Time Warner internet outage affects millions of US broadband customers


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Time Warner Cable outage affects millions of US broadband customers” was written by Alex Hern and Jessica Glenza, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 27th August 2014 14.35 UTC

Internet service went down for millions of Americans on Wednesday morning after cable company Time Warner Cable suffered a major outage.

The company, which has almost 12m broadband subscribers nationwide, said it was investigating the cause of the outage, which apparently began around 4.30am ET. By 6am, it said “services were largely restored”, but an hour later, said it was still “working to restore services to all areas”. By 10am, the company was telling customers the outage had been resolved, but some social media users said access was still spotty.

twc outage
A Time Warner outage map as of 10:20am ET Photograph: /http:/downdetector.com/status/time-warner-cable/map

Affected users besieged the helplines and social media accounts of the firm, which declared an operating income of .1bn in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Time Warner Cable paid .1m to resolve an investigation from the Federal Communications Commission that found the provider did not properly report multiple network outages.

“TWC (Time Warner Cable) failed to file a substantial number of reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and Voice Over Internet Protocol network outages,” the FCC’s report read. “TWC admits that its failure to timely file the required network outage reports violated the commission’s rules.”

The FCC is currently reviewing a deal for company to be purchased by Comcast – a cable and internet giant.

The deal comes after Time Warner received a bn offer from smaller rival Charter Communications, but accepted Comcast’s offer of .2bn after Charter threatened to unseat the company’s board of directors.

Consumer groups have repeatedly warned that combining the two companies would be a disaster for consumers, and would further reduce competition in an already monopolized market. Several studies confirmed that services competing against Comcast, such as Netflix, have been throttled by the company, the delivery speed of media significantly slowed by the ISP.

Time Warner and other cable companies are facing increased competition from companies such as Google. The Silicon Valley giant installed fiber optic cables in several cities around America. It claims the internet speeds are up to 100 times faster than typical broadband.

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Thai king endorses coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Thai king endorses coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister” was written by Kate Hodal in Yangon, for theguardian.com on Monday 25th August 2014 11.42 UTC

The king of Thailand has officially endorsed the army chief and coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister, three months after the military leader took control of the nation in a bloodless coup.

The approval on Monday – a mere formality from the ageing King Bhumibol Adulyadej – follows Prayuth’s appointment last week by the military-majority national assembly, who voted in the sole candidate unanimously.

Dressed in a while military uniform and flanked by officers, Prayuth said: “I consider this the highest honour of my life,” and added: “I am ready to get tired.”

The royal endorsement will allow Prayuth – who is due to stand down as army chief next month – to establish an interim government until elections are held some time in late 2015. He is expected to form a new cabinet by October and described his priorities as preparing the country for national reform and establishing prosperity, according to media reports.

“Our country has accumulated many problems … which need to be urgently solved,” he said. “To do this we must not create future problems.”

Prayuth, 60, is the first coup leader to serve as prime minister in nearly 60 years and his appointment was condemned by opponents.

The ruling junta, named the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has also come under fire both at home and abroad for cracking down on dissidents; detaining politicians, journalists, critics and activists; shutting down newspapers, radio and TV stations; imposing martial law; and handpicking a military-dominated parliament that now has more officers in it than Burma’s.

In a statement, the overseas-based Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy described Prayuth’s appointment as “a political farce and in violation of the rule of law”. Prayuth himself has promised a “Thai-style” democracy and has staged various “happiness festivals” around the capital Bangkok in order to “bring happiness back to the Thai people”.

Prayuth seized control on 22 May after six months of sometimes bloody protests that left the nation in legislative paralysis and saw 28 people killed and over 700 injured.

The coup removed the democratically elected PM, Yingluck Shinawatra, from office eight years after her brother Thaksin was also removed from his post as prime minister – in yet another coup that also involved Prayuth.

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Iraqi and Kurdish forces launch attacks to recapture towns from Isis


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Iraqi and Kurdish forces launch attacks to recapture towns from Isis” was written by Mark Tran in London and Spencer Ackerman in New York, for theguardian.com on Friday 22nd August 2014 13.17 UTC

Iraqi government forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters have launched attacks to recapture two towns in the north from Islamic State (Isis) militants, as Western governments consider how to mount an effective response to the threat posed by the extremist group that has redrawn the border of Iraq and Syria.

The Kurdish forces, backed by US air power, took one district near the eastern entrance to Jalawla, 70 miles (115km) north-east of Baghdad. Jalawla was taken by Isis more than a week ago. Iraqi troops supported by Iraqi fighter planes were advancing towards the nearby town of Saadiya. Both towns are near the Iranian border and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Shirko Mirwais, an official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, said the battle to reclaim Jalawla had already left several dead on both sides. “The peshmerga advanced on Jalawla from several directions” before dawn, he said, adding that they had already taken back several positions, cutting off the militants.

He said nine peshmerga had been wounded in the fighting but could not say how many had been killed. Another PUK official, Mullah Bakhtiar, confirmed the operation was under way and said it had already achieved some of its goals.

Kurdish forces lost at least 10 fighters when Isis took Jalawla, one of the deadliest flashpoints along the peshmerga’s 600-mile (1,000km) front.

In Syria, government forces have sent reinforcements to an airbase under attack by Isis militants, the last government foothold in north-east Syria, an area largely controlled by jihadi fighters. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group monitoring violence in Syria, said the reinforcements had been flown in overnight to Tabqa, 25 miles (40km) east of the Isis stronghold of Raqqa.

The group said about 30 Isis fighters had been killed and dozens more wounded on Thursday by heavy bombardment and landmines in areas surrounding the base. Boosted by US weapons seized in Iraq, Isis has taken three Syrian military bases in the area in recent weeks.

