The border wall literally became President Donald Trump’s signature project Wednesday.

Trump used a permanent marker to sign a new portion of the rust-colored metal barrier, reinforced with concrete and rebar, rising as high as 9 meters at Otay Mesa, a suburb of San Diego that separates California from Tijuana, Mexico.

“It is really virtually impenetrable,” Trump declared.

“There are thousands of people over there that were trying to get in” before this portion of the barricade went up, said Trump, who described the work he inspected Wednesday afternoon as “pretty amazing.”

“The wall does not answer the crisis at the border today,” said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the New York office of the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. “The situation at the border today is not people sneaking in. The crisis at the border today is asylum-seekers showing up and voluntarily turning themselves in to the Border Patrol.”

Migrants, many who were returned to Mexico under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program, wait in line to get a meal in an encampment near the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico, Aug. 30, 2019.

Limiting arrivals

Chishti told VOA that the near-total ban on asylum implemented via administrative regulation, along with the “Migrant Protection Protocol” and metering of asylum claims at ports of entry, will have far more to do with limiting arrivals than will the wall.

The president told reporters that up to 800 kilometers of border wall, about 1 meter thick, was under construction, but that it was premature to end the national emergency he declared in response to attempts by migrants to illegally cross the border from Mexico.

“I think really the success is going to be when the wall’s built, when human traffickers can’t come through,” Trump said. “This is certainly a tremendous national emergency.”

U.S. Army troops stationed at the border would eventually be drawn down and replaced with Border Patrol agents as the wall goes up, the president said.

Trump, asked about his repeated vow that Mexico would pay for the wall, said Wednesday at Otay Mesa that “they’re paying for 27,000 soldiers, as you know,” on the Mexican side, thwarting border-crossing.

“If I took 5% tariff for six months, that pays for the wall,” Trump said of products from Mexico, quickly adding he did not want to do that because of the current cooperation from the Mexican government.

“Now they’re doing yeoman’s work,” Trump said of Mexico.

Government contractors erect a section of border wall along the Colorado River, Sept. 10, 2019 in Yuma, Ariz. Construction began as federal officials revealed a list of Defense Department projects to be cut to pay for the wall.


During much of his time inspecting a section of new wall, Trump touted its strength, claiming “20 mountain climbers” had tried to scale it to test its effectiveness.

“This is the one that was hardest to climb,” he said of the current type being built in the San Diego sector. “This wall can’t be climbed.”

“You can fry an egg on that wall,” he added, noting how it is designed to absorb heat, making it even more difficult to scale.

The border barrier being built is meant to deter even the most well-equipped smuggling operations, according to the president.

“If you think you’re going cut it with a blowtorch, that doesn’t work because you hit concrete,” Trump said, adding that cutting through concrete won’t work because it is reinforced with rebar.

When the president attempted to get an Army general to discuss high-technology security measures that are part of the wall, the officer demurred, saying it would be better not to mention those features.

Trump told reporters that three other countries were studying the new type of wall in hopes of building one of their own. He said he would disclose the names of those countries if he got their approval.

Trump also said the U.S. government would be stopping next week the “catch and release” of undocumented people trying to enter the country, something his administration has opposed from the beginning.

“To the extent they have released people who have been caught, it’s only been because of resource constraints either in the immigration court system or in the detention system,” MPI’s Chishti said. “There is no reason to believe that either of those factors has been addressed in the recent past, so while the administration can announce the end of catch and release, without an effective infrastructure to support it, it’s hard to see how it will be a different day on immigration enforcement.”

Praise for Mexico

Trump noted Tijuana is close by, saying “there are thousands of people over there that were trying to get in.” He then praised Mexico for its efforts that have significantly stemmed the flow of migrants at the border.

Analysts say the reductions in arrivals at the border are a combination of increased Mexican enforcement; the throttling of asylum avenues by the Trump administration with the creation of the Remain in Mexico plan and limits on who can apply for asylum; and seasonal declines in migration at this time of the year.

“This is the wall the agents asked for,” a Border Patrol agent told the president at the border Wednesday.

Trump, however, is not getting one wall option he desired, at least for now: a black coat of paint.

“We can paint it at a later date,” said the president, noting the cost savings can be applied to build even more wall.

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Relatives of the victims of the 9/11 attacks who are suing Saudi Arabia for compensation obtained a coveted piece of information last week that they hope will strengthen their case.

