Thursday :: September 22, 2016

ISIS Builds Tunnels and Trenches Around Mosul

ISIS is getting ready for the attack on Mosul: It plans on creating a "river of fire" along the city's perimeter.

The group has been working hard this month to dig a two-metre by two-metre trench along the city's perimeter and position oil tanks nearby to create a river of fire that would impede advancing troops and hinder aerial surveillance, according to senior Iraq military officers, Mosul residents, and local officials based outside the city.

The U.S. wants to send more U.S. troops to Mosul. [More...]

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Yahoo Addresses Hack of 500 Million User Accounts

Here's Yahoo's statement on the hack of 500 million user accounts by what it suspects is "a state sponsored actor."

What they got: users' names, emails, phone numbers, and dates of birth.

What they didn't get: bank account and payment information which are stored in a different system.

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FARC Celebrates Historic Peace Deal

President Obama yesterday congratulated his Colombian counterpart, Juan Miguel Santos, on the historic peace agreement with Farc. The guerillas, holding their 10th National Conference, (background here) celebrated with a mini-Woodstock.

Daylong deliberations ended with nightly concerts on a huge outdoor stage complete with a smoke machine. The guerrillas sang along with fervor to staples of Latin America’s revolutionary repertoire such as El Pueblo Unido (“The People United”) and swayed their hips to the cumbia rhythm of an all-guerrilla band called the Rebels of the South whose songs speak of the end of the war and impending peace.

“It’s a strange mix of an internal consultative process about the peace accord … and a mini Farc Woodstock,” said Alex Fattal, an American anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania studying the Farc’s media strategy.


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Monday :: September 19, 2016

Suspect Ahmed Khan Rahami

Ahmed Khan Rahami, the suspect in the Chelsea pipe bomb explosions, has been charged with "five counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon in connection with the shootout in Linden, N.J., that led to his arrest."

Police do not suspect he is part of a larger terror cell.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said after Rahami’s arrest that authorities were not looking for any other suspects. "There is no other individual that we are looking for at this time ... but vigilance is called for.


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Sunday :: September 18, 2016

Emmys 2016

Update: I think Jimmy Kimmel is doing a terrific job.

I loved the part with his mother making PB&J sandwiches for everyone. Great delivery on line about how people who are allergic to peanuts are out of luck, they could only afford one epi-pen.

I also liked his asking Marcia Clark if she was rooting for OJ tonight. And the Trump bashing -- by everyone. Kimmel's best Trump line: "If it wasn't for television, would Donald Trump be running for president? He would be at home right now rubbing up against his wife Malaria."[More...]

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Can Trump Win Without Pennsylvania?

A new CBS poll on the battleground states says Hillary and Trump are now about equal. The poll is conducted on the internet. It's not really a poll by CBS, but for CBS, by an online polling company.

The CBS News 2016 Battleground Tracker is a panel study based on interviews conducted on the internetof registered voters in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire,Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Texas. The poll was conducted by YouGov, an online polling organization.

More significant, I think, is this new poll in Pennsylvania, which has Hillary at a 9 point lead in the state:

Democrat Hillary Clinton has a 9-point lead among likely Pennsylvania voters as Republican Donald Trump continues to struggle among groups key to winning the state, according to a Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll released Saturday.


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Chelsea and Jersey Shore Pipe Bombs: No Motive Yet

Update: A tumbler account has claimed credit in the name of gay rights.The post has since been removed.

Officials do not think the pipe bomb found in a garbage can at Seaside Park on the Jersey Shore is linked to last night's pipe bomb explosions in Chelsea.

Officials said there’s no evidence currently linking the explosion to terrorism, and said the incident appeared to be unrelated to a pipe bomb explosion earlier Saturday in Seaside Park, New Jersey near the start line of a charity run.

“We know from everything we’ve seen so far that this was an intentional act. Again we do not know the nature of it, we do not know the motivation,” de Blasio said

A source told CBS News "both the Chelsea bombs and the Seaside Park bombs used cell phones as triggers." The Chelsea device may have utilized a pressure cooker. [More...]

