Government

  • Turkey shoots down Syrian military jet

    Turkish fighter jets on Sunday shot down a Syrian warplane after it violated Turkey’s airspace. The Syrian military confirmed the incident, saying the plane was downed in Syrian airspace while strafing rebel positions. Syrian state TV described the incident as a “blatant aggression,” and said the pilot safely ejected from the aircraft. In 2012 Turkey changed its rules of engagement after Syria shot down a Turkish military plane, saying that any Syrian military plane approaching the Turkish border would be treated as a legitimate target.

  • Belfast court denies bail for former IRA commander accused of 1972 killing

    Ivor Bell, 77, a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander accused of abducting and killing Jean McConville, 37, a mother of ten, in 1972, on Saturday was denied bail in a Belfast court. Prosecutors said the break in the case came as a result of information found in the recordings of Boston College’s oral history project which interviewed Northern Ireland paramilitary fighters involved in the long sectarian conflict there. The interviews were taped on the understanding that they would not be made public during the lifetimes of the subjects, but last year a U.S. court granted police in Northern Ireland access to the recordings.

  • State, Political Community and Foreign Relations in Modern and Contemporary Syria
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  • Kenyan security forces hobbled by lack of funds

    Kenya may be facing a heightened risk from regional terrorism, but security forces in Kenya are hobbled by glaring underfunding due to government corruption and mismanagement. The Anti-Terror Police Unit in Nairobi, the main force set up to combat terrorist acts, has only $2,205 for its operations during the first quarter of the year — coming to just $735 for March. In comparison, an average parliamentary salary is around $45,000 for the same period.

  • New infrared technique remotely to detect dangerous materials

    Researchers say that infrared technology holds the potential to spot from afar whether a site is being used to make nuclear weapons. They developed a model which precisely characterizes the material in each pixel of an image taken from a long-wave infrared camera. The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) funded the project. The government’s long-term goal for infrared technology is remotely to detect the exact materials, chemicals and gases coming and going from factories or other sites suspected of illegal nuclear production.

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  • Controversial Mississippi power station to cut emissions by more than half

    A new $5 billion state-of-the-art power facility is under construction Kemper County, Mississippi. It places a firm bet on the future of carbon-capture technology, and other technological advancements, including: it utilizes the gasification process with carbon in unique ways; it recycles treated wastewater to generate power; and it makes money from the carbon dioxide it has removed by selling it to oil companies for their own extraction. Critics say that investing so much money in untested technologies is too much of a gamble.

  • NSA program captures, replays phone calls

    The NSA’s MYSTIC program, created in 2009, deploys a “retrospective retrieval” (RETRO) tool which allows agents to rewind and playback all phone conversations that have taken place in the past thirty days in an unnamed foreign country, according to Edward Snowden-leaked documents. The MYSTIC program differs from other NSA surveillance programs revealed by Snowden because it captures the content of phone conversations, not just calls’ metadata.

  • Facebook making snooping more difficult

    Facebook has joined its Silicon Valley competitors to improve cybersecurity following a recent report suggesting that the NSA may have posed as Facebook to infect targeted computers. Joe Sullivan, Facebook’s chief security officer, said Facebook was working to “make sure the system is robust enough that everyone should be coming in the front door with legal process and not getting information any other way.” He added that no one could pose as Facebook servers any more since the company made “https,” a secure method of accessing Web pages, standard last year.

  • The Qatar organizers of the 2022 Soccer World Cup are tied to terrorist groups

    Qatar bribed FIFA officials so they would vote to award it the 2022 Soccer World Cup. In addition to the likely corruption investigation, FIFA is also grappling with the question of the temperature in Qatar in the summer. Several state football associations, and many medical specialists, said that the summer heat in Qatar is such that it would be dangerous for players to play for ninety minutes, and risky for spectators to sit in the stands during games. Now news has emerged that leading figures inthe Qatar World Cup committee are supporters of terrorism, contributing millions of dollars to al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

  • S.C. sues DOE over Savanah River MOX facility

    South Carolina decided to go to court to prevent the Obama administration from cutting off funding for a troubled multi-billion dollar Savanah River plant in which weapons-grade plutonium would be processed and turned into suitable fuel for commercial nuclear reactors. The initial budget for the MOX project, when it was launched a decade ago, was just under $4 billion. Since then, construction costs have reached $8 billion, and DOE officials now say the plant will cost about $30 billion over the years it is in use.

  • IDF ordered to continue preparations for striking Iran’s nuclear sites this year

    The negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program continue, with an eye to replacing, by June, the current temporary agreement with a permanent one, but Israel let it be known that it is continuing to its preparations for a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have instructed the IDF to continue its preparations for carrying out such a strike, at a cost estimated to be at least ten billion shekels ($2.89 billion) this year.

  • Howard County, Md. attracts cybersecurity firms

    Howard County, Maryland boasts a growing presence of cybersecurity firms and specialists at a time when the industry is gaining attention. The proximity of the county to government agencies has helped cybersecurity firms gain federal contracts, and the proximity of large cybersecurity consumers like the NSA offers cybersecurity firms in Howard County a large pool of cybersecurity specialists to select from when NSA employees decide to shift to the private sector.

  • KSM: al Qaeda’s strategy is war of attrition to force U.S. out of Islamic lands

    In one of the only statements he has made since his capture in 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, has said al Qaeda is in “a war of attrition” with the United States. He made the statement during a 27 February interview with U.S. defense attorneys for Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, who is facing conspiracy charges in a U.S. federal court in New York. Mohammed said the primary operational goal of al Qaeda was to provoke the United States into futile, expensive, and bloody wars, thus advancing a strategic aim of forcing U.S. and Western retrenchment from Islamic lands. “Every state of emergency declared and every change of alert level that inflicts specific procedures on the military and civilian sectors costs the country millions of dollars. It is enough that the U.S. government has incurred losses upwards of a trillion dollars in the wars it has waged in the aftermath of 9/11, the bleeding of which continues to this day,” Mohammed said.

  • Post-Qaddafi Libya needs more international support: study

    The international community’s limited approach to postwar Libya has left the nation struggling and on the brink of civil war, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation. Libya’s most serious problem since 2011 has been a lack of security, which has undermined efforts to build functioning political and administrative institutions, further constricted an already minimal international footprint, and facilitated the expansion of criminal and jihadist groups. The lack of security stems primarily from the failure of the effort to disarm and demobilize rebel militias after the war.

  • Synthetic biology makes bioweapons easier to make

    Scientists and policy makers are no longer unconditionally promoting scientific innovation for fear that current and future biological breakthroughs may lead to dangerous applications. Traditionally, government-backed institutions and pharmaceutical firms fueled biological innovation, but today, the barriers that limited innovation to those institutions are diminishing. The low cost and significantly reduced level of necessary expertise have provided anyone interested in developing biological technology the tools to do so. Synthetic biology, the design and engineering of biological devices and systems, has given terrorists the capability to launch attacks using synthetic organisms without detection.

     

  • Budget proposal cuts funds for nuclear nonproliferation programs

    The White House’s fiscal 2015 budget proposal includes more than $220 million in cuts for nuclear security initiatives such as the International Material Protection and Cooperationprogram, which aims to secure and eliminate vulnerable nuclear weapons and materials, and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which supports the Energy Department’s efforts to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radiological materials that could be used in weapons of mass destruction. The administration says that 54 percent of the reduction in the administration’s nonproliferation budget request can be accounted for by the decision to halt the South Carolina Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility(MOX), which would have convert weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel, because the project proved to be too costly.