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Archive for August 2015

Jewry on Edge

Inside Canary Mission

August 31st 2015

Edwin Black

On February 17, 2015, a number of America’s most vituperative anti-Israel activists woke up to discover that they had been named and spotlighted by a mysterious new website called Canary Mission, visible at www.canarymission.org. The site boldly aggregates the public statements, videos, and photographs of leading members of the organized movement against Israel in their most telling and often most demonstrative moments. The profiled individuals span a gamut of track records ranging from those with leadership roles with such intensely anti-Israel groups as Students for Justice in Palestine and the Muslim Student Association to unaffiliated campus agitators who regularly advocate for the destruction of Israel and even the murder of Jews. All its profiles are compiled from public Internet sources such as social media, You Tube, Twitter, press releases, news clips, and interviews.

In essence, Canary Mission took a card from the New Israel Fund, which some years ago helped finance the Coalition of Women for Peace that created the Who-Profits database that acted as a global compass of Israeli commercial activity for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions strategies. Canary Mission flipped the card and blacklisted the blacklisters.

Because Canary Mission works beneath a complete shroud of secrecy, it has been called “shadowy.” It is commonly labelled as McCarthy-like in its actions within the pages of leading Jewish and mainstream media, as well as political websites, even though its modus operendi is obviously the opposite of McCarthyism. Even sources as tenuous as Wikipedia define McCarthyism as “the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence,” as was done during the anti-Communist scare of the 1950s. Canary Mission relies on vetted, publically visible pictures, protest placards, open statements, and video clips that speak for themselves and are primarily drawn from previously well-publicized activities. In other words, Canary Mission aggregates publically verifiable information into a single place. It is not clear why media outlets have not made the historical distinction or provided context. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Some Pro Iran Deal Senators Took Iran Lobby Money

August 30th 2015

Ali Rouhani of Iran

Senator Markey has announced his support for the Iran deal that will let the terrorist regime inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, buy ballistic missiles, fund terrorism and have a near zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb. There was no surprise there.
Markey had topped the list of candidates supported by the Iran Lobby. And the Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) had maxed out its contributions to his campaign.

After more fake suspense, Al Franken, another IAPAC backed politician who also benefited from Iran Lobby money, came out for the nuke sellout.

China on Edge

How China's Currency Policies Will Change the World

August 27th 2015

Chinese currency

The recent fluctuations in China's currency typify the best and worst of a globalized world, where developments in one place can instantly change the political and financial calculations of governments in others. For most of human history, the communities, cultures and economies of the world existed independently of one another, separated as they were by vast distances and difficult terrain. It would, for instance, take months or even years for news of China to reach Europe across the great Silk Road trading route during the height of its use some 1,000 years ago. Even then, the communities along that route could hardly be considered entirely coherent.

But that is clearly no longer the case. And now, as China continues to adjust the yuan, markets throughout the world will react accordingly, even as they react differently.  Read more ..

The Caliphate

Islamic State is Heading for Lebanon Next

August 22nd 2015

IS Caliphate victory parade

The Syrian regime's situation took a turn for the better when in May 2013, Hezbollah's infantry entered the conflict in full force in an attempt to conquer the city of Al-Qusayr, located between the Jussieh border crossing that separates northeast Lebanon from Syria and the Syrian city of Homs. Al-Qusayr was of great importance to Hezbollah, because it is on the road that leads from northern Lebanon deep into Syrian territory and was the site of much arms, weapons, ammunition, communications equipment and cash smuggling that came from the port of Tripoli and the Sunnis of northern Lebanon and reached the rebel forces.

The Syrian army did not succeed in conquering al-Qusayr, so the Iranian Revolutionary Guard command decided to bring in Hezbollah to free the town from anti-Assad rebels headed by the Free Syrian Army and Jabhat al-Nusra. Hezbollah managed to win the tough battle that included house-to-house fighting, but it paid a hefty price with over one hundred of its fighters dead and at least double that number wounded. The rebels lost over two thousand fighters, of whom 1000 were killed and another 1000 taken prisoner by the Syrian Army while at least 2000 were wounded. The high number of rebel casualties is a result of the Syrian Air Force's intensive use of barrel bombs. Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Google's Project Sunroof Makes Solar Power Easier

August 19th 2015

Sunrise or Sunset

Google has announced its latest project - Project Sunroof - which is designed to make it easier for people to install solar panels in their homes. Using Google's mapping and computing resources, Project Sunroof offers users personalized roof analyses to help them calculate the best solar plan based on their individual roofs and locations. Once supplied with a user's address, the site provides user-specific data on the amount of usable sunlight that hits the roof per year, which parts of the house receive the most sunlight, the amount of space available on the home for solar panels, and the amount of money that could be saved by switching to solar.

