Friday :: November 27, 2015

Foreign Fighters and ISIS: What the West Should be Doing

Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council’s counter-terrorism committee held a conference at which several experts spoke about ISIS and foreign fighters. I found this media recap of the presentation of Scott Atran from the Centre for Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Oxford University very interesting. (He is highly credentialed, and his research in the field includes interviews with captured ISIS fighters and still fighting al Nusra fighters.)

He debunks several of the memes currently making the rounds as to ISIS' intentions and strategy, and the reasons young Western recruits find ISIS so attractive. He also explains why the U.S. counter-messaging campaign has been such a failure.[More...]

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Thursday :: November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving and Open Thread

It's a Thanksgiving tradition we never miss here at Casa TalkLeft. Radio stations around the country today will play the 18 minute version of Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant, recorded in 1967.

Should you miss it on your local radio station and yearn for the original version, you can listen to the You Tube version above.

Why listen to Arlo's 18 minute version of Alice's Restaurant? Because it's like our liberal national anthem, that only comes around once day a year, so you don't want to miss it as it's coming around.

If you're wondering where Alice is, she's here. Does anyone besides me still have a hardcover edition of her 1969 Alice's Restaurant cookbook in their kitchen? (Photo here.) It's filled with tasty recipes and very easy instructions.

After relaxing and laughing with Arlo, you'll be ready for the chaos of Thanksgiving dinner. [More...]

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Wednesday :: November 25, 2015

Pre-Thanksgiving Open Thread

If you're one of the lucky ones not running around like a maniac today, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Fear vs. Facts

Despite the rabid hype by Republicans, we are not in danger of getting killed by terrorists.

Consider, for instance, that since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have been no more likely to die at the hands of terrorists than being crushed to death by unstable televisions and furniture. Meanwhile, in the time it has taken you to read until this point, at least one American has died from a heart attack. Within the hour, a fellow citizen will have died from skin cancer. Roughly five minutes after that, a military veteran will commit suicide. And by the time you turn the lights off to sleep this evening, somewhere around 100 Americans will have died throughout the day in vehicular accidents – the equivalent of “a plane full of people crashing, killing everyone on board, every single day.”

Daniel Kahneman, professor emeritus at Princeton University, has observed that “[e]ven in countries that have been targets of intensive terror campaigns, such as Israel, the weekly number of casualties almost never [comes] close to the number of traffic deaths.”


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Tuesday :: November 24, 2015

Over the Vain-Bow

I would have loved to read Carly Simon's memoirs 30 years ago. Now, I could care less.

The parade of famous men she recounts sleeping with are all now in their 70's. No one is going to read about her exploits now and say "I wish it were me."

I doubt anyone who remembers wondering who "You're So Vain" was about 45 years ago could care less about the answer now. Maybe she needs the money, but I think the only people who will read this book are those vain enough to wonder if they're mentioned in it.

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Hillary Pledges Not To Describe Immigrants as "Illegal"

During a Telemundo Facebook chat, Hillary Clinton said her use of the term "illegal" in conjunction with "immigrants" at a campaign speech in New Hampshire a few weeks ago was a poor choice of words and she won't be repeating it.

Here's the question she was asked: [More...]

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Monday :: November 23, 2015

State Dept Issues World Wide Travel Alert

The State Department has issued a world-wide travel alert for U.S. travelers. You can read it here. It expires in February.

There's no mention of an imminent specific threat. And it's not just travel:

U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.

Not is it directed solely to ISIS: [More...]

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Sunday :: November 22, 2015

Sunday Night Open Thread

Belgian police asked citizens and journalists not to discuss their ongoing terror operation today on social media. Belgians complied with thousands of them posting photos of cats instead.

The Belgian Interior Ministry's Crisis Centre was very grateful.

Did they get their man? No. The New York Times reports that according the prosecutor's press release, they made 16 arrests but their target got away. Other reports have sighted him driving towards Germany.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Saturday :: November 21, 2015

Brussels on Lockdown, Imminent and Specific Terror Threat

Brussels looks like a militarized war zone. It's on lockdown, the Metro has been closed. Authorities say there is a specific and immediate threat of a "Paris Style" attack.

The still-at-large alleged Paris bomber, Saleh Abdeslam, 26. He's believed to be in Brussels, trying to make his way back to Syria. There are reports he has physically disguised his appearance and using a new name, Yassine Baghli. Some friends of his brother say he contacted people on Skype trying to get back to Syria. [More...]

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Friday :: November 20, 2015

Friday Open Thread

The attack in Mali at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, seems to be the work of an al-Qaida affiliated group -- most likely Ansar Dine. Its leader Iyad Ag Ghaly called for attacks on France this week. France has forces in Mali assisting the anti-terror fight. More on the leader here.

The attack was at an international hotel filled with foreigners. The gunmen spoke English but shouted "Allahu Akbar." Three people are dead as of now, but they may be gunmen not hostages. 80 have been freed. Mali special forces stormed in. U.S. Special Operations forces are reportedly assisting.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: November 18, 2015

Dabiq #12: A Soda Can and John Cantlie

ISIS has released Dabiq #12, the 12th issue of its glossy English magazine. (no links to magazine in comments please.) It says a soda can was used to take down the Russian Plane.

There's an article by John Cantlie, "Shift and Paradigm, Part 2". He refers to events in June and July, so at least he was still alive then, and hopefully is today.

He writes about the future course of ISIS: [More...]

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French Raid to catch Attack Suspects in Saint Denis

Update: Belgian and other intelligence officials say Abaaoud is dead. The French prosecutor says he's not among those arrested.

French police raided an apartmment in the St. Denis area where attack suspect Abdelhamid Abaaoud (aka Abdul Hamid Aba Oud,) and some others were believed to be holed up. Reports are that seven people were arrested (some nearby the apartment), and two or three people were killed. While Charlie Hebdo reported Abaaoud was arrested , the Daily Mail (best photos) and other media report that has not been confirmed.

'Hasna', a female cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, blew herself up when the cops arrived at the building. Some police were injured and a police dog was blown up. [More...]

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Tuesday :: November 17, 2015

Tuesday Night Open Thread

Time for a new open thread, all topics welcome.

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Trial Begins for Al-Baghdadi's Ex-Wife in Lebanon

A military trial for Saja Hamid al-Dulaimi, the ex-wife of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi began today in Lebanon on charges of illegal entry into Lebanon (her documents were forged) and belonging to an armed terrorist organization with the intent of carrying out a terrorist attack. Her lawyer says she is willing to provide assistance in the Lebanese Hostage situation.

She has been held for a year, in a cell with her four children, one of whom was born in custody. Her 7 year old daughter Hajar is the child she had with al-Baghdadi, to whom she was married for 2 months.

She was last in court in July, when her trial was postponed because she had no lawyer. She made several statements to the court, including referring to al-Baghdadi as "Hisham Mohammad." [More...]

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The Debate Over Refugees

Should the U.S. take Syrian refugees? The debate continues as Republicans fall all over themselves, as if they were competing to be elected the next Henny Penny instead of President.

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