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The Caliphate

Raqqa Liberated From ISIS, Commander With US-Backed Syrian Forces Says

October 17th 2017

ISIS Army

The Syrian city of Raqqa was liberated from ISIS fighters Tuesday, a commander with U.S.-backed Syrian forces said, announcing the "fall of the capital of terrorism."

The loss deprived the terror group of the capital of its so-called caliphate, which has dwindled from a land mass spanning two countries to a sliver of space in Syria.

The last group of Islamic State militants had been holed up Tuesday in a stadium in the Syrian city of Raqqa, their last stand as U.S. backed, Kurdish-led forces closed in around them.

Brig. Gen. Talal Sillo told The Associated Press on Tuesday there were no longer clashes going on in the city, and that a formal declaration would follow befitting "the fall of the capital of terrorism." Read more ..


The Edge of Disaster

Will Italy’s Ominous Supervolcano Erupt Soon?

October 14th 2017

Volcano erupting

Tragedy struck at the Solfatara volcano crater north of Naples a few weeks ago. An 11-year-old boy climbed over a low, wooden fence, ventured onto the chalky moonscape, and fell into an open fissure. His parents frantically tried to pull him out, just as the hollow floor of the crater crumbled, sending them all to their deaths in a gaseous pit of boiling gray mud, as the family’s seven-year-old boy watched in horror. The accident was a freak occurrence, responsible for the only recorded deaths on this crater in centuries. But those hot gases hold an ominous story: Solfatara is part of the massive Phlegrean Fields, a threatening supervolcano experts agree could begin erupting anytime. Read more ..


Historians on Edge

After Michael Marrus Race Comment College Says Offensive Incident Shows Need to Reform

October 9th 2017

U of Toronto Massey College

A student complaint about racially offensive comments made by a retired University of Toronto professor shows the need to consider more formal governance structures and codes of conduct for Massey College students, faculty and visiting researchers, says Hugh Segal, the head of the college.

"Should we evolve as we move to an era where governance is more specific and organized than it has been in the past?" Mr. Segal said. "I think governance sometimes has to change to deal with more complex matters."

Massey is a residential college for graduate students that is affiliated with the University of Toronto, but independently governed. It has long been run by its own governing body and has fewer formal rules and codes of conduct for its members than the university does.

For example, student members have a code of conduct, but faculty or visiting members, called "senior fellows," do not. For the past week, the college has been at the centre of public debate over a comment made by retired history professor Michael Marrus, who resigned as a senior fellow this week.

Read more ..

America on Edge

Democrats Refuse to Honor Las Vegas Shooting Victims

October 6th 2017

Capitol Hill

Three liberal Democrats boycotted the moment of silence on Tuesday at the House of Representatives for the 58 persons who were killed on Sunday evening in Las Vegas. Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Himes (D-CT) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) remained true to their promise made in June 2016 in the aftermath of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting in which a Muslim terrorist killed 49 and injured 58 in Miami. Clark said that such displays of mourning or respect are but "empty gestures."

Moulton tweeted on Tuesday, “As after Orlando, I will NOT be joining my colleagues in a moment of silence on the House Floor that just becomes an excuse for inaction.” Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, says he wants “basic gun reform.” He tweeted a challenge to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “We can do something about this. Most Americans – including gun owners – support common sense action. What about you, Speaker Ryan?” Read more ..


The North Korean Threat

North Korean Ship was seized off Egypt with Weapons Destined for Cairo

October 3rd 2017

Soldiers-marching

Last August, a secret message was passed from Washington to Cairo warning about a mysterious vessel steaming toward the Suez Canal. The bulk freighter named Jie Shun was flying Cambodian colors but had sailed from North Korea, the warning said, with a North Korean crew and an unknown cargo shrouded by heavy tarps.

Armed with this tip, customs agents were waiting when the ship entered Egyptian waters. They swarmed the vessel and discovered, concealed under bins of iron ore, a cache of more than 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades. It was, as a United Nations report later concluded, the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

But who were the rockets for? The Jie Shun’s final secret would take months to resolve and would yield perhaps the biggest surprise of all: The buyers were the Egyptians themselves. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Immigration Raids Yield Arrest Results

September 30th 2017

Border Patrol

In multiple raids in several cities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested nearly 500 persons wanted for immigration violations during a four-day operation that ended on Wednesday. Operation ‘Safe City’ allowed ICE to arrest 498 persons in cities and regions where officers are denied access to jails and prisons by local authorities to interview suspected immigration violators or jurisdictions where ICE detainers are not honored. 

In the so-called “sanctuary” cities and other jurisdictions, ICE targeted foreigners from some 42 different countries who have criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, gang affiliations, immigration fugitives, fugitives who illegally re-entered America after deportation. However, persons who currently benefit from the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA) were not targeted. Read more ..


NFL on Edge

NFL Boycott Declared For Veterans Day Weekend, Tens Of Thousands Vow Support

September 28th 2017

lonely football in stadium

Thousands upset over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem are planning a boycott of the NFL.

