political affairs at the Venezuelan Embassy in Lebanon. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Nasr Al Din used his position as a diplomat to provide financial support to the terrorist group Hezbollah. Nasr Al Din has also done fundraising work for the group and facilitated the trip by Hezbollah members to and from Venezuela. He is currently on an FBI wanted list related to terrorism links. Nasr Al Din was born in Beirut and became a Venezuelan citizen in 1998.



           Posted by at 8:00 am  Tagged with:
          Jul 012015

          “The truth is I was there [in the United States] for my children. For a better future. To work for them. And I don’t regret it, because I did it for love,” she said in a news conference Thursday night from Nogales, Mexico.
          “I’m going to keep fighting so that they continue to study in their country, and so that their dreams become a reality.”

          ‘A threat to nobody’

          Garcia de Rayos was turned over to Mexican authorities Thursday at a border crossing in Nogales, Arizona. She might be the first person deported from Arizona under President Trump’s executive order, her attorney told CNN affiliate KNXV-TV.
          Her case has become a flashpoint in debate over the new policy, which says any undocumented immigrant convicted or charged with a crime that hasn’t been adjudicated could be deported.
          “I think this is a direct result of the new executive orders that are being put into actions by President Trump calling them ‘enhancing public safety,’ which really appears only to be attacking immigrant communities and people of color,” her attorney Ray Maldonado said.
          Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, called her deportation a travesty.
          “Rather than tracking down violent criminals and drug dealers, ICE is spending its energy deporting a woman with two American children who has lived here for more than two decades and poses a threat to nobody,” he said.

          Why she was deported

          Garcia de Rayos has two children who were born in Arizona.
          She came illegally to the United States in the mid-1990s with her parents when she was 14. She was arrested in 2008 during a workplace raid and convicted one year later of felony criminal impersonation.
          After her conviction she appealed a court order to voluntarily deport and lost. She became the subject of a removal order in 2013 and was placed court-ordered supervision, which required her to report on a provided schedule to an ICE office until her order of removal was “affected,” or acted on.
          US immigration officials acknowledged that she was compliant with her supervision order. She showed up for each of her seven immigration check-ins prior to Wednesday.
          Officials said her case had followed the legal system process and it was time for her to go back to her home country.
          “(Her) immigration case underwent review at multiple levels of the immigration court system, including the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the judges held she did not have a legal basis to remain in the US,” ICE said in a statement.
          Carlos Garcia, director of immigration rights group Puente Arizona, said “ICE had done what President Trump wanted — which is deport and separate our families.”

          ‘She wanted to confront this’

          Activists and her lawyer cautioned that she could be deported under the new Trump administration policy. They offered sanctuary at a church but she decided to check in anyway, said Lucy Sandoval, an activist who has been working with Garcia de Rayos’ family.
          “She wanted to confront this,” Sandoval said. “They were hopeful that there would be some consciousness and some heart.”
          Garcia de Rayos said she wanted to be an example for other families.
          “I don’t regret it, because I know I did this so that more families could see what’s in store, what could happen, and so that they could know what they could risk,” she in Thursday’s news conference.
          Trump is not harming the adults and the parents who get deported, but it’s different for the children left behind in the United States, she said.
          “I am not what he says. I simply am a mother who fights for her children, who fights to give them the best.”
          Her children crossed the border Thursday night to be with their mother.
          “We don’t deserve to go through this. No family deserves to go through this. It’s heartbreaking. No one should feel this much pain, no one should go through this much suffering,” her daughter Stephanie said Thursday.
          “I’m not going to stop fighting for her.”

          Rights group blames Arpaio’s policy

          Her detention prompted two consecutive evenings of demonstrations.
          On Wednesday evening, seven people were arrested outside the Phoenix ICE office when protesters attempted to block an agency van from taking Garcia de Rayos away.
          A protester locks himself to the van carrying Garcia de Rayos away.

          Immigrant advoacy group Puente Arizona said Garcia de Rayos was a victim of controversial policies of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Enforcing identity-theft laws was one of Arpaio’s most well-known tools to crack down on illegal immigration in the border state.
          Puente sued Arpaio, saying the workplace raids — such as the one in which Garcia de Rayos was arrested — were unconstitutional and amounted to racial and ethnic profiling. It lost the case on appeal, but Arpaio disbanded the task force that conducted the raids.

          A crackdown on illegal immigration

          The immigration executive orders signed by Trump could amount to a vast expansion of authority for individual immigration officers and a dramatic increase in efforts to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.
          The order lays out a series of categories of undocumented immigrants that immigration law enforcement officials should prioritize for removing from the country, a reaction to what was criticized by the right as lax enforcement of immigration law by President Barack Obama.
          The Obama administration had prioritized expulsion of undocumented immigrants who threatened public safety or national security, had ties to criminal gang activity, committed serious felony offenses or were habitual misdemeanor criminal offenders.
          Trump’s order goes far beyond that, using a sweeping definition of “criminal” and giving a single immigration officer the ability to make judgments on threats to public safety, regardless of whether the person has been convicted of a crime.



