TDB Top 5 International Stories: Sunday 18th December 2016



5: Inside the Deadly Mississippi Riot That Pushed the Justice Department to Rein In Private Prisons

FOR NEARLY TWO decades, the Bureau of Prisons has contracted with a handful of private companies to incarcerate thousands of non-U.S. citizens serving time for low-level federal offenses. Held in a dozen so-called “criminal alien requirement” prisons largely concentrated in remote, rural areas, the inmates in private custody are, for the most part, locked up for immigration offenses or drug violations.

CAR facilities have been the target of sustained criticism from advocacy organizations, which argue that their existence reflects a two-tiered federal prison system that outsources a select population of inmates to contractors with a track record of abuse and neglect. In August, it seemed that years of pressure had finally paid off, when the Justice Department announced it would begin phasing out private prisons.

Under the DOJ directive, the facilities — which “do not maintain the same level of safety and security” as their BOP-run counterparts, according to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates — would see their contracts reduced or allowed to expire without renewal and the inmates in their custody transferred.

Within hours of the announcement, the stocks of industry heavyweights Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group plummeted more than 35 percent. The Department of Homeland Security pledged to undertake a review of its own reliance on for-profit detention centers, and CCA and GEO shareholders filed class-action lawsuits accusing the companies of false or misleading statements about the safety of their facilities. In October, CCA embarked on a re-branding campaign, changing its name to CoreCivic.

The Intercept

4: Trump Has Appointed More Generals in His Cabinet Than Any President Since World War II

We turn now to look at Donald Trump and his military generals. Trump has nominated retired Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis as defense secretary. The Obama administration cut short his tour over concerns Mattis was too hawkish on Iran. Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly has been nominated homeland security secretary, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has been appointed national security adviser. Flynn is well known for his anti-Muslim worldview, having called Islam a “cancer” and saying “fear of Muslims is rational.” For more, we speak with Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel and Vietnam War veteran. His latest book is titled “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.” He is professor emeritus of international relations and history at Boston University.

Democracy Now


3: Donald Trump accuses China of ‘unpresidented’ act over US navy drone

President-elect Donald Trump has risked further inflaming US relations with China, after he used Twitter on Saturday to accuse China of an “unpresidented [sic] act” in its seizing of an unmanned American submarine this week.

“China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act,” Trump said, misspelling “unprecedented”.

The tweet was later reissued with the correct spelling of “unprecedented”. The tweet containing the error was deleted.

His message – itself without precedent given his status as a president-elect commenting on an international incident before assuming power – was likely to worsen fears of increased US-China tensions under his presidency that have grown over his rhetoric on trade and policy towards Taiwan.

The Guardian 


2: Aleppo evacuation deal ‘to resume’ after setbacks

A new ceasefire deal to evacuate tens of thousands of Syrian opposition fighters and civilians from the remaining rebel-held pockets of eastern Aleppo has been reached, according to a rebel group official.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency, a Syrian government source confirmed the agreement.

Saturday’s announcement came after previous agreements brokered by Turkey and Russia fell apart, with the Syrian government and opposition groups exchanging blame.



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1: How Weed Is Helping Opioid Users Beat Addiction

Derek Pedro has been in pain for his entire life.

Pedro, 44, suffers from migraines and a form of Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, which affects the collagen in his body, making his joints incredibly loose. Together, the two conditions have caused him pain since the age of six.

Pedro, who lives in Hamilton, Ontario, told VICE he was prescribed demerol, an opioid painkiller, when he was 12 years old. As he grew older, and underwent surgeries for his knees, shoulders, hernias, and spine, he was prescribed other opioids, including fentanyl patches, percocets, and oxycodone.

He says he expressed concern about getting hooked on percocets and was told by his doctor: “If you’re taking it for pain you won’t get addicted.” But he did. At the height of his opioid use, he was taking 300-400 percocets a month, combined with three-to-four 40 milligram doses of oxycodone a day. He even overdosed in the shower from a fentanyl patch.

One day, while about to leave his house for a vacation with his family, he said he had a moment of clarity.

Vice News