Hundreds of NFL players, owners and coaches decided to link arms, take a knee or sit out the anthem completely in Sunday’s games after President Trump repeatedly tweeted about the issue over the weekend. At a rally in Alabama, the president also called a player who kneels during the national anthem a “son of a bitch.” The tweets and comments ignited a firestorm of debate in the media and in the NFL.

Are NFL players' kneeling protests hurting TV ratings and even, perhaps, driving down TV stocks?

The answer is likely to be as hotly contested as an NFL line of scrimmage. NFL ratings are down for the just-started season, just as they were last season, and the stocks of the major networks that have broadcast NFL games are falling, too. President Trump has linked the NFL's ratings, which he called "massively, massively" down, and players kneeling during the anthem, suggesting they were turning fans away. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Bin Laden Heir Breathes New Destructive Energy Into Al Qaeda

September 26th 2017

Osama bin-Laden preaching

Since the start of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has sworn to destroy ISIS, threatening to be "nasty" and to "annihilate" the terrorist group and its leaders by "bombing the s*** out of them."

But is he missing the larger threat?

"We need to start preparing for a big comeback by al-Qaeda" former FBI terrorism expert Ali Soufan told PRI earlier this month. The author of Anatomy of Terror: From The Death of Bin Laden To the Rise of the Islamic State, Soufan is one of many who warn of an Al-Qaeda resurgence, likely to take place under Osama bin Laden's charismatic 28-year-old son, Hamza.

Canadian counterterrorism expert Mubin Shaikh agrees. "The thing that everyone keeps getting wrong about Al Qaeda is because of what AQ's Al Suri said long ago," he wrote in a recent e-mail. "Al Qaeda is a system, a methodology, not a group per se." Indeed, as ISIS loses territory in Syria and Iraq, Al Qaeda's influence and power is growing. Some experts have speculated about a potential ISIS-Al Qaeda merger. Others point to the demise of ISIS as a motivation for Al Qaeda operatives to strengthen their recruiting efforts, and as reason for newly-inspired would-be jihadists to turn to Al Qaeda in its place. Read more ..


Arab Slave Trading

Egyptian Muslims Paid for Every Christian Girl taken Into Slavery in Salafist Network

September 22nd 2017

Coptic Girl

Known only by a pseudonym, “G” is an Egyptian former Muslim who has admitted to abducting Coptic Christian girls and women to be sold as sex slaves to Muslim masters. He said that before leaving Islam behind, he participated in a Salafist Muslim network that has actively targeted Christian girls since the 1970s. G said that the network’s activities are at their peak currently under the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. 

“They keep a close eye on Christians’ houses and monitor everything that’s going on. On that basis, they weave a spider’s web around [the girls],” he said. G added that the network uses subtle techniques to entrap unwitting girls. He explained, “A Muslim boy tells a Christian girl he loves her and wants to convert to Christianity for her,” then after beginning a romantic relationship with the target and deciding to run away together, he said that what the victims don’t know is that they are being kidnapped. “Most of the time they will not marry their kidnapper, but someone else.”

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Iran Quadruples Cash Flow to Hizballah Since Nuclear Deal

September 16th 2017

Iranian Rial Close-Up

Iran has drastically increased financial support for its Lebanese-based terrorist proxy Hizballah since the Iran nuclear deal was signed two years ago, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Iran secured $100 billion in frozen assets and sanction relief in January 2016 as a result of the deal with the United States and European countries. Flush with cash, Iran immediately increased its support for terrorist proxies in the region and nefarious activities worldwide. Hizballah was receiving $200 million from Iran. Now, it's $800 million.

Last month, Hamas terrorist leader Yahya Sinwar admitted that "relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the [Hamas military wing] Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades with money and arms." Iran reportedly provides Hamas with about $60-$70 million.

Both Hizballah and Hamas remain dedicated to Israel's destruction and continue to invest considerable resources to fight the Jewish state. Iran also spends hundreds of millions of dollars for Shi'ite militias in Syria and Iraq, while increasing support for Houthi militants in Yemen.

Read more ..

The Edge of Disaster

Yellowstone Supervolcano May Be Biggest Threat to Earth

September 4th 2017

Lava flow at Krafla

Two weeks ago, we reported that Brian Wilcox, a former member of the NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense, had shared a report on what the Space Agency considered one of the greatest natural threats to human civilization: the Yellowstone "supervolcano."

Following an article published by BBC about super volcanoes last month, a group of NASA researchers got in touch with the media to share a report previously unseen outside the space agency about the threat Yellowstone poses, and what they hypothesize could possibly be done about it.  “I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”

Yellowstone currently leaks about 60 to 70% of its heat into the atmosphere through stream water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks, while the rest of the heat builds up as magma and dissolves into volatile gasses. The heat and pressure will reach the threshold, meaning an explosion is inevitable. Read more ..