Since 8 August, nearly two-thirds of the 90 US strikes have taken place near the critical Mosul dam, which Barack Obama this week declared was no longer under Isis control.

Amid the latest fighting, Britain’s former head of the army, Lord Dannatt, said the west must build bridges with Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, to tackle Isis. Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Dannatt said the group had to be “opposed, confronted and defeated” in both Iraq and Syria.

“The Syrian dimension has got to be addressed. You cannot deal with half a problem,” he said. “The old saying ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ has begun to have some resonance with our relationship with Iran. I think it’s going to have to have some resonance with our relationship with Assad.”

Dannatt continued: “I think whether it is above the counter or below the counter, a conversation has got to be held with him. Because if there are going to be any question of air strikes over Syrian airspace it has got to be with the Assad regime’s approval.”

The former army chief said he believed more UK special forces might need to be deployed on the ground in Iraq to train Kurdish troops in how to use weapons. He also suggested the “time will come” when the government decides that British planes should carry out air strikes, rather than leaving it to the US.

But American and British officials have firmly ruled out co-operation with Assad. Philip Hammond, the British foreign secretary, said he did not believe an alliance with the Assad regime would not be “practical, sensible or helpful”.

Asked if the UK would have to collaborate with the Assad regime, Mr Hammond told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “No. We may very well find that we are fighting, on some occasions, the same people that he is but that doesn’t make us his ally.”

Although US officials have described Isis as an “apocalyptic” organisation that poses an “imminent threat”, the highest ranking officer in the American military said that in the short term, it was sufficient for the US to “contain” the group, which has taken over large chunks of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Army general Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said on Thursday that cross-border action was necessary to defeat the group. He played down, however, speculation that US warplanes would strike Isis in Syria as well as Iraq.

Isis “will have to be addressed on both sides of what is at this point essentially a non-existent border”, he said, which would require “a variety of instruments, only one small part of which is air strikes. I’m not predicting those will occur in Syria, at least not by the United States of America.”

Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser and one of Obama’s most trusted foreign policy aides, told a radio interviewer that allying with Assad and his “barbarism” – a word US officials also use to describe Isis – is off the table.

“We basically think that the reason that Isil was able to get the safe haven that they have established in parts of Syria is because of Assad’s policies. His barbarism against his own people created an enormous vacuum. … He’s part of the problem, Assad,” Rhodes told National Public Radio on Thursday, using the US government’s preferred acronym for Isis.

From the Obama administration’s perspective, a viable strategy against Isis hinges on cleaving Sunnis on both sides of the border – “the 20 million disenfranchised Sunnis that happen to reside between Damascus and Baghdad,” as Dempsey put it on Thursday. Backing Assad, their enemy, forecloses on that option, the thinking goes.

At the Pentagon, defence secretary Chuck Hagel called Assad “probably the central core” of US woes in the region.

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Michael Brown family attorney: autopsy proves ‘witness accounts were true’ – live


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Ferguson crisis: Obama says ‘young men of colour are left behind’ – live updates” was written by Amanda Holpuch, for theguardian.com on Monday 18th August 2014 22.25 UTC

6.25pm ET


We’re going to wrap up our live blog coverage for the time being. We will continue to post updates throughout the evening on our home page.

Follow the Guardian’s Rory Carroll (@rorycarroll72) and Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) for ongoing reporting from Ferguson.

Here’s a summary of where things stand:

• St Louis County police have created an “organized protest zone” as people gather for another night of demonstrations.

US president Barack Obama loosely addressed racial disparities in the US criminal justice system while making remarks about Ferguson on Monday. “You have young men of color in many communities who are more likely to end up in jail or the criminal justice system, then they are in a good job or college,” Obama said.

He also said multiple times that one of the great things about the US is how it distinguishes its military from local law enforcement. He said it may be worth it to review the government’s controversial grant program that allows local law enforcement agencies to use excess military equipment.

Attorney general Eric Holder is heading to Ferguson on Wednesday, said Obama. He will be there to meet with department of justice and FBI investigators who are already working in Ferguson. The two met earlier on Monday during a break from his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. “I realize there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown’s death, but I ask for the public’s patience as we conduct this investigation,” Holder said in a statement released after their meeting.

• State governor Jay Nixon abandoned the curfew for Monday night. Despite a curfew being in place on Sunday night from 12am to 5pm, it was largely considered the most intense night of action thus far.

Missouri’s national guard arrived in Ferguson on Monday after governor Nixon called for their deployment in the early hours of the morning. He said they would be working alongside law enforcement who have been monitoring the unrest for the past eight days.

A Pew study released on Monday shows that black and white adults in the US have “sharply different reactions” to the shooting of Michael Brown. Of the 1,000 adults surveyed, 80% of black people said the story raises important issues about race, while 37% of white people felt that way.

Updated at 6.25pm ET

6.13pm ET

Reporter Chris Campbell spoke with a friend of Barbara Spradling, the girlfriend of the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, officer Darren Wilson. The friend said that Wilson admits he shot Brown in the head.

However, Wilson’s version of events, as told through Spradling to the friend, contradicts aspects of the accounts given by some other eyewitnesses, including Dorian Johnson, a friend of Brown who was with him when he was stopped, minutes after the pair were allegedly involved in a robbery at a convenience store.

There appears to be little dispute that a struggle took place, though the pathologists who carried out the autopsy for Brown’s family said Monday their preliminary finding was that Brown’s body showed no evidence of one. The account provided by police, given in the hours after the shooting, is that Wilson stopped Brown and Johnson for walking down the middle of the street when they should have been on the sidewalk.

