Government

  • Washington State offers college financial aid to children of undocumented immigrants

    Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State yesterday signed legislation which will offer college financial aid to students brought into the United States illegally by their parents. California, Illinois, Texas, and New Mexico have passed similar legislations. The measure represents a shift in the position of State Senate Republicans: last year, the GOP-controlled Senate blocked a similar measure,called the Dream Act of Washington State, but earlier this month the Senate passed its own version of the bill, which the the governor, a Democrat, signed.

  • Hezbollah acknowledges Israel’s Monday air strike

    Hezbollah, after initially denying that any of its forces were attacks Monday night, earlier today (Wednesday) admitted that Israel carried out an airstrike targeting the militia’s positions in Lebanon near the border with Syria. Hezbollah’s statement said the air strike caused damage but no casualties. A senior Israeli security official told reporters that the missiles destroyed in the attack could carry warheads heavier and more dangerous than almost all of the tens of thousands of missiles and rockets Hezbollah now has in its arsenal.

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  • Large terrorism database offers valuable information

    The federally funded national consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), located at University of Maryland, has developed its Global Terrorism Database (GTD), the largest database of its kind. It includes more than 113,000 identified cases of terrorism around the globe – among themmore than 52,000 bombings, 14,400 assassinations, and 5,600 kidnappings – and provides available  information on the date, location, weapons used, nature of target, number of casualties, and name of the group or individual responsible for each incident.

     

  • Israeli jets attack Syrian weapons convoys in Hezbollah-held area in Lebanon

    For the second time this year. Israeli jets attacked targets on the border between Lebanon and Syria on Monday night as part of an ongoing campaign to prevent the transfer of advanced weapon systems from the Syrian military to Hezbollah. In 2013, the Israel Air Force (IAF) attacked military bases and arms depots inside Syria on six occasions — 30 January, 3 May, 5 May, 5 July, 18 October, and 30 October. The first attack in 2014 took place on 26 January. The previous seven air strikes were on targets inside Syria, but last Sunday attack was on Syrian military convoys just inside Lebanon, in Hezbollah-controlled areas near the Lebanon-Syria border.

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  • Veterans of U.S. Special Forces say Chechen militants are the most ferocious

    Since the beginning of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, U.S. Special Operation forces have fought against Chechen jihadists based in Pakistan’s tribal areas and fighting alongside Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. Veterans of U.S. Special Forces say that Chechen fighters were more determined and ferocious than other Islamists. Some scholars dispute these reports, pointing out that there were no Chechen among militants captured in Afghanistan, but rather Russian-speaking Uzbeks and Tajiks. Other scholars say that the fact that there were no captured Chechen militants is indication that they are zealots who fight to the death rather than let themselves be captured.

  • Cost of plutonium disposal facility skyrockets

    The Mixed Oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel factory at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, being built to help dispose of cold war-era weapon-grade plutonium, would cost up to $30 billion in addition to the $4 billion spent on construction so far. The staggering cost overruns have led many to call for a new, less expensive solution. Matthew Bunn, a former Clinton White House official who helped develop the plutonium disposal program, agrees that the cost of the MOX factory is excessive. “The things we’re trying to accomplish aren’t worth that amount of money,” he said.

  • Facebook-WhatsApp deal raises security concerns

    Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp made headlines for its sheer size — $4 billion in cash and $15 in Facebook stock, for a total of about $19 billion – but security experts are worried about the security aspects of the deal. Even security specialists advising WhatApp’s customers not to panic about the deal, use language which is not exactly reassuring. Serge Malenkovich of Kaspersky Labs says: “There are no new [emphasis in original] reasons to worry about messaging privacy. Honestly speaking, WhatsApp was never meant to be a true confidential messaging tool; there were even multiple breaches in the past, including some attacks, which make eavesdropping possible.”

  • DHS warns airlines of renewed shoe-bomb risk

    DHS has alerted airlines flying to the United States to the possibility that terrorists might try to bring explosives n board in their shoes. The airlines were told that there were no specific plots, and that the information was based on information collected in the United States and abroad that bomb makers affiliated with terrorist groups were working on a shoe-bomb design. Hiding explosives in shoes is not new. In December 2001, passengers aboard an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami prevented a U.K. citizen, Richard Reid, from detonating explosives hidden in his sneakers.

  • State lawmakers question Cuomo proposal for a homeland security college

    Governor Andrew Cuomo last month earmarked $15 million in his state budget proposal for what he called “the nation’s first college dedicated solely to emergency preparedness and homeland security.” State lawmakers are generally in support of investing more money in preparing the state for natural and man-made disasters, but some question whether a new college for homeland security is the answer.

  • IAEA: Iran's stockpile of 20% enriched uranium shrunk under interim nuclear agreement

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports in its quarterly inspections assessment that the quantity of 20 percent enriched uranium in Iran’s hands has been reduced since last November, when the world’s six powers (P5+1) and Iran have reached an interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear activities. Iran now has 354 pounds of the material — or about one-fifth less than what it had in November. With the right type of centrifuges, it is quicker to enrich uranium from 20 percent to weapon-grade 90 percent than it is to enrich uranium from 1 or 2 percent to 20 percent, so that the smaller the amount of 20 percent uranium a country has, the longer the “breakout” time — the time it would take a country to assemble a nuclear bomb once a decision to do so has been made.

  • Foreign support for rival sides in civil war makes post-war democracy less likely

    From Ethiopia to Nicaragua, countries that go through civil war are much less likely to become democratic if the winning side gets help from rival nations, a new study finds. The study examined 136 civil wars from 1946 to 2009, 34 of which involved rivals aiding the winning side. Of those thirty-four countries, only one — Algeria — bucked the trend by becoming significantly more democratic over the next decade. The others either remained undemocratic or became substantially more repressive after the civil war.

  • Iran-Russia oil deal threatens nuclear negotiations

    Iran said that in exchange for Iranian oil, Russia could build a second reactor at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant. Russia could also provide Iran with trucks, railroad tracks, mini-refineries, grain, and other goods for Iranian oil. In a deal worth $1.5 billion a month, Iran would export 500,000 barrels of oil per day to Russia. The deal would increase Iran’s oil exports, which have been reduced to about one million barrels a day by American and European sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

  • Secure Communities triggers deportation of undocumented immigrants with no criminal records

    The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Secure Communitiesprogram sends fingerprint data from local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigationto immigration officers to identify and deport illegal immigrants who commit major crimes. The program has expanded from fourteen jurisdictions in 2008 to more than 3,000 today. Immigration advocates say that the program’s emphasis on identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes in the United States notwithstanding, it has also triggered the deportation of 5,964 undocumented immigrants with no criminal records.

  • QR codes threaten Internet security

    Internet security experts have raised concerns about the growing use of Quick Response codes, also known as QR codes. Because the codes can only be read by a machine, such as a smart phone, it is difficult for people to determine what they are about to download. The codes, which are often used in marketing campaigns, could also be used to subscribe people to unwanted services, such as premium SMS.

  • Anonymous messaging apps grow in popularity

    The recent surge in anonymous and ephemeral messaging apps like Backchat, Whipsper, Snapchat, Secret, and Ask.fm is a response to a growing demand for social media networks which allow users to interact without revealing their identify for fear of retribution or long-term stains on their personal records.