Inside Jewry

Hillel at the Crossroads. Part II: How Things Broke Down in Boston

August 30th 2017

Eric Fingerhut
Hillel International CEO Eric Fingerhut

Part 2 of Edwin Black's latest 5-part investigative series, "Hillel at the Crossroads," is based on more than 100 interviews in 4 countries, and the acquisition of many documents and internal emails. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Northeastern University Hillel board chairman Sheldon Goldman is incensed at the treatment that his Hillel chapter has received at the hands of Hillel International, and he lays the blame squarely on the organization’s CEO — Eric Fingerhut.

In an August 18, 2017, email, Goldman insisted that Fingerhut “must be replaced as the leader of Hillel. This cannot be done quick enough, as his character is leaching away whatever moral fiber remains at SIC [Schusterman International Center].” Read more ..


The Harvey Catastrophe

Hurricane Harvey: Why Is It So Extreme?

August 29th 2017

Hurricane Isabel

Hurricane Harvey is drowning southeastern Texas for the fourth day, putting a vast area under feet of water. Experts say Harvey has been stuck longer in one place than any tropical storm in memory. That is just one of the hurricane’s extremes; the storm is off the charts by many measures.

Why did Hurricane Harvey so quickly explode from a Category 1 hurricane to Category 4?
Last Wednesday night, August 23, Harvey was a tropical depression, but after just eight overnight hours it was forming a hurricane eye wall. “That’s remarkably fast,” Masters says. On Friday it rapidly ballooned from a Category 1 hurricane to Category 4. That is because it happened to pass over a region of extremely warm ocean water called an eddy. This spot of hot water was 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the Gulf of Mexico around it, which itself was already 1 to 2 degrees F higher than average, reaching 85 or 86 degrees F in places. The hotter the water, the more energy it drives into a storm. Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed New Orleans in 2005, also mushroomed to Category 4 in a similar fashion because it, too, passed over a hot eddy in the Gulf. Read more ..


The Water's Edge

Robot Ship to Navigate Pacific in 2019

August 28th 2017

Cargo Ship

Bloomberg reports that Japan's largest container shipping company plans to test a remote-controlled vessel across the Pacific Ocean in 2019.

According to reports, shipping company Nippon Yusen (Tokyo, Japan) is planning to conduct the test using a large container ship to travel across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to North America. The ship will have a stand-by crew in case of emergency.

The move is part of a longer-term plan to develop fully autonomous, self-piloting cargo ships. Nippon Yusen has joined with other shippers to make unmanned self-navigating ships a reality by 2025.

Combining artificial intelligence and IoT technologies, the autonomous ships will be designed to not only determine the safest and most fuel-efficient routes, but to recognize on-board malfunctions as well as avoid other vessels. Ship safety has been highlighted recently with incidents involving shipping vessels colliding with U.S. Navy warships.

Read more ..

The Digital Age

Who Really Owns the Internet

August 26th 2017

Vote Buttons

On the night of November 7, 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes’s wife, Lucy, took to her bed with a headache. The returns from the Presidential election were trickling in, and the Hayeses, who had been spending the evening in their parlor, in Columbus, Ohio, were dismayed. Hayes himself remained up until midnight; then he, too, retired, convinced that his Democratic opponent, Samuel J. Tilden, would become the next President.

Hayes had indeed lost the popular vote, by more than two hundred and fifty thousand ballots. And he might have lost the Electoral College as well had it not been for the machinations of journalists working in the shady corners of what’s been called “the Victorian Internet.”

Chief among the plotters was an Ohioan named William Henry Smith. Smith ran the western arm of the Associated Press, and in this way controlled the bulk of the copy that ran in many small-town newspapers. The Western A.P. operated in tight affiliation—some would say collusion—with Western Union, which exercised a near-monopoly over the nation’s telegraph lines. Early in the campaign, Smith decided that he would employ any means necessary to assure a victory for Hayes, who, at the time, was serving a third term as Ohio’s governor.

Read more ..

Significant Lives

Dick Gregory – A Underappreciated Sherpa On The Climb To Economic Freedom

August 21st 2017

Armstrong_Williams

Seldom a month goes by when I do not speak in glowing terms about my business mentor and brother in spirit Dick Gregory. My brother was many things – he was a ruthless social critic who always spoke his mind, he was an outspoken civil rights activist, and he introduced an entire generation to healthy lifestyles through his wildly popular Bahamian Diet. He was an epic conspiracy theorist who could spin yarns out of the most disparate of threads. Many others will recall his countless acts of kindness and candor, of humility and strength, and his amazing sense of humor. But I most fondly remember brother Gregory for getting me started on the road to financial freedom.

As a young man and recent college graduate, I moved to Washington, DC from a rural farm town in South Carolina to work as a presidential appointee in the Department of Agriculture. I really loved my job – it was exciting to be in the midst of the government and having the chance to get involved in issues that directly affected my community back home. My official portfolio APHIS at Ag included working to assist rural farmers, helping them to keep their farms in the face of the decline of small-scale agriculture in the United States. It is an issue I am still passionate about to this day.