The FBI disclosed the name of a Saudi official who is believed to have helped two of the 19 hijackers who carried out the terror attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

The name, included in a 2012 FBI report on suspected Saudi ties to the terrorists, was released to lawyers representing the families of nearly 3,000 victims of the worst act of terrorism on American soil.

The mystery man allegedly tasked two other Saudis living in the Los Angeles area before the 9/11 attacks — Omar al-Bayoumi and Fahad al-Thumairy — to aid Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, who crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.

FILE – Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., right, is flanked by John D’Amato, an attorney for the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as he faces reporters in New York, July 27, 2003, with a copy of the government report on the attacks.

Al-Bayoumi allegedly did such things as finding the two terrorists an apartment, co-signing their lease and paying their first month’s rent.

Fourteen other hijackers forced two other airliners to crash into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and a third into a field in Pennsylvania.

“This has been a very important name to our case because it will now tie the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and their officials in an official capacity directing the actions of 9/11,” said Terry Strada, national chair of the 9/11 Families and Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, whose husband died in the attack on the North Tower.

Most hijackers were Saudis

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals, which has raised persistent suspicion about Saudi involvement. But Saudi Arabia has long denied any connection, and over the years it has waged a vociferous campaign to forestall the litigation and disclosure of damaging information.

Neither the FBI nor the CIA could conclusively say after the attacks that the Saudi government was responsible.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers for the families declined to discuss the name, but they said the disclosure connected the dots between al-Bayoumi and al-Thumairy and the hijackers.

“Our mission here is to uncover facts about what Omar al-Bayoumi and Fahad al-Thumairy did and who they were working with,” said Sean Carter, co-chair of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee in the case.

FILE – Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, then the Saudi Arabia defense minister, arrives to attend the Global Coalition to Counter IS Meeting at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, outside of Washington, July 20, 2016.

Turning point

The disclosure marks a turning point in the case, as the Justice Department acquiesced to demands for disclosure, despite the Trump administration’s close relations with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The litigation grew out of hundreds of lawsuits filed against Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The lawsuits have since been consolidated into one massive case. It seeks billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia for supporting al-Qaida and facilitating the 9/11 attacks.

For nearly 13 years, the case languished in the courts, hampered by a 1976 law that largely protects foreign governments from being sued in U.S. courts.

Then came the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA, the 2016 law that allows U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments over terrorist acts carried out on American soil.

That pumped fresh blood into the case. Last year, a federal judge in New York rejected Saudi Arabia’s latest motion to dismiss the lawsuit and ruled that the case could move forward. Attorneys for the 9/11 families were allowed to collect information from Saudi Arabia, the U.S. government and other parties about Saudi support for the hijackers, including the activities of al-Bayoumi and al-Thumairy.

FBI report

Their names were mentioned in the 2012 FBI report, which referenced an unnamed third person who tasked them to help the two hijackers.

The FBI released the report in late 2016 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by a news site, but kept the name of the third person redacted. The 9/11 families’ lawyers pressed for its release, and Attorney General William Barr consented, while invoking “state secrets” privileges over much of the rest of the report.

The FBI investigated al-Bayoumi and al-Thumairy after 9/11 but released them without bringing any charges. The men are believed to be living in Saudi Arabia.

The families’ lawyers say they want to talk to them.

“We intend to depose all witnesses whose attendance we can compel, whether by U.S. rules, treaties or international law and norms,” Carter said.

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South Sudan had a vibrant print media when it separated from Sudan in 2011, with 34 newspapers and six magazines in circulation. 
Today, there are only five newspapers left. Most publishers trying to establish a foothold do not last long enough to celebrate their first anniversary. 
Several newspaper owners blame the country’s economic crisis for their downfall. Charles Rehan, founder of the defunct Juba Post, told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus that his paper failed to survive more than two years because of a lack of materials needed to publish the paper. 
“We printed newspapers in Khartoum, and when South Sudan separated from Khartoum, we went to print in Uganda. When you bring newspapers from Uganda, the newspaper will come late,” and that affected the paper’s ability to grow, Rehan said. 
Future of print 
A lack of newspapers could hurt South Sudan’s future, Rehad said. Journalists serve an important function, he said, when they ask questions, investigate wrongdoing and force government officials to address the problems facing the country. 
“If there is something going wrong, the journalists will say, ‘This is wrong, this is the right direction.’ But without newspapers, the country cannot develop at all,” he said. 
Thomas Manase, CEO of Brisker magazine, said South Sudan has a poor reading culture that limits the growth of print media. 
“In South Sudan, young people don’t like to pick up stuff to read and be informed,” Manase told VOA. In addition, he said, businesses don’t value advertising. “This has really affected our sales.” 
Brisker stopped printing after publishing just four issues. It can now be found online.  

