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Archive for April 2017

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The Edge of Justice

Huma Abedin's Cousin Revealed Indicted

April 30th 2017

Hillary Clinton

Huma Abedin is once again attracting the attention of federal law enforcement in spite of the Democratic Party and news media cabal covering up reports and other documents revealing allegations of criminal activity by Abedin family members.

Two of Abedin’s relativesboth of them first cousins — are in serious trouble with the FBI and both Abedin and her former boss, failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, are said to be an important characters in a very intricate investigation.

Besides covering up her alleged connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, Huma Abedin had all of the Democrats calling the Muslim Brotherhood a “moderate” Islamic organization, despite its being listed on terrorism watch lists from a number of Muslim countries including Egypt, the nation from where the group sprang.

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys have been prosecuting two of Huma Abedin’s family members for conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud. According to the investigators, Huma Abedin and the U.S. Department of State, where she served as Hillary Clinton’s “right-hand woman,” are mentioned in the case files. Read more ..


The EU and Israel

Israeli-German Spat Brings to Fore Europe’s Funding of BDS and Terror

April 30th 2017

Chinese currency

A diplomatic spat between Israel and Germany has provided a prominent platform for research that documents the European Union’s funding of the BDS movement and terrorism.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel in Jerusalem April 25, due to the latter’s insistence on meeting with nonprofit organizations that campaign against the IDF and alleged Israeli human rights violations.

Netanyahu’s move came after he issued Gabriel an ultimatum to terminate his scheduled meetings with representatives from B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence.

“My policy is clear: not to meet with diplomats who visit Israel and engage with organizations that slander Israeli soldiers and seek to have them put on trial as war criminals,” Netanyahu said. Read more ..


Islam on Edge

Can Islam Ever be Reformed?

April 30th 2017

Muslims pray on a rug

Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser has recently attacked leaders of the anti-Jihad movement in America. He equated them with jihadists when he called them the derogatory word, alt-jihadists, meaning that Americans who speak and write against the evils of Islamic jihad and sharia are just as bad as jihadists. Jasser attacked by name freedom fighters like Stephen Kirby, John Guandolo, Diana West, Clare Lopez, Andrew Bostom, Robert Spender and Pamela Geller.

Jasser claims that he coined the word ‘alt-jihadists’ but in fact Arab media beat him to it when they equated vocal anti-jihad leaders with jihadists. To silence critics of jihad and Islam, Muslim media have habitually come down hard on critics of jihad and Islam and treated them worse than terrorists. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Texas To Pass 'Sanctuary' Ban That Could Jail Police, SheriffsPolitics

April 29th 2017

Border Patrol

The House of Representatives of Texas passed by a 93-54 vote on Thursday a measure that would ban so-called “sanctuary” cities which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the state. It would also empower law enforcement agencies to require anyone detained to reveal their immigration status — whether or not they are arrested or ever charged with a crime. Immigration status could thus be asked for persons stopped for jaywalking or other such offenses.
 
SB 4 would compel local jurisdictions to comply with immigrant detainer requests issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. In Texas and elsewhere in the country, there are local jurisdictions that have refused to reveal the immigration status of persons in their custody and have failed to keep persons in detention when asked by ICE. The Texas Senate approved a similar measure in February. 
Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Assad Still Has 'Hundreds Of Tons' Of Chemicals Stockpiled--Former Syrian Weapons Research Chief

April 29th 2017

Syria's chemicals

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to retain hundreds of tonnes of his country's chemical stockpile after deceiving United Nations inspectors sent in to dismantle it, according to Syria’s former chemical weapons research chief and other experts.

Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat – who served as head of chemical warfare in the powerful 5th Division of the military until he defected in 2013 – told The Telegraph that Assad’s regime failed to declare large amounts of sarin and its precursor chemicals. 

Syria handed over what it said was its entire chemical arsenal to the UN’s Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2014 under a deal negotiated by the US and Russia after hundreds of people were killed in a sarin gas attack in the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.

Read more ..

The Race for Ethanol

Open Letter on How The Ethanol Mandate Is Killing The American Prairie

April 29th 2017

switchgrass

Two weeks ago I wrote and published a story on TheAutoChannel.com called UNCOVERING THE GAS ROOTS OF CONTEMPORARY ETHANOL OPPOSITION. That story dealt with HOW the petroleum oil industry has worked to distort the truth about ethanol. This story unmasks a specific individual WHO has a history of working to hide the truth from the public about significant health and safety issues, while using his professional and academic credentials as a front for his phony analysis of ethanol.

I just finished reading a new anti-ethanol commentary "How The Ethanol Mandate Is Killing The American Prairie," written by William F. Shughart II, a professor at Utah State University and a Senior Fellow at a think tank called Independent Institute. Professor Shughart is a former economist at the Federal Trade Commission and he has taught at George Mason University, Clemson University, University of Mississippi, and the University of Arizona. Read more ..


The Obama Legacy

Susan Rice -- Taking Responsibility, Assigning Responsbility

April 29th 2017

Susan Rice

We may never get to the end of the Susan Rice story.

History tells us that Rice rattled off a false tale on several networks after the attack and death of Four Americans - including the ambassador to Libya - in the Benghazi. Her detailed lie was that the deaths were the result of a semi-spontaneous anti-American demonstration occasioned by broadcasts from the then pro- Muslim Brotherhood broadcasts from radio Cairo that had spread throughout the Arab and Moslem world.

The truth was, of course, that the Libyan jihadists had plotted to kill Americans for some time, that the local U.S. diplomatic corps had been pleading unsuccessfully for weeks for additional defenses against what it knew were plots against them. Although Rice's performance was almost immediately exposed, she suffered no particular consequences and continued as a high national security official. Read more ..


