|Daniel Pipes||March 23rd 2017|
Oman, where I have spent the past week, is an Arab country unlike any other. Count the ways. Islam has three main branches: Sunni (about 90 percent of all Muslims), Shiite (about 9 percent) and Ibadi (about 0.2 percent). Oman has the only Ibadi-majority population in the world. Being a tiny minority in the larger Muslim context, rulers of Oman have historically kept away from Middle Eastern issues. Part of the country was isolated mountainous desert terrain, part was focused on the seas, especially on India and on East Africa. For two centuries, the Omani empire competed with the Europeans for control of the Indian Ocean; indeed, Oman ruled the African island of Zanzibar until 1964, making it the only non-European state to control African territory. Read more ..
Europe and Turkey
|Burak Bekdil||March 17th 2017|
Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal that would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. But Turkey is not like any other European country that joined or will join the EU: The Turks' choice of a leader, in office since 2002, too visibly makes this country the odd one out.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now campaigning to broaden his constitutional powers, which would make him head of state, head of government and head of the ruling party -- all at the same time -- is inherently autocratic and anti-Western. He seems to view himself as a great Muslim leader fighting armies of infidel crusaders. This image with which he portrays himself finds powerful echoes among millions of conservative Turks and [Sunni] Islamists across the Middle East. That, among other excesses in the Turkish style, makes Turkey totally incompatible with Europe in political culture. Read more ..
Palestinians on Edge
|Itamar Marcus and Yocheved T. Kolchin||March 14th 2017|
Palestinian women's rights groups are demanding the revocation of an article of Palestinian Authority law that they say allows criminals to get away with murder. According to Article 99 of Penal Law No. 16 of 1960, the family of a murder victim is permitted to "waive its personal right" to justice and forgive the crime. In such cases, the length and severity of punishment is significantly reduced.
However, given that the vast majority of violence against Palestinian women is domestic, the family of the murder victim is often the family of the murderer as well. Thus, the Palestinian Director of the Women's Courts Project in the TAM organization Victoria Shukri explained, "In 95% of the murders of women in Palestine, the [victim's] personal right is waived." Read more ..
The Anthropological Edge
|Annalee Newitz||March 9th 2017|
There are two central mysteries about human history in Australia. First, when did people arrive on the world's southernmost inhabitable continent? And second, how did they colonize it? A paper in Nature offers new answers, based on an extensive analysis of decades-old DNA.
The Edge of Film
|Penelope Poulou||February 10th 2017|
The 89th Academy Awards are upon us, and critics and Hollywood insiders are placing bets on which nominees will go home with the coveted statuette. The idea of the Academy is to judge films on their artistic merit, but as always, political considerations and even current events can have an impact on who wins an Oscar.
Damien Chazelle’s nostalgic musical La La Land may be the big winner this year. The film offers a tribute to Hollywood musicals, has great cinematography, good music and a tear-jerking story; but, some critics question if the film really deserves all of its 14 nominations. That number has been equaled by only two other movies throughout Hollywood history: the 1950s drama All About Eve starring Bette Davis, and James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic.
Ads, money influence Oscars
Giovanna Chesler, director of the Film and Video Studies program at George Mason University in Virginia, says that as in any other campaign, robust advertising and a large amount of money can have as much influence as artistic merit in securing a film’s road to the Oscars.
She says that in some categories, such as the Documentary category, filmmakers have to submit a $50,000 fee just to be considered for a nomination. She says such fees guarantee screenings of the prospective nominees’ films in core markets during the Oscar season.
A filmmaker herself, Chesler says she has renewed faith in the Oscars because, as she puts it, “in this year’s nominees you see more talent reflected, not just the marketing ability of the industry.”
Oscars less white
There are more nominations for minority films and actors. She points to art films like Moonlight, a coming-of-age drama about an African-American boy growing up in a drug-infested community, and Denzel Washington’s movie adaptation of the play Fences, about a struggling husband and father who, despite his personal flaws, is working hard to make his mark in the world. Read more ..
The War Against Christianity
|Sam Orez||January 29th 2017|
from HR Voices
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Five Coptic Christians have been brutally murdered and had their throats slashed in four different incidents in Egypt over a two-week timespan, a persecution watchdog group reports. As it has been reported that four Coptic Christians have been murdered during the first two weeks of 2017, the body of a fifth slain Copt was found last Monday.
