Egypt Independent: World-Main news en WikiLeaks publishes CIA tips for traveling spies <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>WikiLeaks on Sunday released two CIA documents that offered tips to help spies maintain their cover while using false documents as they crossed international borders.</p><p>The two documents, dating from 2011 and 2012, are marked classified and &quot;NOFORN,&quot; which means they were not meant to be shared with allied intelligence agencies, WikiLeaks said.</p><p>The documents outline a number of strategies for agents to avoid secondary screening at airports and borders.</p><p>Some are obvious: don&#39;t buy a one-way ticket with cash the day before flying. Others perhaps less so: don&#39;t look scruffy while traveling on a diplomatic passport.</p><p>&quot;In one incident during transit of a European airport in the early morning, security officials selected a CIA officer for secondary screening,&quot; one of the documents reads.</p><p>&quot;Although the officials gave no reason, overly casual dress inconsistent with being a diplomatic-passport holder may have prompted the referral.&quot;</p><p>The CIA agent involved went on to have his bag swabbed for explosives and it tested positive. Despite extensive questioning, he stuck to his cover story that he had been involved in counterterrorism training in the United States, and eventually was allowed to continue his journey.</p><p>&quot;Consistent, well-rehearsed, and plausible cover is important for avoiding secondary selection and critical for surviving it,&quot; the CIA wrote.</p><p>In a statement, WikiLeaks said this example &quot;begs the question: if the training that supposedly explained the explosives was only a cover story, what was a CIA officer really doing passing through (a European Union) airport with traces of explosives on him, and why was he allowed to continue?&quot;</p><p>One of the CIA documents, called &quot;Schengen Overview,&quot; reveals that the CIA is very concerned about EU nations introducing biometric security measures for people traveling on US passports and that new systems pose an increased &quot;identity threat&quot; -- in other words, making it harder for agents to travel on false documents.</p><p>The document focuses on the EU&#39;s Schengen area, a chunk of Europe in which travelers between 22 EU countries are no longer required to show passports.</p><p>The CIA expressed concerns that a new EU security system will potentially make life harder for CIA agents.</p><p>WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the documents show the CIA is intent on carrying out spying in Europe.</p><p>&quot;The CIA has carried out kidnappings from European Union states, including Italy and Sweden, during the Bush administration,&quot; Assange said in a statement.</p><p>&quot;These manuals show that under the Obama administration the CIA is still intent on infiltrating European Union borders and conducting clandestine operations in EU member states.&quot;</p><p>Sunday&#39;s release is the second in a series of CIA releases from WikiLeaks.</p><p>The documents can be seen at:</p> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:56:00 +0000 AFP 2441682 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/12/10/499612/cia_torture.jpg IMF policies criticised over Ebola outbreak <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies left healthcare systems in the African countries worst affected by Ebola underfunded and lacking doctors, and hampered a coordinated response to the outbreak, researchers said Monday.</p><p>Links between the IMF and the rapid spread of the disease were examined by researchers from Cambridge University&#39;s sociology department, with colleagues from Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.</p><p>They found IMF programmes held back the development of effective health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries at the epicentre of the outbreak that has killed over 7,370 people.</p><p>Reforms advocated by the IMF hampered the ability of the health systems to cope with infectious disease outbreaks and other emergencies, the researchers found.</p><p>&quot;A major reason why the Ebola outbreak spread so rapidly was the weakness of healthcare systems in the region, and it would be unfortunate if underlying causes were overlooked,&quot; said Cambridge sociologist and lead study author Alexander Kentikelenis.</p><p>&quot;Policies advocated by the IMF have contributed to under-funded, insufficiently staffed, and poorly prepared health systems in the countries with Ebola outbreaks.&quot;</p><p>The researchers examined policies enforced by the IMF before the outbreak, using information from IMF lending programmes from 1990 to 2014, and analysed their effects on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.</p><p>They found the healthcare systems were weakened by the IMF&#39;s requirement of economic reforms that cut government spending, a requirement of caps on the public sector wage bill, and a policy of decentralised healthcare systems.</p><p>On the requirement to reduce government spending, researchers found that &quot;such policies have been extremely strict, absorbing funds that could be directed to meeting pressing health challenges.&quot;</p><p>&quot;In 2013, just before the Ebola outbreak, the three countries met the IMF&#39;s economic directives, yet all failed to raise their social spending despite pressing health needs,&quot; said Cambridge sociologist and study co-author Lawrence King.</p><p>The public wage cap meant the countries were unable to hire nurses and doctors and pay them adequately, while decentralised healthcare systems made it hard to mobilise coordinated responses to outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola.</p><p>A spokesman for the IMF said that the organisation&#39;s mandate did not specifically include public health and that it was &quot;completely untrue&quot; that the spread of Ebola was a consequence of IMF policies.</p><p>&quot;Such claims are based on a misunderstanding, and, in some cases, a misrepresentation, of IMF policies,&quot; the spokesman said.</p><p>&quot;Since 2009, loans from the IMF to low-income countries have been at zero interest rate, which has freed up resources for countries to spend more on health and education.&quot;</p><p>The spokesman added that the IMF had provided a $130 million financial package in September towards Ebola, and that they were working towards offering a package worth a similar amount to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone next year.</p> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:50:00 +0000 AFP 2441681 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/09/23/94/a_volunteer_health_worker_practises_using_a_personal_protective_equipment_ppe_suit_at_a_newly-constructed_ebola_virus_treatment_centre_in_monrovia_liberia_september_21_2014..jpg Flying back on course: the inside story of the new Airbus A350 jet <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Ten years ago, the boss of Qatar Airways, who takes his first new A350 jet this week, warned Airbus it was flying off course.</p><p>Boeing was knocking on his door with a &quot;super-efficient&quot; jet boasting 30 percent fuel savings thanks to a carbon-composite design.</p><p>In Toulouse, some Airbus engineers, riding high after overtaking Boeing and suspecting a short-lived marketing stunt, laughed off the future 787 with a &ldquo;tail like a dolphin&rdquo;.</p><p>Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker urged Airbus to take the 787 seriously and said its draft response, a quick fix to its A330 with new General Electric engines, was inadequate.</p><p>As Qatar Airways planned for rapid regional and long-haul growth, Al Baker recalls, &quot;there was a requirement for an aircraft that has capacity that is optimal on two fronts: customer comfort and technologically forward-thinking&quot;.</p><p>That clamour for both cabin comfort and better economics eventually forced Airbus into a fundamental shift in strategy.</p><p>But after Al Baker&#39;s warning, it took another two years of sales setbacks and doubts at the highest management level before</p><p>Airbus agreed to build the A350XWB to be delivered on Monday.</p><p>That story is revealed here after interviews with customers, suppliers and industry sources. Airbus declined comment.</p><p>The fluctuating, decade-long journey from half-hearted tinkering to an all-new family of jets highlights a chess game still being played out as Airbus and Boeing battle each other in the wide-body market, valued at $1.9 trillion over 20 years.</p><p>Next month, the A350 will start competing with the 787 in the skies, having garnered 778 orders against 1,055 for the 787.</p><p>To build the carbon-plastic jets, planemakers have tested themselves to the limit. But they have also carefully avoided a head-on collision, searching for pockets of empty space in the twinjet market by unveiling variants that rarely have precisely the same capacity as their competitor&#39;s.</p><p>Some analysts say that may help support their profit margins, though as the A350&#39;s story demonstrates, competition for sales is intense.</p><p>&quot;I think they are now pretty well matched,&quot; said Steven Udvar-Hazy, who as CEO of lessor ILFC at the time was the world&#39;s biggest buyer of commercial jets and would prove to be an important influence on the A350s development.</p><p><strong>Defensive response</strong></p><p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">A decade ago, air travel was changing. Planes with two engines were able to fly further, and proving more efficient than big jets with four engines.</span></p><p>Boeing&#39;s twin-engine 777 was beating Airbus&#39;s four-engine A340 in the market for big planes, and Airbus&#39;s huge four-engine A380, the biggest airliner ever, had yet to enter service.</p><p>Airbus was strong in the market for small wide-body jets, doing well with its twin-engine A330. But fast-growing airlines like Qatar and Emirates were demanding more comfortable cabins with space to install new lie-flat beds.</p><p>That might have suggested a new fuselage, a decision planemakers rarely take more than once every couple of decades.</p><p>But Airbus was behind in new materials technology, focused on finishing the A380, and hoarding resources to improve its most profitable cash cow, the A320 small jet, in case Boeing refreshed its 737 model, people familiar with the matter said.</p><p>When Boeing launched the medium-sized 787 to compete with the A330, Airbus responded defensively. It&#39;s answer, the A350, was basically an A330 with carbon wings and new engines, rather than a new plane.</p><p>&quot;People were cringing at the time, saying it was inelegant or &lsquo;how can you put a patch on a broken leg&#39;,&quot; said Henri Courpron, chairman of Plane View Partners and former head of Airbus North America.</p><p>Soon, Airbus customers in Boeing&#39;s backyard, like Northwest Airlines and Air Canada, were writing cheques for 787s. Airbus found itself straining to compete with both flagship Boeings.</p><p>In December 2005, pressure reached boiling point with two big Boeing wins. Qantas chose the 787; Cathay Pacific picked the 777.</p><p>An internal post-mortem on Qantas laid out the problem: the original A350 was &quot;reactionary&quot; and Airbus had lost credibility.</p><p>Airbus Chief Executive Gustav Humbert called in his 43-year-old strategy chief Olivier Andries and gave him a delicate task.</p><p>&quot;I asked him to take the best guys and set up a long-range policy team,&quot; Humbert, who is now retired, told Reuters.</p><p>Humbert urged him to consider whether Airbus could capture 50 percent of the big-jet market, up from 35-40 percent, by straddling the largest 787 and smallest 777: around 300 seats.</p><p>&quot;I was encouraged to think outside the box ....about the whole long-range strategy,&quot; said Andries, now chief executive of engine firm Turbomeca. He declined to discuss details.</p><p>Monitored by a team of retired &quot;Wise Men,&quot; the group of 10 drew up confidential scenarios from makeovers to bold new jets.</p><p>In March 2006, Udvar-Hazy, who now runs Air Lease, piled on pressure by urging Airbus to drop its cautious A350.</p><p>&quot;We looked at the economics and concluded it was not a contender in a meaningful way. So I felt it would get a silver medal and didn&rsquo;t deserve to get built,&quot; Udvar-Hazy told Reuters.</p><p>In Toulouse, it was proving hard to make the business cases stick, but one proposal labelled &quot;1d&quot; looked promising.</p><p>It dived deep into a planemaker&#39;s armoury of wings, cockpit, cabin, engines and the all-important wider fuselage.</p><p>It would cost about 11 billion euros to build rather than the 4 billion budgeted for the original A350, while setting Airbus up for 20 years with projected sales of 2,000 planes instead of 800. But it was still a step behind Boeing&#39;s 787: the tube would be in metal rather than carbon.</p><p><strong>Abbey retreat&nbsp;</strong></p><p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.5em;">Meanwhile, an internal crisis cast a new shadow over the proposals. Delays to the A380 hit share prices in June 2006 and forced Humbert to resign. The Farnborough Airshow was looming and a divided board was not ready to commit to a new project.</span></p><p>&ldquo;No decision was taken to discontinue the original A350,&quot; Andries said. &quot;Most senior executives at the time were against the Extra-Wide Body. Even in the summer of 2006 the decision was not secure.&quot;</p><p>Airbus nonetheless took the risk of presenting the concept at the July 2006 show. Even as it called the plane a &quot;step ahead of the 787&quot; it made little reference to the metal shell.</p><p>Humbert&#39;s replacement, aerospace outsider Christian Streiff, took top Airbus managers to a converted French abbey to reflect.</p><p>Over dinner, according to a person familiar with the event, he asked them to raise their hands if they thought Airbus should build the very plane they had publicised weeks earlier. Only a handful did, including sales chief John Leahy and Andries.</p><p>Nevertheless, the engineers pressed on. Soon, they came up with a cost-effective way to make an all-carbon body assembled from panels, which they felt would be cheaper to build than the single giant piece in the Boeing 787.</p><p>In December, 2006, the reversal was complete: the board approved the new, all-carbon A350XWB.</p><p>Meanwhile, the battle of the air goes on. Whether Airbus can meet Humbert&#39;s challenge of 50 percent wide-body market share depends partly on the success of Boeing&#39;s latest move - a larger and upgraded 777, Udvar-Hazy said.</p><p>The answer may lie in a drawer in Toulouse. Industry sources say Humbert&#39;s planners drew up, but discarded, a variant for a larger version of its new jet called A350-1100. That could provide a clue to Airbus&#39;s options next decade.</p> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:36:00 +0000 Reuters 2441678 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/12/22/499612/airbus.jpg Shock and anger in NY after two police murdered <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>New York was reeling Sunday after the murder of two uniformed cops by a man who said he was seeking revenge for the recent killings of unarmed black men by police.</p><p>The two officers, Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were shot in the head through the window of their patrol car in broad daylight in Brooklyn on Saturday in an attack that shocked America&#39;s biggest city just days before Christmas.</p><p>Police named the shooter as 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, allegedly a member of the &quot;Black Guerrilla Family&quot; gang. He fled to a nearby subway station after the attack, where he shot himself in the head on the platform.</p><p>The two officers &quot;never had the opportunity to draw their weapons. They may never have actually even seen their assailant, their murderer,&quot; said New York police chief Bill Bratton.</p><p>Just hours before the shooting, Brinsley apparently boasted on Instagram of wanting to kill cops.</p><p>&quot;They Take 1 of Ours... Let&#39;s Take 2 of Theirs,&quot; read a comment seemingly written by Brinsley next to a photo of a silver handgun, referencing the police killings of unarmed blacks.</p><p>By Sunday, candles and flowers had piled up at an impromptu memorial at the scene of the shooting.</p><p>Mayor Bill de Blasio and police chief Bratton somberly attended a mass at Saint Patrick&#39;s cathedral in New York led by Cardinal Tim Dolan.</p><p><strong>- &#39;Predictable outcome&#39; -</strong></p><p>But the double-killing, in a city where murders are at their lowest rates in 20 years, further strained the already fraught relations between de Blasio and police.</p><p>A number of officers, in apparent homage to their slain colleagues, turned their backs to the mayor at the hospital Saturday night.</p><p>Police officers accuse de Blasio of failing to support them and of being too sympathetic to demonstrators who, in recent weeks, have been protesting police violence against African-Americans.</p><p>In July, Eric Garner, an unarmed father of six, died after police held him in a chokehold while he was being arrested for selling individual cigarettes illegally in New York.</p><p>Michael Brown, an 18-year-old in the Ferguson suburb of St Louis, Missouri, was shot dead by a police officer in August, sparking months of protests.</p><p>Grand jury decisions not to indict either white officer responsible triggered mass protests in New York and other US cities.</p><p>&quot;Mayor de Blasio... the blood of these two officers is clearly on your hands,&quot; said Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of some 11,000 active or retired New York police officers.</p><p>Earlier this month, there was even an online petition in which police asked the mayor not to attend their funerals if they died in the line of duty.</p><p>The former Republican governor of New York, George Pataki, also condemned &quot;these barbaric acts,&quot; which he said were the &quot;predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder &amp; #mayordeblasio #NYPD.&quot; Holder is the US attorney general.</p><p>De Blasio responded Sunday, calling it &quot;unfortunate that in a time of great tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people.&quot;</p><p>And a number of voices called for calm and for unity, including President Barack Obama, who on Saturday &quot;unconditionally&quot; condemned the killing, and called on Americans &quot;to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal.&quot;</p><p>The families of Garner and Brown also strongly urged against &quot;any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities.&quot;</p><p>And Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams also stressed that responsibility lay first and foremost with the shooter.</p><p>&quot;Blood is not on the hands of the mayor. The blood is on the hands of the sick person who took the life of two innocent police officers.&quot;</p><p>Baltimore police on Saturday had tried to warn their New York counterparts of Brinsley&#39;s plans, but it was too late.</p> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 20:18:00 +0000 AFP 2441672 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/12/21/499612/ny_after_two_police_murdered.jpg