Financing the Flames

Incentivizing Terrorism:Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families

April 28th 2017

Money Bands=Happiness

The Palestinian Authority’s legislation and allocations of monthly salaries and benefits rewarding imprisoned and released terrorists, and the families of “Martyrs,” amount to $300 million annually. This financial reward clearly demonstrates the PA’s institutional commitment to sponsoring terror against Israel.

 

Foreword

by Sander Gerber

The PA maintains longstanding legislation and payments to subsidize terrorists and their families. This amounts to an officially sanctioned PA government incentive system to kill Israelis. When I learned of this in November 2015, I was quite shocked. I proceeded to raise the issue with organized American Jewish community leaders and Israeli policymakers, and was told “everybody knows.” Disconcerted by my own lack of knowledge, I canvassed numerous American political leaders who, without exception, were unaware of the PA legislation/budget. The few leaders who were aware that the PA directly pays terrorists thought that the funding was only $5-6 million; they were shocked to learn that according to the official PA budget online, it was $300 million for 2016.

Read more ..

Campus Hate

Academic Malfeasance as U. of Arkansas Disinvites Phyllis Chesler

April 28th 2017

Blackboard classroom

The latest speaker to be "disinvited" from an American college is prominent feminist scholar Phyllis Chesler, whose participation in a University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, symposium on honor killing earlier this month was withdrawn days before the event. Behind the cancellation lies a sordid tale involving faculty machinations, threats from a dean, and at least one shattered window. Together, they offer a case study on the intellectual and moral corruption of academe.

Chesler is an emerita professor of psychology and women's studies at the City University of New York whose pioneering scholarship exposed the horrors of honor killing, forced marriages, and other brutalities women suffer in Muslim lands and beyond. She was invited to deliver a lunchtime lecture on "Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings" at a conference on "Violence in the Name of Honor: Confronting and Responding to Honor Killings and Forced Marriage in the West" on April 13-14, cosponsored by the law school and the Saudi-funded King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies. Read more ..


Media on Edge

Palestinian Intimidation of Journalists

April 28th 2017

Palestinian Authority police

Seven Palestinian journalists are the latest victims of the Palestinian Authority's (PA) continued crackdown on the media.

The repressive measures are aimed at silencing critical voices among the journalists and deterring others from reporting stories that reflect negatively on the Palestinian leadership in particular and Palestinians in general.

In the view of President Mahmoud Abbas and his PA, Palestinian journalists exist to write stories slamming Israel or praising PA leaders. Media, for them, is defined as a mouthpiece for Abbas, the PA leadership and the Palestinian cause.

Any journalist who dares to think outside this checkpoint is subject to severe punishment. Under Abbas and the PA, there is no room for an independent media. The three major Palestinian newspapers -- Al-Quds, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda -- are controlled, directly and indirectly, by the PA.

Read more ..

Europe on Edge

Austrian President Predicts 'All Women' will Wear Muslim Headscarves

April 28th 2017

Muslim Woman

Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen has predicted that soon “All women” in his country may be asked to  wear headscarves in “solidarity” with Muslims, citing prejudice members of the Islamic face. In his statements on Monday, Van der Bellen also said that it is  "every woman's right to wear whatever she likes."
 
But in reference to alleged discrimination faced by Muslims in Austria, Van der Bellen said that "if this continues... with the widely spreading Islamophobia, the day will come when we have to ask all women to wear a headscarf – all – out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons."
 
After being broadcast on ORF, the president’s remarks did not sit well with some people on social media. “Dexter” wrote on Twitter: “This world is going to shitter in a hand basket and it's people like this Austrian President that tries to normalize it.. Make America Great Again. No sharia.” 
Read more ..

The Korean Threat

Is China the Solution to the North Korean Problem?

April 28th 2017

North Korean missiles

Based on the completed review of Washington's North Korea policy, the U.S. administration has no plan to respond to Pyongyang's next nuclear test with military might. But U.S. President Donald Trump has taken every opportunity to show that he still considers all options — including a military strike — to be on the table.

This won't, however, do much to change North Korea's own calculations. Pyongyang no longer sees its nuclear weapons program as a chip to be bargained away for economic and security concessions from Washington. Instead, developing a credible nuclear deterrent has become a matter of national security, and a crucial one at that. North Korea will forge ahead with its nuclear program undeterred, bringing it one step closer to its final stage — and bringing the country closer to a clash with regional powers intent on stopping it.

Read more ..

The Financial Edge

End the Bank of Boeing

April 28th 2017

Boeing 787

It’s time to shut-down the Export-Import Bank once and for all. The bank was started by FDR in 1934 to loan money to the Soviet Union. That worked well for us, didn’t it? Now it provides low-interest loans to foreign companies to buy U.S. goods. Nearly half of the 172 billion dollars in loans between 2007 and 2014 benefited only 5 U.S. companies. More than a third — 60 billion dollars — benefited just one company — Boeing.  That’s why DC politicians call it the “Bank of Boeing.” So, isn’t selling U.S.-made aircraft to foreign airlines a good thing?

Consider this. In many cases, low-interest loans go to airlines owned by foreign governments, such as China.  Should we be subsidizing foreign governments? Foreign airlines then buy Boeing jets for less than U.S. airlines. This gives foreign carriers a competitive advantage over U.S. carriers in the global market. According to one estimate, it’s cost U.S. airlines nearly 7,500 jobs. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Hamas Wants Quiet As It Prepares For Next Assault on Israel

April 27th 2017

Hamas head

Strategically, Hamas remains as committed as ever to its objective of destroying Israel and toppling the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority in the process. Tactically, however, Hamas exhibits pragmatism and won't rush into wars with Israel when conditions are ill suited.

Hamas looks at the long run, and remains convinced that it can eradicate Israel, even if it takes decades or centuries. Yet it would prefer to bide its time, and build up its force until the next clash while working to decrease its acute regional isolation. For this to happen, Hamas needs to avoid plunging Gaza into a new war any time soon. Yet it remains far from clear that it will be able to do this.