According to World Watch Monitor, the body of 37-year-old married father of two, Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan, was discovered in his Cairo residence by his brother on Jan. 16. Reports indicate that Ishak, who worked at a soda factory in Cairo for the last 13 years, had his throat slashed while he was in an apartment he rented. His wife and other family members live in their permanent residence in a village in Upper Egypt.
Turkey on Edge
|Burak Bekdil||January 25th 2017|
Last year was no doubt an annus horribilis for Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 1,178 people were killed between July 2015 and December 2016 in Turkey's fight with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Bomb attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed another 330 lives. Those numbers exclude 248 people who died during the bloody coup attempt of July 15, as well as 9,500 apparent PKK members who were killed by Turkish security forces. Turkey also claims that it killed 1,800 ISIS members since July 2015. These numbers put the total death toll in Turkey at 13,056, in a span of fewer than 17 months.
Just when most people thought that would be the final death toll for 2016, on December 10, a twin bombing in Istanbul outside a soccer stadium killed at least 38 people, and injured another 136. A week later, a suicide car-bomb in central Turkey killed 13 off-duty soldiers aboard a bus and wounded 56 more. Read more ..
The War Against Christianity
|Martin Barillas||January 20th 2017|
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Nearly 1 million Christians have been murdered for their faith over the last decade, according to research conducted by a think tank affiliated with the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. Additionally, the annual report by Gordon-Conwell's Center for the Study of Global Christianity found that as many as 90,000 Christians were martyred in the last year, or approximately 900,000 or more.
The finding that one Christian every six minutes were killed in 2016 was leaked by Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne in a December 2016 interview. The report on the leak received considerable media attention before the actual release of the annual report. The center asserts that an average of 90,000 Christians have died each year on average from 2005 to 2015.
An email from the organization to supporters read, "In the last week, several news organizations reported on the persecution of Christians around the world and cited our figure of 90,000 Christian martyrs in 2016."
The Race for AI
|Julien Happich||January 11th 2017|
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Initially funded with $27 million from the Knight Foundation; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; the Omidyar Network; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group, the new fund will also seek to advance public understanding of AI.
The MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University will serve as the founding anchor institutions and are expected to reinforce cross-disciplinary work and encourage intersectional peer dialogue and collaboration.
“AI’s rapid development brings along a lot of tough challenges,” explains Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab. “For example, one of the most critical challenges is how do we make sure that the machines we ‘train’ don’t perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society?
The Trump Era
|Dan Levin||January 10th 2017|
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Action Fund is hosting a fly-in with more than 260 Christian leaders from across the country. During their visit, the leaders, representing 49 states, will lobby their Senators in support of pro-Israel legislation and President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel. Two allied organizations, the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition and the Philos Project have joined this effort and are also sending representatives.
Tuesday evening, attendees will gather at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill to hear from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee, David Brog, CUFI’s founding executive director and a member of the group’s Board of Directors, and Gary Bauer, Washington Director of the CUFI Action Fund. Read more ..
The Trump Era
|Justin Baragona||January 5th 2017|
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Tonight, CNN’s Don Lemon gathered a panel to discuss the story of a disturbing Facebook Live video out of Chicago in which a group of young black adults broadcast their torture of a young white mentally disabled man. While holding their victim hostage, they cut his scalp, burned him with cigarettes and kicked him, all while shouting “f*ck Donald Trump! F*ck white people!”
At the beginning of the conversation, Lemon turned to CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Symone Sanders. Stating that he can’t say it’s a hate crime because police are still investigating, he asked the former Bernie Sanders campaign spox her thoughts.
The Robotic Age
|Julien Happich||January 3rd 2017|
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Though, reliable sensor implementation can be difficult on flexible extremities such as finger-like grips. This is what a team of researchers from Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) proposed to address with a novel type of soft waveguide-based light sensors readily embedded into deformable grips.
Their paper "Optoelectronically innervated soft prosthetic hand via stretchable optical waveguides" published in Science Robotics details the fabrication and operation of chemically inert stretchable and flexible optical waveguides made up of an optically transparent core (2dB/cm propagation loss at 860nm) clad into a light blocking elastomer. Once fitted with a LED on one end and a photodiode on the other end, these elastomeric optical waveguides can be monitored for any deformation (stretching, bending, compression) affecting light propagation.