But I quickly realized that in moving to Washington which was then, as it is now, one of the most expensive cities in the country – that passion alone doesn’t pay the rent. My government salary of under $25,000 per year in 1982 was just not going to cut it. I was driven by necessity and my father to look for ways to supplement my government salary when I was introduced to Dick Gregory's Bahamian Diet in Baltimore, Md. Read more ..


Media on Edge

UK Terrorism Expert Ridicules CNN Comparison Of Barcelona Carnage To Charlottesville Incident

August 19th 2017

CNN HQ logo

Robin Simcox, a Thatcher Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, dismissed allegations in an appearance on Fox News that the terrorist attack in Spain was a work of a copycat emulation of the incident in Charlottesville VA that resulted in the death of a protester. On Thursday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer appeared to draw parallels between the Charlottesville incident and the attacks in Spain. The latter caused the deaths of 14 innocents, and injured dozens more.

Speaking to show host Tucker Carlson Fox , Simcox said on Thursday: “I find that really hard to believe, really. Jihadists have been carrying out these kinds of attacks way before Charlottesville. This year alone you’ve seen a truck being used in Stockholm and London, and before that you’ve seen Nice and Berlin. So I don’t find that really credible.” Read more ..


Israel and Lebanon

Hezbollah Head Threatens Israel on Second Lebanon War Anniversary

August 16th 2017

Rockets

The Israeli enemy has reached the rock bottom, while we have reached the peak,” claims the head of the Hezbollah terror group.

On the anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah announced to his followers that Israel “fears” the Lebanon-based terror group’s growing power.

Addressing crowds on Sunday in a ceremony marking the 11th anniversary of what Hezbollah calls the “Divine Victory,” the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Nasrallah warned that the cost of an Israeli war on Lebanon would be “very high.” He called on “the Israeli enemy” to consider dismantling the Dimona reactor, which he has threatened to attack in the past. Read more ..


The Edge of Cyber

Iot Devices Becoming 'Cyberweapon Of Choice' For Attackers

August 14th 2017

Shadowy Computer User

A new report from cloud and security solution provider F5 Labs (Seattle, WA) examines how attackers have developed botnets - or "thingbots" - to target IoT devices.

IoT devices, says F5, have become "the cyberweapon delivery system of choice" for attackers building botnets - collections of Internet-connected devices that are infected and controlled by a common type of malware. Botnets can overwhelm systems with traffic with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, steal data, send spam, and allow an attacker access to the device and its connection.

According to the latest report, IoT attack activity grew 280% from the prior six-month period. This included "massive growth" due to the Mirai malware - which turns networked devices running Linux into remotely controlled bots that can then be used as part of a botnet - and subsequent attacks.

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

UK's Flawed Solution to Prison Radicalization – Terrorist Group Therapy

August 11th 2017

Prison bars

While the most positive news in the war on Islamic terrorism has come from military successes against ISIS in Mosul and Syria, the overlooked recent failures by authorities to effectively deal with home grown Islamists is a cause for growing concern.

Whether it is by downplaying the threat or attempting to come up with snappy-sounding strategies to deal with the growing list of suspected terrorists "known to the authorities," the West is struggling to reverse the tide of radicalization, particularly in the prison system. The latest example is the UK's plan to deal with imprisoned Islamic terrorists by creating "separation centers" that would "...have an individualized care and management plan which sets out realistic, achievable targets, while also taking into account the complex, ideological/political nature of some of the risks that need to be targeted." Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran's Space Program Emerges from Dormancy

August 6th 2017

Iran holy missiles

According to a news report citing a U.S. Strategic Command initial assessment, Iran's attempt to place its first operational satellite into orbit on July 27 using a Simorgh space launch vehicle (SLV) experienced catastrophic failure shortly after liftoff. The case marks the first Iranian acknowledgment of launching the heavy SLV, operating from its new permanent launch site, known as the Imam Khomeini National Space Center (IKNSC), located 220 kilometers southeast of Tehran in Semnan province.

Yet this was not, in fact, Iran's first actual attempt to launch a Simorgh -- a rocket unveiled in 2010 and named for a mythical bird. That first effort took place in April 2016, also out of IKNSC, but was kept a secret and described by U.S. intelligence sources as "partly successful" although not intended for satellite orbital insertion. Russian sources indicated differently, claiming it to be a successful suborbital test of the new rocket. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Silicon Valley Censorship

July 29th 2017

google logo

Google's latest project is an application called Perspective, which, as Wired reports, brings the tech company "a step closer to its goal of helping to foster troll-free discussion online, and filtering out the abusive comments that silence vulnerable voices." In other words, Google is teaching computers how to censor.

If Google's plans are not quite Orwellian enough for you, the practical results are rather more frightening. Released in February, Perspective's partners include the New York Times, the Guardian, Wikipedia and the Economist. Google, whose motto is "Do the Right Thing," is aiming its bowdlerism at public comment sections on newspaper websites, but the potential is far broader.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Foxconn Builds $10 billion LCD Factory in Wisconsin

July 28th 2017

Trump2

President Trump has announced that Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. will build an LCD factory at a cost of $10 billion and that could employ 13,000 people in the state of Wisconsin.

