The Trump Era
|Martin Barillas||February 2nd 2017|
According to a report by the Washington Post, some 180 federal employees have registered for training on the February 4-5 weekend in both the rights of workers and in civil disobedience. The report said that dozens of federal bureaucrats attended a support group that foments opposition to the Trump administration, less than two weeks after the inauguration President Donald Trump.
While the Post report pointed out the obvious public protests that have emerged since the beginning of the Trump administration, “there’s another level of resistance to the new president that is less visible and potentially more troublesome,” it said. This “growing wave of opposition,” the report said, is from within the federal government and federal employees who are supposed to implement the new president’s policies to the administration: a growing wave of opposition from the federal workers charged with implementing any new president’s agenda. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
On Nov. 16, 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took the unusual step of designating the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the Muslim American Society (MAS) – as terrorist organizations.
They were among 83 groups named for their connections to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
This outraged CAIR officials, who immediately began efforts to get their organization removed from the list. They found a powerful ally in Secretary of State John Kerry, who authorized State Department officials to meet regularly with UAE officials to lobbying on behalf of CAIR and MAS .
CAIR already had a sympathetic ear in the Obama administration, including the State Department, that had openly embraced and legitimized the entire spectrum of radical Islamist groups falsely posing as religious or civil rights groups, which both CAIR and MAS had done. Read more ..
Hannity sat down with Assange in London's Ecuadorian embassy, where the Australian native has been holed up for five years battling extradition to Sweden on unrelated charges. Part I of the interview is set to air Tuesday night at 10 p.m. on Fox News Channel's "Hannity."
In excerpts released prior to airing, Assange is adamant that the hacked emails his organization released of Clinton official John Podesta did not come from Russia, as the Obama administration has claimed.
“We can say, we have said, repeatedly that over the last two months that our source is not the Russian government and it is not a state party,” Assange said.
More than 50,000 emails were released during the 2016 presidential campaign, exposing dubious practices at the Clinton Foundation, top journalists working closely with the Clinton campaign, key Clinton aides speaking derisively of Catholics and a top Democratic National Committee official providing debate questions to Clinton in advance.
Hannity told Fox News' Bill Hemmer "I believe everything (Assange) said," and praised the Internet activist for his commitment to government transparency. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Abigail R. Esman||November 14th 2016|
Another week, another barrage of headlines illustrating the depth of Europe's terror threat. The following examples came during a 24 hour window earlier this month: "Schiphol Airport Was Possibly A Target Of Terror Cell That Attacked Paris;" "Police In Brussels Stabbed In Possible Terror Attack;" and "MI5 Missed Chance To Foil Paris And Brussels Attacks."
It is news to no one that Islamic terrorism is everywhere now, and principally in Northern and Central Europe. But the three news stories, and the Schiphol and MI5 revelations in particular, demonstrate the enormity of the challenges now facing European counterterrorism officials. Read more ..
|Mike Tomko||October 28th 2016|
Behind the Headlines
Most Americans know very little about the leaked Clinton emails.
Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.
Major news organizations buried the most damaging. So we’re sharing some with you.
The FBI and State Department used the term “quid pro quo” in secret negotiations to alter the Clinton investigation in exchange for more embassy assignments.
The campaign strategized on political contributions from lobbyists of foreign governments.
The term “pay-to-play” was used in selling ambassadorships to donors.
The New York Times coordinated its criticism of Trump with Clinton officials.
The campaign chair [John Podesta] was disappointed the San Bernardino terrorist was Muslim and not a white guy.
[A lobbyist offered $5,000 in return for a White House meeting.
Staffers consider Chelsea “a spoiled brat kid.”]
Chelsea used charity money in her for-profit business.
Obama used Clinton’s private email while claiming he didn’t know about it.
Staff mocked Catholics, evangelicals, Bernie Sanders voters and Hispanics. And called southern states the “confederacy.” Read more ..
|Edmund Kozak||October 25th 2016|
Concern is growing over revelations that voting machines in a significant number of states could be linked to a company tied directly to billionaire leftist George Soros and his personal quest to create a nationless, borderless global state.