Should a war erupt in the near future, it likely will be triggered by unplanned dynamics of escalation. Read more ..


Ending the Caliphate

Mosul Children Reveal the Nightmare of ISIS Schooling

April 27th 2017

ISIS Battle Position

On a morning in late March, 20 children are standing between bombed houses and burned-out cars in front of an elementary school on a street in eastern Mosul. When you ask them what they learned inside, they talk about killing. Their teacher was Islamic State (IS), which had a stronghold here. "Daesh, Daesh," the children shout, using the Arabic pejorative for IS, with strong, excited voices, as if the sound concealed an unbelievable secret.

The children are between the ages of 6 and 13. Their backpacks are too large for their bodies, they wear sandals and their T-shirts have holes. Some ate eggs that morning, others didn't. As the children wait for the gate to open, they call out and laugh. Their happiness is real, but if you look through it, you can see the war in their small, hardened faces.

IS conquered Mosul in June 2014. When it tried to create a state, it didn't stop at acquiring land, people, a doctrine and a flag. It also pushed into every crevice of social life -- it controlled the economy, administered justice and created lesson plans that fit its views. The goal of IS was to create a worldview, which also led it to take over Mosul's schools. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Judge who Ruled against Trump on Sanctuary Cities is an Obama Cash Bundler

April 26th 2017

Stop the Raids immigration protest

According to PublicCitizen, a nonprofit website that tracks political donations, Federal Judge William Orrick III bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars for Barack Obama’s electoral campaign. It was Orrick who issued an injunction in the Northern District of California against the Trump administration when San Francisco, and Santa Clara County, sued over President Trump’s plan to withhold federal funding from jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities and harbor illegal immigrants. 
 
Orrick’s ruling contends that Trump's executive order order targeted broad categories of federal funding for sanctuary governments, and that the plaintiffs would probably succeed in proving it unconstitutional.  The federal lawsuit will continue to work its way through the courts. The Department of Justice has threatened to cut off eight so-called “sanctuary” cities, including San Francisco.
Read more ..

The Race for Smart Cities

LED Streetlights Can Be Programmed to Adapt to Traffic

April 26th 2017

Downtown LA Neighborhood

IoT systems provider Echelon Corporation has developed a patent-pending cognitive vision-based technology that can enable a wide range of smart city and smart campus applications, including traffic-adaptive lighting.

Using artificial intelligence in vision-enabled edge devices, Echelon's InSight technology collects traffic data and processed at the edge of the network instead of on a central server. It then uses the Echelon's Lumewave lighting platform to transmit traffic information, reducing response time and improving reliability.  This architecture is said to enable faster action in response to changing conditions and minimizes network bandwidth requirements.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Trump’s Second Hundred Days

April 26th 2017

Trump2

As U.S. President Donald Trump approaches his 100-day benchmark on Saturday, a media deluge has already begun bemoaning the demise of the liberal order, celebrating waves of deregulation or simply blaming the president's rocky start on the "disaster" he inherited on taking office. Rather than wade into that predictable morass, we prefer to focus instead on what the next 100 days hold in store.

As U.S. President Donald Trump approaches his 100-day benchmark on Saturday, a media deluge has already begun bemoaning the demise of the liberal order, celebrating waves of deregulation or simply blaming the president's rocky start on the "disaster" he inherited on taking office. Rather than wade into that predictable morass, we prefer to focus instead on what the next 100 days hold in store. Read more ..


The North Korean Threat

North Korea Missile Attempts Fails

April 16th 2017

N Korean troops

A North Korean missile fired from the east coast of the country Sunday “blew up almost immediately,” officials said.

The U.S. Pacific Command said the missile, which came near the city of Sinpo, “blew up almost immediately,” but the type of missile was still being assessed.

The failure came one day after Pyongyang celebrated one of the biggest propaganda events of the year – the 105th birthday of the late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un’s grandfather.

The failed launch also comes ahead of Vice President Pence’s arrival in Seoul, South Korea for talks about how to handle Kim’s regime. Pence had been in contact with President Trump about the test. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Time for the US To Stop Arming its Enemies

April 16th 2017

Taureg-terrorists

No one expects the Trump administration to reverse the disastrous effects of the Obama-supported Muslim Brotherhood's hijacking of the "Arab Spring" in the Middle East that increased the regional contest for supremacy in the Islamic world.

The rivalry has intensified between the Sunni camp led by Saudi Arabia and the Shiite camp led by Iran - each with its pet terrorist organizations.
It's hard to overstate how much damage was done by the Obama administration's misjudgment that Sunni jihadists and Shia Iran were somehow friendly to us and could be useful tools of American policy. 

But using jihadi groups claiming to be less violent than al-Qaeda and ISIS resulted in the Benghazi massacre of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and the destabilization of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria, and elsewhere. Read more ..


Book Review

Richard Haass Less than Forthcoming in "A World in Disarray"

April 15th 2017

Muammar Qaddafi

When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, experts agreed that the world would soon be a more peaceful and democratic place. But with war raging across the Middle East and showdowns looming from Eastern Europe to Asia, Richard Haass’s A World in Disarray is a primer on how they went wrong.  Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the country’s premier foreign-policy think tank, so he’s in a position to know.  But his book is vague, meandering, and about as penetrating as a strand of overcooked spaghetti.  The only insight it offers is into how alarmingly shallow the US foreign-policy establishment has become.

