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America on Edge

A Juneteenth Afterthought

July 1st 2020

Edwin Black

On June 19, 2020, the United States and much of the world commemorated Juneteenth. Its observance began among Americans of African Descent shortly after the Civil War and has been their cherished liberation day ever since. I know devoted humanitarians who know the culture of diverse groups; yet, most of them had never heard of Juneteenth until a few weeks ago. Despite the intense catch-up coverage by the media, a quick scan of numerous major media outlets going back years reveals unexpectedly scant mentions before now. Even the major news outlets this year that suddenly became Juneteenth-aware often ran stories headlined "What is Juneteenth?" In fact, as recently as Memorial Day, producers on the Edwin Black Show planned an episode covering Juneteenth, thinking it would be fresh coverage of a lesser-known but important observance. By the date of our show, there was wide coverage of the date and its significance.

On the other hand, Americans of African Descent need no cheat sheet; they widely embrace Juneteenth the way the rest of the nation embraces the Fourth of July. What has happened?

We will never make racial progress with mere equality slogans, budgetary measures, high visibility faces in prominent places, up front on the board of directors and slipped in among the gilded erectors—until we all understand the history.

Juneteenth is the jargonized name for June 19, 1865, when the news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the furthest realm of slavery in Galveston, Texas. Yes, it took two and a half years after Lincoln issued the Proclamation for the community in Texas to finally get the news.

Juneteenth has been widely misreported as the day all slaves learned they were freed, including the furthest plantations in Texas. That is only partly true and strikes at the core of what Juneteenth means, and does not mean, to Americans of African Descent—to the whole United States and the entire world.

Read more ..

Media on Edge

AP Slammed for Firing Cameraman at Behest of Palestinian Police

May 29th 2020

Palestinian Authority police

Palestinian social media exploded in anger Thursday after the Associated Press news agency fired a Palestinian cameraman, apparently at the request of Palestinian police who objected to his support for a fellow journalist the Palestinians had jailed.

Veteran Palestinian cameraman Eyad Hamad, 63, was fired by AP under mysterious circumstances, with Palestinians claiming that the agency had capitulated to demands from the Palestinian Authority (PA) apparently connected to Hamad’s support for Anas Hawwari.

Palestinians say Hawwari was arrested by the PA security forces after criticizing the PA, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) said AP fired Hamad “based on a complaint by the Palestinian police against him.” Read more ..


France on Edge

French No-Go Zones Now Flourishing

May 23rd 2020

Nanterre bus

Saturday, April 18, 11 pm. Villeneuve-la-Garenne, a small town in the northern suburbs of Paris. A young man rides a motorcycle at high speed and hits the door of a police car. He breaks his leg. He is sent to the hospital. He does not have a driver's license but does have a long criminal history. He was sentenced several times by the courts for drug trafficking, robbery with violence and sexual assault.

As soon as news of the accident is released, hostile messages about the police circulate on social media; and in a dozen cities in France, riots break out. The riots are continue for five days in a row. A police station in Strasbourg is attacked and set on fire. A school is nearly destroyed a few miles from Villeneuve-la-Garenne. Read more ..


The Struggle Against Covid-19

COVID-19 Infections Would Plummet If 80% Of Americans Just Wore Masks Says UC Berkeley Study

May 11th 2020

Surgery

It sounds too good to be true. But a compelling new study and computer model provide fresh evidence for a simple solution to help us emerge from this nightmarish lockdown. The formula? Always social distance in public and, most importantly, wear a mask.

If you’re wondering whether to wear or not to wear, consider this. The day before yesterday, 21 people died of COVID-19 in Japan. In the United States, 2,129 died. Comparing overall death rates for the two countries offers an even starker point of comparison with total U.S. deaths now at a staggering 76,032 and Japan’s fatalities at 577. Japan’s population is about 38% of the U.S., but even adjusting for population, the Japanese death rate is a mere 2% of America’s. This comes despite Japan having no lockdown, still-active subways, and many businesses that have remained open—reportedly including karaoke bars, although Japanese citizens and industries are practicing social distancing where they can. Nor have the Japanese broadly embraced contact tracing, a practice by which health authorities identify someone who has been infected and then attempt to identify everyone that person might have interacted with—and potentially infected. So how does Japan do it?

Read more ..

Jewry on Edge

The HIAS-ization of American Jews

May 9th 2020

Star of David

Three years ago, the leaders of radical left-wing groups signed a letter in support of Linda Sarsour. The defenders of the anti-Semitic figure who had cheered Farrakhan and terrorists killing Jews and viewed Jews as subhuman included leaders of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish groups such as J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), T’ruah, If Not Now, Bend the Arc, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, as well as Tony Kushner, who once wished that Israel had never existed.