Fabricated using cheap custom molds obtained through 3D printing, the elastomeric optical waveguides unveiled in this paper had an overall square profile of 3mm by side, with an inner core 1mm wide. Several of them could be accommodated within the fingers of a pneumatically-actuated soft prosthetic hand to actually try their sensing capabilities in a real application context.
The Robotic Age
|Nick Statt||December 31st 2016|
Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant behind Apple’s iPhone and numerous other major electronics devices, aims to automate away a vast majority of its human employees, according to a report from DigiTimes. Dai Jia-peng, the general manager of Foxconn’s automation committee, says the company has a three-phase plan in place to automate its Chinese factories using software and in-house robotics units, known as Foxbots.
The first phase of Foxconn’s automation plans involve replacing the work that is either dangerous or involves repetitious labor humans are unwilling to do. The second phase involves improving efficiency by streamlining production lines to reduce the number of excess robots in use. The third and final phase involves automating entire factories, “with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing, and inspection processes,” according to Jia-peng.
The slow and steady march of manufacturing automation has been in place at Foxconn for years. The company said last year that it had set a benchmark of 30 percent automation at its Chinese factories by 2020. The company can now produce around 10,000 Foxbots a year, Jia-peng says, all of which can be used to replace human labor. In March, Foxconn said it had automated away 60,000 jobs at one of its factories. Read more ..
The Trump Era
|Martin Barillas||December 21st 2016|
Despite President-elect Donald Trump’s final victory in the Electoral College, his opponents within and without government are already preparing the ground for opposition over the next four years. Coupled with President Obama’s vow during his final White House press conference that he intends to be vocal after leaving the White House, groups affiliated with him are getting ready for protests on Inauguration Day and political action afterwards.
The Electoral College votes will be formally certified by Congress on January 6. Among those vowing resistance are progressive gadfly Michael Moore, and also Ryan Clayton of Americans Take Action. He was quoted by the Common Dreams website, "This is an uprising—a new resistance starts here today, with the largest 50 state pro-democracy demonstration in American history." He was referring to the protests at state capitals all over the country where protesters greeted members of the Electoral College with shouting and taunts. For weeks, electors endured stalking, death threats, and harassment that neither President Obama nor Hillary Clinton sought to deplore. Read more ..
Jewry on Edge
|Edwin Black ||December 15th 2016|
Susan Abeles’ saga began in 2013 when she took time off to observe the last two days of Passover, just as she had done annually for the past 26 years. During those years, Abeles, an Orthodox Jew, worked for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), mainly as a data specialist. The MWAA is the governmentally-created public body that oversees Reagan National Airport in the District of Columbia and Dulles International Airport in Virginia. In 2013, the MWAA stunned Abeles by suddenly labeling her annual Passover time off as “AWOL” absenteeism. The charge arose not because Abeles failed to notify her supervisors in advance, which she did multiple times in writing, but because the authority disapproved of how she reminded her supervisor, who was also on leave and could not reached. Read more ..
Islam on Edge
|Sam Orez||November 28th 2016|
AFP and agencies
An Indonesian woman screamed in agony Monday as she was caned in Aceh, the latest in a growing number of women to be publicly flogged for breaking the province's strict Islamic laws.
Aceh is the only province in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes sharia law. People can face floggings for a range of offences -- from gambling, to drinking alcohol, to gay sex.
In the latest caning, five people -- two women and three men -- were flogged in front of a cheering crowd at a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.
The 34-year-old woman who yelled in pain had been found guilty of spending time in close proximity with a man who was not her husband in contravention of Aceh's Islamic regulations. Read more ..
Palestinians on Edge
|Sami Rhoub||November 21st 2016|
The New Arab and agencies
The first blocks of an isolation wall were erected around the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon this week, as a plan to build 'security' cordons and watchtowers around Ain al-Hilweh came into effect.
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The security wall forms part of an agreement between Palestinian factions and the authorities in Lebanon in attempt to contain recent confrontations between Palestinians inside the camp and the Lebanese army, Lebanese and Palestinian officials claim.
