I left my apartment in my socks, shorts and a light jacket, my hands in the air. “What’s going on?” I asked again. Two police officers had guns trained on me. They shouted: “Who’s in there with you? How many of you are there?”
I said it was only me and, hands still raised, slowly descended the stairs, focused on one officer’s eyes and on his pistol. I had never looked down the barrel of a gun or at the face of a man with a loaded weapon pointed at me. In his eyes, I saw fear and anger. I had no idea what was happening, but I saw how it would end: I would be dead in the stairwell outside my apartment, because something about me — a 5-foot-7, 125-pound black woman — frightened this man with a gun. I sat down, trying to look even less threatening, trying to de-escalate. I again asked what was going on. I confirmed there were no pets or people inside.
I told the officers I didn’t want them in my apartment. I said they had no right to be there. They entered anyway. One pulled me, hands behind my back, out to the street. The neighbors were watching. Only then did I notice the ocean of officers. I counted 16. They still hadn’t told me why they’d come.
This has been a bad week for the United States, folks. France was directly attacked by terrorists and its response was to promise to house 30,000 Syrian refugees; we weren’t and one branch of our government fell over itself to put the brakes on accepting a third of that number. France is defying the very organization that attacked it while we, on the other hand, are doing exactly what that organization hoped we would do. We’re being the cowardly bigots they hoped we would be, and as loudly as possible.
So congratulations, America. We’ve successfully wrested the title of “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” from France. Enjoy it.
First of all, that’s not even the proper use of the word..it’s like they’re wondering if Trump is so amazing that he goes beyond the truth. Second of all, the short-fingered vulgarian does not “transcend” the truth. He is out and out LYING! It’s really not that hard to say.
“Of course, the whole point of a Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret,” said Dr Strangelove to the Soviet ambassador in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film of the same name. Fifty years later, it would appear that the Russians have finally watched the movie…
Moscow doesn’t want the United States to make the same mistake in real life, so it has just let us know that it is building a mini-doomsday machine. It wouldn’t destroy the whole world, just a half a continent or thereabouts – like, say, all of the United States east of the Mississippi River, or all of China within 1,500 km of the coast.
Posted on November 22nd, 2015 at 13:34 by John Sinteur in category: News
The archbishop said: “Saturday morning, I was out and as I was walking I was praying and saying: ‘God, why – why is this happening? Where are you in all this?’ and then engaging and talking to God. Yes, I doubt.”He said the shock he felt over the incident was “added to because my wife and I lived in Paris for five years”.
Yeah – he’s apparently an archbishop who never encountered the problem of evil before but now that a few people at a place he used to live in got shot it’s suddenly enough to put a kink in his worldview? What newspapers have you been reading all your life?
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told a group of African-American civic leaders on Saturday that he is still waiting to see evidence of racial bias by law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
The retired neurosurgeon told moderator Jeffrey Johnson of the Black Entertainment Television network, “I’m not aware of a lot of cases where a police officer just comes up to somebody like you and says, ‘Hey, I don’t like you. I’m going to shoot you.”
Carson continued, “I’m still waiting for the evidence.”
Johnson retorted, “I’ll show you the Tamir Rice tape.”
Posted on November 21st, 2015 at 23:57 by John Sinteur in category: News
As a gesture of solidarity and support, Russia has gifted the French Police with a little German Shepherd pup called Dobryna. Named after a Russian Knight, his name stands for Strength, Kindness, Valour and Selfless Help.
Anonymous, the loose collective of online activists, said Saturday it has uncovered information about Islamic State group attacks in Paris as well as on locations in the U.S., Indonesia, Italy and Lebanon, all apparently set for Sunday. OpParisIntel, a group within Anonymous, released a statement saying it had collected information about imminent attacks by the militant group — aka Daesh, ISIL and ISIS — on the French capital a little more than a week after a series of coordinated attacks there left 130 dead and hundreds injured.
Anonymous also said the Islamic State group is planning an assault at the WWE Survivor Series event scheduled to take place in the Philips Arena in Atlanta Sunday at 7.30 p.m., as well as attacks at multiple events in Paris.
The collective published the list of potential targets alongside a statement: “The goal is to make sure the whole world, or at least the people going to these events, know that there have been threats and that there is possibility of an attack to happen. Another goal is to make sure Daesh knows that the world knows and cancels the attacks, which will disorientate them for a while.”
