/articles

  • “The Pentagon Has a Plan to Stop the Zombie Apocalypse [...] Incredibly, the Defense Department has a response if zombies attacked and the armed forces had to eradicate flesh-eating walkers”

    Spoiler: it is true but it is a military planning exercice.

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/05/13/exclusive_the_pentagon_has_a_plan_to_stop_the_zombie_apocalypse

    #zombie #it_has_begun #Pentagon

  • Why Is Bahrain Outsourcing Extremism ?
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/10/29/why_is_bahrain_outsourcing_extremism_isis_democracy

    The video is graphic evidence that Bahrain has a burgeoning problem with Salafi radicalization.
    Support for extremist groups has flourished even as the state has been cracking down on the non-violent, pro-democracy opposition.
    Support for extremist groups has flourished even as the state has been cracking down on the non-violent, pro-democracy opposition. The regime’s response to the film, which has been viewed around 100,000 times seems it was uploaded in September, has been muted, though officials admit that at least 100 Bahrainis have joined IS and several have been killed. That number is small but significant. Not only is there a direct link between IS and Bahrain’s security services (as the video suggests), but the Bahraini cohort in the Islamic State includes Turki al-Binali, one of the movement’s most influential radical preachers.
    Bahrain’s public stance on the war against IS contrasts sharply with its lack of action at home. The kingdom has attempted to present itself as the leader of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) anti-IS efforts. At the start of the air campaign launched against IS by the United States and a select group of allies in September, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, made prominent appearances in the Western media, including the BBC and CNN, to announce Bahrain’s membership in the U.S. military coalition. Khalifa even spoke of the need to rid the region of the “deviated cult.”

    [...]

    So far there doesn’t appear to have been any documented trial of any person on charges of IS-related terrorist activity despite government vows to pursue and monitor their activities. The government offered a two-week amnesty for former jihadists in March of this year. (A Bahraini IS fighter responded by ripping up his Bahraini passport on YouTube.) Commenters on Bahraini websites supporting IS brag about the freedom they enjoy in the kingdom, compared with other Gulf states such as the United Arab Emirates.

    [...]

    Bahrain’s rulers may regard the country’s role in the coalition as necessary for their own self-preservation. If they lose their Western allies, and if their already small base of Sunni loyalists defects to the extremists, the already bare threads of sovereign legitimacy may not be strong enough to keep the dynasty in power. The regime hopes is that it can reduce the external pressure for democratic change by strengthening its alliance with the West. But its allies, above all the United States and the United Kingdom, must not let the regime’s participation in the military offensive serve as a quid pro quo for avoiding genuine democratization.

  • Délit d’"initié" à la tête de la NSA ?


    Why Was the NSA Chief Playing the Market?
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/10/22/keith_alexander_stock_trades_potash_aluminum_russia_china

    At the same time that he was running the United States’ biggest intelligence-gathering organization, former National Security Agency Director #Keith_Alexander owned and sold shares in commodities linked to China and Russia, two countries that the NSA was spying on heavily

    (remember the #NSA spies on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE)

  • The Black-Market Battleground
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/10/17/the_black_market_battleground_syria_iraq_isis

    “What we have from the satellite imagery is that there is industrial-scale looting all over Syria,” said Danti, a leader of an American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) project that in August received U.S. State Department funding to document cultural heritage threats in Syria. During the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September, Secretary of State John Kerry personally thanked Danti in a speech at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the project expanded into Iraq.

    It’s often difficult to definitively determine who is responsible for an instance of looting. Both the Syrian government and rebel groups have taken part, as have locals in both Syria and Iraq whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the conflict. Satellite images and informants on the ground often can’t keep up with the pace of looting and of the exchange of territory between various groups.

    Nonetheless, it’s clear that the scale of the Islamic State’s destruction, looting, and profits from antiquities trafficking is “unprecedented,” Danti said.

    ASOR’s Syrian Heritage Initiative uses satellite images such as these, taken at a site in Syria on January 2012 and March 2014, to understand where and on what scale looting is taking place. Click on each photo to see a larger version.

