Our picksStarvation & the future of war; wireless remote in a school emergency; automating classification decisions, and more

Published 13 July 2018

  Is intentional starvation the future of war?

  A two-stage 911 procedure may have impacted police response to the Parkland shooting

  How a wireless remote could be used in a school emergency

  Network of terror leads to charging of Iranian diplomat

  Islamophobic video goes viral despite debunking

  The Pentagon wants to automate some classification decisions

  Top religious groups privately urged DHS not to separate immigrant parents and children

  Courts slap down the Trump administration’s immigration policies

  Man could lose limbs after contracting flesh-eating bacteria in New Jersey waters

Is intentional starvation the future of war? (Jane Ferguson, New Yorker)
The world’s most recent man-made famine was in South Sudan, last year. There, the use of food as a weapon was clearer, with civilians affiliated with certain tribes driven from their homes—and food sources—by soldiers and rebels determined to terrify them into never coming back. In the epicenter of the famine, starving South Sudanese families told stories of mass murder and rape. Entire communities fled into nearby swamps and thousands starved to death or drowned. Gunmen burned markets to the ground, stole food, and killed civilians who were sneaking out of the swamps to find food.
In Syria, the images of starving children in rebel-controlled Eastern Ghouta, at the end of last year, were the latest evidence of the Assad regime’s use of siege-and-starvation tactics. With the support of Russia and Iran, the Syrian government has starved civilian enclaves as a way to pressure them to surrender. In Yemen, none of the warring parties seem to be systematically withholding food from civilians. Instead, the war is making it impossible for most civilians to earn the money they need buy food—and exposing a loophole in international law. There is no national-food-availability crisis in Yemen, but a massive economic one.
Human-rights groups question the legality of the Saudi-led campaign against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as the Saudi-led blockade and aerial bombing campaign, on the grounds that they have created widespread hunger. The Geneva Conventions prohibit the destruction of “objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.” Alex de Waal, the author of the book “Mass Starvation,” which analyzes recent man-made famines, argued that economic war is being waged in Yemen. “The focus on food supplies over all and humanitarian action is actually missing the bigger point,” de Waal told me. “It’s an economic war with famine as a consequence.”
The situation in Yemen goes to the heart of the major legal dispute regarding economic warfare: intent. Military and political figures can claim that they never intended to starve a population, and argue that hunger is an unintended side-effect of war for which they do not bear legal responsibility.

A two-stage 911 procedure may have impacted police response to the Parkland shooting (David Fleshler, Stephen Hobbs, Sun Sentinel)
Cellular callers reporting the Feb. 14 high school mass shooting to the Coral Springs, Fla., communications center had to be transferred to the regional center — a process that likely caused delays.

How a wireless remote could be used in a school emergency (Annalise Knudson, Staten Island Advance)
The Teacher Alert System is a wireless remote that provides direct connection to the police, firefighters, EMTs and the principal.

Network of terror leads to charging of Iranian diplomat (Norman T. Roule, Cipher Brief)
Rarely does a compromised terrorist operation read like a thriller, but this was the case in recent days.  The framework could not be more dramatic and involved a conference organized by Iranian opposition leaders near Paris which drew thousands of spectators, and included a number of former U.S. officials, including former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani as speakers; an international conference with Iran in an increasingly unlikely effort to save the nuclear deal; and a visit by Iran’s president to Europe to push back against the rising sanctions which will undermine the stability of the Islamic republic.

Islamophobic video goes viral despite debunking (Donara Barojan, DFRLab)
Video claiming to portray Muslims in Birmingham, actually portrays hooligans in Switzerland

The Pentagon wants to automate some classification decisions (Joseph Marks, Defense One)
The proposed software would help defense officials make classification decisions and automatically enforce them.

Top religious groups privately urged DHS not to separate immigrant parents and children (Jason Leopold, BuzzFeed)
“We believe that separating families would be extremely detrimental to basic child welfare principles. We urge you to reject this harmful policy.”

Courts slap down the Trump administration’s immigration policies (Economist)
The Trump administration’s position on immigration is simply summarised: it would like to have fewer immigrants, whether legal or illegal. But that aim, shared by both President Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions, the attorney-general, has collided with pesky obstacles like laws, courts and public outrage. It has also provoked chaos on the southern border.

Man could lose limbs after contracting flesh-eating bacteria in New Jersey waters (CBS News)
It’s a summertime tradition — fishing for crabs in rivers and bays. But a New Jersey man from Cumberland County who has done it many times before is now fighting for his life after contracting a flesh-eating bacteria while crabbing, CBS Philly reports.