Also signing the petition alongside terrorist and BDS supporters were two leaders of HIAS.

HIAS, formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, had dropped the “Hebrew” part of its name along with its Jewish identity in 2014 and left New York City, where it once aided Jewish immigrants coming to America, to refocus on lobbying Congress. Instead of listening to calls by members of the Jewish community to shut down the organization and do something productive instead, it followed the money.

“Hebrew” was an exclusionary and outdated term, HIAS CEO Mark Hatfield opined. And so he dispensed with the Jewish part of the organization’s name and with aiding Jewish immigrants in New York. Hetfield was one of the signatories of the Sarsour letter. HIAS moved to D.C. to be closer to the government grants that made up its budget. Back then, 65.3 percent of that budget came from government grants, but the writing had already been on the wall in the 1990s. Former HIAS president Leonard Glickman had admitted in the late ’90s that the decline in Jewish refugees affected “the amount of money we receive from the government,” which “is based strictly on the number of people we resettle.” Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Findings on ISIS Refugees Further Complicate Europe's Dilemma

May 4th 2020

ISIS Army

It's the question that has consumed governments and counterterrorism officials since the Islamic State first took hold: what to do with the foreign ISIS fighters – the ones from Europe and America – when they decide to come back home?

As many now attempt to return, the question remains unanswered.

Most of these former fighters, along with widows and children, are now housed in so-called "camps" in Syria and Iraq, guarded by the Kurdish military – allies of Western forces engaged against the Islamic State. Over the past several months, some European countries have made efforts to repatriate the children – and occasionally some of the women – in the hopes they can be deradicalized. Many of the women, too, insist that they either never adhered to ISIS ideology, or that they have since rejected it. Read more ..


The Remote Age

Why the New Remote Age Pushed Me To Launch The Edwin Black Show

April 23rd 2020

Edwin Black

Nothing will be the same as we enter our new age—the Remote Age. We can wish a return to the jam-packed days that effervesced everywhere until earlier this year when COVID-19 suddenly burned across the globe. But the return to what we knew will not happen. Of course, some of it will come back with a yelp and cheer—but not with the kind of swagger and roar the world’s economies have known throughout this hyper-connected century. To interpolate the well-known adage: "If they re-open it, the people may not come."

But unlike the 14th century, when the Second Black Death pandemic wiped out as many as 75 million worldwide, or the early twentieth century, when the influenza pandemic—commonly referred to as the "Spanish Flu"—struck down some 50 to 100 million, today we will recover more quickly due to one factor: technology.

Unavoidably, technology will once again change us. The chronicle of this pandemic will not just be inscribed into the history of medicine but also the history of technology.

Like the advent of other modern tectonic and transformative advances—such as printing, electrification, railroads, radio, telephones, television, the computer, and the Internet—the Remote Age will usher us into a new hierarchy of influence, discussion, and idea proliferation.

Four months ago, almost no one had heard of Zoom—or cared to. Today, mass meeting products such as Zoom, Skype, Hangouts, and GoToMeeting have become the new telephone, post office, conference center, water cooler, lounge, religious portal, news bureau, and broadcast network. Filters for judgment, ethics, and reason do not yet exist. As bad as social media has become, things will be worse in the early days of the Remote Age. Read more ..


After the Holocaust

Survivors Live on Communicate as Holograms

April 20th 2020

Holocaust cattle cars

Millions perished in the Holocaust, but a group of survivors will now be able to live on, at least via real-time video conversations about their experiences and perspectives, forever. In an innovative attempt to harness the artificial intelligence technologies of the present and the future to keep alive the stories of the past, Holocaust survivors may be the first people ever to be able to continue carrying on conversations (virtually, at least) even after their deaths. Lesley Stahl reported on this fascinating project on a recent edition of 60 Minutes on CBS.
 
Heather Maio had worked for years on Holocaust-related exhibits and knew that "Schindler's List" director Steven Spielberg had created the Shoah Foundation to record the testimonies of thousands of Holocaust survivors.
Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Federal Prisons Audit Finds Security Lapses in Handling of Terrorists

April 16th 2020

jail door blue

For years, we have been reporting on the unique threat that incarcerated terrorists pose and that the failure to adequately address the security challenges could lead to radicalization of other inmates and terror attacks. We repeatedly stressed the need for continued diligence when it comes to monitoring terrorists in prison.

Now Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has released a report on the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policy, procedures, and practices for monitoring incarcerated terrorists and preventing radicalization in prison. Its alarming findings confirm a breakdown in almost every area we identified in the past.

Among the security failures:

· The BOP failed to accurately identify terrorists in prison. There appeared to have been several definitions relied upon to make the classification. Often, the BOP rejected the FBI's designation as to who was a terrorist or a terrorist group. In three cases, inmates "did not meet the BOP's criteria for terrorism," even though the FBI included them "on the U.S. government's consolidated terrorist watchlist for at least 5 years."

