The nub of his proposal, DEBKAfile’s sources disclose, is the creation of a “contact group” for handling the hot Syrian potato. It is to be composed of the five permanent Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) plus Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.The proposal has won the blessing of the Obama administration, meaning its consent to letting the two powers that will dominate the contact group, Russia and Iran, determine the course and outcome of the Syrian crisis.Washington believes that only they have the clout in the Syrian army for bringing about Bashar Assad’s removal and his replacement in Damascus by a provisional military regime.
Washington also hopes, according to our sources, that this gesture will give Moscow a strong incentive to lean hard on Tehran for concessions at the next round of its talk with the six world powers on June 13.Neither Iran nor Moscow have promised the US anything of the sort, but the administration hopes Iran will start being forthcoming on its nuclear program after being permitted to assume a central role in Damascus.
Good luck with that. Wait, it gets worse:
There is less optimism outside administration circles and in Israel. They expect from Tehran nothing more at the next round of talks than token nuclear concessions, and none at all toward curtailing its work on a nuclear weapon.However the Obama administration appears to have opted for this course, even though it is the first time since the outbreak of the Arab Revolt in December 2010 that the United States is willing to let go of a major Middle East crisis and allow its foremost Middle East rivals, Moscow and Tehran, to take charge.As far as Israel is concerned, the plan has disastrous connotations. Instead of containing the spread of hostile Iranian influence in the region, as Obama promised Israel, he is opening for the door for Iran to extend its nfluence squarely in the countries neighboring on – and still at war with – Israel, while at the same time moving back from a focused effort to draw the sting of Iran’s nuclear bomb program.
Could we be seeing the beginnings of the 10 kings phase approaching?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she will use the gathering of EU leaders at the end of the month to push ahead with plans for a political union, including more sweeping powers to Brussels."We do not just need a currency union but also a so-called fiscal union - more common budget policy," she told Germany's ARD television early Thursday (7 June).She emphasised that a political union was also necessary: "That means that step-by-step in the future we have to give up more powers to Europe and grant Europe more oversight possibilities."While there has been a concerted effort over the last two years to make sure that all 27 member states are on board when it comes to further integration steps, Merkel said ambitious states should not be held up by recalcitrants.But even despite Merkel's traditional down-playing of expectations ahead of an EU meeting - the summit is increasingly taking on a high-stakes feel.Senior EU officials are working on plans to increase EU integration, including a banking union - seen as necessary to ensure the future survival of the single currency.
HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, Hawaii: A large number of earthquakes has been rattling the Volcano area on Hawaii Island over the last few days. The quakes have been small, with no damage reported. Still, a handful of those temblors have been 3.0 magnitude and over.The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s “Recent Earthquakes in Hawaii” page shows a constant swarm of quakes surrounding the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home of the active Kilauea Volcano. We took a screen grab of the screen of the USGS HVO earthquake page, and it shows the long list stretching all the way back to Friday, June 1st.16 earthquakes have already registered on the list before noon on Tuesday, Hawaii time.
A LEADING seismologist has said yesterday’s earthquake off the west coast was “unexpected” and poses “very interesting questions for geologists”.The earthquake, which registered a magnitude of four on the Richter scale, was recorded as 60km west of Belmullet, Co Mayo, at a depth of 3km, at 8.58am. It was the largest local seismic event ever recorded, according to Tom Blake of the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) and the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies.It was also the second-largest local earthquake on record in either Britain or Ireland, he said – the first being of 5.4 magnitude on July 19th, 1984, off the west coast of Wales and felt in Waterford and Wicklow.However, Mr Blake said that while the earthquake was classified as “moderate”, it was “significant” in that it challenged existing information about seismic activity off the west coast.
World's Largest Biometric Database
In the last two years, over 200 million Indian nationals have had their fingerprints and photographs taken and irises scanned, and given a unique 12-digit number that should identify them everywhere and to everyone.This immense task needs a database that can contain over 12 billion fingerprints, 1.2 billion photographs, and 2.4 billion iris scans, can be queried from diverse devices connected to the Internet, and can return accurate results in an extremely short time.This immense task needs a database that can contain over 12 billion fingerprints, 1.2 billion photographs, and 2.4 billion iris scans, can be queried from diverse devices connected to the Internet, and can return accurate results in an extremely short time.
The program - dubbed UIDAI - is lead by techno tycoon Nandan Nilekani, and is already a big success, as its effectiveness has been proved by a number of trials that allowed citizens to open bank accounts electronically, receive payments from the government directly into them, and withdrawing the money from them by authenticating themselves on a slew of simple devices.
The Flame virus, whose existence was announced several weeks ago by Eugene Kaspersky, is not just any old virus. It’s so sophisticated that it represents a new level of cyber threat, one that could be “the beginning of the end of the [interconnected] world as we know it,” Kaspersky said at a press conference Wednesday. “I have nightmares about it.”While many companies — including Kaspersky’s — advertise sundry solutions for computer viruses and Trojans, they won’t help when it comes to Flame and other still undiscovered viruses of similar or even greater strength that are likely out there, he said. “Right now we have no way to defend against these global attacks.”The term “cyber-war” is used by many to describe the situation, but that term — which implies that there are two equal, known enemies duking it out — is outmoded, he said. “With today’s attacks, you are clueless about who did it or when they will strike again. It’s not cyber-war, but cyberterrorism.”“It’s like biological weapons; when you set one off in one place, it affects many others.” Cyber-weapons of the magnitude of Flame are just as destructive. “The world is just so interconnected today, and the viruses that attack one power plant puts them all at risk,” Kaspersky said....a world in which cyberterrorists have a free hand – something like the world in the movie Die Hard 4 (also known as Live Free or Die Hard). That movie’s plot involves hackers causing blackouts, blowing up government buildings, and trying to shut down America’s computer system.