Spradling told the friend who spoke to the Guardian that Brown initiated the altercation by striking Wilson in the face, leading to a struggle for Wilson’s gun that resulted in one shot being fired in the police vehicle.

6.04pm ET

Several protesters were removed from demonstrations outside the Wainwright state office building in St Louis, according to multiple reports. A crowd gathered there earlier this afternoon.

5.55pm ET

Police create "organized protest zone"

St Louis County police department has created “an organized protest zone” for demonstrators to contain themselves in after eight nights of protests across the city’s streets. A media staging area will be across from the protest zone as law enforcement attempt to control the situation. The police department explained the zones in a statement:

An organized protest zone is being established at Ferguson and W. Florissant. Media can stay at existing media staging area, or move to new media staging area which will be across the street from the protest zone. This will put the media on the shoulder of the road, across the street on W. Florissant from the protest zone. Please be patient with us as we make this transition.

Also, W. Florissant will be closed to through traffic within the hour. As always, advise road blocks by showing media credentials for access.

5.47pm ET

US attorney general Eric Holder released a statement on Monday following his meeting with Barack Obama about Ferguson and provided details on the department of justice’s investigation into the shooting.

“I realize there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown’s death, but I ask for the public’s patience as we conduct this investigation,” Holder said. “The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me. No matter how others pursue their own separate inquiries, the Justice Department is resolved to preserve the integrity of its investigation. This is a critical step in restoring trust between law enforcement and the community, not just in Ferguson, but beyond.

Holder said an additional medical examination of Brown’s body is being performed today by “one of the most experienced medical examiners in the United States military.”

More than 40 FBI agents are canvassing the neighborhood where Michael Brown was shot and several interviews have been conducted.

“In order to truly begin the process of healing, we must also see an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson,” Holder said. “Those who have been peacefully demonstrating should join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters and others seeking to enflame tensions.

5.33pm ET

Video of Barack Obama’s afternoon press conference on the situation in Ferguson. Obama called on protesters to be peaceful and said attorney general Eric Holder will be in Ferguson on Wednesday.

5.22pm ET

State violence created street violence in Ferguson, says Guardian columnist Gary Younge. He said statements about criminal acts by protesters ignore the nature, scale and source of the problem:

Nobody in their right mind wants more violent protests. But nobody wants more Michael Browns either. And those two things – the violence of the state and the violence of the street – are connected. “A riot,” said Martin Luther King, “is the language of the unheard.” The people on the streets don’t donate thousands of dollars to anyone’s campaign. They don’t get a seat at any table where decisions are made or have the ear of the powerful. But with four black men killed by the police in the country in the last four weeks, they have a lot to say, and precious few avenues through which to say it. The question now is who’s listening.

5.16pm ET

Some observers were critical of Obama’s remarks, which went in circles at times as he tried to avoid showing any bias in the Michael Brown case.

4.56pm ET

Obama addresses racial disparities in US criminal justice system

“In too many communities around this country young men of color are left behind and seen as objects of fear,” Obama said. He repeatedly touted his My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which was created to address the opportunity gap men of color face in the US.

“You have young men of color in many communities who are more likely to end up in jail or the criminal justice system, then they are in a good job or college,” Obama said.

“We’ve made extraordinary progress, but it’s not enough,” he said.

“Part of this is looking at our criminal justice to make sure it is upholding the principle that everyone is equal before the law,” Obama said.

“Given the history of this country, where we can build up by making more confidence, more trust, making sure that our criminal justice system is acutely aware of the possibilities of disparities in treatment.”

4.46pm ET

“In too many communities in this country, a gulf exists between the community and law enforcement,” Obama said.

“I think one of the great things about the United States is the ability to maintain a distinction between our military and domestic law enforcement,” Obama said. “That helps protect our civil liberties.”

A reporter asked Obama about the government’s grant program that allows local law enforcement agencies to use excess military equipment. Images of armored vehicles rolling down the streets of Ferguson, which has a population of about 21,000 people, have renewed criticism for this program.

“I think it’s probably useful for us to review how the funding has gone,” Obama said. “How local law enforcement has used local grant dollars to make sure they are purchasing stuff they actually need. There is a difference between the military and local law enforcement and we don’t want those lines blurred.”

4.36pm ET

Attorney general Eric Holder to visit Ferguson on Wednesday

President Barack Obama is providing updates on the situation in Ferguson from the White House briefing room as he takes a brief break from his vacation. He met with attorney general Eric Holder earlier today to get updates on the situation.

He said he also spoke with governor Jay Nixon and other local politicians earlier today.

The justice department has opened an independent civil rights investigation into the shooting. Holder is traveling to Ferguson on Wednesday to meet with FBI and department of justice employees currently on the ground working on the investigation.

“We have all seen images of protestors and law enforcements in the streets, it’s clear that the vast majority of people are peacefully protesting,” Obama said. “What is also clear is that a small minority are not.”

4.13pm ET

The national guard is first and foremost a state agency which is why Missouri governor Jay Nixon was reportedly able to activate the troops without running it by the White House. The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino has more on what the national guard is and when it gets called up:

In 1992 California national guard forces were called in to regain control of Los Angeles after riots erupted when four white officers were acquitted of severely beating a black man, Rodney King. President George HW Bush then declared it a federal disaster area and called the guard into federal service. More than 50 people died and nearly 2,000 people were injured before the troops eventually quelled the situation.

Jim Craig, an associate professor of military and veteran studies at the University of Missouri-St Louis, questioned whether the presence of the national guard would be effective in Ferguson. “The National Guard by design is militarised, and so that doesn’t theoretically de-escalate the situation. It actually may change the dynamic.”

4.02pm ET

Missouri highway patrolman Ron Johnson said that law enforcement has a plan to maintain resident safety tonight. “We will also ensure that peaceful protests will be allowed in the city of Ferguson,” Johnson said.

