776: Climate Justice Cancelled

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 49m
November 22nd, 2015
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Executive Producers: Sir CrashEMT, Jayson Wall

Associate Executive Producers: John White

Cover Artist: Trent Drake


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I went out into the wild Fir+Sat Everyone is afraid!
Presidential Proclamation -- Thanksgiving Day, 2015
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 00:34
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Rooted in a story of generosity and partnership, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the gifts we have and to show our appreciation for all we hold dear. Today, as we give of ourselves in service to others and spend cherished time with family and friends, we give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us. We also honor the men and women in uniform who fight to safeguard our country and our freedoms so we can share occasions like this with loved ones, and we thank our selfless military families who stand beside and support them each and every day.
Our modern celebration of Thanksgiving can be traced back to the early 17th century. Upon arriving in Plymouth, at the culmination of months of testing travel that resulted in death and disease, the Pilgrims continued to face great challenges. An indigenous people, the Wampanoag, helped them adjust to their new home, teaching them critical survival techniques and important crop cultivation methods. After securing a bountiful harvest, the settlers and Wampanoag joined in fellowship for a shared dinner to celebrate powerful traditions that are still observed at Thanksgiving today: lifting one another up, enjoying time with those around us, and appreciating all that we have.
Carrying us through trial and triumph, this sense of decency and compassion has defined our Nation. President George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving in our country's nascence, calling on the citizens of our fledgling democracy to place their faith in "the providence of Almighty God," and to be thankful for what is bequeathed to us. In the midst of bitter division at a critical juncture for America, President Abraham Lincoln acknowledged the plight of the most vulnerable, declaring a "day of thanksgiving," on which all citizens would "commend to [God's] tender care" those most affected by the violence of the time -- widows, orphans, mourners, and sufferers of the Civil War. A tradition of giving continues to inspire this holiday, and at shelters and food centers, on battlefields and city streets, and through generous donations and silent prayers, the inherent selflessness and common goodness of the American people endures.
In the same spirit of togetherness and thanksgiving that inspired the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, we pay tribute to people of every background and belief who contribute in their own unique ways to our country's story. Each of us brings our own traditions, cultures, and recipes to this quintessential American holiday -- whether around dinner tables, in soup kitchens, or at home cheering on our favorite sports teams -- but we are all united in appreciation of the bounty of our Nation. Let us express our gratitude by welcoming others to our celebrations and recognize those who volunteer today to ensure a dinner is possible for those who might have gone without. Together, we can secure our founding ideals as the birthright of all future generations of Americans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 26, 2015, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.
Dvorak Turkey & Gray Recipes
The only media outlet that correctly pronounces "Molenbeek"
Ex-NY Banker sez EU is fucked. EU banks lost
Belgium barley had a government over the past 5 years
UN Approves Resolution Urging Action Against Islamic State - ABC News
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 23:02
The U.N. Security Council has unanimously approved a French-sponsored resolution calling on all nations to redouble and coordinate action to prevent further attacks by Islamic State terrorists and other extremist groups.
The resolution adopted Friday says the Islamic State group "constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security." It expresses the council's determination "to combat by all means this unprecedented threat."
The measure is the 14th terrorism-related resolution adopted by the U.N.'s most powerful body since 1999.
It was adopted a week after violent extremists launched a coordinated gun and bomb assault that killed 130 people in Paris which the Islamic State claims it carried out.
Tragic Farce of Anti-Refugee Threats: U.S. Was No Sanctuary for Syrians in the First Place
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:35
I'M CONCERNED for the education of Reese Kasich. The 15-year-old daughter of the Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate, John Kasich, has reportedly received some troubling lessons from her father. In a foreign policy address Tuesday, the governor said he's been explaining to his child why the U.S. should not accept Syrian refugees. ''Reesy, you know, we understand these people are in trouble,'' Kasich recounted saying. ''But think about us putting somebody in our street, in our town, in our country who mean us harm. We can't do that, can we, Reesy?''
For a teenager living in Westerville, Ohio (population: 36,120), I could imagine that 10,000 might sound like a lot of people. But I am keen to reassure Reese Kasich that she need not fear the U.S. government's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the course of the next fiscal year. This is a very limited number of extensively vetted individuals who go through the slow, staggered, and bureaucratically arduous process of refugee resettlement in the United States. No one is putting harmful people on your street, Reesy. Daddy's trying to scare you.
Following the attacks in Paris last Friday, for which there is no solid proof of Syrian refugee involvement, more than half of U.S. governors '-- all Republican but one '-- and a number of conservative lawmakers stated that they would block the entry of Syrian refugees into their states. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday called for a ''pause'' in the program accepting refugees from Syria. Then, on Thursday, the House passed a bill that would see the program suspended until a stricter vetting system is established; the legislation now heads to the Senate.
Governors have no power to exclude refugees '-- federal agencies alone make those decisions. Their threats should be dismissed as the worst political posturing, but taken seriously as an index of the current atmosphere of ignorance and bigotry. The political will to block all Syrian refugees from this country is troubling, tout court. But it also gives the false impression that the Obama administration had planned to make much space for Syrians at all.
''The U.S. contribution towards resettlement has been really minimal, given the size of the catastrophe, and our capacity,'' Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, told The Intercept. In September, the president announced that the government would expand its refugee resettlement program to accept at least 10,000 Syrians over the course of the next fiscal year. Since 2012, about 1,800 Syrians have been granted refugee status in the U.S., after a process requiring 18 months to two years of vetting for each individual.
Obama's announcement was met with little fanfare. David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, called the offering ''cold comfort,'' while Oxfam's vice president for police and campaigns, Paul O'Brien, said it ''scratche[d] the surface.'' Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both said that the U.S. should take 65,000 Syrian refugees. ''A number of former government officials advised that the U.S. could admit 100,000,'' Acer told The Intercept. Currently, there are 4 million Syrian refugees outside the beleaguered nation's borders, and 7.6 million internally displaced people within.
The vagaries of geography mean that Europe is experiencing the largest movement of displaced people since the Second World War. Germany '-- which is one-quarter the size of the U.S. '-- expects to register 800,000 refugees this year alone; more than 100,000 of the refugees already registered for asylum are from Syria. Over half these applications have been granted. Turkey expects 1.7 million refugees to enter from neighboring Syria this year. For Europe, as The Guardian's migration correspondent Patrick Kingsley wrote, the ''passage [of refugees] cannot be avoided; it can only be better managed.''
Kellie Strom of Syria Solidarity U.K. stressed the need for establishing routes to asylum to undo the current and perilous aim of reaching European soil. ''If refugees had a regular way of seeking asylum at embassies,'' she told The Intercept, ''or were able to board planes without airlines risking fines, then lives would be saved; millions of dollars would not be lost to the illegal smuggling market; and security measures could be applied in the same way as for other travelers, something not possible when thousands are landing daily on Mediterranean beaches.'' Smuggler boats will not traverse the Atlantic Ocean; refugees from Syria will not simply arrive on American soil en masse. The U.S. has shirked international responsibility in offering so few Syrians sanctuary.
Perhaps the most pernicious effect of the governors' opposition to any and all Syrian refugees is that '-- on the basis of what the president rightly has called ''hysteria'' '-- his administration must defend offering to admit 10,000 people. The political space to push for more is being foreclosed.
The U.S. admits around 70,000 refugees every year. Because of expansions to the program, the admissions ceiling is now at 85,000. This is no historic height; in 1993, largely as a response to the Balkan wars, the U.S. resettled 142,000 people. Bill Frellick, director of Human Rights Watch's refugee program, told The Intercept that the U.S. refugee resettlement program is structured as a ''durable solution,'' which is a problem for those seeking a ''tool of protection.'' Frelick's point is that the asylum process in the U.S. is stuck in a backlog, precisely because of the lengthy screening procedures involved and multi-federal agency checks. The procedure's slow-moving gears partially account for the small offering made by the Obama administration toward Syrian refugees; admitting 10,000 Syrians over the next year actually amounts to working through a backlog of referral candidates already put forward, and vetted, by the UNHCR.
''Syrian refugees are vetted more closely than any other population. There are multiple screening levels, and candidates are interviewed in depth by the Department of Homeland Security while still overseas,'' Acer said. She added that Congress is kept abreast of the sort of vetting process involved; lawmakers do not have the reasonable excuse of ignorance regarding the extensive security measures already in place.
Nonetheless, the bill passed in the House yesterday demands that Syrian resettlement be paused until even stricter screening procedures are established. The bill would require the three top U.S. security officials '-- Homeland Security secretary, FBI director and national intelligence director '-- to certify to Congress that each Syrian or Iraqi refugee is not a security threat before the refugee can be admitted into the country. The White House swiftly issued a veto threat; such extra vetting is time-consuming overkill, to say the least, when we are already talking about the most extensive, multi-level screening process the U.S. carries out.
''That's the irony, and the obvious politicization of this issue,'' Frelick told The Intercept, ''that the focus is on refugee admissions, which are the most screened. The number of Syrians with diversity visas [obtained through a lottery and offered to nations with low immigration rates to the U.S.] far exceeds the number let in as refugees.'' Marx, it seems, had a point when he commented that if history repeats itself and ''all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice,'' then it is ''the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.'' If the space offered to Syrian refugees by the U.S. was at first tragically small, it is now being farcically scrutinized for political cachet.
Omar Hossino of the Syrian-American Council told The Intercept that his D.C.-based organization had written to the oppositional governors to invite them to meet with some Syrian refugee families and hear their stories, to convey that ''no Syrian wants to be a refugee.'' We should not have to implore powerful, elected representatives to look in the face of those few who have been granted asylum for them to understand the hydra-headed horrors of living under Daesh or the Assad regime and the need for refuge. But, then again, nor should we have to explain the foolishness of politicians seeing (or rather evoking) terror in 10,000 of the most screened potential U.S. residents. First as tragedy, then as bitter farce.
Top photo: Aerial view of tents at a camp for asylum seekers on the grounds of the former army barracks Schmidt-Knobelsdorf-Kaserne in Berlin, September 9, 2015.
26yo would-be jihadist 'did not blow herself up in Paris raid' '' police '-- RT News
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 15:39
Hasna Aitboulahcen, dubbed ''Europe's first female suicide bomber'' after she was initially thought to have blown herself up during the Saint-Denis gun siege, was actually killed when another member of the terrorist cell let off a bomb, according to a French police source.
It was initially believed that the 26-year-old would-be jihadist died when she let off her explosive vest at a flat in the suburb of Paris during a police raid on Wednesday morning.
A police source told AFP, however, that Aitboulahcen did not die in a suicide bombing, but because another member of the jihadist cell, previously unaccounted for, detonated a bomb when a group of armed French officers attempted to storm the property in the north suburb of Paris.
According to the police source, the person who set off the bomb was a man, not a woman. The force of the explosion appeared to be so powerful it blew the woman's head off and into the street, an amateur recording and a police account revealed. No one else appeared to have been hurt by the blast.
As scores of France's RAID special police unit surrounded the house in the suburb of Saint-Denis, Aitboulahcen was there with her cousin Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind behind the November 13 Paris attacks, which killed 130 people. Aitboulahcen was suspected of assisting the bloody attacks. French investigation sources told Reuters that she and her accomplices were about to launch another attack '' this time on Paris's La Defense financial district.
The seven-hour siege, which was covered live by the world's media, was over in two hours after the bomb went off, with Abaaoud killed (riddled with bullets and torn apart by grenades) and eight of his suspected accomplices arrested. It is likely that Hasna inadvertently led the police to the terrorists' doorstep, as intelligence services reportedly intercepted her online chatter prior to the siege.
Investigators are looking to identify what prompted the woman, who was brought up in relative stability by a foster family and attended university, down the path of terrorism.
According to Aitboulahcen's brother, who didn't want to give his name, Hasna had suddenly become radicalised about half a year ago.
"She started by wearing a jilbab [a long garment which covers the whole body except for the face) and then she moved on to the niqab [full-face veil]," he told AFP.
"She was unstable, she created her own bubble. She wasn't looking to study religion, I have never even seen her open a Koran," he added.
22nd of November - ISIS THREAT ~Anonymous - Pastebin.com
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 20:18
Tl;dr: Daesh plans attack on Paris and the world on the 22nd of November. #22Daesh #OpParis http://pastebin.com/wkigzJZD
^^^^^^ You can copy this as a post for on social medias. Required trending #: #22Daesh
Short summarization:
All proof was submitted to official authorities all around the globe days ago. They have it and it is their responsibility to do something with it. But because they have not done anything with it yet and it's almost the 22nd, we have taken matters into our hands. We only take the responsibility of warning civilians (incase the authorities do not act well enough).
We have seen and received threats from several (pro-)Daesh accounts, but not just regular threats. These threats were all focussed on 1 date: the 22nd of November. Our intel team started gathering Intel after having verified the threats and has narrowed all it's findings down to this pastebin.
This is a warning to anyone going to any of the events listed below or going to any event with a lot of people, church services included - but the risk of any churches outside Paris/France being targeted is low. How large some threats/planned attacks are is for most events unknown. But since 1 man can kill hundreds in one act we have included events which were threatened by single people too.
Events in Paris that have been confirmed are at risk:
- Demonstration by: "Collectif du droit des femmes" (Group for women's rights) (Demonstrations are now banned, cancelled)
- Cigales Electroniques with Vocodecks, RE-Play & Rawtor at Le Bizen
- Concrete Invites Drumcode: Adam Beyer, Alan Fitzpatrick, Joel Mull.. at Concrete (Probably cancelled)
Events we have received/found threats for, but weren't 100% confirmed:
- WWE Survival Series (US)
- Feast of Christ the King celebrations (Rome/Worldwide)
- Al-Jihad, 1 Day Juz (Indonesia)
- Five Finger Death Punch (Milan, Italy)
- University Pastoral Day (Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon)
"Threats" aren't the same as "plans", even though some threats look like plans it doesn't mean they are all planned to be executed.
We hope that at these events adding more security will be enough to prevent any possible attacks.
There will be big events worldwide on the 22nd, go at your own risk.
(..) = Added notes after our official release
History: http://pastebin.com/pX0z2mi7
Official press release: http://pastebin.com/u03Rr634
We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not Forgive.
We do not Forget.
Expect us.
Report possible threats and talk to us here: http://irc.lc/anonnet/opparis
Anonymous Says ISIS Plans Attacks Against 'Paris And The World' Sunday
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 20:16
UPDATED 3:05 p.m. EST: The FBI Saturday said in a statement it is aware of an alleged threat by the Islamic State group to stage an attack on the WWE event scheduled for Atlanta Sunday evening. FBI Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the Atlanta office said, however, it did not have "specific or credible information of an attack."
The FBI is aware of reports of an alleged threat that includes an Atlanta, Georgia venue and event. ... We have ... made the proper notifications as we continue to work closely with our law enforcement and private sector partners to keep our community safe."
Original post:
Anonymous, the loose collective of online activists, said Saturday it has uncovered information about Islamic State group attacks in Paris as well as at locations in the U.S., Indonesia, Italy and Lebanon, all apparently set for Sunday. OpParisIntel, a group within Anonymous, released a statement saying it had collected information about imminent attacks by the militant group -- aka Daesh, ISIL and ISIS -- in the French capital a little more than a week after a series of coordinated attacks there left 130 dead and hundreds injured.
Anonymous also said the Islamic State group is planning an assault at the WWE Survivor Series event scheduled to take place in the Philips Arena in Atlanta Sunday at 7.30 p.m. EST, as well as attacks at multiple events in Paris.
The collective published the list of potential targets alongside a statement: "The goal is to make sure the whole world, or at least the people going to these events, know that there have been threats and that there is possibility of an attack to happen. Another goal is to make sure Daesh knows that the world knows and cancels the attacks, which will disorientate them for a while."
The targets listed by Anonymous are as follow:
Cigales Electroniques with Vocodecks, RE-Play & Rawtor at Le Bizen (Paris)Concrete Invites Drumcode: Adam Beyer, Alan Fitzpatrick, Joel Mull at Concrete (Paris)Demonstration by Collectif du Droit des Femmes (Paris)Feast of Christ the King celebrations (Rome/Worldwide)Al-Jihad, One Day One Juz (Indonesia)Five Finger Death Punch (Milan)University Pastoral Day (Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon)According to Anonymous: "We only appeared now because our goal was to remain undercover and report everything to the right authorities and let them take all the action. But when authorities do not take action, Anonymous does. This part of the op started last Monday and has [been] and will be active 24 hours a day as long as the op is going on."
Speaking to International Business Times, Anonymous said it had passed proof to the MI5 intelligence agency in the U.K., the CIA and FBI in the U.S., and the Australian government but that it has no plans to release the proof publicly. "If we share the proof [publicly], everyone will start calling it fake because screenshots can be edited and accounts can be deleted. We have purposely not shared account links publicly because they would be shut down immediately and then no one would believe the proof."
Anonymous declared war on the Islamic State group last week, vowing to track it down online as part of its Operation Paris (or OpParis). It has since released a guide for all those looking to take part in the operation, which already has identified tens of thousands of Twitter accounts it said are associated with the militant group while also taking some websites offline. The Islamic State group has responded to the threat by Anonymous, warning of a retaliatory attack on the activist group.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar - The one-eyed Marlboro Man is back
About 27 dead after Islamists seize hotel in Mali's capital - Yahoo News Canada
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 14:18
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The Crisis of World Order - WSJ
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 21:10
Nov. 20, 2015 3:41 p.m. ET For several years, President Barack Obama has operated under a set of assumptions about the Middle East: First, there could be no return of U.S. ground troops in sizable numbers to the region; and second, undergirding the first, the U.S. has no interests in the region great enough to justify such a renewed commitment. The crises in the Middle East could be kept localized. There might be bloodshed and violence'--even mass killing, in Syria and Libya and elsewhere, and some instability in Iraq'--but the fighting, and its consequences, could be contained. The core elements of the world order would not be affected, and America's own interests would not be directly threatened so long as good intelligence and well-placed drone strikes prevented terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Even Islamic State could be ''degraded'' and ''contained'' over time.
These assumptions could have been right'--other conflicts in the Middle East have remained local'--but they have proven to be wrong. The combined crises of Syria, Iraq and Islamic State have not been contained. Islamic State itself has proven both durable and capable, as the attacks in Paris showed. The Syrian conflict, with its exodus of refugees, is destabilizing Lebanon and Jordan and has put added pressure on Turkey's already tenuous democracy. It has exacerbated the acute conflict between Sunnis and Shiites across the region.
The multisided war in the Middle East has now ceased to be a strictly Middle Eastern problem. It has become a European problem as well. The flood of refugees from the violence in Syria and the repression of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime have rocked the continent and overwhelmed its institutions. The horrific attacks in Paris, likely organized and directed by Islamic State from its base in Syria, and the prospect of more such attacks, threaten the cohesion of Europe, and with it the cohesion of the trans-Atlantic community, or what used to be known as the West. The crisis on the periphery, in short, has now spilled over into the core.