The targets listed by Anonymous are as follow:
Demonstration by Collectif du droit des femmes (Paris)
Cigales Electroniques with Vocodecks, RE-Play & Rawtor at Le Bizen (Paris)
Concrete Invites Drumcode: Adam Beyer, Alan Fitzpatrick, Joel Mull at Concrete (Paris)
Feast of Christ the King celebrations (Rome/Worldwide)
Al-Jihad, One Day Juz (Indonesia)
Five Finger Death Punch (Milan)
University Pastoral Day (Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon)
In other words, all the calls for increased surveillance and less encryption really seem like a smoke screen by an intelligence community that failed. It’s entirely possible that their job is an impossible one, but at the very least we should be dealing in that reality. Instead, the intelligence community that failed is doing everything possible to shift the blame to encryption and Snowden, rather than admitting the fact that they knew who these people were, that encryption wasn’t the issue and that maybe doubling down on those policies won’t help at all. Of course, it might take some of the pressure off of them for failing to prevent the attack.
Still, as we’ve noted, almost every case of a “prevented” attack hasn’t involved actual plotters, but rather the fake cooked-up plots by the FBI itself. So, we seem to have a law enforcement and intelligence community that is terrible at stopping real plots, but really good at putting unrelated people in jail for made-up plots. And now they want more power for surveillance and to undermine the encryption that keeps us all safe?
The ingenious thing about the Xindi botnet is who it targeted. The infection was aimed at Fortune 500 companies, university computer networks, and other groups whose users are usually very sought-after by advertisers. Because the advertisers thought that they were reaching such a valuable audience, they were willing to pay much more, $200 per thousand impressions for some, which compounded the cost of the fraud and made things much more lucrative for the fraudsters.
So now we have one annoying unwanted piece of crap stealing our bandwidth and computer resources to steal money from another annoying unwanted piece of crap. Great.
Posted on November 19th, 2015 at 18:32 by John Sinteur in category: News
David Kilcullen was a senior adviser to General David Petraeus in 2007 and 2008, when he helped to design and monitor the Iraq War troop “surge”. He was then a special adviser for counterinsurgency to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. From 2005 to 2006, he was chief strategist in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the US State Department. He has also been an adviser to the British government, the Australian government, NATO and the International Security Assistance Force. He is a former Australian Army officer and the author of The Accidental Guerrilla, Counterinsurgency and Out of the Mountains.
All of the attackers from Friday’s massacre in Paris so far have been identified as European Union nationals, according to a top EU official. The announcement further casts doubt on the validity of a Syrian passport found near the bodies of a slain attacker.
“Let me underline, the profile of the terrorists so far identified tells us this is an internal threat,” Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, said after a meeting with EU foreign ministers. “It is all EU citizens so far. This can change with the hours, but so far it is quite clear it is an issue of internal domestic security.”
In the wake of the Paris attack, intelligence officials and sympathizers upset by the Edward Snowden leaks and the spread of encrypted communications have tried to blame Snowden for the terrorists’ ability to keep their plans secret from law enforcement.
Yet news emerging from Paris — as well as evidence from a Belgian ISIS raid in January — suggests that the ISIS terror networks involved were communicating in the clear, and that the data on their smartphones was not encrypted.
European media outlets are reporting that the location of a raid conducted on a suspected safe house Wednesday morning was extracted from a cellphone, apparently belonging to one of the attackers, found in the trash outside the Bataclan concert hall massacre. Le Monde reported that investigators were able to access the data on the phone, including a detailed map of the concert hall and an SMS messaging saying “we’re off; we’re starting.” Police were also able to trace the phone’s movements.
The reports note that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the “mastermind” of both the Paris attacks and a thwarted Belgium attack ten months ago, failed to use encryption whatsoever (read: existing capabilities stopped the Belgium attacks and could have stopped the Paris attacks, but didn’t). That’s of course not to say batshit religious cults like ISIS don’t use encryption, and won’t do so going forward. Everybody uses encryption. But the point remains that to use a tragedy to vilify encryption, push for surveillance expansion, and pass backdoor laws that will make everybody less safe — is nearly as gruesome as the attacks themselves.
At about 12.20am, police threw six hand grenades at the jihadists, who immediately returned fire, much of which impacted on a single riot shield, which has now attained its own status among members of the BRI, France’s hostage unit. It was hit by 27 bullets while it helped to protect 18 members of the police team.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has called for Christian Syrian refugees to be allowed into the United States, because they are being persecuted. They do not represent a security risk, he says, because “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.” He believes that Syrian Muslims, by contrast, should be banned because there is no way to know who among them is a terrorist. Any other approach, Cruz says, is “lunacy.”