The site takes into account the following data when computing its results: Read more ..

China On Edge

China's Crisis: The Price of Change

August 18th 2015

New hires to Chinese military

Last week was an eventful one for China. First, the People's Bank of China shocked the financial world when it cut the yuan's reference rate against the U.S. dollar by nearly 2 percent, leading to a greater than 2 percent drop in the value of the yuan in offshore trading. The decline triggered a frenzy of speculation, including some expectations that the Chinese move would trigger a race to the bottom for Asian currencies. Beijing said the adjustment was designed to fix distortions between the trading rate of the yuan and the rate it should have been at according to speculation, and that subsequent large shifts were unlikely. The International Monetary Fund, however, noted that the move could lead to a freer floating yuan — something the IMF has asked of Beijing before the organization considers including the yuan in its Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies. In comments made on the sidelines of its annual report on the Chinese economy, released later in the week, the IMF also noted that the yuan was not undervalued, despite the decline. Read more ..

The Nuclear Edge

Debating the Morality of Hiroshima

August 11th 2015

Rising Sun Shinto Island

Each year at this time — the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima — the world pauses. The pause is less to mourn the dead than to debate a moral question: whether the bombing was justified and, by extension, whether the United States unnecessarily slaughtered tens of thousands of people on Aug. 6, 1945. The debate rarely focuses on a careful analysis of war and morality and is more frequently framed by existing views of the United States. The debate is rarely about Hiroshima or about World War II. It is a debate about the moral character of the United States. This is not an illegitimate subject, and Hiroshima might be a useful point with which to begin the debate. But that isn't possible until after we consider the origins of Hiroshima, which can be found in the evolution of modern warfare.

Warfare became industrial for a simple reason. The introduction of firearms brought to the battlefield a weapon with tremendous strength and an overwhelming weakness. The strength was the ability to kill or disable an enemy at distances far beyond the range of previous weapons. The weakness was that without extraordinary training and talent on the part of the soldier, firearms are quite inaccurate. For a soldier under the pressure of combat, loading and effectively aiming his weapon — particularly with muzzle-loaded firearms — was not an easy task. Read more ..

Broken Bookselling

Barnes and Noble Stops Paying Marketplace Sellers

August 10th 2015

Barnes-and-Noble store shot


The main Barnes & Noble website was operational after the late-June relaunch, which was designed to feature better search capabilities and offer an improved user experience. But when the site relaunched, third-party sellers were shut out from the marketplace.

We reported on the outage in early July, when a Barnes & Noble spokesperson acknowledged the problem. "We recently launched our bn.com website without Marketplace going live. Our plan is to have Marketplace back up and live tomorrow," she said - but according to sellers writing to EcommerceBytes, the marketplace was down for the first half of July.

"It has been partially back up since then but is not functioning at 100%," wrote one reader. "We have been receiving and shipping out orders from Barnes & Noble since July 19th, but have still not been paid for any of them." Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Drone Maps Hackable "Internet of Thing"Devices

August 10th 2015

Flying Robot

Using a flying drone capable of detecting Internet-connected devices, information security firm Praetorian (New York, NY) was able to identify over 1,600 unique IoT devices in a test flight over Austin, TX. Part of an IoT Map Project designed to map and examine the security of connected devices, the drone is able to collect data on ZigBee-connected devices up to 100 meters away by tracking their communications. According to the company, the drone can detect devices' security settings and manufacturers, as well as whether the devices are used in commercial, residential, or industrial areas.

"[The IoT devices] communicated over a wireless protocol called ZigBee. This protocol is open at a network level. So when the devices start connecting they send out beacon requests. We capture data based on this," says Praetorian vice president Paul West Jauregui. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Release the Secret Iran Deals

August 5th 2015

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

For those of us who are elected officials, few votes will be more consequential than whether to approve or disapprove the nuclear agreement President Obama has reached with Iran. Yet the president expects Congress to cast this vote without the administration’s fully disclosing the contents of the deal to the American people. This is unacceptable and plainly violates the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act—a law the president signed only weeks ago.

During a recent trip to Vienna to meet with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization charged with verifying Iran’s compliance, we learned that certain elements of this deal are—and will remain—secret. According to the IAEA, those involved with the negotiations, including the Obama administration, agreed to allow Iran to forge the secret side deals with the IAEA on two issues. Read more ..

