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Archive for December 2015


The Battle for Syria

Understanding the Factions of North Latakia

December 29th 2015

Syrian Rebel w/SAW

Since the beginning of Russian airstrikes in Syria, the north Latakia fighting front has emerged as a key battleground as regime forces- including irregular militias like the Muqawama Suriya and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party’s Nusur al-Zawba’a– and Shi’a militias like the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujaba’ seek to make advances and consolidate the remaining rump state. Contrasting with the Aleppo front but similar to developments in north Hama, the north Latakia front has remained largely at a stalemate, with the two main frontline areas being Jabal al-Akrad and Jabal al-Turkoman. The question then arises of which insurgent factions are operating on this front.

In general, these factions are diverse in nature, ranging from Western-backed groups to jihadists. Further, they tend to acknowledge that they do not operate alone but rather cooperate with multiple other groups. This is so despite the fact that the last two major offensives launched by rebel forces in Latakia province- summer 2013 (A’isha Mother of the Believers Battle) and spring 2014 (al-Anfal Battle)- were spearheaded by foreign jihadists, with the area having a reputation as a hangout for muhajireen. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Confronting Islamic State Document Hoaxes

December 29th 2015

Abu Bakir

When it comes to looking at the Islamic State, a significant problem for research is that much of the content coming out of Islamic State-controlled territory is propaganda, primarily in the form of high quality videos and photo releases from the Islamic State’s official media outlets. Though there is some important analysis to be done on this propaganda- see the work of Charlie Winter, for instance, analysing the themes in-depth, and a more recent piece by Aaron Zelin suggesting a decline in quality of output- I myself find that after a while the monitoring of the content becomes rather predictable. For example, photo streams continue to centre around familiar motifs like battles, scenes of daily life in Islamic State-controlled towns and villages, implementation of Islamic justice, photos of natural beauty, and the like. Read more ..


Financing the Flames

New Israel Fund and Other Jewish Groups Must Stop Funding Enemies of the IDF

December 25th 2015

Exhausted Israeli Soldier

The adage about two Jews and three opinions is one which is likely to remain a perpetual reality for our people. There is room for views on the Left and the Right, whether we agree or not, as long as those ideals are rooted in loyalty and fairness. There are certain opinions, however, that we cannot accept: those rooted in deception, intended to cause harm, yet presented under the guise of legitimate concern. Views that lead to actions which undermine the safety and security of Israel and the Jewish people cannot be welcomed, nor given credence, much less financial support, by those who believe in Israel as a Jewish nation.

Actions that seek to undermine the men and women who serve in the IDF; ones that would have Israeli citizens arrested in foreign countries and charged with war crimes; ones that would see Israel brought before the International Court of Justice at The Hague, are unacceptable. Additionally, those who would encourage and support a boycott of Israel, painting the country and its people as an apartheid nation and people, cannot be seen as beneficial in any way, as they only help to make Israel appear illegitimate to world bodies and the court of public opinion. Read more ..


Media on Edge

CNN, New York Times Slammed for Slanted Reporting on Terror Attack

December 24th 2015

New York Times Bldg

American news network CNN and The New York Times were both met with criticism for their slanted reporting of the terror attack at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Instead of reporting on two victims and two terrorists who were killed, a newscaster at CNN simply reported: "In Jerusalem, four people are dead in the wake of a stabbing attack in a very popular tourist area. It happened at the Jaffa Gate to the Old City." CNN has yet to comment on the matter. The New York Times, meanwhile, reported on the attack with the headline "2 Palestinian Attackers Killed, 2 Israelis Die in Jerusalem."

An organization called SSI (Students Supporting Israel) posted the headline on its Facebook page, adding "Terrorists are killed, but innocent Israelis DIE?"

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Minnesota Man Facing Terrorism Charge Once Worked at Airport

December 23rd 2015

United Airlines jet liner

A Minnesota man who faces terrorism-related charges once boasted that he was capable of building rockets that could threaten planes landing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and also once worked at the airport as a baggage handler, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.

