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Friday :: August 29, 2014

Friday Night Open Thread

It's the last weekend of summer. Sure went by fast.

President Obama visited Westchester, NY today and the Secret Service reported they are investigating a threat against him and searching for a 2014 Volkswagon Jetta. Obama then went to Rhode Island and is expected to leave there tonight. Some news reports say the person is armed. Some say the car is blue, others say it is silver.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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AQAP's New Magazine Urges Attacks in U.S. and Britain

Is AQAP (al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula) getting jealous of ISIS? Its new magazine, an offshoot of Inspire by Al-Malahem English Production, is called Palestine: Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience. It urges lone wolf attacks in the U.S. and Britain and some other places. There are photos of the Tsarnaev brothers and the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad (background here).

It also provides a pictorial with instructions and a shopping list for ingredients for pressure cooker bombs and car bombs (which I'm not re-publishing, but you can read the magazine for yourself here, courtesy of Jihadology. See pages 14 to 18.)

Here is its pitch, and the list of suggested targets: [More...]

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Pentagon Says Cost of Current Iraqi Operations is $7.5 Mil a Day

Via Reuters, we have been spending $7.5 million a day in Iraq since mid-June. That's a total to date of about $532 million.

U.S. military operations against Islamic State in Iraq have cost an average of $7.5 million per day since they began in mid-June, the Pentagon said on Friday, a figure that means the department has spent more than $500 million on the conflict.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told a briefing the expense of U.S. operations against Islamic State in Iraq had varied since U.S. forces became involved on June 16 but on average "it's costing us about $7.5 million per day."

Reuters says according to analysts, the U.S. has been spending $1.3 billion per week on Afghanistan.

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ISIS Explains Killing of Foley and al-Sheitaat Tribe Members

ISIS has released the third edition of its Dabiq Magazine. This issue addresses the killing of journalist James Foley and the al-Sheitaat tribe members. You can read it here.

On the tribe members:

These clans were left armed after they agreed to submit to the rule of the Sharī’ah with the condition they hand over all heavy weaponry. They then betrayed their covenant by rebelling against the Islamic State. They ambushed Islamic State soldiers, and then tortured, amputated, and executed prisoners taken from the ambushes. All these crimes were carried out in opposition to the enforcement of the Sharī’ah.

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Thursday :: August 28, 2014

Thursday Open Thread

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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ISIS: Frogmarch, Killings and Beheadings of Soldiers

Yesterday, ISIS posted photos of captured Syrian soldiers being forced to march across the desert in their underwear, presumably to their deaths. A video (non-violent) is here. Today Reuters reports ISIS released another video showing they were all killed.

Also today, ISIS issued another "blood message" to the U.S. warning it about helping the Kurds. In the video, now gone from You Tube but available elswhere (no links please) it shows a bunch of captured Kurdish soldiers in orange jumpsuits (likely to mimic Guantanamo.) One soldier is then beheaded on camera, while a warning to the U.S. is made about helping the Kurds. This took place in Mosul, in front of the Rahman Mosque.

ISIS also posted a video of it beheading a Lebanese soldier.

CENTCOM announces today it has struck a tank, a humvee, 4 armed vehicles, a construction vehicle and damaged a checkpoint.

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Wednesday :: August 27, 2014

Tech Talk

My iPhone 5s died yesterday. It just wouldn't turn on. I ended up having to plug it into my computer and restore the factory settings, and then an old backup. It took hours, and it worked -- until this morning. Dead as a doornail again.

I took it to the Apple store, and without my even asking, they offered me a brand new phone, same model. They set it up in 5 minutes. (Now I have to sync it and get all my music and apps back on it, but at least I won't have to keep doing it tomorrow and the next day.) Thank you Apple!

Apple is coming out with a 13" iPad. I still have the original iPad, which doesn't work with a lot of more advanced video apps, so maybe it will be time for a new one. I really like the big screen -- but then, I'm one of the few people I know who still prefer a desktop to a laptop. Anyone else tempted to buy it? [More...]

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Wednesday Open Thread

Our last open thread is full, here's a new one. All topics welcome.

On James Foley's kidnappers: Before "the Beatles", there were the Belgians. Lots of dots to connect.

The latest victim of police "walking while black" syndrome: Hollywood producer Charles Belk, who was stopped while walking from a Beverly Hills restaurant to his car to feed the parking meter. He was stopped by police who thought he might be a bank robber, arrested and held for 6 hours. After viewing the robbery tape, police determined he looked nothing like the robber and released him, with a half-hearted apology. In his own words, on FB.

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Tuesday :: August 26, 2014

Potential New Audio of Michael Brown Shooting

Driving this afternoon and listening to CNN on Sirius, the main story was not ISIS or Syria, it was a new audio of the Michael Brown shooting that a passer-by captured on his cell phone while video-chatting with a woman. As he tells her how fine she looks, there are gunshots in the background. Either 10 or 11, depending on the guest they were interviewing. But all could clearly hear about a three second pause between the first round of five or six, and the final ones. They then replayed four interviews of eye witnesses, all of whom said there was a pause in the shooting as Brown turned around and put his hands up.

The significance? Unclear, since it's not been confirmed the tape is authentic or reliable, and obviously, the network doesn't have the original recording. The FBI has also been given a copy.

Here's a thread for all topics related to the Brown shooting.

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Identifying James Foley's Executioners


(Random photo of unnamed fighter from Tumbler page of Dutch fighter ChechClear.)

British authorities have not named the person standing beside James Foley in the ISIS execution video. They have said they are close to identifying him and refused to give names. On Meet the Press yesterday:

I think we are close. I've been in touch, obviously, in the last day or two with my colleagues at home. We're not yet in a position to say exactly who this is, but there is some very sophisticated voice identification technology and other measures that we have got which should allow us to be very clear about who this person is before very long.

The Sunday Times (UK) reported government officials have told them that security forces say a major suspect is former British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary. Fox news says an unnamed "western intelligence source" has confirmed Bary is the primary suspect. All other media reports seem to be quoting the Sunday Times.

Some news reports say Bary's voice matches up with that of the killer in the video. Other news sources quote different experts who say the voices don't match. [More....]

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Tuesday News and Open Thread

Ferguson seems to have died down. The grand jury isn't expected to finish work until October.

In other cases: Joran van der Sloot allegedly threatened to kill the warden at Piedras Gordos prison and has been transferred to the hinterland: Challapalca prison in the Andres, near the border with Bolivia. It's one of Peru's roughest prisons, with most of the inmates sent there after disciplinary problems in other prisons. Human Rights groups have cited it for violations. There is no running water or electricity. The water for human consumpstion isn't treated, which causes gastric distress. The hygience is inadequate. There is no opportunity to go outdoors at all for recreation. Joran is on a hunger strike in protest of the transfer.

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Monday :: August 25, 2014

Emmys: Breaking Bad

The Emmys have been so boring. Maybe it is the low-key production. But they just picked up with Aaron Paul winning Best supporting actor for Breaking Bad.

Here's a thread for all things Emmy related.

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Monday Open Thread

I'll be back to blogging this evening. In the meantime, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday :: August 24, 2014

Sunday Open Thread

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: August 22, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Busy day. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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