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Security and Society

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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The actions of terrorists are always unacceptable. But history shows that changing attitudes accept the results of terrorism and, in some cases, see the results as worthy of the action. As we come up to two weeks before the 12th anniversary of 11 September 2001, it is clear some, perhaps unintended, consequences may prove to be beneficial to the entire world, including Muslims.

A contentious thought: please set aside emotional considerations when reading.

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The USA is to close embassies and consulates over Hari Raya / Eid (the end of Ramadan / Muslim new year). It's a PR snafu.

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The UK has suffered its first fatal terrorist attack since 7 July 2007. Running people down, hacking down people large knives is so common in some parts of the world that it warrants a small note on the inside pages of newspapers. But those attacks are usually related to organised crime or some perceived personal slight. But the murderous attack in Woolwich in south-east London was neither of those.

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The bombing of the Boston Marathon gained justifiably widespread publicity. But it was not the biggest terrorist event of the long weekend, nor even the event which could have proved the most deadly. But another event went largely unnoticed by the "western" media. Why? It happened in Taiwan.Then there's the 16 killed in an attack in Pakistan.

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There is much talk of successes against terrorism, in part as the justification for placing restrictions on long- and hard-won freedoms from oppressive government. But as the bombs placed at the route for the Boston Marathon shows, identifying and containing terrorist threats is next to impossible.

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