Haass served as special assistant to President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War and then as the State Department’s director of policy planning during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Unfortunately, the only effect has been to lock in a world view that is self-serving and contradictory. He writes that post-invasion Iraq “proved far less ripe for democratic change than had been anticipated by the war’s proponents,” as if people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had any interest in democratizing Iraq in the first place. (They didn't.) He writes that the Iraqi collapse led to the rise of “subnational identities tied to set, tribe, and ethnicity” and that “Sunni anger and humiliation stoked recruiting for both al-Qaeda and subsequently ISIS.” But he doesn’t mention the role of close US allies such as Saudi Arabia in building such forces up.  (By 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warning that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”)

He criticizes the Obama administration for abandoning Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring because it would be “taken as a sign in Riyadh and elsewhere that the United States could not be expected to back its friends of long standing.” But he doesn’t explain why the US should be friends with such a nightmarish dictatorship.  He notes that in order “not to alienate the Saudis,” the US held its tongue when the kingdom sent troops to crush pro-democracy demonstrations in neighboring Bahrain. But he avoids saying whether this was a good policy or not. 

A World in Disarrayalso criticizes America and its allies for failing to put Libya back on its feet after toppling Muammar Gadhafi but doesn’t mention the role of Qatar, which joined the anti-Gadhafi campaign at Clinton’s behest and then distributed some $400 million in military aid to Salafist rebels so that they could spread havoc from one end of the country to the other.  It accuses Barack Obama of “an act … of omission” for failing to fund anti-Baathist rebels in Syria, when in fact CIA was spending close to a billion dollars per year.  Haass assails the White House for not responding more forcefully when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was accused of using poison gas in August 2013, but neglects to mention that Obama only pulled back when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper informed him that the case against Assad was less than a “slam dunk.” He says that the US should have proceeded regardless with a concerted assault on “important military and political targets over several days involving both aircraft and cruise missiles.” But then he cautions a few pages later that “the rapid collapse of the Assad regime [in 2015] without careful preparation for what would take its place would likely have paved the way for ISIS to establish a caliphate in Damascus, something to be resisted at all costs.” So why would a massive missile barrage not have produced the same disastrous result two years earlier? A World in Disarray doesn’t explain.

Finally, Haass is less than forthcoming about his own role in the great Middle East debacle.  He says of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq: “The road to a transformed Middle East, it was widely believed, ran through Baghdad. I did not share this view, but I had little opportunity to challenge those who did, given the structure of decision making in the George W. Bush administration.” In fact, he had ample opportunity when the New Yorker’s Nicholas Lemann called him for an interview just as the war was getting underway. Instead of letting loose with his misgivings, though, he mounted a vigorous defense, accusing the French of “being disingenuous” in objecting to the invasion and declaring that Bush was right to proceed without UN approval.

“This is a way, I believe, quite honestly, of preserving the UN’s potential viability in the future,” he said. “We’ve not destroyed it. We’ve just admitted, though, that it can’t do everything, when the great powers of the day disagree.”

These are the weasel words of someone who had just gotten the nod to become head of the Council on Foreign Relations – which Lemann correctly describes as “one of the foreign-policy world’s plummiest jobs” – and didn’t want to say anything to queer the deal. Estimates of Iraqi war deaths from March 2003 to June 2006 run as high as 600,000, all because the Bush administration thought it had a unilateral right to disregard both the UN and world opinion in general. Judging from A World in Disarray, Haass still hasn’t faced up to the enormity of his mistake.

- See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/165504#sthash.YDg3Ug9L.dpuf

When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, experts agreed that the world would soon be a more peaceful and democratic place. But with war raging across the Middle East and showdowns looming from Eastern Europe to Asia, Richard Haass’s A World in Disarray is a primer on how they went wrong.  Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the country’s premier foreign-policy think tank, so he’s in a position to know.  But his book is vague, meandering, and about as penetrating as a strand of overcooked spaghetti.  The only insight it offers is into how alarmingly shallow the US foreign-policy establishment has become.

Haass served as special assistant to President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War and then as the State Department’s director of policy planning during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Unfortunately, the only effect has been to lock in a world view that is self-serving and contradictory. He writes that post-invasion Iraq “proved far less ripe for democratic change than had been anticipated by the war’s proponents,” as if people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had any interest in democratizing Iraq in the first place. (They didn't.) He writes that the Iraqi collapse led to the rise of “subnational identities tied to set, tribe, and ethnicity” and that “Sunni anger and humiliation stoked recruiting for both al-Qaeda and subsequently ISIS.” But he doesn’t mention the role of close US allies such as Saudi Arabia in building such forces up.  (By 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warning that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”)

He criticizes the Obama administration for abandoning Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring because it would be “taken as a sign in Riyadh and elsewhere that the United States could not be expected to back its friends of long standing.” But he doesn’t explain why the US should be friends with such a nightmarish dictatorship.  He notes that in order “not to alienate the Saudis,” the US held its tongue when the kingdom sent troops to crush pro-democracy demonstrations in neighboring Bahrain. But he avoids saying whether this was a good policy or not. 

A World in Disarrayalso criticizes America and its allies for failing to put Libya back on its feet after toppling Muammar Gadhafi but doesn’t mention the role of Qatar, which joined the anti-Gadhafi campaign at Clinton’s behest and then distributed some $400 million in military aid to Salafist rebels so that they could spread havoc from one end of the country to the other.  It accuses Barack Obama of “an act … of omission” for failing to fund anti-Baathist rebels in Syria, when in fact CIA was spending close to a billion dollars per year.  Haass assails the White House for not responding more forcefully when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was accused of using poison gas in August 2013, but neglects to mention that Obama only pulled back when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper informed him that the case against Assad was less than a “slam dunk.” He says that the US should have proceeded regardless with a concerted assault on “important military and political targets over several days involving both aircraft and cruise missiles.” But then he cautions a few pages later that “the rapid collapse of the Assad regime [in 2015] without careful preparation for what would take its place would likely have paved the way for ISIS to establish a caliphate in Damascus, something to be resisted at all costs.” So why would a massive missile barrage not have produced the same disastrous result two years earlier? A World in Disarray doesn’t explain.

