Syria has effectively ceased to exist. You now have a situation in which the local regime has very little control or even influence in how even domestic matters are resolved in the country. The foreign powers (Russia, Iran, United States, and others) are now making it clear that no settlement or agreement will be taking place without their involvement and approval. The government takes its orders from Russia and Iran, and the coalition supports the rebel leadership making the current situation the status quo. Syria is now merely a fractured country in which no side can win because of foreign involvements.
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From the Washington Blog comes this timely piece: Manchester Terror Attack Proves that the War On Terror Is Failing. You might think that the 10 steps suggested to finally end the war on terror are “common sense”. However, our politicians are not really interested in following through. We do indeed have the capability and the will to end this nonsense, yet we resuscitate it continuously.
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Reader B.B. sent in this article (a reprint from 2003, but still very relevant) concerning the war on terror. I was struck by this statement: “Peace is the goal of war in civilized countries. To accept a perpetual ‘war on terror’ is to accept a plan for mere ‘management’ rather than a path to victory. And the failure to make a plan for victory is the construction of a plan for defeat.” As this war on terror drags on and on, with no clear path to victory, we edge closer and closer to a war between civilizations.
Reader DSV sent in this link to a paper on the increasing use of ultrasonic beacons and smartphones to collect and use private information. It’s a bit long and technical but well worth the read. A recent study found 234 Android apps that were already using this data without the phone user’s permission to de-anonymize the user’s access to websites and track location data. Google has publicly stated that any app found using this approach without the user’s agreement will be removed. The cat’s out of the bag so to speak. It should be noted that if the device is listening to ultrasonic commands, then the microphone is on. If the microphone is on, it can be used to listen to conversation.
With the recent discussion in the comments of SurvivalBlog on the safety of U.S. nuclear reactors, it’s interesting to note that a published report from Princeton University claims the government used flawed data in their reports on the safety of reactors. The researchers claim that the risks of nuclear-waste fires are considerably greater than estimated. They also claim that the NRC refuses to enact crucial safety measures. This includes the use of dry casks to house contaminated waste. Thanks to H.L. for the link.
H.L. also suggested this article on 7 improvised weapons that could save your life. These are items that you almost always have with you, but you usually don’t think of them as weapons.
The taxpayer-funded University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has turned down an open records request by claiming that it is a law enforcement agency. Initially, they delayed the request but then flat out denied it, attempting to claim law enforcement status. The law in question states that records of criminal investigations conducted by public law enforcement agencies are not public records. Only a competent court can release them. They have yet to state how they are claiming such status.
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Reader D.B. asks if this NYC worker (and head of Manhattan Young Democrats) is a friend of Anthony Weiner? He was apparently arrested on child porn charges involving several thousand images of young girls. Jacob Schwartz was in charge of the hurricane Sandy recovery and resiliency program.