Archive for February, 2017

Palestinian Women Unite Against Israeli Forces

The resistance in Budrus was characterized and distinguished by a very high level of participation among young women from the town

The resistance in Budrus was characterized and distinguished by a very high level of participation among young women from the town

Showing resistance against Israeli forces has become second nature for the women in Budrus. For over a decade now the women keep each other updated on event in the village including when Israeli forces are approaching. In the most recent event last month women gathered together to prevent the demolition of a home. They place emphasis on non-violence in their protests. The women’s goal is to resist against Israeli occupation and to keep soldiers out of the village. These women are building a new generation of resistance as they have their children join them in their protests. Most events are a spur of the moment, but through word of mouth they always have support from neighbors and friends.  They’re teaching their families that they are stronger than the Israeli forces, and that together they can fight Israeli occupation in the West Bank.


Anti ISIS strategy Predictions

Recommendations for the plan on “obliterating ISIS” were due at the White House today. While the details are unclear, the plan will likely combine political elements, such as targeting sources of revenue, limiting recruiting, and countering propaganda, with a military strategy similar to the Obama administration of supporting local forces rather than doing the fighting for them. It is also predicted that the plan will address the controversial issue of arming Syrian Kurds in the fight to take back Raqqa, thus alienating NATO ally, Turkey. I believe this is a strong policy proposal that recognizes the more nuanced aspects of counter terrorism, given that more information and details comes out that support these predictions. I believe it is the best option for the Trump administration to pursue.



Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group, has forced many people out of their homelands and into neighboring countries seeking asylum. The UN Refugee Agency reported that Cameroon has sent 500 Nigerians back to their home country, including over 300 who applied for asylum. Cameroon, a neighboring country of Nigeria has seen an influx of people feeling Boko Haram. Cameroon has faced a humanitarian crisis, just like many neighboring countries who are housing and feeding those fleeing from countries where Boko Haram is present. Cameroon’s government and aid agencies are facing hardships due how many people have come into the country in search of shelter and safety.

Nigeria, Cameroon, and other neighbors are supposed to meet soon to come up with a plan and task force to put a defeat to Boko Haram. It will be interesting to see what defense plan they come up with and how they will go about solving these humanitarian crises within their borders.


South Korea Gives UN a Call to Action

north korea demilitarized zone

On Monday, South Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yun Byung-se, gave a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council stating the need to criminally pursue North Korea for its violations of human rights. South Korea has been concerned about the mass executions and forced labor that have been taking place in their neighboring country. Describing the human rights violations as “ever worsening”, Byung-se told the forum that several hundred high-level officials had been executed by the North Koreans, including at least five executions in the past couple of days. These officials, coming from the Ministry of State Security, were executed by anti-aircraft guns by Kim Jong Un for unspecified false reports. Yun also stated that up to 120,000 people were imprisoned in North Korean camps, describing the country as a “massive gulag”. This seems to be an issue of human security, as it deals with human rights violations. South Korea believes that an aggravation of this situation could threaten the security of the international community. As a result, the Trump administration must tread lightly when dealing with North Korea. I do believe, however that something must be done by the UN and I side with Yun Byung-se who said that the leadership of North Korea should be held accountable for their actions at the International Criminal Court.



Cyber Crime Global Cost: $450 Billion

a screen viruses list at the LHS (High Security Laboratory) of the INRIA (National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation) in Rennes. Paradise where computer viruses blossom

In an article by CNBC a report by specialist insurer Hiscox revealed that less than half of the businesses in the UK, US, and Germany are prepared to deal with a cyber attack.  The Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2017 where 3000 companies were surveyed across the three counties and the report asses the how able a company can deal with a cyber attack through: strategy, resourcing, technology, and process. The report discovered that 53% of companies that were assessed were not prepared for a cyber attack, while on 30% were deemed experts in cyber readiness. In 2016 cyber crime cost the global economy over $450 billion, with over 2 billion personal records stolen, and over 100 million medical records stolen in the US alone. The act of cyber crime is a danger ti the security of the people in these nations due to the fact that their personal information is being stolen, as well as the global economy falling due to hackers who feed off of others information. It is concerning that only a little over a half of the companies in these three nations have the capabilities to protect their servers from cyber crime which puts the business information as well as personal information that can be used in a detrimental way. The Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2017 should be an awakening that the cyber security strategies need to be updated and addressed, especially because everyday the cyber world is changing, and not only business but the government should be prepared for cyber attacks.


Europol and TRAFFIC join forces to fight environmental crime

Europol and TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network) have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on combating future environmental crime. The two parties hope that by effectively combating wildlife trafficking and illegal resource exploitation that global corruption, terrorism, and drug trafficking can be stopped.

The link between environmental crime and terrorism is tangible. The FARC in Columbia has turned away from manufacturing and selling drugs towards illegally mining and selling gold. The proceeds from these black market sales give the group capital to purchase weapons and equipment. As recently as 2015, the Columbian Armed Forces were routinely raiding FARC operated mines and seizing millions of dollars worth of gold.