FILE – Stacks of South Sudanese newspapers sit on shelves in the office of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) in Juba, in May 2019.

Irene Ayaa, media development officer at the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), said many reporters and editors have abandoned journalism for better-paying careers with nongovernmental organizations. 
“The salaries that they are getting are not motivating them to the standard that they have in terms of training,” Ayaa told South Sudan in Focus. 
A survey conducted by AMDISS found that the highest-paid journalists in South Sudan’s print media earned roughly 40,000 South Sudanese pounds a month, the equivalent of $250, while the lowest-paid journalists received about 10,000 South Sudanese pounds a month, or $60. 
She said since the pay is so low, it’s not uncommon for journalists to accept money for transportation or lunch, which she believes can affect a journalist’s objectivity. 
Threats against media 
She also said that threats, harassment and intimidation of the media by security operatives have forced some journalists to leave their work and seek safety in neighboring countries. 
But overall, it’s South Sudan’s ailing, post-civil war economy that’s the culprit. Alison Ismail, chief executive officer of the Star Tribune, said the hard economic times in South Sudan forced him to close his newspaper last year. 
“Nothing will make me to jeopardize or put myself at risk of doing business when I am going to lose every day,” Ismail declared, saying he would reopen his paper only after the economy picked up. 
Oliver Modi, head of the Union of Journalists in South Sudan, said he thought many print media operators in South Sudan failed because of bad management. 
He said most newspaper owners don’t do market research before launching their operations. “They don’t have a strategic plan and proper budget to sustain their newspapers,” Modi said. 
A handful of newspapers have stayed alive. Anna Nimiriano, editor in chief of the Juba Monitor, said her paper was surviving, but just barely. 
“What is helping us is advertisement and sales,” Nimiriano told South Sudan in Focus.  

“If we follow the footsteps of others, there will be no print media in South Sudan,” she added. 
Still, Nimiriano is hopeful. “If there is peace, everything will be stable,” she told VOA. 

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Nigeria’s frenetic commercial capital, Lagos, is plunged into darkness several times a day.

Then its generators roar, and the lights flood back on.

Nigeria is one of the world’s largest economies where businesses rely so heavily on diesel-powered generators.

More than 70% of its firms own or share the units, while government data shows generators provide at least 14 gigawatts of power annually, dwarfing the 4 gigawatts supplied on average by the country’s electricity grid.

The machines guzzle cash and spew pollution, but they are reliable in a nation where nearly 80 million people – some 40% of the population – have no access to grid power. Now diesel costs could spike globally, and many businesses are not prepared.

Diesel prices are expected to surge as United Nations rules aimed at cleaning up international shipping come into effect on Jan. 1, with many ships expected to burn distillates instead of dirtier fuel oil.

Slowing economic growth and nascent trade wars could blunt a price spike, and as the shipping industry adapts to the rules, vessels will likely consume less diesel. But in the short term their impact could be profound.

Estimates vary widely, but observers warn that prices could surge by nearly 20%.

A diesel-run generator is on display at Mikano head office in Lagos, Nigeria, Sept. 9, 2019.

Higher costs for operating generators that power the machinery, computer servers and mobile phone towers that run Nigeria’s economy could impair growth in gross domestic product, already limping along at 1.92% at a time inflation is at 11%.

With the population growing at 2.6% each year, people are getting poorer.

“In an environment like this, where discretionary spending is very limited, this could have a big impact,” said Temi Popoola, West Africa chief executive for investment bank Renaissance Capital.

A 20% price rise could shave 0.2% off GDP growth, he said.

Generators Everywhere

Nigeria and German engineering group Siemens agreed in July to nearly triple the country’s “reliable” power supply to 11,000 megawatts by 2023. But previous such plans have failed.

While many Nigerian household and small business generators are powered by price-capped gasoline, the big generators for larger firms, apartment complexes and more substantial homes can only run on diesel.