*The BOP repeatedly failed to notify the law enforcement community when a terrorist was released from prison.

*Both the BOP and the FBI failed to share information when it came to terrorism.

*The BOP failed to monitor the communication methods available to incarcerated terrorists, including telephone calls, visitation, correspondence, and conversations with other inmates in the cellblock. Read more ..


The Digital Age

Ultrasonic Attack Device Hacks Phones through Solid Objects

April 7th 2020

Smart phone

Voice assistants allow smartphone users to snap a photograph or send a text with a spoken command. Yet they also potentially let hackers do the same things by bombarding the device’s microphone with ultrasonic waves (sounds with frequencies higher than humans can hear). Researchers have previously demonstrated how they could trick a phone by sending these waves through the air, but the approach required proximity to the victim and was easily disrupted by nearby objects. Now a new technique called SurfingAttack can send ultrasonic waves through solid objects. It could enable potential snoops to avoid obstacles and perform more invasive tasks—including stealing text messages and making calls from a stranger’s phone.

To test this method, researchers hid a remotely controllable attack device on the underside of a metal tabletop, where it could send ultrasonic waves through the table to trigger a phone lying flat on its surface. “We are using solid materials to transmit these ultrasonic waves,” says Qiben Yan, a computer scientist at Michigan State University. “We can activate your voice assistant placed on the tabletop, read your private messages, extract authentication pass codes from your phone or even call your friends.” Read more ..


Palestinians and Israel

Palestinians Defy PA Call to Cease work in Israeli Settlements over Covid-19 C

April 6th 2020

Settlement

Palestinians have defied their government's call to cease work in Israeli settlements over coronavirus concerns, saying bringing money home to their families came first.

More than 500 cases of infection have been confirmed in Israel, and nearly 50 in the occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority (PA) exercises limited self-rule.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh asked the some 25,000 Palestinians who work in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank - areas Israel captured in a 1967 war - to stay home from Thursday as part of efforts to reduce transmission. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Faces Catastrophic Death Toll from Covid-19

April 3rd 2020

Iranian clerics

Researchers at the respected Sharif University of Technology in Tehran have created a computer simulator to test different scenarios for the further spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, across Iran. They concluded that in a best-case scenario — in which the government quarantines all high-risk areas, people strictly obey quarantine rules, and access to sufficient medical supplies is guaranteed — the country would reach the peak of the epidemic in roughly one week, and the death toll would exceed 12,000.

Yet that scenario is unrealistic in all three instances: The government can't impose quarantine, people will not obey quarantine rules, and the medical supply situation is catastrophic thanks to US sanctions and chronic mismanagement. Read more ..


The Battle Against Covid-19

China Security Forces Augmented by Patrol Robots in Covid-19 War

March 27th 2020

Soldiers

China is using 5G patrol robots to monitor mask-wearing and body temperatures in public places to help fight the coronavirus. The robots have been developed by Guangzhou Gosuncn Robot Company, using technology from Internet of Things hardware and software specialist Advantech. So far, they have been deployed in airports and shopping malls in cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xi’an and Guiyang. Meanwhile, intelligent disinfection robots developed in a week from design to sample production by Siemens and Aucma will soon be used in some of China’s hospitals.

Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the Guangzhou Gosuncn Robot Company, which provides smart city IoT products and services, upgraded its 5G-powered police patrol robot with new capabilities to assist first-line police officers in conducting disease prevention inspections.

Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Coronavirus Delivers the Latest Devastating Blow to Iranian Regime

March 24th 2020

Iranian Rial Close-Up

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Iran hard, and not only on the health front. The virus has delivered the latest in a succession of blows to the Iranian regime's domestic status, fractured economy, and already-low credibility level at home. It also appears to be slowing down its malign activities across the Middle East.

The Iranian regime has, in recent months, absorbed one upper cut after another. The setbacks include a deteriorating economic crisis fueled by U.S. sanctions – a crisis with no clear resolution – the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, the Ukrainian aircraft downing fiasco that followed soon after, and the growing anti-regime demonstrations driven by an Iranian public demanding a better quality of life. Read more ..


The Race for Natural Gas

Nature Gas Companies Recycling Manure for Profit and Ecology

March 23rd 2020

Paraguay beef cattle

Companies in the U.S. natural gas industry have begun to scale up a program to sell methane that’s recycled from sources like hog-feeding farms and sewage plants as a replacement for natural gas drawn from wells.

It offers an opportunity to reduce a potent greenhouse gas while creating a source of revenue for the growing number of companies, cities and farmers becoming engaged in the budding process.

