Political Concepts

Views on the News – 9 Dec 2010

FBI Paid Ex-Con $177,000 to Entrap Muslims

In exchange for paying informant Craig Monteilh $177,000 to infiltrate Muslim communities, the FBI got little to show, except for embarrassment. Monteilh, a convicted forger of banks notes, was hired by federal law enforcement to spy on Muslims in Southern California and, he says, entrap them on charges of terrorism.

But the FBI didn’t rack up a lot of convictions from Monteilh’s handiwork. As a matter of fact, it was Monteilh who wound up being served-after his talk of violent jihad resulted in his fellow Mosque members filing a restraining order against him. Jerry Markon of the The Washington Post writes: “Compounding the damage, Monteilh has gone public, revealing secret FBI methods and charging that his ‘handlers’ trained him to entrap Muslims as he infiltrated their mosques, homes and businesses. He is now suing the FBI.”

Euro faces major crisis, says Brown

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that the euro is facing a “major crisis” early in the New Year.Mr Brown said that leaders of eurozone countries need to get together in a “High Noon” moment to seize the initiative from the markets and prevent them picking off troubled economies one by one. Failure to solve the euro’s problems in “one fell swoop” would condemn the continent to “a decade of high unemployment and low growth”, he warned. The crisis would affect the UK, even though it is not in the single currency, because 60% of its trade is with eurozone countries. Mr Brown said that the much-publicised sovereign debt crises of countries like Greece and Ireland were not the only problems facing the euro, which much also resolve structural rigidities and the enormous debts of its banks. He told the BBC: “I sense that in the first few months of 2011, we have got a major crisis in the euro area.” Three different forces were working together to destabilise the currency, he said.”We have got fiscal deficits, obviously, and that is the main thing that people have been talking about,” he said.

Talks called off as Turkey’s EU bid loses momentum

Turkey’s bid to join the European Union has stalled and talks scheduled for 22 December have been cancelled. Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers, had hoped to maintain momentum by opening a new chapter in the accession talks. But Steven Vanackere, Belgium’s foreign minister, told European Voice that Turkey’s implementation of new competition rules was “a bit too slow”. The Belgian presidency will be the first since Turkey began membership talks with the EU in 2005 that fails to open a single negotiating chapter. Vanackere insisted that the “momentum is still going on” in Turkey’s bid to join the EU. Opening the competition chapter was “a question of weeks and months at the beginning of the next presidency because a lot of work has been done”, he said. Belgium hands on the presidency to Hungary on 1 January.

US troops test “smart” rifle in Afghanistan

U.S. troops in Afghanistan are testing a high-tech “smart” rifle that uses computer-chip-embedded rounds that can detonate behind walls, LiveScience.com reported Wednesday. Using sensors, lasers and optics, the XM25 rifle guides 25mm rounds — each embedded with a microchip — to hit a target up to about 2,300 feet (700 meters) away, the report said. Once reaching the target hidden behind walls, rocks or trenches, the bullets, which act like grenades, can be detonated, according to the report. The report explains the way how the rifle works — a laser is built into the targeting scope that sits on top of the weapon. It measures the distance to a target — for instance, the wall that conceals a combatant. The soldier then can modify the distance to allow the bullet to detonate past the wall. When the soldier pulls the trigger, this information is wirelessly relayed to the computer chip in the shell. A magnet inside the bullet generates alternating current as it spins through the air, and conveys information to the microchip to let the bullet know how far it’s travelled. Once the computerized bullet reaches its programmed distance, it will explode, spreading shrapnel evenly in all directions, the report said. The XM25 rifle is being developed by firearms producer Heckler & Koch, and costs 25,000 to 35,000 dollars apiece, according to the report. Troops operating in various outposts with high levels of enemy activity began carrying the semi-automatic XM25 rifles in November, the report said. Depending on the feedback from the soldiers, the Army will decide whether to issue 12,500 smart rifles to troops in Afghanistan, starting in 2014, said the report.

9th December 2010