“Businesses may struggle to survive, or in the best case scenario, would at least downsize,” said Tunde Leye, a Lagos-based analyst with SBM Intelligence. Diesel is the second or third biggest cost for many Nigerian firms, he said.

The oil industry, the Nigerian economy’s biggest driver, would not take a big hit as it does not rely on Nigerian consumers being willing to absorb extra costs it has to pass on.

As fuel producers in their own right, its firms can also recoup costs more easily.

But other heavyweight industries would feel pain. Bank branches rely on generators, with diesel often accounting for 20-30% of banks’ operating expenses, according to Popoola.

Telecommunications companies need them to run their mobile phone towers across the country. Telecoms giant MTN told local media in 2015 that it spends 8 billion naira ($26 million) annually on diesel.

Even bakeries need diesel. At Rehoboth Chops & Confectioneries Ltd., a bakery in the Ogba district of Lagos, giant diesel-powered ovens bake hundreds of loaves of bread. The factory runs 24 hours a day, six-and-a-half days a week.

The lights, mixers and fans that clear the heat are powered by two large diesel generators outside. The ovens run directly on diesel, so they never cut out.

Chief operating officer Abayomi Awe said they use cheaper grid power when they can but rely on generators for around 20 hours per day. Grid power can be down for days.

“It becomes difficult for us to expand if the price of diesel goes up,” he said as bakers scrambled to pull finished loaves from steaming ovens. “It might result in some companies, some bakeries like ours, shutting down.”

In Crisis, An Opportunity

Many businesses are already searching for solutions. The Lagos Chamber of Commerce wants electricity prices revised upwards so the grid can attract investment – a politically risky move domestically.

It has also lobbied the government to remove tariffs and taxes on imported solar panels, which stand at 10%.

Unity Bank and the Bank of Agriculture have already signed deals with solar firm Daystar Power, while mobile phone tower firm IHS Towers is trying to power more sites using solar panels.

Solar power provider Starsight Power Utility Ltd said it is working with 70% of Nigerian banks, but that cheap diesel has been one of the biggest hurdles for the development of solar.

“I think an increase in the diesel price would be most welcome for our business,” chief executive Tony Carr said.

“There is no market penetration because diesel is so cheap.”

($1 = 305.9000 naira)


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A judge cleared the way Tuesday for OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma to stay in business while it pursues bankruptcy protection and settlement of more than 2,600 lawsuits filed against it in a reckoning over the opioid crisis.

At the first court hearing since the Chapter 11 filing late Sunday, Purdue lawyers secured permission for the multibillion-dollar company based in Stamford, Connecticut, to maintain business as usual — paying employees and vendors, supplying pills to distributors, and keeping current on taxes and insurance.

The continued viability of Purdue is a key component of the company’s settlement offer, which could be worth up to $12 billion over time.

Under the proposal, backed by about half the states, the Sackler family, which owns Purdue, would turn the company, its assets and more than $1 billion in cash reserves over to a trust controlled by the very entities suing it.

The Sacklers have also agreed to pay a minimum of $3 billion of their own money to the settlement over seven years, as well as up to $1.5 billion more in proceeds from the planned sale of their non-U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

“This is a highly unusual case in that the debtors have pledged to turn over their business to the claimants,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain said. “All of the claimants, in essence, have the same interest in maximizing the value of the business and avoiding immediate and irreparable harm.”

Attorney Joe Rice, who represents a group of plaintiffs in the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy, speak to reporters in White Plains, N.Y., Sept. 17, 2019.

Joe Rice, a lawyer for some of the plaintiffs, estimated it could be more than a year before the bankruptcy and settlement are finalized.

“This is not a sprint. We’ve got a little bit of a marathon here,” he said after the three-hour hearing in New York City’s northern suburbs.

Purdue’s bankruptcy filing has effectively frozen all litigation against the company, which its lawyers said has been spending more than $250 million a year on legal and professional fees, but it has not stopped lawsuits against the Sacklers from moving forward.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is suing the Sacklers and opposes the proposed settlement, said last week that her office found that members of the family used Swiss and other accounts to transfer $1 billion to themselves.

Purdue lawyer Marshall Huebner said he hoped states that are opposed to the proposed settlement could be persuaded to change their positions.

