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Showing posts from July, 2014

Russia wants Apple, SAP to share source codes to combat spying

Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP


Russia has suggested that IT-giants Apple and SAP disclose their source codes to Russian state specialists in order to clear up information security issues after the chain of spy scandals undermined trust in foreign products.

The step would serve to ensure users’ right to privacy and provide information security for state services and corporate clients, the Russian telecom ministry said in a statement.

Last week, Communications Minister Nikolay Nikoforov met with Apple's general manager in Russia, Peter Engrob Nielsen, and SAP's Russian managing director, Vyacheslav Orekhov. He suggested that the IT-companies should reveal their sensitive business secret –source code - for analysis by Russian experts.

“Obviously, companies that disclose the source code of their programs are not hiding anything, but those who do not intend to establish cooperation with Russia on this issue may have undeclared capabilities in their products,” Nikiforov said. Such capa…

US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty lapsing: Cui bono?


The US has accused Moscow of violating a 1987 INF Treaty banning short and medium range ballistic and cruise missiles. Experts speculate whether Washington is nudging Moscow to pull out of a treaty to create a new ‘nuke bogey’ and offer aegis to the EU.

Washington says Russia has tested a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile thus breaching the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by the US and the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago, banning all ground-based nuclear-capable missiles with range from 500 to 5,500 kilometers, the New York Times cited.

 Though no Western media outlet has mentioned the name of the missile, there are probably only two candidates for the role of the “peace breaker.”

The first is Russia’s RS-26 Rubezh (Frontier) ICBN “ABM-killer” complex. According to a top military official, it was tested several times at distances ranging from 2,000 km to 5,700 km, RBC Daily reports.

However, Rubezh is technically out of suspicion, according to member of the A…

White House accidentally leaks post-9/11 CIA torture report findings


When the CIA first began using its controversial interrogation and detention methods after the September 11th attacks, it reportedly declined to tell the Secretary of State and other American ambassadors about its actions.

The revelation comes from the Senate’s still-unreleased report scrutinizing the United States’ post-9/11 interrogation techniques, and first came to the public’s attention Wednesday when the White House unintentionally emailed a document detailing the findings to an Associated Press reporter.

The report – parts of which could be declassified by the White House in the coming days – also apparently found that some of the ambassadors who were briefed on the CIA’s activity were told not to notify their superiors in the State Department. One congressional official confirmed to the AP that these findings are documented in the Senate’s report, while a former CIA official said then-Secretary of State Colin Powell may not have known about the agency’s techniqu…

Russia fears Kiev trying to destroy implicating MH17 evidence


Kiev authorities may be seeking to “destroy evidence” which implicates their role in the crash of the Malaysian jet, Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said, expressing concerns over the ongoing military operation in E. Ukraine in breach of UN resolution.

 According to Churkin, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko promised a cease-fire in the disaster area,“but this promise was immediately broken, while Ukrainian officials have publicly announced a new task – to cleanse of the militias and take control of this territory," Churkin said in New York.

Such actions directly violate UN Security Council resolution 2166, which calls for a ceasefire and for thorough and impartial investigation into the Boeing tragedy under the ICAO umbrella, Churkin added.

“We fear that Kiev authorities are moved by the intention to destroy evidence, implicating their role in the Malaysian airliner catastrophe,” Churkin said.

In order to ensure compliance with the ceasefire resolution and reinforce …

The West must prepare for a wounded Putin to become even more aggressive

Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence. (Alexei Nikolsky/AP)

 By Editorial Board the Washington Post

A MONTH ago, Russian President Vladi­mir Putin appeared to be successfully executing his campaign to destabilize Ukraine. While Russian-backed insurgents consolidated a breakaway republic, weak and divided Western governments ignored their own deadlines for imposing sanctions. Now, suddenly, Mr. Putin faces twin reversals: relatively tough sanctions from the United States and European Union on Russian banks and oil companies, and a string of military defeats that have pushed back his proxy forces. It’s a dangerous moment for Mr. Putin — and, perhaps, an opportunity for Ukraine and its allies.

The Obama administration and European governments deserve credit for agreeing on joint action against Russia after months of haggling and hesi­ta­tion. But Mr. Putin is mostly responsible for his own setbacks. Having recklessly supplied his Ukrain…

Gaming Israel and Palestine

By George Friedman

We have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas' rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel's Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis.
War Without a Military Outcome

The most interesting aspect of this war is that both sides apparently f…

In Yemen, a Rebel Advance Could Topple the Regime

Shia loyal to the al-Houthi movement ride past Yemeni soldiers near Yaz, Yemen, in May. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)


The success of a rebel campaign in northern Yemen is threatening to destabilize the already weak and overwhelmed government in Sanaa. After capturing the city of Amran, a mere 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, in early July, the rebels from the al-Houthi tribe are in their strongest position yet. The Yemeni government is developing plans to divide the country into six federal regions, and the rebels believe this is their chance to claim territory for the future bargaining.

The central government is nearly powerless to fend off the rebels; its forces are already stretched thin. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has intervened in Yemen before and still supports Sunni tribes in the north, but the risk of inciting a Shiite backlash or creating space for jihadists to move in could deter another intervention.


Followers of Zaidi Islam, a branch of Shiism, rul…

Europe's New Sanctions Against Russia Carry More Weight

The European Union on Tuesday announced its strongest round of sanctions against Russia since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. The sanctions are meant to show Moscow that the Europeans are willing to punish Russia for supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine. But they are also meant to contain political fragmentation within the European Union at a time when countries in Central and Eastern Europe are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with what they perceive as a lack of action from the bloc's largest economies. A few hours after the announcement, the United States also adopted additional sanctions against Russia.