The isolation wall is set to be completed within the next 15 months, according to a report by Lebanon-based al-Modon news site.
"Four towers will be constructed," Ain al-Hilweh's Hamas official Abu Ahmad Faysal earlier this month told Lebanon's Daily Star.
The Trump Era
|Daniel Pipes||November 11th 2016|
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) successfully presents itself to the media as a benign civil rights organization, comparable to the NAACP or the ADL, a description that conservatives ineffectively rail against. In this light, perhaps a tweet sent out just after midnight EST on Nov. 9 by Hussam Ayloush, long-time head of CAIR's Los Angeles office, will help awaken the press to CAIR's true Islamist identity.
Ok, repeat after me:
Al-Shaab yureed isqat al-nizaam.
(Arab Spring chant)
That second line is Arabic ("الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام") for "The people wants to bring down the regime."
In other words, Ayloush unambiguously and directly called for the overthrow of the U.S. government.
Comments: (1) Ayloush may be the most vicious of the CAIR leaders. So far as I know, for example, he's the only one of them to bandy about the term "Zionazi," as evidenced in his e-mail below, dated March 18, 2002.
(2) Ayloush is not a marginal figure but someone with access to the heights of American power, including the White House.
According to an Investigative Project on Terrorism analysis in 2012, he
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was a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. [and] ... attended at least two White House meetings. The logs show Ayloush met with Paul Monteiro, associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement on July 8, 2011 and Amanda Brown, assistant to the White House director of political affairs Patrick Gaspard, on June 6, 2009. According to reliable sources, Monteiro was White House liaison for secret contacts with CAIR, especially with Ayloush.
Media on Edge
|Barney Breen-Portnoy||November 7th 2016|
A major international news agency falsely blamed Israel for water supply issues in a Bethlehem-area Palestinian village in an article published earlier this week, a US-based media watchdog group exposed on Thursday.
The Reuters piece in question alleged that Mekorot — Israel’s national water company — was “responsible for supplying water to Palestinians” in the West Bank. Furthermore, the article highlighted claims by Al Jab’a village residents that the Mekorot system “supplies water only intermittently and at low pressure” and their fears that their community’s illegally-built reservoir could be demolished by Israel.
This, the HonestReporting watchdog group said on Thursday, painted an inaccurate picture of the true water situation in the West Bank. HonestReporting cited a March 2016 NGO Monitor report, which noted that — according to the 1995 Oslo II Agreement — the Palestinians are “free to build any and all components of the water and sanitation sector, subject to the approval of the JWC [Joint Water Committee.] Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Bill Schweber ||November 4th 2016|
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Funai, the last manufacture of video cassette recorders – better known as VCRs – decided to end production at the end of August, reportedly due to difficulty of obtaining key components (see here and here for two reports with some numbers).
Let's be honest: we knew this amazing product would get its "end of life" notice sooner rather than later, as digitally based recording has taken over, and fewer and fewer VCRs are in use. I'll admit it: I still have a VCR and use it with my CRT display and digital-TV over-the-air converter box; you might call it a modest way of walking the walk and living a more-analog life.
My intention here is not to lament the VCR's passing, as its time had truly come and gone; such is progress.
|Barney Breen-Portnoy||November 3rd 2016|
A Donald Trump administration would ask the Justice Department to investigate coordinated attempts to intimidate Israel-supporters on US campuses, a senior adviser to the Republican presidential candidate revealed to The Algemeiner on Monday in a new policy announcement.
“Colleges are generally being far too lenient in allowing the pro-Palestinian community to deprive those in the pro-Israel camp of their First Amendment right to free speech,” said attorney David Friedman — with whom Trump regularly consults on matters related to the Jewish state. “This is a serious constitutional deprivation, so it is something that must be looked at.” Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Larry Greenemeier||November 2nd 2016|
With this year’s approaching holiday gift season the rapidly growing “Internet of Things” or IoT—which was exploited to help shut down parts of the Web this past Friday—is about to get a lot bigger, and fast. Christmas and Hanukkah wish lists are sure to be filled with smartwatches, fitness trackers, home-monitoring cameras and other wi-fi–connected gadgets that connect to the internet to upload photos, videos and workout details to the cloud. Unfortunately these devices are also vulnerable to viruses and other malicious software (malware) that can be used to turn them into virtual weapons without their owners’ consent or knowledge.