“We will not allow vandals, criminal elements to impact the safety and security of this community,” Johnson said.

Missouri National Guard general Greg Mason said that his soldiers are well-trained, well-seasoned and well-resourced.

President Barack Obama is due to speak at any minute.

3.53pm ET

Volunteers are handing out water, food and diapers near the scene of the Mike Brown shooting. Earlier today, the local chapter of the NAACP said the government should be providing assistance to families who live in the areas which have seen the most protest action.

3.40pm ET

A Pew study released on Monday shows that black and white adults in the US have “sharply different reactions” to the shooting of Michael Brown. Of the 1,000 adults surveyed:

• 80% of black people said the story raises important issues about race, while 37% of white people felt that way.

• 65% of black people think the police response to protests is too much, while 33% of white people felt that way.

• 18% of black people said they have a “great deal/fair amount” of confidence in the investigations into the shooting, while 53% of white people felt that way.

More white people thought the issue of race was getting too much attention in July 2013 after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Then, 28% of white people said the story raised important issues about race, compared to the 37% who feel that way about the Michael Brown shooting.

3.30pm ET

Police are arresting people outside of McDonalds, where Jesse Jackson spoke earlier today.

3.22pm ET

President Barack Obama is slated to make a statement on Ferguson and Iraq at 4pm ET/3pm CT. He took a break from his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to meet with attorney general Eric Holder earlier today.

3.04pm ET

St Louis mayor Francis Slay said he supports the governor’s decision to bring the national guard into the city.

2.52pm ET

Medical examiner Michael Baden said Michael Brown could have survived all of the gun shots he suffered except for one that hit the top of his head, reports The Guardian’s Jon Swaine, who has been in Ferguson for eight days.

Dr Michael Baden, who carried out the autopsy, said that “there weren’t signs of a struggle” on Brown’s body. Police have said that Brown assaulted Wilson after the officer stopped him and a friend and told them to walk on the sidewalk rather than in the road on 9 August.

However Baden, the former chief medical examiner for New York City, was more cautious than the lawyers, stating that the findings in his preliminary report “could be consistent” with suggestions that Brown had been shot while charging at Wilson. “It’s possible,” he said.

“There are many different witness testimonies,” said Baden. “Many seem to line up in one direction, some in another direction. Right now until we get more information we can’t, from a forensic science point of view, can’t distinguish and can’t make an absolute judgment.”

2.38pm ET

Guardian columnist Steven Thrasher is also on the ground in Ferguson. He spoke with children there about the unrest.

When I asked six-year-old Amor, who wants to be a firefighter and who lives here in Ferguson, Missouri, what he thinks of the police, he said, “They shoot people.”

The children of Ferguson have an especially painful – and unfairly adult – task before them: they must make sense of the death of one of their peers, Michael Brown, and deal with the fallout from the protests, violence and militarized police presence that has, in many ways, quickly come to define their young lives in the week since Brown’s violent death at the hands of a local police officer.

The police response to protests in Ferguson has affected children as much as the death itself. Amor’s 11-year-old brother, Tavier, told me, “They shouldn’t shoot people for protesting.” Sitting over pizza just a few blocks from the Ferguson Police Department, he added, “As I was getting older, I thought police were nice people, and as I’m getting older, I’m thinking they’re so-so. They’re still good people, but they’re judging us now.”

2.24pm ET

President Barack Obama met with attorney general Eric Holder on Monday to get updates on the situation in Ferguson. The Guardian’s Washington bureau chief Dan Roberts reports:

President Barack Obama’s plan to break from his vacation and return to Washington for official meetings was hatched more than four days before the lethal police shooting in Ferguson that came to overshadow so much of his first week in Martha’s Vineyard.

But unforeseen as it must have been, the opportunity to deal with the crisis from the White House rather than the backdrop of golf courses and beaches presents a chance for the president to inject greater urgency into the administration’s response.

For despite protestations to the contrary from his advisers, the president has at times appeared far removed from events unfolding on the streets of Ferguson.

2.11pm ET

Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson on 18 August 2014.
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson on 18 August 2014. Photograph: Roberto Rodriguez/EPA
Attorney Daryl Parks addresses members of the media concerning the preliminary autopsy report of slain 18 year-old Michael Brown.
Attorney Daryl Parks addresses members of the media concerning the preliminary autopsy report of slain 18-year-old Michael Brown. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP/Getty Images
Tyrell Mosley and his daughter, McKayla and son Demarre clean up debris along West Florissant Ave. in Ferguson, Missouri.
Tyrell Mosley and his daughter, McKayla and son Demarre clean up debris along West Florissant Ave. in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

1.51pm ET

Missouri governor Jay Nixon has abandoned the curfew in Ferguson as the national guard assists the government’s response to the protests.

“Last night, Ferguson, Missouri experienced a very difficult and dangerous night as a result of a violent criminal element intent upon terrorizing the community,” Nixon said in a statement. “As long as there are vandals and looters and threats to the people and property of Ferguson, we must take action to protect our citizens.”

“The Guard’s immediate and limited responsibilities under the direction of colonel Ron Replogle of the Missouri state highway patrol, are to provide protection, and ensure the safety of our Unified Command Center, which was the target last night of a coordinated attack. The Guard will concentrate its resources on carrying out this limited mission.”

He said that with these additional resources, the law enforcement agencies already operating in Ferguson will continue to respond to the protests. Missouri national guard brigadier general Gregory Mason is overseeing guard operations in Ferguson under the overall command of the state’s highway patrol.

1.41pm ET

The St Louis City chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held a press conference on Monday afternoon about the protests. The group has been working with the department of justice since day one of the protests and is also liaising with Michael Brown’s family.