Finally, Haass is less than forthcoming about his own role in the great Middle East debacle.  He says of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq: “The road to a transformed Middle East, it was widely believed, ran through Baghdad. I did not share this view, but I had little opportunity to challenge those who did, given the structure of decision making in the George W. Bush administration.” In fact, he had ample opportunity when the New Yorker’s Nicholas Lemann called him for an interview just as the war was getting underway. Instead of letting loose with his misgivings, though, he mounted a vigorous defense, accusing the French of “being disingenuous” in objecting to the invasion and declaring that Bush was right to proceed without UN approval.

“This is a way, I believe, quite honestly, of preserving the UN’s potential viability in the future,” he said. “We’ve not destroyed it. We’ve just admitted, though, that it can’t do everything, when the great powers of the day disagree.”

These are the weasel words of someone who had just gotten the nod to become head of the Council on Foreign Relations – which Lemann correctly describes as “one of the foreign-policy world’s plummiest jobs” – and didn’t want to say anything to queer the deal. Estimates of Iraqi war deaths from March 2003 to June 2006 run as high as 600,000, all because the Bush administration thought it had a unilateral right to disregard both the UN and world opinion in general. Judging from A World in Disarray, Haass still hasn’t faced up to the enormity of his mistake.

- See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/165504#sthash.YDg3Ug9L.dpuf

When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, experts agreed that the world would soon be a more peaceful and democratic place. But with war raging across the Middle East and showdowns looming from Eastern Europe to Asia, Richard Haass’s A World in Disarray is a primer on how they went wrong.  Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the country’s premier foreign-policy think tank, so he’s in a position to know.  But his book is vague, meandering, and about as penetrating as a strand of overcooked spaghetti.  The only insight it offers is into how alarmingly shallow the US foreign-policy establishment has become.

Haass served as special assistant to President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War and then as the State Department’s director of policy planning during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Unfortunately, the only effect has been to lock in a world view that is self-serving and contradictory. He writes that post-invasion Iraq “proved far less ripe for democratic change than had been anticipated by the war’s proponents,” as if people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had any interest in democratizing Iraq in the first place. (They didn't.) He writes that the Iraqi collapse led to the rise of “subnational identities tied to set, tribe, and ethnicity” and that “Sunni anger and humiliation stoked recruiting for both al-Qaeda and subsequently ISIS.” But he doesn’t mention the role of close US allies such as Saudi Arabia in building such forces up.  (By 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warning that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”)

He criticizes the Obama administration for abandoning Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring because it would be “taken as a sign in Riyadh and elsewhere that the United States could not be expected to back its friends of long standing.” But he doesn’t explain why the US should be friends with such a nightmarish dictatorship.  He notes that in order “not to alienate the Saudis,” the US held its tongue when the kingdom sent troops to crush pro-democracy demonstrations in neighboring Bahrain. But he avoids saying whether this was a good policy or not. 

A World in Disarrayalso criticizes America and its allies for failing to put Libya back on its feet after toppling Muammar Gadhafi but doesn’t mention the role of Qatar, which joined the anti-Gadhafi campaign at Clinton’s behest and then distributed some $400 million in military aid to Salafist rebels so that they could spread havoc from one end of the country to the other.  It accuses Barack Obama of “an act … of omission” for failing to fund anti-Baathist rebels in Syria, when in fact CIA was spending close to a billion dollars per year.  Haass assails the White House for not responding more forcefully when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was accused of using poison gas in August 2013, but neglects to mention that Obama only pulled back when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper informed him that the case against Assad was less than a “slam dunk.” He says that the US should have proceeded regardless with a concerted assault on “important military and political targets over several days involving both aircraft and cruise missiles.” But then he cautions a few pages later that “the rapid collapse of the Assad regime [in 2015] without careful preparation for what would take its place would likely have paved the way for ISIS to establish a caliphate in Damascus, something to be resisted at all costs.” So why would a massive missile barrage not have produced the same disastrous result two years earlier? A World in Disarray doesn’t explain.

Finally, Haass is less than forthcoming about his own role in the great Middle East debacle.  He says of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq: “The road to a transformed Middle East, it was widely believed, ran through Baghdad. I did not share this view, but I had little opportunity to challenge those who did, given the structure of decision making in the George W. Bush administration.” In fact, he had ample opportunity when the New Yorker’s Nicholas Lemann called him for an interview just as the war was getting underway. Instead of letting loose with his misgivings, though, he mounted a vigorous defense, accusing the French of “being disingenuous” in objecting to the invasion and declaring that Bush was right to proceed without UN approval.

“This is a way, I believe, quite honestly, of preserving the UN’s potential viability in the future,” he said. “We’ve not destroyed it. We’ve just admitted, though, that it can’t do everything, when the great powers of the day disagree.”

These are the weasel words of someone who had just gotten the nod to become head of the Council on Foreign Relations – which Lemann correctly describes as “one of the foreign-policy world’s plummiest jobs” – and didn’t want to say anything to queer the deal. Estimates of Iraqi war deaths from March 2003 to June 2006 run as high as 600,000, all because the Bush administration thought it had a unilateral right to disregard both the UN and world opinion in general. Judging from A World in Disarray, Haass still hasn’t faced up to the enormity of his mistake.

- See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/165504#sthash.YDg3Ug9L.dpuf

When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, experts agreed that the world would soon be a more peaceful and democratic place. But with war raging across the Middle East and showdowns looming from Eastern Europe to Asia, Richard Haass’s A World in Disarray is a primer on how they went wrong.  Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the country’s premier foreign-policy think tank, so he’s in a position to know.  But his book is vague, meandering, and about as penetrating as a strand of overcooked spaghetti.  The only insight it offers is into how alarmingly shallow the US foreign-policy establishment has become.

