• China keeps tight control of news from tumultuous Xinjiang region

    Last week a remote county in China’s far west exploded in what was the country’s worst ethnic violence since 2009, but it took the Chinese government six days to put out an exact death toll. Beijing’s iron-fisted grip on the minority region makes it clear when, and whether, a full picture of what happened might emerge. The Chinese government exploits its expansive controls and propaganda to maintain a monopoly on the narrative in the tense region of Xinjiang, where minority Uighurs complain of oppression under Beijing’s rule, and where Islamists have joined in the fight for greater autonomy for the Muslim-majority province.

  • Also noted

    Spain arrests 2 alleged female jihadists | U.S. recon jet enters Swedish air to avoid Russians | Survivors dug out from China quake that killed 398 | 22 killed in day of clashes over Libyan airport | Ukrainian army closes in on Donetsk as rebel fighters call on Russia for help |The Royal Navy evacuates Britons from Libya amid fierce fighting | Islamic State seizes town of Sinjar, pushing out Kurds and sending Yazidis fleeing | Lebanese soldiers die as Syria rebels raid border town

  • State, Political Community and Foreign Relations in Modern and Contemporary Syria
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  • Cease-fire collapses after Hamas violates it; Israeli soldier captured

    As was the case with five earlier humanitarian cease-fires, a UN-sponsored 72-hour cease-fire, which was announced last night by Secretary of State John Kerry and which went into effect at 08:00 am (02:00 EST) – was immediately violated by Hamas. This time, at 09:30, an hour-and-half after the cease-fire went into effect, a group of Hamas fighters, which included one suicide bomber, emerged from a tunnel to attack an IDF force near the city of Rafah. The fierce fire exchange ended with a score of Hamas fighters dead, two IDF soldier killed, and several IDF soldiers injured – but the most important result was that the surviving Hamas fighters were able to capture an injured or dead IDF soldier and drag him back into the tunnel. Israel has informed the UN that the cease-fire was over, and heavy fighting across Gaza resumed.

  • Civilian deaths in Gaza conflict are not automatically a war crime

    Civilian shielding of its facilities is a declared Hamas military tactic. The evidence of rocket pits and weapon dumps located in, around and under mosques, schools, homes and hospitals is incontrovertible. Constant broadcasts calling upon, as well as occasional physical forcing of, the populace to protect Hamas assets with their bodies are well-documented. It is sickening that Hamas chose not to build public bomb shelters in Gaza, despite using hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete on military tunnels to initiate hostilities with Israel. The tragic Palestinian death toll does not demonstrate Israeli attacks are disproportionate to legitimate military objectives. It does display a disgusting strategic decision by Hamas to exploit civilians to shield its combatants. Its civilian deaths generate selective outrage in support of its political and economic goals. This atrocity committed by Hamas against its own Gazan population is where an honest war crime investigation would begin.

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  • Increasing Hezbollah activity in Europe worries security officials

    This month, it was revealed that Hezbollah agents operating in Europe made procurements for “parts and technologies” in Bulgaria which would allow them to operate surveillance drones in the country. The activities on the part of Iran-partnered Hezbollah over the past two years mark a historical change in terms of their European operations and planning — a rise in activity following a lower profile after their more renown activities of the 1980s.

  • DHS slow to inspect high-risk chemical plants

    Congress passed the $595 million Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standardsprogram in 2006 to help regulate high-risk chemical facilities, but nearly a year after the massive chemical explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, a new report found little improvement in securing threats from the U.S. 4,011 high-risk chemical facilities.As of 30 June, DHS has not yet conducted security compliance inspections on 3,972 of the 4,011 high-risk chemical facilities.

  • Immigration cases clog immigration courts across the country

    The highly publicized mass immigration of Central American children into the United States — roughly 57,000 over a little under a year — many court systems are facing a crisis as the number of judges, lawyers, and juries available cannot keep up with demand. Across the United States, that caseload reached 375,373 trials last month — an average of 1,500 per each of the country’s 243 immigration judges. Some rescheduled cases are being pushed back as late as 2017.

  • Alabama did not share enough DHS funds with local governments

    An audit by the DHS inspector general’s office found that Alabama’s Homeland Securityprogram has not met the conditions of receiving DHS grants, as it fails to share adequate grant money with local governments. The audit, completed in May, found that of the $20.5 million awarded to Alabama for homeland security projects between 2010 and 2012, the state agency gave less than the required 80 percent of funds to local governments.

  • Continued funding for S.C. mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) plant – at least until fall

    Federal legislators have secured the funds to keep the mixed-oxide fuelplant (MOX) at the Savannah River Sitein South Carolina moving forward at least into fall, according to South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and members of the state’s congressional delegation. The 310-square mile site once produced components for nuclear weapons, but since the agreement with Russia to turn nuclear weapons into reactor fuel, the site has focused on repurposing and cleanup.

  • ISIS’s appeal to Islamist recruits grows as al Qaeda seen as stale, tired, and ineffectual

    Advances by militant groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the midst of turmoil in the Arab world, while al-Qaeda’s aging leaders remain relatively silent, have led would-be terrorists and Islamic scholars to question al-Qaeda’s influence on global Jihad and its would-be fighters. Within the social circles of potential militant recruits, al-Qaeda is increasingly seen as stale, tired, and ineffectual.

  • California builds a sophisticated Emergency Response Training Center

    Citing the need for further emergency training, some Sacramento County officials have proposed a plan to construct a $56 million training facility for Californian emergency responders which would handle all types of training and scenarios.

  • “Independent” Kurds need Baghdad more than they’d like

    Iraqi Kurds are in a unique position to declare independence in defiance of a seemingly powerless central government in Baghdad following the rapid disintegration of Iraq in the face of the Islamic State in Iraq and As-Sham (ISIS) onslaught. But is independence as simple as that, a fait accompli resulting from a series of unpredictable events? Unpalatable as it may sound to Iraqi Kurds, the KRG needs Baghdad far more than it is prepared to admit. By all means, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) should seek to leverage a better deal out of Baghdad — the Kurdish armed forces, or peshmerga, are vital to the fight against ISIS. In terms of full independence, though, the costs seem to outweigh the benefits at present.

  • More Westerners join ISIS following the group’s successes in Iraq

    Of the 10,000 foreign fighters who have already joined militant groups in Syria and Iraq, 3,000 hold European or other Western passports, making it easy for them to travel across most borders. U.S. officials report that as many as 100 foreign fighters hold U.S. passports, leading to worries that foreign fighters may return to the United States to launch an attack.

  • U.S. mulls ways to handle complex child immigration issue

    The influx of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States has reached crisis proportions, with 90,000 now in the United States. The children are escaping violence and deprivation in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, but a George W. Bush-era law prevents their rapid repatriation. Leading Republicans want to change the law, but many Democrats condition such a change on folding it into a comprehensive immigration reform.

  • Plans for nationwide 911 dispatch centers advance

    Municipalities across the country are planning to connect 911 dispatch centers in an effort to improve information sharing. Plan is to connect dispatchers via the Internet, which will allow centers quickly to transfer calls, 911 text messages, photos, videos of accident scenes, and other information. The technology is part of a “Next Generation 911” initiative already being implemented across the country.