The U.K.-based Smartmatic company posted a flow-chart on its website that it had provided voting machines for 16 states, including important battleground states like Florida and Arizona. Smartmatic Chairman Mark Malloch-Brown is a former U.N. official and sits on the board of Soros’ Open Society Foundations. Since the story first broke, the flow-chart has disappeared from Smartmatic’s website, raising further questions about the real status of the Soros-tied voting equipment and whether it is truly being deployed in U.S. elections. Read more ..
|Lily Hay Newman||October 23rd 2016|
Friday morning is prime time for some casual news reading, tweeting, and general Internet browsing, but you may have had some trouble accessing your usual sites and services this morning and throughout the day, from Spotify and Reddit to the New York Times and even good ol’ WIRED.com. For that, you can thank a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) that took down a big chunk of the Internet for most of the Eastern seaboard.
This morning’s attack started around 7 am ET and was aimed at Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company headquartered in New Hampshire. That first bout was resolved after about two hours; a second attack began just before noon. Dyn reported a third wave of attacks a little after 4 pm ET. In all cases, traffic to Dyn’s Internet directory servers throughout the US—primarily on the East Coast but later on the opposite end of the country as well—was stopped by a flood of malicious requests from tens of millions of IP addresses disrupting the system. Late in the day, Dyn described the events as a “very sophisticated and complex attack.” Still ongoing, the situation is a definite reminder of the fragility of the web, and the power of the forces that aim to disrupt it. Read more ..
After the Holocaust
|Edwin Black||October 20th 2016|
Cutting Edge contributor
Cheryl Guyer, interim director of Detroit's Holocaust Memorial Center, and the museum's outside publicist Glenn Oswald, have both maintained silence about the beloved museum's future, this despite global attention focussed on the institution's plan for a so-called "new direction."
Guyer also functions as fundraiser for the museum. Oswald also serves in the Marx Layne public relations firm.
Despite eight phone and email requests for comment over a period of days, neither Oswald or Guyer have responded. The unusual silence comes in the wake of an article about the museum and its unclear future that was syndicated to numerous newspapers here and abroad, including the Huffington Post, Jerusalem Post, History Network News, Spero Forum, The Cutting Edge News, the Algemeiner and other leading Jewish and non-Jewish publications. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||October 19th 2016|
Activist videographer James O’Keefe released today the second video in a series that has already made explosive allegations about the Democratic National Committee and its involvement with leftist organizations that have fomented rioting and disturbances at rallies for Donald Trump this year. In the video, operatives for the Democrats reveal how to commit voter fraud in an effort to win the presidency for Hillary Clinton. The first video had more than 2.6 million views on YouTube as press time.
In one segment, leftist Scott Foval admits that the Democrats have been rigging elections for the last fifty years through the liberal application of cash. He also described how Democrats bused people across state lines to cast their ballots in a rigged election in Iowa. Undercover journalists for Project Veritas Action caught Scott Foval, the National Field Director for Americans United for Change, saying, “we’ve been bussing people in to deal with you fuckin’ assholes [Republicans] for fifty years and we’re not going to stop now, we’re just going to find a different way to do it.” An operative for the Democratic National Committee, he admitted that he is “no white knight” while saying Democrats have rigged elections for years.
Foval explained how he and his associates avoid detection. One of the undercover reporters asks why they cannot simply “bus in” voters, but get them to use their own personal vehicles. Foval describes how they avoid being detected and free of criminal charges. “Would they charge each individual of voter fraud? Or are they going to go after the facilitator for conspiracy, which they could prove? It’s one thing if all these people drive up in their personal cars. If there’s a bus involved? That changes the dynamic.” Read more ..