FBI Special Agent Daniel Higgins spoke at a hearing for Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame, 20, of Eagan. Warsame was the 10th young man from Minnesota's Somali community to be charged since April with terrorism-related counts accusing them of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group. He was arrested and charged Dec. 9 with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of providing such support. Read more ..


The Race for Wearable Energy

Quest for Energy Source in Clothing Adavances with Woven Microsupercapacitors

December 21st 2015

being cool

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH) have developed flexible wire-shaped microsupercapacitors that can be woven into clothing, creating a tailored power source for wearable electronics.

By their design or by connecting the capacitors in series or parallel, the devices can be tailored to match the charge storage and delivery needs of electronics donned. While there's been progress in development of those electronics - body cameras, smart glasses, sensors that monitor health, activity trackers and more - one challenge remaining is providing less obtrusive and cumbersome power sources.

"The area of clothing is fixed, so to generate the power density needed in a small area, we grew radially-aligned titanium oxide nanotubes on a titanium wire used as the main electrode," says Liming Dai, the Kent Hale Smith Professor of Macromolecular Science and Engineering. "By increasing the surface area of the electrode, you increase the capacitance."

The microsupercapacitor was based on earlier research on carbon-based supercapacitors. A capacitor is cousin to the battery, but offers the advantage of charging and releasing energy much faster.

In this new supercapacitor, the modified titanium wire is coated with a solid electrolyte made of polyvinyl alcohol and phosphoric acid. The wire is then wrapped with either yarn or a sheet made of aligned carbon nanotubes, which serves as the second electrode. The titanium oxide nanotubes, which are semiconducting, separate the two active portions of the electrodes, preventing a short circuit.

Read more ..

20 Combat Officers of Israel Defense Forces Urge An End of Funding to New Israel Fund and Others that Harm the IDF

December 21st 2015

The following open letter, written by 20 combat officers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was delivered to over 100 major donors to The New Israel Fund, including Alisa Doctoroff, The Jewish Communal Fund, Rabbi Gordon Tucker & Temple Israel of White Plains, The Jim Joseph Foundation & others. It is an appeal for American Jews to stop funding organizations that harm the Israel Defense Forces. The letter follows:

Dear Rabbi Gordon Tucker & The Leadership of Temple Israel of White Plains,

In recent years, you have donated significantly to numerous Israeli organizations and associations. The goal that you sought to achieve with your donation was to support Zionism and support organizations working for human rights and against anti-democratic activities. You support organizations that you believe work towards creating a better, saner, more democratic, and more moral Israel. The reason why you donate funds is not in doubt, nor has it ever been. However, the funds you donate are not being used to serve the purpose for which you donated them. We also know that you donate to the New Israel Fund and we wholeheartedly believe that you love the New Israel Fund, support its activities, and want to strengthen it. We won’t argue the point. However, there is one thing we ask, and, as active-duty and reserve soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces, we feel it is our right to ask.

Please demand that the New Israel Fund cease and desist from supporting organizations that defame us IDF soldiers, in Israel and around the world.  These include organizations such as Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Yesh Din, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, and Machsom Watch.

Please demand that the New Israel Fund cease and desist from supporting organizations which protect terrorists who have attacked and stabbed Israelis, even in the current wave of terror which has been plaguing Israel for over a year. These organizations, which are supported by the New Israel Fund, include: B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Ta’ayush, Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-IL), and Rabbis for Human Rights. Just this week, Israel’s Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya'alon, forbade the entrance of Breaking the Silence to all IDF bases. This is an extraordinary move expressing how deeply Israeli society perceives that is has been hurt by this organization. Israel’s Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, announced that he forbade the entrance of Breaking the Silence to all Israeli schools. Those same organizations are delegitimization organizations. Their purpose is solely to defame the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Forces and the State of Israel around the world. The activities of Breaking the Silence are extremely anti-Israeli and are perceived as such by the majority of Israeli society.