Haass served as special assistant to President George H.W. Bush during the 1991 Gulf War and then as the State Department’s director of policy planning during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Unfortunately, the only effect has been to lock in a world view that is self-serving and contradictory. He writes that post-invasion Iraq “proved far less ripe for democratic change than had been anticipated by the war’s proponents,” as if people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had any interest in democratizing Iraq in the first place. (They didn't.) He writes that the Iraqi collapse led to the rise of “subnational identities tied to set, tribe, and ethnicity” and that “Sunni anger and humiliation stoked recruiting for both al-Qaeda and subsequently ISIS.” Read more ..


The Battle Against the Caliphate

What We Know About the GBU-43/B, 'Mother of All Bombs'

April 15th 2017

Land Mine

The “Mother of All Bombs,” the GBU-43/B Massive Air Blast, is the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal, and it was used for the first time in combat on April 13 in Afghanistan against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

If you’ve never heard of this bomb, you’re likely not alone. To help you get educated about it, here are some facts to know:

According to globalsecurity.org, it’s the largest-ever satellite-guided, air-delivered weapon in history, made to replace the unguided 15,000-pound BLU-82 Daisy Cutter that was used in Vietnam and early on in Afghanistan.

The MOAB was developed in only nine weeks in 2003 to be available for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it was created to put pressure on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to stop fighting against the coalition. The smart bomb was never used during that war.

The MOAB was loaded into a C-130 Hercules, where it sat in a cradle on an airdrop platform until the whole platform was pulled off the plane at a high altitude by a drogue parachute, which is used to slow it down. Once in the air, the weapon was quickly released from the platform to keep up its forward momentum. The grid fins then opened to stabilize it and guide it to its target.

According to globalsecurity.org, on Sept. 11, 2007, the Russian military announced it had tested the “Father of all Bombs,” the world’s most powerful non-nuclear air-delivered munition. Read more ..


The Race for Batteries

Separator Layer Can Make Lithium-ion Batteries Fireproof

April 15th 2017

batteries

Lithium-ion batteries, though being considered as the power source of choice for today’s electric vehicles, are having a significant disadvantage: They are not fireproof. Even worse, they tend to catch fire under overload and short circuit conditions which can occur as a consequence of accidents. Researchers from the Stanford University have developed a potential solution.

The reason why lithium ion batteries can start burning so easily is that the electrolytes necessary to enable the exchange of electrons between cathode and anode are flammable and highly reactive. Though battery manufacturers have tried to minimize this risk through internal protective covers or by adding flame retardants, the risk persists, acknowledged Stanford researcher Kai Liu. In addition, these measures have side effects: They reduce the energy density and ion mobility which in turns reduces the battery performances.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Untangling U.S. Foreign Policy

April 15th 2017

Truman Bldg/State Dept HQ

American geopoliticians in the 100 years the U.S. was coming of age as the superpower had the "luxury" of facing a relatively monolithic enemy. From the early 30s, it was fascism dominated by Mussolini and then Hitler until his downfall at the conclusion of World War II. Stalin and his worldwide Communist apparatus moved into that role in the immediate postwar period.

It was only with the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1990 that Washington planners faced what had been the more normal historical array of a number of powerful national and imperial entities vying for power. Turning their hand to this complex has confronted American policymakers - however the disproportionate size and power of their country - with new and perplexing conflicting interests.
Nowhere is that problem more apparent than with Washington's relations with the Russians. The muddled argument now taking place in the public arena is only the most obvious expression of this. Read more ..


The Wall

Trump’s Top Cop Announces Plan to Prioritize Criminal Alien Cases

April 15th 2017

US Border Patrol arrest

Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to the US-Mexico border, to speak with Department of Homeland Security personnel. Sessions told U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the Port of Nogales in Arizona that more illegal immigrants should be prosecuted as criminals. According to Sessions’ memo (See video below), The person in the position known as a border security coordinator, will be directed to coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure border security prosecutions.

During his remarks, the Attorney General announced that he has issued a memorandum  to United States Attorneys that mandates the prioritization of criminal immigration enforcement. The memo directs federal prosecutors to focus on particular offenses that, if aggressively charged and prosecuted, can help prevent and deter illegal immigration. Read more ..


The Race for EVs

Electromobility: The Big Leap has Yet to Come

April 14th 2017

Electric car Israel

The annual Electromobility Index from consultancy Roland Berger and the fka automotive technology research institute (Aachen, Germany) certifies Germany and France the leading positions in terms of technology. Though the market shows growth in all regions, the market share for electric vehicles is still very low.

The Electromobility Index periodically compares the competitive positions of the seven most important automotive geographies China, France, Germany Italy, Japan South Korea and USA in terms of technology, industrialization and market.

According to the study, Germany currently holds the technology pole position in the race about electromobility – a little bit surprising, given the success of Tesla in the US and the relatively high market penetration of electric vehicles in France. Wolfgang Bernhardt, Roland Berger Partner and expert for automobile markets, explains why.

Read more ..

The Race for Nuclear

A Bankruptcy of Nuclear Proportions

April 14th 2017

Nuclear Reactors

On March 29, Westinghouse Electric Co., a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, filed for bankruptcy. The U.S.-based nuclear power company has been building two state-of-the-art nuclear power plants in Georgia and South Carolina, but it has been plagued by delays and cost overruns. The filing sent Toshiba scrambling to cut its losses by March 31, the end of Japan's fiscal year. The Japanese conglomerate ended up writing down over $6 billion on its nuclear reactor business. But Toshiba's troubles don't end there; the firm is also working to sell off a portion of its chip manufacturing holdings.

The U.S. government is worried about what the sale of Westinghouse could mean for the future of traditional nuclear power in the United States and for nuclear power in China, which is keen to learn the secrets of a Western firm such as Westinghouse. The Japanese government, meanwhile, is wary of how Beijing could benefit in the long term, should a Chinese firm acquire Toshiba's semiconductor unit. Read more ..


