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Archive for June 2015

Turkey on Edge

Erdogan’s Fall From Grace

June 25th 2015


Turkish President Erdogan’s May 2013 plan to raze Gezi Park in Central Istanbul and replace it with a replica 19th century Ottoman barrack prompted anti-government protests in Istanbul and other cities across Turkey, which led to violent confrontations where the police used disproportionate force. Thousands of demonstrators were injured, and thousands more faced legal proceedings and lost their jobs. Some defendants were charged with terrorism offenses (many are still on trial) and many others spent up to 10 months in detention before being bailed out. I believe that the Gezi Park incident was a historic turning point marking the beginning of the end for Erdogan’s political fortunes. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Eighteen Top Iran Specialists Sign Open Letter to Obama Alarmed at Iran Deal

June 25th 2015

Iran Long-Range Missile

Eighteen distinguished Iran specialists have signed an opne letter of alarm to Obama administration over the pending nuclear deal with Iran. The eminent list includes some of those who worked with the Administraion closely on the question. The list includes: Robert Einhorn, special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control at State until just before the interim deal, Gary Samore who served as the Administration's lead expert on arms control and WMDs from 2009-2013, and Dennis Ross who held the Persian Gulf portfolio at State, David Petraeus former head of the CIA, and Gen. James Cartwright former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The statement follows:

Over the last three years, members of this bipartisan group have convened regularly under the auspices of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy to discuss the status of the Iran nuclear issue, frequently benefitting from the input of current Administration officials. Last week, at its most recent meeting, the group determined that it could usefully contribute to the public debate on the ongoing negotiations by presenting its consensus view of critical issues.This statement reflects that broad consensus. Read more ..

The Caliphate

The Jihadist Trap of Here and Now

June 25th 2015

IS Caliphate victory parade

In recent weeks, I have found myself spending a lot of time thinking about the jihadist strategy of al Qaeda and how it compares to that of the Islamic State. Earlier this month, I wrote about the possibility that the al Qaeda brand of jihadism could outlast that of the Islamic State. Last week, I wrote about how ideologies are harder to kill than individuals, focusing on the effect that the death of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wahayshi will have on the group and the wider global jihadist movement.

But beyond the impact of leaders like al-Wahayshi, there are other facets of strategy that will influence the war for the soul of jihadism. Specifically, I am talking about time and place. Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State seek to establish a global caliphate, but both differ quite starkly in how to accomplish this task and how soon it can be achieved. Read more ..

The Drone Edge

Drones Stealthily Steal the Paris Air Show

June 25th 2015

Flying Robot

The recent Paris Air Show was rich in drone solutions, from warfare mean machines to consumer toys and everything in between for the professional user. Yet, the recurring unauthorized flights that have been reported in the French national press over sensitive sites (embassies, nuclear or other industrial sites) have brought bad publicity to drones in general, making French authorities fear that those flights may be tied to terrorist or other criminal activities.

Even if the flying rules put forward by the DGAC (France's Civil Aviation General Office) and the heavy fines may tame the occasional aerial photography amateur, violating the sky rules is as easy as flying your drone too far and too high over public landmarks or private properties. Read more ..

The Automotive Edge

'Transparent' Truck Lets Drivers Behind It See Road Ahead

June 25th 2015

Traffic Jam

A prototype "Safety Truck" developed by Samsung allows drivers following behind it to "see through" the truck to the road ahead. The truck features a front-facing wireless camera and four rear monitors in the back that provide a streamed real-time view of the traffic conditions in the road ahead to trailing drivers behind the truck. The company developed the truck to help reduce the risk of accidents caused by drivers attempting to pass such large vehicles, which block the view ahead.

The prototype truck was tested in Argentina where two-lane roads - and traffic accidents - are common. Nearly one person per hour dies in a traffic accident there, according to Samsung, and a majority of fatalities are caused by drivers attempting to pass other vehicles. Another advantage of the truck, according to Samsung, is that it could reduce accidents due to sudden braking in the event of a slowdown ahead or an animal crossing the road. Read more ..

Broken Government

State Department Scandal About State Department Scandals

June 24th 2015

Hillary Clinton

The State Department Inspector General inspected the agency’s Diplomatic Security Service, or DSS.  The inspection covered the final year of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. More than 1,000 cases of criminal conduct by State Department personnel were investigated by DSS in 2012. A final IG report was issued shortly after Clinton left office.

Reports of pedophilia, sexual abuse, and confrontations among co-workers should've been included in the report.  But they were not.

A pair of whistleblowers [Aurelia Fedenisn and Richard Higbie] separately came forward and reported criminal acts allegedly perpetrated by senior State Department personnel had been stripped from the final report

Some investigations were stopped in-progress. Like the case of a senior official who was alleged to have sexually abused foreign nationals while assigned to several embassies. 