           Posted by at 7:00 am  Tagged with:
          Jul 012015

          The general also said additional resources were needed to develop the Afghan air force and grow Afghan special forces.
          Nicholson said the US was seeking to establish an “enduring counterterrorism platform” in Afghanistan, noting that of the 98 US-designated terrorist groups globally, 20 operate in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
          “This is the highest concentration of terrorist groups anywhere in the world,” he told the Senate.
          The general also said that he remains “concerned about the influence of certain external actors — particularly Pakistan, Russia, and Iran — who continue to legitimize and support the Taliban and undermine the Afghan governments’ efforts to create a stable Afghanistan.”
          “Iran is directly supporting the Taliban in Western Afghanistan,” Nicholson said, adding that Russia was offering political support to the Taliban in order “to undermine the United States and NATO.”
          A recent report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction found that the Afghan government controlled just under 60% of territory, with the remainder either being contested by the Taliban or under the control of the insurgency.
          Asked by Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, whether the US was winning or losing in Afghanistan, Nicholson said, “I believe we are in a stalemate.”
          President Donald Trump, who spoke to President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan Thursday, told reporters: “Afghanistan — I would say that that’s a tough situation, but we’ll do something about it.”
          “We’ll be giving you some pretty good information soon,” he told reporters during a brief spray at the White House.



           Posted by at 6:00 am  Tagged with:
          Jul 012015

          “It’s absolutely a success, and I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens,” Spicer said, citing intelligence obtained in the operation. He later followed up without citing McCain by name: “I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology … to the life of Chief Owens.”
          McCain has been a frequent critic of the Trump administration, publicly criticizing the President — who hails from his own party — for fighting with Australia, his choice for Cabinet secretaries, his comments about torture and his travel and immigration ban. The relationship has had tensions since Trump said during the campaign that McCain was not a war hero — despite his status as a decorated war hero and former POW. McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, continues to push back against the White House in a way his fellow Republican colleagues have shown more restraint.
          Meghan McCain, the senator’s daughter, rebuked the President and others on Thursday afternoon for criticism of her father.
          “Trump has never served. My father can’t bend one of his knees or lift one of his arms above his head. I am done with this today. DONE,” she wrote on Twitter.

          McCain slams Putin in fiery Senate speech

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          McCain slams Putin in fiery Senate speech 00:45
          Earlier in the week, the Trump-McCain divide was on display over how to approach Russia.
          In an interview that aired over the weekend, Trump responded to a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s human rights abuses by saying, “You think our country’s so innocent?”
          Without mentioning Trump, McCain took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to rebuke Putin as a human rights abuser and shed light on opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Putin critic currently in the hospital.
          The January raid at the center of the latest dispute between Trump and McCain involved the first military death under the new President and resulted in a number of civilian casualties, including the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born al Qaeda leader killed under former President Barack Obama.
          It remains unclear to what extent fallout from the raid may have impacted the US relationship with Yemen. This week, reports emerged that the government of Yemen would not allow US military raids in the country without full approval. A State Department spokesman on Wednesday defended US operations in the war-torn nation, and Spicer praised the relationship of the two countries while saying he was “not in a position to go any further at this time.”
          “Yemen more than most countries fully appreciates the fight that we have with ISIS,” Spicer said. “At this point, I’ll leave it at we understand that we share that commitment with them, and we’re going to continue to work with them to combat ISIS.”



           Posted by at 5:00 am  Tagged with:
          Jul 012015

          Earlier this week Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu had asked Iordache to prepare a draft law similar to the controversial decree.
          The decree would have decriminalized corruption that caused damage worth less than about $48,000 (200,000 lei).
          It also would have halted all investigations for pending corruption offenses, prevented further cases related to these offenses to be brought into justice, and freed some officials imprisoned for corruption.
          This could have benefited politicians such as Liviu Dragnea, president of the Social Democrat Party, which recently took power. Dragnea is under investigation over abuse of power allegations and had also previously received a two-year suspended sentence for an elections offense.
          Demonstrations calling for the resignation of the entire Social Democrat-led government — which introduced the measure — are expected to continue this week.



           Posted by at 3:00 am  Tagged with:
          Jul 012015

          Miller’s wife, Saimaa, said on Facebook that her husband was trapped for five hours, although rescue crews said it was more like two hours. Either way, police chief inspector Neil Stephens said, “He’s been extremely lucky to survive.”
          Crews work to free Miller from the muddy pit.