President Trump made the announcement alongside Terry Gou, chairman of Hon Hai, at an event in the White House on Wednesday, July 26.  Hon Hai, which trades as Foxconn, is the world's leading contract manufacturer of consumer electronics equipment, such as smartphones and tablet computers.

"Foxconn will invest in southeast Wisconsin while a larger facility is constructed over the coming years. And that facility is currently under negotiation. It will be about the biggest there is anywhere. The company's initial investment of more than $10 billion will create 3,000 jobs – at a minimum – with the potential for up to 13,000 jobs in the very near future," President Trump said.

The initiative was described by Scott Walker, Governer of Wisconsin, as the largest greenfield inward investment in terms of jobs in the history of the United States.

Read more ..

Inside Washington

V.P. Pence Issues Promise about Israel to Christian Zionists

July 27th 2017

Jews pray western wall

At the 12th annual meeting of Christians United for Israel in Washington DC, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the conferees on Monday and gave them assurances that both he and President Donald Trump proudly support Israel. Pence said, "And under President Donald Trump, if the world knows nothing else, the world will know this: America stands with Israel. Now and always."

Revealing that his love for Israel is based in Scripture, the vice president said: "To look at Israel is to see that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob keeps his promises." He went on to say, "Like all of you, my passion for Israel springs from my Christian faith. The songs of the land and the people of Israel were the anthems of my youth. As for me and my house, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all who call her home. It’s really the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply for our most cherished ally."

Read more ..

America on Edge

No Irish Need Apply - Vilified Irish Decades Earlier

July 21st 2017

Stature of Liberty Sunset

In a July 2015 piece for the Oxford Journal of Social History – the same journal where Jensen once published his theories – Rebecca A. Fried, then an eighth-grader at the Sidwell Friends school in Washington, DC, found overwhelming evidence that the NINA signs were very real and very prevalent.

Inspired by her achievement, Bill Fitzpatrick, an IrishCentral reader from Boston, decided to take a deep dive into the history of NINA in Boston. The examples of ads he found, collected in the following video, paint a vivid picture of the discrimination faced by our Irish ancestors just a little over 100 years ago. In some of the advertisements "colored" employees were fine. In other ads it was "No Irish or drunks." In many it was only Protestants who could apply.Fitzpatrick has proven conclusively the signs existed and has added significantly to Fried's great work. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Operation Streamline: Illegal Border Crossers Face Criminal Charges

July 20th 2017

US/Mex Border fence

For the first time, illegal immigrants who are apprehended crossing the border will face criminal charges. While the Trump administration continues to enforce immigration law along the Tucson Sector, illegal border crossers are charged with misdemeanors. They then enter pleas in large groups, go to trial and receive sentences, usually for time already served, within a few minutes.

Until recently, illegal border crossers were merely deported rather than facing criminal prosecution. Federal immigration authorities and the U.S. Attorney’s office call the effort Operation Streamline, which had already been in place in Texas for the last 12 years. While Operation Streamline was previously in effect in the Tucson Sector, it has not been in place several years.

However, the Tucson Sector has already seen the prosecution of 565 first-time offenders with the renewed effort. Trials under Operation Streamline take place in Tucson several times each week. One a recent day, 58 immigrants were tried. Of those, approximately 35 were first-time offenders who were charged with improper entry. The remainder were persons who had been caught crossing the border illegally in the past and were thus charged with illegal re-entry. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Mike Pence and Trent Franks Lead Thousands of Christians at CUFI’s Pro-Israel Event

July 14th 2017

Benjamin Netanyahu

While the Jewish community in some quarters has lately been divided on Israel issues, some 5,000 evangelical Christians will gather in Washington, DC July 17-18 as a granite-like block of support to defend the Jewish State. They will be attending the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) policy conference held each year. Boasting more than 3 million members, CUFI is America’s largest pro-Israel group. A host of political luminaries, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), will appear at this year’s conference, sited in the Washington Convention Center. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu will appear via live satellite feed.

The domestic political importance of CUFI’s zealous members is not lost on anyone in Washington. In response to a question, CUFI founding Executive Director David Brog stated, “CUFI represents a base of voters that helped deliver the White House and both houses of Congress to Republicans. Now our members are coming to town to remind these leaders that Israel is and always has been a top priority for them. We're expecting a warmer welcome -- and greater impact -- than ever before.” Read more ..


Campus Hate

Pro-Israel Group Wins Legal Victory Against BDS at Canadian University

July 13th 2017

Boycott Divest Israel demo

A pro-Israel North American advocacy organization announced on Thursday that it had won a legal victory after an Ontario university’s student association banned it from participating in an event last year, due to its connection with Israel.

The event in question was Social Justice Week, held at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Robert Walker, National Director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, had responded to an open invitation for community groups to participate.

When he was denied entry, Hasbara Fellowships filed legal action with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, citing discrimination. The group demanded a public apology, an invitation back to campus, and $50,000 in damages.

