Chatter: The US is on high alert in Pakistan now too




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Another mission lies empty. The United States has pulled all but emergency staff out of its consulate-general in Lahore, northeast Pakistan, in response to what it said were "specific threats."

The Lahore mission was not one of those ordered closed last week, and it's not clear whether the threats that have it shuttered are the same that prompted the urgent evacuation of the US embassy in Yemen two days ago. US officials are whispering that the two aren't related. But if the people of Pakistan are anything like the people of Yemen — and both are repeatedly subject to some of the most deadly US counterterrorism operations — they'll know that threats against the US on their territory usually mean one thing: drones, drones and more drones.

Unhappy Eid. Elsewhere in Pakistan, at least nine people are dead and 10 wounded after gunmen attacked a mosque in the southwest city of Quetta. Children were among those hit as they exited prayers to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr festival.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. But it comes the day after the Pakistani Taliban said it had carried out a bombing at a police funeral that killed 38 in the same city. "We did it and soon you see another big attack in the next coming days," one of the militants' spokespeople warned then. 


How's this for a coincidence? Less than a month after Edward Snowden's pals let slip that the NSA whistleblower had an account with privacy-conscious email provider Lavabit, the service has announced that it's shutting down. With all the transparency you'd expect from a guy who founded a message encryption service, Lavabit's owner Ladar Levison blamed the sudden closure on unspecified factors that would have forced him to "become complicit in crimes against the American people" if he attempted to keep it running.

Levison says he's launching a legal appeal that may help, but in the meantime, he advises against "anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States." At least one other secure email service has announced its decision to close since he made the announcement. Carrier pigeons all round! At least they can't read

Malaria, your time might just be up. Scientists are getting pretty excited about an innovative new vaccine that they hope could be the answer to one of the world's biggest infectious killers.

The vaccine, dubbed PfSPZ, works by injecting weakened versions of malaria-causing bacteria into the bloodstream to spur the body's immune system to raise its defenses. An early clinical trial has produced some promising results; and while more extensive tests are needed, researchers are hopeful that they might have a fully effective vaccine licensed within five years from now.


Listen up, universe. There are some things you just don't mess with. Death? Inevitable for everyone, we suppose. Natural disasters? Devastating, but OK, sure. But giving Desmond Tutu a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week? Oh no you ditn't.

First his house was burgled. What do you want, thieves, his archbishop's robes? Or just his Nobel Peace Prize? And then, to add insult to injury, his charitable foundation was kicked off Twitter for "aggressive following." It certainly grates with anyone who's a fan of the ever-cheerful social rights icon, i.e., every reasonable person there is. But perhaps we're being overprotective: he's certainly seen worse, and kicked it.