  • FP’s Situation Report: Syrian rebels still not happy with U.S. strikes; ISIS targets civilians in Baghdad; A missing Marine; Pierson out at the Secret Service; and a bit more.
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/10/02/fps_situation_report_syrian_rebels_still_not_happy_with_us_strikes_is

    A big red flag: Moderate Syrian rebels, who are central to President Barack Obama’s fight against the Islamic State, aren’t happy with U.S. airstrikes. There are a handful things about the U.S. air campaign that are alienating civilians and rebel groups on the ground but at the top of the list are reports of civilians deaths caused by U.S. bombs. The Islamic State will no doubt try to use these reports — true or not — to its advantage. Still, it’s concerning when the very people the strikes are supposed to benefit don’t see it that way.

  • Why Big Data Missed the Early Warning Signs of Ebola

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/26/why_big_data_missed_the_early_warning_signs_of_ebola

    Merci à @freakonometrics d’avoir signalé cet article sur Twitter

    ith the Centers for Disease Control now forecasting up to 1.4 million new infections from the current Ebola outbreak, what could “big data” do to help us identify the earliest warnings of future outbreaks and track the movements of the current outbreak in realtime? It turns out that monitoring the spread of Ebola can teach us a lot about what we missed — and how data mining, translation, and the non-Western world can help to provide better early warning tools.

    Earlier this month, Harvard’s HealthMap service made world headlines for monitoring early mentions of the current Ebola outbreak on March 14, 2014, “nine days before the World Health Organization formally announced the epidemic,” and issuing its first alert on March 19. Much of the coverage of HealthMap’s success has emphasized that its early warning came from using massive computing power to sift out early indicators from millions of social media posts and other informal media.

    #ebola #statistics #big_data

    • By the time HealthMap monitored its very first report, the Guinean government had actually already announced the outbreak and notified the WHO.

      cf http://seenthis.net/messages/286853#message286960 et http://seenthis.net/messages/287766

      et sur l’impasse de #GDELT (l’auteur de l’article, Kalev H. Leetaru, étant le créateur de cette base de données) :

      Part of the problem is that the majority of media in Guinea is not published in English, while most monitoring systems today emphasize English-language material. The GDELT Project attempts to monitor and translate a cross-section of the world’s news media each day, yet it is not capable of translating 100 percent of global news coverage. It turns out that GDELT actually monitored the initial discussion of Dr. Keita’s press conference on March 13 and detected a surge in domestic coverage beginning on March 14, the day HealthMap flagged the first media mention. The problem is that all of this media coverage was in French — and was not among the French material that GDELT was able to translate those days.

  • In the Eye of a Man-Made Storm
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/26/unwra_in_the_eye_of_a_man_made_storm_gaza_recovery_israel

    Having worked in conflict zones for 25 years, I have often been confronted with the deep polarization that characterizes such environments. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a prime example: Everything related to the occupation of the Palestinian territory and the blockade of Gaza generates particularly high levels of passion and hostility. #UNRWA has not been spared in the past, and it was not spared in the latest conflict. I will therefore address how we responded to this acute crisis and some of the questions and criticisms we have received.

    At the heart of the situation in #Gaza are people. At present, 1.8 million live in the Gaza Strip. In its urban areas, the population density is above 20,000 people per square kilometer — one of the highest in the world. Over 70 percent of Gaza’s residents are Palestinian refugees who fled or were forced to leave their homes during the war of 1948. UNRWA’s activities in Gaza focus on providing education, health care, and social services to this community, which numbers approximately 1.2 million people, or emergency aid in times of war.

    When I first visited Gaza as the newly appointed commissioner-general in April, I was immediately struck by the sheer unsustainability of the situation. The refugees and wider population of Gaza have no prospects, no jobs, nowhere to go, and no future. The territory suffers from over 40 percent unemployment, over 65 percent youth unemployment, and 80 percent female unemployment. I was also struck by the depleted and heavily contaminated aquifer in Gaza, which will — along with Gaza’s run-down health, water, electricity, and sewage systems — make the Strip unlivable in a matter of just a few years. The staggering increase of people on UNRWA’s food distribution lists is another serious concern: These lists have soared from 80,000 people in 2000 to nearly 830,000 people just before the war.