On Thursday, the Student Association released a public apology on its website saying it: “deeply regrets the decision made to deny Mr. Walker and Hasbara the opportunity to participate in Social Justice Week. The SA sincerely apologizes to Mr. Walker and Hasbara. The SA aims to promote healthy debate on campus and rejects discrimination of any kind, including against Israeli students or community members. We welcome Mr. Walker and Hasbara’s participation at a future multicultural event on campus.” Read more ..


The Race for Hyperloop

Futuristic Hyperloop Delivers an Exciting Status Check

July 11th 2017

silver robot

What is Hyperloop?

Hyperloop is on track to be the next great transformation in mass transportation. The concept is simple: a network of on-demand, electrodynamically levitated pods traveling in evacuated tubes at 95% of the speed of sound. The term 'Hyperloop' was first coined in 2012 by technology billionaire and serial entrepreneur, Elon Musk. It is a radically new concept of point-to-point travel at speeds over 700mph, covering the distance between Edinburgh and London in 35 minutes.

How could Hyperloop influence the way that we travel in the future?

The implications of a Hyperloop corridor are immense; intercity commuting becomes comparable to taking the metro, injecting economic stimulus throughout the country and creating a superproductive population. Beyond connecting cities, Hyperloop has the potential to combine separate airports into terminals of an integrated airport network. Read more ..


The Edge of Survillance

With A Single Wiretap Order, US Authorities Listened In On 3.3 Million Phone Calls

July 3rd 2017

Smart phone

US authorities intercepted and recorded millions of phone calls last year under a single wiretap order, authorized as part of a narcotics investigation.

The wiretap order authorized an unknown government agency to carry out real-time intercepts of 3.29 million cell phone conversations over a two-month period at some point during 2016, after the order was applied for in late 2015.

The order was signed to help authorities track 26 individuals suspected of involvement with illegal drug and narcotic-related activities in Pennsylvania.

The wiretap cost the authorities $335,000 to conduct and led to a dozen arrests.

But the authorities noted that the surveillance effort led to no incriminating intercepts, and none of the handful of those arrested have been brought to trial or convicted.

The revelation was buried in the US Courts' annual wiretap report, published earlier this week but largely overlooked.

"The federal wiretap with the most intercepts occurred during a narcotics investigation in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and resulted in the interception of 3,292,385 cell phone conversations or messages over 60 days," said the report. Read more ..


The Edge of Survillance

Hi-Speed Real-Time Face Recognition in a Moving Crowd

June 30th 2017

Eye biometrics

NEC's NeoFace Accelerator is a PCI Express low profile 68.9x167.65mm board that performs super-fast face authentication based on 4K video acquisition and face matching with an existing photo database.

Drawing up to 25W, the board can track multiple persons from a crowd of hundreds of people as they move by in large venues, transit stations or shopping malls.

Intel proudly notes that its technology is what powers the card's face recognition engine. NEC, it says, relies on Intel Arria 10 field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) operating on Intel Xeon processor–based servers to increase the performance of its NeoFace facial recognition engine to a level where an individual can be identified smoothly from a high-resolution image with dozens of faces.

“Facial recognition in a moving crowd requires highly advanced techniques when compared to still images because these cameras are affected by many factors: camera location, image quality and lighting, along with the subject’s size, walking speed and face direction,” explains Tadashige Kadoi, general manager of IoT Platform Development Division, NEC Corporation.

“Intel FPGAs and their parallel processing capability help NEC to enable fast and accurate collection and processing of images from even 4K high-resolution remote cameras.”

Last March, NEC NeoFace was ranked No. 1 in almost all tests by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) specifically for face-in-video evaluation. The NIST tests evaluated the accuracy of the technology in two real-life test scenarios including a test for entry-exit management at an airport passenger gate. It determined whether and how well the engine could recognize people as they walked through an area one at a time without stopping or looking at the camera.

NEC's face recognition technology won first place with a matching accuracy of 99.2 percent. The error rate of 0.8 percent was less than one-fourth of the second place error rate, claims Intel.

In the second test, the technology was asked to detect suspicious individuals at an indoor stadium. This test was conducted with an individual situated far from the camera, with their face direction changing frequently. NEC's face recognition technology won first place with an

NEC's NeoFace Accelerator is a PCI Express low profile 68.9x167.65mm board that performs super-fast face authentication based on 4K video acquisition and face matching with an existing photo database.

Drawing up to 25W, the board can track multiple persons from a crowd of hundreds of people as they move by in large venues, transit stations or shopping malls.

Intel proudly notes that its technology is what powers the card's face recognition engine. NEC, it says, relies on Intel Arria 10 field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) operating on Intel Xeon processor–based servers to increase the performance of its NeoFace facial recognition engine to a level where an individual can be identified smoothly from a high-resolution image with dozens of faces.

“Facial recognition in a moving crowd requires highly advanced techniques when compared to still images because these cameras are affected by many factors: camera location, image quality and lighting, along with the subject’s size, walking speed and face direction,” explains Tadashige Kadoi, general manager of IoT Platform Development Division, NEC Corporation.