The investigation of an ambassador -- accused of pedophilia -- was halted on orders from “someone on the 7th floor,” according to official documents.  Read more ..

BDS Jihad

Interview with Richard Allen of JCCWatch: Fighting BDS and the New Israel Fund

June 22nd 2015

Click to select Image

Richard Allen of New York City, is said to have quietly raised millions of dollars for Israel. In 2011, he and his wife were awarded the Theodor Herzl Medallion by Israel Bonds and the Israeli Minister of Finance. But lately, Richard Allen has become both the most criticized and the most listened-to man in the New York City Jewish community. What is he now trying to do for Israel, and why?

Richard Allen, you are a businessman. Why did you decide to get involved in public affairs?

JCCWatch.org started in November 2010, with our first internet post — a smiling photo of Uri Zaki, U.S. director of B’Tselem, standing behind a table given to him by our local Jewish Community Center, the JCC in Manhattan. Zaki was raising money to promote an anti-Israel agenda, handing out literature that defames our people, while soliciting contributions, all from inside the JCC in Manhattan.

I love Israel and the Jewish people. The buck stops here. We cannot turn a blind eye to Israel’s detractors. I decided to do something.

We started JCCWatch.org to protest the presence of B’Tselem and the New Israel Fund (NIF) at the Jewish Community Center. The JCC did get this message from the community, and has somewhat modified their public support for nefarious organizations. Read more ..

After Fukushima

Fukushima Operator Did Not Act Preventively Against Tsunami

June 21st 2015

fukushima reactor smoke

The operator of Japan’s ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was aware of the need to improve the facility’s defences against tsunami more than two years before the March 2011 disaster but failed to take action, according to an internal company document.

The revelation casts doubt on claims by Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) that it had done everything possible to protect the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown after being struck by a towering tsunami.

The nuclear accident, the world’s worst since Chernobyl 25 years earlier, caused massive radiation leaks and forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people, most of whom have yet to return to their homes.


The Edge of Sport

How the FIFA Scandal Could Turn Deadly

June 18th 2015

African soccer

Security professionals make it their business to be unseen. At concerts and sporting events, they are the ones standing unnoticed in corners and doorways, quietly blending into the walls while someone else takes center stage.

So it's no surprise that with all the recent coverage of the FIFA scandal, more attention has been paid to Rolex-clad executives, ostensibly sitting in well-lit offices and allegedly taking bribes ahead of their next golf outing, than to a group that has enormous insight into the day-to-day dealings of FIFA's administration: the security team. Someone from that team knows what meetings are happening when and where and with whom. Someone has access to his or her travel itineraries and hotel room numbers, business and personal schedules, phone records and emails — all vital evidence for the prosecution. Read more ..

The Edge of Science

Bioengineers Invent Engine Powered By Water Vapor and Artificial Muscles

June 17th 2015

Caribbean Sea Shore

Bioengineers have invented the world’s first engine that runs on energy created from the process of natural water evaporation at room temperature, by utilizing cleverly engineered artificial muscles.

The small device, created by researchers at Columbia University, is a fully functional engine which can generate 1.8 microwatts of energy – enough to power LED lights or even a tiny car – all for the cost of $5. It works by drawing power from a process never considered to be a potential energy source before.

“Engineered systems rarely, if ever, use evaporation as sources of energy, despite myriad examples of such adaptations in the biological world,” a paper published in Nature by a team of authors, including researchers Xi Chen, Ozgur Sahin and others, claimed.


Israel on Edge

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds President's Prerogative In Foreign Policy

June 11th 2015

Jerusalem flags

This Monday the U.S. Supreme Court decided on Zivitofsky v. Kerry, a case which determined that a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem can only have the city listed on his U.S. passport as his place of birth, and not Jerusalem, Israel.

In 2002, Menachem Zivitofsky was born in Jerusalem; his American mother requested of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to list his place of birth as Jerusalem, Israel, in accordance with Section 214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2003 which states for “purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.” Read more ..

Obama and Israel

American Jewish Leaders Fail To Respond To Obama’s Threats

June 10th 2015


It is time to stop making excuses for American Jewish leaders and their failure to respond to U.S. President Barack Obama’s latest despicable efforts to turn the Jewish community against Israel. This time he employed a charm offensive, expressing “admiration” for Jews and “love” of Israel as a mantle to distort, malign and unashamedly employ double standards to cast moral aspersions on the sole democracy in the Middle East.

Obama is clearly determined to undermine the standing of the newly elected Israeli government by embarking on a campaign to promote an utterly fictional narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict, even in advance of the June 30 deadline of the “negotiations” with Iran.