|Andrew C. McCarthy||October 16th 2016|
Among the most noteworthy of the hacked e-mails from John Podesta’s accounts is an exchange in which Podesta consults Clinton consigliere Cheryl Mills about the private e-mail exchanges between President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
As readers may recall, I have long maintained (see here and here) that the principal reason why Mrs. Clinton was not prosecuted, despite a mountain of evidence that she committed felony mishandling of classified information, is the fact that Obama engaged in the same kind of misconduct. The president’s use of a private, non-secure channel to discuss sensitive matters with high level officials may not have been systematic, as Mrs. Clinton’s was. (Obama’s disturbing use of an alias, however, suggests that Clinton was not the only one he was privately e-mailing.) Nevertheless, the fact that the president was e-mailing Clinton means he not only participated in her misconduct but also that the Obama-Clinton e-mails would have been admissible evidence in any criminal trial of Clinton. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||October 4th 2016|
Virginia, a key battleground state in the coming presidential election, has at least 1,046 illegal alien voters registered to go to the polls this November. These illegally registered voters are found in eight different districts in Virginia. Even while it is a felony to commit fraud in voter registration, there is no requirement for positive identification or proof of citizenship.
Virginia joins other states where the integrity of the voting process has been brought into question. A recent study by the Public Interest Foundation (PILF), in cooperation with Virginia Voters Alliance (VVA), suggests that as many as 1,046 illegal alien voters may be registered to vote in as many as six voting districts among the 833 in the Old Dominion state. Entitled “Alien Invasion in Virginia,” the study has led the president of the watchdog group to conclude that Virginia officials are unconcerned by the number of ineligible foreigners who are registered to vote. J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Foundation, also suggested that Virginia officials are actually covering up the practice. Read more ..
The Toxic Edge
|R. Jeffrey Smith and Patrick Malone||September 27th 2016|
Center for Public Integrity
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Public, academic and private laboratories that work with deadly diseases have mistakenly transferred highly contagious viruses and bacteria to unsecure locations at least twenty-one times in the past 13 years, a frequency more than double what the officials overseeing such work previously said their data showed, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
In each case, the scientists and officials involved wrongly concluded that the deadly pathogens had been inactivated and thus were safe to transport elsewhere. One of the incidents, involving mistaken shipments by a Defense Department laboratory of live anthrax bacteria, attracted wide notice in 2015. But the GAO report said key government agencies have been slow to fix managerial and policy lapses that contributed to that event and might provoke additional errors.
|Gordon N. Bardos||September 18th 2016|
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The individuals involved with the January and the November 2015 attacks in Paris, the June 2016 attack at Atatűrk International Airport in Istanbul, and the July 2016 Ansbach suicide-bombing in Germany had one thing in common; all spent time in or transited through the Balkans in the preceding period.
None of this is surprising. Already in May 2007, an American observer of Balkan Islam had noted that “a visitor to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia encountered unmistakable evidence that extremist intruders are opening a Balkan front in the global jihad.” In January 2010 Israeli officials warned that the Balkan region “is global jihad’s next destination for creating an infrastructure and recruiting activists.”
The Digital Age
|Julien Happich||September 6th 2016|
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It is commonplace for car makers to allow the integration of trusted third-party apps with the IVI systems via smartphones, typically through a pair of apps, one that executes on the smartphone and one that executes on the IVI itself connected to the vehicle’s CAN bus.
"To what extent are these apps, protocols and underlining IVI implementations vulnerable to an attacker who might gain control of a driver’s smartphone?" Asked themselves the researchers led by Damon McCoy, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
|David Albright and Andrea Stricker||September 5th 2016|
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) placed detailed limitations on facets of Iran’s nuclear program that needed to be met by Implementation Day, which took place on January 16, 2016. Most of the conditions were met by Iran. However, we have learned that some nuclear stocks and facilities were not in accordance with JCPOA limits on Implementation Day, but in anticipation the Joint Commission had earlier and secretly exempted them from the JCPOA limits. The exemptions and in one case, a loophole, involved the low enriched uranium (LEU) cap of 300 kilograms (kg), some of the near 20 percent LEU, the heavy water cap, and the number of large hot cells allowed to remain in Iran. One senior knowledgeable official stated that if the Joint Commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the JCPOA by Implementation Day. Read more ..
The Battle for Syria
|Amnesty International||August 18th 2016|
The horrifying experiences of detainees subjected to rampant torture and other ill-treatment in Syrian prisons are laid bare in a damning new report published by Amnesty International today which estimates that 17,723 people have died in custody in Syria since the crisis began in March 2011 – an average rate of more than 300 deaths each month.
