Insurgency mounts on Mali-Burkina borderlands

At least 25 Malian soldiers are dead and more than 60 others missing after two assaults on bases in central Mali, near the border with Burkina Faso. Jihadist forces simultaneously targeted a Malian army base and a G5 Sahel force camp. The G5 Sahel group includes Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania, and receives logistical support from the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Malian officials say the insurgents used “heavy weapons” in the assaults, and that at least 15 militants were killed. Local reports indicate the militants were able to briefly hold the bases and capture large amounts of weapons and equipment. Mali has now launched a joint operation with Burkina Faso and French forces in the region to hunt down the militants. (Photo:  UN News)

Watching the Shadows

Amy Goodman plugs neo-Nazi symp as ‘expert’?

In an egregious and all too revealing faux pas, Amy Goodman appears to have put a mouthpiece of the German far right on Democracy Now as a "former UN expert" to discuss Venezuela. This is one Alfred de Zayas, who is given Goodman's typical sycophantic treatment—all softballs, no adversarial questions. We are treated to the accurate enough if not at all surprising line about how the US is attempting a coup with the complicity of the corporate media. Far more interesting than what he says is de Zayas himself. Not noted by Goodman is that he is on the board of the Desiderius-Erasmus-Stiftung, a Berlin-based foundation established last year as the intellectual and policy arm of Alternative für Deutschland, the far-right party that has tapped anti-immigrant sentiment to win an alarming 94 seats in Germany's Bundestag. He has won a neo-Nazi following with his unseemly theories of Aliied "genocide" against Germans in World War II. (Image via Democracy Now)

North Africa

Mauritania: press crackdown amid political crisis

Authorities in Mauritania ordered the country's five privately owned news stations off the air. The move is the latest sign of a crackdown on the independent press following a controversial referendum called by President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz in August. The opposition-boycotted vote abolished Mauritania's Senate after it blocked an expansion of presidential powers.

Watching the Shadows

Last UK detainee released from Gitmo

The last remaining British inmate at Guantánamo Bay, Shaker Aamer, was released to the UK, bringing the number detainees at the facility to 112.

North Africa

Mauritania pressed on anti-slavery law

UN rights experts pressed Mauritania to fully implement its new, toughened anti-slavery law—passed just as a court upheld a two-year prison term for an anti-slavery activist.

North Africa

Mauritania: death sentence for blasphemy

Blogger Cheikh Ould Mohamed of Mauritania was sentenced to death for apostasy after a court convicted him of "speaking lightly of the Prophet Mohammed" on websites.

North Africa

Mauritania: polls boycotted, slavery condemned

Mauritania's opposition parties will boycott upcoming elections, seen as legitimizing a dictatorship, while a "Global Slavery Index" names the country as the world's worst offender.

North Africa

Strike shuts Mauritania mega-mine

Canada-based Kinross Gold is said to be rethinking plans for expansion of its massive open-pit mine at Tasiast, Mauritania, after a strike shut the facility for 10 days this month.

Watching the Shadows

Harrowing Gitmo memoir published

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian detained at Guantánamo since August 2002, has had portions of his handwritten prison-camp memoir published in Slate magazine.