    UNRWA is at times challenged by people who criticize us for allegedly keeping the refugee question alive and holding refugees in a state of dependency. While I believe it is important that any humanitarian or development agency regularly and critically reviews how it operates, these questions fail to address the core underlying issues that affect the population in Gaza.

    It is not UNRWA that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee crisis, but the lack of a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have yet to meet anyone, anywhere in the world, who wishes to remain a refugee — and this includes Palestinian refugees. The increase in the number of people dependent on UNRWA assistance is the direct consequence of the illegal land blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007.

    #Israël #Israel #Palestine #crimes #impunité

  • Ebola : We Could Have Stopped This - by Laurie Garrett
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/05/we_could_have_stopped_this_ebola_virus_world_health_organization

    Public health officials knew Ebola was coming. They know how to defeat it. But they’re blowing it anyway.

    La réponse est très loin du compte :

    To understand the scale of response the world must mount in order to stop Ebola’s march across Africa (and perhaps other continents), the world community needs to immediately consider the humanitarian efforts following the 2004 tsunami and its devastation of Aceh, Indonesia.

    L’OMS est en vrac :

    the sole major international responder, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), pleaded for help and warned repeatedly that the virus was spreading out of control. The WHO was all but AWOL, its miniscule epidemic-response department slashed to smithereens by three years of budget cuts, monitoring the epidemic’s relentless growth but taking little real action.

    et ça fait des années qu’elle est maltraitée et instrumentalisée :

    The neglectful status of the WHO was, horribly, by design. Its governing body, the World Health Assembly (WHA), in which nearly every nation on Earth is a voting member, has declined to increase country WHO dues for more than a quarter-century. Worse, following the 2008 financial crisis, most of the extrabudgetary special support that the WHO relied upon — funds from rich countries that more than doubled the agency’s financing — disappeared as once-wealthy governments turned away from philanthropy

    le facteur épidémique (R0) s’accroît :

    Today in Liberia, the virus is spreading so rapidly that no RO has been computed. Back in the spring, however, when matters were conceivably controllable, Liberia’s then-small rural outbreak was 1.59.

    Les stats sous-évaluent la réalité :

    WHO’s official case reports, which solely reflect lab-confirmed patients that have sought care in medical facilities, under-represents the true toll by at least half

    Le reste de l’article est un appel à l’armée américaine qui est la seule (selon l’auteure) à pouvoir intervenir à cette échelle de besoins et de manière décisive :

    Washington officials say off the record that options for U.S. military assistance are under consideration, and may be announced in a few days.

    Mais ça va pas être facile :

    Ebola responses in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and possibly Nigeria each need a “national force/brigade that tells people, ’this is what you do and what you do not,’ and that does surveillance — this brigade has to have the trust of the people.”

    #santé #intervention #OMS #ebola #MSF #armée

    • [2 septembre] le discours de Joanne Liu, la présidente internationale de MSF aux Nations unies :

      MSF International President United Nations Special Briefing on Ebola | Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International
      http://www.msf.org/article/msf-international-president-united-nations-special-briefing-ebola

      To curb the epidemic, it is imperative that States immediately deploy civilian and military assets with expertise in biohazard containment. I call upon you to dispatch your disaster response teams, backed by the full weight of your logistical capabilities. This should be done in close collaboration with the affected countries.

      Without this deployment, we will never get the epidemic under control.

      The following must be prioritized:

      – Scaling up isolation centers;
      – Deploying mobile laboratories to improve diagnostic capabilities;
      – Establishing dedicated air bridges to move personnel and equipment to and within West Africa;
      – Building a regional network of field hospitals to treat suspected or infected medical personnel.