‘It breaks the human’: Torture, disease and death in Syria’s prisons documents crimes against humanity committed by government forces. It retraces the experiences of thousands of detainees through the cases of 65 torture survivors who described appalling abuse and inhuman conditions in security branches operated by Syrian intelligence agencies and in Saydnaya Military Prison, on the outskirts of Damascus. Most said they had witnessed prisoners dying in custody and some described being held in cells alongside dead bodies. Read more ..
The Race for Autonomous Cars
|Junko Yoshida||August 4th 2016|
In last year’s hack, which led to Chrysler’s recall for 1.4 million vehicles, Miller and Valasek focused on pulling off “wireless attack” on the Jeep.
The two at that time exploited a Harman “head unit,” which offers a Wi-Fi hot spot — in a 2014 Jeep Cherokee — to get into the vehicle’s network. Later the hackers invaded the car through its cellular connection, via Sprint’s wireless network.
This year, the security experts turned their attention to injecting rogue messages into a vehicle’s CAN bus, which resulted in a full-speed attack on the Jeep’s steering and acceleration.
Instead of getting into the guts of a car wirelessly, Miller and Valasek this year used a laptop directly plugged into the Jeep’s CAN network through a port under its dashboard. They confirmed that they used the patched Jeep for this hacking. Read more ..
The Edge of Games
|Andre Oboler||July 28th 2016|
Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game which launched a week ago. Augmented reality games involve the use of technology to map aspects of the game onto the real world. The technology could involve complicated and expensive headsets and body suits, special mats or controllers, or could be as simply as your mobile phone. Pokemon Go uses your mobile phone to show you the real world, with the addition of game elements such as Pokemon which you can interact with. Concerns have been raised about the way the game interfaces with the real world. Some integrations between the virtual world and the game are dangerous, some are offensive and some are disruptive to the operation of government, businesses and private citizens. Read more ..
Confronting the Holocaust
Times of Israel
In recent years, some in the African-American community have expressed a disconnect to Holocaust topics, seeing the genocide of Jews as someone else's nightmare. After all, African-Americans are still struggling to achieve general recognition of the barbarity of the Middle Passage, the inhumanity of slavery, the oppression of Jim Crow, and the battle for modern civil rights. For many in that community, the murder of six million Jews and millions of other Europeans happened to other minorities in a faraway place where they had no involvement. Read more ..
Jewry on Edge
|Edwin Black||August 31st 2015|
On February 17, 2015, a number of Americaâ€™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 â€œshadowy.â€ 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 â€œthe practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence,â€ 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 ..
Justice on Edge
|Edwin Black||August 5th 2015|
Times of Israel
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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 Pollardâ€™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 â€” he will be paroled on November 20 â€” "the nagging questions linger," says Black today. "Jonathan Pollard has spent thirty years in prison â€“ 3 times longer than more egregious offenders.â€ This article â€” unedited from the 2002 original â€” 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 chamberâ€™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 Americaâ€™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
|Allan Holmes and Chris Zubak-Skees||June 9th 2015|
Center for Public Integrity
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More than a quarter of Americans cannot go online at home to check their childrenâ€™s grades at school, apply for jobs, pay bills or research health issues. They donâ€™t have what has become a crucial service for participation in modern society: Internet service at home.
The proportion of households with Internet service had been rising steadily for decades, according to the Pew Research Center, until the past few years when the adoption rate slowed.
One reason? The high cost of broadband and the lack of competition that leads to those high prices.
A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Internet prices in five U.S. cities and five comparable French cities found that prices in the U.S. were as much as 3 1/2 times higher than those in France for similar service. The analysis shows that consumers in France have a choice between a far greater number of providers â€” seven on average â€” than those in the U.S., where most residents can get service from no more than two companies. The Centerâ€™s analysis echoes the findings of several studies on Internet pricing disparities worldwide.
The Edge of Terrorism
|Yael Factor||April 5th 2015|
Iran has transferred tens of millions of dollars for the reconstruction of the tunnel system that was destroyed by IDF during Operation Protective Edge â€“ the British Sunday Telegraph reported last night. Intelligence sources quoted in the report assess that this cooperation is a sign that the two old allies are putting behind them a rift caused by the conflict in Syria.