Justice on Edge

Why Jonathan Pollard Spent 30 Years in Prison

August 5th 2015

Edwin Black

What follows is an article written and first published by Edwin Black 13 years ago. For this piece, author and journalist Black visited Jonathan Pollard in prison. He extensively interviewed Pollard’s attorneys and reviewed their evidence, and also interviewed then ex-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former US secretary of defense Casper Weinberger, and many other key figures. Now that Pollard is being released under statutory conditions — he will be paroled on November 20 — "the nagging questions linger," says Black today. "Jonathan Pollard has spent thirty years in prison – 3 times longer than more egregious offenders.” This article — unedited from the 2002 original — explains why.

On January 7, 2002, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped through the two-doored entry chamber of a prison sally port. After the first fudge-brown steel and armored glass door slowly closed right-to-left behind him, Netanyahu passed his hand beneath a black light reader along the left wall. It illuminated a small security stamp on his hand, not unlike the type disco clubs use. Behind opaque, silver-tinted windows, watchful security officers in the control room completed their checklist, approving Netanyahu's access. Then in a low mechanized rumble, the entry chamber’s long second door opened left-to-right, admitting Netanyahu to an inner corridor of the prison. He was ushered just down the hall and then into a large room on the right, filled with vending machines and tables. There, waiting for him was the man Netanyahu wanted to see.

The prison was not in Israel, it was in North Carolina. Netanyahu had flown to Raleigh Durham and then driven the forest-lined 20 minutes to the Federal Correctional Institution at Butner. It was all to talk to America’s most controversial Jewish prisoner, now serving his 17th year of incarceration. The prisoner, 09185-016, was Jonathan Jay Pollard, the American Jew who pleaded guilty in 1986 to spying for Israel, and was abruptly sentenced to life imprisonment despite a binding plea bargain that restricted any request for so harsh a term.


The Digital Edge

Phone Batteries Leak your Browsing History

August 5th 2015

Smart phone running voice recogniton

A European team of security researchers have identified a potential privacy invasion 'black hole' that could exploit phone batteries to pinpoint their owners and track them around the internet. The security issue centres around afeature of the HTML5 specification that allows websites to find out how much battery power a visitor has left on their laptop or smartphone. The security researchers, Lukasz Olejnik and Claude Castelluccia from INRIA Privatics with Gunes Acar and Claudia Diaz of KU Leuven, ESAT/COSIC and iMinds warn n their paper entitled ‘The leaking battery: A privacy analysis of the HTML5 Battery Status API’ that the information can be used to track browsers online.

The battery status API is currently supported in the Firefox, Opera and Chrome browsers, and was introduced by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 2012 to help websites conserve users’ energy. The energy saving feature enables a website or web-app to check when the phone user has little battery power left to allow the phone to switch to a low-power mode by disabling extraneous features to eke out the battery's energy.  The same information can be used to identify phones as they move around the internet, allowing people to be tracked. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

DOJ May Intervene in Terror Judgment Against Palestinian Authority

August 5th 2015

Hamas head

The Justice Department is "carefully considering" whether to intervene in a federal civil suit in New York which generated a $218 million judgment against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for supporting and enabling terrorist attacks during the second Intifada.

Under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act, that award can triple to $655 million.

A decision whether to weigh in on the case should come by Monday, a letter sent to U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels on July 27 said. Reuters first reported on the letter last week.

The lawsuit, Sokolow v. PLO, was brought by 10 American families whose loved ones were killed or who suffered injuries themselves in those attacks between 2001 and 2004. The evidence included internal PA and PLO records detailing a program to pay surviving relatives of Palestinians who died in suicide terror attacks or who were in Israeli jails after being convicted of terrorist acts. While the PA says it no longer provides support for terror attacks, payments to the families of dead terrorists and to prisoners in Israeli jails continues. Read more ..

Sad Over Divided Response to Iran Deal

August 4th 2015

I sadly reflect over the last few days in the midst of our community’s divided response to the Iran deal crisis. When we view ourselves today in the light of our history as portrayed in the scriptures, how as a community can we American Jews be less shamed than American Jewry should have been over their poor and divided response to the Holocaust? As Golda might have opined – “don’t be so modest; we’re not so great.” I have examined the American Jewish response to the Holocaust for many years, sometimes to the point of obsession. We recall the New York Times burial of Holocaust news when the Ochs-Sulzbergers published anything at all on the subject. We recall the strife between Rabbi Stephen Wise and the Bergson Group, with the former working mightily to distance the White House from the “infamous” march of the rabbis to save the small remnant of Jews still alive in Europe. We recall the false analyses of the War Department to suppress any thought of bombing Auschwitz rail lines. For those who excused our collective behavior by arguing the tenor of the times, the unprecedented nature of the crisis and so forth – what do they say today, armed with that history, about a regime that seeks endless weaponry including nuclear capability and whose “Shema” is “Death to Israel?” How can it be that there is a land governed by would-be exterminators of the Jewish people and Jews in the US actually have “differences of opinion” on a deal which lays the path for Iran better than it did for the strengthening and arming of Nazi Germany? We delude ourselves that somehow our “Talmudic debating history” encourages such division on the question of self-preservation? Where is there another people on this earth who would react in the divided manner that we do? 