Chapter president Adolphus Pruitt called for government officials to provide resources to businesses and social services to families in the protest zones. He said the families “already, socio-economically, are not at the highest level” and probably need the most help out of anyone affected. He also requested that the local police “enlighten us to what’s happening with the investigation.”

“Number one, we need the investigation to conclude and for justice to Mike Brown to occur,” Pruitt said. He said his other priorities included getting children back into school and ending the chaos that has overtaken Ferguson’s streets.

He said pictures of tear gas and armored vehicles against protesters has “haunted all of us,” and was concerned what would happen next if order is not restored. “The next image I see is African American men taking on the American armed forces directly, that is not the image we want to see,” said Pruitt.

1.17pm ET


As our live blog coverage continues, here’s a summary of where things stand:

• Sunday was the eighth, and most intense, night of protests since unarmed teenager Michael Brown was killed by police on 9 August. Witnesses reported the use of tactical equipment including stun grenades, bricks and gas bombs.

Missouri governor Jay Nixon has called in the state’s national guard to assist with the government’s response to the conflict in Ferguson. He did not tell the president he was calling in the troops, according to reports.

• Attorneys for Michael Brown’s family and the forensic scientists who conducted a private, preliminary autopsy on his body spoke at a press conference on Monday morning. Medical examiner Michael Baden said more information is needed to determine the circumstances around Brown’s death, but was able to confirm that Brown was struck by six bullets, including two to his head.

• The US Department of Justice said on Sunday that it would be conducting its own autopsy with a federal medical examiner. Baden said this is an unusual moved for the federal government but speaks to the civil rights issues at hand in the case.

Brown’s mother said in an interview with ABC News that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed her son, needed to be held accountable for his actions if order it to be restored in Ferguson.

• The Ferguson-Florissant school district postponed the first day of school for the second time in one week because of social unrest in the community. The district said its concerns include “children walking to school or waiting for buses on streets impacted by this activity, debris on the roads that could impact transportation.”

12.44pm ET

The mother of Michael Brown said that the police officer who shot and killed her son must be held accountable for his actions to restore order in Ferguson in an interview with ABC News on Monday. No charges have been filed against the officer, Darren Wilson, who reportedly left town before his name was released.

“Arresting this man and making him accountable for his actions; that’s justice,” said his mother, Lesley McSpadden.

McSpadden said she spoke Sunday with Missouri state highway patrolman Ron Johnson, who was brought in as part of an attempt to subdue the protests.

“He had a heartfelt message for me, and it was that that could have been his son, and he was sorry, and he’s, like everybody else, supporting and hoping and praying that this doesn’t happen again,” McSpadden said.

12.32pm ET

Missouri governor Jay Nixon did not tell the White House that he was calling in the national guard, an administration official was reported to have told journalists on Monday, reports The Guardian’s Dan Roberts.

“Folks didn’t know,” BuzzFeed quoted one administration official as revealing. “The White House did not know they were sending it in.”

Though not required by law because Missouri guard troops are under the command of state governor Jay Nixon, a lack of prior warning would be an embarrassment to the president who has repeatedly stressed how his administration is paying close attention to the way local authorities are handling the crisis despite it falling during the president’s vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

Attorney general Eric Holder had previously urged a demilitarisation of the response by police in Ferguson, allegedly telling his deputies on Thursday to “tell them to remove the damn tanks”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Six separate arms of Holder’s Department of Justice are involved in the crisis, including a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into possible civil rights violations in the killing of Michael Brown, and Holder is due to give Obama an update on the situation in the White House on Monday afternoon as both men returned to Washington for meetings.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests on Monday to clarify how much warning it had received of governor Nixon’s decision on Sunday night to request a national guard deployment in Ferguson.

12.17pm ET

Reporters have been monitoring a Missouri national guard base all morning following state governor Jay Nixon’s order to deploy its troops to Ferguson. They are reporting that the first round of Humvees are leaving the base.

12.02pm ET

The Ferguson-Florissant school district postponed the first day of school for the second time in a week on Sunday night, due to the unrest in Ferguson.

“Information we have received from officials on the scene late Sunday evening has contributed to concerns we have about children walking to school or waiting for buses on streets impacted by this activity, debris on the roads that could impact transportation, and continued disruption affecting our students and families in the area,” the district said on its website.

Classes were supposed to begin last week, but the start day was postponed to Monday, 18 August. The district announced last night that classes would not be in session today.

11.45am ET

Al-Jazeera America examined how geographic, cultural and economic segregation has affected St Louis and the suburb of Ferguson. Cynthia Broadway, an African-American Ferguson resident who has been at the protests, told Al-Jazeera she has never trusted white people.

I genuinely never thought white people cared that much about us. I always thought white people looked down at us, thought we didn’t want to work and weren’t good enough, no matter how much we dressed up. I guess I’ve kind of built up not a dislike but a stand-off type of thing, because the city is so divided. North is black, and south and west are white. I really don’t interact with white people unless it’s business. And I’ve grown up like this my entire life.

11.23am ET

Baden said that it is unusual for the federal government to get involved in cases like Brown’s and that they are conducting an independent autopsy speaks to the civil rights issues at hand in the case.

“Rarely, as I recall, has the president got involved,” said Baden, who has been a forensic pathologist for more than fifty years.

He said the defense should be provided access to Michael Brown’s clothing, which would be useful for the autopsy because it could be tested for things like bullet powder residue. More forensic information is needed before the accuracy of witnesses testimonies could be determined.

Baden said “there weren’t signs of a struggle,” and abrasions on the right side of Brown’s face likely occurred after he was shot and fell to the ground.