A “methane tracker” report released in January by the International Energy Agency calculated that the warming power of the invisible and hard-to-detect gas can be as high as 87 times more powerful than carbon dioxide during its first 20 years of life. The amount of methane circulating in the atmosphere is 2.5 times bigger than it was in the preindustrial age, the report said. Read more ..


The Battle Against Covid-19

UK Ramps Up Ventilators Production

March 23rd 2020

emergency room

Breas UK is ramping up ventilator production as the UK government calls on engineering firms to help. Firms in Germany and Switzerland are also ramping production to tackle Covid-19

The UK’s only ventilator manufacturer is ramping up production to meet demand to tackle the Covid-19 Coronavirus crisis as the UK government calls for assistance from the industry.

“We have increased our capacity, and moved to 7 days working across our global manufacturing sites where required to meet demands from our customers,” said Sally Cozens, managing director at Breas UK in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.  She declined to say that that capacity is, other than “we are increasing to meet demands globally”. Breas is headquartered in Sweden and owned by the Chinese Fosun conglomerate, and has 150 staff worldwide. Breas UK claims to be the only UK ventilator manufacturer, making a range called Nippy, while Breas also makes other medical equipment.

Read more ..

Inside Egypt

Egypt Turns the Page on Mubarak era

February 29th 2020

Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak, who died last week at the age of 91, was president of Egypt for three decades (1981-2011). That’s more than Gamal Abdul Nasser (who served for 14 years, from 1956-1970) and Anwar Sadat (1970-1981) combined.

Mubarak had nothing close to the charisma of either Nasser or Sadat — tough acts to follow. He came to power following Sadat’s assassination during a military parade in October 1981. Mubarak, injured in the attack, was seated next to Sadat.

Few thought Mubarak would hang on to become Egypt’s longest serving president. He kept the peace Sadat negotiated with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin under US President Jimmy Carter at Camp David in 1978, while at the same time rebuilding Egypt’s Arab relations. Read more ..


War Against Women

Who is Responsible for Palestinian Honor Killing?

February 5th 2020

victim

The young woman looks saucily at the camera, half-smiling, her hijab tightly wrapped to conceal her hair. Her lips are colored red, her eyes outlined heavily in black. Hers is the mischievous expression of a woman dutifully modest in her dress, yet delighting in the accoutrements of female vanity, even sexuality. She looks like someone it would be fun to know.

But Israa Ghrayeb, a 21-year-old Palestinian makeup artist, is no more, murdered last August by her family at the hands of her own brother.

It was a long, torturous death, punishment for posting a photograph of herself and her fiancé on Instagram before their engagement had been officially announced. Lawmakers from her home village of Beit Sahour in the West Bank refused to call it an honor killing. Read more ..


The Race for Autonomous Vehicles

GM Cruise Introduces Utilitarian Electric Robo-Shuttle

January 27th 2020

Highways

General Motor's self-driving car subsidiary Cruise Automation (San Francisco, CA) has unveiled a self-driving electric-powered ride-sharing vehicle.

Similar in appearance to a small bus, the six-passenger Cruise Origin has no steering wheel or pedals, and offers a large area where two rows of three passengers face each other. It also features air bags, "Start Ride" buttons, an "SOS" button, and an interior camera, as well as an expected lifespan of over 1 million miles.

"It's not an improvement on the car," says Cruise CEO Dan Ammann. "It's completely different. It's not a product you buy. It's an experience.“

The Origin, says the company, is its first attempt at building a self-driving car entirely from the ground up - the result of reimagining transportation as if the traditional car had never existed.

"So, we removed the engine," says Ammann. "We removed the driver - who, more often than not, is tired, distracted, frustrated, and rushed. We removed the equipment that's there to support the driver, including the steering wheel, pedals, rearview mirrors, windshield wipers, and cramped seats."

"When we got rid of all that human-driver stuff, we traded it for something precious: space," says Ammann. "The Cruise Origin looks big. But in fact, it's no bigger than your average car. It's just more efficient, making full use of the space it takes up on the road."

Read more ..

European Antisemitism

Italy’s Salvini says Muslim Immigration is ‘Main Cause’ of Anti-Semitism in Europe

January 21st 2020

European Anti-Semitism

These are tumultuous days for Matteo Salvini, head of Italy’s right-wing Lega (League) Party. Recent polls have projected that were elections to be held in Italy today, he would be elected prime minister, but his political opponents are trying to strip him of his immunity so they can bring charges against him for alleged misconduct while he was interior minister.

Since arriving on the political scene six years ago, Salvini has transformed Lega Nord per l’Indipendenza della Padania, better known as Lega, from a fringe movement into Italy’s largest right-wing party.

