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Wednesday :: October 01, 2014

Wednesday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full, here's another one, all topics welcome.

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Tuesday :: September 30, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

Long day in Court today, which means an open thread for you. All topics welcome.

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Monday :: September 29, 2014

Hostage John Cantlie Messages: Episode 2 Released

Al Furqan Media has released the second episode of British hostage John Cantlie's video series today. You can view it here (If You Tube removes it, you can get it here.)

The topic is President Obama's speech on 9/11 against ISIS. These propaganda videos are becoming redundant. What's new in this one? A flat-out denial of Obama's claim that ISIS kills innocent women and children. He says it's an undeniable fact that ISIS did not kill the Yazidi women and children of Mosul and Sinjar (whom he refers to as Christian). He says ISIS does not regard the Shia as Muslims and thinks they are worse than Americans. He says Isis regards the Shia as apostates claiming to be Muslim while worshiping the dead.

After disparaging the ground forces Obama says will be assembled from reconstituted Iraqi soldiers and syrian rebels, he ends with, "For their part, the Islamic State states they welcome meeting Obama's under-construction army."

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Brazilian Hotel Evacuated as Hostage Paraded on Balcony

An employee at a luxury hotel in Brasilia has been taken hostage, handcuffed, strapped in a suicide vest and paraded on the balcony of a room on the 13th floor, with a gun to his head. The hotel has been evacuated and police are trying to get the hostage taker to release him. Photo here.

Unconfirmed reports are that the hostage taker checked into the hotel this morning, is a minor public official who is demanding the President of Brazil step down. (There was a televised debate last night in the upcoming presidential election.) Negotiators are on scene.[More....]

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Views on ISIS From the Middle East

I'm always interested in how countries halfway around the world say they would address a problem here. I'm not talking about legal problems since laws in other countries vary too much, but in hands-on tackling of a problem that affects society. Like ISIS.

Here's three articles I recommend, all from the same paper in the Middle East. Two are op-ed's and one is an editorial.

The bottom line for all three is that military force cannot solve the problem of ISIS. They come up with other suggestions, which read like something I might have written. If the answer is so obvious to them (and me), why is our Government so obtuse? War is usually never the answer. Links to the articles belos: [More...]

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Sunday :: September 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Open Thread

It's that time of year again...this year it's a big one. I should be happy because I'm done with outrageous heath insurance premiums (now it's just Medicare, a supplemental policy, and a drug plan which together cost 1/3 of my monthly health insurance premium last year.)

But aging is never really a happy experience, even when you have good health and a good life. Every day there's a reminder of some part of the face or body that used to be "up to here" and has now shifted "down to there." [More....]

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Al Nusra Threatens Retaliation for U.S. and Allies' Air Strikes

Well, that didn't take long. Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaida's branch in Syria, has been fighting with ISIS for months, refusing to pledge allegiance to the self-declared Caliphate State. But now that the U.S. has targeted it in air strikes, resulting in the loss of its headquarters, a leader or two and some civilians, the gap between the two groups is quickly closing. Nusra spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri published a video statement threatening retaliation against the U.S. and any allies involved in the bombing.

So far, ISIS is not weakened by the strikes. It is fighting hard in Kobane against the Syrian Kurds, who are still trying to flee to Turkey. Turkey's President is now saying Turkey might provide military support to the U.S. led coalition, but it doesn't seem to mean boots on the ground fighting ISIS. [More...]

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Saturday :: September 27, 2014

Saturday Open Thread

Congratulations to Chelsea Clinton and husband Marc Mezvinsky -- now the proud parents of Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: September 26, 2014

Hagel: ISIS War Costing $7 to $10 Million a Day

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a press conference today the Pentagon is spending $7 to $10 million a day in the fight against ISIS.

"We're generally spending roughly, since this effort started, $7 million to $10 million a day. That's being funded out of OCO, overseas contingency operations," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a Friday press conference. Commonly referred to as war funds, the money isn't subject to congressional budget caps.

He said the Pentagon will ask Congress for more funding.

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Friday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full. Here's a new one, all topics welcome. Civility required.

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Thursday :: September 25, 2014

New Additions to the Designated Terror List

Yesterday, the U.S. added additional suspected terrorists and groups on its designated terror list. More than one are connected to kidnappings and beheadings.

Among the new names I recognize: Amru al-Absi

As of mid-July 2014, Amru al-Absi was selected as ISIL’s provincial leader for Homs, Syria, in the Aleppo region. As a principal leader of ISIL in Syria, he has been in charge of kidnappings.

I wrote about him here, but check the source articles I relied on, here and here. [More...]

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FBI Says It Has Identified ISIS Killer in Beheading Videos

FBI director James Comey says the U.S. has identified the black clad executioner of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines. It is not releasing the information, hoping to capture or kill him. The FBI is still working identifying the two English speakers in the Flames of War video, believed to be American or Canadian.

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Eric Holder Resigns, Continues Progressive Reforms

Attorney General Eric Holder is resigning. But he is still initiating long overdue policies that have immediate welcome effect.

Yesterday he issued a memo to U.S. attorneys telling them not to use recidivist charges (called 851 charges after the statute number) as a leverage tool or a hammer:

Holder sent a memo to U.S. attorneys Wednesday urging them not to use sentencing enhancements known as "851" tools to gain leverage in plea negotiations with defendants — in essence, threatening defendants into avoiding trial with huge amounts of prison time.

He is also in the process of issuing a memo telling prosecutors not to put appeal waivers for ineffective assistance of counsel in plea agreements (something many districts have banned as unconstitutional). He will issue new racial profiling guidelines that "will make clear that sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion are not legitimate bases for law enforcement." suspicion.

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No Venue Change for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's jury trial will remain in Boston. The judge denied a change of venue yesterday. He did grant a two month continuance, until January, 2015. The 10 page order is here.

I recommend reading the defense expert's report. It is very well written and really gives a sense of the factors that need to be considered. It is available here.

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Wednesday :: September 24, 2014

Wednesday Night Open Thread

It's dinnertime here -- and then there's the finale of Big Brother and first episode of a new season of Survivor. I'm already missing Senor de Los Cielos and it only ended two days ago. A new narco drama is now airing on Telemundo, Senora Acero (review here), but it was so over the top violent, I doubt I'll keep watching. It's about a simple caring young mother who marries a drug dealer. He gets killed on their wedding night. She goes on to become the biggest drug lord in Mexico. Or something like that (It's in Spanish, and while there are subtitles using an antenna instead of cable, I haven't seen a detailed English plot summary.) In the first episode last night, the bride was kidnapped by black clad killers who descended on her wedding and looked just like ISIS -- it was very jolting to watch. [More...]

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