CIA to fight Mexican cartels
New CIA operatives and retired military personnel are being sent to Mexico and may deploy private security contractors to fight drug cartels, the New York Times said. Small numbers of CIA operatives and civilian employees have been posted at a Mexican military base, it said late on Saturday. Security officials from both countries work there side by side in collecting information about drug cartels and helping plan operations, the report said. Officials are also looking into embedding a team of US contractors inside a specially vetted Mexican counter-narcotics police unit, it said. The new efforts have been devised to get around Mexican laws prohibiting foreign military and police from operating on its soil.
US urges ex-PM’s release
The US called on Saturday for the immediate release of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko following her dramatic arrest during trial. A statement published on the US’ Kiev embassy Web site said Tymoshenko’s detention “raised concerns internationally about the application of the rule of law in Ukraine and further contributes to the appearance of politically-motivated prosecutions.” A Kiev court on Friday placed Tymoshenko under arrest for contempt of court during her ongoing trial on charges of abuse of power, which she claims is a vendetta pursued by her rival, President Viktor Yanukovych.
US Jews pressure Cuba
American Jews urged Cuban President Raul Castro on Saturday to release a US contractor “on humanitarian grounds” after Cuba’s highest court upheld a 15-year sentence. In his appeal, Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors & Their Descendants, said that Alan Gross has lost 40kg and “is suffering from serious physical ailments as well as from extreme mental stress and anguish.” Gross’s daughter and mother-in-law are battling cancer, a point cited by critics of his incarceration. “Holocaust survivors wish to renew their heartfelt appeal to release Alan Gross from prison on humanitarian grounds and allow him to be reunited with his family in the United States,” Steinberg said in a statement.
TV satellites launched
An Ariane-5 rocket placed two telecommunications satellites into geostationary orbit early on Saturday, the 45th successive success for the European rocket, Arianespace announced. The rocket blasted off from the European space center at Kourou, French Guiana. The two satellites are the Astra 1N, belonging to Luxembourg’s SES Astra, and the BSAT-3c/JCSAT-110R, owned by Japan’s B-SAT Corp and SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. The Astra 1N will provide direct-to-home television services across Europe for 15 years while the other will help provide television services in Japan.
Mushroom eaters taken ill
Tourists and locals alike are flocking to hospital wards in the southwest after eating mushrooms that this year sprouted much earlier than usual due to the rainy summer, officials said yesterday. Twenty-one people were treated for diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains on Friday in hospitals in the Lot department, after munching on what they thought were edible mushrooms. Thirty more have been treated in the nearby Tarn-et-Garonne department over the past two weeks, while dozens more may have been affected, but not sought medical treatment, hospital officials said.