The sources told the newspaper that in addition to the funds for the tunnels reconstruction, Teheran is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks, meant to hit cities and communities in Israeli territory.
The Iranian aid to Hamas can be seen at part of its involvement in other conflicts in the Middle East, like the civil war in Syria and the battle over the control of Yemen. â€œIranâ€™s Shiite leaders are trying very hard to increase their influence throughout the region at the expense of the Sunni regimes,â€ a senior Western security official told the newspaper. Read more ..
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees -- the countryâ€™s largest trade union for public employees -- gave more than $65 million last year to politicians, lobbyists and activist groups, according to 2014 federal reports obtained by Watchdog.org.
AFSCME is funded by roughly 1.4 million members and mandatory fees taken from 125,255 nonmembers. Critics argue AFSCME gets its revenue from taxpayers so its donations are essentially indirect support for Democratic politicians, political activist groups and bigger government. AFSCMEâ€™s 2014 report to the Labor Department showed $64,585,115 in Political Activities and Lobbying spending.
The union also reported more than $1 million in donations to political nonprofits as Contributions, Gifts and Grants, with $126,500 going to MSNBC host Al Sharptonâ€™s National Action Network. Read more ..
Financing the Flames
|Edwin Black||March 12th 2015|
The controversial New Israel Fund and its social change and political lobbying organization known as SHATIL, have received more than $1 million from the State Department under a program designed to create political change, reform, and activism in the Middle East. The government program, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), has extended more than $600 million in grants to political and social activists and reformers in 18 Middle East countries, mainly with unstable or challenged political environments in need of democratic improvement. â€œMEPI supports organizations and individuals in their efforts to promote political, economic, and social reform in the Middle East and North Africa,â€ according to the agency's official self-description.
The list of nations in which MEPI operates includes such countries as Algeria, Libya, Lebanon, and Yemen.
However, MEPIâ€™s sphere of engagement includes Israel â€” ironically the only pluralistic, stable, and democratic nation in the Mideast. Among the leading recipients for MEPI grants in Israel is the New Israel Fund and its SHATIL organization. The NIF is an international, US-based 501(c)(3) charitable organization which has generated intense acrimony within the Jewish community and Israeli establishment for its highly politicized activities.
While MEPIâ€™s involvement with the New Israel Fund has been previously reported in print and online, the million-dollar nature of the partnership has not emerged until now.
Vocal critics in both the US and Israel charge that the New Israel Fund has knowingly financed groups that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, and worked to get Israeli soldiers prosecuted for so-called "war crimes." Benny Yanay of an Israeli military organization called Consensus, representing some 3,000 members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), stated, "The New Israel Fund acts against Israelâ€”against the soldiers of our country. It is supported by foreign governments and organizations so that Israeli soldiers will be weakened." Other Israel military men and women have alleged that the NIF is trying to "destabilize the IDF." Read more ..
Financing the Flames
|Edwin Black||February 7th 2015|
Times of Israel
Congressional legislators were astonished last year to learn that the Palestinian Authority was issuing monthly payouts totaling $3-7 million as salaries and other financial rewards to specific terrorists and their families. The money was channeled, in part, through the Ministry of Prisoners pursuant to the Law of the Prisoner. The law set forth a graduated scale, pegging monthly salaries to the length of Israeli jail sentences, which generally reflects the severity of the crime and the number of people killed and/or injured.
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Thousands of documents, newly obtained by this reporter through a lawsuit to unseal court-protected files, demonstrate that these payouts are not blind automated payments. Rather, senior Palestinian Authority officials as high as President Mahmoud Abbas scrutinize the details of each case, the specific carnage caused, and the personal details of each terrorist act before approving salaries and awarding honorary ranks in either the PA government or the military. Ministry of Prisoners spokesman Amr Nasser has explained, â€œWe are very proud of this program and we have nothing to hide.â€ Nonetheless, in response to the international furor, the Palestinian Authority announced it would replace the Ministry of Prisoners with an outside PLO commission known as the Higher National Commission for Prisoners and Detainees Affairs.