Europe was not in great shape before the refugee crisis and the terrorist attacks. The prolonged Eurozone crisis eroded the legitimacy of European political institutions and the centrist parties that run them, while weakening the economies of key European powers. The old troika'--Britain, France and Germany'--that used to provide leadership on the continent and with whom the U.S. worked most closely to set the global agenda is no more. Britain is a pale shadow of its former self. Once the indispensable partner for the U.S., influential in both Washington and Brussels, the mediator between America and Europe, Britain is now unmoored, drifting away from both. The Labor Party, once led by Tony Blair, is now headed by an anti-American pacifist, while the ruling Conservative government boasts of its ''very special relationship'' with China.
The spillover of the Middle East crisis into this weakened Europe threatens to undermine the continent's cohesion and sap the strength of trans-Atlantic ties. The refugee crisis has further weakened centrist parties and strengthened the right wing in France and elsewhere; now the terrorist attacks, which these parties have unfairly linked to the refugee crisis, have given them a further boost. The idea of Marine Le Pen, leader of the right-wing National Front, as France's next president is no longer far-fetched.
There is a Russian angle, too. Many of these parties, and even some mainstream political movements across the continent, are funded by Russia and make little secret of their affinity for Moscow. Thus Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary has praised ''illiberalism'' and made common ideological cause with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In Germany, a whole class of businesspeople, politicians, and current and former government officials, led by former Chancellor Gerhard Schr¶der, presses constantly for normalized relations with Moscow. It sometimes seems, in Germany and perhaps in all of Europe, as if the only person standing in the way of full alliance with Russia is German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Now the Syrian crisis has further bolstered Russia's position. Although Europeans generally share Washington's discomfort with Moscow's support for Mr. Assad and Russia's bombing of moderate Syrian rebels, in the wake of the Paris attacks, any plausible partner in the fight against Islamic State seems worth enlisting. In France, former President Nicolas Sarkozy has long been an advocate for Russia, but now his calls for partnership with Moscow are echoed by President Fran§ois Hollande, who seeks a ''grand coalition'' with Russia to fight Islamic State.
Where does the U.S. fit into all this? The Europeans no longer know, any more than American allies in the Middle East do. Most Europeans still like Mr. Obama. After President George W. Bush and the Iraq war, Europeans have gotten the kind of American president they wanted. But in the current crisis, this new, more restrained and intensely cautious post-Iraq America has less to offer than the old superpower, with all its arrogance and belligerence.
The flip side of European pleasure at America's newfound Venusian outlook is the perception, widely shared around the world, that the U.S. is a declining superpower, and that even if it is not objectively weaker than it once was, its leaders' willingness to deploy power on behalf of its interests, and on behalf of the West, has greatly diminished. As former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer recently put it, the U.S. ''quite obviously, is no longer willing'--or able'--to play its old role.''
Mr. Fischer was referring specifically to America's role as the dominant power in the Middle East, but since the refugee crisis and the attacks in Paris, America's unwillingness to play that role has reverberations and implications well beyond the Middle East. What the U.S. now does or doesn't do in Syria will affect the future stability of Europe, the strength of trans-Atlantic relations and therefore the well-being of the liberal world order.
This is no doubt the last thing that Mr. Obama wants to hear, and possibly to believe. Certainly he would not deny that the stakes have gone up since the refugee crisis and especially since Paris. At the very least, Islamic State has proven both its desire and its ability to carry out massive, coordinated attacks in a major European city. It is not unthinkable that it could carry out a similar attack in an American city. This is new.
If, in addition to an increased threat to America, there is also a threat to the fundamental stability of Europe, does this not call for a reassessment of the policies that have so far been tried in Syria and Iraq? Those policies were based, in part, on a cost-benefit calculation: How much risk should be run, and how high a price should be paid, given the interests and the stakes involved? Now the interests and the stakes are higher than originally anticipated: The Middle East crises have metastasized and moved from what a cold, realist, interest-driven analysis might have described as peripheral parts of the body to its main organs. Have not events in the Middle East, and now in Europe, reached the point where significant interests are at stake, thereby requiring a more substantial response?
The French have already done that recalculation, at least in theory. Mr. Hollande has declared that France is ''at war'' with Islamic State. But with what capabilities'--and indeed, with what will'--can France and Europe fight this war? For almost two decades Europeans, and particularly Western Europeans, have chosen not to arm themselves sufficiently to fight a ''war,'' not only because they wanted to spend that money elsewhere but as a matter of philosophical conviction, derived from the bitter experience of the 20th century. Europeans believed that they, and eventually the world, had to move beyond power. Hard power had to give way to soft power, the rule of the jungle to the rule of law. This was the great philosophical gap that opened between Europe and the U.S., and never more glaringly than during the Iraq war.
In 2002, a British statesman-scholar issued a quiet warning. ''The challenge to the postmodern world,'' the diplomat Robert Cooper argued, was that while Europeans might operate within their borders as if power no longer mattered, in the world outside Europe, they needed to be prepared to use force just as in earlier eras. ''Among ourselves, we keep the law, but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle,'' he wrote. Europeans didn't heed this warning, or at least didn't heed it sufficiently. They failed to arm themselves for the jungle, materially and spiritually, and now that the jungle has entered the European garden, they are at a loss.
With the exercise of power barely an option, despite what Mr. Hollande promises, Europeans are likely to feel their only choice is to build fences, both within Europe and along its periphery'--even if in the process they destroy the very essence of the European project. It is this sentiment that has the Le Pens of Europe soaring in the polls.
The only alternative is to address the crisis in Syria and Iraq, and with it the terrorist threat posed by Islamic State. But just as in the 1990s, when Europeans could address the crisis in the Balkans only with the U.S. playing the dominant military role, so again America will have to take the lead, provide the troops, supply the bulk of the air power and pull together those willing and able to join the effort.
What would such an effort look like? First, it would require establishing a safe zone in Syria, providing the millions of would-be refugees still in the country a place to stay and the hundreds of thousands who have fled to Europe a place to which to return. To establish such a zone, American military officials estimate, would require not only U.S. air power but ground forces numbering up to 30,000. Once the safe zone was established, many of those troops could be replaced by forces from Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, but the initial force would have to be largely American.
In addition, a further 10,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops would be required to uproot Islamic State from the haven it has created in Syria and to help local forces uproot it in Iraq. Many of those troops could then be replaced by NATO and other international forces to hold the territory and provide a safe zone for rebuilding the areas shattered by Islamic State rule.
At the same time, an internationally negotiated and blessed process of transition in Syria should take place, ushering the bloodstained Mr. Assad from power and establishing a new provisional government to hold nationwide elections. The heretofore immovable Mr. Assad would face an entirely new set of military facts on the ground, with the Syrian opposition now backed by U.S. forces and air power, the Syrian air force grounded and Russian bombing halted. Throughout the transition period, and probably beyond even the first rounds of elections, an international peacekeeping force'--made up of French, Turkish, American and other NATO forces as well as Arab troops'--would have to remain in Syria until a reasonable level of stability, security and inter-sectarian trust was achieved.
Is such a plan so unthinkable? In recent years, the mere mention of U.S. ground troops has been enough to stop any conversation. Americans, or at least the intelligentsia and political class, remain traumatized by Iraq, and all calculations about what to do in Syria have been driven by that trauma. Mr. Obama's advisers have been reluctant to present him with options that include even smaller numbers of ground forces, assuming that he would reject them. And Mr. Obama has, in turn, rejected his advisers' less ambitious proposals on the reasonable grounds that they would probably be insufficient.
This dynamic has kept the president sneering at those who have wanted to do more but have been reluctant to be honest about how much more. But it has also allowed him to be comfortable settling for minimal, pressure-relieving approaches that he must know cannot succeed but which at least have the virtue of avoiding the much larger commitment that he has so far refused to make.
The president has also been inclined to reject options that don't promise to ''solve'' the problems of Syria, Iraq and the Middle East. He doesn't want to send troops only to put ''a lid on things.''
In this respect, he is entranced, like most Americans, by the image of the decisive engagement followed by the victorious return home. But that happy picture is a myth. Even after the iconic American victory in World War II, the U.S. didn't come home. Keeping a lid on things is exactly what the U.S. has done these past 70 years. That is how the U.S. created this liberal world order.
In Asia, American forces have kept a lid on what had been, and would likely be again, a dangerous multisided conflict involving China, Japan, Korea, India and who knows who else. In Europe, American forces put a lid on what had been a chronic state of insecurity and war, making it possible to lay the foundations of the European Union. In the Balkans, the presence of U.S. and European troops has kept a lid on what had been an escalating cycle of ethnic conflict. In Libya, a similar international force, with even a small American contingent, could have kept the lid on that country's boiling caldron, perhaps long enough to give a new, more inclusive government a chance.
Preserving a liberal world order and international security is all about placing lids on regions of turmoil. In any case, as my Brookings Institution colleague Thomas Wright observes, whether or not you want to keep a lid on something really ought to depend on what's under the lid.
At practically any other time in the last 70 years, the idea of dispatching even 50,000 troops to fight an organization of Islamic State's description would not have seemed too risky or too costly to most Americans. In 1990-91, President George H.W. Bush, now revered as a judicious and prudent leader, sent half a million troops across the globe to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, a country that not one American in a million could find on a map and which the U.S. had no obligation to defend. In 1989, he sent 30,000 troops to invade Panama to topple an illegitimate, drug-peddling dictator. During the Cold War, when presidents sent more than 300,000 troops to Korea and more than 500,000 troops to Vietnam, the idea of sending 50,000 troops to fight a large and virulently anti-American terrorist organization that had seized territory in the Middle East, and from that territory had already launched a murderous attack on a major Western city, would have seemed barely worth an argument.
Not today. Americans remain paralyzed by Iraq, Republicans almost as much as Democrats, and Mr. Obama is both the political beneficiary and the living symbol of this paralysis. Whether he has the desire or capacity to adjust to changing circumstances is an open question. Other presidents have'--from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton'--each of whom was forced to recalibrate what the loss or fracturing of Europe would mean to American interests. In Mr. Obama's case, however, such a late-in-the-game recalculation seems less likely. He may be the first president since the end of World War II who simply doesn't care what happens to Europe.
If so, it is, again, a great irony for Europe, and perhaps a tragic one. Having excoriated the U.S. for invading Iraq, Europeans played no small part in bringing on the crisis of confidence and conscience that today prevents Americans from doing what may be necessary to meet the Middle Eastern crisis that has Europe reeling. Perhaps there are Europeans today wishing that the U.S. will not compound its error of commission in Iraq by making an equally unfortunate error of omission in Syria. They can certainly hope.
Mr. Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of ''Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order'' and, most recently, ''The World America Made.''
Anti-Encryption, Mass Surveillance Debate Grows Louder
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 19:01
Debates around government surveillance and access to encrypted communications and data are only growing louder in the shadow of last week's terror attacks in Paris. The White House and congressional staffers, for one, have asked Silicon Valley executives to come to Washington, DC, in order to find a resolution to the encryption standoff currently taking place.
Though there is no evidence as of yet that last week's attackers used encrypted communications technology, government intelligence authorities and several lawmakers have not minced any words about the obstacle encryption poses in tracking suspects. Some, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), have gone so far as to call for legislation mandating so-called backdoors to encrypted apps.
There have also been reports this week that the Islamic State has created a manual for followers to teach them about encryption. The 34-page document, written in Arabic, includes a list of more than 40 consumer products that provide secure communications services. However, this is currently being disputed. According to Rita Katz, these are manuals date back to December 2014 for Gaza activists.
NBC News also reports the group has a ''help desk'' to help recruits understand privacy protection and secure communication avenues. Additionally, communications encryption service Telegram is having to shut down multiple ISIS accounts.
On Thursday, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton echoed the White House in calling on Silicon Valley to work with government to come up with an appropriate solution. ''We need Silicon Valley not to view government as its adversary,'' she said during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. ''We need our best minds in the private sector to develop solutions that will both keep us safe and protect our privacy.''
The Washington Post Editorial Board also jumped into the fray, writing, ''We don't have a solution, but it would be in everyone's interest to keep looking for one, before the next catastrophe.''
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance went further, calling for federal legislation mandating that tech companies design systems that allow for government access to communications data.
Such calls, however, have been rejected by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) and its president, Dean Garfield. The group, which represents Apple, Google and Microsoft among others, said weakening encryption to help government surveillance ''simply does not make sense,'' adding, ''After a horrific tragedy like the Paris attacks, we naturally search for solutions: Weakening encryption is not a solution.''
Columbia University Computer Science Prof. Steve Bellovin, who once served as chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission, wrote a column for CNN arguing that building in backdoors would ''hurt Internet security more broadly.'' Bellovin adds that even if cyrptographers ''get it right '... how does the U.S. government handle exceptional access requests from other countries?''
Verizon General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Public Policy Craig Silliman has called for international cooperation between governments to counter transnational threats. ''What we need is a new paradigm for cross-border cooperation, not simply every country trying to claim extra-territorial jurisdiction by their particular law enforcement or national security into other countries,'' he said, adding, ''That ultimately will break down and be ineffective; it has to be an international cooperation between all these governments.''
In response to the Paris attacks, European Union countries are planning a crackdown on cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, to curb funding of terrorist organizations. The European Commission is proposing measures to ''strengthen controls of non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments and virtual currencies and transfers of gold, precious metals, by pre-paid cards.''
In addition to efforts like these, a new ''Room for Debate'' in The New York Times focuses on whether Europe needs a new surveillance system. European Council on Foreign Relations Visiting Fellow Angeliki Dimitriadi writes that surveillance is not a silver-bullet solution to defeat ISIS, while the University of Buckingham's Anthony Glees opines that privacy has to yield to security needs.
As part of new developments in a long-standing argument on that latter point, new documents reveal that the U.S. National Security Agency analyzes ''social links revealed by Americans' email patterns," but without collecting the data in bulk from American telecommunications companies'--and with less oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
And, finally, The Wall Street Journal reports that China aims to manufacture its own secure smartphones to avoid risks of U.S. government surveillance. The effort involves both state-owned organizations and private technology companies.
photo credit: Paris en miniature via photopin(license)
Written ByJedidiah Bracy, CIPP/E, CIPP/US
Two men temporarily kept off US flight after speaking Arabic
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 21:45
"New York (AFP) - Two men were kept from boarding a flight from Chicago to Philadelphia this week because they were speaking Arabic, one of several incidents reflecting public paranoia since the Paris attacks. Maher Khalil and Anas Ayyad were told by a gate agent at Midway Airport on Thursday that they wouldn't be allowed on the plane because a fellow passenger had overheard them speaking Arabic -- and was afraid to fly with them." Look at the language of the story. This is like reporting on Kristallnacht and adding: in several incidents reflecting German public paranoia. Can you imagine?
Weekly Address: In the Face of Terror, We Stand as One
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 23:21
For Immediate Release
November 21, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC '-- In this week's address, the Vice President spoke to his and the President's commitment to protecting our country from terrorists, while also providing refuge to some of the world's most vulnerable people. He emphasized that he and the President consider the safety of the American people to be their first priority. But slamming the door in the face of refugees fleeing precisely the type of senseless violence that occurred in Paris last week would be a betrayal of our values. The vast majority of Syrian refugees are women, children, and orphans; survivors of torture; and people desperately in need of medical help. And all refugees undergo the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States. The Vice President reminded us that ISIL wants us to turn our backs on Muslims victimized by terrorism. We win by prioritizing our security while refusing to compromise our fundamental American values of freedom, openness, and tolerance.
The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, November 21, 2015.
Remarks of Vice President Joe BidenWeekly AddressThe White HouseNovember 21, 2015
Good morning everyone. This past week we've seen the best and the worst of humanity. The heinous terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, in Iraq and Nigeria. They showed us once again the depths of the terrorist's depravity.
And at the same time we saw the world come together in solidarity. Parisians opening their doors to anyone trapped in the street, taxi drivers turning off their meters to get people home safety, people lining up to donate blood. These simple human acts are a powerful reminder that we cannot be broken and in the face of terror we stand as one. In the wake of these terrible events, I understand the anxiety that many Americans feel. I really do. I don't dismiss the fear of a terrorist bomb going off. There's nothing President Obama and I take more seriously though, than keeping the American people safe.
In the past few weeks though, we've heard an awful lot of people suggest that the best way to keep America safe is to prevent any Syrian refugee from gaining asylum in the United States.
So let's set the record straight how it works for a refugee to get asylum. Refugees face the most rigorous screening of anyone who comes to the United States. First they are finger printed, then they undergo a thorough background check, then they are interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. And after that the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Defense and the Department of State, they all have to sign off on access.
And to address the specific terrorism concerns we are talking about now, we've instituted another layer of checks just for Syrian refugees. There is no possibility of being overwhelmed by a flood of refugees landing on our doorstep tomorrow. Right now, refugees wait 18 to 24 months while the screening process is completed. And unlike in Europe, refugees don't set foot in the United States until they are thoroughly vetted.
Let's also remember who the vast majority of these refugees are: women, children, orphans, survivors of torture, people desperately in need medical help.
To turn them away and say there is no way you can ever get here would play right into the terrorists' hands. We know what ISIL '' we know what they hope to accomplish. They flat-out told us.
Earlier this year, the top ISIL leader al-Baghdadi revealed the true goal of their attacks. Here's what he said: ''Compel the crusaders to actively destroy the gray zone themselves. Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one and two choices. Either apostatize or emigrate to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution.'' So it's clear. It's clear what ISIL wants. They want to manufacture a clash between civilizations. They want frightened people to think in terms of ''us versus them.''
They want us to turn our backs on Muslims victimized by terrorism. But this gang of thugs peddling a warped ideology, they will never prevail. The world is united in our resolve to end their evil. And the only thing ISIL can do is spread terror in hopes that we will in turn, turn on ourselves. We will betray our ideals and take actions, actions motivated by fear that will drive more recruits into the arms of ISIL. That's how they win. We win by prioritizing our security as we've been doing. Refusing to compromise our fundamental American values: freedom, openness, tolerance. That's who we are. That's how we win.
May God continue to bless the United States of America and God bless our troops.
U.S. lawmakers got suspect Turkish campaign cash
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 22:24
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.(Photo: Getty Images)
WASHINGTON '-- A Turkish religious movement accused of illegally financing congressional travel abroad may have also provided hundreds of thousands of dollars of improper campaign donations to congressional and presidential candidates during the past several years, a USA TODAY investigation has found.
USA TODAY has identified dozens of large campaign donations attributed to people with modest incomes, or from people who had little knowledge of to whom they had given, or from people who could not be located at all. All the donors appear to have ties to a Turkish religious movement named for its founder, Fethullah G¼len. USA TODAY reported last month that the movement has secretly funded more than 200 foreign trips for members of Congress and their staff.
In response to USA TODAY's queries about suspicious donations she received on April 30, 2014, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. refunded $43,100 to the donors. "Out of an abundance of caution, the campaign has refunded the contributions in question," said Ayotte campaign manager Jon Kohan. Ayotte also called on others who have received money from the same donors '-- including President Obama and Hillary Clinton '-- to return that money as well.
Some of the 19 Turkish Americans donating to Ayotte that day, who all lived outside New Hampshire, seemed to know little about the first-term senator, who is a woman. "He's a good guy. He's doing good so far. ... I know him," said Iman Cesari, a 30-year-old Nassau County employee on New York's Long Island, who gave Ayotte $1,200.