“Intel FPGAs and their parallel processing capability help NEC to enable fast and accurate collection and processing of images from even 4K high-resolution remote cameras.”

Last March, NEC NeoFace was ranked No. 1 in almost all tests by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) specifically for face-in-video evaluation. The NIST tests evaluated the accuracy of the technology in two real-life test scenarios including a test for entry-exit management at an airport passenger gate. It determined whether and how well the engine could recognize people as they walked through an area one at a time without stopping or looking at the camera.

NEC's face recognition technology won first place with a matching accuracy of 99.2 percent. The error rate of 0.8 percent was less than one-fourth of the second place error rate, claims Intel.

In the second test, the technology was asked to detect suspicious individuals at an indoor stadium. This test was conducted with an individual situated far from the camera, with their face direction changing frequently. NEC's face recognition technology won first place with an

NEC's NeoFace Accelerator is a PCI Express low profile 68.9x167.65mm board that performs super-fast face authentication based on 4K video acquisition and face matching with an existing photo database.

Drawing up to 25W, the board can track multiple persons from a crowd of hundreds of people as they move by in large venues, transit stations or shopping malls.

Intel proudly notes that its technology is what powers the card's face recognition engine. NEC, it says, relies on Intel Arria 10 field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) operating on Intel Xeon processor–based servers to increase the performance of its NeoFace facial recognition engine to a level where an individual can be identified smoothly from a high-resolution image with dozens of faces. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Fox in the Hen House: Allowing Terrorists to Re-enter Prisons

June 29th 2017

prison cell northern ireland flickr

Recent articles by the IPT and other news organizations have addressed the growing concerns regarding the upcoming release of over a hundred inmates convicted of terrorism related crimes. Experts have spoken on the lack of a bona fide strategy that will address the unique security issues presented when a terrorist is released. The need for post release specialized supervision programs is clear.

The one idea that should not be on the table is to allow them to re-enter prisons to speak with inmates as a religious volunteer. Yet this is exactly what has happened in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) for the last two years.

Edwin Lorenzo Lemmons, also known as Asad al Salaam, is an employee of the Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia. He is licensed in the state as an Islamic clergyman authorized to perform marriages and other religious ceremonies. He has been issued a statewide pass to enter any VADOC facility and speak with inmates. He is currently teaching a class in Arabic for inmates. He is also an ex-offender. While that in itself is not unusual, many ex-offenders, in a desire to give back and help others in similar situations, have successfully done so. This particular ex-offender, Edwin Lorenzo Lemmons, (FBI # 939113RA3), is quite unique. Read more ..


India on Edge

Movement Toward Dalit Emancipation in India Can't Be Halted, Bishop D'Souza Says

June 28th 2017

Dalit Protests

The issue of India's discriminatory Hindu caste system in which hundreds of millions of people are oppressed second-class citizens is now "occupying center space" in India's national politics as two politicians from India's lowest caste have been nominated to be the nation's president.

Bishop Joseph D'Souza, moderating bishop of the Good Shepherd Church of India and president of the All India Christian Council, has praised the fact that two politicians who were born into India's poor and deprived "Dalit" caste will face off in the presidential election in July.

Earlier this month, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, the head of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), nominated Bihar governor and Dalit leader Ram Nath Kovind to be the National Democratic Alliance's presidential candidate. Read more ..


The Urban Edge

Household Water, Sewer Bills Trebly Outpace Inflation

June 27th 2017

Water Supply

Residential water and wastewater bills have steadily increased by 5.7% annually over the past five years, outpacing average annual income growth (5%) and inflation (1.9%) and magnifying the financial challenges facing municipal water utilities. Analysis of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. show combined monthly water and wastewater bills averaging US$91.06, based on standard household consumption by geography, according to a new U.S. Municipal Water and Wastewater Utility Bill Index from Bluefield Research.

With so much focus on water, the impact of sewer charges on household budgets is often overlooked. In 2017, wastewater represented 58% of the total average utility bill for U.S. households. However, the disparity across cities is extreme, with monthly sewer bills ranging from $14.04 in Memphis to a high of $135.57 in Seattle. Similarly, monthly water bills for customers in Memphis averaged $15.96 compared to a high of $92.62 for customers in San Francisco. Read more ..


The Economy on Edge

The Revealed Victims of Seattle's $15 minimum Wage Hike

June 27th 2017

Fast Food Burger

According to a report prepared for the city council of Seattle, the minimum wage hike to $15 per hour has hit the poor of that city hardest. In 2014, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed a measure into law that embraced the $15 minimum wage, which is double the federal minimum of $7.25. The ordinance calls for achieving that level by 2017 for all major employers and by 2019 for small businesses. While the new base rate has satisfied labor organizations such as the Service Employees International Union, the take-home pay of workers has suffered even before the hike has been completed.

