New Terror Report Warns of Insider Threat to Utilities

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Extremists Infiltrate High-Profile U.S. Facilities

By BRIAN ROSS (@brianross) , RHONDA SCHWARTZ and MEGAN CHUCHMACH  July 20, 2011

Sabotage by an insider at a major utility facility, including a chemical or oil refinery, could provide al Qaeda with its best opportunity for the kind of massive Sept. 11 anniversary attack Osama bin Laden was planning, according to U.S. officials.

A new intelligence report from the Department of Homeland Security issued Tuesday, titled Insider Threat to Utilities, warns “violent extremists have, in fact, obtained insider positions,” and that “outsiders have attempted to solicit utility-sector employees” for damaging physical and cyber attacks.

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Europe’s Economic Meltdown: How Did We Get Here?

A look back at the missteps and bailouts, in pictures.

BY CAMERON ABADI | JULY 20, 2011

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On Thursday, July 21, European leaders will meet in Brussels for the latest attempt at quelling the continent’s worsening financial crisis. Unfortunately, what a year ago looked like a localized problem affecting a tiny share of the European Union economy has become a ubiquitous and omnipresent threat. Having tried austerity and monetary stimulus, chastisement and feigned confidence, European leaders are quickly approaching the end of their playbooks. And with Italy, one of the world’s largest economies, now teetering on the brink, it’s not at all clear this story will have a happy ending.

Above, at the Sodoma bar in central Reykjavik on April 25, 2009, a man relieves himself in a urinal plastered with photographs of Icelandic bankers who fled the country after the financial crash.

OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images

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Europe’s shift from financial concern to financial basket case began in an unlikely corner of the continent: Iceland. When world credit markets dried up in late 2008 after the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank,

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ASPI’s International Conference – Global Forces 2011

10 and 11 August 2011
Hyatt Hotel Canberra

ASPI is holding its 6th international conference, Global Forces 2011. The conference is designed to bring a group of distinguished Australian and international speakers together to share different perspectives of strategic and security affairs with our audience. The conference focuses on the bigger geopolitical issues shaping Australia’s strategic landscape.

The conference dinner will be held on the evening of the 10th August with conference sessions 1 & 2 being held on the 11th August.

For details on how to register, click here. For more information please contact the events team on 02 6270 5109.

ASPI-Unisys Defence and Security Lunch
Topic: The U.S. strategic posture in Asia in an age of precision-strike weapons
12pm – 2pm, 28 July 2011
The Boathouse by the Lake, Canberra
RSVP 21 July 2011

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Belgian Face Veil Goes Into Effect

Muslim woman in Yemen.

Image via Wikipedia

A Muslim woman dressed in niqab walks through the streets of Brussels.

July 22, 2011

On July 23, Belgium becomes the second European country after France to ban the wearing of veils covering the face in public.
The Belgian Parliament passed the law by a vote of 149-1 in April 2010. But due to the fall of the government shortly thereafter and an inconclusive election that left the country with a caretaker government, its implementation was delayed until now.
The law does not explicitly mention niqabs or burqas. But it prohibits the covering of one’s face in public for security reasons — effectively banning the two Islamic garments. Violators will face fines of 137.50 euro and up to seven days in jail.

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U.S., Armenian Defense Officials Map Out Closer Cooperation

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Azerbaijani military vehicles take part in a parade held in Baku in June.

YEREVAN — Senior U.S. and Armenian military officials have opened two days of talks in Washington that highlight growing bilateral defense links, RFE/RL’s Armenian Service reports.
Armenia‘s Defense Ministry said it was represented at the “bilateral defense consultations” by First Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and other officials.
A short statement issued by the ministry before the meeting said the Armenian delegation was to discuss with senior Pentagon officials “issues relating to U.S.-Armenian defense cooperation.” It did not elaborate on the agenda of the talks. Continue reading

Norway’s 9/11?

Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of Norway’s Peace Research Institute Oslo, explains why the Norwegian capital might have been on a terrorist’s shortlist of potential targets.

INTERVIEW BY CHARLES HOMANS | JULY 22, 2011

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Foreign Policy: We don’t know much about this bombing yet, but who would have been interested in attacking Oslo?

Kristian Harpviken: The only concrete supposition that would emerge in a Norwegian context would be al Qaeda. There has been specific mention of Norway [in its communications], alongside a number of other countries that have been part of the war on terror [and] part of the war in Afghanistan, including on one occasion fairly recently after the killing of Osama bin Laden. That is the only concrete angle there is to it — but the police have not yet indicated anything in terms of where they are looking, as far as I understand it. There’s still quite a bit of work to be done before they have an overview of what happened, or even an overview of the extent of the damages and the number of people killed and injured.

FP: What are the most important questions to be asking at this point?

KH: The immediate question that comes up of course is whether anti-terror preparedness [in Norway] has been of a sufficient scope. It’s clear that Norway has significantly strengthened its intelligence and other warning capacities from 2001 up to the present. In fact, last summer, about this time of the year, a different plot was revealed by the Norwegian authorities.

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