He orchestrated interviews with journalists Jeffrey Goldberg and Tom Friedman, whom he uses regularly to convey his distaste for Israeli policies – and Ilana Dayan of Israel’s Channel 2 TV. Considered a tough investigative journalist, Dayan on this occasion, acted as though she were launching an Obama fan club. Read more ..

The New Egypt

Egypt Summons U.S. Ambassador Over MB Visit

June 9th 2015

Hate Obama Patterson

Egypt asked the U.S. ambassador in Cairo to account for the Obama administration's allowing Muslim Brotherhood officials to visit Washington for a private conference this week sponsored by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID).

Egypt sought the recent meeting with Ambassador Stephen Beecroft to show its displeasure with American policy toward the Brotherhood, which it labels a terrorist organization.

Delegation members include Amr Darrag, whose handling of drafting and ratifying Egypt's December 2012 constitution led to fears the Brotherhood aimed to impose a theocracy; and Wael Haddara, a Canadian Brotherhood member who served as an adviser to deposed President Mohamed Morsi. Read more ..

The Caliphate

As ISIS Brutalizes Women, a Pathetic Feminist Silence

June 9th 2015

IS Caliphate victory parade

Oh, how the feminist movement has lost its way. And the deafening silence over ISIS's latest brutal crimes makes that all too clear.

Fifty years ago, American women launched a liberation campaign for freedom and equality. We achieved a revolution in the Western world and created a vision for girls and women everywhere.

Second-wave feminism was an ideologically diverse movement that pioneered society's understanding of how women were disadvantaged economically, reproductively, politically, physically, psychologically and sexually.

Feminists had one standard of universal human rights — we were not cultural relativists — and we called misogyny by its rightful name no matter where we found it. Read more ..

The Race for EVs

General Motors Targets Tesla with EV Launches

June 9th 2015

Electric car Israel

GM has unveiled a concept version of the Bolt at this week's Detroit automotive show. The Chevy Bolt features a battery manufactured by South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd. and is targeting the company's rival EV maker, Tesla Motors' Model 3, which is a $35,000 electric car also scheduled to debut in 2017. The Bolt will be capable of driving four times farther than a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid on a single charge.

“The Bolt EV concept is a game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “Chevrolet believes electrification is a pillar of future transportation and needs to be affordable for a wider segment of customers.”

Bolt drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising, for uncompromising electric driving. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The Bolt EV concept is also designed to support DC fast charging. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

U.S. Internet Users Pay More than Europeans With Fewer Choices

June 9th 2015

cloud computing

More than a quarter of Americans cannot go online at home to check their children’s grades at school, apply for jobs, pay bills or research health issues. They don’t have what has become a crucial service for participation in modern society: Internet service at home.

The proportion of households with Internet service had been rising steadily for decades, according to the Pew Research Center, until the past few years when the adoption rate slowed.

One reason? The high cost of broadband and the lack of competition that leads to those high prices.

A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Internet prices in five U.S. cities and five comparable French cities found that prices in the U.S. were as much as 3 1/2 times higher than those in France for similar service. The analysis shows that consumers in France have a choice between a far greater number of providers — seven on average — than those in the U.S., where most residents can get service from no more than two companies. The Center’s analysis echoes the findings of several studies on Internet pricing disparities worldwide.


Broken Healthcare

Costs Imposed By 'Medical Industrial Complex' Defy Reason

June 9th 2015

Medical bag

One of the reasons Americans tolerate paying so much more for health care than citizens of any other country — and getting less to show for it — is our gullibility. We’ve been far too willing to believe the self-serving propaganda we’ve been fed for decades by health insurers and pharmaceutical companies and every other part of the medical-industrial complex, a term New England Journal of Medicine editor Arnold Relman coined 35 years ago to describe the uniquely American health care system.

One of the other reasons we tolerate unreasonably high health care costs is gullibility’s close and symbiotic relative: blind adherence to ideology.  By this I mean the belief that the free market — the invisible hand Adam Smith wrote about more than two centuries ago and that many Americans hold as a nonnegotiable tenet of faith — can work as well in health care as it can in other sectors of the economy.


Turkey on Edge

An End to the 'Era of Oppression' in Turkey?

June 8th 2015


For the first time since his Islamist party won its first election victory in 2002, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was nowhere to be seen on election night. He did not make a victory speech. He did not, in fact, make any speech.

Not only failing to win the two-thirds majority it desired to change the constitution, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority and the ability to form a single-party government. It won 40.8% of the national vote and 258 seats, 19 short of the simple majority requirement of 276. Erdogan is now the lonely sultan at his $615 million, 1150-room presidential palace. For the first time since 2002, the opposition has more seats in parliament than the AKP: 292 seats to 258. Read more ..