University of Washington research shows that take-home pay for low-income workers fell dramatically when the city moved to the $13 mark in 2015. Businesses responded by reducing the number of hours employees work, in order to pay for the increased labor costs. "The lost income associated with the hours reductions exceeds the gain [in hourly rates]," the report says. "The average low-wage employee was paid $1,897 per month. The reduction in hours would cost the average employee $179 per month, while the wage increase would recoup only $54 of this loss, leaving a net loss of $125 per month (6.6%), which is sizable for a low-wage worker." Read more ..


Campus Hate

Prof Durden Complains of 'Public Lynching' for Suspension after Race Rant on TV

June 22nd 2017

Television Array

Following a heated discussion with Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, former Essex County College professor Lisa Durden was suspended from the institution. Two days after the June 6 interview on Carlson’s eponymous Fox News channel show, Durden was told to cancel her classes and report to the human resources department of the New Jersey institution. She received an indefinite suspension.

see the video
https://youtu.be/O52jggCZV54

In response, the leftist Durden told the Newark Star-Ledger, “They did this to humiliate me. Essex County College publicly lynched me in front of my students.” 
 
On Carlson’s show, Durden sought to defend a Memorial Day celebration for blacks only that was organized by Black Lives Matter movement. She dodged Carlson when he asked whether it is appropriate to exclude people based on race. Carlson said, “I thought the whole point of Black Lives Matter, or one of the points, would be to speak out against singling people out on the basis of their race and punishing them for that because you can’t control what your race is, and yet they seem to be doing that, explain that to me.” Read more ..


Campus Hate

San Francisco State University Accused of Pervasive Anti-Semitism in Groundbreaking Federal Lawsuit

June 20th 2017

boycott Israel t-shirt

A group of San Francisco State University students and members of the local Jewish community today filed a lawsuit alleging that SFSU has a long and extensive history of cultivating anti-Semitism and overt discrimination against Jewish students. According to the suit, "SFSU and its administrators have knowingly fostered this discrimination and hostile environment, which has been marked by violent threats to the safety of Jewish students on campus." The plaintiffs are represented by a team of attorneys from The Lawfare Project and the global law firm Winston & Strawn LLP.
 
A copy of the complaint can be found here.
 
The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and also names as defendants the Board of Trustees of the California State University System, SFSU President Leslie Wong and several other University officials and employees, alleges that "Jewish students at SFSU have been so intimidated and ostracized that they are afraid to wear Stars of David or yarmulkes on campus." 
Read more ..

Qatar on Edge

The Other Reason To Isolate Qatar: Its Appalling Human-Rights Record

June 16th 2017

Qatari Skyline

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain have all cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar over allegations of fuelling extremism and terrorism.

It’s true the government in Doha has a long history of supporting various radical Islamist groups and movements across the Middle East. Senior Muslim Brotherhood members, Hamas leaders, and Al Qaeda fixers reside in the country. The Taliban even has an unofficial "embassy" in the capital. Doha has also bankrolled with hundreds of millions radical Islamist opposition groups in Libya and Syria, which has angered its neighbors.

And to Qatar's critics, the billion-dollar hostage deal between the emirate, Iranian security officials and Al Qaeda-linked Syrian rebel groups was further evidence of its role in sponsoring extremists. Read more ..


The Race for Autonomous Cars

Automobile Software Can Now be Updated While Driving

June 15th 2017

Traffic Jam

With the amount of software in today’s cars in the dimension of millions of lines of code, updating vehicle software today is a cumbersome business. Now Continental has created the necessary technology and infrastructure to enable secure software updates over the air, doing away with the need to visit the garage for every update.

With significance for software for the user experience of car buyers updates having dramatically increased over the past decade or so, automotive manufacturers are feverishly working on solutions to establish similar mechanisms for their vehicles. So far, only Tesla dares to update the software of its cars automatically. All others look jealously over the fence, frightened by the prospect of a terrible glitch or, even worse, a cyber attack against the transmission path. Also, updating a vehicle’s software is somewhat more complex than updating a smartphone’s operating system: Up to 100 computers are involved, and since they are all connected, the activities of most of them can have side effects on others. Plus, the number of possible variants and options in a car is much bigger than in a smartphone. And last but not least, no one can afford a failed software update – in a car such a situation would have far more serious consequences than with a smartphone.

Read more ..

The Race for Solar

Proposed Solar Paneled Wall for US-Mexico Border May Become a Reality

June 11th 2017

Sunrise or Sunset

At a recent White House meeting, President Trump told congressional Republicans that his suggestion in terms of construction of the US-Mexico border wall would be to seriously explore the solar paneled option.

The WSJ reported that two lawmakers who attended the meeting told them that Trump said the solar panels could offset the exorbitant costs in erecting such a border wall. This can be effectuated by collecting revenue from the sale of solar power that the panels would generate. Those funds could be earmarked to assist in offsetting the projected multi-billion dollar cost in construction.

The WSJ has also reported that Trump’s idea for the use of solar panels to build a wall separating the US and Mexico came after the Department of Homeland Security issued a solicitation of proposals a few months ago from engineering firms and other construction companies  for their blueprints. Read more ..



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