    • Can The U.S. Military Turn The Tide In The Ebola Outbreak? : Goats and Soda : NPR
      http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/09/11/347666891/can-the-u-s-military-turn-the-tide-in-the-ebola-outbreak

      the Pentagon’s commitment seems modest in the wake of Obama’s comments. It plans to supply Liberia with a 25-bed field hospital — but no medical staff. (...)

      “Our deployable medical capabilities are generally trauma medicine, treating people who suffer wounds in combat and things of that nature,” says Michael Lumpkin, the assistant secretary of defense in charge of Ebola response. “That’s not necessarily what they’re dealing with there.”

      And a large number of troops are dispatched, that could make things worse. (...)

      Foreign troops would not be there to enforce quarantines. But just their presence has the potential to destabilize, says Julie Fischer, a public health expert at George Washington University.

    • [Peter Piot,] Scientist who identified Ebola virus calls for ’quasi-military intervention’ | Society | The Guardian
      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/11/scientist-identified-ebola-quasi-military-intervention-peter-piot

      The microbiologist who helped identify the Ebola virus in 1976 has urged David Cameron to support a “quasi-military intervention” to stop the current epidemic, which is spreading unchecked in west Africa.

      Professor Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the outbreak was now so bad that a UN peacekeeping force ought to be mobilised in Sierra Leone and Liberia with huge donations of beds, ambulances and trucks as well as an army of clinicians, doctors and nurses.

  • How Egypt Prolonged the Gaza War
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/18/how_egypt_prolonged_the_gaza_war_israel_ceasefire

    This process has also shattered another myth — that the primary game in town is about how to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the PLO. Today, two-state diplomacy seems to be at best in hibernation. The talks in Cairo, on the other hand, are substantial. They cover violence, security, reconstruction, living conditions in Gaza, movement and access to the territory, Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, and internal Palestinian governance.

    (...)

    There is one more troubling aspect of Cairo’s diplomacy that has largely escaped notice. While Egyptian mediators were forced in the end to deal directly with Hamas’s leadership in order to reach a cease-fire, they have tried to mitigate this unpleasant reality in two ways. They have not only been seeking to enhance the role of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — something Mubarak always did in his day — but may also be flirting with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a group far more committed to violence against Israel than Hamas. PIJ leaders such as Khaled al-Batsh have been quoted in the Egyptian government-owned media recently insisting that no other state can take Egypt’s place as mediator.

    Egypt’s military-dominated regime, then, has proved that it is not against forging alliances with violent Islamists; its only feud is with those allied with the Muslim Brotherhood. The apparent Egypt-PIJ flirtation highlights how the country’s highly polarized politics might cause Cairo’s military-dominated leadership to cultivate clients that are hardly in the interests of the United States or Israel. An Egypt that looks and acts more and more like Pakistan is not something to celebrate.

  • The Peacock Angel and the Pythagorean Theorem
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/08/the_peacock_angel_and_the_pythagorean_theorem_yazidis_christians_isla

    As compared with its brutal would-be imitators today, the real Islamic state — the Umayyad caliphate, which ruled the region from Damascus from AD 661, and the Abbasid caliphate, which ruled it from Baghdad from AD 750 — was kinder. In theory, the modern-day Islamic State has the same rules as the ancient caliphate, whose approach resembled that of its Christian predecessor, the Byzantine Empire: promulgate the imperial faith, penalize the followers of other religions and forbid them from promoting their faith through external signs, and forbid polytheism — “paganism,” as it was called — altogether. In practice, however, the early Muslims were often more tolerant than their Christian predecessors.

    One prominent pagan, for example, complained bitterly about the Byzantine hostility to paganism. Pagans built the world’s great cities, he argued; without their achievements, the world would be destitute and ignorant. This pagan, Thabit ibn Qurra, was a member of a group called the Harranians, whose beliefs somewhat resemble those of the modern-day Yazidis. Here is the irony: He was given safe haven by the Abbasid caliphate in the ninth century and lived out his life in Baghdad. While there, he was able to develop Pythagoras’s theorem of triangles to the form in which we know it today. Without such scholars, Baghdad would never have been a great imperial capital — built as it was with the help of a Hindu astronomer, a Zoroastrian, Jews, and Christians.

