• Syrian rebel leader: Assad is the main enemy, not Israel

    Mohammed Alloush, the leader of a coalition of Sunni rebels fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said his group, which includes Islamists, has no desire to go to war with Israel. His attitude reflects the privately held positions of many Sunni Arab governments. Alloush’s statements also show that Israel has purchased some goodwill among the Syrian opposition. He told a Western reporter that Israel’s treatment of Syrians fighters and civilians who come to the border seeking medical attention is an important humanitarian gesture.

  • Why Colombia voted “no” to peace with FARC

    It seemed like a done deal. After sixty years of fighting, three years of detailed negotiations, and a peace agreement signed in front of the head of the United Nations, the horrific conflict between the Colombian state and the Marxist Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia (FARC) finally seemed to be over. The peace process looked set to be a model for future negotiations around the world; all it needed was public approval. And then, in the referendum that was meant to finish the job, 50.24 percent of voters rejected the agreement – with fewer than 40 percent even showing up. It’s hard to know what happens next: more negotiations, another offer, reinvigorated conflict. The already weakened FARC might yet fragment, making another deal less robust; the government might shift back to the right, possibly heralding a return to a war fought through paramilitary proxies. Whatever happens, Colombia needs to find a way for all its people to discuss their own war – and their own peace – in a way that validates their experiences and does not escalate the violence further.

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  • The 52-year war in Colombia: The numbers

    The toll of the 52-year was in Colombia: 267,000 killed; 6.7 million people forcibly displaced; 46,386 victims of forced disappearance; 29,622 kidnapped; 8,022 children soldiers used both by FARC and right-wing paramilitary groups; 4,392 victims of extrajudicial execution by the government security forces

  • Russia’s ultimatum to US: Reduce commitment to NATO, lift sanctions – or nuclear deal is off

    The Kremlin, in an unprecedented series of ultimatums on Monday, said Russia would suspend an agreement it had signed with the United States to turn weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel unless the United States rescinds the sanctions imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea – and also cuts its military commitments to NATO. The Kremlin said that both the economic sanctions and the U.S. military commitments to its NATO allies are “unfriendly” acts to ward Russia.

  • ISIS regards battle for Dabiq as an apocalyptic showdown of Muslim and Christian armies

    This may not be the end of the ISIS caliphate – which military experts say will occur sometime during the second half of 2017 – but the Islamist organization views the coming battle for the town of Dabiq in apocalyptic terms nonetheless. U.S.-backed Syrian opposition forces and Turkish military units are within forty-eight hours of reaching the ISIS-controlled Dabiq, which jihadists regard as the preordained site of the final apocalyptic battle between Muslims and Christians.

  • From 2012 to 2014, FBI submitted 561 Section215 applications: DOJ OIG

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) last week released a June 2016 report examining the FBI’s use of the investigative authority granted by Section 215 of the Patriot Act between 2012 and 2014. The report notes that from 2012 through 2014 the DOJ, on behalf of the FBI, submitted 561 Section 215 applications to the FISA Court, all of which were approved.

  • DHS awards U Texas San Antonio $3 million to develop, deliver cybersecurity training

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has selected a team led by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to develop and deliver cybersecurity training through the Continuing Training Grants (CTG) Program. The 2016 CTG is a $3 million grant to develop and deliver cybersecurity training to support the national preparedness goal to make the United States more secure and resilient.

  • Florida tightens public notification rules for pollution incidents

    Last week Governor Rick Scott instructed Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Jon Steverson to issue an emergency rule that establishes new requirements for public notification of pollution incidents. The rule is to take effect immediately. Scott issued the instruction following the sewage spill in Pinellas County and the sinkhole at Mosaic’s New Wales facility.

  • Massive 2014 West Virginia chemical spill was preventable: CSB

    The Chemical Safety Board’s (CSB) final report into the massive 2014 release by Freedom Industries of chemicals into the primary source of drinking water of Charleston, West Virginia, concludes that Freedom Industries failed to inspect or repair corroding tanks, and that as hazardous chemicals flowed into the Elk River, the water company and local authorities were unable effectively to communicate the looming risks to hundreds of thousands of affected residents, who were left without clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

  • Europe facing “generation-long struggle” with returning battle-hardened jihadists

    European security officials say that Europe faces a generation-long struggle to deal with thousands of battle-hardened Islamic jihadists returning as the ISIS caliphate starts to collapse. Experts say that he cumulative effects of the relentless military campaign by the U.S.-led coalition would finish off the so-called caliphate by the end of 2017 at the latest, if not sooner. The coalition’s military campaign has so far killed between 45,000 and 50,000 ISIS fighters, many of them foreigners, but an estimated 3,000 European fighters are still fighting in ISIS ranks. European security officials believe that the imminent fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, would signal the beginning of the end of the caliphate, resulting in many of the European ISIS fighters returning to their home countries.

  • Obama explains why he does not use the term “Islamic terrorism”

    Talking at a Wednesday CNN presidential town hall event moderated by Jake Tapper, President Barack Obama, in response to a question by a Gold Star mother, has defended his reluctance to use the term “Islamic” terrorism when referring to the atrocities committed by ISIS, al Qaeda, and other extremist groups. “If you had an organization that was going around killing and blowing people up and said, ‘We’re on the vanguard of Christianity.’ As a Christian, I’m not going to let them claim my religion and say, ‘you’re killing for Christ.’ I would say, that’s ridiculous,” Obama said.

  • The apartheid bomb: First comprehensive history of South Africa's nuke program

    The Institute for Science and International Security has today (Friday) released a new book, Revisiting South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Its History, Dismantlement, and Lessons for Today, by David Albright with Andrea Stricker. It is the first comprehensive, technically oriented history of South Africa’s nuclear weapons program and its dismantlement. The lessons of this dynamic and complicated nuclear weapons program remain valid today. “Although none of the nine states that currently possess nuclear weapons appears on the verge of following South Africa’s example, the South African case contains many valuable lessons in non-proliferation, disarmament, export controls, and verification,” the Institute says.

  • Ignoring anti-refugee rhetoric, Texans rush to help in resettlement

    Texas’ top elected officials have not exactly welcomed refugees over the past year. Last week, for example, Gov. Greg Abbott threatened to end state cooperation with the nation’s refugee resettlement program unless federal officials “unconditionally approve” a Texas plan requiring extra vetting of applicants. But everyday Texans seem to be more willing to help refugees from Syria and elsewhere start new lives in the Lone Star State. Nonprofits that resettle refugees say volunteer turnout has increased — in some cases dramatically — since Abbott first suggested they threatened security.

  • HHS sponsors inhaled chlorine antidote for chemical terrorism preparedness

    Chlorine gas is a widely available industrial chemical with catastrophic consequences in industrial accidents. chlorine gas has been used as a weapon, for the first time in the First World War  and repeatedly in the recent Syrian civil war. Currently, there is no specific antidote for lung injuries caused by chlorine exposure, and treatment has been limited supportive care. The first potential antidote to treat the life-threatening effects of chlorine inhalation, a potential terrorism threat, will advance in development under a contract between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and Radikal Therapeutics, Inc. of Beverly, Massachusetts.

  • Countering enemy IEDs in culverts

    Culverts are creeks or streams that run under roads to prevent flooding, and that terrorists often use these areas to kill soldiers. The Joint Improvised-threat Defeat Agency (JIDA) challenge, held 13-21 September at Fort Benning, tested industry vendor equipment from around the United States in order to counter enemy improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in culverts.