The organization works in various ways against Israel: They lie both within Israel and around the world, claiming that many IDF soldiers are “war criminals.” Several of these organizations deal with promoting lawsuits against IDF soldiers and officers in Israel and around the world. They hold events at the United Nations and participate in conventions held by the European Union, where they falsely present the State of Israel as an apartheid state, a state that practices ethnic cleansing, and other horrifying lies. In interviews to the international media they claim that the soldiers of the IDF are war criminals, that the State of Israel is a war criminal. They defend terrorists in court, even those who were caught in the act, and file petitions for their release and against revoking their Israeli citizenship. These organizations take legal action to prevent the destruction of terrorists’ houses by the state, and defame the state of Israel in every arena possible.

Their actions, the things they say and write against the State of Israel and IDF soldiers in the foreign press feeds anti-Israel and anti-Zionist campaigns, and even terror organizations such as Hamas quote from things Breaking the Silence say during Hamas actions against the State of Israel on the international stage.

The worst of it is not that you support and fund these organizations, but that so do European countries and Palestinian foundations. Palestinians fund their actions.  The question is whether you, dear donor, knew of this activity. Does it reflect your values and do you agree that this is the use for the money which you donate to these organizations?

Dear lover of Israel – don’t let these Foreign Agent organizations, funded by foreign governments, tear away at Israeli democracy. Don’t let them tamper with the State of Israel.

With regards,

Sergeant Bar Shalev, Judea and Samaria Division; Air Force Officer Daniel Salame,; Staff Sergeant Ori Moskovich, Unit 926; Sergeant Major Matan Milles, 3 Squadron, The Navy; Staff Sergeant Chaim Prince, Engineering Corps; Staff Sergeant Aviad Harush, Unit 7002; Staff Sergeant Ilana Valdman, The Home Front Command; First Sergeant Hanani Ladel, Regiment 188; Staff Sergeant Almog Qashty, The Military Police; ​Sergeant Major Ze'ev Lev, Unit 7012;Staff Sergeant Eli Baraz, Regional Brigade Binyamin; Staff Sergeant Matan Haratz, Unit 710; Sergeant Major Lev Liberman, Central Command; Sergeant Major Matan Arad, Supply Unit 91; Staff Sergeant Naama Carmel, Intelligence; Lieutenant Ofir Levine, Engineering Corps; Staff Sergeant Tzur Ofir, Unit 9135; Staff Sergeant Ariel Iskov, Unit 868; Staff Sergeant Uria Peled, Air Defence Forces; Sergeant Major Nadav Simantov, Unit 43.


The Edge of Terrorism

Seventy Paris Airport Workers' Security Passes Revoked Over Their Radical Islamist Beliefs

December 18th 2015

French antiterror police squad

Seventy workers at Paris airports suspected of being radical Islamists have had their security passes revoked since the deadly attacks in the city a month ago.

Security agents have also examined the contents of around 4,000 workers' lockers at Charles de Gaulle and Orly as the airports authority attempts to weed out any potential terrorists working at the busy transport hubs.

French security sources have said that Islamist militants killed in a police raid in a Paris suburb five days after the November 13 attacks were planning to attack Charles de Gaulle, France's biggest international airport.
Read more ..

The Caliphate

U.N. Resolution Will Not Stop ISIS Funding

December 18th 2015

IS with Missile

Today’s U.N. Security Council’s resolution to curb the funding of ISIS is essentially the same as resolution 2199 that was adopted earlier this year, and the sanctions that were adopted in mid-2013 under the “Al-Qaida Sanctions List”.

The major difference between today’s resolution and the previous ones is that higher level officials, the finance ministers of the Security Council’s member states attended the meeting, which added the ban on “the payment of ransoms to individuals, groups, undertakings or entities on the ISIL [Da’esh] and Al-Qaida Sanctions List regardless of how or by whom the ransom is paid.” Read more ..


