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Security and Society

In the USA, a gun lobby is not the place where hunters put their guns in racks when they pop back into the house for lunch. It's the grammatically challenged collective name for those who promote the interests of manufacturers of, traders in and users of firearms. Together, they provide enough support to sway elections and ensure that guns are central to the lives of many Americans. But now, a group of lobbyists made up of prosecutors say, the gun lobbyists have gone too far.

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So far, recounts in the US Presidential election have either been abandoned or resulted in an increase in the majority for Donald Trump. The allegations that Russians somehow infiltrated the voting systems in the USA remain entirely unproven. Today, the allegations are irritating but, ultimately, no different in principle to the tirade of false information on social media. Set that against the express and clear comments of a senior Israeli diplomat saying he would "take down" UK ministers and others in what should have caused a storm but didn't.

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The continuing saga of South Korean president PARK Geun-Hye is gripping the South East Asian nation while the rest of the world looks on with mild interest and wonders just how many kinds of kimchi there are. To ignore it would be a mistake.

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What does Donald Trump have against Mexico? It's rapidly turning (in places) into a lawless state where violence associated with the drugs trade is driving more and more refugees across the border into the USA. So he wants to build a wall (or so he has said). But it's the economic policies that he's openly planning that will turn Mexico into a failed state with the risk of internal conflict emulating civil war. If he's not careful, he's going to end up with a Syrian style exodus just across the Rio Grande.

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In "The Edge of Madness," Michael Dobbs (of "House of Cards") fame writes of a mad senior officer in China who, off on a frolic of his own, creates a team of hackers who break into infrastructure projects all over the world, causing enormous damage and dangers. It was published in 2008. And when the Washington Post published an article saying that an electricity company in Vermont had been hacked and Russian code found, demonstrating the vulnerability of all systems, including the USA's national grid, Dobbs' novel seemed prophetic. But the Washington Post made up material parts of the story.

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The news has become so driven by rapidly changing stories and sound-bytes that serious issues are increasingly hidden away or barely reported. One such issue is Egypt's resolution before the UN Security Council which condemns Israel's illegal settlement building outside its UN approved borders. Outgoing US President Obama, with only days remaining in an unremarkable double term in leadership, had made it known that the US intended to abstain, a radical course of action : historically, the US votes against any vote critical of Israel. But the vote has been postponed and the first signs of future President Trump's foreign policy have been telegraphed.

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in Understanding Suspicion in Financial Crime Nigel Morris-Cotterill* says that only three facts are needed for the genesis of suspicion.

Now, with the acquisition of LinkedIn by Facebook, three US companies know far more than three facts, actually almost everything, about you, wherever you are in the world. Move over NSA: the Google-Microsoft-Facebook axis of evil is the real threat to personal privacy and security.

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It is unfortunate that, in the USA, the word terrorism is so easily bandied about that it has all but lost its meaning. A year ago, a mass killing occurred, but there remains no definitive evidence that the attack was, in fact, motivated by ideology which is a requirement for it to be classified as terrorism. Prosecutors and media must be more careful in their choice of words.

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Da'esh has, for much of its reign of terror, been funded from a range of sources. Although it is difficult to say exactly, the general feeling is that the largest, or close to the largest, has been from the sale, albeit on the black market, of oil. After a period in the doldrums, oil prices are rising again and, therefore, so will Da'esh's funding. But, of course, it's more complicated than that.

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On 23 November, the Council of the EU published a set of "conclusions" of the council and Representatives of the governments of Member States on "the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism." If there was ever a subject that was more fraught with danger in relation to definitions and concepts, it's hard to think of one. But the conclusions are based on a premise that is very familiar:that criminals aren't to blame for their actions - it's society's fault.

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As it rains on the Labour Party's parade, their Brexit battle bus shows the direction Labour wants Europe to take. It's going left. That is just one of the problems facing an increasingly disunited Labour as it follows the Conservatives into near meltdown over the issue.
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While the Conservative Party is seemingly on a course to self-destruction and Jeremy Corby wrestles with bizarre claims of anti-Semitism (the protesters don't appear to know what a Semite is) and both parties wondering how to spin the overall picture presented by last week's elections, Gordon Brown, one of, perhaps the primary, architect of the collapse of the British economy who failed to get a decent job in Europe and the IMF after his delusional claim that he saved the world, has weighed in. He's confirmed one significant fact that most politicians are reluctant to point out: the EU is, widely and fundamentally, a coalition of socialist states. Britain (at least parts of it) remain the only effective hold-out moderate, non-left-wing, state.

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After New York copied the Zero Tolerance initiative originated by Cleveland Police in the UK, the Big Apple saw the blight of widespread crime falling away. With all due respect to economists who claim that demographic and social changes were responsible, there is no doubt that strong policing made a difference.

So it's a surprise to learn that the city now appears to be turning its back on such methods to focus on large scale crime instead.

Is it because that's where the money is?

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Perhaps the most telling statement relating to yesterday's hijacking of a EgyptAir flight from Egypt to Cairo came from Egypt's Foreign Ministry, as quoted by the BBC: "He is not a terrorist he's an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they are not stupid. This guy is."

Yet, for all his stupidity, his actions raise some serious questions.

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A long article in the New York Times this week is headlined "Bernie Sanders Is Jewish, but He Doesn’t Like to Talk About It." The premise is simple: Sanders is not Jewish enough, or not overtly Jewish enough, for those Jews who want all Jews to wear a metaphorical yellow star. But it's not only Jews and it's not only Americans who want their politicians to put their religion front and centre - and to define a country with reference to the criteria set by those same outspoken groups. Are we seeing the death of the separation of Church and State?

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