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National security wrap

Posted By , , and on March 7, 2019 @ 13:10

The beat

Privacy concerns over German body-camera footage

Footage captured by German police body cameras is being stored in Amazon cloud servers, raising concerns about privacy and cybersecurity. The German government says it doesn’t have the internal infrastructure to store the footage. The servers are in Germany, but opposition legislators are concerned that agencies outside of Germany could access the data, noting that Amazon sells facial recognition software to US police that is used to analyse bodycam videos.

Coca cultivation causes Colombian clashes

There have been clashes in northern Colombia between police and farmers over failed crop-substitution schemes. As part of the ongoing peace process in the country, the government promised farmers of coca (the basic ingredient of cocaine which has fuelled conflict in Colombia for decades) economic aid and support to switch to legal crops. However, this help has failed to materialise in some areas, forcing farmers to return to coca. Farmers have protested the government’s inaction, provoking a response from police.

Controversy over falling police numbers and knife violence in London

The chief of London’s Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, says that falling police numbers are contributing to the increasing knife violence in the city. Since 2010, police numbers have decreased by 20,000. Dick’s comments came in response to Prime Minister Theresa May’s suggestion that there was no correlation between falling police numbers and knife violence, which caused controversy during cabinet meetings earlier this week.


The charge of the aquatic brigade

Filipino fishermen say they have been driven away from traditional fishing grounds near Thitu Island in the South China Sea by Chinese ‘fishing militias’. A report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative states that Chinese ships have been deployed near the island since July. While the claims are yet to be verified, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the US will defend the Philippines from any Chinese aggression in honour of obligations under Article 4 of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

Screening for refugees returning to South Sudan

South Sudan has stepped up its screening of refugees returning from Ebola-stricken camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. An outbreak of the disease in August in the DRC claimed 100 lives and left 300 other people infected. Up to 100 people are crossing from the DRC to South Sudan every day, but many are unable to access screening sites due to poor infrastructure and the complex security situation.

Vanuatu and France butt heads over island claims

Vanuatu’s foreign affairs minister, Ralph Regenvanu, has summoned senior French diplomats after a French warship visited a pair of islands between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Both countries claim the uninhabited Matthew and Hunter Islands, which were annexed by France in 1976 prior to Vanuatu’s independence. Regenvanu says he plans to officially complain to French President Emmanuel Macron, and that France’s move goes against years of negotiations between the two nations.

CT scan

Al-Shabaab militants killed after Mogadishu siege

Three al-Shabaab terrorists have been killed following a 22-hour siege in Somalia. The militants occupied a building after setting off several car bombs in central Mogadishu. In the bombing and the fighting that followed, 29 civilians were killed and more than 80 injured. Al-Shabaab was driven from Mogadishu in 2011. US airstrikes on the group have increased under President Donald Trump, and more than 20 al-Shabaab fighters were killed in a strike in the Hiran region on the same day as the Mogadishu attack.

Calls to extend US terrorism insurance program

American insurers have called for a permanent extension of the federal terrorism risk program that is set to expire in 2020. The program, which has never been triggered, was developed after the 9/11 attacks, when many insurance companies stopped offering terrorism insurance for big companies and commercial buildings. Under the program, if the losses from a terrorist attack exceed a certain amount, participating insurers are reimbursed a portion of the payouts.

Islamic State bride’s court request denied

US-born ‘Islamic State bride’ Hoda Muthana has lost a court request for her case to be treated as an emergency. The hearing came after the Trump administration said that Muthana wasn’t a US citizen and therefore it wasn’t required to accept her back into the country. Her father was a Yemeni diplomat who has insisted he lost his diplomatic status before his daughter was born and so she should be entitled to American citizenship. Muthana’s lawyer argues that she faces immediate harm in a refugee camp in Syria with her 18-month-old son. Judge Reggie Walton ruled that the risk was speculative, noting her access to media. Muthana may now have to wait several months for her case to be resolved.

