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Friday :: November 21, 2014

New John Cantlie Message Video

ISIS has released Episode 6 of prisoner John Cantlie's "Lend Me Your Ears" video messages. In it, he discusses the failed U.S. rescue attempt of James Foley. He excoriates the U.S. and British governments for not negotiating with ISIS, for threatening James Foley's mother with prosecution if she participated in ransom negotiations, and for abandoning him and the other foreign hostages recently executed.

He says ISIS was holding six foreign hostages, presumably referring to Foley, Sotloff, Haines, Henning, Kassig and himself. He doesn't mention the female U.S. aid worker who reportedly is being helds by ISIS. Hopefully, she's just being held in a different place.

Cantlie blasts the hypocrisy, arrogance and lies of the U.S. and Great Britain, saying they treated his life and those of the other English and American hostages like a "roll of the dice" while the other hostages all went home. He is not angry at ISIS.

You can watch the video here, but it probably won't stay up long.

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Friday Open Thread

More court today (and now Monday and Tuesday as well) and jail visits. I wish I could recoup the hours I spent after court this week at the Apple store (that "new" phone they gave me 3 months ago stopped working. I'm now on my third iPhone 5s) and on the phone with Comcast (the "hunt" feature and caller ID on my phone lines stopped working, and my cable bill jumped $50). All fixed now though.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Republicans Hyperventilate Over Obama's Modest Immigration Reform

Republicans are hyperventilating about President Obama's modest immigration reforms. If they had a clue what real immigration reform entails, they'd probably have a collective heart attack. Here are a few reform proposals that go much further than what Obama called for last night: [More...]

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Thursday :: November 20, 2014

5 Guantanamo Detainees Transfered to Georgia and Slovakia

Five Guantantamo detainees, four from Yemen and one from Tunisia, have been transferred to Georgia and Slovakia.

Obama has now transferred 100 detainees during his presidency. There are 143 detainees remaining at Gitmo.

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President Obama's Immigration Speech

Update: Here's the White House Fact Sheet with details of Obama's plan.

Airing now on CNN. Felons, not Families.

Three components:
  • More money for law enforcement at the border
  • Easier and faster process for skilled workers to stay here
  • Temporary relief against deportation for some undocumented immigrants
As to the undocumented, he is offering temporary protection against deportation for those:[More...]

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Wednesday :: November 19, 2014

Wednesday Open Thread

Here's a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Syrian Army Posts Response to ISIS Beheadings

The Syrian Arab Army has an official Facebook page in English. Yesterday it posted a response to the ISIS video showing the beheading of 16 of its members.

The statement acknowledges that army personnel have beheaded ISIS fighters in the past, but says those were individual acts by a few bad apples. The army, it insists, acts with honor and dignity.

It then says the Army won't be beheading captured ISIS fighters in the future. But, it continues, ISIS fighters will beg to be beheaded, because the Army will not treat them as human beings. [More...]

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Tuesday :: November 18, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

I'll be in court almost all week. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Monday :: November 17, 2014

Report: U.S. Flew Imprisoned ISIS Higher Up to Qatar

When Iraq announced last week that airstrikes had killed and wounded some ISIS leaders in Mosul and al Qaim, possibly including ISIS Caliph al-Baghdadi, articles began to re-surface identifying ISIS leaders.

Most of the information cited seems to come from a disclosure in June, 2014, days before ISIS took Mosul. Iraqi forces arrested an ISIS member named Abu Hajjar. Under interrogation, he caved, and not only told him about the planned takeover of Mosul, but gave up the location of the safe house being used to plan it. Iraqi police intelligence went out to safe house, and the raid ended with the shooting death of ISIS military commander Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi who was in charge of the operation. During a subsequent search of the safe house and al-Bilawi and Hajjar's homes, Iraqi police recovered 160 thumb drives with incredibly detailed information about ISIS, including financial information, military operations information and even the names of its leaders and fighters. Intelligence agencies have been pouring over the data ever since. (It didn't prevent the takeover of Mosul, which went off as planned, mostly because the Iraq forces ran off.)

Yesterday, as I was re-reading reports on ISIS leadership, I came across an interesting article, "The Islamic State Prisoner and the Intelligence Chief" published November 1, a week before the recent strikes that supposedly hit ISIS leaders, by Paul McGeogh, chief foreign correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, who just days before, had interviewed the still incarcerated Abu Hajjar at a secure Baghdad jail facility. [More...]

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Sunday :: November 16, 2014

ISIS Executioner Beheads Peter Kassig and Many More

All day Saturday, ISIS supporters were teasing the release of a new video with English translations. They finally released it sometime after midnight. It's called "Although The Disbelievers Dislike It" and is 15 1/2 minutes long. I've watched it, and will not link to it, so please don't include a link in comments. I found a copy on Daily Motion. Here's my recap:[More...]

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Saturday :: November 15, 2014

Saturday Open Thread

It's cloudy, snowing and really cold in Denver, and supposed to stay this way all weekend. I'm going to check out the Black Friday sale sites and then catch up on the news.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: November 14, 2014

From Stingrays to Dirt Boxes: Evolving Surveillance Techniques

Last week I wrote about deceptive law enforcement techniques, focusing on new details about law enforcement's use of stingray devices. The devices are small enough to fit in an undercover vehicle. The device creates a very strong but fake cell tower signal which causes phones nearby (perhaps in the whole neighborhood) to connect to it. When the phones connect, the device then captures a lot of personal information. This is particularly helpful to police when they suspect a certain person of say dealing drugs, and know where he is, but don't know his phone number, because he gets a new throw-away phone every few weeks. But it's problematic because the device is capturing the same personal information from all phones in the area. It's a dragnet.

Move over, stingrays. The Wall St Journal reports similar devices called "dirtboxes" are being used by agents on airplanes, allowing them to capture the data on thousands of cell phones during the course of a single flight. [More...]

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DOJ Sends Dozens of Prosecutors Abroad to Help Prosecute Terrorists

Attorney General Eric Holder today said that DOJ has been sending dozens of prosecutors to countries in the Balkans, Middle East and North Africa to assist those countries in prosecuting returning and/or captured terrorists from ISIS and other terror groups.

"These personnel will provide critical assistance to our allies in order to help prosecute those who return from the Syrian region bent on committing acts of terrorism."

The cooperation includes "information sharing, investigations and prosecutions, and countering violent extremism."

According to another DOJ official, so far 70 prosecutors have been dispatched. [More...]

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Thursday :: November 13, 2014

Thursday Open Thread

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

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Details of Obama's Planned Immigration Changes

The New York Times has details of Obama's planned executive action on immigration. It will:

....protect up to five million undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits...

...One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.

It's the right thing to do. More details below: [More...]

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