Dubbed by Italian media as “the face of anti-immigration politics,” Salvini entered the government in 2018, only to resign abruptly in the summer of 2019 after clashing with his coalition partner, the Five Star Movement. Named deputy prime minister and interior minister, Salvini worked to stop mass illegal immigration from Africa to Italy but was hindered by the constant sandbagging of his efforts. Read more ..


The Race for Flying Cars

Toyota Soars in Air Taxi Business

January 20th 2020

Traffic Jam

The company has developed a quiet, all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which it says will be instrumental in the commercial launch of the emerging on-demand urban air taxi market. Toyota will share its expertise in manufacturing, quality, and cost controls to support the development and production of the aircraft.

This support, says the company, along with the capital investment, will accelerate the certification and deployment of this new mode of local transportation.

"We are building a new system for transportation to transform your daily life, at greater safety and, in time, at a similar cost to driving," says Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. "This collaboration with Toyota represents an unprecedented commitment of money and resources for us and this new industry from one of the world's leading automakers. I am excited to harness Toyota's engineering and manufacturing prowess helping to drive us to achieve our dream of saving a billion people an hour a day."

Read more ..

Vote 2020

Republican Muslim Candidate Dalia al-Aqidi Looks to Unseat Ilhan Omar

January 19th 2020

Voting Booth

A Republican Muslim candidate is looking to unseat Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar in the upcoming U.S. elections.

Dalia al-Aqidi, an award-winning international journalist and Muslim refugee, announced her candidacy on Thursday in order to fix the discord that Omar has sown in the country.

“Ilhan Omar and I may seem alike, both women, Muslims, and refugees, but we couldn’t be more different,” said al-Aqidi in a video on her election website.

“Omar has spent her entire time in Washington sowing seeds of division and actively supporting our enemies. When President Trump ended the reign of Qasem Soleimani, a vicious terrorist and thug, Omar rushed to his defense and attacked President Trump. She claims to speak for all Muslims, but she certainly does not speak for me,” she said. Read more ..


America and Oman

Death of a Sultan: Oman Matters--Why Such a Slow US response?

January 16th 2020

Arab Oil Derick

Stuck out in the periphery of Arabia, Oman may be a long way from the United States but it is, or should be, central to Washington’s concerns about Gulf security. True, not much happens there — the capital, Muscat, is pleasantly sleepy — but that is, in part, a consequence of the firm hand of its ruler, the Sultan.

The killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and the Iranian missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq have drowned out the arguably almost as consequential death of Sultan Qaboos, who ruled Oman for 50 years, and his replacement by an untested cousin, the new Sultan Haitham.

The importance of Oman to the West was highlighted by Britain’s promptly sending Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson to offer condolences. Prince Charles may not have better things to do (other than to sort out the royal crisis involving Harry and Meghan) but Johnson certainly has. This was clearly more than an occasion for monarchies to show support for each other.

Read more ..

BDS and Antisemitism

Don't Confuse Me With Facts. It's Always About the "Occupation"

January 6th 2020

boycott Israel t-shirt

Like clockwork, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recent observation that "the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not, per se, inconsistent with international law" was immediately denounced by the Jewish Left.

The head of the Reform movement in North America, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, said the US government's new position on Israeli settlements will undercut the fight against BDS and the delegitimization of Israel in the US, specifically on college campuses.

It is not clear when Rabbi Jacobs was last on a campus, but the debate on North American college campuses is not about the so-called "occupation" but about whether Israel has a right to exist, period. Pro-BDS groups, including "Jewish" ones, are talking about the illegitimacy of the 1949 armistice lines, not those of 1967. Moreover, a recent survey conducted by Ron Hassner at the University of California, Berkeley shows that most students who care strongly about the "Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories" do not have knowledge of even basic facts on the subject. Read more ..


The Digital Age

Beware Hackable Smart TVs with Cameras and Microphones

December 1st 2019

Television Array

Black Friday smart TV buyers, here’s some cybersecurity advice

The FBI’s Portland, Oregon, field office shared some tips this week for anyone who needs to secure a smart TV.

Savvy shoppers know that Black Friday presents some of the best deals of the year on pricey electronics like TVs.

Overall, the National Retail Federation expects Americans will spend about $730 billion this holiday season.

But new owners of internet-connected smart TVs might not be as good at spotting hackers as they are at spotting deals. The FBI’s Portland, Oregon, field office shared some tips this week for anyone who needs to secure a smart TV. Read more ..


The Digital Age

Digital Driver's License for Smartphone Coming Soon

November 11th 2019

Smart phone

Identity and security solutions provider IDEMIA (Reston, VA) has announced that it has put the functionality of a physical driver's license on the smart phone.

The IDEMIA secure digital license is available immediately to Oklahoma license holders on both iOS and Android. Developed in cooperation with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS), Oklahoma Office of Management & Enterprise Services (OMES), and Innovate Oklahoma , it is the first and only digital US driver's license that is electronically verified against the state's DPS system of record and the first public launch of an ISO 18013-5 mobile driver's license in the United States.

