Government

  • As TRIA is set to expire in December, reauthorization by Congress is not a sure thing

    After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. insurance industry sustained an estimated $32.5 billion in total losses. In 2002, to encourage insurance companies to continue covering terrorism as part of commercial policies after many dropped the coverage for fear of more financial loss should another terror attack occur, Congress passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act(TRIA).There has yet to be a TRIA payout due to the absence of a large-scale terrorist attack since the law went into effect. With TRIA expected to expire on 17 December 2014, businesses and some members of Congress are advocating the extension of the legislation, but two pending proposals in Congress have yet to gather the needed support to reauthorize TRIA.

  • Israel launches ground war against Hamas; Egypt blames Hamas

    Israel forty-five minutes ago launched a land incursion into the Gaza Strip. The ground move is being accompanied by the heaviest Israeli bombardment to date – from land, sea, and the air — of targets throughout the Gaza Strip. The IDF spokesman said that large infantry and armored units have entered Gaza in the north, center, and south simultaneously. The Prime Minister’s office issues a statement saying that one of the goals of the ground operation is the destruction of the system of tunnels Hamas has built close to Israel’s borders. Egypt blames Hamas for any Palestinian casualties resulting from Israel’s operation.

  • State, Political Community and Foreign Relations in Modern and Contemporary Syria
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  • Five House Homeland Security top policy staffers fired

    Brendan Shields, the new staff director for House Homeland Security Committeechairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), fired five top policy staffers on 20 June, including McCaul’s top advisers on border security and counterterrorism.Observers note that without his own cadre of policy experts, McCaul may have less influence on legislation, especially if subcommittee heads with opposing views become more involved in drafting policies.

  • DHS IG: manual processing faster than Electronic Immigration System (ELIS)

    A new reportby DHS Office of Inspector Generalconcludes that the department’s $1.7 billion Electronic Immigration System(ELIS), used to process forms for benefits, VISAs, and refugee requests, is inefficient as it takes twice as long as processing the applications manually.Currently, workers spend roughly 125 clicks per application, a more time-consuming process than processing the forms manually.

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  • People in leadership positions more willing to sacrifice privacy for security

    People with higher job status may be more willing to compromise privacy for security reasons and also be more determined to carry out those decisions, according to researchers. This preoccupation with security may shape policy and decision-making in areas ranging from terrorism to investing, and perhaps cloud other options, said the author of the new study, adding: “What may get lost in the decision-making process is that one can enhance security without the negative impact on privacy.”

  • No extra funding for increased Pentagon presence on southern border

    Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), has stated that illegal immigration and its effects are threatening to destabilize the region and are a national security threat to the United States. President Barack Obama’s $3.7 billion supplemental request to congress, however,, does not include any additional funding for military operations.

  • Why hundreds of westerners are taking up arms in global jihad

    The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are attracting many Westerners as jihadi fighters. The stereotype that these fighters are migrants who have struggled to find a place in their adopted societies is shattered upon viewing YouTube propaganda videos. The typical portrayal of a violent jihadi is as a brutal group member, wearing sinister ninja-style costumes, maintaining a lifestyle straight from the Dark Ages and determined to drag the world back there. This stereotype is far from reality. Salafism is a thoroughly modern phenomenon, one that materialized the abstract concepts of Islam into an actual political system to be implemented. Salafists use modern means such as the Internet, social media and other technology. Their language embraces modern concepts of freedom, liberation and equality, which are all foreign to traditional Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Salafists also strongly oppose the traditional Islamic seminaries and institutes. They see these as one of the major barriers to Islamic awakening. Jihadi Salafism promises its followers an attractive utopia that is certain to become reality with the application of strong will and assertive action. They see their battle as a fight for humanity and for a better world where purity and authenticity prevail. In this regard, they, like other utopian movements such as particular types of socialists and communists, have a clear strategy for changing the world.