Greece on Edge

Fasten Your Seat Belts for Greece Money Crisis

June 8th 2015

Euro Symbol

The deadline for a deal to resolve Greece's ongoing drama seemed to be pushed back last week. But new stresses could appear as early as this week if there is no noticeable progress on the talks.

Last week Greece decided to combine the four debt payments it owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June — worth about €1.5 billion ($1.66 billion, £1.09 billion) collectively — into one, which will be due at the end of the month.

That delayed for three weeks the payment that was owed Friday and meant Athens could wait longer for a bailout deal. But at least according to some analysts, that will be little to no relief in the tense talks.

Much of the timeline actually remains the same, as Bank of America Merrill Lynch researchers pointed out in a note, titled "Brinkmanship in Greece: fasten your seat belts," on Monday morning. Read more ..

Campus Jihad

Rival U.S. Billionaires United to Fight Israel Boycotts

June 8th 2015

Boycott Israel

One donated more than $100 million to the Republicans, the other has been the Clintons’ biggest backer. Now billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, split on U.S. politics, have united to fight boycott threats against Israel.

Adelson and Saban hosted a conference of pro-Israel business executives and activists over the weekend in Las Vegas to begin an initiative aimed at countering the growing threat of international sanctions against Israel.

“That he’s a Democrat and I’m a Republican has really very little to do with it,” said Las Vegas Sands Corp. founder Adelson, who holds the 25th slot on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, in a joint interview with Saban on Israel’s Channel 2 on Saturday. While you can “rest assured” the two men will not be supporting the same person in the 2016 presidential election, Saban said, “when it comes to Israel, we are absolutely on the same page.”


Greece on Edge

Juncker Vents Fury Over Greek Bailout Talks At G7 Summit

June 8th 2015

Greek and EU flags

European Union officials delivered a blistering attack on the Greek government at the G7 summit in Bavaria, and world leaders including Barack Obama sought to avoid a transatlantic split over Ukraine by agreeing to maintain sanctions against Russia.

In a day of secluded talks in the Alpine resort of Schloss Elmau, the biggest drama was provided by a verbal attack on the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The summit’s host, Angela Merkel, had hoped to solve the Greek bailout crisis before the summit, but instead Juncker felt forced to open proceedings by staging a press conference accusing Tsipras of undermining negotiations over new terms for a bailout and of effectively lying to the Greek parliament.


The Aviation Edge

Rugged Drone Readying for Market

June 5th 2015

Flying Robot

Phoenix-based startup Ascent Aerosystems has come up with a new form factor for prosumer drones with its rugged cylindrical-shaped Sprite drone now showing on crowdfunding site KickStarter.

Sprite is the feat of two brothers, Jonathan and Nathaniel Meringer, both keen climbers but also qualified aerospace engineers. They got their first idea of designing their own drone around 2010, when they couldn't find an easy to pack and rugged-enough product to withstand repetitive harsh landings in rocky and mountainous Arizona where both enjoyed finding new routes for rock-climbing.

They had once considered a quadcopter drone with a camera, but none of what they had seen on the market was compact nor tough enough to be stuffed in an equipment bag with rope and water bottles. They had their first prototypes flying in 2013 and many design iterations later, they successfully launched a campaign on KickStarter in May (still some days to go, but Sprite has already raised more than the original $200,000 goal). Read more ..

The Aviation Edge

3-D Printed Aircraft Parts Will Save Weight, Fuel Says Study

June 5th 2015

United Airlines jet liner

The team, led by Eric Masanet who heads the Energy and Resource Systems Analysis Laboratory at Northwestern, used aircraft industry data to study the life-cycle environmental effects of using 3-D printing - or 'additive manufacturing' - for building select metal aircraft parts. While 3-D printing has begun to be adopted by the airline industry, the study concluded that widespread adoption of the technique to print lighter and higher-performance aircraft parts could significantly reduce manufacturing waste and the weight of the airplane, resulting in fuel and cost saving as well as a reduction in carbon emissions.

"We have suboptimal designs because we're limited by conventional manufacturing,” Masanet says. “When you can make something in layer-by-layer fashion, those constraints diminish." Read more ..

The Caliphate

How Islamic State Victories Shape the Syrian Civil War

June 4th 2015

IS with Missile

In a display of considerable flexibility on the battlefield, the Islamic State managed to take rebel forces in northern Aleppo by surprise with a large-scale offensive aimed at securing more territory along the Syria-Turkey border. After drawing down its forces in the area, the Islamic State's sudden tactical shift resulted in considerable initial gains against the rebels. Islamic State fighters seized Sawran and are advancing near Mare. But thanks to reinforcements from Aleppo city and other provinces, Syrian rebel forces have already begun to mount powerful counterattacks against the Islamic State. For now, the outcome of the battle hangs in the balance as both sides move to bolster their ranks. Read more ..

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