          “Thank God it didn’t rain,” Miller added. “My nose was grazing the water the whole time.”
          Fire and Rescue New South Wales deputy captain Steve Howard said, “How he kept his back arched with his nose above the waterline was quite incredible for that amount of time.”After he was freed, Miller was taken to a hospital by helicopter. He was treated for hypothermia and minor back injuries.
          “Dan is OK!… Legendary effort from a legendary man,” his wife said on Facebook.
          Miller told the Daily Telegraph he had promised his wife he wouldn’t die before her.
          “I wanted to honor my vows — the whole time I was trapped I kept thinking of her and my two young children,” he said.



           Posted by at 2:00 am  Tagged with:
          Jul 012015

          The camp began to grow with the outbreak of instability and violence in Somalia in the early 1990s and is currently home to approximately 260,000 people.

          Relief at court decision

          A refugee stands with her son just outside a fenced perimeter at Dadaab in May 2015.

          Ahmed, 24, a refugee who was born in Dadaab, told CNN over the phone that the court’s ruling this morning came as a relief.
          “Ever since the government of Kenya said that the camp should close in six months we were just fearing that the government would say the six months is ended and each and every one should go. That was all we have been worrying about.”
          Human rights groups also applauded the court’s decision.
          “After months of anxiety because of the camp closure deadline hanging over their heads, increasingly restricted asylum options and the recent US administration suspension of refugee resettlement, the court’s judgement offers Somali refugees a hope that they may still have a choice other than returning to insecure and drought-ridden Somalia,” said Laetitia Bader, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

          Somali refugees in Kenya affected by Trump’s travel ban

          Somalia was one of the country’s included in US President Donald Trump’s executive order to bar citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days. The ban also prevents entry for all refugees for 120 days.
          Twenty-six thousand refugees in Kenya, most of them from Somalia, were affected by that ban, Yvonne Ndege, the spokeswoman in Kenya for the United Nations refugee agency, told CNN.

          Somalia elects an “American” president

          From the air: The world's largest refugee camp

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          From the air: The world’s largest refugee camp 01:31
          Yesterday, Somalia’s Parliament elected former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen, as the country’s new president.
          Farmajo was declared victorious after incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud dropped out of the contest following the second round of voting.
          The 328 members of Parliament met at an air force hangar in Mogadishu to cast their votes because of fears of a terrorist attack.
          With the doors to the US appearing to close, many Dadaab residents now wanted to go back to Somalia, according to Abdi Maalim, a freelance Kenyan-Somali journalist.
          “Even the longest-staying refugees in the camp now have some hope in their country because of the new president who is very much seen as the people’s president,” he said.

          Famine looms for 3 million Somalis

          Maalim said those keen to return were largely from the cities, which have so far not been affected by a terrible drought that has gripped large swathes of Somalia.
          The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says up to three million people face hunger and even starvation because of poor rains that have wiped out crops and livestock.
          “We are no longer talking about a drought crisis in Somalia, or even a severe drought crisis,” FAO’s Somalia Representative Dick Trenchard told CNN.
          “We are talking about preventing famine in several areas of the country in the second half of the year, particularly in Bay in the south and Puntland in the north. Every Somali knows how bad the situation is and the potential catastrophe that lies ahead unless there is a massive and immediate increase in support and humanitarian assistance.”

          Kenyan human rights groups take lead

          The high court ruling came in response to a petition not to shut Dadaab by two Kenyan human rights organizations, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Kituo Cha Sheria.
          The camp was initially due to be closed on 30 November 2016, but the government announced a six-month delay on “humanitarian grounds.”
          Occupying about 50 square kilometers in Kenya’s Garissa County, Dadaab has four sub-camps of Hagadera, Ifo, Dagahaley and Kambios, making it the largest refugee camp in the world by population.
          The camps were initially designed to host just 160,000 people, yet the population rose dramatically between 2010 and 2013, mostly due to famine.
          A spokesman for Kenya’s Interior Ministry said the court’s judgment did not impact an ongoing “voluntary” repatriation program that has already seen 46,000 Somali refugees return home over the past six weeks.



           Posted by at 1:00 am  Tagged with:
          Jul 012015

          Thursday marked the first time ever New York City got six inches of snow just one day after the temperature reached 60 degrees, CNN meteorologists reported.
          The snowstorm also created whiteout conditions. The sunny photo below, for example, showed the Empire State Building in the background. The snowy photo from today? Not so much.

          Photos from the Brooklyn Bridge and from Columbus Circle also showed the rapid change from sun to snow.

          The weather whiplash was evident in New Jersey’s woodsy areas, too.

          Yesterday vs today. ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️ #snowday

          A photo posted by Wendy Ringel (@wendyringel) on

          For some, the rapid change called to mind what happened to Arendelle in the Disney movie “Frozen.”
          Thankfully, no giant ice monster has been spotted. Yet.



           Posted by at 12:00 am  Tagged with: