Your morning five: Tear gas on the streets of Venezuela

Also: The World Bank punishes Uganda’s anti-gay fervour

Fernando Llano/AP

Fernando Llano/AP

We tell you how five stories around the world unfold over a week’s time. See also MondayTuesdayWednesday and Thursday.

1. A holiday can’t stop Venezuela’s protests. Thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Caracas, including the neighbourhood of Chacao—a wealthy area that, no surprise, supports the opposition—at the same time as pro-government demonstrators marched elsewhere in the city. President Nicolas Maduro moved up the national Carnival holiday, a declaration that did little to convince protesters to take a break. Police unleashed tear gas on a group of anti-government demonstrators who set up a roadblock, a common tactic during the ongoing unrest.

2. The World Bank punishes Uganda. Pass a virulently anti-gay law and feel the wrath of an international money lender. That’s the message the World Bank sent to Uganda as it holds back $90 million in aid to the African nation. The money was targeted to help Uganda enhance healthcare services. As more western nations second-guess their foreign aid, a Uganda government spokesman dismissed the effort and, on Twitter, said those countries “can keep their ‘aid’ to Uganda over homos”—one of several provocative and extremely defensive tweets. Uganda, a friend to fewer countries with each passing day.

3. The Economist isn’t so sure about Matteo Renzi. The magazine’s latest appraisal of Italy’s ambitious prime minister is as skeptical as Renzi’s political opponents that he can implement his various promised reforms. It applauds the PM’s gender parity in cabinet, including the country’s first female defence minister, and even gave Renzi points for appointing a relatively young cabinet (average age: 47). But, as any good opposition party will demand, the Economist wants Renzi to show them the money. “There was no real explanation as to how Mr Renzi intended to pay.” Those questions will only proliferate unless the PM finds some answers.

4. Al-Jazeera wants the world to look at Egypt. As the fledgling democracy in Egypt sorts out who’s in power, Al-Jazeera is protesting the terrorism-related charges laid against a number of its journalists in Cairo—including Mohamed Fahmy, the Egyptian-Canadian who served as the organization’s bureau chief in the city. Al-Jazeera is calling for a global day of action that demands the release of the imprisoned reporters without delay. Earlier this week, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression urged Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to take action on Fahmy’s behalf.

5. North Carolina’s got a pig problem,too. As Canadian hog farmers cope with the emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhea, a deadly virus that poses no hazard to human health but can decimate pig populations, their American counterparts are dealing with the disease’s aftermath. North Carolina public radio’s coverage of the epidemic, which may kill two per cent of the state’s pigs, took a turn for the macabre. A news story talked about what to do with all the dead pigs. Options include burial, rendering and incineration. A conversation Canadian farmers surely hope to avoid.

Filed under:

Your morning five: Tear gas on the streets of Venezuela

  1. Meanwhile, the latest details published in The Guardian reveal one the most egregious privacy invasions committed by a democratic power, ensnaring millions of Yahoo Messenger users through the watchful eye of their own governments.

    Between 2008 and 2010, Britain’s GCHQ, in cooperation with the U.S. National Security Agency, ran the “Optic Nerve” program which covertly intercepted and collected webcam imagery from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally. According to comScore data, Yahoo Messenger had 4.3 million unique users in January 2014. The agencies were running the program for automatic facial recognition experiments, to monitor existing suspects and to “discover new targets of interest” for the intelligence organizations.

    Images were taken as often as once every five minutes, a limit issued to avoid overloading GCHQ systems, as well as to “partly comply” with human rights legislation.

    As much as between 3 percent and 11 percent of the snapped imagery was considered “explicit.”

    The webcam data was collected through submarine fiber internet cables, which GCHQ had tapped through the Upstream program. The data was fed into the NSA’s XKeyscore program, making it searchable by analysts.

    The images collected included vast amounts of U.S. and U.K. citizen data, but unlike in the U.S., U.K. authorities are not legally obliged to “minimize” any domestic data it receives. But, they do have to seek additional warrants to search the data.

    Yahoo “strongly condemned” and denied any complicity in the program, calling it a “whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy,” according to the publication.

    It remains unclear from the documents exactly how much access the NSA has to the Yahoo webcam database itself, or how Yahoo-connected webcams were exploited.

    PS — When the American government says it will no longer use known existing technology to spy on citizens, you can be certain their technology wizards have discovered and are implementing something new that is still secret and which is twice as effective at doing the job.

    • Good to see mroe people catching onto the reality. Any time ANY organization be it political or religious gets too much control over others, bad things happen. NSA is just a modern version of J Edgar Hoovers files he used for political control. IRS targeting Tea Party members is a good example. I per say don’t have a problem with the monitoring if used right, but the misuse of such. Real reason for collecting data on people has nothing to do with justice or LE, its about getting the dirt on others to give undue influences. Say I know a foreign government high up does 17 year old prostitutes, or likes hookers at massage parlors….. I then have undue influence over that person if I keep the secret and use it as leverage now or int he future.

      We are Orwellian state, we no longer manage government, government manages us.

  2. I wonder how much the CIA is involved with Venezuela’s issues? Drug cartels, ditto. Certainly productive people in that country are repressed be it rising crime or their own government. A very bad combination. Let us not forget US oil companies got the boot for cheating the government and the people.

    Amazing how World Bank sticks up for gays and ignores 300,000,000 abuses to women and children each year in this world. BTW, I am against all abuse, gay or not. Or do you have to be gay to get “special” treatment and let the others suffer? UN is worse that useless here as they don’t do anti-abuse for all.

    I can’t get excited about an Egyptian born citizen with Canadian secondary citizenship, not paying Canadian taxes, living in Egypt thinking he is exempt from local laws because his secondary citizenship is that of Canada because some relatives in Canada are whining. Really doesn’t mater what Baird thinks, he is an Egyptian living in Egypt and subject to their laws. Get over it. Having a Candian passport of convenience is NOT a license to break local laws.