We have leaders who make platitudinous pronouncements about “pluralism,” diversity of opinion and the like – because Jewish liberalism gives them overwhelming faith in one political party and president to remedy this crisis. I am ashamed of organizations who are there for everyone else – but unlike everyone else, are not there for their co-ethnics. I am ashamed that our umbrella organizations, and indeed many of our federations, including our beloved UJA here in New York must be mindful of this “pluralism” and difference of opinion lest they tear this “united community” asunder. We should not be proud – we should be shamed for our warped view that reciprocity in uni-directional. We should be ashamed for NOT remembering, for NOT recalling our recent history and for the inability to understand and internalize “Death to Israel.”

The Caliphate

Islamic State Recruiting Offsets 15,000 Killed by Airstrikes

August 4th 2015

IS with Missile

In a sign of its resilience, the Islamic State appears to have recruited new fighters to offset 15,000 militants killed in a U.S.-led airstrike campaign approaching its first anniversary, U.S. military and intelligence estimates show.

More than 5,500 airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria that began Aug. 8, 2014, have forced the extremist organization to disperse its fighters into smaller groups, making them less of a threat to seize large chunks of territory, according to the military estimates. Despite the lethal strikes, the group continues to attract new recruits and replace leaders, highlighting the difficulty of fighting a movement that draws support from Muslims around the world. Read more ..

Kurdistan Rising

An Emerging Kurdistan

August 4th 2015

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

The Arab upheavals have enabled a Greater Kurdistan to emerge as a major regional player by blurring geographical barriers and strengthening cross-border nationalism among the disparate Kurdish communities in Turkey (15 million), Iran (8 million), Iraq (6-7 million), and Syria (2.5 million). At the same time, with most of these groups mired in fights with their own governments and/or the nascent Islamic State and expanding into areas rich in oil reserves and water resources, conflicting interests and competition for control of these strategic assets have exacerbated rivalries and tensions among them.

Iraq's Kurds have made the greatest strides toward statehood. Since their 2003 delivery from Saddam Hussein's despotic regime they have enjoyed effective autonomy, and their geostrategic significance has greatly increased as they became the main bulwark to the Islamic State following the Iraqi army's repeated defeats at the hands of the Islamist group. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Facebook Unveils Solar-Powered Internet-Beaming Drone

August 3rd 2015

Random Radio Telescope Array

Social networking giant Facebook (Cambridge, MA) has unveiled a full-scale version of its solar-powered drone designed to provide Internet connectivity to remote regions of the world.

Code-named Aquila, and with a wingspan of a Boeing 737, the connected drone is designed to fly for three months at a time - above weather systems and other aircraft - and create about a 30-mile (50-km) communications radius. It will use free-space laser communication technology to send and receive data to other drones and base stations at up to tens of gigabits per second.

According to the company, the drone will fly at a varying altitude of between 60,000 and 90,000 feet (18 to 27 km). During the day it will operate at its maximum height to capture as much of the sun's energy as possible, while at night, when not receiving solar energy, it will descend to its lower altitude to conserve energy. Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Dispatch from Iraq: the Stealth Iranian Takeover Becomes Clear

August 1st 2015

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

In late June, I traveled to Iraq with the purpose of investigating the role being played by the Iranian-supported Shia militias in that country.

Close observation of the militias, their activities, and their links to Tehran is invaluable in understanding what is likely to happen in the Middle East following the conclusion of the nuclear agreement between the P5 + 1 powers and Tehran.

An Iranian stealth takeover of Iraq is currently under way. Tehran's actions in Iraq lay bare the nature of Iranian regional strategy. They show that Iran has no peers at present in the promotion of a very 21st century way of war, which combines the recruitment and manipulation of sectarian loyalties; the establishment and patient sponsoring of political and paramilitary front groups; and the engagement of these groups in irregular and clandestine warfare, all in tune with an Iran-led agenda.


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