"The Oklahoma Mobile ID fundamentally transforms the way citizens assert their identity, both online and in-person," says Matt Thompson, SVP, Civil and Mobile ID, IDEMIA Identity & Security. "This represents a watershed moment in user control of their identity information and ensures businesses and organizations who transact with the ID can be confident knowing the digital credential is accurate and up-to-date."

Read more ..

Israel and the Gulf States

Israel and Gulf States Are Going Public With Their Relationship

October 28th 2019

Israel-Center

The Arab states of the Persian Gulf still don’t formally recognize Israel, and most have nominally maintained an economic boycott against it since before it was even a country. Even so, the business ties and warming diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and its neighbors in the Gulf have been an open secret for years.

Those ties will be unveiled with fanfare next October when Israel opens its pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates’ largest city. Participating is like setting up an embassy that will last only six months: Close coordination between Israel and its host will be required on myriad and mundane tasks, including hiring builders and planning ancillary events. It may seem like a substance-free event, but Israel’s presence among the more than 190 other countries is a clear sign of the Middle East’s changing geopolitical picture.

Normalizing relations with Arab countries has been a priority for Israel since at least 1979, when Egypt and Israel signed a landmark peace treaty following the Camp David Accords. In October 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made international headlines with his visit to Oman, a small country with strong links across the Gulf and past relations with Israel. Read more ..


Progressive Anti-Semitism

Netanyahu Could Block Visit by Anti-Israel Lawmakers Omar and Tlaib

July 19th 2019

Bibi Netanyahu with Glasses

While Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib recently announced they are planning to visit Israel in the near future, their entry to the Jewish state could be blocked due to their support for boycotts of it.

According to a report earlier in the week by Haaretz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has authority to block their entry.

While Israeli law dictates that entry can be denied to pro-boycott individuals, the Foreign Ministry can also recommend waivers to the Strategic Affairs Ministry and the Interior Ministry to facilitate entry when barring individuals would negatively impact Israel’s diplomatic efforts. According to the Haaretz report, Netanyahu will be tasked with making the decision related to Omar and Tlaib based on the “possible ramifications on Israel-U.S. relations” of the congresswomen’s visit. Read more ..


The Race for Drones

Protecting Urban Spaces from Drones

July 13th 2019

Flying Robot

Defense contractor Raytheon Company (Waltham, MA) and autonomous airspace protection provider Black Sage Technologies (Boise, ID) have announced that they are partnering on an integrated drone detection and mitigation system for civil authorities, critical infrastructure, and military organizations around the world.

Designed to defend urban environments like airports and cities against drones, the system integrates Black Sage's sensors, AI, and radio-frequency jammers into Raytheon's Windshear command and control system. The combined system, say the companies, allows a single operator to control a network of sensors and effectors that safely and quickly track, take over, or land drones flying where they shouldn't.

Read more ..

The Tragedy of FGM

Female Genital Mutilation in the United States: Estimating the Number of Girls at Risk

May 15th 2019

Rwanda child victim

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is not at all like male circumcision. Despite the politically correct preference for calling it "genital cutting," FGM is usually far more than a mere cut.

It is a procedure that involves removing part or all of the external female genitalia (or any other injury to the female genitals) for non-medical reasons.

There are four types of FGM that have been identified. Type 1 is a clitoridectomy, which removes part or all of the clitoris. Type 2, excision, removes part or all of the clitoris and inner labia, with or without removal of the labia majora. Type 3, infibulation, is a narrowing of the vaginal opening by creating a seal, which is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia, and type 4 involves any other non-medical procedures to the genitals, such as pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, stretching, and cauterizing the genital areas (National Health Service, 2016).

In addition, a lifelong post-traumatic stress disorder routinely accompanies the experience of having been subjected to such pain and long-term suffering—by your own mother or grandmother, and traditionally, at the hands of a female butcher, or today, perhaps, at the hands of someone more expert.

The World Health Organization confirmed that this hellish procedure renders absolutely no health benefit and, on the contrary, harms its victims beyond measure and violates their human rights (World Health Organization, 2018). This practice is common in Africa, the Muslim Middle East, and increasingly in the Muslim Far East (Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, 2019; Kine, 2016). Read more ..


Campus Hate

U.S. Blocks BDS Co-Founder Barghouti from Entering the Country

April 12th 2019

boycott Israel t-shirt

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the movement to boycott and sanction Israel, a movement which many backers hope will lead to Israel's elimination, was supposed to arrive in Washington, D.C. yesterday to give two lectures and to meet with members of Congress.

Instead, he's back at his home in Israel.