The recent distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks—in which tens of millions of hacked devices were exploited to jam and take down internet computer servers—is an ominous sign for the Internet of Things. A DDoS is a cyber attack in which large numbers of devices are programmed to request access to the same Web site at the same time, creating data traffic bottlenecks that cut off access to the site. In this case the still-unknown attackers used malware known as “Mirai” to hack into devices whose passwords they could guess, because the owners either could not or did not change the devices’ default passwords. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Patrick Dunleavy||October 29th 2016|
The latest attempt by Western democracies to deal with the ever-growing threat of Islamic radicalization in the prison system has been deemed an utter failure. French officials announced Tuesday that they would no longer isolate inmates with jihadists tendencies from other inmates, or offer therapeutic services or specialized counseling aimed at de-radicalizing Islamic terrorists already in prison.
They found that the program actually increased the threat of radicalizing inmates into terrorists rather than diminishing it. Read more ..
|Rachel Bracker||October 25th 2016|
The Israeli-American Council (IAC) announced that its 2017 Celebrate Israel Festival will prominently feature the historic connection of the Jewish people to its holiest city and spiritual center, Jerusalem, following the Oct. 18 UNESCO decision that denies the ancient Jewish ties to the Kotel and other Jewish holy sites.
“UNESCO’s resolution is completely divorced from reality, denying the 4,000-year connection between the Jewish people and our capital in Jerusalem,” said IAC CEO Shoham Nicolet. “In the face of the lies supported by institutions like UNESCO, the Israeli-American Council will continue to safeguard the truth.” Read more ..
The Digital Edge
|Julien Happich||October 17th 2016|
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The company has developed radar sensors that can be attached on existing street lamp poles and register movement at distance up to 150 meters for pedestrians and up to 300m for car-sized vehicles. An empty street could be dimmed to only 10% of lighting, and upon presence detection, the ZigBee-enabled radar sensors can send the location of the detected object to nearby street lamps, so those lamps closest to the object can be lit up progressively in a sliding fashion, following the motion of the detected person or car.
Christianity on Edge
|Raymond Ibrahim||October 15th 2016|
The nation of Hungary recently did something that is as unprecedented as it is commonsensical and humanitarian: it "has become the first government to open an office specifically to address the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Europe."
Zoltan Balog, Hungary's Minister for Human Resources, explained:
Today, Christianity has become the most persecuted religion, where out of five people killed [for] religious reasons, four of them are Christians. In 81 countries around the world, Christians are persecuted, and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies.
"Followers of radical religious ideologies" is of course code for Muslims—they who are responsible for the overwhelming majority of Christian persecution in the world. Read more ..
Israel and Palestinians
|Ben Dror Yemini ||October 13th 2016|
A severe disease has stricken the institutes of knowledge, media, and academia in Israel. It's the disease of narrative thinking. There is no longer and truth, no historic facts. We are living in a new world. Instead of serious research aimed at finding the truth, the world now sees reality through different stories, with each community, group, people, and country having its own.
Case in point, the claims made by MK Ayman Odeh (leader of the Joint List party) following the death of former president Shimon Peres. According to Odeh, the "Palestinians of 1948" (how Israeli-Arabs define themselves), who experienced the "Nakba," are victims of the Zionist enterprise, of which Peres is a main representative. So why should the victim come to the criminal's funeral? Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||October 12th 2016|
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France’s President Francois Hollande admitted today that Islam is the problem facing the country and warned that the current trend would lead to having a woman in a burka as the national symbol of the French Republic. Undaunted by criticism, he also expressed doubts about the patriotism of French footballers of Middle Eastern ancestry.
The revelations are found in a new book entitled “A President Should Not Say That…”. The book records more than 60 private conversations between Hollande and Le Monde newspaper journalists Gerard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme. The conversations began in 2012, shortly after Hollande’s election, and continue until recently.
Media on Edge
|Matt Dathan||October 7th 2016|
European human rights chiefs have told the British press it must not report when terrorists are Muslim.
The recommendations came as part of a list of 23 meddling demands to Theresa May’s government on how to run the media in an alarming threat to freedom speech.