    Here is the essential difference between the old Islamic state and the self-styled new one: The old one tolerated what would have been considered heretical beliefs, and in doing so built a great culture imbued with knowledge and learning. The new one is determined to stamp out all differences of opinion in a nihilistic orgy of destruction.

  • #Singapore — The Social Laboratory
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/07/29/the_social_laboratory_singapore_surveillance_state

    #Singapour, un modèle de social-libéralisme-totalitaire (??), s’est installé depuis 2002 un système de #surveillance et de #big_data qui fait rêver la #NSA ; justifié notamment par la crise du #SRAS (#santé_sécuritaire)

    Four months later he got his chance, when an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) swept through the country, killing 33, dramatically slowing the economy, and shaking the tiny island nation to its core. Using Poindexter’s design, the government soon established the Risk Assessment and Horizon Scanning program (RAHS, pronounced “roz”) inside a Defense Ministry agency responsible for preventing terrorist attacks and “nonconventional” strikes, such as those using chemical or biological weapons — an effort to see how Singapore could avoid or better manage “future shocks.” Singaporean officials gave speeches and interviews about how they were deploying big data in the service of national defense — a pitch that jibed perfectly with the country’s technophilic culture.

    reportage glaçant avec des illustrations sympa en gif animés :

  • L’argent du pétrole alimente désormais directement l’État islamique...

    The Islamic State Is the Newest Petrostate

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/07/28/baghdadis_hillbillies_isis_iraq_syria_oil_terrorism_islamic_state

    REPORT
    The Islamic State Is the Newest Petrostate
    The Islamic State, the world’s richest terror group, is reaping millions of dollars a day from selling stolen oil to shady businessmen across the Middle East.