"I just liked what he said at that time and wanted to make a donation," said Hayati Camlica, who owns a Long Island auto repair shop and donated $2,400 to Ayotte on the same day.
Five of the Turkish Americans who donated to Ayotte that day could not be located at all, and in some cases, neither could the employer listed in Federal Election Commission records. Others did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
The donors appear to have ties to G¼len's worldwide moderate Islamic movement, which has been accused by the Turkish government of attempting a coup in that country. Turkish media reported that during Obama's visit to Turkey this week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his request that the United States extradite G¼len, who has lived in the Pennsylvania countryside for two decades.
Some of the donors were employed by G¼len-linked schools or non-profit organizations; others have shared G¼lenist material on their social media accounts or have been reported as participants in G¼len-organized events.
Turkish faith movement secretly funded 200 trips for lawmakers and staff
G¼len-linked money has flowed into campaigns all over the country, both Republicans and Democrats, and much of it raises red flags. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, received nine $2,500 donations from out-of-state Turkish-Americans on Oct. 7, 2013. One of the donations is attributed to a teacher at a G¼len-linked charter school in Toledo, Ohio, who had never before made a federal campaign donation. State public records suggest the teacher, Akif Camizci, was earning $37,000 a year. Camizci could not be reached at the school.
Also donating to Cuellar that day was Bilal Eksili, vice president of the Turkish American Federation of Midwest in Mount Prospect, Ill. Eksili donated a total of $5,000 to federal campaigns that year, but the foundation reported to the IRS that his full-time salary was $31,592. Overall, FEC records show Eksili has donated $38,000 to political campaigns since 2010, though public records indicate he did not own a home. Eksili did not respond to attempts to reach him.
Eksili is now president of the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians in Houston. The Turquoise Council was a primary sponsor of a congressional trip to Azerbaijan in 2013 that House ethics investigators concluded was secretly and improperly financed by an Azeri oil company.
"We make sure that the donors are legal," said Colin Strother, a Cuellar campaign spokesman. Campaign donations are vetted to make sure they comply with federal contribution limits, Strother said, but "we don't ask them their annual income or what their spouse makes." Like most campaigns, "the process we go through is to make sure that the contribution is on its face a legal contribution," Strother said. "If we were to find out that it weren't, we would return it."
While campaigns cannot investigate every donation they receive, "getting multiple maxed-out contributions on the same day from an identifiable group of first-time political donors that the campaign doesn't already know well is definitely a yellow light," said election lawyer Joe Birkenstock. "It doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong, but that's generally the kind of fact pattern a compliance team should follow up on."
House Ethics Committee let members slide on disclosure rules
More than two dozen other candidates and lawmakers across the political spectrum received G¼len-linked donations that appear questionable, including Clinton and Jeb Bush. The movement runs more than 100 charter schools and dozens of Turkish cultural centers and "intercultural dialogue" groups around the country. Employees move around among the schools and among the non-profit groups, so it is hard to keep track of who is working where at any given time.
This feature of the G¼len movement has been called "strategic ambiguity" by Joshua Hendrick, a professor at Loyola University Maryland, and it makes it impossible to trace the root source of funding for any G¼len activities.
Many teachers and administrators at the movement's Harmony, Horizon and other charter schools have provided one-time $1,000 or $2,000 contributions, amounts that are usually associated with wealthier donors.
It is not clear that the donations have bought the G¼len movement any additional assistance from public officials. For instance, Ayotte wrote a letter congratulating organizers for establishing a Turkish Cultural Center in New Hampshire in 2013, but Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who is challenging Ayotte for her Senate seat, also supported the effort, attending the ribbon cutting for that G¼len-affiliated center.
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Saudi Arabia has biggest number of ISIL supporters on Twitter | euronews, world news
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 05:23
Among the questions being asked in the aftermath of the Paris attacks by ISIL is how much support the group has worldwide. A strong indication came from a report by the Brookings Institute in March which showed Saudi Arabia as the country with the biggest number of Twitter users declaring support for ISIL (ISIS). Overall, the US-based think tank research estimates that at least 46,000 accounts belong to supporters of ISIL on the social network that is also widely used by the jihadists to communicate.
Technical data:
'' Total Number of ISIL supporters accounts on Twitter (Best estimate): 46,000'' Total Number of ISIL supporters accounts on Twitter (Best estimate): 90,000'' Sample: 20,000'' Period: From October 4th until late November 2014
Syria, where ISIL has its main stronghold in the city of Raqqa, appears only in second place behind Saudi Arabia, while Iraq is third.
The group's quest for wider worldwide support in 2015 was highlighted in 2014 in its propaganda document entitled ''The Islamic State, the second volume of the ''The Revived Caliphate''. It stated one objective was to engage in 'the battle of Armagedon' with European States on their soil (European Union). The document even demonstrated how it could purportedly launch Grad missiles at European countries such as Italy.
In a video said to belong to the Islamic State, published by the Spanish news agency Europa Press, ISIL suggests that the next attacks would be in Rome (Vatican state included) and the so called Al-Andaluz (Spain and Portugal).ISIL's bold and disturbing propaganda claims will be uppermost in the minds of Europe's leaders as they strive to build an appropriate security response to the worst terrorist threat the EU has ever had to face.
China buying Russian SU-35s 'response' to US moves in Asia '-- RT Op-Edge
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 14:17
Russia is selling China high performance aircraft as an answer to America's actions around Asia, Conn Hallinan from Foreign Policy in Focus, told RT.
Beijing has signed a deal with Moscow for Sukhoi fighter jets. China will buy 24 cutting-edge SU-35s. China is the first foreign sale of the multipurpose aircraft.
Read more
RT: Officials from Beijing were first shown the fighter jet seven years ago at an air show in China. What do you think is behind the timing of the decision to buy these planes?
Dr. Conn Hallinnan: Well, it is not exactly the same fighter jet. They took the old Su-35, which I believe the NATO designation was Flanker, and they essentially redesigned it. So it is faster, it has got longer range, more capabilities and can carry more ordinance, etc. I think it is very much a kind of an answer'...
President Obama was in Asia recently, and he announced $250 million to various countries in South East Asia: Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia to buy and get American military hardware. And I think that the announcement of this sale is sort of the counter. In other words, if you give all the stuff to your potential allies, then what we're doing is giving one of our high performance aircraft - interceptors and fighter bombers - to China. It's sort of an answer to the US F-35 moving to Asia and the SU-35 is a good match for the F-35.
RT: What message could this send to China's rivals in the region, particularly Japan?
Dr. CH: I think that Japan yes, but I also think there is South Korean, there is Australia. What is happening here is the Chinese have been pushing very hard in the South China Sea, a little too hard in my opinion; I think they've stirred up unnecessary antagonism. But what they are responding to'... is the fact that they look around, and what they see is that from India to South Korea and Japan the US has ringed them with potential adversaries. And this purchase of the Sukhoi is an answer to that. The SU-35 is better than anything right now in the Chinese air force. It is faster than the F-35, and it has got greater range than the F-35; it's more flexible in terms of what it can do; it doesn't have stealth capacity, but stealth capacity is overrated in any case.
RT: As you said Washington is planning to boost its presence in the Asia-Pacific with the latest generation of aircraft and warships within the next few years. What reaction can we expect from the US now?
Dr. CH: I suspect what you are going to see is a sort of a pushback. I think that Russia is in part doing that in Syria, and I think the Chinese are doing it in the South China Sea, and to a certain extent in South Asia... The US has been pushing, and I think you're going to see the Russians and the Chinese begin to push back a little bit more. We hope, of course, this doesn't get into a serious phase. I'm always nervous when you have high-performance aircraft that have the potential to start an incident
What this very much is is China and Russia's answer to the past two decades: NATO moving Eastward, the Georgia war, the Yugoslav war, the attempt at a Ukraine coup, an attempt to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, and at the same time a lot of US pressure in the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, etc. sort of bumping up against the Chinese. What you seeing here is a kind of a worldwide picture '' it is not really derestricted to the Asian Pacific region.
RT: We also know that China is developing its own fifth-generation fighter jet, the Chengdu J-20. Do you expect the country to continue to buy Russian military hardware in the future, or they will go with their own?
Dr. CH: I think it is actually in the interest of the Chinese to do so. In other words, the Chinese are developing their own aircraft, but the SU-35 is a relatively inexpensive airplane '' it is only something like $63-65 million apiece. You compare that to something like the F-35 which is between $98 million and about $110 million apiece. It is a pretty good deal for China. Also China is putting a lot of their resources at this point into their maritime forces and they are expensive. So if you can get an airplane that is a solid airplane, easy to maintain, has good capabilities for pretty much bargain basement prices it'd be silly not to take it.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
Spy vs Spy
Convicted Israeli spy released from US prison after 30 years | New York Post
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 18:37
Freed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard returns home.Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard walked out of a downtown Manhattan courthouse Friday morning after being fitted for electronic monitoring, a free man for the first time since he was sentenced almost 30 years ago in an extraordinary espionage case that occasionally complicated American-Israeli relations.
Pollard was released from federal prison in North Carolina but traveled to New York City to visit the probation offices at Manhattan federal court, where he sat in a waiting room Friday morning with other ex-cons '-- including at least one Latin King member who had the gang's ''LK'' tattooed on his neck.
''I'm sorry, I can't comment on anything today,'' Pollard said as he walked out of the courthouse along with his wife and lawyers.
Pollard '-- who wore a navy blue yarmulke and glasses '-- got into a black SUV on Centre Street without answering questions about where he would be living or whether he would attend synagogue Friday night.
''The people of Israel welcome the release of Jonathan A. Pollard,'' Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. ''As someone who raised Jonathan's case for years with successive American presidents, I had long hoped this day would come.''
Pollard's release from prison in Butner, North Carolina, came nearly 30 years to the day after his arrest for providing large amounts of classified US government information to Israel.
Pollard had been granted parole this summer from a life sentence imposed in 1987.
Jonathan Pollard in 1998Photo: APHis lawyers have said they have secured a job and housing for him in the New York area, without elaborating. The terms of his parole require him to remain in the United States for at least five years, though supporters '-- including Netanyahu and some members of Congress '-- are seeking permission for him to move to Israel immediately.
The saga involving Pollard for years divided public opinion in the United States and became both an irritant and a periodic bargaining chip between the United States and Israel.
His release caps one of the most high-profile spy sagas in modern American history, a case that over the years became a diplomatic sticking point. Supporters have long maintained that he was punished excessively for actions taken on behalf of an American ally while critics, including government officials, derided him as a traitor who sold out his country.
''I don't think there's any doubt that the crime merited a life sentence, given the amount of damage that Mr. Pollard did to the United States government,'' said Joseph diGenova, who prosecuted the case as US attorney in Washington, DC. ''I would have been perfectly pleased if he had spent the rest of his life in jail.''
Seymour Reich, a former president of B'nai B'rith International who visited Pollard twice in prison, said that while he believed Pollard broke the law and deserved to be punished, his sentence was overly harsh. Like other supporters, he believes Pollard was ''double-crossed'' into thinking he'd be afforded leniency in exchange for a guilty plea.
''I hope that he settles down and lives the remaining years as best as he can,'' Reich said.
Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst, was arrested on Nov. 21, 1985, after trying unsuccessfully to gain asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He had earlier drawn the suspicion of a supervisor for handling large amounts of classified materials unrelated to his official duties.
US officials have said Pollard, over a series of months and for a salary, provided intelligence summaries and huge quantities of classified documents on the capabilities and programs of Israel's enemies. He pleaded guilty in 1986 to conspiracy to commit espionage and was given a life sentence a year later.
Though he has said his guilty plea was coerced, he has also expressed regret, telling the Associated Press in a 1998 interview that he did not consider himself a hero.
''There is nothing good that came as a result of my actions,'' he said at the time. ''I tried to serve two countries at the same time. That does not work.''
Under sentencing rules in place at the time of his crime, he became presumptively eligible for parole in November '-- 30 years after his arrest. The Justice Department agreed not to oppose parole at a July hearing that took into account his behavior in prison and likelihood of committing future crimes.
The parole decision was applauded in Israel, which after initially claiming that he was part of a rogue operation, acknowledged him in the 1990s as an agent and granted him citizenship. Israelis have long campaigned for his freedom, and Netanyahu said last summer that he had consistently raised the issue of his release with American officials.
Pollard arrives to have his ankle bracelet installed.Photo: Tali LibermanPollard's lawyers also have sought permission for him to travel immediately to Israel, and two Democratic members of Congress '-- Eliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler, both of New York '-- have called on the Justice Department to grant the request so that Pollard can live with his family and ''resume his life there.'' The congressmen say Pollard accepts that such a move may bar him from ever re-entering the United States.
The White House has said it has no intention of altering the conditions of Pollard's parole, and even friends and supporters say they don't know exactly what's next for him.
President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes reiterated that stance on Friday, telling reporters traveling with Obama to Malaysia that ''this is something that Prime Minister Netanyahu has regularly raised'' in discussions with the United States.
''Obviously, the one thing at issue is the requirement that he remains in the United States,'' Rhodes said. ''But again, the president does not have any plans to alter the terms of his parole.''
Last year, the US dangled the prospect of freeing Pollard early as part of a package of incentives to keep Israel at the negotiating table during talks with the Palestinians. But the talks fell apart, and Pollard remained in prison.
More details about his plans were expected to emerge after his release.
''It's a very unusual situation '... I've been working with Mr. Pollard for 20 years, and even I don't know where he is going or what he will be doing,'' said Farley Weiss, an Orthodox rabbi who has been lobbying on Pollard's behalf for two decades.
Shut Up Slave!
I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me - Vox
Thu, 19 Nov 2015 23:41
I'm a professor at a midsize state school. I have been teaching college classes for nine years now. I have won (minor) teaching awards, studied pedagogy extensively, and almost always score highly on my student evaluations. I am not a world-class teacher by any means, but I am conscientious; I attempt to put teaching ahead of research, and I take a healthy emotional stake in the well-being and growth of my students.
Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me '-- particularly the liberal ones.
Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.
What it was like beforeIn early 2009, I was an adjunct, teaching a freshman-level writing course at a community college. Discussing infographics and data visualization, we watched a flash animation describing how Wall Street's recklessness had destroyed the economy.
The video stopped, and I asked whether the students thought it was effective. An older student raised his hand.
"What about Fannie and Freddie?" he asked. "Government kept giving homes to black people, to help out black people, white people didn't get anything, and then they couldn't pay for them. What about that?"
I gave a quick response about how most experts would disagree with that assumption, that it was actually an oversimplification, and pretty dishonest, and isn't it good that someone made the video we just watched to try to clear things up? And, hey, let's talk about whether that was effective, okay? If you don't think it was, how could it have been?
The rest of the discussion went on as usual.
The next week, I got called into my director's office. I was shown an email, sender name redacted, alleging that I "possessed communistical [sic] sympathies and refused to tell more than one side of the story." The story in question wasn't described, but I suspect it had do to with whether or not the economic collapse was caused by poor black people.
My director rolled her eyes. She knew the complaint was silly bullshit. I wrote up a short description of the past week's class work, noting that we had looked at several examples of effective writing in various media and that I always made a good faith effort to include conservative narratives along with the liberal ones.
Along with a carbon-copy form, my description was placed into a file that may or may not have existed. Then ... nothing. It disappeared forever; no one cared about it beyond their contractual duties to document student concerns. I never heard another word of it again.
That was the first, and so far only, formal complaint a student has ever filed against me.
Now boat-rocking isn't just dangerous '-- it's suicidalThis isn't an accident: I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We've seen bad things happen to too many good teachers '-- adjuncts getting axed because their evaluations dipped below a 3.0, grad students being removed from classes after a single student complaint, and so on.
I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to "offensive" texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students' ire and sealed his fate. That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik '-- and I wasn't the only one who made adjustments, either.
I am frightened sometimes by the thought that a student would complain again like he did in 2009. Only this time it would be a student accusing me not of saying something too ideologically extreme '-- be it communism or racism or whatever '-- but of not being sensitive enough toward his feelings, of some simple act of indelicacy that's considered tantamount to physical assault. As Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis writes, "Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated." Hurting a student's feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.
(Shawn Rossi)
In 2009, the subject of my student's complaint was my supposed ideology. I was communistical, the student felt, and everyone knows that communisticism is wrong. That was, at best, a debatable assertion. And as I was allowed to rebut it, the complaint was dismissed with prejudice. I didn't hesitate to reuse that same video in later semesters, and the student's complaint had no impact on my performance evaluations.
In 2015, such a complaint would not be delivered in such a fashion. Instead of focusing on the rightness or wrongness (or even acceptability) of the materials we reviewed in class, the complaint would center solely on how my teaching affected the student's emotional state. As I cannot speak to the emotions of my students, I could not mount a defense about the acceptability of my instruction. And if I responded in any way other than apologizing and changing the materials we reviewed in class, professional consequences would likely follow.
I wrote about this fear on my blog, and while the response was mostly positive, some liberals called me paranoid, or expressed doubt about why any teacher would nix the particular texts I listed. I guarantee you that these people do not work in higher education, or if they do they are at least two decades removed from the job search. The academic job market is brutal. Teachers who are not tenured or tenure-track faculty members have no right to due process before being dismissed, and there's a mile-long line of applicants eager to take their place. And as writer and academic Freddie DeBoer writes, they don't even have to be formally fired '-- they can just not get rehired. In this type of environment, boat-rocking isn't just dangerous, it's suicidal, and so teachers limit their lessons to things they know won't upset anybody.
The real problem: a simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justiceThis shift in student-teacher dynamic placed many of the traditional goals of higher education '-- such as having students challenge their beliefs '-- off limits. While I used to pride myself on getting students to question themselves and engage with difficult concepts and texts, I now hesitate. What if this hurts my evaluations and I don't get tenure? How many complaints will it take before chairs and administrators begin to worry that I'm not giving our customers '-- er, students, pardon me '-- the positive experience they're paying for? Ten? Half a dozen? Two or three?
This phenomenon has been widely discussed as of late, mostly as a means of deriding political, economic, or cultural forces writers don't much care for. Commentators on the left and right have recently criticized the sensitivity and paranoia of today's college students. They worry about the stifling of free speech, the implementation of unenforceable conduct codes, and a general hostility against opinions and viewpoints that could cause students so much as a hint of discomfort.
It's not just that students refuse to countenance uncomfortable ideas '-- they refuse to engage them, period.
I agree with some of these analyses more than others, but they all tend to be too simplistic. The current student-teacher dynamic has been shaped by a large confluence of factors, and perhaps the most important of these is the manner in which cultural studies and social justice writers have comported themselves in popular media. I have a great deal of respect for both of these fields, but their manifestations online, their desire to democratize complex fields of study by making them as digestible as a TGIF sitcom, has led to adoption of a totalizing, simplistic, unworkable, and ultimately stifling conception of social justice. The simplicity and absolutism of this conception has combined with the precarity of academic jobs to create higher ed's current climate of fear, a heavily policed discourse of semantic sensitivity in which safety and comfort have become the ends and the means of the college experience.
