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Showing posts from February 28, 2016

Watchdog: Secret US-backed Cuban Twitter programs problematic, amounted to nepotism

(AP) — Once-secret U.S. government programs in Cuba that included a Twitter-like messaging service and an HIV-prevention workshop contained inadequate monitoring, conflicts of interest and questions of legal responsibility for those involved, according to an agency watchdog report this week.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, which oversaw the now-defunct “Cuban Twitter” program and other efforts, also didn’t have a policy in place to protect sensitive work from subversion by Cuban intelligence officials, the report stated. ZunZuneo, as the text-messaging program was called, was among several of the agency’s Cuban civil-society programs designed to bring about democratic change.
The USAID inspector general’s report follows a months-long investigation by The Associated Press last year into concealed U.S. government work on the island. Those disclosures revealed how one of those companies — working under USAID’s supervision — developed ZunZuneo, staged an HIV-prevention worksh…

Al-Qaeda vs. Islamic State: The ‘fight’ for West Africa’s riches

By Theodoros Benakis

After the jihadist attacks against civilian targets in the capitals of Mali in November 2015 and Burkina Faso in January, killing 21 and 30 people respectively, West Africa is once again a region of international concern.

Even though the French military intervention in Northern Mali in 2013 had restored state control in the area, it is no secret that jihadist armed groups are still active. Not only that, but they are also growing very rich.

West Africa generates profits from illicit activities, such as drugs, human and arms trafficking, cigarettes smuggling and poaching. It is also a vast area with one of the fastest growing populations in the world and struggling with chronic poverty and huge social inequality. This means West Africa is fertile ground for the recruitment of jihadist groups.

The old trade routes that lead from the coasts of Western and Southwestern Africa, through Mali to the Mediterranean Sea, which is a huge stretch of land, are now controlled by ji…