Big Brother is watching EU

U.S. Embassy at focus of NSA Germany Spy scandal. Getty

As the US moves towards privacy reform, Europe enacts sweeping new spying powers.

A strange — and strangely unnoticed — trend is emerging in the evolving global response to massive 2013 leaks about US surveillance activities. While our European cousins talk privacy reform, the United States is actually moving ahead with it, albeit more slowly than many would like. As the American side of the Atlantic inches toward self-restraint, many European governments are seeking sweeping new spying powers. Europe is at risk of falling behind the US in privacy reform. 

Following two post-Snowden reviews of US surveillance activities, the United States announced new limitations to its electronic surveillance activities, including additional privacy protections for Europeans and other non-US citizens, which few European countries currently afford Americans. Much-criticized US surveillance activities, including the bulk telephone metadata program, are set to expire in days unless Congress intervenes. Meanwhile, the bipartisan Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Overseas (LEADS) Act and similar draft laws are moving through Congress and garnering broad support from technology companies, business organizations, and privacy and civil liberties advocacy groups. Continue reading

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Breaking the Nordic Defense Deadlock

Authored by Dr. Stefan Forss, Colonel (Ret.) Pekka Holopainen.

Breaking the Nordic Defense De... Cover Image

Brief Synopsis

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Russian actions in Ukraine in 2014 have prompted an urgent reassessment of the defense posture of many European nations. The Nordic states in particular are grappling with a 2-decade legacy of defense drawdowns and repositioning for expeditionary warfare. The challenge for these nations is how to resurrect a credible military deterrent in the face of continuing Russian assertiveness. One attractive option is closer defense cooperation between the Nordic states, but moves in this direction are slow and faltering. Continue reading

Arrests fuel jihad fears in Spain’s African lands

Arrests fuel jihad fears in Spain's African lands

A picture taken on December 4, 2014 is a general view of El Principe district in Ceuta.

CEUTA, Spain – Aisha has lived all her life in one neighbourhood in Spain’s African territory of Ceuta, but now she is willing to move – even to the war zone of Syria.

“I would go and live with my family in the Islamic State in Syria, and if my husband died there in combat, I would accept it,” said the mother-of-four, dressed in a black hijab, who asked for her real name to be concealed.

Her home district of El Principe in this European enclave of 87,000 people on the tip of Morocco has a reputation for hardship – and a new, growing one for Islamic radicalism.

Police on Tuesday raided a gang they suspect recruited 12 women online and sent them to join the violent extremist group calling itself Islamic State, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq.

Five of the suspects were arrested in Barcelona, Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s other north African territory, to the east. Two were detained in Morocco, close to the border with Ceuta.

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Germany’s Intelligence Chief Says At Least 550 Germans In IS Ranks

Coat of arms of Syria -- the "Hawk of Qur...

Coat of arms of Syria — the “Hawk of Qureish” with shield of vertical tricolor of the national flag, holding a scroll with the words الجمهورية العربية السورية (Al-Jumhuriyah al-`Arabiyah as-Suriyah “The Syrian Arab Republic”). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

November 23, 2014

The head of Germany‘s domestic intelligence agency says that some 550 citizens of the country have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Hans-Georg Maassen told the newspaper “Welt am Sonntag” in an interview published on November 23 that the number of Germans fighting alongside IS militants had risen from 450, the number German officials have previously been using.

Maassen said about 60 of those German citizens were killed in fighting, with at least nine killing themselves in suicide attacks.

Maassen said German authorities believe some 180 jihadists have returned after fighting in Syria and Iraq and since Germany is part of the alliance fighting the Islamic State extremist group, the country is “naturally” a target for the militants.

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China’s Dangerous Game

The country’s intensifying efforts to redraw maritime borders have its neighbors, and the U.S., fearing war. But does the aggression reflect a government growing in power—or one facing a crisis of legitimacy?

Brian Stauffer

In the tranquil harbors that dot the coastline of Palawan, a sword-shaped island in the western Philippines, the ferry boats are crowded with commuters traveling back and forth between sleepy townships, and with vendors bearing fresh produce. On Sundays, they fill with people dressed up for church. From nearby berths, fishermen set out to sea for days at a time aboard their bancas, the simple, low-slung catamarans they have favored for generations.

Just inland from the shore, narrow, crowded streets thrum with the put-put of motorized rickshaws. The signs on the small shops and restaurants that line them are almost as likely to be in Korean, Vietnamese, or Chinese as in the Filipino language Tagalog.

The shore-hugging seas of this part of the world, from the southern tip of the Korean peninsula to the Indonesian archipelago, have always served as a kind of open freeway for culture, trade, and ceaseless migration. In past times, historians of the region went so far as to call the long waterway that encompasses both the East China Sea and the South China Sea the Mediterranean of East Asia. But more recently, it has begun to earn more-ominous comparisons to another part of Europe, a fragmented region that was the famous trigger for the First World War: the Balkans. Continue reading

East Africa: Interpol Closes in on Car Theft and Drug Trafficking

Panorama of Dar es Salaam city a few minutes b...

Image via Wikipedia

Joseph Mwamunyange

27 September 2010


Nairobi — An extensive Interpol operation is under way to cut off international motor vehicle theft and drug trade that finds its way into East African countries from Asia and Europe.

A combined team of police officers from Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Zambia, Mauritius and Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, has impounded at least 60 stolen cars in Tanzania. According to the Director of Criminal Investigations Robert Manumba, the cars were stolen from Kenya, Japan, South Africa, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Germany, Slovenia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Australia.

“We have already carried out similar operations in Malawi and Zambia where cars, drugs, guns and other such items have been impounded,” said Mr Manumba. Continue reading

Europe Pieces Together Terrorism Puzzle

By BRUCE CRUMLEY / PARIS Tuesday, May. 12, 2009

Malika El Aroud, widow of Abdessater Dahmane, at her computer in the living room of her home in Brussels. Hazel Thompson / Eyevine

Continental Europeans may have been spared the devastation of jihadist suicide bombings since the deadly March 2004 attacks in Madrid, but on Tuesday morning there was another grim reminder that the threat of terrorism is far from over. Italian police in the southern city of Bari announced that they are holding two French nationals whom authorities call “top-level point men” for “al-Qaeda in Europe” and who were allegedly plotting kamikaze strikes in France and the U.K. — including one purportedly targeting the Charles de Gaulle airport. Continue reading