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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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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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 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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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 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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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 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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Kremlin Announces Russian flight Downed by Bomb

Russia last night announced the results of its investigation into the Sharm el-Sheikh plane crash in Egypt. It was a bomb. Traces of explosives were found.

Alexander Bortnikov, the chief of the country's FSB domestic security agency, said that a bomb equivalent to 2.2 pounds of TNT exploded on board the aircraft, according to the Kremlin.

"You can definitely say that this is a terrorist act," he told a meeting of Russia's Security Council on Monday.

Russia is offering a $50 million reward for information on the perpetrator(s.) And, Putin said in his announcement, Russia has no intention of letting up on its airstrikes in Syria. [More...]

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Who Did the U.S. Kill In Libya Airstrikes?

The Libya Herald reports Abu Nabil Al-Anbari, was not killed in a U.S. airstrike near Derna in Libya yesterday.

More importantly, how can the U.S. say al-Anbari is probably the Isis leader featured in the Egyptian Coptic Christian killing video from February, "A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross?"

The leader in the video spoke English with an American accent. At the time, experts said if he was not American, he spent a lot of time in the U.S. Nabil al-Anbari is Iraqi and a former police officer.

al-Furqān Media put out two videos featuring the English speaking killer. The first was the video of the Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded on the beach which is attributed to Wilayat Tarabulus (Tripoli.) The second, a few months later, depicts the slaughter of Ethiopian Coptic Christians (described here) and is attributed to Wilayat Barqa and Wilayat Fezzan. (I think he also may be in this video by the group, released in September, 2015, at about 14 minutes in, speaking in Arabic, but that's just my opinion.) [More...]

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Saturday Night With the Dem Debate

Well, for you guys, I have somewhere to go.

Debate Open Thread.

Update (TL): I'm watching. The theme is terrorism.

Hillary looks great. She sounds so much more experienced on foreign affairs than Sanders and O'Malley. Hillary says we can support the countries fighting ISIS, but it's not our fight. I agree. O'Malley is much more hawkish, on both war and intelligence. Sanders doesn't come off anywhere near as sure of himself as he does on economic topics. I wouldn't trust either O'Malley or Sanders to be chief Executive.

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