The Edge of Medicine

Choose Life: How Israeli Medicine and Biotechnology Will Help Save The World

December 17th 2015

human ovum and sperm

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live”
Deuteronomy 30:19

On my many trips to Israel as the national chairman of the Jewish National Fund’s Doctors for Israel, I have observed the amazing life-saving and life-enhancing advances of Israeli medicine and discussed the future of medicine and science with many leading scientists.

I visited the makers of Rewalk robotic exoskeleton (featured on the hit TV show “Glee”) that enables paraplegic runners in London and Tel Aviv to complete marathons and spent time at Given Imaging’s PillCam capsule endoscopy company. Among other Israeli medical leaders are Itamar Medical’s fingertip monitors for sleep disorders and cardiac issues, IceCure Medical’s IceSense3 and Surpass Medical’s NeuroEndoGraft.  Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Egyptian Air Force planes have in recent months crossed into Israeli

December 17th 2015

Russian jets formation

Egyptian Air Force planes have in recent months crossed into Israeli airspaces part of Egypt's military campaign against the local Sinai affiliate of the Islamic State terror group, Ynet learned on Tuesday.The unprecedented flights, apparently conducted in coordination with the IDF, were conducted mostly in the triangular border area between Israeli territory, Egyptian land, and the southern Gaza Strip. The flights are believed to be the first time that Egyptian warplanes entered Israeli airspace since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

The Egyptian aircraft bombed IS targets mere kilometers away from the Israeli border, in the vicinity of El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid in the northern Sinai. Entry into Israeli airspace did not result in any clashes with Israeli planes, presumably because of prior coordination. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Russia Is Using Space Power in Its Attack on Syria

December 17th 2015

Vladmir Putin attempts modesty

Vladimir Putin’s military is unveiling a new arsenal in its battle with ISIS and other insurgents in Syria. Much of that new military hardware is hundreds of miles above Earth.
Russia’s two-month-old military intervention in Syria on behalf of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has involved dramatic, and highly visible, strikes by high-tech jet fighters, lumbering heavy bombers, powerful ground-based artillery, and even ships and submarines launching missiles over long distances.

Less visible but no less impressive has been Russia’s mobilization in Earth’s orbit. Moscow claimed it has positioned 10 satellites—representing more than 10 percent of Russia’s space arsenal—over Syria to map terrain, spot targets and gather other intelligence, and relay radio signals between far-flung ground, air, and sea forces. Read more ..


Campus Hate

Campus Fascists and the Suppression of Academic Free Speech

December 17th 2015

Yale University

Of the many intellectual perversions currently taking root on college campuses, perhaps none is more contradictory to what should be one of higher education’s core values than the suppression of free speech. With alarming regularity, speakers are shouted down, booed, jeered, and barraged with vitriol, all at the hands of groups who give lip service to the notion of academic free speech, and who demand it when their speech is at issue, but have no interest in listening to, or letting others listen to, ideas that contradict their own world view.

This is the tragic and inevitable result of a decades of grievance-based victimism by self-designated groups who frame their rights and demands on identity politics. Those who see themselves as perennial victims also feel very comfortable, when they express their feelings of being oppressed, in projecting that same victimization outward on their oppressors. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Swedish Threat: 'We'll Behead You In Your Home Unless You Convert To Islam'

December 16th 2015

Abu Bakir

Police in Sweden are investigating chilling letters posted through letterboxes across the country threatening to behead people unless they convert to Islam.

The notes, which are signed ISIS and carry the terrorist organisation's flag, threaten to decapitate 'non-believers' unless they become a Muslim or pay a religious tax.

They have been distributed among several cities including Stockholm and warn 'the police will not save you from being murdered'. 

The letters, written in Swedish, threaten to behead anyone who does not convert to Islam or pay a special tax

Translated, the notes said: 'In the name of Allah, the merciful, full of grace. You who are not believers will be decapitated in three days in your own house. We will bomb your rotten corpses afterwards. Read more ..