    BY KEITH JOHNSON JULY 28, 2014


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    The homicidal maniacs of the Islamic State, like many shady and not-so-shady groups before it, are apparently getting into the oil business. And it seems to suit them as they reportedly are making millions of dollars per day off of it.
    The militants who have conquered broad swaths of Iraq and Syria are turning to good old-fashioned crime — oil smuggling, in this case — to underwrite its main line of work. The money it can earn from illicit oil sales further bolsters the group’s status as one of the richest self-funded terrorist outfits in the world, dependent not on foreign governments for financial support but on the money its reaped from kidnappings and bank robberies. The group has also managed to steal expensive weaponry that the United States had left for the Iraqi military, freeing it from the need to spend its own money to buy such armaments.
    But even the millions of dollars a day that the Islamic State seems to be raking in by trucking stolen oil across porous borders is not enough to meet the hefty obligations created by the group’s own headlong expansion. Taking over big chunks of territory, as in eastern Syria and in northern Iraq, could also leave it forced to take on the sorts of expensive obligations — such as paying salaries, collecting the trash, and keeping the lights on — usually reserved for governments.
    “They’ve gone from being the world’s richest terrorist organization to the world’s poorest state,” said Michael Knights, a Middle East expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
    “They’ve gone from being the world’s richest terrorist organization to the world’s poorest state,” said Michael Knights, a Middle East expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
    As with much of what the Islamic State purportedly does, the group’s actual role in trading illicit Syrian and Iraqi oil is hard to pin down. The Islamic State seemingly controls the majority of Syria’s oil fields, especially in the country’s east; human rights observers say 60 percent of Syrian oil fields are in the hands of militants or tribes. The Islamic State also seems to have control of several small oil fields in Iraq as well, though reports differ on whether most of those wells are capped or whether the Islamists are producing and shipping serious volumes of stolen Iraqi oil across the border.
    In all, energy experts estimate that illicit production in Iraq and Syria — largely by the Islamic State — is north of 80,000 barrels a day. That’s a tiny amount compared with stable oil-producing countries’ output, but it is a lot of potentially valuable oil in the hands of a group that even al Qaeda considers beyond the pale.
    If that oil fetched global market prices, it would be worth a small fortune: $8 million a day. But as the Sunni militant group’s new neighbors in Iraqi Kurdistan have discovered, it’s not easy to get top dollar for what many consider black-market oil. The Islamic State allegedly sells much of its production to middlemen in Syria, who then bring it to refineries in Turkey, Iran, or Kurdistan.
    That oil is essentially fenced and likely fetches only about $10 to $22 a barrel, said Valérie Marcel, an oil expert at Chatham House in London. Crude trades just above $100 a barrel in New York and London.
    In Iraq, the Islamic State apparently cut out middlemen and uses its own fleet of tankers, which means it can reap between $50 and $60 a barrel, Marcel said. Other reports put the terrorist group’s Iraqi oil proceeds as low as $25 a barrel.
    “They’re taking a massive discount, and they’re only achieving a small fraction of the value” of the oil, the Washington Institute’s Knights said. Altogether, the group’s oil smuggling could be generating on the order of $1 million to $2 million a day. Other analysts say the Islamic State’s oil income could be as much as $3 million a day.
    The United Nations is taking notice. On Monday, July 28, it warned countries against buying oil from militants in Iraq or Syria, saying that such purchases would violate U.N. sanctions on the terrorist group.
    With the Islamic State at the helm, that oil boom certainly won’t last forever. The old oil fields in Syria and Iraq need lots of care, such as injections to keep the pressure up and output reliable; the lack of trained technicians and the frequent turnover have been a nightmare for proper reservoir management and will ultimately lower future output at those fields, Marcel said.
    Still, all else being equal, that kind of control over oil fields, oil revenues, and petroleum products would be a financial shot in the arm for any terrorist outfit. Control of oil products, from gas canisters needed for cooking to fuel needed for transport, gives the group additional local leverage. And the revenue bolsters the Islamic State’s ability to recruit and pay fighters and to buy weapons.
    However, that money is also desperately needed to cover the salaries of public workers in places the militants now occupy. Providing basic public services to show that they can do more than conquer and crucify, but can govern to a limited extent, also costs money. Serving as an unelected proxy for ousted or absent governments has long been a way for Islamist groups, from Hezbollah to Hamas, to broaden popular support.
    “They need to keep their war machine going, but they also need to govern, and that’s costing them money,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a terrorism expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He estimates that most of the oil revenue is quickly spent pacifying restless tribal leaders, bribing coalition partners, and paying to keep functional the basic sinews of daily life.
    “If they don’t make happen the things that people are used to see happening, their rule is going to look really, really bad,” he said.
    Here’s the thing about the Islamic State’s newfound oil wealth: Big money is not unique among terrorist groups, and in this case, it’s probably not enough.
    Here’s the thing about the Islamic State’s newfound oil wealth: Big money is not unique among terrorist groups, and in this case, it’s probably not enough.
    Oil money is just one slice of an illicit pie funding the group. In Syria and Iraq, protection rackets, extortion, local taxes, and other forms of smuggling all pour millions of dollars into the Islamic State’s coffers. Brett McGurk, the State Department’s point man on Iraq, told Congress last week that even before the militants captured Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city, the group was raking in $12 million a month from illicit activities there.
    And in the pantheon of terrorist groups, none of which has conquered the world, top-line illicit revenues of a few hundred million dollars a year are not unusual. The U.S. government estimates that more than a score of the groups on its list of designated foreign terrorist organizations are deeply involved in transnational criminal activities.
    The Taliban in Afghanistan, for example, raked in between $100 million and $200 million annually from the drug trade and smuggling timber and minerals. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb took home dozens of millions of dollars a year from ransom kidnappings; over a decade, the group possibly netted as much as $200 million. Hezbollah took a page from The Sopranos and made a fortune off stolen or counterfeit cigarettes. Al-Shabab fueled its fight with proceeds from human trafficking, while cocaine money kept Colombia’s FARC in the field for decades.
    More importantly, the Islamic State’s access to some oil revenues pales in comparison with its obligations and points to the group’s longer-term vulnerabilities.
    Part of its illicit empire, such as extortion and shakedowns in towns across northern Iraq, is crumbling after Baghdad froze public salaries for those areas. That’s a double blow to the group: No local incomes to extort, and now the Islamic State has to pay the payroll tab itself. At the same time, the group’s barbarity, lack of outreach to even like-minded Salafi groups, and territorial overreach may have sown the seeds of its own downfall.
    “They’re overplaying their hand everywhere they have a hand, and that’s going to come back and hurt them,” Gartenstein-Ross said.
    Moreover, control of a few small oil fields that translates into heavily discounted smuggling revenues won’t be enough to give the Islamic State staying power.
    “They can bring power, fear, and intimidation, and they can even bring unsophisticated social services,” Knights said. “What they can’t do is bring the resources of the Iraqi state,” a $120 billion national budget underwritten by the nearly 3 million barrels of oil shipped daily out of southern Iraqi oil terminals.
    “Without that oil from Basra, then ISIS are just Palestinians,” Knights added.