The report, drawn up by the Council of Europe's human rights watchdog, blamed the recent increase in hate crimes and racism in the UK on the 'worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians', although the research was done before the EU referendum campaign had even begun.
The suggestions sent to Downing Street urging the UK Government to reform criminal law and freedom of the press and in a brutal criticism of the British press, the report recommends ministers 'give more rigorous training' to journalists. Read more ..
The Individual on Edge
|Deborah R. Glasofer and Joanna Steinglass ||October 1st 2016|
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Every day on the dot of noon, Jane* would eat her 150-calorie lunch: nonfat yogurt and a handful of berries. To eat earlier, she felt, would be “gluttonous.” To eat later would disrupt the dinner ritual. Jane's eating initially became more restrictive in adolescence, when she worried about the changes her body was undergoing in the natural course of puberty. When she first settled on her lunchtime foods and routine—using a child-size spoon to “make the yogurt last” and sipping water between each bite—she felt accomplished. Jane enjoyed her friends' compliments about her “incredible willpower.” In behavioral science terms, her actions were goal-directed, motivated by achieving a particular outcome. In relatively short order, she got the result she really wanted: weight loss.
Years later Jane, now in her 30s and a newspaper reporter, continued to eat the same lunch in the same way. Huddled over her desk in the newsroom, she tried to avoid unwanted attention and feared anything that might interfere with the routine. She no longer felt proud of her behavior. Her friends stopped complimenting her “self-control” years ago, when her weight plummeted perilously low. So low that she has had to be hospitalized on more than one occasion.
The Race for Autonomous Cars
|Julien Happich ||September 30th 2016|
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Autonomous Security is an extension to the company’s Carwall ECU security platform, enabling automotive technology providers to achieve the goals set out in the U.S. Department of Transportation's guidelines for the safe deployment of autonomous cars. Cyberattacks can only infiltrate a car by compromising the externally-connected ECUs controlling infotainment, navigation and OBDII telematics dongles, for example. Karamba Security’s Autonomous Security technology allows any car’s ECU to protect itself from this threat by automatically locking it down to the ECU's factory settings.
|Armstrong Williams||September 29th 2016|
It is painful to declare it, yet it is true: at the age of 93, Shimon Peres is gone.
In the coming days, the Jewish state of Israel will grieve the loss of its elder statesman and a man who personified the words made famous by Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism: “If you will it, it is not a dream.”
For Shimon Peres, the dream of re-establishing a state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people came to pass. And until his final days on earth, he was singularly committed to seeking a better future for his nation, and to working toward the goal of peace.
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|TCEN Staff||September 28th 2016|
Algemeiner and agencies
Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres died early Wednesday morning at the age of 93, according to Hebrew media reports.
His condition had deteriorated on Tuesday, two weeks after he suffered a major stroke, and his family was summoned to his side at Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital to say their final goodbyes.
Peres, who also served in a host of other government positions, was most recently the Jewish state’s president from 2007-2014. He emigrated from Poland to Palestine in 1932, before the founding of modern Israel in 1948. He was considered the last of Israel’s founding fathers.
He led the creation of Israel’s defense industry, negotiated key arms deals with France and Germany and was the prime mover behind the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons. But he was consistent in his search for an accommodation with the Arab world, a search that in recent years left him orphaned as Israeli society lost interest, especially after the upheavals of the 2011 Arab Spring led to tumult on its borders. Read more ..
|Jonathan Spyer||September 28th 2016|
Black smoke was rising from the Qayara oilfelds as the refugees huddled in the shade. They had arrived that morning – from ISIS controlled territory a little further west.
These refugees had come from Jahala village. They were Sunni Arabs. They had elected earlier that day to risk an escape from IS territory across the desert – a route ending in certain death if caught by the jihadis. ‘ISIS have set fire to the oil fields,’ one of them told us. ‘The smoke makes it impossible to breathe. 12 or so people every day need the hospital. It’s impossible to stay.’ Read more ..
|Lea Speyer ||September 27th 2016|
Attempts by universities to divest from Israel “should be met with a similar counter response from alumni and donors,” internationally acclaimed attorney Alan Dershowitz told The Algemeiner on Thursday.
In light of growing support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement across college campuses around the world, Dershowitz said, it is time to take a stand against this “dangerous force.”