This new understanding of social justice politics resembles what University of Pennsylvania political science professor Adolph Reed Jr. calls a politics of personal testimony, in which the feelings of individuals are the primary or even exclusive means through which social issues are understood and discussed. Reed derides this sort of political approach as essentially being a non-politics, a discourse that "is focused much more on taxonomy than politics [which] emphasizes the names by which we should call some strains of inequality [ ... ] over specifying the mechanisms that produce them or even the steps that can be taken to combat them." Under such a conception, people become more concerned with signaling goodness, usually through semantics and empty gestures, than with actually working to effect change.
Herein lies the folly of oversimplified identity politics: while identity concerns obviously warrant analysis, focusing on them too exclusively draws our attention so far inward that none of our analyses can lead to action. Rebecca Reilly Cooper, a political philosopher at the University of Warwick, worries about the effectiveness of a politics in which "particular experiences can never legitimately speak for any one other than ourselves, and personal narrative and testimony are elevated to such a degree that there can be no objective standpoint from which to examine their veracity." Personal experience and feelings aren't just a salient touchstone of contemporary identity politics; they are the entirety of these politics. In such an environment, it's no wonder that students are so prone to elevate minor slights to protestable offenses.
(It's also why seemingly piddling matters of cultural consumption warrant much more emotional outrage than concerns with larger material implications. Compare the number of web articles surrounding the supposed problematic aspects of the newest Avengers movie with those complaining about, say, the piecemeal dismantling of abortion rights. The former outnumber the latter considerably, and their rhetoric is typically much more impassioned and inflated. I'd discuss this in my classes '-- if I weren't too scared to talk about abortion.)
The press for actionability, or even for comprehensive analyses that go beyond personal testimony, is hereby considered redundant, since all we need to do to fix the world's problems is adjust the feelings attached to them and open up the floor for various identity groups to have their say. All the old, enlightened means of discussion and analysis '--from due process to scientific method '-- are dismissed as being blind to emotional concerns and therefore unfairly skewed toward the interest of straight white males. All that matters is that people are allowed to speak, that their narratives are accepted without question, and that the bad feelings go away.
So it's not just that students refuse to countenance uncomfortable ideas '-- they refuse to engage them, period. Engagement is considered unnecessary, as the immediate, emotional reactions of students contain all the analysis and judgment that sensitive issues demand. As Judith Shulevitz wrote in the New York Times, these refusals can shut down discussion in genuinely contentious areas, such as when Oxford canceled an abortion debate. More often, they affect surprisingly minor matters, as when Hampshire College disinvited an Afrobeat band because their lineup had too many white people in it.
When feelings become more important than issuesAt the very least, there's debate to be had in these areas. Ideally, pro-choice students would be comfortable enough in the strength of their arguments to subject them to discussion, and a conversation about a band's supposed cultural appropriation could take place alongside a performance. But these cancellations and disinvitations are framed in terms of feelings, not issues. The abortion debate was canceled because it would have imperiled the "welfare and safety of our students." The Afrofunk band's presence would not have been "safe and healthy." No one can rebut feelings, and so the only thing left to do is shut down the things that cause distress '-- no argument, no discussion, just hit the mute button and pretend eliminating discomfort is the same as effecting actual change.
In a New York Magazine piece, Jonathan Chait described the chilling effect this type of discourse has upon classrooms. Chait's piece generated seismic backlash, and while I disagree with much of his diagnosis, I have to admit he does a decent job of describing the symptoms. He cites an anonymous professor who says that "she and her fellow faculty members are terrified of facing accusations of triggering trauma." Internet liberals pooh-poohed this comment, likening the professor to one of Tom Friedman's imaginary cab drivers. But I've seen what's being described here. I've lived it. It's real, and it affects liberal, socially conscious teachers much more than conservative ones.
Oxford University, where a debate on abortion was canceled last year. (Sura Ark/Getty Images)
If we wish to remove this fear, and to adopt a politics that can lead to more substantial change, we need to adjust our discourse. Ideally, we can have a conversation that is conscious of the role of identity issues and confident of the ideas that emanate from the people who embody those identities. It would call out and criticize unfair, arbitrary, or otherwise stifling discursive boundaries, but avoid falling into pettiness or nihilism. It wouldn't be moderate, necessarily, but it would be deliberate. It would require effort.
In the start of his piece, Chait hypothetically asks if "the offensiveness of an idea [can] be determined objectively, or only by recourse to the identity of the person taking offense." Here, he's getting at the concerns addressed by Reed and Reilly-Cooper, the worry that we've turned our analysis so completely inward that our judgment of a person's speech hinges more upon their identity signifiers than on their ideas.
A sensible response to Chait's question would be that this is a false binary, and that ideas can and should be judged both by the strength of their logic and by the cultural weight afforded to their speaker's identity. Chait appears to believe only the former, and that's kind of ridiculous. Of course someone's social standing affects whether their ideas are considered offensive, or righteous, or even worth listening to. How can you think otherwise?
We destroy ourselves when identity becomes our sole focusFeminists and anti-racists recognize that identity does matter. This is indisputable. If we subscribe to the belief that ideas can be judged within a vacuum, uninfluenced by the social weight of their proponents, we perpetuate a system in which arbitrary markers like race and gender influence the perceived correctness of ideas. We can't overcome prejudice by pretending it doesn't exist. Focusing on identity allows us to interrogate the process through which white males have their opinions taken at face value, while women, people of color, and non-normatively gendered people struggle to have their voices heard.
But we also destroy ourselves when identity becomes our sole focus. Consider a tweet I linked to (which has since been removed. See editor's note below.), from a critic and artist, in which she writes: "When ppl go off on evo psych, its always some shady colonizer white man theory that ignores nonwhite human history. but 'science'. Ok ... Most 'scientific thought' as u know it isnt that scientific but shaped by white patriarchal bias of ppl who claimed authority on it."
This critic is intelligent. Her voice is important. She realizes, correctly, that evolutionary psychology is flawed, and that science has often been misused to legitimize racist and sexist beliefs. But why draw that out to questioning most "scientific thought"? Can't we see how distancing that is to people who don't already agree with us? And tactically, can't we see how shortsighted it is to be skeptical of a respected manner of inquiryjust because it's associated with white males?
This sort of perspective is not confined to Twitter and the comments sections of liberal blogs. It was born in the more nihilistic corners of academic theory, and its manifestations on social media have severe real-world implications. In another instance, two female professors of library science publicly outed and shamed a male colleague they accused of being creepy at conferences, going so far as to openly celebrate the prospect of ruining his career. I don't doubt that some men are creepy at conferences '-- they are. And for all I know, this guy might be an A-level creep. But part of the female professors' shtick was the strong insistence that harassment victims should never be asked for proof, that an enunciation of an accusation is all it should ever take to secure a guilty verdict. The identity of the victims overrides the identity of the harasser, and that's all the proof they need.
This is terrifying. No one will ever accept that. And if that becomes a salient part of liberal politics, liberals are going to suffer tremendous electoral defeat.
Debate and discussion would ideally temper this identity-based discourse, make it more usable and less scary to outsiders. Teachers and academics are the best candidates to foster this discussion, but most of us are too scared and economically disempowered to say anything. Right now, there's nothing much to do other than sit on our hands and wait for the ascension of conservative political backlash '-- hop into the echo chamber, pile invective upon the next person or company who says something vaguely insensitive, insulate ourselves further and further from any concerns that might resonate outside of our own little corner of Twitter.
Update: After a discussion with a woman whose tweet was quoted in the story, the editors of this piece agreed that some of the conclusions drawn in the article misrepresented her tweet and the article was revised. The woman requested anonymity because she said she was receiving death threats as a result of the story, so her name has been removed. Unfortunately, threats are a horrible reality for many women online and a topic we intend to report on further.
The Revenge of the Coddled: An Interview with Jonathan Haidt | Dominic Bouck, O.P. | First Things
Thu, 19 Nov 2015 23:32
I recently had a chance to speak with Dr. Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist and professor of business ethics at New York University-Stern School of Business, whose book, The Righteous Mind, discusses the emotional justification of modern-day ethical beliefs and political divides. Recently, he wrote a landmark article for The Atlantic with Greg Lukianoff, ''The Coddling of the American Mind,'' about the culture of oversensitivity on university campuses.
This ''coddling'' culture, a term coined by Haidt and Lukianoff, has been criticized by conservatives'--as would be expected'--but also liberals, including President Obama. According to Haidt, this is causing a quietly growing rift: between the liberal Left and the ''illiberal'' Left.
The big surprise for me in publishing the article with Lukianoff is that we were expecting a lot of controversy, a lot of pushback, a lot of anger, and there was pretty close to zero. Almost everybody seemed to agree with the article.The vast majority on the left are not illiberal, and these tendencies are very illiberal. It involves the shouting-down of speakers, disinviting speakers, telling people what they can say, telling people what they can wear. The new political correctness is extremely illiberal and most liberals are uncomfortable. The liberal left is much larger, but the illiberal left is much angrier and much more vocal.
So who supports this coddling?
The great majority of people over 35 seem to dislike this coddling culture, they were not raised with it. Most of them had ''free-range'' childhoods where they spent time without adult supervision and were expected to fend for themselves. So the biggest divide is age. The only people who support the ''coddling culture,'' as far as I can tell, are under 35, on the Left, and on a college campus. There also seems to be a sex difference'--women are more attracted to this view than men, perhaps because many of these ideas grew out of from feminist theory in the 1990s. But the bottom line is that we have an emperor's new clothes situation, where a small minority of people are bullying the majority, and I am hoping the majority will stand up and say, 'You don't get to tell me how to speak.'
We need a reorganization of priorities, according to Haidt. He likes the framework of diversity, but instead of racial and gender diversity, he says we need to begin emphasizing ''viewpoint diversity.''
I think we are due for a change in our thinking about diversity. It's going to be very difficult but it's essential. There was a time when racial diversity and gender diversity were the most pressing issues, when many institutions were all-white and all-male. . . . [But] with each passing year, racial diversity and gender diversity, I believe, while still important, should become lower priorities, and with each passing year political diversity becomes more and more important: our nation becomes more and more paralyzed. . . . In higher education, we have a lot of race and gender diversity and we have essentially no political diversity. In social psychology we have virtually no one, there is only one conservative in the whole field that I know of.
Fear reigns on campuses now. (See the recent essay on Vox entitled, ''I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me.'') Haidt relates his reticence to speak openly about the coddled culture:
I would not want to lead a conversation on this topic with students here at NYU. Not because NYU is more PC than other top schools'--it's not. But professors are much safer these days speaking at other campuses than on their own because it's only on your own campus that students are going to file harassment charges and drag you before the Equal Opportunity Commission if you say one word that offends someone. So I must heavily self-censor when I speak on my home campus. I can be more provocative and honest when I'm speaking at other schools.
So how do we move forward, out of this vindictive attack culture? Think young.
A carton of eggs is fragile, if you bang it around it breaks. But bone is anti-fragile. If you bang it around it gets stronger, and if you don't bang it around it gets weaker. Children are anti-fragile. They have to have many, many experiences of failure, fear, and being challenged. Then they have to figure out ways to get themselves through it. If you deprive children of those experiences for eighteen years and then send them to college, they cannot cope. They don't know what to do. The first time a romantic relationship fails or they get a low grade, they are not prepared because they have been rendered fragile by their childhoods. So until we can change childhood in America, we won't be able to roll this back and make room of open debate.
My biggest prescription is that in every hospital delivery room, along with that first set of free diapers, should come the book: Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. If everyone in America read the book Free-Range Kids the problem would be over in 21 years, when the first set of tougher kids filled our universities.
If you try to reach students when they get to college it's already too late. . . . As we say in the essay, childhood changed in 80s and 90s, there was much more protectiveness, there were new zero tolerance policies on bullying, which was fine when bullying was linked to physical aggression and to repeated actions. But bullying has gotten defined down over the last twenty years. There's no longer a connection to physical violence, it no longer requires repetition, and it no longer requires intent. If someone feels excluded or marginalized by a single event, they have been bullied, and there's zero tolerance for that. So that's the way kids are socialized by the time they arrive in college. . .
What I would suggest is that if any school has an anti-bullying policy, they should balance it with an anti-coddling policy. They need to realize they can do a lot of harm if they coddle the students. They turn them into ''moral dependents,'' a term for people who cannot solve problems by themselves; they are morally dependent on adults or other authorities to solve their problems for them.
The vindictiveness resulting from the new political correctness may eventually be its undoing, says Haidt.
I think emotions are going to lead a drive back to rationality. What I mean by that is when you talk to a professor who has been brought up on charges or attacked verbally for saying something innocent'--they're angry. Like a friend of mine, who teaches at a small liberal arts college and once referred to someone ''going over to the dark side.'' He was called a racist, and warned that such insensitivity would not be tolerated. When those things add up, and when liberal professors are constantly reprimanded or brought up on formal charges despite their good intentions, you get very resentful. And this whole vindictive protectiveness movement is only about two years old. . . . If you do a Google trend search, you see that words like ''microaggression'' and ''trigger warnings'' didn't exist until 2012 and only really became common in the fall semester of 2013. Then Spring 2014 was the time when so many speakers were disinvited from speaking on campuses, including Christine Lagarde and Condoleeza Rice.
But, Dr. Haidt, do you think it's going to get better or worse?
Worse. It's going to get much, much worse over the next couple years and at that point some universities may start changing policies. By that point, many or maybe most American parents won't want to send their children to the top universities, and there will be an enormous market opportunity for second-level universities that offer a much less coddled campus culture.
[Interview Note: This conversation took place on November 4. Over the following days, the meltdowns at Yale, Dartmouth, The University of Missouri, and Claremont McKenna College took place.]
Dominic Bouck, O.P., is a Dominican brother of the Province of St. Joseph.
>> U.S. Millennials More Likely to Support Censoring Offensive Statements About Minorities
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 20:19
About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Taxpayers Who Owe the IRS Could Lose Their Passports - Fortune
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 18:23
November 20, 2015, 8:30 AM ESTE-mailTweetFacebookLinkedinShare iconsIf you owe the IRS more than $50,000, your passport might soon be useless.
Congress is set to enact a law that would deny or revoke passports for taxpayers who owe the U.S. government more than $50,000, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The law will take effect in January and was passed as part of a larger highway funding bill. The Joint Committee on taxation estimates that cracking down on delinquents in this manner will raise $398 million over 10 years.
It's unclear just how many Americans abroad this would affect but the Journal notes that ''a report issued in September by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration '... found that the IRS sent 855,000 notices to U.S. citizens abroad in 2014.''
Charles Bruce, an American lawyer who advises the expatriate group American Citizens Abroad told the Journal, ''Americans abroad need their passports for many routine activities of daily life, such as banking, registering in a hotel, or registering a child for school, and mistakes could be disastrous.''
Scholar: Campus Mobs Reject Free Speech, Academic Freedom And Even Facts | The Daily Caller
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 15:02
There are students, he explained, who actually believe ''they may die from global warming.''
A recent Vanderbilt mob, angry about what came-to-be-realized was a blind girl's guide dog's poop bag inadvertently left in the wrong place, demonstrates how unhinged and yet explosive these perceived sleights have become.
Common sense and free expression are being shut down on more campuses and replaced by intimidation tactics and mob rule. (RELATED: Georgia College Student Criticizes Black Lives Matter, Becomes Victim Of Witch Hunt)
Kurtz, an observer and critic of the College Board's revised AP U.S. History standards, is frustrated with Republicans and conservatives who too often dismissed polling showing that youth were pulling away from capitalism and were surprisingly receptive to socialism in greater numbers.
Socialists, he said, are now ecstatic about Bernie Sanders , as his mere candidacy legitimizes socialism as a future prescription for America's ills. The ideologues are pulling the country to the left using Sanders's campaign.
Kurtz traced the dangerous trajectory of our times back to societal preferences given to justify past societal wrongs, like slavery. When we suspend individual rights underlying liberal democracy, embracing temporary and well-intended suspension of the rules, we undermine our way of life, he explained.
And now more victims clamor for such treatment. Today's victims include those fearing global warming, which President Obama touts as America's biggest national security threat. ''Saving the planet,'' Kurtz added, justifies any tactic, so ''free speech is out the window.'' Mobs form to mete out justice, he says, ''because we are getting comfortable violating our fundamental principles that formed this nation.''
Because colleges have tilted so far left, as expressed recently by Mona Charen, Kurtz sees new vulnerabilities for these orthodoxy-enforcing institutions. Since political correctness needs to silence any opposing views, Kurtz is promoting the idea of ''freedom of speech tours'' that can only make the elites uncomfortable. A recent Yale University panel on freedom of speech demonstrated the utility of Kurtz's idea.
Exposing or naming specific colleges could shame or stop donations or prospective students from attending offensive-behaving colleges, he added. Leadership could also come from trustees, alumni and state legislatures for state schools, Kurtz said.
One valuable group he cited is the National Association of Scholars that is shining a light on what the Left is doing throughout American higher education on sustainability, the divestment in fossil fuel movement, and the evolution of ''common reading books'' given to incoming freshmen to show them how they are expected to think.
Republicans are losing at the ballot box because they allowed the culture of campuses, the media and Hollywood to embrace the ideological left without adequate counter-engagement. Conservative donors who think politics can solve cultural problems are ''nuts,'' Kurtz says. Now, we are ''beyond the tipping point'' on campuses, he added. (RELATED: Scholar: Under New AP Standards, 'American History Will Not Be About America')
For more on Stanley Kurtz, watch his work at National Review or pick up his books.
Mrs. Thomas does not necessarily support or endorse the products, services or positions promoted in any advertisement contained herein, and does not have control over or receive compensation from any advertiser.
There are students, he explained, who actually believe ''they may die from global warming.''
A recent Vanderbilt mob, angry about what came-to-be-realized was a blind girl's guide dog's poop bag inadvertently left in the wrong place, demonstrates how unhinged and yet explosive these perceived sleights have become.
Common sense and free expression are being shut down on more campuses and replaced by intimidation tactics and mob rule. (RELATED: Georgia College Student Criticizes Black Lives Matter, Becomes Victim Of Witch Hunt)
Kurtz, an observer and critic of the College Board's revised AP U.S. History standards, is frustrated with Republicans and conservatives who too often dismissed polling showing that youth were pulling away from capitalism and were surprisingly receptive to socialism in greater numbers.
Socialists, he said, are now ecstatic about Bernie Sanders , as his mere candidacy legitimizes socialism as a future prescription for America's ills. The ideologues are pulling the country to the left using Sanders's campaign.
Kurtz traced the dangerous trajectory of our times back to societal preferences given to justify past societal wrongs, like slavery. When we suspend individual rights underlying liberal democracy, embracing temporary and well-intended suspension of the rules, we undermine our way of life, he explained.
And now more victims clamor for such treatment. Today's victims include those fearing global warming, which President Obama touts as America's biggest national security threat. ''Saving the planet,'' Kurtz added, justifies any tactic, so ''free speech is out the window.'' Mobs form to mete out justice, he says, ''because we are getting comfortable violating our fundamental principles that formed this nation.''
Because colleges have tilted so far left, as expressed recently by Mona Charen, Kurtz sees new vulnerabilities for these orthodoxy-enforcing institutions. Since political correctness needs to silence any opposing views, Kurtz is promoting the idea of ''freedom of speech tours'' that can only make the elites uncomfortable. A recent Yale University panel on freedom of speech demonstrated the utility of Kurtz's idea.
