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Monday :: July 06, 2015

Monday News and Open Thread

President Obama just held a news conference on ISIS. I only caught the last 10 minutes. He said we would continue what we've been doing, and that we can't defeat ISIS militarily, we have to defeat their ideology.

Update: The part of his speech I missed: "We will do more to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria." I think that's a waste of resources -- there is no "moderate" opposition.

In Iraq news, the Iraqi military dropped a bomb by mistake on Baghdad, killing and wounding civilians. Iraq says its Russian fighter jet malfunctioned, releasing the bomb.

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Sunday :: July 05, 2015

Egypt Bans Reporters' Use Of ISIS Terminology

Egypt's Foreign Ministry has issued a new style guide for media coverage of terrorism. It bans the use of the words "ISIS, ISIL or Islamic State." It instructs reporters not to use any religious based terms when referring to terrorist groups, including "jihadists", "Islamists" or "fundamentalists." Reporters cannot refer to leaders of these groups with the label "Sheikh" or "Emir."

How are reporters supposed to refer to the groups? The guide says the acceptable terms include "terrorists, extremists, criminals, murderers, savages, slaughterers, assassins, radicals, fanatics, rebels" and a few others.

You can read the new rules here.

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Saturday :: July 04, 2015

The Targeted Killings of the Al Harzi Brothers in Iraq and Syria

On June 23, the Pentagon announced Tunisian Ali al Harzi, who was a suspect in the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack, was killed in an airstrike in Mosul, Iraq on June 15. Yesterday, the Pentagon announced his brother, Tariq al Harzi, (pictured above) was killed in an airstrike in Syria on June 16. I wrote a long post on the background of the al Harzi brothers here, commenting that Tariq seemed to be the more significant of the pair.

But there's more to Tariq that I find interesting and hasn't been reported in Government reward listings or OFAC notices: Tariq was a champion boxer in Tunesia who lost a leg in a 2004 U.S. bombing attack in Fallujah in Iraq. Human rights groups said he was tortured for three months by Iraqi intelligence at Abu Ghraib. (He later told his father the Americans had treated him well.) U.S. detention records list him as #009 654. [More...]

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Fourth of July Open Thread

As America celebrates Freedom and Independence today, here are some thoughts on what they mean.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. I hope you all have a great day planned. When you return, please tell us about it.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Friday :: July 03, 2015

Friday Open Thread

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

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Thursday :: July 02, 2015

U.S. 2014 Wiretap Report Released


The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has released the 2014 Wiretap Report.

The number of federal and state wiretaps authorized in 2014 decreased 1 percent from 2013. The most serious offense under investigation in 89 percent of all applications for intercepts was illegal drugs.

Here's the data page showing totals by federal district. The full report is here.

DEA wiretaps have tripled in the last decade, and it appears the DEA is increasingly filing requests in state courts, bypassing Title III and federal courts.

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New UN Drug Report on Colombia: Coca Production is Up

The UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) released its latest report on coca production in Colombia today. Coca production is up 44%.

The increase is the biggest in almost a decade and takes coca production back to levels not seen since 2009. The findings come on the heels of a separate U.S. government survey showing production shot up 39 percent in 2014.

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Trump Hotels: Reports of Credit Card Breaches

Donald Trump may be second to Jeb Bush in new polls, but his financial interests keep getting whacked. The latest: Reports of hacked credit card data at Trump Hotels in several cities, dating back to February.

In addition to Macy’s, Univision and Comcast’s NBCUniversal, Trump just got dumped by Serta Mattresses.

On top of all that, the Washington Post reports he's wrong about immigrants and crime. Here's an article I wrote for the Washington Examiner in 2007 stating the same thing: There is No Immigrant Crime Wave.

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Wednesday :: July 01, 2015

Wednesday Open Thread

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

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Indonesia Refused U.S. Request in Fight Against ISIS

Indonesia's former foreign minister says the U.S. asked Indonesia to send ground troops to Iraq to fight ISIS, and it refused: It didn't want to upset "radical Muslims" at home.

Indonesia was asked by the United States to send troops to join the fight against the Islamic State terror group in Iraq but declined because it feared a backlash among radical Muslims at home, the country's former foreign minister has revealed. Marty Natalegawa, the long-serving top envoy under Jakarta's previous administration, said Indonesia felt it could better contribute by tackling its own domestic extremism problem, whereas sending forces would be "cosmetic".

Maybe the next time it gets hit by a massive Tsunami, our response should be "We can better use that money at home."

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Monday :: June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Upholds Execution Drug

In a 5-4 opinion written by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court has upheld Oklahoma's use of midazolam in executions. The reasoning:

Alito said the prisoners failed to identify a “known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain,” which he said was required under the court’s previous ruling upholding lethal injection. And he said plaintiffs had failed to establish that a massive dose of midazolam “entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”

Some background is here. The opinion is here.

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Islamic State One Year Later: Lasting and Expanding

The Islamic State is one year old today. Its long term goal remains the creation of a "lasting and expanding" Caliphate.

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Nurse Jackie Finale: It Was Time to Go

Showtime's Nurse Jackie ended its 7 year run last night. (Spoiler Alert: Don't read further unless you've seen it or don't intend to watch.) [More...]

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Sunday :: June 28, 2015

ISIS-Inspired Attacks: 3 Hours, 3 Countries, 3 Continents

When ISIS official spokesman Mohamed al-Adnani gave his audio speech last week at the beginning of Ramadan, he ended it with a call for more attacks:

“O mujahedeen everywhere, rush and go to make Ramadan a month of disasters for the infidels.”

On June 25 and June 26, ISIS launched a surprise attack in Kobane, Syria, killing around 200 people.

On June 26, within a span of three hours, lone wolves struck alone or in a pair in 3 countries: France, Tunisia and Kuwait. ISIS has taken credit for the attacks in Kuwait and Tunisia. [More...]

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Sunday Open Thread

Last week the Rolling Stones got a stellar review in Pittsburgh. Last night, in Kansas City, more of the same. Check out the accolades in the review in the Wichita Eagle.

Their two-hour performance was about as close to perfect as a stadium rock show can get. The weather was idyllic. The sound was pristine. The production was stunning. The set list was stellar. And the band appeared to be having as much fun as the 50,000-plus fans who filled the stadium with a mix of jubilation and reverence.

Keith Richards to the crowd: ""Good evening Kansas City. It's good to be back. It's good to be anywhere."

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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