• SurveillanceRuling shows Europe still vexed over NSA spying, leaving U.S. companies in legal limbo

    By Caren Morrison

    For over fifteen years, the Data Transfer Pact between the European Union and the United States, more commonly known as Safe Harbor, had ensured that companies with EU operations could transfer online data about their employees and customers back to the United States despite stark differences between U.S. and European privacy law. Earlier this month, U.S. companies operating in Europe got some unwelcome news: Safe Harbor had been ruled invalid. The European court’s ruling has serious implications for these companies’ business models and profitability, leaving many scrambling to find solutions. But it also exposes a fundamental cultural rift between the U.S. and Europe’s conceptions of privacy – one that a new agreement won’t be able to paper over.

  • ClimateU.S. should lead climate change fight to bolster global stability: U.S. defense, diplomacy leaders

    Forty-eight former U.S. leaders, both Republicans and Democrats – among them secretaries of state and defense, national security advisers, leaders of the intelligence community, diplomats, generals in all four branches of the armed services, senators, and members of the House of Representatives – have published an open letter in the Wall Street Journal which called on U.S. political and business leaders to “think past tomorrow” and lead the fight on climate change. The U.S. security establishment has long recognized the threat posed by climate change to U.S. national security, defining climate change as a “threat multiplier,” adding fuel to conflicts. Security experts and military leaders no longer regard climate change as only a threat multiplier, but rather as s serious danger on its own – with droughts, sea-level rise, food shortages, and extreme weather events triggering migration and armed conflicts.

  • SyriaRussia will soon begin to pay a steep price for Syrian campaign: Ash Carter

    Moscow will soon begin to pay a steep price – in the form of reprisal attacks and casualties — for its escalating military intervention on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has warned. Earlier this week, fifty-five leading Muslim clerics, including prominent Islamists, urged “true Muslims” to “give all moral, material, political and military” support to the fight against Assad’s army as well as Iranian and Russian forces. “Russia has created a Frankenstein in the region which it will not be able to control,” warned a senior Qatari diplomat. “With the call to jihad things will change. Everyone will go to fight. Even Muslims who sit in bars. There are 1.5 billion Muslims. Imagine what will happen if 1 percent of them join.”

  • IranIran not invited to a UN summit on ISIS because U.S. designates it as a state sponsor of terrorism

    The United States did not invite Iran to Tuesday’s UN summit on combating Islamic State and other violent extremist groups because the Department of State still designates Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. It is not likely that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani would have participated in the summit even if Iran were invited. Observers note that the fact that Iran has not been invited to a meeting to discuss a coordinated strategy to defeat ISIS, a Sunni militant group Iran regards as an enemy, is yet one more illustration of the institutional and political obstacles to U.S. cooperation with Iran beyond the nuclear deal the two sides agreed to in July.

  • African securityMorocco blocks opening of Ikea store after Sweden announces support for breakaway Western Sahara republic

    Ikea was scheduled to open its first store in Morocco today, but the Moroccan government has blocked the opening because the store lacked a “conformity permit,” a statement from the Interior Ministry said yesterday. Earlier on Monday, a news Web site close to the Moroccan palace said the store was not allowed to open because of Sweden’s plans to recognize an independent state – to be called Sahrawi Republic — championed by the Polisario Front in the Western Sahara. Morocco claims sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

  • ClimateSubjecting countries to “targeted punishments” could tackle climate change

    Targeted punishments could provide a path to international climate change cooperation, new research in game theory has found. The research suggests that in situations such as climate change, in which everyone would be better off if everyone cooperated but it may not be individually advantageous to do so, the use of a strategy called “targeted punishment” could help shift society toward global cooperation.

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  • Peace dividendIsraelis to gain $120 billion, Palestinians $50 billion over next decade in two-state solution

    The Israeli economy stands to gain more than $120 billion over the next decade in a two-state solution, a possible resolution of the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in which the Palestinians gain independence and relations between the Israelis and their neighbors normalize, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Palestinians would gain $50 billion, with average per-capita income rising by about 36 percent. A return to violence, by contrast, would have profoundly negative economic consequences for both Palestinians and Israelis. The estimates are part of a systematic effort to quantify the likely economic and security costs and benefits of five alternative futures for the conflict relative to present trends. Besides the two-state and return-to-violence scenarios, RAND researchers considered three additional alternative futures: a coordinated unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank by Israel, uncoordinated withdrawal where Palestinians do not cooperate with Israeli unilateral moves, and nonviolent resistance by Palestinians.