Exposing or naming specific colleges could shame or stop donations or prospective students from attending offensive-behaving colleges, he added. Leadership could also come from trustees, alumni and state legislatures for state schools, Kurtz said.
One valuable group he cited is the National Association of Scholars that is shining a light on what the Left is doing throughout American higher education on sustainability, the divestment in fossil fuel movement, and the evolution of ''common reading books'' given to incoming freshmen to show them how they are expected to think.
Republicans are losing at the ballot box because they allowed the culture of campuses, the media and Hollywood to embrace the ideological left without adequate counter-engagement. Conservative donors who think politics can solve cultural problems are ''nuts,'' Kurtz says. Now, we are ''beyond the tipping point'' on campuses, he added. (RELATED: Scholar: Under New AP Standards, 'American History Will Not Be About America')
For more on Stanley Kurtz, watch his work at National Review or pick up his books.
Mrs. Thomas does not necessarily support or endorse the products, services or positions promoted in any advertisement contained herein, and does not have control over or receive compensation from any advertiser.
Agenda 2030
Record Crushing Fraud From NOAA And NASA Ahead Of Paris | Real Science
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 14:20
Gavin and Tom delivered their fraud right on schedule ahead of Paris, just as I predicted they would. They claim that October had the highest temperature anomaly ever recorded for any month.
Record-crushing October keeps Earth on track for hottest year in 2015 '' The Washington Post
Somehow, they managed to calculate Earth's temperature within 0.01 degrees '' even though they had no temperature data for about half of the land surface, including none in Greenland and very little in Africa or Antarctica.
201510.gif (990—765)
This kind of mind-blowing malfeasance would get them fired and probably escorted out of the building by security at many engineering companies.
Satellites cover almost the entire planet several times a day, and they showed that October had only the 25th highest monthly anomaly, and that the first ten months of 1998 all had a higher anomaly than October 2015.
Not only do NASA and NOAA make up fake data for much of the planet, but they massively tamper with their existing data, like this station in Siberia where they have cooled the past nearly two degrees C since 2012 '' and now claim that it is two degrees C above normal.
2012 version :Data.GISS: GISS Surface Temperature Analysis2015 version: Data.GISS: GISS Surface Temperature Analysis
The graph below shows the magnitude of their data tampering since 2012.
By tampering with the station baseline, they created the large anomalies. Then they double down their fraud by smearing their bogus anomalies across 1200 km of missing data. This is needed to create their required fraudulent record temperature claims ahead of Paris.
Major Hotel Chain Drops Pork Sausage And Bacon From Breakfast Buffet... Blames Climate Change
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 15:11
With over 150 hotels and resorts across Norway and Sweden, Nordic Choice Hotels is a significant player in the Scandinavian market, but has lost faith in the power of free choice, forcing their guests to go green in the morning. The change comes just weeks after the United Nations pushed a report claiming to have linked bacon and sausages with cancer.
The chain has been steadily greening their food choices for nearly a decade, introducing Organic breakfast alternatives in 2007, and banning palm oil from their kitchens. Now pork products will be removed from the breakfast menu altogether, as the chain embraces a ''new breakfast concept''. Although it is not clear what precisely will now replace bacon and sausages, it is understood to be a ''healthy, plant-based'' alternative.
No other meats have yet been affected, although the selection of cereals and cheese offered will also be reduced to help fight climate change, reportsTheLocal.se.
Behind the move is the wife of chain owner Petter Stordalen. Gunhild Stordalen, the CEO of the entirely innocent sounding GreeNudge foundation has helped formulate the new breakfast. Sounding remarkably like a United Nations body itself, GreeNudge describes itself as working for ''a quicker transition to a sustainable society''.
Cached in the friendly language of modern corporatism, GreeNudge helpfully explains: ''A nudge means a friendly, little push in green direction. GreeNudge is an organisation with the goal to initiate, fund and promote research into behavioural change as a climate measure''.
Taking away the traditional Scandinavian hotel breakfast of crispy pan-fried bacon, chipolata sausages, and scrambled eggs from the customers of Nordic Choice may be seen as a great achievement for the foundation, and in line with their mission statement.
One Nordic Choice employee has reported some customers to be ''upset'' by the change, but a manager for the chain explained the move was all about ending traditional breakfast. He said: ''We want to challenge and break down many of the traditional conventions around hotels''.
Pork products are under increasing pressure accross Europe. Many fast food outlets no longer sell bacon to cater for Halal tastes, and as reported by Breitbart London last month pork foods may be banned in workplace kitchens and eateries out of ''good etiquette'' towards Muslims.
The new guidelines by the CoExist House interfaith group could also spell the end for the boozy Christmas office party, as it advises serving alcohol at corporate events can hurt the feelings of members of particular faiths.
Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter:or e-mail to: olane@breitbart.com
NA-Tech News
Apple boss says finding music online is too 'difficult' for women. Seriously
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:02
It's a problem we ladies just can't wrap our silly little heads round '' how on earth do we go about finding music online? You know, those things called songs to listen to when we're with our girlfriends sobbing over having our fragile hearts broken by cruel boys.
Well, fear not womankind '' the answer is here. At least, according to Apple Music boss Jimmy Iovine it is. He went on CBS This Morning to helpfully explain how the product was inspired by his realisation that women needed help locating tunes on the actual real-life internet.
Here's what he said:
''I've always known that women find it very difficult at times'--some women'--to find music,'' he explained. ''And this helps makes it easier with playlists curated by real people.''
''I just thought of a problem, you know, girls sitting around talking about boys, right, or complaining about boys when they're heartbroken or whatever.
"They need music for that, right? So it's hard to find the right music. Not everyone has the right list or knows a DJ or something.''
Thanks Jimmy but I'm pretty sure most 'heartbroken' women have noticed, though their warm and fragrant lady tears, that Adele's album has just been released and is taking over the planet.
You'd have to be living on Mars to miss it '' not just as a woman. (Although the singer has just announced that it won't be available on Apple Music or Spotify). And, as a species, we're hardly short of songs about heartbreak are we?
Iovine, who co-founded Beats by Dre (which was bought by Apple in May 2014), has since been forced to apologise. He told Billboard: ''We created Apple Music to make finding the right music easier for everyone '-- men and women, young and old.
"Our new ad focuses on women, which is why I answered the way I did, but of course the same applies equally for men. I could have chosen my words better, and I apologise.''
What's even more depressing in that the Apple chief was on the show to talk about a new ad campaign featuring powerful women Kerry Washington, Mary J Blige and Empire star Taraji P Henson '' and presumably designed to actually appeal to a female audience.
Way to go.
Now how do I go about finding Aretha Franklin's R.E.S.P.E.C.T online again?
Big Pharma
Atropine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 03:46
Atropine is a medication used to treat certain types of nerve agent and pesticide poisonings, some types of slow heart rate, and to decrease saliva production during surgery.[3] It is typically given intravenously or by injection into a muscle.[3] Eye drops are also available which are used to treat uveitis and amblyopia.[4] The intravenous solution usually begins working within a minute and lasts half an hour to an hour.[1] Large doses may be required to treat poisonings.[3]
Common side effects include a dry mouth, large pupils, urinary retention, constipation, and a fast heart rate. It should generally not be used in people with glaucoma.[3] While there is no evidence that its use during pregnancy causes birth defects, it has not been well studied. It is likely safe during breastfeeding.[5] It is an antimuscarinic (also known as an anticholinergic) that works by inhibiting the parasympathetic nervous system.[3]
Atropine occurs naturally in a number of plants of the nightshade family including deadly nightshade, Jimson weed, and mandrake.[6] It was first isolated in 1833.[7] Atropine is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.[8] It is available as a generic medication and not very expensive.[3][9] A one-milligram vial costs wholesale between 0.06 and 0.44 USD.[10]
Medical uses[edit]Eyes[edit]Topical atropine is used as a cycloplegic, to temporarily paralyze the accommodation reflex, and as a mydriatic, to dilate the pupils. Atropine degrades slowly, typically wearing off in 7 to 14 days, so it is generally used as a therapeutic mydriatic, whereas tropicamide (a shorter-acting cholinergic antagonist) or phenylephrine (an α-adrenergic agonist) is preferred as an aid to ophthalmic examination.
In refractive and accommodative amblyopia, when occlusion is not appropriate sometimes atropine is given to induce blur in the good eye.[11]
Atropine eye drops have been shown to be effective in slowing the progression of myopia in children in several studies, but it is not available for this use, and side effects would limit its use.[12]
Heart[edit]Injections of atropine are used in the treatment of bradycardia (a heart rate < >Atropine was previously included in international resuscitation guidelines for use in cardiac arrest associated with asystole and PEA, but was removed from these guidelines in 2010 due to a lack of evidence for its effectiveness.[13] For symptomatic bradycardia, the usual dosage is 0.5 to 1 mg IV push, may repeat every 3 to 5 minutes up to a total dose of 3 mg (maximum 0.04 mg/kg).[14]
Atropine is also useful in treating second-degree heart block Mobitz Type 1 (Wenckebach block), and also third-degree heart block with a high Purkinje or AV-nodalescape rhythm. It is usually not effective in second-degree heart block Mobitz type 2, and in third-degree heart block with a low Purkinje or ventricular escape rhythm.
Secretions and bronchodilatation[edit]Atropine's actions on the parasympathetic nervous system inhibit salivary and mucus glands. The drug may also inhibit sweating via the sympathetic nervous system. This can be useful in treating hyperhidrosis, and can prevent the death rattle of dying patients. Even though atropine has not been officially indicated for either of these purposes by the FDA, it has been used by physicians for these purposes.[15]
Poisonings[edit]Atropine is not an actual antidote for organophosphate poisoning. However, by blocking the action of acetylcholine at muscarinic receptors, atropine also serves as a treatment for poisoning by organophosphateinsecticides and nerve gases, such as tabun (GA), sarin (GB), soman (GD) and VX. Troops who are likely to be attacked with chemical weapons often carry autoinjectors with atropine and obidoxime, for rapid injection into the muscles of the thigh. Atropine is often used in conjunction with pralidoxime chloride.
Atropine is given as a treatment for SLUDGE syndrome (salivation, lacrimation, urination, diaphoresis, gastrointestinal motility, emesis) symptoms caused by organophosphate poisoning. Another mnemonic is DUMBBELSS, which stands for diarrhea, urination, miosis, bradycardia, bronchoconstriction, excitation (as of muscle in the form of fasciculations and CNS), lacrimation, salivation, and sweating (only sympathetic innervation using muscarinic receptors).
Some of the nerve agents attack and destroy acetylcholinesterase by phosphorylation, so the action of acetylcholine becomes prolonged. Pralidoxime (2-PAM) is the cure for organophosphate poisoning because it can cleave this phosphorylation. Atropine can be used to reduce the effect of the poisoning by blocking muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, which would otherwise be overstimulated, by excessive acetylcholine accumulation.
Side-effects[edit]Adverse reactions to atropine include ventricular fibrillation, supraventricular or ventricular tachycardia, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, loss of balance, dilated pupils, photophobia, dry mouth and potentially extreme confusion, dissociative hallucinations and excitation especially amongst the elderly. Most of available ampules are carried on sulphate which can cause histamine release and anaphylaxis to susceptible patients or patients with allergy to sulpha products.These latter effects are because atropine is able to cross the blood''brain barrier. Because of the hallucinogenic properties, some have used the drug recreationally, though this is potentially dangerous and often unpleasant.
In overdoses, atropine is poisonous. Atropine is sometimes added to potentially addictive drugs, particularly anti-diarrhea opioid drugs such as diphenoxylate or difenoxin, wherein the secretion-reducing effects of the atropine can also aid the anti-diarrhea effects.
Although atropine treats bradycardia (slow heart rate) in emergency settings, it can cause paradoxical heart rate slowing when given at very low doses (i.e.
VIDEO0Brussels still on lockdown as hunt for Paris fugitive continues | euronews, world news
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 15:05
Brussels remains on lockdown as the hunt continues for a fugitive suspect of the Paris attacks, who remains at large.
The streets in the normally-bustling Belgian capital are eerily quiet.
Brussels and its region have been placed on the maximum level of security alert, level 4. The rest of Belgium is on level 3.
Paris fugitive still at largeThe alarm was raised when intelligence suggested a heavily-armed Salah Abdelslam had returned to the city following the attacks a week ago.
The 26-year-old is believed to be hiding in the area, possibly having assumed a new identity.
He is wanted in connection with last week's attacks in Paris and is thought to be directly involved with the bombings at the Stade de France or the shootings at bars and restaurants in the north-east of the French capital.
Threat is ''serious and imminent''Describing the threat as ''serious and imminent'', officials have advised the public to avoid crowded areas.
The metro system has been closed as have museums, cinemas and shopping malls.
Security officials will review the status of alert on Sunday.
The National Security Council will decide what measures to extend.
Even the city's iconic Grand Plas is deserted, a month before Christmas.
The country is holding its breath to find out if the blanket security measures will be extended into the working week.
In pictures '' a deserted BrusselsBrussels has a vibrant food culture, but restaurants were looking for customers on Saturday night.
Brussels/Belgium security alert '' The KnowledgeAvoid crowded places likes concerts, public events, stations, airports, public transport and shopping areasFollow information directly from the police. Avoid relaying rumoursBe vigilantCooperate with security checks and controls
VIDEO-Kerry: Al Qaeda Is 'Neutralized' - YouTube
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 14:31
VIDEO-A 'serious and imminent' threat '' Brussels put on highest level of alert | euronews, world news
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 05:25
The metro system in Brussels has been closed due to what officials have described as a ''serious and imminent threat.''
At four, Belgium is on its highest level of alert.
People are being warned to avoid crowds because of a ''serious and imminent'' threat.
More soldiers and police have already been deployed in the wake of the Paris attacks, including in the city's iconic Grand Place.
French national Salah Abdeslam, whose brother blew himself up in the French capital, remains at large and is the subject of an international arrest warrant.
VIDEO-Balkan border controls cause knock-on effect | euronews, world news
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 05:16
The knock-on effect of tighter border controls in the Balkans is starting to show.
In Romania a seven-kilometre traffic jam has resulted in hours of delays for travellers attempting to cross the frontier into Hungary.
Border police say the measures, introduced one week after the Paris attacks, are in response to ''possible threats.''
Authorities believe at least one of the Paris suicide bombers travelled a known migrant route into Europe, via Greece.
From there, those making the journey move north into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but it is now only allowing entry to migrants from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
Thousands from countries not recognised as war zones are stranded at the border and tempers are starting to fray. On Saturday morning on the Greek side of the frontier, riot police pushed back huge crowds attempting to cross over and continue north.
One of those stuck at the border is Samrat, from Nepal:''I don't want to go back to my country, I have no house where I should go, in Nepal. I want to go to Europe, I want to change my future, I want to make my life this way.''
VIDEO-Diesel: from Russia with love | euronews, world news
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 05:10
Russia says it will send a puppy to replace the police dog which perished in last week's terrorist operation in Paris.
The Interior Ministry in Moscow says it is meant as a sign of solidarity.
The puppy, a female, is called Dobrynya, after a popular folk hero in Russian culture.
Diesel the dog died in the raid on an apartment in the Paris suburb of St Denis where several militants were holed up.
There are calls for her to be awarded France's highest national accolade, the Legion d'honneur, for her sacrifice.