The Senator’s remarks raise a whole host of questions. Does he believe the Muslim refugees are not being persecuted? If so, why are so many of them fleeing? And if “regular Muslims” and “Muslim terrorists” cannot be distinguished from one another, how does he propose to distinguish “actual Christians” from “non-Christians pretending to be Christians in order to gain entry into the United States”? Does he really believe that Christians cannot commit acts of terror? Has he never heard, for example, of Timothy McVeigh or the Ku Klux Klan? Most important of all: Does he really understand what ‘terrorism’ means?
If Ted Cruz is honestly not clear on what he is saying—a big assumption—his confusion would be somewhat forgivable, as there are many different conceptions of ‘terrorism’ floating around. The United Nations, for example, adopted this definition in 1996:
Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or [a] particular person, for political purposes.
The U.S. government (USC Title 22, Chapter 38) defines the concept thusly:
The term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.
Or the definition from dictionary.com:
The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
There are two concepts that appear in each definition above and in nearly all descriptions of terrorism: (1) Use of fear, and (2) Advancement of a political agenda. This may seem fairly clear, but it actually leaves room for a wide variety of violent acts. The aforementioned KKK and McVeigh, the Unabomber, the 9/11 and Paris attacks, and the Charleston Church shooting, for example. This short list encompasses six very different actions, using different tactics in service of very different goals by different types of people at different times and in different places. And yet, they are all universally recognized as terrorist acts. And then, what about more ambiguous acts that seem to fulfill one or more of the various definitions above. Is a presidential assassination an act of terrorism? Was the Holocaust? How about a drive-by shooting? A hate crime? Urban riots? After all, nearly all acts of violence trigger fear, and nearly all are at least partly motivated by political considerations of one sort or another.
Indeed, because ‘terrorist’ is fairly broad and rather subjective, the definition tends to have an implied element in addition to the two above: (3) Committed by someone we do not like. For example, consider a man who lived in an extremely oppressive country, where citizens were violently oppressed on the basis of race. He decided to fight back, and organized a political and military faction that was willing to resist his government by any means possible. The United States was disturbed by this man’s activities, and formally declared him to be a terrorist in 1955. When he was captured and put in prison, the U.S. government sent a formal note of congratulations to his government. He was finally released from prison in 1990, though by that time the American opinion—on both him and his government—had changed dramatically. No longer was he a terrorist, now he was a hero. The individual in question, of course, was Nelson Mandela. And he is hardly an isolated example—others who have been labeled terrorists at one point or another: Eugene V. Debs, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Cesar Chavez. This also works in the other direction. Among the men who were once regarded as friends of America, doing heroic service in resisting the nation’s enemies: Muammar Gaddafi (whom the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency aided when he overthrew the King of Libya in 1969), Saddam Hussein (who helped the U.S. fight Iran in the 1970s and 1980s), and Osama bin Laden (who fought against Communist Russia in Afghanistan in the 1970s). As they say, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
So what Ted Cruz (or Jeb Bush or Donald Trump or whomever) is really saying when he suggests that Muslims commit acts of terrorism and Christians do not, is that he does not like Muslims (or, at very least, he’s pandering to voters who don’t like Muslims). As a very intelligent graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law, in both cases with Latin honors, he likely knows exactly what he’s saying. He probably also knows that the connection he is trying to draw between Islam and terrorism is largely sophistry. Europol tracks acts of terrorism across the European continent, and their most recent report (see page 42) reveals that only two of the 199 acts of terrorism in Europe in 2014 were religiously motivated. Separatist groups, radical left- and right-wing activists, and ethnic supremacy movements are all far more likely to be the perpetrators of terrorist acts. This has been true in each year since Europol began publishing this information in 2006. As one headline put it: “All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 99.6% that Aren’t.” If we turn to the United States, the numbers are very similar. According to FBI figures, about 2.5% of terrorist acts in the United States between 2005 and 2015 were committed by Muslims. By way of contrast, Jewish extremists were responsible for 7% and Communists were responsible for 5%.