Jewry on Edge

American Jews Betrayed by Their Leaders -- Again

December 15th 2015

Syrian Refugees

On December 2, a letter signed by one thousand rabbis was delivered to Congress calling on "our elected officials to uphold the great legacy of a country that welcomes refugees." The leadership of virtually all of the Jewish defense organizations, from the Anti­Defamation League (ADL) to the American Jewish Committee (AJC), have echoed these demands to admit thousands of Syrian refugees.

These Jewish leaders have betrayed the Jews of America. They prefer burnishing their liberal credentials and parroting the views of a Democratic president to their duty to sound the alarm about the harm to American Jews from bringing to the US Syrian Muslims, who have been raised in a culture of virulent anti­Semitism. Seeing the destruction of Jewish life in Europe with the influx of Muslim immigrants from Arab countries, it would not take much imagination for these so­called Jewish leaders to see what mass immigration of Arab Muslims will mean for the safety of Americans and for American Jews in particular.

Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Who Really Betrayed the Syrians?

December 13th 2015

Syria fighting injured baby

The Islamic State executed a series of devastating attacks in Paris last Friday night. President Obama responded angrily by delivering some effective precision-guided strikes. At the Islamic terrorist organization that murdered 129 and wounded hundreds of others in Paris? Of course not; he calmly described this atrocity as a mere "setback" in his successful efforts to contain IS and vowed to bring those guys "to justice." Instead, he directed his fusillade at Republicans, his favorite kinetic target.
 
At a time when French president Francois Hollande has been fixated on retaliating in Syria against Islamic State and arresting its followers in France and Belgium to prevent more terrorist attacks President Obama directed his attention, while traveling abroad no less, on partisan attacks. He blasted many Republicans - who, having seen that at least one of the Paris attackers apparently entered France as a Syrian refugee, are rightly wary of letting in thousands of Syrians into our country who can't realistically be vetted properly and could contain terrorists - of being weak, betraying American values, and emboldening the Islamic State. He accused Republicans of being "scared of widows and orphans," and portrayed declarations by Republican presidential candidates (viz. Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Jeb Bush) that we should only allow in Christians as "offensive and contrary to American values" and a "potent recruitment tool" for the Islamic State.
 
This issue of whether to accept Syrian refugees is legitimate and requires proper, constructive debate. Some Republicans, such as commentator Charles Krauthammer, have suggested that perhaps only Syrian men be banned but women and children let in. Further, Elliott Abrams wrote here that American law dictates special treatment for persecuted religious minorities, which Christians are in Syria. Indeed, some Democrats agree with Republicans espousing these views, and some prominent Republicans disagree.
 
Beyond, the impropriety of Obama's attacks, they are especially galling, or chutzpadik - to borrow a word from a religious minority that two decades ago fled Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria thanks to the special help of the United States - it is Obama's Syria policy that has been weak, betrayed American values and emboldened the Islamic State.
 
President Obama has stood by and done virtually nothing while the Assad regime has slaughtered more than 250,000 Syrians and forced millions, more than half the country, from their homes. Standing by as such staggering carnage continues - with no interest even of establishing a no-fly safe zone - betrays American humanistic values fundamentally and dwarfs any concern over 10,000 refugees. Indeed, there would be far less a Syrian refugee crisis if the United States had set up such a zone. And the embodiment of weakness was Obama drawing a "red line" against use of chemical weapons in Syria and then refusing to enforce it. Only the catastrophic Iran deal, which all but ensures the emergence of a nuclear Iran, with international blessing no less, in fifteen years, if not sooner, marks a worse case of Obama's weakness, indeed the apex of it and the nadir of American credibility.
 