  • It’s 10 o’Clock — Do You Know Where Your Bubonic Plague Is? - Laurie Garrett (Foreign Policy)
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/07/10/it_s_10_o_clock_do_you_know_where_your_bubonic_plague_is_smallpox

    Now that the security of all of these facilities has been proven — to put it politely — “flawed,” it seems wise to rethink the larger notion of “biosafety” in our time of gain-of-function research, synthetic biology, and directed evolution. As I recently laid out during a TEDx talk, we are hard pressed to demonstrate that public safety is intact for the organisms we know, like smallpox and anthrax, much less for the new, previously unknown ones that are being created now in less secure facilities, like high school labs.

    After Lapses, C.D.C. Admits a Lax Culture at Labs - NYTimes.com
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/14/us/after-lapses-cdc-admits-a-lax-culture-at-labs.html

    The report recalled other errors. In 2006, the agency accidentally sent live anthrax to two other labs, and also shipped out live botulism bacteria.

    Several experts on biosecurity noted that the inspector general’s office of the Department of Health and Human Services sent official complaints to the C.D.C. in 2008, 2009 and 2010 about undertrained lab personnel and improperly secured shipments.

    Both Dr. Frieden and his predecessor, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, replied in letters over their signatures that the problems would be fixed.

    The agency’s report Friday suggested that fewer labs should be handling dangerous microbes.

    Avian Flu Diary: FDA Statement On Additional 300 Vials Discovered At NIH Campus Lab
    http://afludiary.blogspot.ca/2014/07/fda-statement-on-additional-300-vials.html

    Among these latest discoveries are vials marked as containing such diverse pathogens as dengue, influenza, Q fever, and rickettsia, and are believed to date back 50 years or more.

    #biosécurité #bioterrorisme #armement_biologique #recherche

  • Donc #el-Sissi est le “nouveau Nasser”,

    Egypt: Hamas ’could have saved dozens of lives’ with truce | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR
    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Jul-17/264252-egypt-hamas-could-have-saved-dozens-of-lives-with-truce.ashx#ax

    CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign minister said Thursday that Hamas could have saved dozens of lives if it had accepted a Cairo-mediated truce earlier this week in its conflict with Israel.

    “Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians,” Sameh Shoukri said, quoted by state news agency MENA.

    • Israeli journalist: ’ Egypt’s ceasefire proposal grants Israel international legitimacy to bomb Gaza
      https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/12841-israeli-journalist-egypts-ceasefire-proposal-grants-israel-

      The Sisi regime in Cairo is a crucial ally to Israel in its efforts to crush Palestinian resistance, Israeli commentator Ron Ben-Yishai said on Tuesday.

      In his column for Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Ben-Yishai said that the Egyptian regime, led by President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, is working jointly with Israel to slowly undermine Gaza’s military capabilities by its destruction of tunnels and its closure of the Rafah border crossing.