“In essence, America itself that stands to benefit or lose from the success or failure of these reorganization proceedings,” Huebner said.

None of the Sacklers attended the hearing, but the family name did come up several times as Purdue lawyers declared that they wouldn’t benefit from any steps taken Tuesday to keep the company in business.

As the bankruptcy unfolds, Purdue will continue to pay its approximately 700 employees under preexisting salary structures.

No member of the Sackler family is an employee and none will receive payments, Purdue lawyer Eli Vonnegut said.

Because of commitments Purdue made before the bankruptcy filing, the company will pay sign-on bonuses to five employees and retention bonuses to about 100 employees. The company agreed to hold off on seeking to continue other bonus plans, such as incentive bonuses.

Drain, the judge, also allowed the company to continue covering legal fees for current and former employees, which Vonnegut estimated wouldn’t exceed $1.5 million per month. The company stopped covering legal fees for members of the family on March 1, he said.

“We swear up and down that no payments will go to the Sacklers,” Vonnegut said.

Purdue lawyers argued that the sign-on and retention bonuses were vital to attracting and keeping top talent in a tumultuous time for the company. Covering employee legal fees is important to morale and sends a strong signal that the company backs the people who work for it, the lawyers said.

Bankruptcy trustee Paul Schwartzberg objected, saying the bonuses went “way beyond” normal compensation and were padding the pockets of employees who already make upward of $300,000 a year.


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International Criminal Court judges said Tuesday that the court’s prosecutor can appeal against the rejection of her request to open an investigation into crimes linked to the long-running conflict in Afghanistan.

In April, a panel of judges rejected the proposed investigation, saying it would not be in the interests of justice because an investigation and prosecution were unlikely to be successful as those targeted — including the United States, Afghan authorities and the Taliban — are not expected to cooperate.

Seeking leave to appeal, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that reasoning ran contrary to the court’s goal of prosecuting grave crimes when national authorities are unwilling or unable to do so.

Bensouda must now file a detailed appeal that will be considered by judges, a process likely to take months.

FILE – Public Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda attends the trial for Malian Islamist militant Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the Netherlands, July 8, 2019.

Her November 2017 request to open an investigation angered Washington because as well as alleging that crimes were committed by the Taliban and Afghan security forces, Bensouda said she had information that members of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies were involved in crimes.

Her request said they allegedly “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period.”

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would revoke or deny visas to ICC staff seeking to investigate alleged war crimes and other abuses committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Bensouda said that the Taliban and other insurgents killed more than 17,000 civilians since 2009.


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The recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s crude oil hub at the Abqaiq and Khurais production facilities reveal that even a nation with a sophisticated military and a massive defense budget is still vulnerable to drone strikes.

The United States says satellite images and intelligence information show Iranian weapons were used in the aerial attacks that have shut down half of the kingdom’s oil production. Security experts say this latest incident sparks growing concern over the rapid evolution of technologies expanding drones’ offensive capabilities.  

Unidentified U.S. officials have been telling Western media that more than a dozen attacks targeted the installations from a west-northwest direction and not from the southwest as claimed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen who said they carried out the coordinated assault.   

In July, the Houthis, who are fighting a Saudi-led coalition war in Yemen, showed off their Iranian-made weapons long-range cruise missiles, dubbed “Al-Quds”, and explosives-laden “Sammad 3” drones that reportedly can hit targets as far as 1,500 kilometers away.

No previous attack, since the Yemen conflict began four years ago, however, has interrupted oil supplies. But the assaults have taken 5.7 million barrels of oil a day off the world’s markets.  They have also exposed the vulnerability of the pumping heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.

Defense analysts say the attacks have exposed structural problems in the kingdom’s defenses. They say the systems – albeit sophisticated – are designed to defend against traditional-style attacks – and not asymmetrical ones from the air by drones.

Smoke is seen following an apparent drone strike at an Aramco oil facility in the eastern city of Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 14, 2019.


Middle East analyst Theodore Karasik at Gulf State Analytics told VOA the incident’s security and military implications are huge.

“The gravity is really off the charts. This is literally the oil industry’s 9/11. The targeting of these two facilities was 100-percent successful in delivery of a swarm of cruise missiles and drones. This is the ultimate scenario for taking out energy infrastructure by use of this type of weaponry. The significance of the event itself and the damage done is unprecedented. We are dealing with a rapid escalation in terms of what the responses and counter responses will be,” he said.