11.11am ET

Medical examiner Dr Michael Baden, who conducted the preliminary autopsy and was the chief medical examiner in New York City, said it is common for families of people killed by police to seek a private autopsy because of distrust in government officials. He said that the chief medical examiner in St Louis is “an excellent forensic pathologist,” but emphasized the need to release information on the autopsy.

“What we found in New York City, is the sooner the information goes out, the sooner the family is talked to – the family has a right to know how their loved one died – this calms the community,” Baden said.

“Very simple things are found on day one of the autopsy,” he said. Baden said information about how many bullet wounds the victim received and how much suffering they endured, typically the primary concerns of the family, can be determined on day one.

10.58am ET

Michael Brown’s family, their attorneys and the medical examiner who conducted a preliminary autopsy on behalf of Brown’s family, are speaking to press at Greater St Mark Missionary Baptist Church in St Louis.

Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family of Michael Brown, said that more witness accounts were needed to provide the full story of Brown’s shooting.

“What does this preliminary account [the autopsy] tell us? That the witness accounts were true,” Crump said. “That he was shot multiple times.”

He said the family wanted a private autopsy performed because they did not want the only autopsy to be conducted by St Louis law enforcement agencies “– the same officials they think are responsible for executing their son in broad daylight,” said Crump.

He stressed that it was a preliminary report, but answered the family’s first question about their son’s death: “how many times was he shot?” He was shot at least six times, according to the autopsy.

10.31am ET

“Hands up, don’t shoot,” demonstrators protest aftermath of Michael Brown shooting, Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Rick Majewski/NurPhoto/REX
Police advance on demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Police advance on demonstrators protesting the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Protesters run when the police shoot tear gas in Ferguson, Missouri.
Protesters run when the police shoot tear gas in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: J.B. Forbes/AP

10.17am ET

The Guardian’s Jon Swaine and Rory Carroll are in Ferguson reporting on the protests. Their latest dispatch includes details on the use of high-pitched sirens and stun grenades during the overnight protests as people looted stores and vandalized buildings:

Police drove protesters with more gas northwards towards a burned out petrol station that was looted last Sunday. Some protesters smashed the windows of a hair salon and a storage facility as they passed. Then a burst of gunfire was heard over the road from the petrol station, sending people scrambling to the ground.

Protesters said they had no intention of backing down. “This is a revo-fucking-lution,” said DeAndre Smith, a 30-year-old barber. “Plain and simple, this is the revolution. The one everybody was waiting on. It happened like this. It’s the gain in culture by a people who want respect. African American people in this country.

“I been out here since day one. I was on the frontline. Mike Brown was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That’s when we said this is enough. That’s it.”

Following a standoff at the petrol station, police sent remaining demonstrators scrambling into side streets by speeding at them in armoured Swat trucks, firing yet more gas and smoke at people running away. The trucks continued driving up and down the main street doing this until it was cleared. As some reached a branch of Domino’s pizza, there were two more bursts of gunshots.

10.04am ET

Each of the at least six bullets shot at Michael Brown were fired at the front of his body, according preliminary autopsy results reported by The New York Times on Sunday night.

The bullets did not appear to be fired from close range, according to the report by Dr Michael M Baden, the former chief medical examiner for New York City who was flown into Missouri at the request of Brown’s family. He said that the close range assessment could be amended if there is gunshot residue on Brown’s clothing, which Baden did not have access to.

Baden said more information was needed to determine the context of the shooting.

“This one here looks like his head was bent downward,” Baden said, indicating the wound at the very top of Brown’s head. “It can be because he’s giving up, or because he’s charging forward at the officer.”

Baden, Brown’s family and their attorney are set to host a press conference at 9:30am CST/10:30am ET.

9.51am ET

Ferguson community members are cleaning up debris from the overnight protests and police action, which left gas canisters, broken bottles and bricks cluttering the streets.

In spite of a governor-determined 12am to 5am curfew, people were on the streets from Sunday night into early Monday morning. Some chanted “No justice! No curfew!” as police in armored tactical vehicles ordered them to disperse, according to the AP.

Police fired teargas and rubber bullets into crowd, as some protesters threw gas cans back at police. Some protesters carried bricks and bottles through the streets to throw at officers, while others looted businesses. Officials said protesters also threw molotov cocktails, though people disputed these claims.

9.39am ET

Welcome to our live coverage on the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. State governor Jay Nixon said early Monday morning that the National Guard is to be deployed to Ferguson following a week of protests in response to the shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The announcement was made following the eighth, and most intense, night of unrest since Brown was killed on 9 August. Nixon said in the order that he was directing troops to the northern suburb of St Louis because of the “deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson.”

“These violent acts are a disservice to the family of Michael Brown and his memory, and to the people of this community who yearn for justice to be served, and to feel safe in their own homes.”

As gunfire rang through the city on Sunday night and police used teargas and rubber bullets on crowds, The New York Times reported the results of a preliminary autopsy of Brown’s body, showing that police officer Darren Wilson shot Brown at least six times, including twice in the head.

The Department of Justice said on Sunday it is taking the unusual step of ordering a third autopsy by a federal medical examiner. The agency is also leading a civil-rights investigation into the killing.

We’ll be providing updates as the story develops throughout the day.

Updated at 9.43am ET

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WHO declares Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “WHO declares Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency” was written by Maev Kennedy, for The Guardian on Friday 8th August 2014 10.15 UTC

The World Health Organisation has declared the Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency, but it is not recommending general bans on travel or trade.

The global body said the Ebola outbreak – the largest and longest in history – was happening in countries without the resources to manage the infections, some with devastated healthcare systems still recovering from war, and called on the international community to help.