The Arab American Institute, one of Barghouti's hosts, announced Thursday morning that Barghouti, "prominent Palestinian human rights activist, was denied entry into the United States at Ben Gurion Airport despite having valid travel documents. We at AAI invited him to DC to participate in a number of speaking engagements and educational programs."

The announcement came less than a half an hour before the first of those engagements started. Read more ..


Destination Israel

Israel’s Tourism Triumph—Part I of IV: The Air Bridge

March 28th 2019

Edwin Black

The virulently anti-Israel movement known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions—BDS—is roiling through campuses, overflowing into city councils, encroaching into corporate boardrooms, and now chomping at the essence of Israel’s special niche in the world: its travel and tourism industry. Everywhere, the boycotters have been asking to isolate Israel. BDS even convinced Airbnb to stop listing Jewish locations in Judea and Samaria—also known as the West Bank (a term invented after Jordan invaded in 1948, when the UN’s partition suggestion failed to create two states). In Ireland, a bill advancing through Parliament may criminalize visiting the old city and even purchasing lunch or a keepsake.

Whereas similar boycotts against other countries have inflicted withering effects on national economies, in Israel—it simply hasn’t worked. The opposite is true. Yes, boycotters are busy demonizing Israel, but, despite this, Israel’s tourism industry has rocketed to a singular triumph and now employs tens of thousands. Flights are packed and new non-stops are being added across the globe. Even though new luxury hotels are going up as fast as the Mideast sun will dry concrete, rooms remain under high demand and are thus scarce and expensive. Israel has become world famous for creative cuisine and trendy eateries, so if you want to get a table at the most popular restaurants, you’ll need to book weeks in advance.

Travel and tourism to Israel has dramatically changed. It’s not just synagogue sisterhoods and Jewish organizations. Swelling up from Israel’s "Start Up Nation," world famous top chef culture, and hard-won penetration of markets beyond America and West Europe, as well as its sophisticated travel industry burnishing, the Jewish State is now a destination for the entire world. Traditional Jewish-American travelers from Miami to Seattle must now compete with Silicon Valley techies, Chinese students, Indian tourists, East European Christian pilgrims, and diverse businessmen from across the planet. The numbers are multiplying. Read more ..


Democratic Party and Israel

Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Refuse to Attend AIPAC

March 22nd 2019

Washington K Street NW

On Wednesday, the radically left wing MoveOn political organization released the results of a member survey which found that more than 74% of MoveOn members who responded agree or strongly agree with the statement that “any progressive vying to be the Democratic nominee for President should skip the AIPAC conference.”

According to Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn: “The influx of progressive candidates confirming they will not attend––even those who have gone in years past––shows how the momentum is shifting. AIPAC is clearly a partisan lobbying group that has undermined diplomatic efforts and progressives want no part in it.” Read more ..


Anti-Semitism Returns

When Europe's Jews Call Out anti-Semitism, The Response: 'Stop Whining About Your Holocaust Already'

Belgian Police

Last Sunday, during the famous carnival parade in the Belgian town of Aalst, a float featured giant puppets depicting Orthodox Jews with crooked noses and pink coats, sitting on money, Euro signs and money bags.

Behind the float, a group of dancers and singers, wearing the same demeaning costumes were opening and closing empty safe deposit boxes hanging in front of their genitals, which had no money but mice in them. The song lyrics played on the rhyming words kloos (deposit box), roos moos (pink mouse) and Jewish mouse (Joodse moos) and referred to "Jews getting extra fat." Read more ..


After the Holocaust

Ballad in the Key of 4G

March 4th 2019

Edwin Black

This is deeply personal. But what I have experienced should resonate with the entire Jewish community—the one we know and the one to come. In the whirlwind that seizes me and all who are communally aware, I have reached a new and stunning personal location, wedged between the searing past and the uncertain future.

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My story begins before I was born, when my grandmother Fanya seized her slender teen-aged daughter—my mother-to-be— Edyka, and pushed her out of the small vent at the top of a suffocating boxcar rumbling inexorably from Bialystok, Poland toward the Treblinka deathcamp. Together, they made the split-second decision that at least one person should escape. My mother became a "jumper." That day, she jumped into a hostile and dangerous Polish forest, was shot by local forces, and then buried in a hastily-arranged mass grave in the snow. Buried, yet one nearly lifeless limb protruded.

Teen-aged Herschel, an audacious forest fighter, came upon the area. Spying Edyka’s leg moving. He pulled her out of the pile. For two years, under cloak of night and by raw courage, they lived in the woods as brave partisans. They survived. After the war, believing millions of Jews had been killed, they decided to continue living as Jews, precisely because so many tried to kill our people. After two years in a displaced persons camp, they found their US home in Chicago. Their courage and determination allowed me to be born.