First responder

US disaster spending ‘exacerbates inequality’

According to an NPR investigation, US federal disaster aid exacerbates wealth inequality. Records from a Federal Emergency Management Agency database of more than 40,000 property buyouts show that a disproportionate amount of spending has been allocated to white and non-Hispanic communities. The research questions the integrity of federal aid programs, as stringent application requirements make it more difficult for low-income families to recover from natural disasters.

Snake-shaped robot makes debut in Fukushima

A new disaster-response robot shaped like a snake has been tested at the Fukushima robot test field in Minamisoma, Japan. Designed by Tohoku University, the robot is equipped with a camera and a microphone to find missing people in collapsed buildings. Since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, a number of robots have been developed and used to assist in disaster-recovery efforts.

Human milk bank launched in the Philippines

The Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center and UNICEF have opened one of the Philippines’ largest human milk banks in the city of Tacloban. Milk banks have been established throughout the country to help mothers with premature or undernourished babies. But this is the first to be set up as part of ‘build back better’ disaster-resilience efforts, six years after category-five typhoon Yolanda devastated the region. The milk bank will store pasteurised breastmilk and feeding equipment to mitigate the effects of disasters on newborns.

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[1] German police: https://www.dw.com/en/german-police-storing-bodycam-footage-on-amazon-cloud/a-47751028

[2] clashes in northern Colombia between police and farmers: https://colombiareports.com/protesters-clash-with-police-in-northern-colombia-as-farmers-return-to-coca-cultivation/

[3] falling police numbers: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-47452799

[4] decreased: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/05/met-police-chief-cressida-dick-violent-knife-crime-officer-cuts-linked

[5] Prime Minister Theresa May’s suggestion: https://news.sky.com/story/it-cant-go-on-sajid-javid-calls-for-end-to-knife-violence-after-murders-11654787

[6] controversy during cabinet meetings: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/05/knife-crime-sajid-javid-calls-for-emergency-cash-to-help-police

[7] say: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/03/04/1898583/palace-chinese-blockade-pag-asa-sandbars-validation

[8] report: https://amti.csis.org/under-pressure-philippine-construction-paramilitary-response/

[9] US will defend the Philippines: https://thediplomat.com/2019/03/in-philippines-pompeo-offers-major-alliance-assurance-on-south-china-sea/

[10] stepped up its screening: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/ebola-defence-south-sudan-steps-border-checks-190304072225186.html

[11] summoned senior French diplomats: https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/383853/vanuatu-angered-by-french-warship-s-visit-to-disputed-islands

[12] years of negotiations: https://actu.nc/2017/05/04/les-frontieres-maritimes-en-negociation-avec-le-vanuatu/

[13] al-Shabaab terrorists have been killed: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/militants-in-22-hour-mogadishu-siege-dead

[14] US airstrikes: https://thehill.com/policy/defense/432214-us-airstrike-kills-26-more-al-shabaab-fighters-in-somalia

[15] called for a permanent extension: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-insurance-terrorism-program/us-insurers-seek-renewal-of-federal-backstop-against-acts-of-terrorism-idUSKCN1QM1CI

[16] The program: https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/ey-benefits-of-the-u-s-program-for-terrorism-insurance-from-a-comparative-perspective/%24File/ey-benefits-of-the-u-s-program-for-terrorism-insurance-from-a-comparative-perspective.pdf

[17] Hoda Muthana has lost a court request: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/04/politics/hoda-muthana-us-citizen-justice-department/index.html

[18] wait several months: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/04/us/politics/hoda-muthana-hearing.html

[19] NPR investigation: https://www.npr.org/2019/03/05/688786177/how-federal-disaster-money-favors-the-rich?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20190305

[20] shaped like a snake: http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005578294

[21] robots have been developed and used: https://www.cnet.com/news/for-fukushimas-nuclear-disaster-robots-may-be-the-only-hope/

[22] largest human milk banks: https://reliefweb.int/report/philippines/human-milk-bank-launched-part-building-back-better-after-yolanda

[23] Milk banks: http://hmb.ph/milkBankLocation.php

[24] help mothers: https://www.rappler.com/move-ph/181008-quezon-city-human-milk-bank-saves-infants

[25] devastated the region: https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/multimedia/slideshow/11/07/18/yolandas-path-then-and-now