News ID: 103316
Publish Date : 05 June 2022 - 21:53

NEW YORK (NYT) – Gina Haspel, who was the first female director of the CIA from 2018 to 2021, observed a prisoner being subjected to “enhanced interrogation” or torture that included waterboarding at an agency black site. Controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency, such black sites are used by the U.S. government in its so-called war on terror to detain enemy combatants. The revelation came in testimony during a hearing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in May. The pre-trial hearings are part of the drawn-out trial of detainees facing capital charges related to allegations that they conspired in the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. So-called “psychologist” James Elmer Mitchell, who helped to invent and implement into common practice the agency’s interrogation program, which included rectal feeding, hanging by handcuffs, and waterboarding, testified in relation to events that took place in late 2002. He revealed that along with another CIA contract “psychologist”, John Bruce Jessen, they subjected a Saudi prisoner, Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, to waterboarding at a CIA black site in Thailand. The chief of base at the time, whom Mitchell referred to as Z9A, or “Zulu Nine Alpha”, in accordance with court rules, watched the “enhanced interrogation” of Nashiri. Z9A is the code name used in court for Gina Haspel, stated the report.

BANGKOK (AFP) – Fifty-nine Rohingya Muslims have been discovered on a Thai island, saying they were abandoned by traffickers en route to Malaysia, a senior police officer said Sunday. The group -- among them five children -- were found on Koh Dong island in the southern Satun province on Saturday, said lieutenant general Surachet Hakpan. Each year, thousands of the Muslim minority Rohingya people, heavily persecuted in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, risk their lives in months-long expensive journeys to reach Malaysia over Thailand’s seas. The group appeared “starving and was likely to have had no food for three to five days”, a police statement said. The boat’s crew then decided to abandon those onboard on Koh Dong island -- telling them that they had reached Malaysia, the group told officers. The incident comes after the bodies of 14 Rohingya people, including children, were discovered washed up on a beach last month after they attempted to flee Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people fled a military crackdown in the nation in 2017, bringing with them harrowing stories of murder, rape and arson.

ATHENS (Reuters) – A wildfire raged out of control on the outskirts of Athens, damaging houses and cars, the Fire Department said. Fanned by strong winds, the blaze quickly spread across the slopes of Mount Hymettus which overlooks the Greek capital, sending thick clouds of smoke over the southern suburbs. As a precaution, civil protection authorities evacuated some parts of the Voula and Glyfada regions about 20 kilometers from Athens center. A witness saw at least two houses severely damaged by the fire. “Due to the intense north winds the fire quickly spread and approached the city,” Fire Department spokesperson Yiannis Artopios said in a briefing. “We ask our fellow citizens to be very careful,” he added. More than 130 firefighters aided by 6 firefighting aircraft and 4 helicopters dropped tons of water in an attempt to douse the blaze, which has raged for more than seven hours. A spate of wildfires scorched about 300,000 acres of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece last summer, amid the country’s worst heatwave in 30 years. The country has bitter memories of a 2018 blaze that tore through the seaside town of Mati near Athens, killing 102 people in a matter of hours.

WASGHINGTON (Dispatches) – The United States finds itself in the throes of the fourth wave of coronavirus, according to the official case count, while experts say the actual current rate could be 30 times higher than reported. About 94,000 people in the world’s worst-hit country are contracting the virus every day, and hospitalizations have also surged this month, but officials insist the rate is lower than in previous waves. A new survey of the surge in New York, cited in a Guardian report on Thursday, suggests that the virus cases could be undercounted by a factor of 30. “It would appear official case counts are under-estimating the true burden of infection by about 30-fold, which is a huge surprise,” Denis Nash, an author of the study and a professor of epidemiology at the City University of New York School of Public Health, is quoted as saying in the report. According to the study, which has not been peer-reviewed or published, at least 1 in 5 people in New York had COVID-19 between April 23 and May 8, constituting about 22 percent of the city’s population. This means that more than 1.5 million people in the city have been infected with coronavirus in just two weeks, which is more than the official figure, the study finds.

BEIJING (Reuters) – China launched a spacecraft on Sunday carrying three astronauts to the Chinese space station, due to be completed by the end of the year, as construction entered a pivotal stage. A Long March-2F rocket transporting the Shenzhou-14, or “Divine Vessel” in Chinese, blasted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 10:44 a.m. (0244 GMT), a live broadcast by state television showed. Construction of the space station began last year with the launch of the first and largest of its three modules - Tianhe - the living quarters of visiting astronauts. The modules Wentian and Mengtian are to be launched in July and October, respectively, docking with Tianhe to form a T-shaped structure. Shenzhou-14 mission commander Chen Dong, 43, and team mates Liu Yang, 43, and Cai Xuzhe, 46, all from China’s second cohort of astronauts, will live and work on the space station for six months before returning to Earth in December with the arrival of the Shenzhou-15 crew. Former air force pilot Chen with Liu, who became China’s first female astronaut in space a decade ago, and space mission debutant Cai, will oversee the rendezvous, docking and integration of Wentian and Mengtian with the core module. They will also install equipment inside and outside the space station and carry out a range of scientific research.

GENEVA (AFP) – The World Health Organization said Sunday that 780 laboratory-confirmed monkeypox cases had been reported to it from 27 non-endemic countries, while maintaining that the global risk level was moderate. The WHO said the 780 figure, for cases from May 13 to Thursday, was probably an underestimate due to limited epidemiological and laboratory information. “It is highly likely that other countries will identify cases and there will be further spread of the virus,” the UN health agency added. Few hospitalizations have been reported, apart from patients being isolated. The WHO listed the non-endemic countries reporting the most cases as Britain (207), Spain (156), Portugal (138), Canada (58) and Germany (57). Besides Europe and North America, cases have also been reported — in single figures — in Argentina, Australia, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. One case of monkeypox in a non-endemic country is considered an outbreak.

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