I believe the consequences for U.S. foreign policy are immense. Terror groups around the world– including ISIS and potentially Boko Haram– illegally use environmental resources to their advantage. ISIS has built and continues to run its caliphate using oil extracted from oil fields in territory under its control.  The money gained from these sales have served to increase ISIS’ revenue and expand its influence. While ISIS has been on the defensive in recent months and has lost significant amounts of territory, it still remains a very real threat to the United States.

The Trump administration should act on preventing environmental crime immediately. While the threat posed by ISIS is very real, environmental crime is often used by powerful organized crime syndicates, some of which may operate in U.S. metropolitan areas.  This may fuel some of the violence that has occurred in our largest cities. Additionally,  there are worries that Boko Haram may turn to mineral resources, such as blood diamonds, and begin profiting from their lucrative black market trade. If Boko Haram gains capital from these sales, it may allow for an increase in sophisticated equipment or the recruitment of additional members. If the terror group expands, it may pose a threat to the numerous African nations. Trump should include environmental crimes as an integral part of his national security strategy.  The administration could also expand multinational drug and arms smuggling interdiction operations to include environmental crimes.

This article has a shortcoming in that it doesn’t provide any examples for the connection between environmental crimes and terrorism.



U.S. Drone Strike In Syria Killed al-Qaida Leader

On Sunday, a US drone strike in North-West Syria killed Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, the son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden. According to a recent article in the Guardian, Masri was the ideological leader of the al-Qaida in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and the number two in the organization overall. Masri was supposedly in Syria supporting the Nusra front.

The article points to the possible blowback that can occur because of the attack, but also discusses the win it will be for Trump domestically. It is not likely that this will affect the operations of al-Qaida since it is a highly bureaucratized group that has proven pretty resilient to the deaths of leaders. It may, however, cause blowback, which the article mentioned as a possibility. This likely does not pose a large threat to US national security, but it may affect US operations in Syria or Iraq.



Jihadists Use European Welfare Systems to Fund Move

Many European nations are rightfully proud of their expansive social welfare systems that provide allowances to those that are unemployed, disabled, or lack proper housing. However, recent investigations into European nationals who join ISIS found that a number of them used funds distributed by their home governments to fund the travel expenses to reach ISIS territory and was presumably used to support the extremists once there.

The trouble is that these people are not fraudulently gaining benefits, they are entitled to them as citizens or residents of the European nations and it is difficult for the administrations to determine what use the money is going toward.  For example, it took the Swedish welfare agency eight months to discover Michael Skramo, a Swedish citizen, had traveled to Syria and joined ISIS, and then terminate his welfare payments.

The most significant danger is not the accuracy of these reports or the dollar amounts coming from each government, but is the scare factor of this news. To hear that European tax dollars are being used to plot and carry out terror attacks, some of which may well be aimed at European nations itself, is bound to cause fear. However, there is no way the government can logically expect to determine which citizens will later in life turn to terror groups, and so this seems to leave states with only reactionary moves as opposed to proactive planning. Anti-Islamic sentiment is also quite sure to result, often rising hand-in-hand with anti-immigrant rhetoric, shaping political representation and legislation.

Michael Skramo


Climate Crisis Provides Environment for Spread of Disease


As we enjoy unseasonably warm temperatures coming into the early days of March, harmful and deadly pathogens are enjoying the perfect environment in which to thrive and spread, especially across borders.

2015 and 2016 saw a rise of the grisly Zika virus, and scientists are now saying that its pandemic-caliber outbreak was due in part to rising temperatures, which foster easier transfer of disease between human beings, but also animal to human transfer as well. Rising temperatures, humidity and drought alike, are ideal for the habits and survival of organisms that harbor disease. Zika, which in pregnant women can cause microcephaly of the fetus, is not the only disease which prospered due to the climate crisis. The United States has seen an outbreak of the mumps, leading scientists to suggest a third booster shot for individuals already exposed to the disease. The mumps, if left untreated, can cause encephalitis, meningitis, oophoritis and orchitis, and even mastitis.

Our carbon footprint-expanding, “globetrotting” habits are another set of factors to consider when attempting to quell the influx of cross-border disease contamination. As we deal with the refugee crisis and the U.S./Mexico border conflict, human infiltration should not be our only concern: warmth and close-quarters, the breeding of deadly pathogens, should be an additional factor when instituting new precautions and regulations aimed at securing American borders.


More Intelligence Community Criticisms

trump tweet

Trump is at it again, publicly criticizing the F.B.I, and other agencies within the intelligence community, in response to a CNN news report about Trump’s relations with Russia.  This news report stated that a White House official reached out to the F.B.I requesting there be no contact with reporters about the topic. Trump is outraged by unflattering information about him being shared, which will be an ongoing problem between the President and the media. The instances of open criticisms by the President will further add to the tension between the President and other agencies. The bureau has been investigating Trumps relations with Russia and various issues with the election for a while now and it will be interesting to keep an eye on any new developments. It would be wise of Trump to tread lightly with the criticisms and harsh comments about the intelligence community as it’s better to have them on his side for security reasons. He should learn to trust the intelligence community or this will be a long four years.

NY Times Article


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