“The policy will be that in response to any university that divests from Israel, alumni and parents will divest from that university,” he explained. “It is important to fight economic threats with economic counter-threats.”
Recounting his own experience as a parent, Dershowitz said that when he heard about faculty at Hampshire University — the alma mater of one of his children — voting to boycott Israel, “I called up the president and said I would lead a campaign to urge all donors and alumni to divest from the school. He then assured me that Hampshire will never divest from Israel, and it never has.” Read more ..
The Digital Age
|Jean-Pierre Joosting||September 26th 2016|
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However, many companies are leaving open major security flaws in their rush to market, producing products riddled with bugs and unpatched vulnerabilities. Ignoring cybersecurity at the design level provides a wide open door for malicious threat actors to exploit smart home products.
"We see an alarming increase in ransomware in smart TVs and IP cameras, code injection attacks, evidence of zero-day threats, and password eavesdropping for smart locks and connected devices," says Dimitrios Pavlakis, Industry Analyst at ABI Research. "The current state of security in the smart home ecosystem is woefully inadequate. Smart home device vendors need to start implementing cybersecurity mechanisms at the design stage of their products."
India on Edge
|Joseph D'Souza||September 23rd 2016|
Cutting Edge contributor
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Earlier this summer, around mid-July, India introduced a bill to its 1955 Citizenship Act. The bill, if passed, will not only prioritize foreign ethnic and religious minorities for citizenship, but will cut their naturalization wait time from eleven to six years.
"Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan … shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act," reads the proposed amendment to India's Citizenship Act.
This bill is in response to the many minority groups, most with Indian origins, who have emigrated to India because of religious persecution.
Take Pakistan's Christians as an example.
The Edge of Aging
|Martin Barillas||September 15th 2016|
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Yisrael Kristal, at 113 years of age, is not only celebrating a birthday but also a Jewish rite of passage that comes 100 years late. Daughter Shulimath Kristal Kuperstoch expressed her joy, saying “We will bless him, we will dance with him, we will be happy.” The celebration of Kristal’s bar mitzvah – the age-old Jewish ritual that marks a boy’s transition to manhood – will be held in Israel, where Kristal will be joined by 100 family members who are coming from overseas.
Kristal was born on September 15, 1903 in Zarnow, Poland. It was in 1916 that Kristal would have celebrated his transformation into Jewish manhood. But the First World War intervened in his native Poland, delaying the essential ceremony. His father was serving in the Russian army, and his mother had died. But it did not stop him from taking on the duties and responsibilities of manhood. Kristal moved to Lodz in 1920 to work in his family’s candy business. He married at the age of 25 and continued to operate the family business.
Turkey on Edge
|Burak Bekdil||September 4th 2016|
Hürriyet Daily News
Learning by suffering is a bitter scenario, but Turkey often does not even learn after suffering. The Gülenists’ July 15 coup attempt has left behind a fragile country that looks increasingly like a land consisting of large swathes of quagmire, lunatic asylums specializing in paranoia and schizophrenia, and an emerging class of opportunists.
In all probability, crypto Gülenists are likely reporting to the law enforcement authorities non-Gülenists, non-Gülenists are likely reporting non-Gülenists, Gülenists are reporting Gülenists to save their skin with lighter sentences, and all past evil is being blamed on crypto, real, fake, one-time or non-Gülenists. Soon most players in this new Byzantine intrigue will probably get lost in the Turkish quagmire. Read more ..
Egypt on Edge
|Raymond Ibrahim||August 12th 2016|
We often hear about Egypt's Christians being attacked by Muslim mobs. What we rarely hear about is what happens afterwards. Are the culprits imprisoned? Are the victims compensated? Do authorities take measures to help prevent such attacks from happening again?
While the acquainted reader may correctly assume no, the anatomy of what always takes place is of interest.
First, the attack itself is often based on the accusation that some Christian dared overstep his bounds, that is, he broke Islam's supremacist dhimma contract.
Christians trying to build a church, romantically involved with Muslim girls, or insulting Muhammad—all banned according to Islam—are typical violations that prompt large, armed Muslim mobs to attack all the Christians in that village (and their church if one exists) as a form of collective punishment, which is also Islamic. Read more ..
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