VIDEO-Unmitigated climate change to shrink global economy by 23 percent | Reuters.com
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 05:01
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of SeptemberFri, Oct 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of AugustWed, Sep 02, 2015 -(0:59)
The legacy of Hurricane KatrinaFri, Aug 28, 2015 -(2:38)
China's only childrenThu, Oct 29, 2015 -(0:48)
Images of JulyFri, Jul 31, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of JuneThu, Jul 02, 2015 -(0:59)
Images of MayThu, Jun 04, 2015 -(1:00)
TIMELAPSE: Disney's 60th anniversary parade of...Wed, May 27, 2015 -(1:22)
Images of AprilFri, May 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of MarchWed, Apr 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of FebruaryFri, Feb 27, 2015 -(0:30)
TIMELAPSE: On the Grammy red carpetWed, Feb 11, 2015 -(2:58)
Images of JanuaryFri, Jan 30, 2015 -(0:30)
Images of DecemberTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(0:30)
Tsunami - unclaimed possessionsTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(2:23)
Images of NovemberTue, Dec 02, 2014 -(0:30)
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 03, 2014 -(0:57)
The world in a cityFri, Oct 31, 2014 -(1:30)
Real-life superheroesTue, Oct 28, 2014 -(1:44)
View from the hill: Covering Kobani from afarThu, Oct 23, 2014 -(0:59)
Dance of the northern lightsMon, Oct 20, 2014 -(1:08)
Beating addiction with the world's hardest...Sun, Oct 12, 2014 -(2:34)
Images of SeptemberWed, Oct 01, 2014 -(1:00)
Still missing '' MH370Fri, Sep 05, 2014 -(2:05)
Burning TogetherMon, Sep 01, 2014 -(2:23)
Mending dolls, teddies and heartsFri, Aug 22, 2014 -(3:12)
Images of AugustFri, Aug 29, 2014 -(1:00)
"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake BayMon, Aug 11, 2014 -(2:27)
Burned memoriesFri, Aug 08, 2014 -(3:02)
Images of JulyThu, Jul 31, 2014 -(1:20)
Syrian refugee longs to 'kiss the dirt I used...Tue, Jul 15, 2014 -(3:07)
World Cup: passion on the pitchFri, Jul 11, 2014 -(1:00)
World Cup: Photographers' favorite images from...Sat, Jul 12, 2014 -(2:57)
A refugee in America gives backThu, Jul 03, 2014 -(3:25)
A long search for refugeFri, Jun 20, 2014 -(3:04)
VIDEO-Telegram's struggle to stop IS messages | Reuters.com
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 04:48
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of SeptemberFri, Oct 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of AugustWed, Sep 02, 2015 -(0:59)
The legacy of Hurricane KatrinaFri, Aug 28, 2015 -(2:38)
China's only childrenThu, Oct 29, 2015 -(0:48)
Images of JulyFri, Jul 31, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of JuneThu, Jul 02, 2015 -(0:59)
Images of MayThu, Jun 04, 2015 -(1:00)
TIMELAPSE: Disney's 60th anniversary parade of...Wed, May 27, 2015 -(1:22)
Images of AprilFri, May 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of MarchWed, Apr 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of FebruaryFri, Feb 27, 2015 -(0:30)
TIMELAPSE: On the Grammy red carpetWed, Feb 11, 2015 -(2:58)
Images of JanuaryFri, Jan 30, 2015 -(0:30)
Images of DecemberTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(0:30)
Tsunami - unclaimed possessionsTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(2:23)
Images of NovemberTue, Dec 02, 2014 -(0:30)
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 03, 2014 -(0:57)
The world in a cityFri, Oct 31, 2014 -(1:30)
Real-life superheroesTue, Oct 28, 2014 -(1:44)
View from the hill: Covering Kobani from afarThu, Oct 23, 2014 -(0:59)
Dance of the northern lightsMon, Oct 20, 2014 -(1:08)
Beating addiction with the world's hardest...Sun, Oct 12, 2014 -(2:34)
Images of SeptemberWed, Oct 01, 2014 -(1:00)
Still missing '' MH370Fri, Sep 05, 2014 -(2:05)
Burning TogetherMon, Sep 01, 2014 -(2:23)
Mending dolls, teddies and heartsFri, Aug 22, 2014 -(3:12)
Images of AugustFri, Aug 29, 2014 -(1:00)
"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake BayMon, Aug 11, 2014 -(2:27)
Burned memoriesFri, Aug 08, 2014 -(3:02)
Images of JulyThu, Jul 31, 2014 -(1:20)
Syrian refugee longs to 'kiss the dirt I used...Tue, Jul 15, 2014 -(3:07)
World Cup: passion on the pitchFri, Jul 11, 2014 -(1:00)
World Cup: Photographers' favorite images from...Sat, Jul 12, 2014 -(2:57)
A refugee in America gives backThu, Jul 03, 2014 -(3:25)
A long search for refugeFri, Jun 20, 2014 -(3:04)
VIDEO-Putin talks of 'next phase' in Syria | Reuters.com
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 04:39
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of SeptemberFri, Oct 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of AugustWed, Sep 02, 2015 -(0:59)
The legacy of Hurricane KatrinaFri, Aug 28, 2015 -(2:38)
China's only childrenThu, Oct 29, 2015 -(0:48)
Images of JulyFri, Jul 31, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of JuneThu, Jul 02, 2015 -(0:59)
Images of MayThu, Jun 04, 2015 -(1:00)
TIMELAPSE: Disney's 60th anniversary parade of...Wed, May 27, 2015 -(1:22)
Images of AprilFri, May 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of MarchWed, Apr 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of FebruaryFri, Feb 27, 2015 -(0:30)
TIMELAPSE: On the Grammy red carpetWed, Feb 11, 2015 -(2:58)
Images of JanuaryFri, Jan 30, 2015 -(0:30)
Images of DecemberTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(0:30)
Tsunami - unclaimed possessionsTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(2:23)
Images of NovemberTue, Dec 02, 2014 -(0:30)
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 03, 2014 -(0:57)
The world in a cityFri, Oct 31, 2014 -(1:30)
Real-life superheroesTue, Oct 28, 2014 -(1:44)
View from the hill: Covering Kobani from afarThu, Oct 23, 2014 -(0:59)
Dance of the northern lightsMon, Oct 20, 2014 -(1:08)
Beating addiction with the world's hardest...Sun, Oct 12, 2014 -(2:34)
Images of SeptemberWed, Oct 01, 2014 -(1:00)
Still missing '' MH370Fri, Sep 05, 2014 -(2:05)
Burning TogetherMon, Sep 01, 2014 -(2:23)
Mending dolls, teddies and heartsFri, Aug 22, 2014 -(3:12)
Images of AugustFri, Aug 29, 2014 -(1:00)
"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake BayMon, Aug 11, 2014 -(2:27)
Burned memoriesFri, Aug 08, 2014 -(3:02)
Images of JulyThu, Jul 31, 2014 -(1:20)
Syrian refugee longs to 'kiss the dirt I used...Tue, Jul 15, 2014 -(3:07)
World Cup: passion on the pitchFri, Jul 11, 2014 -(1:00)
World Cup: Photographers' favorite images from...Sat, Jul 12, 2014 -(2:57)
A refugee in America gives backThu, Jul 03, 2014 -(3:25)
A long search for refugeFri, Jun 20, 2014 -(3:04)
VIDEO-Veteran militant likely behind Mali attacks:French official | Reuters.com
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 04:28
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of SeptemberFri, Oct 02, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of AugustWed, Sep 02, 2015 -(0:59)
The legacy of Hurricane KatrinaFri, Aug 28, 2015 -(2:38)
China's only childrenThu, Oct 29, 2015 -(0:48)
Images of JulyFri, Jul 31, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of JuneThu, Jul 02, 2015 -(0:59)
Images of MayThu, Jun 04, 2015 -(1:00)
TIMELAPSE: Disney's 60th anniversary parade of...Wed, May 27, 2015 -(1:22)
Images of AprilFri, May 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of MarchWed, Apr 01, 2015 -(1:00)
Images of FebruaryFri, Feb 27, 2015 -(0:30)
TIMELAPSE: On the Grammy red carpetWed, Feb 11, 2015 -(2:58)
Images of JanuaryFri, Jan 30, 2015 -(0:30)
Images of DecemberTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(0:30)
Tsunami - unclaimed possessionsTue, Dec 23, 2014 -(2:23)
Images of NovemberTue, Dec 02, 2014 -(0:30)
Images of OctoberMon, Nov 03, 2014 -(0:57)
The world in a cityFri, Oct 31, 2014 -(1:30)
Real-life superheroesTue, Oct 28, 2014 -(1:44)
View from the hill: Covering Kobani from afarThu, Oct 23, 2014 -(0:59)
Dance of the northern lightsMon, Oct 20, 2014 -(1:08)
Beating addiction with the world's hardest...Sun, Oct 12, 2014 -(2:34)
Images of SeptemberWed, Oct 01, 2014 -(1:00)
Still missing '' MH370Fri, Sep 05, 2014 -(2:05)
Burning TogetherMon, Sep 01, 2014 -(2:23)
Mending dolls, teddies and heartsFri, Aug 22, 2014 -(3:12)
Images of AugustFri, Aug 29, 2014 -(1:00)
"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake BayMon, Aug 11, 2014 -(2:27)
Burned memoriesFri, Aug 08, 2014 -(3:02)
Images of JulyThu, Jul 31, 2014 -(1:20)
Syrian refugee longs to 'kiss the dirt I used...Tue, Jul 15, 2014 -(3:07)
World Cup: passion on the pitchFri, Jul 11, 2014 -(1:00)
World Cup: Photographers' favorite images from...Sat, Jul 12, 2014 -(2:57)
A refugee in America gives backThu, Jul 03, 2014 -(3:25)
A long search for refugeFri, Jun 20, 2014 -(3:04)
VIDEO-Liberal Guests on CNN: U.S. Has Been 'Racist' To Refugees Since 1939 | MRCTV
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 03:27
[More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.]
On the 18 November 2015 edition of CNN Tonight, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times and liberal analyst Rula Jebreal bewailed the latest Bloomberg poll that found that 53 percent of Americans are opposed to letting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country. Kristof hyped that "this almost exactly matches up a poll in January 1939 of whether or not to admit 10,000 mostly Jewish children into the U.S.....in retrospect, we clearly acknowledge that was a shameful period in American history." Jebreal slammed this majority as "racist," and cried, "They're weaponizing fear! That poll reflects fear."
VIDEO-Clinton Criticizes US Mideast Allies: 'This is Their Fight and They Need to Act Like It' | MRCTV
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 03:21
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had some candid criticism Thursday for three Mideast allies, scolding Turkey for being overly focused on Kurdish extremism and not securing its border with Syria, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar for not doing enough to cut off terror funding or stop the exporting of radical ideology.
VIDEO-"Those Attacks Could Have Happened Here! This Is Not To Instill Fear" (Yeah Right) Republican Weekly - YouTube
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 02:31
VIDEO-Hitchcock's Music - Psycho - YouTube
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 01:13
VIDEO-Coalition Efforts Against ISIL
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 00:33
Brett McGurkSpecial Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL, Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIL
MR KIRBY: Afternoon, everybody. Happy Friday to you. We've got a full house here; this is great.
QUESTION: That's right.
MR KIRBY: Well, I think you know we have a special guest briefer here today. And I'm not going to take too much time until we give him the podium, but the President's Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, Brett McGurk, is going to be giving you an update on coalition efforts against ISIL in Iraq and in Syria. And then he'll stick around and be able to take a few questions '' not many. And then after that we'll '' I'll get up here and we'll go through the regular daily briefing.
I know there are a lot of questions about what happened in Mali today. I'll be prepared on the back end of Brett's briefing to deal with that and to take those questions, and then whatever else is on your mind for today.
So with that, I'll turn it over to Mr. McGurk.
MR MCGURK: Thanks, John. So thanks for allowing me to take a few minutes here just to update you on what we're doing against ISIL. And I was with a lot of you in Vienna and then Antalya and then Paris. I spent an extra day in Paris. And a real theme, of course, coming out of those trips is not only our solidarity with the French, but our commitment across the entire globe '' and you really felt this, I think, in Antalya '' to accelerate our efforts against this barbaric terrorist organization. And what we are doing now, the steps we're taking have really been building for the last year.
If you go back to a year ago, the thought of our putting real pressure on the heartland of ISIL and its main connections between Raqqa and Mosul is something we wanted to do, but it wasn't possible to do that a year ago '' taking back major ground and territory, of finding out about the financial networks, the economic structures, how they're actually financing themselves, and then trying to root that out. That wasn't possible about a year ago, even six months ago, but it's possible now.
So I think we have an opportunity now in the wake of Paris to really galvanize the entire coalition and intensify our pressure across the board. And I would put it in two ways. We want to '' make no mistake '' we're going to destroy this terrorist organization, and in two ways: We're going to suffocate the core, which is in Iraq and Syria; and we're going to suffocate the global networks. And the global networks is something that everybody's focused on now and rightfully so. And I've said this before: We've never really seen anything like this before '' 30,000 foreign fighters, these jihadi fighters coming from 100 countries all around the world into Syria and Iraq. Depending on who's counting, there are different numbers from the '80s, but it's almost about double the number that went into Afghanistan in the '80s. Those guys came from just a handful of countries; this is 100 countries all around the world.
Myself and General Allen over the last year traveled to about 30 capitals and coalition capitals, including North Africa, Europe, Gulf states, Asia. And you heard a common theme of what's driving a lot of these young men and women to join this fight in Iraq and Syria, and it is this phony notion of the caliphate that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced in the summer of 2014. And his core driving philosophy, if you really read it, going all the way back to Zarqawi in 2004, is this expanding state that they claim to be trying to create, this war of flags of constant expansion.
So one of our core focus areas, therefore, in suffocating the core is shrinking that area. And that is happening.
So I wanted to go through '' take about ten minutes, really, to go through what we're doing now. It's a combination of activities '' economic, diplomatic, political, military '' and talk about that, and then also what we're doing, of course, in the global '' with the global networks.
But in suffocating the core '' I think you have a general map there just to situate where you are. And you've heard a lot about this disparate pieces. But when we look at it every day, those of us working on this every day with our national security team and the White House and the Pentagon and Treasury Department, they all '' it's all part of a coherent whole.
And if you go around a map and just go clockwise '' there's been a lot of talk, of course '' we were all just in Turkey '' about this 98-kilometer area. It's the last area of the border that ISIL still controls with Turkey. It's on the top left of the map. There's a town called Mar'a. You hear about the Mar'a line. That is the extent of ISIL's westward advance. They have tried, now, for a number of months to move further west. We've worked very hard with the Turks diplomatically, extremely close cooperation with Turkey, and with groups that are on the ground to ensure that this is going to be the extent of ISIL's western advance, and now we're going to start pushing them back.
My colleagues in the Defense Department can talk in more detail about that. But of course, the Incirlik Air Base, we've significantly increased our presence with F-16s, with A-10s, and most recently with F-15s. And that came out of an agreement that we negotiated with the Turks now going back about three or four months ago. And we think that's going quite well.
So in our cooperation with Turkey, politically, diplomatically, talking to the Turks very closely about how we are going to coordinate to do this '' their activities on the ground going on now with the fighters on the Mar'a line against ISIL, and also there are things we expect and hope the Turks will do on their side of the border to shut off this last stretch of territory to ISIL.
If you go to the east, what I would say is number two '' it's very important as you see the Euphrates River bisects Syria, the entire eastern side of the Euphrates River, which a year or so ago was almost all entirely under ISIL, is now entirely inhospitable to ISIL. That, of course, started in the town of Kobani. At one point we were down to just a few blocks in Kobani and a few hundred of the fighters in Kobani defending the town. We made a decision about a year ago to help them, starting with an airdrop and then military support.
And they have expanded from there '' very significant defeat to ISIL in which we then took away their main border entry point, which is on a map here of Tal Abyad. Tal Abyad was their hub; it was their economic hub; it was their '' where they processed all their foreign fighters. It is no longer an area in which they can do anything. And this expansion of the fighters in this part of Syria continues. And if you go to the east of Syria in Hasakah, south of there, Al-Hawl -- and my colleagues in DOD have talked about this '' and our role has been diplomatically trying to get these forces on the ground to work together. Cooperation with some of the Iraqi Kurds to make this all work has been very difficult. But over the last about 30 days, they've launched a series of operations against ISIL and has been quite successful taking that town of Al-Hawl and then pushing south.
And that has been synchronized '' just keep going clockwise '' with what's happening in Sinjar. Sinjar, again, took a lot of diplomatic activity, a lot of trips to northern Iraq, a lot of coordination with the Kurdish Peshmerga to help set up the conditions to do this. And that operation launched about two weeks ago, and the Kurdish Peshmerga retook the town of Sinjar.
Why that is important and why we have been focusing on it for so long is that the lifeline for Daesh, ISIL, in its core here between Raqqa and Mosul, the I-95 corridor, is a highway called Highway 47. And they've been able to traverse it only getting pressure on the air; they've not gotten pressure on the ground. Now, with the Kurdish Peshmerga retaking Sinjar, we have cut that main highway and simultaneous efforts that are ongoing in Syria will continue to constrict. This is part of the suffocation. We want to isolate them in Raqqa; we want to isolate them in Mosul; and then continue to strangle and increase the pressure, and that's going to continue.
If you just go further, there's Mosul. We have worked with the Iraqi Peshmerga diplomatically and with the Government of Iraq to set up in Makhmour a joint headquarters where planning the operation of Mosul. Make no mistake, that's going to take some time. But we are already now '' there's a new governor in Nineveh Province and working with him to recruit local fighters and organize them to begin to put pressure, constrict, and suffocate, and that's something that will continue.
If you go south towards Baghdad and the Tigris River, it's important to remember in the summer of 2014 when ISIL was pouring down the Tigris River Valley, pressing on Baghdad. Now the dynamic is complete opposite. The Baiji oil refinery '' something that I think historians will look at the fight for the Baiji oil refinery '' and the Iraqis fought quite heroically there. We, of course, helped them. We were 14 months with air drops and military support, and Iraqi forces ultimately now have secured the Baiji refinery, secured Baiji. And that, we think, is really now the extent of ISIL's southern advance.
Go south to Baiji in Tikrit. Tikrit is very important because it's where everything came together '' the economic, political, and diplomatic. Extremely difficult situation at first. In terms of the retaking of Tikrit, there were a lot of Shia militia groups involved in that operation in the beginning, and it didn't go particularly well. The Iraqi Government came to us and asked for help. We worked very closely with them diplomatically and politically to set the conditions in place to help them. They ultimately retook Tikrit. But since Tikrit has been retaken, what's most important '' this of course is an iconic Sunni city. And working with the global coalition, with the United Nations, with the Government of Iraq, set up an international stabilization fund to help get refugees back into the city of Tikrit. And now about 75 percent of the population has returned to Tikrit. That's significant because in most areas here in Iraq and Syria the population is not returning to their homes. We have it actually working in Tikrit. It's far from perfect. It's hard every single day. Our embassy team is working every day with the UN and with the Government of Iraq, and we're learning lessons every day of how that went and what we can do better as we move on to other areas.
I'll just loop around because one of the other areas is, of course, Ramadi. Ramadi fell about 90 days ago in what was a significant setback to the overall campaign, something we've talked about in detail. We know what ISIL wanted to do when they took Ramadi. They wanted to sweep east down the Euphrates River and, again, pressure Baghdad, basically collapse the Iraqi Security Forces.
We made an immediate decision working with Prime Minister Abadi and the Iraqi Government. At his invitation, we sent some of our Special Forces units into Taqaddum Air Base to help the Iraqis regroup, reorganize, recruit local fighters, and begin to push back. They halted that ISIL advance entirely, and now they are moving on Ramadi. And my DOD colleagues can talk about that in more detail. But given what ISIL tried to do and given where they are now, that is now going the right away, although it's extremely, extremely difficult. Iraqi Security Forces in this operation to retake Ramadi have already suffered about 1200 casualties; about 200 dead. They are fighting, they're dying to retake their country, and that's something that we are very much going to help them do.
Two more points on this map before I get to the global network. Haditha, going up the Euphrates River Valley there '' Haditha has been a focus for ISIL. They've poured everything they possibly could at it and they have failed. We have worked with the coalition at Al Asad Air Base '' I've been out there now a number of times '' ourselves, the Australians, the Danes. We are there not only working with Iraqi Security Forces but also working with local tribal fighters, and they have now gone from defensive maneuver operate '' to actually expanding their presence and defeating ISIL and doing offensive operations. That's quite significant because we've had to work closely politically with the Iraqi Government and pull a number of measures together on the economic-humanitarian side and the military side, and I think Haditha is where a lot of that has come together.
The final point, just to finish this circle, is in al-Raqqa. Al-Raqqa is where we think their leaders are, where we think a lot of their planning cells exist, and we are going to do all we possibly can working with all the forces available and working politically, diplomatically, and across the economic line of effort, to isolate and entrap ISIL in al-Raqqa. So that's all I'll say about that now, but I think the fact that just last week going after Jihadi John, the fact that Junaid Hussain, we found them on the streets of Raqqa and were able to conduct a very precise target operation thanks to the great work that our colleagues do '' and that's going to continue.
We've seen that as we continue to put pressure on ISIL, they make mistakes, they do stupid things, and we are going to really do all we can to intensify the pressure over these coming weeks.
Let me talk about outside the core and the networks. These are the foreign fighter flows, the foreign fighter networks. We've done a lot over the last year. When we started the coalition there wasn't as '' there wasn't much focus on this at all, quite frankly. We passed a Chapter 7 resolution since that time. We've had about 44 countries that have passed new laws, 22 countries reinforcing legal frameworks. But most importantly, we've had about 34 countries now around the world '' and it's quite significant '' have arrested foreign fighters or broken up cells and networks.
And what we want to do now within the coalition '' this started some time ago, but we really need to accelerate it '' is it's one thing to break up a plot in one capital, in another capital; it's another thing to work across our law enforcement and intelligence communities, work within a coalition to share information and just collapse and shock the networks. And that's what we want to do. We need to work as a global community, as a global coalition to share information. As one capital breaks up a cell, as another capital breaks up a cell, we have to connect the dots and shock these networks and collapse them.
There's a role for every country in the coalition to play in this regard. There's a role particularly for Turkey to play, but there's also a role for what we call the source countries in which people are coming from capitals all around the world into Turkey and then into Syria.
Within the EU, they have had a debate for some time about what we call passenger-name registries in terms of passenger airplanes, and a debate between privacy versus security is something that they've been debating for some time. We obviously feel very strongly that we have to get those PNR implements '' instruments in place. We know how to do this. We are very focused on the homeland. We know everybody coming in. We keep these records very carefully. Bureaus here in the State Department track this every single day. And it's something that we need our coalition partners to assist with, and we believe very strongly in their capitals to do the same. I know the EU is talking about this today in Brussels. I will be seeing their political director later today, and we feel very strongly that now is the time to move forward on some of these very important protections.