The PA is dependent upon foreign donor countries to supply much of its budget, which now exceeds $4.2 billion annually. About ten percent of the PA budget, more than $400 million, is contributed annually by United States foreign aid. The US and many other countries have enacted laws forbidding any payments when the monies directly or indirectly support or encourage terrorism. The interdepartmental bureaucratic notations the Palestinian Authority has recorded on each terrorist before approving the level of salaried compensation is extensive. For example, one prominent case involved Ahmad Talab Mustafa Barghouti, who personally coordinated numerous terrorist acts. These included a January 2002 shooting spree on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, killing two and wounding 37; a March 2002 shooting spree at a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing three and wounding 31; and finally a March 27, 2002 attempt to smuggle an explosive suicide belt in an ambulance. The Israel Defense Forces arrested Ahmad. On July 30, 2002, a military court concluded that he was responsible for murdering 12 Israelis, and Barghouti was sentenced to 13 life sentences. Read more ..
The Race for Nuclear
|Julia Harte||December 18th 2014|
Center for Public Integrity
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When nuclear engineer Donna Busche was fired in February from her job managing safety at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state, she complained that it was a reprisal for her repeated warnings that the government and its contractors were ignoring serious safety risks there.
Energy Department inspector general Gregory Friedman took the allegations seriously enough to open an investigation after the department asked him to in March. But on Monday, his office announced in an exceptionally brief report that it had been blocked from conducting its work by the refusal of primary Hanford contractor Bechtel National Inc., as well as Bechtel subcontractor and Busche’s employer, URS Energy and Construction Inc., to turn over 4,540 documents.
Those documents included emails that referenced Ms. Busche during the period just before her firing, according to Tara Porter, a spokeswoman for the inspector general.
|Marianne L. Bowers||December 15th 2014|
Farm labor positions in the U.S. are often filled by temporary, seasonal and migrant farmworkers, most of whom have roots in Mexico. These workers are neglected by the U.S. government and lack legal protections and basic services including health care.
According to Harald Bauder, academic director of the Ryerson Centre for Immigration and Settlement, they are part of a larger global migration phenomenon that produces labor segmentation whereby the labor market is divided into primary and secondary segments. In the secondary labor market, jobs are unstable and the market lacks enforcement of labor standards. It is evident that farmworkers are laboring in the secondary labor market.
Over the summer, I interviewed 58 farmworkers in El Paso, Texas about their access to health care. The farmworkers surveyed live and work in the U.S.-Mexico border area of West Texas and Southern New Mexico. The area studied contains approximately 12,000 farmworkers and, according to the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, the workers in question earn an average of $9,000 per year for a family of four. This is well below the annual income of $23,850, tagged as the poverty level for a family of four in 2014 by the U.S. Health and Human Services. Read more ..
Russia and Ukraine
|Felix Corley||November 4th 2014|
Russia's Federal Migration Service is not extending residence permits for foreign citizens who have been working for Crimean religious communities, leaving Simferopol's Roman Catholic parish without its senior priest, Polish citizen Fr Piotr Rosochacki, who had worked in Crimea for 5 years. All other Catholic priests and nuns will have to leave by the end of 2014. Similarly, almost all Turkish Muslim imams and religious teachers have been forced to leave Crimea.
The Federal Migration Service in Crimea told Forum 18 News Service that only registered religious communities can invite foreign citizens. No Crimean religious communities have registration, and under a Russian law which entered into force on 1 July all religious communities must apply for re-registration by 1 January 2015. There is uncertainty about what will happen to applications from communities under bodies outside Crimea or Russia – including Crimea's Armenian Apostolic, Old Believer, Moscow Patriarchate, Roman Catholic and Kiev Patriarchate parishes. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Jared Wadley||November 1st 2014|
Teens who play sports like football, wrestling, hockey or lacrosse are more likely to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or marijuana than student athletes who play noncontact sports, according to a new University of Michigan study.