  • Hamas refuses Egypt's cease-fire proposal; Israel to resume – and escalate -- military operations

    Israel earlier today (12:00 midnight EST) had accepted the Egyptian cease-fire proposal, which was to go into effect at 02:00 EST. At that time, Israel halted all military operation. Hamas, however, announced it would not accept the cease fire, and continued to fire rockets into Israel. Sources in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have just announced that Israel, after five hours of not responding to Hamas rocket attacks, was about to resume the fighting – and said that the next hours and days will see an intensified Israeli military efforts to destroy Hamas war-making ability.

  • Using drones in law enforcement work

    Using unmanned flight systems for domestic surveillance can provide emergency responders information during fires, earthquakes, storms, and man-made disasters, said John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.He said that the general public is open to the use of unmanned systems when informed about their use.

  • Holder calls on Europeans to adopt U.S. counterterrorism methods

    Last week in Oslo, Attorney General Eric Holder called on more European countries to adopt American-style counterterrorism laws and tactics to prevent would-be terrorists from traveling to Syria. “If we wait for our nations’ citizens to travel to Syria or Iraq, to become radicalized, and to return home, it may be too late to adequately protect our national security,” Holder said.

  • High-tech industry-backed immigration reform advocacy group mulls strategy

    FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group launched by Facebookfounder Mark Zuckerberg, has spent millions of dollars on advertising and events to persuade members of Congress to revamp the country’s immigration policy, but despite having the capital, connections, and star power, the tech industry-based group is now forced to reorganize its strategies in the midst of a polarizing immigration debate.

  • Bad social policy, not ideology, is to blame for the Arab world’s downward spiral

    Nothing symbolizes the sorry state of Arab politics more than the rise of ISIS. The Arab world at large appears to be fast descending into a political quagmire, only a few years after the euphoria of the so-called Arab Spring. The unravelling of old dictatorships in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Syria has opened up a Pandora’s box of sectarian, ethnic and tribal divisions, old fault lines that have persisted under the heavy hand of police states for the last century.

  • IAF begins heavy bombardment of residential areas in north Gaza

    As we predicted yesterday, the Israel Air Force (IAF) earlier this morning showered Palestinian urban areas in north Gaza with leaflets giving residents until today (Sunday) at noon (Israel time) to evacuate their homes ahead of massive Israeli bombardment of these area. The leaflets were accompanied by calls to every home phone and cell phone of residents in the area (Israel has all these phone numbers), and radio and TV broadcasts in Arabic. Hamas, in an effort to forestall the Israeli attack by keeping Palestinian civilians as a human shield, has publicly ordered the residents to stay put, branding those who leave as collaborators with the “Zionist enemy.” So far, about a third of the residents have left. Israel has just begun a heavy bombardment on the outskirts of Beit Lahia in order to remind residents that Israel is serious.

  • Israel to focus on Hamas tunnel system, then seek a “Syrian solution” to Hamas problem

    Since Hamas violently seized power in the Gaza Strip in summer 2007, the organization invested millions of dollars in following Hezbollah’s example and build a vast system of tunnels and bunkers under residential areas, using the Palestinians living above ground as a human shield to the Hamas war machine underground. Israel cannot destroy these underground tunnel systems without destroying the cities above, in the process killing and injuring an untold number of Palestinian civilians. In a move similar to the tactics followed by Israel during the 2006 war with Hezbollah, the Israel Air Force (IAF) will drop leaflets on cities in the northern part of the Gaza strip, instructing residents to leave their homes and move south. These leaflets will be accompanied by automatic phone calls to everyone in these areas to reinforce the message that they must leave. Once the residents have left, in effect turning towns into ghost towns, the IAF will have the freedom to use much heavier ordinance in bombing and destroying large portions of Hamas’s tunnel system underneath. As to how the war will end: The “Syrian option” – that is, allowing a defanged Hamas to remain in power – now appears to be Israel’s goal.

  • Chinese government hackers collected information on U.S. security clearance applicants

    Chinese government hackers last March broke into the computer networks of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the agency which keeps the personal information of all federal employees. The hackers targeted the information of tens of thousands of employees who had applied for top-secret security clearances. Experts note that the hacking of OPM files containing information about federal employees applying for security clearance is especially disturbing since federal employees applying for security clearances enter their most personal information.