On top of this effort against ISIL is the ongoing conflict in Syria. And many of you were in Vienna, and of course, this is a primary focus of ours. And the '' really the core element of that second Vienna communique is not only a timeline in which everybody has agreed upon, but getting all those critical countries in the room '' the entire Permanent Five members of the Security Council, the Saudis, the Iranians, and everybody else. Those have been very intense conversations but I think overall very constructive conversations, and a key element in that communique is the concept of a ceasefire. Because there is broad recognition that we all need to focus on these terrorist groups and that the ongoing conflict between the regime and the opposition can sometimes get in the way of that. However, that conflict will not wind down unless we have a credible process for a political transition.
So there is some convergence of views. I think the process in Vienna has been constructive, and that is obviously '' as we're focused on ISIL and suffocating the networks, we are focused very intensively on the diplomatic track because many of these things are linked.
That's a very broad-brush overview of what we're trying to do. But just make no mistake, and I just came from the White House. We're, of course, getting ready for the visit of President Hollande. We just saw him the other day in Paris. And we stand with them. We're going to help them. They are moving the Charles de Gaulle '' it's there now '' into the Eastern Mediterranean. It'll then be going into the Gulf. We're helping them with more intelligence sharing with the agreement we just signed with them. And we are going to work with them and with the entire coalition to suffocate these networks and to destroy this terrorist organization.
But finally, it's going to take time. There are just no shortcuts here. These guys, they grow '' they grew out of the AQI, an enemy that we knew very well, but they are better in every respect. They're better manned. They're better funded. They're better resourced. They're better fighters. And of course, we are working with indigenous forces on the ground to do the fighting on the ground because we feel very strongly that that is the longer-term solution. But we are putting U.S. Special Forces on the ground into Syria, as the President has announced, to help enable those forces. We are putting U.S. Special Forces on the ground. Of course, we already have them in Iraq to help advise and assist and enable. And those are the types of things that we'll be looking to intensify over the coming weeks.
MR KIRBY: Let's start with a few questions here.
QUESTION: I'm okay.
MR KIRBY: Dave, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, you make a good case about shrinking the core ISIS territory in Syria and Iraq, but parallel to that in recent months we've seen that they are able to carry out attacks in continental Europe. They appear to have planted a bomb on a Russian plane in Sinai. Several groups in Africa have either pledged allegiance to them or have sprouted out of ISIS '' the sympathizers in Libya, arguably Nigeria, parts of the Sahel. How does this fit into the broader global campaign against ISIS and jihadi-style groups?
AMBASSADOR MCGURK: Well, one thing, it's not just focused on Iraq and Syria, as I tried to say. So we have to focus on Iraq and Syria because that's one of the main draws and appeal, and we cannot allow these guys to have safe haven. So suffocating the core is critical; but at the same time, in parallel and just as intense and just as determined and just as decisive, we want to focus on the global networks.
The global affiliates '' it's more complicated sometimes. A lot of these terrorist groups have already been existing for some time, and just because they put up an ISIL flag doesn't necessarily make it more of a threat than it might have already been. However, when '' and we are looking at each affiliate very closely. We have a whole process for this. We're looking at: Are there connections between ISIL core and Raqqa and the global affiliate? Are there foreign fighter flows? Is there messaging coordination? And that is why when we see that and when we see a leader affiliated with ISIL we will not hesitate, obviously, to take action. And you just saw that last week where we targeted the head of ISIL in Libya.
So this is something that is going to continue, but this is a global network. It is spread by modern technology and social networking. It is a challenge '' something we have not seen before. And that's why we have to do this. That's why we built a global coalition of 65 members, and we need to coordinate better, share information more, do it faster.
On Monday here at the State Department, we will be bringing in all the ambassadors of the coalition and we will address them in some detail about our plans going forward. We will also be very specific for some additional resource needs we need from them, and we expect that Vice President Biden will come and address those ambassadors on Monday.
MR KIRBY: Arshad.
QUESTION: You began by talking about the 98-kilometer stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border. Why has it been so difficult to close that, given that you have a functioning state to the north with an enormous standing army? What is so difficult about undertaking and then prosecuting that effort?
AMBASSADOR MCGURK: Oh, it's a good question. It's a significant stretch of territory, and within that gap area '' we call it the Manbij Gap '' ISIL has fortified itself in there. So in that little 98-kilometer by 40-kilometer area, the town of Dabiq is there. Dabiq is their kind of ideological capital. It's where they, in their perverse view of the world, believe Armageddon is going to begin. It's a very fortified ISIL town. Manbij in an area in which they collect foreign fighters and direct them across the battlefield. Jarabulus, al-Rai are areas in which they continue to funnel foreign fighters in.
So this is a heartland for them and they are fortified there. So to find the forces on the ground to do the fighting and to do it in a way in which we know they're going to win is something that we are in mil-to-mil conversations with the Turks on. But more importantly '' and this came up in the conversation with President Obama and President Erdogan in Turkey '' are efforts that the Turks are going to take on their side of the border. But the Turks have made clear to us they are all in on this effort. They have been, I think, from the moment that we opened the Incirlik Air Base agreement and started flying out of there. And one thing you can look at is that the Turks are flying F-16s and doing bombing runs against ISIL in this Mar'a line area regularly, consistently now. So it's a difficult geography, it's a difficult terrain, and I defer to my military colleagues in terms of exactly how it will go. But we want to get it right. But it's also already started. You just look at what we're doing every single day in terms of airstrikes in this area, and '' but most importantly, working with the Turks to coordinate, to make sure that we can get this right.
And that's a conversation from President Obama and President Erdogan; it's a conversation I have had a number of times. I was in Ankara before Antalya last week to see their foreign minister and others. Our vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff I spoke with yesterday is going, is on his way to Turkey. And much of our conversations here are focused on taking care of this last stretch of territory.
QUESTION: One question.
MR KIRBY: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. McGurk. About your political '' your military aid for the Iraqi Kurds, some people, including '' some people and organizations, including the International Crisis Group, have suggested that you condition that military aid on, say, political reform because they are afraid that this political rivalry in the region could escalate into more violence. Do you set any conditions for the military aid you provide for the KRG?
MR MCGURK: It's a good question. I've spent a lot of time with the Kurds over the last year '' well before that, but especially over the last year in Erbil and Suly and Dohuk. As with all the political parties at a critical moment in their political process just a few months ago, we are deeply, deeply engaged with all the Kurdish parties. And our message to them is clear that when the Kurds are united, nothing can defeat them. And we saw that in Kobani, and Kobani '' as I said, we came to the aid of the defenders of the town of Kobani, but then we also worked, diplomatically, very aggressively with Turkey. And I was in Ankara late one evening with General Allen and Prime Minister Davutoglu about getting resupplies into Kobani, and the Turks, of course, then opened a corridor for the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga to come into Kobani. It was a moment in which the Kurds really united against this threat, and they dealt a decisive blow to ISIL.
We do get concerned when we see the Kurdish parties politically divided, because this war is not over. The Kurds are suffering martyrs every single day, so we constantly encourage them to unite their ranks against this threat. There will be political disagreements '' there are time for those '' but right now we really encourage the Kurds to be united against this threat.
In terms of military support, we're working closely with the Peshmerga across the board, working closely with all the Kurdish parties '' the PUK and the KDP '' and we're making sure that they have what they need to prevail.
QUESTION: Just one more question on the Syrian Kurds '' just one more. Sir, you '' the United States has definitely been supporting the Syrian Kurds a lot, and without the United States support, Kobani could have fallen. But now the Syrian Kurds '' when you talk to their leaders, they say we need more actual ammunition, actual weapons, and the United States has said, for example, even the recent airdrop was intended for the Arab opposition, not for the Kurds '' Kurdish forces. What is the hesitation here? Why the United States is not openly and actively providing them with weapons while it's willing to provide air cover for them? I just don't understand that quite well.
MR MCGURK: I'm just not going to discuss all the details here of these conversations, but we're going to work with groups that are fighting ISIL and make sure they have what they need to succeed.
QUESTION: Going back, can you tell us anything about the role of U.S. military advisors on the ground? Are they literally just providing advice or have they actually been engaged in any fighting, in any military action, actually handling weapons?
MR MCGURK: Well, for the most part, our military advisors are providing advisory support, training, and assistance. That's across the board, so we have site two '' two sites in Anbar province, or in Taji and Baghdad, of course; Besmaya; and across the Kurdish Iraqi region. And we're joined by a number of coalition partners from Spain to the Dutch to the Danes to the Australians, the Brits, and the French. The French have a number of significant assets on the ground that are working very closely with us, particularly in northern Iraq.
So it's primarily training, advice, support. The effort I mentioned in Taqaddum Air Base, for example '' it was about getting the Iraqis reorganized, getting them on their feet, helping them facilitate, working with the Iraqi Government in Baghdad to get the forces available to begin to re-push '' take the initiative against ISIL in Ramadi.
However, there are times, of course, when we believe it's in our national security interests and the President authorizes for more direct action missions. So you've seen that against Abu Sayyaf, the number one financier of ISIL, in an operation into northern Syria about five, six months ago now. And we collected more information off that site than we have in any Special Forces operation in history. It was what has led now to a number of operations to really just completely uproot ISIL's economic financial networks in Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria, and you're going to see more of that. A lot of that came out of that raid. And of course, when we helped the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga do the rescue operation against the 70 hostages, and of course we lost a brave American in that operation.
So we have people in harm's way risking their life against this barbaric enemy and that's going to continue, but I will say I was in Erbil and met '' I met these hostages who were rescued, all of whom were about to be executed the next morning, and it was just an incredible moment. And it just spoke to how important this is and why we need to do every possible '' everything we can to prevail.
MR KIRBY: Okay. We're going to just take one more. Said, I'll give you the last question.
QUESTION: Thank you. Sir, I wanted to ask you about Anbar. You said that you are mobilizing indigenous forces. What is the status of mobilizing the indigenous forces in the Anbar region to liberate Ramadi?
MR MCGURK: Well, we set a target, and it was in the Iraqi budget of about 8,000 tribal fighters in Anbar province paid for by the Iraqi Government. We have had full cooperation from Prime Minister Abadi and the government for that effort. We have about '' and the numbers fluctuate a little bit '' we have about 7,000 in Anbar who are fighting. And we have found that when the tribes mobilize and they're able to coordinate with us, they're extremely successful. But let's remember ISIL didn't just come into Anbar province when Mosul fell. They actually moved into Fallujah and into Ramadi on January 1st, 2014, going on almost two years now. And even before that, all through 2013, they were decimating the tribal structures and the networks, kind of trying to hollow out the societal structures that had existed.
So this is extremely hard work. That's why we have these two sites in Anbar province to help mobilize the local indigenous forces to take back their communities. And most importantly, Prime Minister Abadi's '' he has a philosophy of governance consistent with Iraq's constitution; it's embedded, interwoven in their constitution of decentralization and empowering the governors and local leaders to provide for their own affairs.
So you've seen that in Tikrit where the governor of Salah al-Din and the local leaders there have been empowered to help bring people back to their streets, and we've been working very closely with the governor of Anbar province and the local leaders of Anbar province to help ensure that when neighborhoods are taken back '' and it's going to be neighborhood by neighborhood, it will be extremely difficult; this is Ramadi we're talking about '' that the resources are there, that the police are there to come back to the streets, and the Italians have led an effort to train the Anbari police '' training about a thousand of them right now '' and that the governor and the local leaders have the resources they need to help bring people back to the streets.
So I think we've had very good cooperation between the local leaders out in Anbar province and the central government facilitated by our folks, but it's very difficult. ISIL is going to put up an extremely hard fight. The three predominantly Sunni capitals in Anbar, Tikrit '' Tikrit is no longer ISIL's '' under ISIL's control '' Mosul, and Ramadi. And ISIL and its predecessor, AQI, have fought for Ramadi for years, and they are not going to give up without a major fight. I mentioned the casualties the Iraqis have already taken to take it back. And this is going to be a very difficult fight.
But we are '' and you can get the briefing from Colonel Warren, who gives excellent briefings and real detailed briefings of what we are doing to help enable those forces right now on the ground. So this'll take some time, but I think we have the pieces in place to do it.
MR KIRBY: Thanks very much. Thank you. Thanks, everybody.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR KIRBY: Thank you.
MR MCGURK: Thanks.
VIDEO-Weekly Address: In the Face of Terror, We Stand As One | The White House
Sun, 22 Nov 2015 00:26
November 21, 2015 | 4:41 | Public Domain
In this week's address, the Vice President speaks to his and the President's commitment to protecting our country from terrorists, while also providing refuge to some of the world's most vulnerable people.
Download mp4 (173MB) | mp3 (11MB)
VIDEO-TAKE OUT THE MEDIA UNITS!! Inside the surreal world of the Islamic State's propaganda machine - The Washington Post
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 14:28
CONFRONTING THE 'CALIPHATE' | This is part of an occasional series about the rise of the Islamic State militant group, its implications for the Middle East, and efforts by the U.S. government and others to undermine it.
RABAT, MOROCCO '-- The assignments arrive on slips of paper, each bearing the black flag of the Islamic State, the seal of the terrorist group's media emir, and the site of that day's shoot.
''The paper just gives you the location,'' never the details, said Abu Hajer al-Maghribi, who spent nearly a year as a cameraman for the Islamic State. Sometimes the job was to film prayers at a mosque, he said, or militants exchanging fire. But, inevitably, a slip would come with the coordinates to an unfolding bloodbath.
For Abu Hajer, that card told him to drive two hours southwest of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the caliphate, or Islamic realm, declared by the militant group. There, he discovered that he was among 10 cameramen sent to record the final hours of more than 160 Syrian soldiers captured in 2014.
''I held my Canon camera,'' he said, as the soldiers were stripped to their underwear, marched into the desert, forced to their knees and massacred with automatic rifles.
His footage quickly found a global audience, released online in an Islamic State video that spread on social media and appeared in mainstream news coverage on Al Jazeera and other networks.
The Washington Post gives an insider's look at the Islamic State's propaganda machine and its influence throughout the world. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)
Abu Hajer, who is now in prison in Morocco, is among more than a dozen Islamic State defectors or members in several countries who provided detailed accounts to The Washington Post of their involvement in, or exposure to, the most potent propaganda machine ever assembled by a terrorist group.
What they described resembles a medieval reality show. Camera crews fan out across the caliphate every day, their ubiquitous presence distorting the events they purportedly document. Battle scenes and public beheadings are so scripted and staged that fighters and executioners often perform multiple takes and read their lines from cue cards.
Cameras, computers and other video equipment arrive in regular shipments from Turkey. They are delivered to a media division dominated by foreigners '-- including at least one American, according to those interviewed '-- whose production skills often stem from previous jobs they held at news channels or technology companies.
[In a propaganda war against ISIS, the U.S. tried to play by the enemy's rules]
Senior media operatives are treated as ''emirs'' of equal rank to their military counterparts. They are directly involved in decisions on strategy and territory. They preside over hundreds of videographers, producers and editors who form a privileged, professional class with status, salaries and living arrangements that are the envy of ordinary fighters.
''It is a whole army of media personnel,'' said Abu Abdullah al-Maghribi, a second defector who served in the Islamic State's security ranks but had extensive involvement with its propaganda teams.
''The media people are more important than the soldiers,'' he said. ''Their monthly income is higher. They have better cars. They have the power to encourage those inside to fight and the power to bring more recruits to the Islamic State.''
Increasingly, that power extends beyond the borders of the caliphate. The attacks in Paris were carried out by militants who belonged to a floating population of Islamic State followers, subjects who are scattered among dozens of countries and whose attachments to the group exist mainly online.
Abdel­hamid Abaaoud, the alleged architect of the attacks who was killed in a raid in France, had appeared repeatedly in Islamic State recruiting materials. The barrage of videos and statements released afterward made clear that the overriding goal of the Islamic State is not merely to inflict terror on an adversary but also to command a global audience.
The United States and its allies have found no meaningful answer to this propaganda avalanche. A State Department program to counter the caliphate's messaging has cycled through a series of initiatives with minimal effect. Islamic State supporters online have repeatedly slipped around efforts to block them on Twitter and Facebook.
The propaganda wars since 9/11Overmatched online, the United States has turned to lethal force. Recent U.S. airstrikes have killed several high-level operatives in the Islamic State's media division, including Junaid Hussain, a British computer expert. FBI Director James B. Comey recently described the propaganda units of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, as military targets.
''I am optimistic that the actions of our colleagues in the military to reduce the supply of ISIL tweeters will have an impact,'' Comey said at an event last month in Washington. ''But we'll have to watch that space and see.''
Research for this article involved interviews with Islamic State defectors and members, as well as security officials and counterterrorism experts in six countries on three continents. The most authoritative accounts came from seven Islamic State defectors who were either in prison in Morocco or recently released after facing terrorism charges upon their return from Syria. All spoke on the condition that they be identified only by the adopted names that they used in Syria.
[Why the Islamic State leaves tech companies torn between free speech and security]
Those interviews were conducted with the permission of the Moroccan government in the administrative wing of a prison complex near the nation's capital. The prisoners said they spoke voluntarily after being approached by Moroccan authorities on behalf of The Post. Other prisoners declined. Most of the interviews took place in the presence of security officials, an arrangement that probably led participants to play down their roles in the Islamic State but seemed to have little effect on their candor in describing the caliphate's media division.
The cameraman
Abu Hajer, a soft-spoken Moroccan with a thin beard and lean physique, said he had been active in jihadist media circles for more than a decade before he entered Syria in 2013. He began participating in online Islamist forums after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he said, and later became an administrator of an influential site known as Shamukh, giving him authority to admit new members and monitor the material other militants posted.
Those credentials cleared his path to coveted assignments within the Islamic State, a group that began as al-Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq before splitting off from that terrorist network in an ideological rupture two years ago.
The group has an elaborate system for evaluating and training new arrivals. Abu Hajer said that shortly after entering Syria he was groomed to be part of the Islamic State's media team. He spent two months undergoing basic military training before he was admitted to a special, month-long program for media operatives.
The program ''specializes in how to do filming. How to mix footage. How to get the right voice and tone'' in interviews, he said. After completing the course, he was given a Canon camera, a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and an assignment with the caliphate's media unit in Raqqa.
[Why did victims in Islamic State beheading videos look so calm? They didn't know it was real.]
Abu Hajer, who is in his mid-30s, had come from an impoverished corner of Morocco. Now that he is in prison, his wife and children have returned to the encampment where they lived before departing, a shanty village of corrugated tin and plywood with no running water near a cement plant on the outskirts of Rabat.
In Syria, they were given a villa with a garden. Abu Hajer was issued a car, a Toyota Hilux with four-wheel drive to enable him to reach remote assignments. He was also paid a salary of $700 a month '-- seven times the sum paid to typical fighters '-- plus money for food, clothes and equipment. He said he was also excused from the taxes that the Islamic State imposes on most of its subjects.
He quickly settled into a routine that involved getting his work assignments each morning on pieces of paper that also served as travel documents enabling him to pass Islamic State checkpoints. Most jobs were mundane, such as capturing scenes from markets or celebrations of Muslim holidays.
Abu Hajer said he encountered only one Western hostage, John Cantlie, a British war correspondent who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012. Cantlie was cast by his captors in a series of BBC-style news reports that touted the caliphate's bustling economies and adherence to Islamic law while mocking Western governments.
