The US has named a special "manager" for its intelligence operations against Cuba and Venezuela, in effect putting the two Latin American nations on a par with "axis of evil" states confronted on multiple levels by the administration of President George W. Bush.
North Korea and Iran are the only other countries that have been assigned so-called "mission managers," who supervise intelligence operations against them on what the office of national intelligence director called "a strategic level."
In a statement released on Friday, the Office of National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said the manager would be responsible "for integrating collection and analysis on Cuba and Venezuela across the intelligence community" and "ensuring the implementation of strategies" that have not been identified.
"Such efforts are critical today, as policymakers have increasingly focused on the challenges that Cuba and Venezuela pose to American foreign policy," the statement said.
The director's office said the manager would also be asked to ensure "that policymakers have a full range of timely and accurate intelligence on which to base their decisions."
The document did not say what kind of decisions US officials could be making with regard to either of the targeted countries.
For the moment, the task of handling the Havana-Caracas axis fell to 32-year CIA veteran J. Patrick Maher, whose previous job was deputy director of the CIA's Office of Policy Support.
His biographical sketch supplied in the announcement indicates he was one of the architects of the CIA's current anti-terror operations in violence-torn Colombia and managed the agency's strategy in the Caribbean basin.
On hearing about the appointment on Friday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez poked fun at Maher, calling the new intelligence chief "Jack the Ripper."
Chavez said the appointment of Maher was a sign that "the empire [the US] is organizing a plan for December or before December."
He didn't go into details.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
Australia is notorious for its venomous spiders, snakes and sea creatures, but researchers have now identified “scorpion-like” toxins secreted by a tree that can cause excruciating pain for weeks. Split-second contact with the dendrocnide tree, a rainforest nettle known by its Aboriginal name gympie-gympie, delivers a sting far more potent than similar plants found in the US or Europe. A team of Australian scientists said that they now better understand why the gympie-gympie’s sting haunts those unlucky enough to brush up against its leaves. Victims report an initial sting that “feels like fire at first, then subsides over hours to a pain reminiscent