Turkey on Edge

Turkey's Vainglorious Referendum

April 14th 2017

Erdogan

This Sunday, millions of Turks will vote to endorse or reject constitutional amendments passed in January by Turkey's parliament. An opinion piece published by the German news agency Deutsche Welle explains that the "crucial" amendments "give all the power to one person, with almost no accountability," eliminating what is left of democracy in Turkey. Virtually all observers agree that if the referendum passes, Turkey will be transformed into an authoritarian state.

But I (along with a few others) disagree. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan years ago arrogated all the powers that the constitutional changes would bestow on him. He is already lord of all he sees for as long as he wants, whether through democratic means or by fixing election results. If the referendum passes, it will merely prettify that reality.

Read more ..

The Battle For Syria

US Intercepts Syria Gas Plans

April 13th 2017

Syria fighting injured baby

The United States intercepted communications between Syrian military and chemical weapons experts discussing plans for a poison gas attack in Idlib province, CNN reported, citing an unidentified senior intelligence official. The White House said in a declassified intelligence assessment that it "is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin".

The US report alleges that the chemical agent was delivered by a Syrian Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft that flew over the village of Khan Sheikhun at the time of the attack, which killed at least 87 civilians, including 31 children, on 4 April.

"Additionally, our information indicates personnel historically associated with Syria's chemical weapons programme were at Shayrat airfield in late March making preparations for an upcoming attack in northern Syria, and they were present at the airfield on the day of the attack," the US government report reads.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

WhatsApp Message Links German Bus Bombing to ISIS

April 13th 2017

ISIS Army

Notes left at the scene of Tuesday's bombing of a bus carrying the German Borussa Dortmund soccer team and circulated among ISIS supporters via WhatsApp suggest a connection to the terror group.

Three pipe bombs hit the bus as the team left its hotel before a Champions League match. One player and a police officer were injured and the bus's glass shattered.

A copy of the note circulated on WhatsApp claimed the attack came in reaction to Germany's participation in the fight against ISIS. It refers to the deaths of 12 "unbelievers" who were killed by "our blessed brothers in Germany." Britain's Daily Star newspaper reports this refers to the December attack on a Berlin Christmas market. Read more ..


The North Korean Threat

Trump Surprises Progressives and North Korea with Coal Sales to China

April 13th 2017

Coal Train

Rather than accepting their cargo of essential coking coal, China sent away a flotilla of 12 North Korean freighters to their home ports, according to an exclusive Reuters report. China has relatively few natural resources for such a large population and landmass, and relies on coal for its power plants and steel-making facilities. In the meantime, China placed a huge order for American coal from American producers. 
 
Reuters cited as its source for the news to be at the Dandong Chengtai Trade Co., which is the biggest buyer of North Korea's coal. According to Dandong Chengtai, there were 600,000 tons of North Korean coal waiting at several ports, while there are now 2 million tons of coal stranded at Chinese ports that must be returned to North Korea.
 
On February 26, China publicly committed itself to punishing North Korea for furthering its ambitions of producing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
 
Nearly half of North Korea’s source of foreign trade comes from coal sold to China. Targeting by China of coal will produce a dramatic economic impact. In February, China declared that it was banning North Korean imports for the rest of this year.
 
China is North Korea's largest source of trade and aid and targeting coal imports are meant to produce a dramatic economic result.
 
China will increase the amount of coal it buys from U.S. producers, marking a significant change. Between late 2014 and 2016, no coking coal from the U.S. was exported to China. But in February, coal shipments from the U.S. to China amounted to more than 400,000 tons.
Read more ..

Media on Edge

Dishonest New York Times Fudges the Student Data

April 13th 2017

New York Times Bldg

The New York Times had a stunning headline. Foreign applications to U.S. colleges have fallen by 40%. Except it’s not true. Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

The New York Times claims Donald Trump’s immigration ban has damaged U.S. colleges when it comes to foreign students.   It called this the ‘Trump Effect.’

The newspaper relied on this report. So, we read the report, the accompanying press release and the survey results. The truth is far different than what the Times writes.

Nearly 300 colleges and universities were surveyed. When it comes to foreign student applications: 38% reported a decline; 35% reported an increase; and 27% reported no change. In other words — a wash. The difference between this year and last year is statistically insignificant. Read more ..


Safe Travel

Lithium-ion Battery Shipping Sees new Regulations

April 13th 2017

Battery-single-use

IATA, the International Air Transport Association, has changed its IATA DGR (Dangerous Goods Regulations) concerning the shipping of lithium batteries. Since January 1, 2017 lithium batteries that were previously not covered by labeling requirements have become partially subject to them.

The FBDi e.V. (German Professional Association of Component Distribution) summarizes the most important changes as follows:

Labeling requirement – The number of shipment items not subject to labeling requirements according to Pi 967 and PI 970 (max. 2 batteries / 4 cells) is limited to 2 per shipment. This affects lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries integrated into a device. They require a label even where not more than 2 batteries or 4 cells per shipment are contained per shipment item (not subject to labelling), but more than 2 shipment items per shipment are shipped.

Read more ..

The Digital Age

Smartphone Fingerprint Security Vulnerable

April 13th 2017

Smart phone

No two people are believed to have identical fingerprints, but researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and Michigan State University College of Engineering have found that partial similarities between prints are common enough that the fingerprint-based security systems used in mobile phones and other electronic devices can be more vulnerable than previously thought.

The vulnerability lies in the fact that fingerprint-based authentication systems feature small sensors that do not capture a user's full fingerprint. Instead, they scan and store partial fingerprints, and many phones allow users to enroll several different fingers in their authentication system.

Identity is confirmed when a user's fingerprint matches any one of the saved partial prints. The researchers hypothesized that there could be enough similarities among different people's partial prints that one could create a "MasterPrint."

Nasir Memon, a professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon and the research team leader, explained that the MasterPrint concept bears some similarity to a hacker who attempts to crack a PIN-based system using a commonly adopted password such as 1234. "About four percent of the time, the password 1234 will be correct, which is a relatively high probability when you're just guessing."