The findings show that participation in high-contact sports is associated with substance use during the past 30 days. Meanwhile, participating in noncontact sports, such as tennis, swimming, gymnastics and track, lessened the likelihood of substance use in the past month.
"Competitive sports participation can either inhibit or amplify substance use. It just depends upon which type of sport adolescents are involved with," said Philip Veliz, assistant research professor at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. Read more ..
Financing the Flames
|Ben Cohen||October 30th 2014|
The New Israel Fund, the New York-based non-profit which granted nearly $27 million to left-wing and progressive NGOs in Israel according to its latest financial report, is again under scrutiny following revelations of extreme anti-Israel rhetoric by the Executive Director of the Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF,) a body supported financially by the NIF.
A just-released fact sheet from NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog that monitors foreign funding for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, discloses that the Executive Director of the HRDF, Alma Biblash, has described Israel in such inflammatory terms as “racist,” and “murderous.”
Biblash also described Israel as a “temporary Jewish apartheid state.” According to NGO Monitor, “Biblash also supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns and promotes the Palestinian ‘right of return,’ meaning the elimination of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.” Read more ..
|Jonathan Spyer||October 13th 2014|
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*** WARNING: This post contains images which some readers may find disturbing. Caution is advised. Please scroll down to view these images.
The fate of Kobani city now hangs in the balance, as around 9000 fighters of the Islamic State organization close in on the Kurdish held area. The current IS assault on the Kobani enclave was not the first attempt by the jihadis to destroy the Kurdish-controlled area.
The Kobani enclave, most of which is now in the hands of the IS, at one time extended to Tel Abyad in the east, and Jarabulus in the west. It constituted a major hindrance to the desire of the jihadis to maintain free passage for their fighters from Raqqa city up to the Turkish border and westwards towards the front lines in Aleppo province. IS has therefore long sought to destroy it. Prior to the current campaign, the most serious (but unsuccessful) attempt to conquer Kobani came in July 2014, shortly following the dramatic IS advance into Iraq.
The Toxic Edge
|David Hasemyer and Zahra Hirji||October 3rd 2014|
Center for Public Integrity
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School Superintendent Kevin Wilson tugged at his oversized belt buckle and gestured toward a field less than a mile from Nordheim School, where 180 children attend kindergarten through 12th grade. A commercial waste facility that will receive millions of barrels of toxic sludge from oil and gas production for disposal in enormous open-air pits is taking shape there , and Wilson worries that the ever-present Texas wind will carry traces of dangerous chemicals, including benzene, to the school.
“Many of these students live outside of where they could be exposed,” said Wilson, a contemplative man with a soft Texas accent. “But we are busing them to the school, putting them in the direct path of something that could be harmful to them. It makes you think: Are we doing what’s best for the students?”
|Douglas Birch||September 1st 2014|
Center for Public Integrity
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Never mind that the vehicle is a boxy, lumbering, second-hand set of wheels with a top speed of just 60 mph. To some of the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. M1117, aka the Guardian Armored Security Vehicle, has become their favorite ride. Or so says Jeremy Binnie , editor of Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor, who has monitored propaganda sites for reports of jihadis toting, towing or tooling around in some of the millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.- and other foreign-built military equipment that ISIS captured after it swept into northern Iraq in early June.
A promotional video by the manufacturer, Textron Marine and Land Systems, touts the four-wheel-drive, amphibious vehicle as “survivable,” due to its armor, and “lethal,” with its mounted grenade launcher and heavy machine gun. The vehicles, which can cost more than $600,000 each, are everything, apparently, that the modern militant could ask for.
The Defense Edge
|Douglas Birch||August 11th 2014|
Center for Public Integrity
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James E. Doyle’s ordeal with Washington began one morning in early February last year, when his supervisor stopped by his desk at Los Alamos National Laboratory and told him that senior managers wanted copies of all his publications.
The 55-year-old political scientist asked the reason for the request, and he eventually was told that someone at the House Armed Services Committee wanted to see the publications. But Doyle said officials refused to tell him who it was or why.