Further, Obama has done a great deal to facilitate IS recruitment. Not only has he waged a feeble, half-hearted battle ("war" would be too strong a word) against the Islamic States but he has de facto supported the Assad regime by choosing not to target its assets or even declare a no-fly zone to prevent it from dropping barrel bombs on civilians. He has denied real military support to moderate Syrian elements, driving opponents of the Assad regime into the arms of the only effective fighting force on the ground (outside the Kurdish areas): radical Islamist jihadi groups like IS. And he has ensured the further continuation of the sectarian death struggle between Sunni and Shia in Syria and Iraq by emboldening and enriching, via this summer's nuclear deal, Iran. The regime in Tehran, after all, represents the Shia version of the Islamic State, except it has, and will continue to expand, a robust nuclear program that poses an existential threat to our traditional Israeli and Arab allies. It funnels arms, weapons, training, and even battlefield support not just to Assad but also Hezbollah and the Shiite militias running rampant in Iraq and Syria. By cutting the nuclear deal and aligning with Iran, staying cozy with the Shia government in Baghdad, and distancing itself from America's traditional Sunni Arab allies, Obama has sent a signal to Sunnis in Iraq and Syria that we won't protect them, leading many to feel like their only choice is to embrace the Islamic State.
 
Obama's rhetoric post-Paris suggests little if any change in U.S. policy. He ruled out materially ratcheting up attacks against the Islamic State while Secretary Kerry appears intent on continued realignment toward Iran and perhaps Russia. This means more will continue to get killed in Syria and others elsewhere will be victimized by radical Shia and Sunni terror, marking a betrayal of our values and fundamental security and strategic interests.
 
So, it is Obama's destructive Syria (and Iran) policy that is so dangerous, not any Democratic or Republican rhetoric over Syrian refugees. The rhetoric and debate needs to refocus on changing that policy.

Michael Makovsky is CEO of JINSA, and a former Pentagon official in the Bush Administration.

The Race for More Oil

A Slick Solution to Spilled Oil on Our Seas

December 13th 2015

Oil well

Oil spills are a fact of life, along with their negative environmental impacts. Large ships, ports, rigs and even cruise ships are always at risk of accidentally creating the next major oil catastrophe.

HARBO Technologies is an Israeli company with an innovative cleanup product that could save companies billions of dollars and save our environment, too.

The company has created a lightweight, easily deployed floating barrier – known as a containment boom — that can prevent disastrous consequences of marine oil spills within minutes of leak detection.

“Oil spills today still turn into major disasters because there are no immediate containment systems onsite. There is nothing onsite to keep oil from spreading. So when the oil spill response team arrives on the scene, it’s always too late,” cofounder Haim Greenberg tells ISRAEL21c. “We have a disruptive concept of immediate response because there is none today.” Read more ..


Book Review

The Tail Wags the Dog Dispels the Myths

December 13th 2015

Sunset in Jerusalem

The Tail Wags the Dog International Politics and the Middle East by Efraim Karsh Bloomsbury, 2015. 256 pp.

Blaming the West has become the most pervasive method of teaching for many Middle East studies departments, which are becoming the heart of pop-culture academia. Efraim Karsh, a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern studies at Bar-Ilan University and professor emeritus at King's College London, in his latest book The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, dispels this myth.

"Britain's 'original sin,' if such was indeed committed, lay not in the breaking up of Middle Eastern unity but in its attempted over-unification." Overall, the blunders of the great powers were in trying to impose their own wishful thinking instead of obtaining a real understanding of the Middle East. Read more ..


The Ancient Edge

Original Americans Came from Siberia 23,000 Years Ago

December 13th 2015

The first people to reach the Americas came from Siberia, now in Russia, in a single group around 23,000 years ago, at the height of the last Ice Age, says a new study.

After reaching Alaska, they apparently hung out in the north - perhaps for thousands of years - before spreading throughout North and South America, said the study based on genomic analysis.

The findings dispel the popular idea that Polynesians or Europeans contributed to the genetic heritage of Native Americans.

The study revealed that the the first people to reach the Americas used a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska called Beringia.

"There is some uncertainty in the dates of the migration and the divergence between the northern and southern Amerindian populations. But as we get more ancient genomes sequenced, we will be able to put more precise dates on the times of migration," said one of the study authors Yun Song, associate professor at University of California, Berkeley. Read more ..