“Countries affected to date simply do not have the capacity to manage an outbreak of this size and complexity on their own,” said Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director general. “I urge the international community to provide this support on the most urgent basis possible.”

The current outbreak began in Guinea in March and has spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia, with some cases in Nigeria. There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola and the death rate has been about 50%.

The virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days, meaning symptoms do not necessarily show before then.

The WHO emergency committee unanimously agreed, after two days of meetings in Geneva and teleconferences with representatives in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, that the outbreak was “an extraordinary event”, meeting all the conditions for a public health emergency, Chan said.

With 1,711 confirmed and suspected cases, and 932 deaths, the WHO said the outbreak was a public health risk to other states – particularly in view of “fragile health care systems” in the affected countries.

Although the WHO said that “there should be no general ban on international travel or trade,” it issued a long list of recommendations on travel and contacts, including urging that all travellers leaving the countries affected by the outbreak should be screened for fever, and that no corpses should be transported across borders.

It said other states should provide information to people travelling to affected and at risk areas, be prepared to detect, investigate and manage Ebola cases, and be prepared for the evacuation and repatriation of nationals, including health workers.

States should also ensure access to specialist diagnostic laboratories, and prepare to manage travellers who arrive at international airports or border crossings with “unexplained febrile illness”.

“The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries,” a statement said. “A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop and reverse the international spread of Ebola.”

The charity Save the Children, which said it was scaling up its operations in the region, warned that medical services in the affected countries were already overwhelmed. Rob MacGillivray, its regional humanitarian director, said that even before the outbreak there was less than one doctor for every 33,000 people in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“Parents are understandably frightened and stay away from medical centres through fear of coming into contact with the infection. Pregnant mothers are giving birth at home rather than seeking skilled help and orphaned children are at risk of being ostracised from their communities at the most vulnerable time in their lives.

“Challenges remain in reaching families in rural communities who were struggling to access healthcare even before the outbreak.”

The WHO said health advice at airports and ports or border crossings should warn travellers that though the disease is rare, careful hygiene should be practised, and all contact with blood and body fluids of infected people or animals, or with any items that have come in contact with such blood or body fluids, must be avoided.

It also says that sexual intercourse with a sick person or one recovering from Ebola should be avoided “for at least seven weeks”.

The WHO advises that the risk to travellers from sharing a flight with somebody who is showing symptoms of Ebola is “very low” – but does recommend contacting fellow travellers if a sufferer reports their condition and seeks medical help on arrival.

For those travelling to affected areas, the WHO describes the risk of business travellers or tourists returning with the virus as “extremely low” – even, it says, “if the visit included travel to the local areas from which primary cases have been reported”.

“Transmission requires direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, all unlikely exposures for the average traveller. Tourists are in any event advised to avoid all such contacts.”

It said the risk to travellers visiting friends and relatives in affected countries was similarly low “unless the traveller has direct physical contact with a sick or dead person or animal infected with Ebola virus”.

The long list of advice to affected states includes screening all travellers leaving for fever, banning the remains of those who have died of Ebola from being transported across borders, and ensuring “funerals and burials are conducted by well-trained personnel”.

Countries with land borders with the affected states are urged “urgently to establish surveillance for clusters of unexplained fever or deaths due to febrile illness”, and to act within 24 hours of any suspected cases.

The United States is sending teams of experts to Liberia, including 12 specialists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after the Liberian president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, declared a 90-day state of emergency and said the disease had overwhelmed her country’s healthcare system.

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UK should suspend arms licences if Gaza violence resumes, says Nick Clegg


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Nick Clegg challenged over Vince Cable role in approving Israel arms sales” was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for The Guardian on Thursday 7th August 2014 10.24 UTC

Nick Clegg has been accused of trying to pretend the Liberal Democrats have nothing to do with signing off arms sales to Israel, even though Vince Cable, the Lib Dem business secretary, is in charge of approvals. Alistair Burt, a former Conservative Foreign Office minister for the Middle East, said the Lib Dems should not be trying to distance themselves from the issue, after the deputy prime minister called for some licences to be revoked if they had been used for repression in Gaza.

“I think, to be blunt, they are trying to pretend that Liberal Democrats don’t sign off arms exports to Israel, which they have been doing,” he told the BBC’s World at One. “Vince Cable has been doing that for the past few years, because it’s a joint decision he takes with the foreign secretary. I hope he will have assured himself that any exports to Israel are for their external protection and security.”

Burt said it was “no bad thing” to review arms exports but the UK already had strict controls. “This country does not export goods to any country which could be used for internal repression. That is in the law. The law is carefully scrutinised, not least by an extremely good Commons committee headed by Sir John Stanley,” he said.

Stanley, chair of the parliamentary select committees that oversee British arms exports, has asked the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, for details of any military exports that may have been used by the Israeli army in Gaza. He also asks Hammond for more details of the government’s review of arms export licences, which was announced this week.

On Thursday, Clegg made clear he thought Britain should immediately revoke any licences for arms that had been used in the conflict. However, he stepped back slightly from arguing for the suspension of the sale of all military equipment to Israel, saying this should only happen if the ceasefire broke down.

Clegg has made clear already that he favours an arms embargo, but he set out his thinking more clearly in an LBC radio phone-in. “We must respect the strict criteria laid down in law,” he said. “We must look at what’s happened in Gaza to see if those criteria were breached … If it’s shown those criteria were breached, then never mind suspending those licences, they would have to be revoked.”

Clegg said no new arms export licences had been issued during the past month of violence but there could be a complete suspension if Israel and Hamas returned to violence. “We now have a truce. I think it is crystal clear and it would be unacceptable and wholly wrong for us to do anything other than suspend those licences if that ceasefire were to come to an end and violence were to break out again,” he said.