Later that day at the lab’s New Mexico campus, he said, two members of a Security Inquiries Team abruptly arrived with a special, silver-colored briefcase for secure documents, and pulled out an article he published a few days earlier on the website of a London nonprofit group. They claimed that the article, an impassioned critique of the political theories undergirding the nuclear arms race and a defense of President Obama’s embrace of a nuclear weapons-free future, contained classified information.
The Edge of Medical
|Clare Hogan||July 26th 2014|
Developed nations have a long history of exploiting indigenous populations for their own personal benefit. Whereas the ill treatment was once centered on acquiring land and natural resources, the latest developments suggest a new form of abuse: biopiracy. News of the exploitation of an Ecuadorian indigenous group at the hands of a coalition of American-based organizations has recently come to light. Though the intricate details have yet to be fully divulged, it was discovered that U.S.-based Coriell Medical Institute and Harvard University colluded with oil-drilling company Maxus Energy Corporation in the drawing of thousands of blood samples from the native Huaorani tribe in Ecuador.
The real depravity of this issue lies in the way in which the medical samples were obtained. Fewer than 20 percent of the participants signed an authorization for the procedure, and all were further under the impression that their blood was being extracted to conduct personal medical examinations. However, tribe members never received any results. Instead, these DNA samples were sold to medical labs in eight different countries, including the Harvard University Medical School in the United States, generating profits for the Coriell Institute. Read more ..
|Richard D Wolff||July 4th 2014|
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General Motors recently released the report it commissioned from the huge Jenner & Block law firm. The latter's chairman, Anton Valukas, investigated how and why GM failed - for over 10 years - to recall cars it produced while knowing they had defective ignition switches. The eventual recall of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalt cars in February, 2014, followed 13 deaths GM linked to those defective switches (many others were injured, and government officials believe there were more fatalities).
GM's chief executive, Mary Barra, admitted publicly this April what Valukas wrote in his report: GM failed systematically to identify, take responsibility for, and act properly in the face of life-threatening defects in millions of automobiles it sold since 2002. On June 16, 2014, GM recalled an additional 3.16 million defective vehicles across seven of its models. GM's total recalls in North America so far this year exceed 20 million vehicles.
America on Edge
|Cherise Charleswell||July 4th 2014|
Before one even begins to discuss the root causes of rape-- the personal motivations, the sociocultural beliefs and practices that may attribute to the act; one has to realize and acknowledge that rape is a brutal act of violence. Rape, which can be defined as, penetration no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without consent of the victim (Per the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program), can affect victims for many years after initial contact, and after any physical wounds have healed. Many rape victims subsequently have to cope with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder referred to as post traumatic rape syndrome; and the hallmark of this disorder is that it is psychological reaction to being exposed to an event (a brutal act of sexual violence) which is outside the range of normal human experience. The assault and trauma impacts the brain in such a way that it often leave victim's with impaired verbal skills, short term memory loss, memory fragmentation, and delayed recall,
which exemplifies why rape victims have a great difficulty functioning and responding to a line of questioning in a courtroom setting. The following symptoms are often present in Rape Trauma Syndrome
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Center for Public Integrity
Americans for Common Cents was created in 1990 to “inform and educate policymakers, consumers, and the media about the penny’s economic, cultural and historical significance.”
Members sought to rally support behind the penny in response to those who would prefer that it be done away with. Its “executive director,” Mark Weller, spoke before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology in 2012.
He described the group as “broad-based and comprised of, and endorsed by, many of the nation’s leading coin and numismatic organizations, charitable organizations … and companies involved in the manufacturing and transport of the penny.” Read more ..
|Reity O'Brien||June 21st 2014|
Center for Public Integrity
Between legalizing gay marriage and sparring over campaign finance limits, the U.S. Supreme Court kept busy — and made money — outside the marbled halls of One First Street last year.
All but one of the nine high court justices earned teaching income or book royalties in 2013, hauling in a quarter of a million dollars for their work shaping young legal minds in the classroom or through the written word.
Top earner Justice Antonin Scalia raked in more than $100,000 in book royalties for his 2012 tome "Reading Law: Interpretation of Legal Texts" and teaching wages from Southern Methodist University, Duke University, Tufts University and Pennsylvania State University, according to new financial disclosure reports just released . Read more ..
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