Turkey and Russia

Why Erdogan Decided to Shoot Down a Russian Plane

December 12th 2015

Turkish Air Force

The editors of Aydınlık, a Turkish newspaper, asked me a number of questions about the shoot-down of the Russian plane on Nov. 24. I replied to the questions and sent in my replies on Nov. 27 but did not hear back. So, over two weeks later, I am providing them here, as I wrote them, in English.

As relations between the Turkish and American governments have worsened in recent years, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought improved relationsgwith Russia and (to a lesser extent) China. With the shoot-down of the Russian SU-24 warplane, Erdogan has seemingly thrown away this option. Why?

Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Russia Is Using Syria as a Training Ground for Its Revamped Military and Shiny New Toys

December 11th 2015

Russian M17 Helos

Following the 2008 war in Georgia, Russia projected an air of victory. Georgian forces were crushed, and the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were bolstered. But the win was clouded by the poor performance of Russian ground and air forces in what had turned out to be a far messier and bloodier campaign than the Kremlin envisioned. And in the aftermath, Vladimir Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, launched a massive program to trim the country’s bloated military, beef up training, and replace its outdated hardware.

Two-and-a-half months into Russia’s air war in Syria, the fruits of those reforms are on display as Moscow ups the ante in the Middle East. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

PA Says Killing Israelis Is Good - But PA Must Choose Place And Time So World Accepts It

December 3rd 2015

Abbas UN

Jibril Rajoub, Head of PA Sport and Youth Affairs:
"The international community does not agree to a bus exploding in Tel Aviv. But the international community does not ask what happens to a settler or soldier in the occupied territories at the wrong time and in the wrong place. No one asks about him! Therefore, we want to fight in such a way that the world and the international community will remain by our side."
Official PA TV, Oct. 17, 2015
 
Hafez Barghouti, columnist and former editor of official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:
"After the events of September [9, 2011] in New York, [Ariel] Sharon
applied the term 'terror' used to refer to those attacks, to our national struggle (i.e., terror campaign - Intifada). I warned about this at the time, and called to keep a low profile until the New York turmoil had passed...
Now, after the Paris attacks, we must keep a low profile so that we are not charged with the crimes of ISIS... We must learn our lessons and wait."
Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 24, 2015
Read more ..


The Race for Solar

Light Trapping Innovation Lifts Solar Cell Efficiency To 45 Percent

December 3rd 2015

Solar Panels

Florida State University (FSU) researchers claim they are a step closer to making solar cells more effective at trapping and using light. In a paper published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Kenneth Hanson and his team have introduced a new strategy for generating more efficient solar cells. The team is composed of post-doctoral researcher Tanmay Banerjee and graduate students Sean Hill and Tristan Dilbeck.

Using the FSU process in an optimized solar cell the researchers claim they can increase the maximum efficiency from 33 percent to more than 45 percent.
“We’re looking not only for new materials but also new light harvesting processes to make solar cells better,” explained Hanson. Though solar cells have grown in popularity, they are still not widely used by the general public as an energy source due to their high cost and low efficiency. A typical solar cell, at maximum, converts less than 33 percent of light into electricity, so researchers have been working to find ways to surpass this limit and make cells more efficient. Read more ..


Campus Hate

Should Your Child Go To A College Whose Faculty Supports The Anti-Semitic Boycott Against Israel?

December 1st 2015

UNH Campus

Many considerations go into the decision of where to attend college. Up until fairly recently, however, the comfort of being Jewish, and the atmosphere toward Israel, were not major factors. Today, however, with the alarming reports from students witnessing and experiencing anti-Semitism, and the attacks on Israel by not only students but faculty, parents and their children would be wise to investigate what is going on, and how the administrators are responding, before deciding on a college.

Nearly 5,000 professors around the world, half from the United States, support the anti-Semitic BDS movement and/or signed onto petitions or statements that exceeded the bounds of legitimate criticism of Israel. According to the leaders of the BDS campaign, Jews have no right to self-determination in their homeland, two-states for two people is not a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians and Israel should be destroyed. As Prof. As’ad AbuKhalil, a BDS proponent from California State University, Stanislaus, explained: “The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.” Read more ..


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