  • Military aidU.S. to expand cooperation with Nigeria’s military in fight against Boko Haram

    Nigeria’s new president Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as the country’s new president on Friday, and the Obama administration accompanied its congratulations to the new president with indications that the United States was prepared to expand military cooperation in the fight against Boko Haram. The growing concerns about Boko Haram notwithstanding, the United States reduced its military cooperation with Nigeria during the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, who was defeated by Buhari in the March election. The Nigerian military under Jonathan was thoroughly corrupt, and proved itself incompetent in fighting Boko Haram. The United States was also growing increasingly frustrated with rampant human rights abuses by the Nigerian military. With Buhari, a former general with a reputation as a strict disciplinarian and an anti-corruption crusader, now in power, the United States is set to resume its military ties with Nigeria.

  • Military aidU.S. to increase annual military aid package to Israel from $3 billion to nearly $4 billion

    The U.S. defense aid to Israel will increase after 2017 from the current $3 billion a year to between $3.5 and $4 billion a year, according to both American and Israeli sources. The substantial increase in the military aid package to Israel is the direct result of the negotiations with Iran — and the fact that Sunni states in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, will themselves see a major quantitative and qualitative increases in U.S. military aid to them, thus risking the erosion of the Israeli military’s “qualitative edge.” Only last year, the administration, in an effort to accommodate congressionally mandated cuts in the defense budget, informed Israel that the only changes to the package would be adjustment for inflation.

  • Analysis // SyriaEndgame in Syria: Assad forces in retreat as rebels increase pressure

    The attention to developments in Iraq caused many to miss the more important developments to the north, where the Assad regime, for the first time since the Syrian rebellion began four years ago, appears to be weakening in the face of the growing effectiveness of the rebel forces and the accelerating disintegration of what remains of the Syrian military. Military analysts say that the regime may soon be forced to abandon Damascus and concentrate its dwindling forces in the northwest coastal region of Syria which is controlled by Alawites, but the Alawite region may not be a safer haven for Assad, though. Since March, the rebels have defeated the Syrian military in a series of important battles, and have been pressing their westward advance. There is a growing sense in the region that the situation in Syria is changing, and that these changes do not favor President Assad.

  • Iran dealIran deal supporters: Comparisons with 1994 North Korea deal not applicable

    Critics of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers charge that the negotiations, and the impending deal, repeat the mistakes the United States made in the nuclear deal it signed with North Korea in 1994. Supporters of the administration say there is no comparison between what happened twenty years ago and now. One example: the Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea was a 4-page general document which did not include and reference to enforcement mechanisms should North Korea decide not to comply with the agreement. The emerging agreement with Iran, on the other hand, is a 150-page document dominated by intricate technical specifications and detailed procedures for inspection and verification, followed by specific benchmarks and definitions of violations and non-compliance and the resulting penalties which would be imposed on Iran should such violations occur.

  • Iran dealKerry tells Israelis: U.S. “guarantees” it can prevent Iran from getting the bomb

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to assuage concerns in Israel over the nuclear deal with Iran, saying in a Sunday interview on Israel’s Channel 10 TV that “There is a lot of hysteria about this deal.” He added: “I say to every Israeli that today we have the ability to stop them if they decided to move quickly to a bomb, and I absolutely guarantee that in the future we will have the ability to know what they are doing so that we can still stop them if they decided to move to a bomb.”

  • BoycottsU.S. consumer boycott of French-sounding products during 2003 Iraq War

    Remember “freedom fries?” In 2002, as the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush was gearing up to invade Iraq, tensions were rising in the U.N. Security Council, where France, deeply opposed to an attack on Iraq, threatened to use its veto power to stop the action. In the United States, sentiment toward Paris plummeted, particularly among conservative Americans. Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly announced on the air he was boycotting French products, and Capitol Hill cafeterias famously renamed French fries as “freedom fries,” in an edible admonishment of the French government. Do U.S. consumers boycott products in response to international conflict? Two professors at the University of Virginia say that in the case of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the answer is “yes.”

  • Nuclear risksHow to verify a comprehensive Iran nuclear deal

    With the negotiation between the P5+1(the United States, European Union, Britain, France, Russia, and China) and Iran resuming yesterday (Wednesday) about a set of parameters for an eventual Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the shape of a final deal about Iran’s nuclear program has emerged. Many important provisions of a final deal, however, remain to be negotiated in the coming months. David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, says that a critical set of these provisions involves the adequacy of verification arrangements which would be in place to monitor Iran’s compliance with a deal. Tehran’s long history of violations, subterfuge, and non-cooperation requires extraordinary arrangements to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is indeed peaceful.

  • CubaU.S. expects improving relations with Cuba to facilitate return of fugitives

    A 2013 State Department report discredited earlier U.S. claims that Cuba armed separatists in Colombia and Spain, but reaffirmed the country’s role in providing refuge to criminals who have fled U.S. courts (and jails).”We see the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the reopening of an embassy in Havana as the means by which we’ll be able, more effectively, to press the Cuban government on law enforcement issues such as fugitives. And Cuba has agreed to enter into a law enforcement dialogue with the United States that will work to resolve these cases,” a State Department spokesman said.