Read more ..

Block Review

“Shaken Earth” by Martin Barillas Offers the Blood and Sinew of 1930s Guatemala

April 10th 2017

Martin Barillas

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Shaken Earth. Amazon Kindle

 

History, in its purest form, is a collection of facts about past events. As a discipline, however, historians impose an interpretation onto selected facts in order to tell a story about the past, from a given perspective.

 

See the Interview

 

Historical novels, if they’re well-written, carry the process a step further – that historical perspective is fleshed out, given blood and sinews and filled with the breath of human drama. Martin Barillas’ novel about 1930s Guatemala, with one foot in a rapidly modernizing world and the other in a romantic past of Spanish high culture and indigenous mystery, conveys familiarity. It is a place where Barillas spent much of his youth, visiting his father’s family, drinking in their stories, and walking their roads. The era about which he writes was still within their living memory and the result is a highly compelling tale that evokes the flavor of a specific time and place – one that intersects with American history, as well.

 

The heroine is Soledad, a fiery Latina who, in the course of Shaken Earth, is courted, marries, betrays her husband Mariano and, in the end, is (perhaps) reconciled with him. Against that framework, we are introduced to Central America’s dizzying development, glorious promise, revolutionary madness, and (possible) settlement into modernity. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Breaking: Israelites Flee Egypt

April 10th 2017

Edwin Black

 

A

 

pproximately two million Children of Israel are now encamped in the Sinai following their extraordinary exodus from Egypt yesterday. Just days ago, they were slaves to Pharaoh. Today, they are free men and women, destined for self-determination in a land of their own. Only now are the details of their fantastic experience coming to light.

 

The dramatic sequence of events began some weeks ago with the unexpected return of exiled prince Moses, who previously fled Pharaoh’s wrath after slaying a taskmaster. In his daring appearance at the Palace, the inarticulate Moses, speaking through his brother Aaron, declared himself to be the personal emissary of a powerful new “God,” previously unknown to the Royal Court. Moreover, Moses asserted that his God was the protector of the Children of Israel, who have been in bondage for more than four centuries in Egypt.

 

The entire Royal Court was aghast as Moses demanded that the Children of Israel be permitted to travel three days into the desert for an unprecedented “feast and sacrifice” to their God. Making clear that he was not asking a Court indulgence, Moses looked straight at Pharaoh, stamped his roughhewn staff and issued the ultimatum that would be his rallying call during the coming days: “Let my people go.”

 

Laughter echoed throughout the hall as Pharaoh sneered, “Who is your ‘God?’  I know him not. Nor will I let Israel go!” Read more ..


Russia on Edge

A Brave New World for the Kremlin

April 10th 2017

Russian soldiers Red Square

Every country faces generational change. Evolutions in technology, culture, social mores and global affairs can leave a gulf between young and old that neither can easily bridge. In Russia, that gulf is especially vast. As of this year, 27 percent of Russians were born after the fall of the Soviet Union, and that number will jump to nearly 40 percent within the next decade. The rising generation was never Sovietized. Most of them, moreover, are too young to remember the tumultuous 1990s, a decade of war, financial crisis and political disarray.

Unlike the older generations, they don't recall President Vladimir Putin's promises to save Russia or the measures he took to stabilize the country after its post-Soviet tailspin. In fact, they've never really known life without him. For Putin, the situation poses an unfamiliar challenge.

Read more ..

Christians at Risk

ISIS Claims Responsibility For Church Bombings In Egypt

April 10th 2017

Coptic Girl

Egypt's president called for a three-month state of emergency Sunday after at least 44 people were killed and more than 100 more were injured in two Palm Sunday suicide attacks at Coptic Christian churches, each carried out by the ISIS terror group.

Sunday's first blast happened at St. George Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, where at least 27 people were killed and 78 others wounded, officials said.

Television footage showed the inside of the church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.

A second explosion – which Egypt’s Interior Ministry says was caused by a suicide bomber who tried to storm St. Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria -- left at least 17 dead, and 48 injured. The attack came just after Pope Tawadros II -- leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria -- finished services, but aides told local media that he was unharmed. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Sponsored Shi'a Militia Launches Terror Group to Fight Israel

April 10th 2017

Golan Heights

An Iranian supported Shi'a militia, Al-Nujaba, says it formed the "Golan Liberation Army" to fight Israel, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports.

"This army has been trained and has detailed plans. If the Syria regime asks us to, we are ready to act to liberate the Golan [from Israel] along with our allies," Al-Nujaba spokesman Hashem Al-Mousawi said in a March 8 interview with Iran's Tasnim news agency.

Al-Mousawi also admitted that the new militant group is "part of the PMU [Popular Mobilization Units]," an Iraqi-backed umbrella organization comprised of numerous Shi'a militias, including some with close ties to Iran. The Golan Liberation Army emerged from the Iranian led "resistance" axis and consists of "special forces who have received training and equipment," he said. Read more ..


The Trump Era

Trump’s Payment Plan: Like It Or Not, Mexicans Will Buy U.S. A Security Wall

April 9th 2017

Truncated border fence

President Donald Trump faces problems in the building of a security barrier or “border wall” between the United States and Mexico. But thanks to some GOP lawmakers, including Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers, who is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, and serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, there is a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives that will help in achieving this important security barrier. Part of Trump’s border security plan is the use of surveillance drones to alert Border Patrol agents.

Congressman Mike Rogers introduced HR 1813, the Border Wall Funding Act of 2017. This bill, which is supported and endorsed by FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, would impose a 2% fee on all remittances headed south of the US border. Remittances, or wire transfers, are commonly used by illegal immigrants to move money from the US to their home countries. In 2014, Mexico alone received over $24 billion in remittances sent from the US, while other South and Central American countries received over 15% of their GDPs in the form of remittances. Read more ..



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