• ICE chief: Israel's inclusion on terror watch list a "mistake"

    DHS officials are now saying Israel’s inclusion on a list of countries that promote, produce, or protect terrorists was a mistake; John Morton, director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said, “The addition of Israel to the list—- was based on inaccurate information provided to the OIG during the course of its audit”; a May 2011 report contained an appendix which lists “specially designated countries” that promote terrorism; the list instructed ICE agents to pay special attention to, and investigate more thoroughly, individuals from these countries arrested by ICE; ICE spokesperson suggested that Israel was included not because its government supports terrorism, but because some individual Israelis do pose a terror threat; 1.5 million of Israel’s 7.5 million citizens are Arabs

  • Palestinian non-violent resistance will challenge Israel

    In the last twenty years, the Palestinians launched two violent campaigns — intifadas — against Israeli occupation; both intifadas — the first in 1988, the second in 2000 — were forcefully suppressed by Israel; a Palestinian scholar, now teaching in the United States, has long advocated a peaceful, Gandh-like resistance as a better way for the Palestinians to achieve their national goals; he argued that the indiscriminate killing of Israeli civilians was not only a moral stain on the Palestinian national movement — it is also counter-productive, because it gave Israel reasons to respond with overwhelming force and continue to portray the Palestinians as unwilling to be partners in peace; the Palestinian leadership ignored him in the past, but appears to be listening to him now; Israel is anxious

  • U.S. and Kenya open talks to resume direct flights

    The United States is resuming talks with Kenya to discuss the reopening of direct flights between the two countries; due to fears of terrorism from neighboring Somalia, in September 2009 U.S. officials cancelled a Delta Airlines flight just hours before the fully-booked plane was schedule to depart; the flight would have been the first direct link between the two countries since the late 1980s

  • ICE lists Israel among countries that promote, produce, or protect terrorists

    DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a report describing the methods on which the agency relies to arrest, detain, and, if necessary, deport undesirable aliens; the report contains an appendix which lists “specially designated countries” whose detained nationals should be more closely examined; among the countries whose nationals should be paid special attention as potential terror risks is Israel — which the report considers a “Promoter, Producer, or Protector” of terrorists

  • Were Pakistani IED plants tipped off to impending raids?

    The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is becoming increasingly strained as several terrorist bomb-making factories in Pakistan were evacuated shortly after American officials alerted their Pakistani counterparts to their existence; so far, in the last month alone, four bomb-making factories were evacuated just before they were raided, but it is unclear whether that was the result of deliberate leaks by Pakistani intelligence officials or if they had been planned ahead of time as a precautionary measure; Senator john McCain (R-Arizona) said: “After all, the United States is investing billions and billions of dollars in Pakistan. Taxpayers have a right to have a return on that”

  • Farm animal disease to increase with climate change

    Researchers looked at changes in the behavior of bluetongue — a viral disease of cattle and sheep — from the 1960s to the present day, as well as what could happen to the transmission of the virus forty years into the future; they found, for the first time, that an outbreak of a disease could be explained by changes to the climate

  • More borders, cheaper conflict steadily increase number of wars

    New research shows that the frequency of wars between states increased steadily from 1870 to 2001 by 2 percent a year on average; the research argues that conflict is being fed by economic growth and the proliferation of new borders

  • Yemen: the new Afghanistan?

    President Barack Obama announced last week the acceleration of the scheduled withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan; there was an implicit theme in the speech — the fact that Afghanistan has slowly been eclipsed by other countries as a hot-bed for terrorists; continued U.S. preoccupation with Afghanistan would mean that the United States would have fewer resources to devote to these other places; one of these place is Yemen; two weeks ago, the United States let it be know that it was intensifying the UAV campaign against terrorist targets in Yemen — and that the CIA drones would fly to their missions from a secret base in the region

  • Violence in Syria continues to spread

    The violence in Syria spread, as thousands escape to Turkey seeking refuge; over the weekend Turkey contemplated the idea of sending its military to occupy a small area inside Syria and turn it into a safe haven protected by the Turkish Army, but was talked out of it by the United States; Turkey has now accepted more than 8,000 fleeing Syrians; Syria has closed off an area near the eastern town of al-Boukamal, on the Iraqi frontier; the area was a smuggling corridor for insurgents and weapons into Iraq in the 2000s, and the Syrian government was upset that the area was now used to smuggle arms into Syria to help the anti-government protesters; the number of civilians killed has reached 1,400, and the number of arrested now stands at 10,000