Senior Conservative figures including Andrew Mitchell and Sayeeda Warsi, who resigned as a foreign minister over the crisis, have said there must be an embargo.

Clegg is the only party leader to call for direct talks between Israel and Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organisation. Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, said this was “misguided” and wrong on Thursday, but Clegg’s position was backed by former Liberal leader David Steel, who also said Israel’s government was “treating Palestinians as lesser human beings in exactly the same way the South African apartheid government treated the majority of its citizens”.

David Cameron is under pressure to take stronger action against Israel after the UN condemned its shelling of a school as a moral outrage. The prime minister has not so far joined Clegg or Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, in saying Israel’s actions in Gaza have been disproportionate.

The total value of controlled export licences to Israel – which can be for commercial or military use – was around £8bn last year. The government and campaigners agree that the vast bulk of this – around £7.75bn – is for commercial equipment, mostly cryptographic software to supply Israel’s for mobile phone networks.

Documents obtained by the Campaign Against Arms Trade under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that since 2010 there have been £42m worth of licences to export military-only equipment to Israel.

Licences granted in the past year include a wide range of hardware, from components for naval guns and drones to ammunition, submarines and combat aircraft parts.

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MH17 memorial focuses on supporting families and friends left behind


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “MH17 memorial focuses on supporting families and friends left behind” was written by Melissa Davey, for theguardian.com on Thursday 7th August 2014 04.19 UTC

Around 1000 people from different backgrounds and denominations filled St Patrick’s cathedral in Melbourne on Thursday morning to remember people lost in the MH17 tragedy and to support their friends and families as part of a national day of mourning.

The focus was on them, as talk of blame and of justice for the victims was put on hold to focus on the suffering of those left behind and the need to offer them comfort.

The friends and family of those killed held each other tightly as clergy, government officials and dignitaries spoke, as the Australian Boys’ Choir sang, and as the names and photographs of the dead were displayed, one by one, on screens throughout the cathedral.

The Catholic archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, used his opening address to acknowledge their pain and the terror they must have felt as news emerged that flight MH17 had been shot out of the sky. He said there had been an outpouring of love for them, which he hoped provided some comfort, though he said it would not take away the pain.

“We stand in solidarity with those who are suffering unimaginable loss,” he said as he opened the memorial ceremony.

The Australian Boys’ Choir sang the national anthem, followed by a multifaith opening prayer from representatives of 12 belief systems, including Jewish, Hindu, Islamic and Catholic denominations.

The governor-general, Sir Peter Cosgrove, offered a moving tribute to those killed as he wore a white wristband with the words “we will never forget you” in Dutch.

He was also present at a repatriation ceremony for the victims held on the tarmac of a Netherlands air base just over two weeks ago.

“Our thoughts were consumed by lives cut short, those left behind and the intolerable heartbreak caused by this tragedy,” Cosgrove said.

“So often words do not and cannot express our true feelings and thoughts during such a time of great loss.”

He acknowledged the resilience of the families of those killed, and referred specifically to Rin and Anthony Maslin, who lost their children Mo, Evie and Otis, and the children’s grandfather, Nick Norris, to the tragedy.

“Even at such a time, even the most deeply bereaved can demonstrate extraordinary fortitude,” he said.

“The Maslin family has expressed so powerfully some of how they feel, that in spite of the enormity of their loss and the depth of their despair, their love exceeds and surmounts all the hatred in the world.

“There is nothing stronger or more powerful than the love we have for our children, our partner, our parents, our family, our friends.”

He also offered condolences and heartfelt thanks to the people of the Netherlands, who he said had embraced each and every one of the dead as though their own.

“Thank you for the compassionate and dignified way you have paid respects, for the minutes of silence, the ringing church bells, the flags flying at half mast and the sea of flowers. We thank you for your kindness and humanity as you too deal with tremendous loss.”

His words were followed with a reading from the Netherlands ambassador, Annemieke Ruigrok, and the high commissioner for Malaysia, Zainal Abidin Ahmad.

The opposition leader, Bill Shorten, said those on board MH17 were “innocent, unoffending and precious”.

“We mourn 38 of our own who laughed and learned and loved beneath the southern cross,” he said.

“Today is not about why or how, it is about who we have lost and what we will miss.”

To the families, he said: “It is almost impossible to say anything that can console you at this painful hour.

“But I hope you can draw modest consolation from our nation’s great, invisible, generous, sustaining sympathy, and from the knowledge that you do not walk alone today.

“You loved wonderful people who lived meaningful lives.”

Katie Noonan performed an acoustic version of the song, Even When I’m Sleeping, and returned to the stage later to close the service with I am Australian.

The prime minister, Tony Abbott, followed her performance, saying that almost three weeks ago today families and friends of the MH17 victims woke up to the “very worst news imaginable”.

He used his tribute to reiterate the importance of bringing home the 38 Australians who were among the 298 shot down.

“May those we have lost arrive home to the people and country they loved,” he said.

“We cannot bring them back, but we will bring them home as far as we humanly can, and we rededicate ourselves to supporting the bereaved.”

Abbott also described the contribution those Australians killed had made to society. A time to judge those responsible and bring them to justice would come, he said, but the memorial service was to recognise the meaningful lives of those killed.

“[They were] doctors who worked with refugees, teachers who worked with children, with people who are disabled, volunteers in armed forces and local charities, business innovators, and pillars of local communities, young people filled with passion for the lives before them,” he said.

“Somehow, we who have not been bereaved must reach out to those who have and show by our love. That love has not abandoned them – you have not been abandoned and you never will be.”

The families of the victims then filed to the front of the cathedral, where they laid flowers in remembrance of those they loved, and will miss, so much.

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