Jordan to intensify fight following pilot’s murder amid US support


Following the release of the video of the Jordanian pilot’s murder by ISIS on Tuesday, King Abdullah of Jordan declared, "We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and human principles and our war for their sake will be relentless and will hit them in their own ground." A Jordanian government spokesperson said that Jordan would “intensify its efforts” against ISIS and deliver a "strong, earth-shaking and decisive" response to the killing. Thursday, Jordan conducted new airstrikes against ISIS targets.  In a phone call to King Abdullah, The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “All civilized people were ‘shocked by this barbaric cruelty, which the world must fight.’” The White House and members of Congress expressed solidarity with Jordan over its loss. Wednesday, led by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the Senate Armed Services Committee sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry stating, “The barbaric murder of Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh of the Jordanian Armed Forces at the hands of self-designated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) reinforced our resolve to stand with Jordan and our coalition partners to defeat ISIL.” Urging the administration to send Jordan additional aid, the senators wrote, “Jordan’s situation and the cohesiveness of the coalition demands we move with speed to ensure they receive the military materiel they require for ongoing operations against ISIL.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today echoed the call of the committee pressing the administration “to move quickly to give more capacity to the Jordanians."  White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today that the “The United States  remains committed to ensuring that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners in Jordan at this very serious time.”


Eighty-nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, expressing that they are “deeply concerned” about Turkish restrictions on the freedom of the press.  “A strong democracy,” the letter reads, “requires both tolerance and transparency in order to thrive, but this decision by the Turkish government to intimidate, arrest, and smother voices opposed to the government is a threat to the very democratic principles that Turkey claims to hold dear.” The lawmakers specifically condemned raids that occurred last December 14, when 23 figures at media outlets with ties to Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Islamic scholar who is critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP). The letter went on to condemn the government’s regulation of Twitter and other websites. On Thursday, the Turkish government passed further restrictive legislation: a Turkish parliamentary commission granted authority to the prime minister or any government minister to block any website without a court order. In the immediate aftermath of last December’s raid, several U.S. lawmakers wrote letters to Secretary of State Kerry expressing their concern and the European Union passed a resolution of condemnation. In other acts of media repression, Turkish police raided the newspaper Cumhuriyet’s printing plant in January and checked its contents before allowing its distribution. Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation into Cumhuriyet for republishing sections from the January 14 edition of Charlie Hebdo. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has stated that that the freedom of the press is not the “freedom to insult.” Also last month, in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, a court ruled in favor of blocking web pages featuring the cover of an edition of Charlie Hebdo.


Within a few years, you may be traveling in a car with nobody at the wheel. Whether you call it an autonomous, driverless, or self-driving vehicle, this automobile of the near-future needs a host of complex components, some now under development at Israeli companies and academic laboratories. “You will be able to go to, let’s say, Paris or Tokyo, rent a car, swipe a card and tell it where you want it to go. You won’t have to know the area or the traffic rules,” says Prof. Zvi Shiller, founder of the department of mechanical engineering and mechatronics at Ariel University and director of its Paslin Laboratory for Robotics and Autonomous Vehicles (RAV Lab). The biggest benefit will be fewer traffic accidents – which currently cause more than 30,000 casualties annually in the United States alone — by eliminating human error in driving. But that requires a very, very smart car. In the RAV Lab, Shiller and his students are developing algorithms that will automatically modulate speed and handling in response to constantly changing, unpredictable road conditions. Driverless cars will need this capability to meet future safety regulations. “Today’s driverless cars, introduced by leading car companies such as Ford, Volvo, and even Google, can drive very well on a road that is smooth and flat. Our research is about driving over a surface with bumps, ruts and hills,” Shiller tells ISRAEL21c. (via Israel21c)

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