Europe's sanctions prohibit state-owned Russian banks from buying or selling bonds and equity in the European Union, place an embargo on new arms sales, prohibit exports of dual use goods (software and technology that can be used for both civilian and military purposes) to Russia and restrict the export of certain energy-related equipment and technology to R…

The Truth About Diamonds

Americans exchange diamond rings as part of the engagement process, because in 1938 De Beers decided that they would like us to. Prior to a stunningly successful marketing campaign in 1938 Americans occasionally exchanged engagement rings, but wasn't a pervasive occurrence. Not only is the demand for diamonds a marketing invention, but diamonds aren't actually that rare. Only by carefully restricting the supply has De Beers kept the price of a diamond high.

It's the equivalent of some company restricting the supply of aluminum so instead of it actually being available and dirty cheap it's instead sold in jewelry for more expensive than platinum. It's absolutely absurd.

A company called De Beers, who has a monopoly, artificially restricts the supply of diamond to keep the prices obscenely high. Not only are they artificially high but they are a worthless investment. Retail jewelers prefer not to buy back diamonds from customers because they sell them at a 100 to 200…

U.S.-Mexico Border Apprehensions Hit 38-Year Low

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On July 21, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he was deploying 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard to the Mexican border to help strengthen border security. The move is the latest in a chain of events concerning the emigration of Central American minors that has become heavily publicized and politicized.

This type of hype and politicization of the U.S.-Mexico border is not new and has surfaced at irregular intervals for decades now. But lost in all the media hype over this "border crisis" is the fact that in 2013 overall immigration was down significantly from historical levels. According to U.S. Border Patrol apprehension statistics, there were only 420,789 apprehensions in fiscal year 2013 compared to 1,160,395 in 2004. In fact, from fiscal years 1976 to 2010, apprehensions never dropped below 500,000. During that same period, the Border Patrol averaged 1,083,495 apprehensions per year compared to just 420,789 last year.

Of course, apprehension statisti…

Iraqi Kurdistan Attempts to Bypass Baghdad, by Way of Texas

by George Friedman

The commotion surrounding Iraqi Kurdistan's ongoing feud with Iraq's central government spread to the Texas Gulf Coast over the weekend. The U.S. Coast Guard, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and National Security Council were sent scrambling when a tanker tried to offload 100,000 barrels of Kurdish crude.

The sale of the United Kalavryta's cargo would mark the second time (the first was sold to an Israeli buyer) that Iraq's Kurdish leadership has sold crude oil in complete defiance of Baghdad. The Iraqi central government maintains that all Iraqi crude must be sold and distributed by federal authorities in order to maintain the territorial integrity of the country. Baghdad's position is endorsed by the United States and Iran but challenged by Turkey, which has backed the Kurdistan Regional Government's transactions so far and is reportedly loading a fifth tanker at the port of Ceyhan at the time of writing. Meanwhile, anot…

Ukraine: Military Advances to Divide Rebel Strongholds

A resident of Lysychansk, a city in eastern Ukraine, crosses the street past Ukrainian military armored personnel carriers July 27, 2014.(GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)


Ukrainian forces have made significant progress toward their goal of isolating the separatist-controlled cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. After a week of fighting, the military regained control of Debaltseve, a strategic town at the junction of the main E40 and E50 highways. It also now controls Shakhtarsk and is making gains in Torez, located east of Donetsk, and Lutuhyne, a town to the southwest of Luhansk. This puts Kiev's forces in control of much of the territory between Donetsk and Luhansk, allowing them to prevent the movement of arms and personnel between the two militant strongholds.


Despite its recent successes, Kiev continues to face challenges in its attempts to suppress the pro-Russia separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. The government has recently ramped up its military efforts, moving …

Echoes of the Great War Resonate a Century Later

German infantry in training a month before the start of World War I, June 30, 1914. (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)


On July 28, 1914, exactly one month after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were shot dead, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The stage was set for World War I, an inevitable result of decades of political maneuvering, militarization, alliances and planning for a conflict that would shatter the great European epoch, laying waste to empires and ascendant nations.


At the heart of World War I was the rise of Germany and the question of its place in the European balance of power. Prussian statesman Otto Von Bismarck had painstakingly crafted a modern, unified German nation through fire and blood, ensuring its survival through shrewd realpolitik diplomacy. The new unified Germany remained wary of potential threats from east and west, a concern reciprocated by nearby states, which harbored deep-seated concerns and fears over Germany&…

Geopolitical Calendar: Week of July 28, 2014

EuropeJuly 29: The General Affairs Council, comprising EU foreign ministers, will meet in Brussels.July 30: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Catalonia regional President Artur Mas will meet at Rajoy's Moncloa residence in Madrid to discuss the issue of independence for Catalonia. Asia-PacificJuly 23-30: Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird will visit China, Mongolia and Japan.July 25-31: U.S., Indian and Japanese warships will hold joint naval exercises in the Pacific. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will take part.July 28-31: Canadian and Japanese negotiators will meet in Ottawa for another round of talks on a free trade agreement between the two countries.July 29: Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will meet with his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, to discuss expanding military cooperation, particularly in the development of submarine drones.July 29: In a hearing, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance is likely to address its growing defic…