News in the Humanosphere: Aid worker deaths raise questions about drone strikes

Air Force officials are seeking volunteers for future training classes to produce operators of the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt)

Steve Coll puts this tragic episode in the larger context of the US drone wars:  “Of course, Al Qaeda, not the Obama Administration, is responsible for Weinstein’s miserable fate. Still, the fact that Weinstein’s own government accidentally killed him—during his fourth year in captivity, and without a rescue ever being attempted—is a disturbing coda to the short history of drone warfare. It reminds us that the problem with drones is not just that their operators sometimes make mistakes. It is that the heavy reliance—in time, dollars, and bureaucratic priorities—on a technological panacea for the problem of terrorism can cause a government to lose sight of the people on the ground.” (New Yorker http://nyr.kr/1PrqF1k)

The Obama administration said today that a drone strike in Pakistan in January intended for al Qaeda targets also killed an American and Italian aid worker. The America, Warren Weinstein, was a USAID contractor. The New York Times pays a Tribute to the 73 year old who had immersed himself in Pakistani culture.  The Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto worked for the German aid agency, Welthungerhilfe. (NYT on Weinstein http://nyti.ms/1Prrt6o) (NPR on Lo Porto http://n.pr/1PrsFXq)

Africa

Kenyan activist Phyllis Omido received the Goldman Environmental Prize for her efforts to defend her community from lead poisoning and force the closure of a lead smelting plant. (IPS http://bit.ly/1DmSkJo)

The Electoral Commission of Uganda will use a biometric system to update its voters register ahead of next year’s general election. (VOA http://bit.ly/1DmSiRF)

MENA

Some analysts see former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi’s sentencing as the beginning of the end for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. (VOA http://bit.ly/1FgPH0k)

Thousands who fled Ramadi in western Iraq after an IS offensive last week have begun to return home after reinforcements were dispatched to shore up the center of the city. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1OKJHh6)

Airstrikes by the US-led coalition in Syria have killed 2,079 people, including 66 civilians, since the start of the aerial campaign against IS militants last September. (VOA http://bit.ly/1blKJTM)

As a Saudi-led coalition continued to launch airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen, online dispatches from Yemeni bloggers and activists were filled with anguish over the growing toll of the conflict. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1K9eW4D)

Asia

Two years after the world’s worst garment factory disaster, Bangladesh’s garment industry is immersed in an urgent, massive effort to bring factories up to international safety standards. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1OhvvRT)

A distraught Indian farmer who hanged himself during a farmer’s rally in the capital has focused nationwide attention on the plight of India’s farmers, who have suffered mightily from recent rain and hailstorms. (WaPo http://wapo.st/1EvumBn)

In a country that has long suffered from electricity shortages, many North Koreans are taking power into their hands by installing cheap household solar panels to charge mobile phones and light up their homes. (VOA http://bit.ly/1HrfEfw)

The Americas

Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras has admitted to losing $2 billion due to corruption over the last eight years. (El País http://bit.ly/1d2INkr; Spanish)

Chile’s Calbuco volcano has erupted for the first time in more than four decades, sending a billowing a huge ash cloud over a sparsely populated, mountainous area. (Al Jazeera http://alj.am/1d4zxwa)

Drug cartel violence in Mexico’s Tamaulipas state flared up for the second time in a week Wednesday, with gunbattles and arson attacks erupting in the street after police captured four alleged drug gang members. (VOA http://bit.ly/1yVIWA6)

...and the rest

Over a million people have been forced to flee their homes because of the war in Ukraine. Many of these internally displaced people have struggled to find a new life. (NYT http://nyti.ms/1Ehrt5b)

Opinion/Blogs

Will Kenya Shut Down the World’s Largest Refugee Camp? (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1PrAU5X)

The World Has Reached Peak Plutocracy (IPS http://bit.ly/1Po8pWH)

Walling Ourselves Off (Dart-Throwing Chimp http://bit.ly/1HrnWEb)

Will refugees be protected from climate change? (WhyDev http://bit.ly/1OgEl26)

The Cost of Turkey’s Genocide Denial (NYT http://nyti.ms/1Gb1zx6)

An open letter to people with good intentions (Humanosphere http://bit.ly/1EvyzFs)

Challenging the Nuclear Powers’ Extremism (IPS http://bit.ly/1FgTOJP)

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About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]humanosphere.org.