      He also hailed the Egyptian regime for the ceasefire proposal, considering it “a very calculated move, optimal for both Egypt and Israel”.

      Ben-Yishai added that the Egyptian proposal “has granted Israel international legitimacy to continue to crush Hamas from the air. It has also received the Egyptians as a partner for the arduous negotiations with Hamas, and Al-Sisi’s goodwill in preventing the strengthening of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the future.”

      He went on to say that Egypt will remain an Israeli ally so long as Al-Sisi remains in power, because of his efforts to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza.

      “That Egypt remains the broker also works to Israel’s advantage. The Egyptians are now committed to restoring the calm and preventing the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, and will probably remain so as long as Al-Sisi is in power,” he said.

    • Gaza : la trêve ’aurait pu sauver des vies’
      http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/2014/07/17/97001-20140717FILWWW00417-gaza-la-treve-aurait-pu-sauver-des-vies.php

      Le ministre égyptien des Affaires étrangères a vivement critiqué le Hamas aujourd’hui, estimant que le mouvement islamiste aurait pu sauver des dizaines de vies s’il avait accepté un cessez-le-feu, proposé cette semaine par Le Caire, et qui avait été accepté par Israël.

      #complicité #crimes_de_guerre

    • When and how will it end?
      http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21607893-killing-and-destruction-are-gathering-pace-neither-side-winning-

      The terms of the ceasefire offered through Egypt’s offices amounted virtually to a surrender by Hamas. “It was a trap,” says a European diplomat who still meets Hamas. “Hamas knows that Sisi wants to strangle the movement even more than Israel does.” Since Egypt’s generals overthrew Mr Sisi’s predecessor, Muhammad Morsi, last year, they have closed most of the tunnels under the border with Gaza which served as a lifeline, carrying basic goods as well as arms into the strip. Mr Sisi seems content to see Hamas thrashed.

    • The Last Great Myth About Egypt
      Cairo has never been a mediator between Israel and Palestine — and today’s regime actually benefits from the Gaza invasion.
      STEVEN A. COOK
      http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/07/21/the_last_great_myth_about_egypt_israel_palestine_gaza

      In an entirely cynical way, what could be better from where Sisi sits? The Israelis are battering Hamas at little or no cost to Egypt. In the midst of the maelstrom, the new president, statesman-like, proposed a cease-fire. If the combatants accept it, he wins. If they reject it, as Hamas did — it offered them very little — Sisi also wins.

      Rather than making Sisi look impotent, Hamas’s rejection of his July 14 cease-fire has only reinforced the Egyptian, Israeli, and American narrative about the organization’s intransigence. The Egyptians appear to be calculating, rightly or wrongly, that aligning with Israel will serve their broader goals by bringing Hamas to heel, improving security in the Sinai, and diminishing the role of other regional actors. In other words, Sisi is seeking to accomplish without a cease-fire what Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi accomplished with a cessation of hostilities.

      Sisi’s strategy, of course, could backfire. Mubarak tried something similar during the 2006 Israeli incursion into Lebanon — supporting the operation with the belief that the mighty IDF would deal a blow to Hezbollah, only to be exposed politically when the Israelis underperformed and killed a large number of Lebanese civilians in the process. Confronted with an increasingly hostile press and inflamed public opinion — posters lauding Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became common around Cairo — Mubarak was forced to dispatch his son, Gamal, and a planeload of regime courtiers to Beirut in a lame effort to demonstrate Egypt’s support for the Lebanese people.

      A similar dynamic might alter Sisi’s calculations on Gaza. Egyptian officials may have whipped up anti-Hamas sentiment in their effort to discredit the Muslim Brotherhood, but this does not diminish the solidarity many Egyptians feel for the Palestinians.

      It may be that Egyptians have come to loathe the Brotherhood, but they hate Israel more. As Operation Protective Edge widens and more civilians are killed, Sisi’s collusion with Israel may become politically untenable.