Growing up, I eagerly inhaled my Jewish heritage and love of Israel. With imbued purpose, I devoted my life to unmasking and addressing the hidden players and hidden hands behind the darkest evils and injustices. I adopted the identity of a Second Generation author long before the larger Second Generation movement developed its own national identity. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

'ISIS Bride' Hoda Muthana Was an ISIS Propagandist, Not Some Brainwashed Child

February 28th 2019

ISIS Army

Lawyers and supporters of the woman dubbed the American "ISIS bride" portray her as a misguided, "brainwashed" girl who simply made a mistake. In fact, she was an ISIS propagandist and strategist whose innovative ideas proved to be operationally effective.

Much of Hoda Muthana's online activity disappeared when her accounts were suspended, along with some 125,000 others shut down between mid-2015 and February 2016. But the tweets that have survived reveal far more than just some harmless cheerleading for the Islamic State.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Vetting Muslim Prison Chaplains a Global Problem

February 19th 2019

Prison bars

Preventing or even minimizing prison radicalization is always a challenge. It's more difficult, however, when we continually fail to vet the chaplains who minister to inmates.

Germany appears to have learned this lesson recently. Authorities there recently discovered that over 85 percent of their Muslim prison chaplains were actually agents of the Turkish government, the Gatestone Institute reports. Those clerics had to be terminated after the Turkish government refused to have them go through security checks, which are required by German law for all prison chaplains. And while the number of foreign-born inmates in German prisons has spiked to nearly 50 percent, the vast majority of those are from Poland, Tunisia, the Czech Republic, and Georgia, not Turkey. Read more ..


The Edge of Air Travel

Gigantic New Boing 777X Could Change Flying Forever

January 20th 2019

airplanes shadows

Some of the world’s most prestigious airlines are on tenterhooks as the first flight of an aircraft that could change long-haul travel for decades looms ever closer.

Executives at Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airways, among others, will have their eyes cast to the skies this spring when Boeing is expected to fly one of its new 777X planes for the first time.

The 777-9, the first of the X family to be developed, will have the biggest jet engines ever seen, attached to the longest wings of any aircraft ever made by the Seattle-based manufacturer.

The 777X has been said to be the result of the very best of the existing 777 plane, as favoured by the likes of British Airways et al, and the game-changing 787 Dreamliner, which has been praised as one of the most technologically advanced aircraft in history, garnishing plaudits from passengers on BA, Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic alike. Read more ..


Campus Hate

Mixed Reactions After Prosecution Efforts at UCLA and UCI

January 17th 2019

Edwin Black

Organized disruptors–both students and non-students--who shut down a pro-Israel gathering at University of California Los Angeles in May 2018 might not be prosecuted, according to information from LA City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office. Instead, they will be called to a confidential but mandatory proceeding called a “City Attorney Hearing,” an alternative to prosecution which can be described as a “warning” not to repeat the conduct. One legal expert compared it to a “deferred prosecution,” but stressed a full trial could still result. Victims generally do not appear at such a hearing, the City Attorney’s office explained, and generally no criminal record attaches. Still, the prosecutor retains the right to issue charges later if he feels the illegal conduct has recurred or may recur. Los Angeles conducts hundreds of such closed-door hearings each year to dispose of minor misdemeanors arising from, for example, neighbor disputes, domestic disharmony, or curfew violations.

To the south of Los Angeles, newly-installed Orange County Prosecutor Todd Spitzer is still undecided about prosecuting rambunctious disruptors of a pro-Israel event at University of California Irvine which also took place last May, according to official university sources. Spitzer’s office has asked for additional police investigation to develop more facts.

With or without actual prosecution, the two incidents and the Jewish community’s response have potentially changed the landscape for belligerent disruption of pro-Israel events on California campuses, which last year arguably yielded some of the most pernicious in the nation. Those involved in the two California events—the affected students and the Jewish communal groups who rose to invoke prosecutions—expressed a range of reactions as to whether justice has been minimally obtained or seriously delayed. Read more ..


Iran on Edge

Iran's Official Figures Indicate Alarming Unemployment Rate Later This Year

January 10th 2019

Iranian Rial Close-Up

The official unemployment rate has reached 27 percent among young Iranians and over 40 percent among university graduates, says Omid Ali Parsai, chairman of the Iranian Statistical Center.

Parsai added that some 550 thousand jobs have been created in Iran during the first nine months of the current Iranian year which started on March 21, 2018. However, the country lags behind in terms of creating employment opportunities as the projected figure for the number of jobs needed annually is 900 thousands, said the chief statistician.

The official Iranians figures seem barely convincing. Iran’s methodology in estimating the number of people with jobs is to count one hour of work per week as employment. But this is not the only reason why unemployment figures released by Iranian officials are less than reliable.

Read more ..


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