  • Security Council to consider tough Syria condemnation

    UN Security Councils considering harsh condemnation of Syria’s crackdown; draft resolution, advanced by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, will likely run into a Russian, Chinese veto

  • Pakistan phases out U.S.-made border monitoring software

    In 2002 the United States provide sixteen countries with a border-monitoring system called Personal Identification, Secure Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES); Pakistan has now decided to replace the system with a Pakistani-developed system called Integrated Border Management System (IBMS); the government says the reason for the change is the IBMS is more capable, and denies the decision is the result of worries that the United States has access to PISCES-collected information

  • Spiraling violence and Assad's desperate tactics

    The conflict in Syria between anti-government protesters and the Basher al Assad regime escalates; two signs of escalation: the Saudi and Jordanian covert support of the anti-Assad forces is beginning to tell, and the regime, growing ever more desperate, is targeting children for torture and death and busing hundreds of Palestinians living in Syria to the border with Israel as a diversion; the Palestinian issue is a potent issue, and exploiting it for diversion may appear as clever ploy by a desperate ruler; it is not likely to work, though: If Israel manages to keep the level of violence low, and if it finds better — non-lethal — means to deal with repeated attempts of Palestinians from Syria to breach the border, then whatever happens along the border would just not be powerful enough — in terms of TV footage, drama, and the number of people killed or wounded — to offset to growing brutality inside Syria

  • Skeptical Israeli, weakening Assad, predictable UN

    Meir Dagan, who retired in December as head of Israel’s Mossad, is not a sandals-and-beads-wearing lefty; yet, he has emerged as the most persistent critic of the current Israeli leadership’s approach to possible military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities; he says that Israel may be able to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, but Israel will not be able to prevent a massive and sustained Iranian retaliation: Israel’s population and economic centers will be showered by thousands of missiles and rockets from Iran and its two local agents, Hezbollah and Hamas; if necessary, Dagan says, Israel will have to absorb this punishment — and it will be able, painfully, to do so; the emphasis, though, is on “if necessary”; more and more observers have concluded that Assad’s day in power are numbered; Assad is in a no-win situation: if he makes more concessions to the anti-government demonstrators, he will appear weak and alienate the hard-liners in his circle; if he continues to kill dozens of Syrian civilians a week, his already-eroded legitimacy as the ruler of Syria will weakened even more; thirty-four civilians were killed today by live rounds in the city of Hama; in September, the UN will hold a 10-year commemoration of what is known as Durban I — the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa; the Obama administration has decided not to participate in the September event because, Joseph E. Macmanus, acting U.S. assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, said, the Durban process “included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism”; the United States withdrew from Durban I ten years ago after Colin Powell, the U.S. secretary of state, harshly criticized the “hateful language” dominating the conference and the documents it produced, language that “singles out only one country in the world, Israel, for censure and abuse”

  • U.S., Canada harmonize perimeter security approach

    No other two countries in the world have a larger volume of trade between them as do the United States and Canada; in the first eleven month of 2010, for example, that trade between the two countries reached $480 billion; that trade — and, especially, significant growth of that volume of trade — have been hampered by ever tighter security arrangements the United States has been implementing along the U.S.-Canada border since the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the main reason the United States has insisted on beefing up border security is that Canadian immigration and customs laws have been judged to be not up to what the United States would regard as acceptable standards; the U.S. message to Canada was thus straightforward: the higher the security walls around Canada, the lower the security wall between Canada and the United States; Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper agrees, and Canada is now working with the United States on harmonizing perimeter security arrangements; some Canadians are unhappy, saying the deal will result in sacrificing cherished Canadian values and practices

  • Potential China Taiwan deal on rare earth metals

    Taiwan could soon start receiving shipments of rare earth minerals from China in a move that could help bolster its technology and chemical companies; last week, officials from China and Taiwan met to discuss a potential deal that would ease some of China’s export quotas and tariffs on rare earth shipments; the deal with Taiwan would likely do little to affect global prices or trade as Taiwanese companies purchase far less than their Japanese, European, and American counterparts; but some analysts believe the deal would still benefit Taiwanese companies by giving them a competitive advantage