Saudi authorities say their initial investigation shows Iranian devices were used in the attacks, but the location origin of the attacks was not clear and they were “working to determine the launch point.” Washington has urged Saudi Arabia to decide what the appropriate response to the attacks should be. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry has called for an international investigation into the incident.

“Maybe the Saudis want to buy some time here before they respond in any kind of way,” said analyst Karasik. “It puts the Saudis in a tough spot about what they want to do next. But clearly there has to be a response from the West or else Iran will continue to run roughshod over everybody else.  The issue here is that Iran has shown all of its cards when it comes to missiles and drones. So, now in the response, if there is a military response it will target command and control nodes and the oil industry.  The thinking here is that any attack on Iran must set back Iran’s military ability 10 to 15 years.”

This satellite overview handout image obtained Sept. 16, 2019, courtesy of Planet Labs Inc., shows damage to oil infrastructure from weekend drone attacks at Abqaig, Sept. 14, 2019, in Saudi Arabia.


Jeffrey Price, a security consultant and an aviation management professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, told VOA the drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia are a “game-changer,” and he sees the drone strike as the “next front of a new war.”

“That’s the challenge. When you have so much territory to protect and protect it all evenly and equally it’s very difficult to defend, particularly with missiles and drones. They move much faster, particularly the missiles can move much faster than the manned aircraft can. Both of them have a much lower radar signature than a standard aircraft would, so it’s really about stepping up all of those defenses to detect these new threats,” he said.

It used to be that only governments had air forces, but drones have democratized violence from the sky,” says another analyst, Bernard Hudson, a fellow on Persian Gulf security issues at Harvard University, quoted in the Washington Post newspaper.

He says the Houthis, with Iran’s help and advice, have perfected the practice to a level no one else has done.  Jeffrey Price expects a change in how insurgents invest in weapons.

“What drones have done is really handed everybody the capability of a standoff strike autonomously and anonymously without any sort of accountability.  It’s going to be much harder to find out who is operating these,” Price said.

Price and others worry the current offensive capability of drones is many times ahead of the defensive capabilities that governments are now trying to develop.



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It may be possible to help tackle climate change while still munching on the occasional bacon sandwich or slurping a few oysters, a new study suggested on Tuesday.

Scientists found that diets in which meat, fish or dairy products were consumed only once a day would leave less of a footprint on climate change and water supplies than a vegetarian diet including milk and eggs, in 95% of countries they analysed.

That is partly because raising dairy cows for milk, butter and cheese requires large amounts of energy and land, as well as fertilisers and pesticides to grow fodder, emitting greenhouse gases that are heating up the planet, the study said.

Diets that contain insects, small fish and molluscs, meanwhile, have as similarly small an environmental impact as plant-based vegan diets but are generally more nutritious, said researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

They calculated greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater use for nine different diets – ranging from one meatless day a week and no red meat, to pescatarian and vegan – in 140 countries.

Many climate activists and scientists have called for a shift to plant-based diets to keep climate change in check and reduce deforestation, since producing red meat requires a lot of land for grazing and growing feed.

Agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for nearly a quarter of man-made greenhouse gas emissions from 2007-2016, the U.N. climate science panel said in a flagship report last month.

But there is no one-size-fits-all solution, said Keeve Nachman, assistant professor at the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who led the study on diets.

In low- and middle-income countries such as Indonesia, citizens on average need to eat more animal protein for adequate nutrition, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

That means diet-related heat-trapping emissions and water use in poorer countries would need to rise to reduce hunger and malnutrition, while high-income countries should reduce their consumption of meat, dairy and eggs, the study said.

On average, producing a serving of beef emits 316 times more greenhouse gases – including methane – than pulses, 115 times more than nuts, and 40 times more than soy, it added.

According to the World Resources Institute, a U.S.-based think-tank, diners in North and South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union make up only a quarter of the global population but ate more than half of the world’s meat from ruminants – such as cattle, sheep and goats – in 2010.

The latest study also found that producing a pound of beef in Paraguay contributes nearly 17 times more greenhouse gases than in Denmark, partly because in Latin America, it often involves cutting down forests to clear land for cattle grazing.

A typical diet in Niger has the highest water footprint, researchers noted, mainly due to millet production and crop residues that cannot be consumed.

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