Why does this matter? Well, first of all, efforts to associate Islam with terrorism (even with the qualifier ‘radical’ added) are not only grossly misleading, but they are also bigotry. Further, such verbiage actually advances ISIS’ agenda rather than confounding it. As The Guardianpoints out, ISIS wants the Western world to conceive of the conflict as being between Christianity and Islam. This aids with their recruiting, and moves them closer to their end goal, which is an end-of-days armageddon in which the world’s residents slaughter one another, leaving only a few thousand “true believers” behind. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic candidates seem to recognize this, hence their reluctance to use the phrase “radical Islam” in Saturday’s debates. We should learn more tomorrow, when Clinton is scheduled to deliver an address on ISIS. As to the GOP, The Guardian’s conclusion is quite damning: “Amid all the warmongering, bigotry and crusading, only one salient fact emerged from the Republican reactions to the Paris attacks: none of the party’s candidates are fit to govern in moments of international crisis.” One hopes that the paper is wrong, and that whomever emerges from the Republican field—if they are elected—leaves behind the rhetoric and realizes that words do indeed matter. (Z)
While overall 1.7% of women reported that they tried to end a pregnancy on their own, researchers suggest this is a low estimate in the general population since women tend to underreport abortion surveys due to stigma; the total number could, in fact, be as many as 240,000 women. And the absolute number is quite large considering the size of Texas, said Dr. Daniel Grossman, TxPEP co-investigator and professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, during a press call this morning. With the rise of harsh abortion laws, investigators believe more women will take matters into their own hands. “This is the latest body of evidence demonstrating the negative implications of laws like HB2 that pretend to protect women but in reality place them, and particularly women of color and economically disadvantaged women, at significant risk,” said Grossman.
Like millions of people, I’ve been obsessively following the news from Paris, putting aside other things to focus on the horror. It’s the natural human reaction. But let’s be clear: it’s also the reaction the terrorists want. And that’s something not everyone seems to understand.
Take, for example, Jeb Bush’s declaration that “this is an organized attempt to destroy Western civilization.” No, it isn’t. It’s an organized attempt to sow panic, which isn’t at all the same thing. And remarks like that, which blur that distinction and make terrorists seem more powerful than they are, just help the jihadists’ cause.
Think, for a moment, about what France is and what it represents. It has its problems — what nation doesn’t? — but it’s a robust democracy with a deep well of popular legitimacy. Its defense budget is small compared with ours, but it nonetheless retains a powerful military, and has the resources to make that military much stronger if it chooses. (France’s economy is around 20 times the size of Syria’s.) France is not going to be conquered by ISIS, now or ever. Destroy Western civilization? Not a chance.
While nobody was watching, the Senate a couple of days ago passed something called the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which passed at least partly because if you say “Cyber warfare, boogedy-boogedy!” around nervous legislators these days, they’ll pass a bill agreeing to have the NSA plant microchips in their spleens. The bill passed by one of those bipartisan majorities so beloved by Beltway pundits, 74-21. Now it goes to conference, and its final passage may be stalled because of the currently fluid state of the House Republican leadership.
In the Senate, Ron Wyden of Oregon really went to the mattresses over this bill, proposing a slew of privacy-related amendments that barely failed, but that failed nonetheless. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Dianne Feinstein was the principal Democratic senator whipping support for the bill and, make no mistake, this is a truly awful law. In brief, it not only opens the door to increased trawling through the lives of American citizens by the intelligence community, in many cases, it mandates it.
Since the attacks in Paris, both John Kerry and François Hollande have used it. The Kurdish militants battling ISIS in Iraq already use the term regularly, though they risk losing their tongues by uttering it.
Daesh is an acronym. It stands for the Arabic name of the Islamic State: al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. When Jen Percy, a New Republic contributor, went to northern Iraq this year, the Assyrian Christians waging a war against ISIS were calling ISIS troops “Daesh.” In her article for our September issue, she called it “a pejorative term for ISIS in Arabic.”
Zeba Khan, writing for the Boston Globe, has explained why “Daesh” could be read as an insult: “Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, it can mean anything from ‘to trample down and crush’ to ‘a bigot who imposes his view on others.’”
In light of its more unsavory connotations, ISIS leaders threatened last June “to cut the tongue of anyone who publicly used the acronym Daesh, instead of referring to the group by its full name,” according to the Associated Press.
Privately, law enforcement officials have acknowledged that prospects for congressional action this year are remote. Although “the legislative environment is very hostile today,” the intelligence community’s top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, said to colleagues in an August e-mail, which was obtained by The Post, “it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.”
There is value, he said, in “keeping our options open for such a situation.”
I was going to write a definitive refutation to the meme that it’s all Snowden’s fault, but Glenn Greenwald beat me to it.