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ISIS Takes Credit for MN Attack

Amaq News Agency (associated with ISIS) claims an ISIS supporter is responsible for the knife attacks at a Minnesota mall:

Local news in Minnesota is identifying the attacker, who was killed, as Dahir Adan:

(no link due to auto-play video.) He is reportedly a Somali-American. His family has issued an apology. He was a college student with (as far as they know) no history of violence. He told his family he was going to the mall to buy an iPhone, and they don't know what happened after that. 8 or 9 people were injured at the mall, none with life-threatening injuries, and Adan was killed outside Macy's by an off-duty police officer. [More...]

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Saturday :: September 17, 2016

Saturday Open Thread

I really don't like writing about Donald Trump, he just leaves such a bad taste. In my opinion, he's a sour, dour, spoiled, arrogant, and uninspiring individual, lacking in any identifiable talent and I don't trust a word he says. I have no idea what he really believes. Electing him would really be like buying the proverbial pig in a poke.

Trump's had a bad week. I still don't believe he will win -- I think people are bemused by him, and curious as to what outlandish thing he will do or say next. I doubt his supporters will turn out in big numbers to vote.[More...]

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Thursday :: September 15, 2016

Medical Updates on Hillary and Trump

Hillary Clinton's doctor has provided this letter with additional details of her medical condition.

Shorter version: She's fit to be President.

Hillary's doctor is a board certified diplomat in internal medicine. Trump's doctor is a gastroenterologist named Harold Bornstein. More here. Who is Bornstein? Here's a photo of Bornstein on the day he wrote the letter attesting to Donald's health, which he later said he wrote in 5 minutes while waiting for a limo. Is anyone surprised Donald Trump announced today he recently had another physical with Dr. Bornstein, who gave him a one page summary which he shared with Dr. Oz, saying he's in good health?

According to various media sources, Trump told Dr. Oz he wants to lose 15 pounds. That's not surprising, given his reported eating habits. [More...]

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Wednesday :: September 14, 2016

Wednesday Open Thread

It's a court day for me. Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Monday :: September 12, 2016

Fainting and Medical Comparisons

Dr. Jen Gunter at The Hill writes an article, "Yes, Hillary almost fainted: I'm a doctor and it's really OK."

The medical term for fainting is syncope. Syncope is the temporary loss of consciousness and posture, due to a temporary insufficient flow of blood (and hence oxygen) to the brain. If the feeling of faintness and light-headedness and weakness comes but there is no loss of consciousness, the event is called near-syncope.

...The Journal of Geriatric Cardiology published a pretty definitive list of potential syncope causes in this useful review article about older adults.


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Hillary Feels Fine, Recovering from Pneumonia

Bump and Update 9/12/16: Hillary has been diagnosed with pneumonia. She's taking antibiotics and her doctor says she is recovering nicely.


Hillary got overheated at a 911 Memorial today. She left, went to Chelsea's apartment, and emerged later saying she felt great.

Temperatures on Sunday morning in New York hovered around 80 degrees most of the morning. At the start of the ceremony, the dew point was around 72 degrees — which produces oppressive humidity, according to meteorologists. The humidity declined sharply during the ceremony, and by 11 a.m., the air was drier and pleasant.


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Saturday :: September 10, 2016

John Hinckley Goes Home for Good After 35 Years

In 1981, at age 25, John Hinckley shot and wounded former President Ronald Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, a police officer and a member of the secret service. In 1982, after an 8 week trial, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity. He was placed in a mental hospital.

In 2003, after 19 years in the mental hospital, the Judge granted him unsupervised visits with his parents. He was then 48 years old.

In 2005, at age 50, he was allowed overnight visits at his parents' home .

In July, 2016, after 35 years at the mental hospital, the Court ordered him released on full-time convalescent leave (outpatient placement.) (The 103 page opinion is here.)

Today, John Hinckley went home for good to live with his now 90 year old mother in Williamsburg, VA. Hopefully, someone will give him a job, and someone will offer to be his friend. [More...]

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Friday :: September 09, 2016

DOJ Releases Report on San Bernardino Attack

The Justice Department has released an in depth report, Bringing Calm to Chaos, (available here) on the December, 2015 San Bernardino shootings. Shooters Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik died in a shootout with police.

The report addresses first responder and law enforcement response to the attack. It is not a critique, and calls the response to the shootings "exemplary." Its purpose is to "critically assess the decisions made and the actions taken in response to the terrorist attacks- not in judgment but in careful study." It hopes to be a lesson for future attacks. [More...]

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