Friday Readings

The Next Bin Laden
The National Journal’s Michael Hirsh profiles Abu Musab al-Suri, the man who has been identified as the next Osama bin Laden – and why he might be the best argument for a robust National Security Agency.

“But the agency’s opponents may not realize that the practice they most hope to stop—its seemingly indiscriminate scouring of phone data and emails—is precisely what intelligence officials say they need to detect the kinds of plots al-Suri favors. For the foreseeable future, al-Suri’s approach will mean more terrorist attacks against more targets—albeit with a much lower level of organization and competence,” Hirsh argues.

Furthermore, Hirsh says, the ongoing debate in Congress and in the nation about NSA spying “has been skewed toward the issue of infringement of Americans’ civil liberties. That’s an important issue, but it has obscured the little-reported rebirth of al-Qaida and its new, more-difficult-to-track shape. Meanwhile, congressional opposition to “bulk” data collection at home and email surveillance abroad is building.”

The Wall Street Journal wrote about al-Suri in 2012, shortly after his release from prison.

How Shifting Continental Plates Shaped Early Humans Mark Maslin, a professor of climatology at London’s University College, examines how the bumping together of the Indian and Asian continental plates millions of years ago shaped the future of early humans.

“This has a knock on affect of drawing moisture away from the African continent, and it was this that began the progressive drying out of East Africa. In terms of human evolution, this distinct split between the climate of Asia and Africa coincides with the split between Asian and African apes, the latter eventually evolving into us,” he contends.

Could Music Be Used As A Weapon Of War?
Aliya Silverstein looks at research which shows that music might be able to be utilized on the seas to disable a ship’s controls.

“It’s conceivable sound waves can be transformed into malicious electrical signals. An air disruption causes the diaphragm of a speaker to create an electrical signal made up of ones and zeros. Targeted ones and zeros can override a computer-driven ship,” reports Silverstein.

The Path Forward For Afghan Women
Former First Lady Laura Bush looks back on the gains women have made in Afghanistan and what it means for their futures.

“Yet these gains are fragile, and there is a real danger that they will be reversed. In the first half of this year, according to the United Nations, Afghanistan’s civilian death rate rose precipitously. Because of improvised explosive devices and the deliberate targeting of civilians by anti-government forces, the death rate for women and children jumped 38 percent from the same period last year. Many prominent women have also been ruthlessly targeted by the Taliban,” Bush urges.

 

 

 

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