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Tuesday :: September 23, 2014

New Video Message From Hostage John Cantlie

Here's the latest video message from ISIS hostage John Cantlie. Watch now, because You Tube keeps taking it down. He quotes a lot of U.S. officials and argues Obama was caught off guard and the air strikes won't succeed.

He says Iran is running Iraq, and the appointment of "a new puppet" in Iraq is an important piece of the puzzle of America's Gulf War III.

He points out the pre-911 Afghans are already back in control of large parts of Afhanistan. He says not since Vietnam, have we witnessed such a potential mess in the making. [More...]

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Joe Biden's 40 Car Entourage Angers Aspen Law Enforcement

Joe Biden went to Aspen this weekend to speak at a private corporate event. Local law enforcement, including the sheriffs of Pitkin County (Aspen) and Garfield County (Glenwood Springs) are justly critical. It cost them thousands of dollars in overtime and security, the Secret Service didn't chip in (either did the corporation), he was only there for 24 hours and his speech wasn't open to the public. On top of that, he had a 40 car motorcade they had to monitor for 70 miles between the Eagle County Airport (near Vail) and Aspen, both for his Friday arrival and Saturday departure.

Helicopters buzzing above Aspen and multiple road closures along Highway 82 and Interstate 70 on Friday and Saturday accompanied Biden’s entourage, which involved a 40-car motorcade and at least nine local law enforcement agencies.

[More...]

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Monday :: September 22, 2014

US Airstrikes on ISIS in Raqqa

Update: Here's a You Tube video of civilians being pulled out of the rubble (you can't see faces.) Multiple reports on Twitter say ISIS was not around, the strikes hit a Jabhat al Nusra headquarters in Kafrdiyan, and a munitions factory near near Sarmada. There are also reports of dead JaN militants in Aleppo. The communications tower was hit so there aren't any tweets coming from official ISIS sources yet. ISIS has been anticipating the strikes in Raqqa for days and moving their heavy equipment elsewhere. A lot of fighters also went to fight the Kurds in Kobane. They aren't stupid, so I'm taking the news reports of massive ISIS casualties with more than a grain of salt. There are also reports and a photo of a plane being shot down, but it does not seem not to be a U.S. plane. No confirmation yet.

Original Post

The U.S. and partners launched airstrikes in Raqqa, Syria tonight, where ISIS has its headquarters. The photo above is a shot from them. There are reports civilians were killed. Power just came back on after a 2 hour outage. [More...]

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Monday Open Thread

Busy work day, here's an open thread, all topics welcome. Keep it civil.

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"The Good Wife" Returns in Overdrive

The Good Wife returned for a new season Sunday night. I really didn't care for last season but tuned in anyway, expecting to be bored. I'm glad I did. Someone must have slipped some steroids into the writers' morning Wheaties. [More...]

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Sunday :: September 21, 2014

ISIS Declares War, Stirs the Lone Wolf Pot

ISIS has just declared the equivalent of World War III. The announcement comes in the form of a long-awaited statement by ISIS official spokesman Shaykh Abū Muhammad al-‘Adnānī ash-Shāmī.

Adnani calls on Muslims everywhere to attack Americans and Europeans wherever they find them. You can find the English version of the ten page statement here. But be forewarned, it's not a pleasant read. [More...]

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Houthi Rebels Take Yemen Govt Offices, PM Resigns

It's a mess in Yemen. Houthi rebels (who are Shi'ite and a minority) have stormed government headquarters, ministries and TV stations in Sanaa. The Prime Minister of Yemen has resigned.

Last night UN envoy Jamal Benomar had announced a truce with the rebels. It's unclear what that means now, although Yemen's President says the accord will be signed today.

The Houthis are based in the north of Yemen, bordering on Saudi Arabia. As part of their demands, they want Yemen's recent decreases in fuel subsidies rolled back.

The fighting is said to benefit AQAP, which has been attacking Yemen security forces while the Houthis wage their battle. Yemen has also been fighting separatist rebels in the south.

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ISIS Release of Turkish Diplomats Raises Questions

ISIS released 49 hostages Saturday. They are Turkish diplomatic officials, family members and three Iraqi workers who have been held since June when they were seized at the Turkish Embassy in Mosul.

Turkey says no ransom was paid and the rescue was not a military operation. It says it knew where the hostages were kept through electronic tracking and intelligence.

The Turkish General Counsel, one of the hostages, says they were almost killed by U.S. airstrikes, which killed two of their guards outside and wounded some inside. [More...]

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Saturday :: September 20, 2014

Saturday Open Thread

ISIS released the full version of its latest propaganda video yesterday, "Flames of War." It's available on You Tube here.[new link] The speaker narrating the video sounds American. This struck me as an (unintentionally) funny line, which they attribute to al Qaida's Abu Musab al Zarqawi:

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

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Friday :: September 19, 2014

Missing Afghan Cops Training at Quantico With DEA Found

The DEA brought a bunch of Afghan police to Quantico to train them. It says it polygraphed them and took their passports. That didn't stop two of them from taking off in Georgetown Saturday.

They have now been found. They will be returned to Afghanistan. There's a suggestion in the article they may have intended to seek asylum and "a better life" here.

It’s not known if Samimi and Ataye intended to seek asylum, but it’s likely they left their supervised group to seek a better life in the United States.

More here.

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Friday Open Thread

Scotland voted to stay in the U.K. "With 31 of 32 constituencies declared, unionists had won 55 percent of the vote while separatists were on 45 percent."

The bill to arm and train "moderate" Syrian rebels has now passed in the Senate.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Thursday :: September 18, 2014

ISIS: Major Change of Hostage Media Strategy

British reporter John Cantlie was first captured by extremists in Syria in July, 2012. Here he is in a new video, calmly sitting at a table dressed in the tell-tale orange detainee garb, telling the public this is the first of a series of programs from him. There's no man in black, no desert in the background. He says he will expose the truth. He begins by saying the U.K. and U.S.A. are the only countries that refuse to pay ransom demands. He also asks why, after two disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Government is so keen on getting into yet another unwinnable conflict, this time with the Islamic State.

He says, "I know what you're thinking" -- that he's being forced to do this video and there's a gun to his head. He says, it's true, he is a prisoner. But "seeing as I've been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic state, I've got nothing to lose. Maybe I will live and maybe I will die."

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Wednesday :: September 17, 2014

Wednesday Night Open Thread

The House voted to train and arm "moderate" Syrian rebels.

Australia carried out big anti-terror raids. Official government statement here. The media says a senior ISIS member, who is Australian, had called for a random public execution via beheading in Sydney.

This is a open thread, all topics welcome.

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Obama: No Ground Troops For Iraq

President Obama addressed the military in Tampa today.

"I want to be clear. The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission," Obama said.

"We will train and equip our partners. We will advise them and we will assist them. We will lead a broad coalition of countries who have a stake in this fight."

Also today, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi ruled out foreign ground troops in Iraq. [More...]

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Tuesday :: September 16, 2014

Tuesday Night Open Thread

The iPhone 6 will be in stores on Friday. You can also preorder. It comes in two sizes. You can compare models here. If you are conflicted about which one to buy, read this. And if you currently have a grandfathered-in unlimited data plan, make sure it's still available if you buy a new phone. I'm going to take a pass for now since Apple gave me a new iPhone 5S for free 2 weeks ago when mine died. I also think it's too big.

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

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