Abu Hajer said he filmed Cantlie in Mosul in 2014, and he said that by then the British broadcaster was no longer wearing an orange jumpsuit or confined to a darkened room and was allowed to wander among the markets and streets of Mosul for camera crews.
''I cannot tell you whether he was coerced or threatened. He was walking freely,'' Abu Hajer said, an assertion that is at odds with what is known about Cantlie's captivity.
A video released in January shows Cantlie in multiple locations in Mosul, including one in which he is riding a motorcycle with an armed militant seated behind him. It was among his final appearances before the series was halted with no explanation or subsequent indication of Cantlie's fate, although articles attributed to him have since appeared in the caliphate's magazine.
One of Abu Hajer's next assignments took him to an elaborately staged scene of carnage, a mass execution-style killing choreographed for cameras in a way that has become an Islamic State signature.
After arriving at the site, he said that he and the other camera operators gathered to ''organize ourselves so that we wouldn't all film [from] the same perspective.''
Abu Hajer said he had grave objections to what happened to the Syrian soldiers in the massacre that he filmed in the desert near Tabqa air base. But he acknowledged that his misgivings had more to do with how the soldiers were treated '-- and whether that comported with Islamic law '-- than any concern for their fates.
[Islamic State video shows British hostage John Cantlie]
As the soldiers were stripped and marched into the desert, Abu Hajer said he filmed from the window of his car as an Egyptian assistant drove alongside the parade of condemned men.
''When the group stopped, I got out,'' he said. ''They were told to kneel down. Some soldiers got shot. Others were beheaded.'' The video, still available online, shows multiple camera operators moving in and out of view as Islamic State operatives fire hundreds of rounds.
''It wasn't the killing of soldiers that I was against,'' Abu Hajer said. ''They were Syrian soldiers, Nusairis,'' he said, referring to the religious sect to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his closest supporters belong. ''I thought they deserved to get shot.''
''What I didn't like was that they were stripped to their underwear,'' he said, an indignity that he considered an affront to Islamic law.
Abu Hajer also said he kept his lens aimed away from the beheadings because of his objections to the practice. But asked whether he considered refusing to record the massacre, he said he feared that would consign him to the fate of those he filmed.
''You don't want to do it,'' he said, ''but you know that you cannot say, 'No.''‰''
The machine
The contradictions of the Islamic State's propaganda apparatus can make its structure and strategy seem incoherent.
The group exerts extraordinarily tight control over the production of its videos and messages but relies on the chaos of the Internet and social media to disseminate them. Its releases cluster around seemingly incompatible themes: sometimes depicting the caliphate as a peaceful and idyllic domain, other times as a society awash in apocalyptic violence.
[Life in the 'Islamic State': Spoils for the rulers, terror for the ruled]
The dual messages are designed to influence a divided audience. The beheadings, immolations and other spectacles are employed both to menace Western adversaries and to appeal to disenfranchised Muslim males weighing a leap into the Islamist fray.
A separate collection depicts the Islamic State as a livable destination, a benevolent state committed to public works. Videos show the construction of public markets, smiling religious police on neighborhood patrols and residents leisurely fishing on the banks of the Euphrates.
Even the concept of the caliphate has a dual aspect. The terrorist group's rise is a result mainly of its demonstrated military power and the tangible territory it has seized. But a remarkable amount of its energy is devoted to creating an alternative, idealized version of itself online and shaping how that virtual empire is perceived.
That project has been entrusted to a media division that was operational well before the caliphate was formally declared in 2014. U.S. intelligence officials said they have little insight into who controls the Islamic State's propaganda strategy, although it is presumed to be led by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the caliphate's main spokesman.
The media wing has relied on veterans of al-Qaeda media teams, young recruits fluent in social media platforms, and a bureaucratic discipline reminiscent of totalitarian regimes. Defectors and current members said that phones and cameras they brought to Syria were impounded upon arrival by the Islamic State to prevent unauthorized and potentially unflattering images from finding their way online.
Only sanctioned crew members were allowed to carry cameras, and even they were to follow strict guidelines on the handling of their material. Once finished with a day's shooting, the crews were to load their recordings onto laptops, transfer the footage to memory sticks, then deliver those to designated drop sites.
In an Islamic State enclave near Aleppo, the media division's headquarters was a two-story home in a residential neighborhood, defectors said. The site was protected by armed guards, and only those with permission from the regional emir were allowed to enter.
Each floor had four rooms packed with cameras, computers and other high-end equipment, said Abu Abdullah, 37, who made occasional visits to the site as a security and logistics operative. Internet access went through a Turkish wireless service.
The house served as an editorial office of Dabiq, the Islamic State's glossy online magazine. Some also worked for al-Furqan, the terrorist group's main media wing, which accounts for the majority of its videos and mass-audience statements.
Overall, there were more than 100 media operatives assigned to the unit, Abu Abdullah said. ''Some of them were hackers; some were engineers.''
Abu Abdullah had no affiliation with the media arm, but he often did its bidding. At one point he was tapped to install a generator at the media headquarters so that it would not lose power when electricity went down.
Another assignment involved recovering corpses from battle scenes and arranging them to be photographed for propaganda videos exalting their sacrifice. He would wash away dried blood, lift the corners of dead fighters' mouths into beatific smiles, and raise their index fingers in a gesture adopted by the Islamic State as a symbol of its cause.
Many in the American public were introduced to the Islamic State through wrenching videos in which Mohammed Emwazi '-- a masked, knife-wielding militant with a British accent known as ''Jihadi John'' '-- slit the throats of Western hostages, including Americans James Foley and Steve Sotloff.
['Jihadi John': Islamic State killer is identified as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi]
Scrutiny of those and other videos revealed an extraordinary level of choreography. Discrepancies among frames showed that scenes had been rehearsed and shot in multiple takes over many hours.
The releases showed professional-caliber attention to lighting, sound and camera positioning. Certain videos, including one showing a decapitated American Peter Kassig, appear to have employed special effects software to digitally impose images of Kassig and his killer against a dramatic backdrop.
Those production efforts were reserved for videos aimed at mass Western audiences and were addressed explicitly to President Obama. But defectors said that even internal events not intended for a global viewership were similarly staged.
Abu Abdullah said he had witnessed a public execution-style killing in the city of Bab in which a propaganda team presided over almost every detail. They brought a white board scrawled with Arabic script to serve as an off-camera cue card for the public official charged with reciting the condemned man's alleged crimes. The hooded executioner raised and lowered his sword repeatedly so that crews could catch the blade from multiple angles.
The beheading took place only when the camera crew's director said it was time to proceed. The execution wasn't run by the executioner, Abu Abdullah said. ''It's the media guy who says when they are ready.''
The brand
For two decades, the dominant brand in militant Islam was al-Qaeda. But the Islamic State has eclipsed it in the span of two years by turning the older network's propaganda playbook on its head.
Al-Qaeda's releases always exalted its leaders, particularly Osama bin Laden. But the Islamic State's propaganda is generally focused on its fighters and followers. Appearances by leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or his senior lieutenants have been rare.
Rejecting the lecture format employed by al-Qaeda, the Islamic State's videos are cinematic, emphasizing dramatic scenes, stylized transitions and special effects.
''The group is very image-conscious, much like a corporation,'' said a U.S. intelligence official involved in monitoring the Islamic State's media operations. Its approach to building its brand is so disciplined, the official said, ''that it's very much like saying 'This is Coca-Cola' or 'This is Nike.''‰''
The propaganda competition with al-Qaeda is a high priority, defectors said. One former Islamic State fighter said that he came under enormous pressure from the organization after it learned that his father had been a high-ranking al-Qaeda operative killed in Pakistan in a CIA drone strike.
[The Islamic State was dumped by al-Qaeda a year ago. Look where it is now.]
Islamic State media figures pushed the recruit to appear in a video renouncing his father's organization, said the son, who spoke on the condition that neither he nor his father be identified. His refusal, and reluctance to fight al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, damaged his standing in the Islamic State, and he said he fled in fear for his life.
Al-Qaeda has typically required extraordinary patience from its audience. Even its most media-savvy affiliate, the al-Qaeda branch in Yemen, often takes months to release new issues of its online magazine, Inspire.
The frequency and volume of releases by the Islamic State are staggering by comparison. The group has produced hundreds of videos in more than a half-dozen languages, puts out daily radio broadcasts and garners as many as 2 million mentions per month on Twitter.
The group also appears to have connections to prominent media organizations in the Middle East.
Twitter and Facebook have moved to shut down accounts associated with the Islamic State and ban the distribution of its messages, but users have found ways to resurface. Thousands of loyalists have also flocked to new services that are less vulnerable to government scrutiny, including Telegram, a messaging application created by a Russian software entrepreneur, although Telegram began shutting down Islamic State channels after the Paris attacks.
The Islamic State has also exploited apparent connections to news organizations in the Middle East. A video that surfaced in 2013 appeared to show an Al Jazeera correspondent working with a cameraman, Reda Seyam, a militant who had been linked to terrorist plots and is a senior figure in the Islamic State.
In a comprehensive examination of the terrorist group's media releases in the summer, Charlie Winter, until recently an analyst at the Quilliam Group in the United Kingdom, identified 1,146 distinct pieces of propaganda, including photos, videos and audio releases, during a single month-long stretch.
Winter counted as many as 36 separate media offices that answer to the Islamic State's headquarters in Raqqa '-- including affiliates in Libya, Afghanistan and West Africa '-- and saw evidence of extraordinary coordination across the network.
At one point during his study, on July 19, he noticed that every affiliate had simultaneously shifted to a new logo with the same stylized Arabic script. The icon appeared in the same location on every image and in the initial frame of every video release.
This logo plays before most Islamic State videos as the group is "very image conscious, much like a corporation," according to a U.S. Intelligence official. (TWP)
''There was clearly a communique issued,'' Winter said in an interview. ''The Islamic State is constantly striving to be as formalized, as bureaucratic-seeming as possible, to keep up the appearance of being a state.''
That effort to simulate legitimacy is particularly pervasive inside the caliphate.
The same videos employed to shock outsiders are used internally to cow the group's less enthusiastic subjects. A constant stream of utopian messages is designed to convince residents, in Soviet-style fashion, of the superiority of the Islamic State.
While Internet access is often restricted to the public, propaganda units set up giant viewing screens in neighborhoods where residents come out in the evenings to watch approved videos streamed from laptops.
''It's like a movie theater,'' said Abu Hourraira al-Maghribi, a 23-year-old with a shaved head who wore an Adidas hoodie when he met with reporters in prison. The videos are drawn from the Islamic State's expanding film library, he said, depicting ''daily life, [military] training and beheadings.''
The Islamic State's most notorious videos '-- including those showing the beheadings of Western hostages and the burning of a caged Jordanian fighter pilot '-- were shown over and over, he said, long after their audiences beyond the caliphate dissipated.
Abu Hourraira said he attended one screening on a street near the University of Mosul that attracted about 160 people, including at least 10 women and 15 children. One of the videos showed an execution by Emwazi, who is believed to have been killed this month in a U.S. drone strike.
''The kids, they are not looking away '-- they are fascinated by it,'' Abu Hourraira said. Jihadi John became a subject of such fascination that some children started to mimic his uniform, he said, wearing all ''black and a belt with a little knife.''
The Americans
The Islamic State maintains strict bureaucratic boundaries within its media wing. Camera crews were kept separate from the teams of producers and editors who stitched the raw footage together, adding titles, effects and soundtracks. Real names were almost never exchanged.
But Abu Hajer and two other defectors said that an American in his late 30s with white skin and dark-but-graying hair was a key player in some of the Islamic State's most ambitious videos.
''The American does the editing,'' Abu Hajer said, and was the creative force behind a 55-minute documentary called ''Flames of War'' that was released in late 2014. The film strives to create a mythology surrounding the Islamic State's origin and connection to the historic Muslim caliphate.
[5 stories you should read to really understand the Islamic State]
It culminates with scenes of Syrian soldiers digging their own graves while a masked fighter, speaking English with a North American accent, warns that ''the flames of war are only beginning to intensify.''
Another American-sounding figure surfaced more recently, delivering daily news broadcasts that appear to emanate from a radio station that the Islamic State overran last year in Mosul. After the attacks in Paris, his voice was the one that most English-speaking audiences heard describing France as ''the capital of prostitution and vice'' and warning that governments involved in strikes in Syria ''will continue to be at the top of the target list.''
U.S. officials said they have been unable to determine the identity of that speaker or others with North American accents. The militant who appeared in the ''Flames of War'' film remains the subject of an entry on the FBI's Web site appealing to the public for help identifying him.
The defectors
The Islamic State's relentless media campaign has fueled a global migration of militants. More than 30,000 foreign fighters from more than 115 countries have flooded into Syria since the start of that country's civil war. At least a third arrived within the past year, the vast majority of them to join the Islamic State, according to U.S. intelligence estimates.
Of the defectors interviewed by The Post, all but one said their decisions to leave for Syria could be traced to videos they saw online, or encounters on social media, that ignited a jihadist impulse. The only outlier said that he had been prodded by a friend to come to Syria and was promptly imprisoned for refusing to fight.
[Foreign fighters flow to Syria]
Abu Hourraira, who spent months fighting in Iraq, said he began searching online for material about the Islamic State as the group began to dominate headlines about the war in Syria. He decided to abandon his job at a dry-cleaning business in Casablanca only after watching the group's emotionally charged videos.
''Some were like Van Damme movies,'' he said, referring to Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Hollywood action star. ''You see these men fighting, and you want to be one of these brave heroes.''
Like many countries in the region, Morocco has struggled to offset that pull. Moroccan security officials said that more than 1,500 men had left the country to fight in Iraq and Syria, plus more than 500 women and children, many of them seeking to join their spouses, sons or fathers.
Several of the attackers in Paris, including the alleged architect, were of Moroccan descent, but were born and grew up in Europe.
''The fight now is with the propaganda because it plays a very big role in these numbers,'' said a senior Moroccan security official who spoke on the condition that neither he nor his agency be identified. Al-Qaeda recruitment relied almost exclusively on direct contact in mosques or other settings, he said, but ''now, 90 percent are being recruited online.''
Defectors offered conflicting views on whether the Islamic State would endure. Some said that a cohort of young males in Iraq and Syria are already coming of age immersed in the group's propaganda and ideology, and that a generation of children was being raised to idealize its masked militants.
But all attributed their decisions to leave Iraq and Syria to a combination of factors, including not only fears for their safety but also a disenchantment that set in when the reality of the caliphate failed to match the version they had encountered online.
Map: What a year of Islamic State terror looks likeSome said they were haunted by scenes of cruelty they saw firsthand but that Islamic State propaganda teams edited out. Abu Abdullah, who wore a hood to disguise his identity during an interview, said he witnessed a mass killing near Aleppo in which Islamic State fighters fired into a crowd of Alawites including women and children.
When a 10-year-old boy emerged alive, the highest-ranking militant on hand ''pulled out a gun and shot him,'' Abu Abdullah said. The slaying was recorded by the ever-present camera crews, he said, but the footage ''was never aired.''
Abu Hajer, the former cameraman, said his standing with the group began to slip when he became involved in helping to administer the Islamic State's religious courts. After sharing views that he said were at odds with his superiors, the perks of his media position were withdrawn.
''They took away my weapons, my monthly income,'' as well as his villa and car, he said. A relative told a Post reporter that Abu Hajer finally pulled his family out of Syria after he had received a warning in which an Islamic State militant dragged a finger across his throat.
A sympathetic colleague gave Abu Hajer the paperwork he needed to pass Islamic State checkpoints on the way out of Syria, he said. Another friend gave him cash to put his family on a flight out of Turkey. Moroccan authorities were waiting for him at the Casablanca airport.
He now shares a crowded cell with other militants in a high-walled Moroccan prison, with two years remaining on a three-year sentence. Asked whether he worries that his work will induce others to join the Islamic State, he gave an equivocal answer. ''To a certain extent I feel responsible,'' he said. ''But I am not the main reason.''
His videos continue to circulate online.
Read more from this series:
Life in the 'Islamic State': Spoils for the rulers, terror for the ruled
An American family saved their son from joining the Islamic State. Now he might go to prison.
The hidden hand behind the Islamic State militants? Saddam Hussein's.
From hip-hop to jihad, how the Islamic State became a magnet for converts
Full 'Confronting the Caliphate' package
Greg Miller covers intelligence agencies and terrorism for The Washington Post.
Souad Mekhennet, co-author of ''The Eternal Nazi,'' is a correspondent on the national security desk.
VIDEO-Texas Troopers to Ask Drivers Their Race After Investigation - NBC News
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 22:19
Eric Gay / AP, file
McCraw, the DPS director, initially told KXAN after its investigation that a flaw in the computer system used by troopers could be to blame for the rampant misidentifications. DPS Press Secretary Tom Vinger told the station at the time that the "department categorically rejects" assertions that troopers were engaging in racial profiling.
But on Wednesday, called to testify before the state House Committee on County Affairs, McCraw acknowledged there was a problem.
"What we can do better, and we should have been doing better, is collect the data accurately, as it relates to Hispanics. Plain and simple, [we're] guilty," McCraw said, according to KXAN. "That should have been done better and we've got an obligation to fix that."
Natarajan, the law professor, said she hoped the change would "add an additional level of protection to ensure the integrity of the data."
"I think it remains to be seen how it will work out in practice and whether it will be implemented properly," she told NBC News.
VIDEO-Paris Terrorist Smoked 'Alarming Amount Of Cannabis', Drank Alcohol, And Never Went To A Mosque, Ex-Wife Claims
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 21:25
Paris Terrorist Smoked 'Alarming Amount Of Cannabis', Drank Alcohol, And Never Went To A Mosque, Ex-Wife ClaimsHTTP/1.1 200 OK Server: Apache Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8 P3P: CP='NO P3P' Vary: Accept-Encoding X-UA-Compatible: IE=edge,chrome=1 Content-Encoding: gzip Cache-Control: max-age=70 Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2015 21:25:56 GMT Transfer-Encoding: chunked Connection: keep-alive Connection: Transfer-Encoding
VIDEO-King Abdullah of Jordan: ''We Are Facing A Third World War'' | The Tower
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:34
King Abdullah II of Jordan warned Tuesday that humanity is ''facing a third world war'' due to the threat of ISIS, Agence France-Presse reported Tuesday.
''We are facing a third world war against humanity and this is what brings us all together,'' he told a press conference.
''This is a war, as I've said repeatedly, within Islam,'' he said, stressing the high number of Muslim victims of the Islamic State (IS) group.
Abdullah said groups such as IS ''expose themselves daily as savage outlaws of religion, devoid of humanity, respecting no laws and no boundaries''.
King Abdullah called on the world to ''act fast'' and confront the threat posed by ISIS ''whether it is in this region, Africa, Asia or in Europe.''
King Abdullah made similar comments late last year in an interview with Charlie Rose.
This is no reflection of our religion. This is evil. And all of us have got to make that decision. We have to stand up and say, ''This is the line that is drawn in the sand. And those that believe in right should stand on this side. And those that don't have to make a decision to stand on the other.'' It's clearly a fight between good and evil. I think it's a generational fight. As I said to, actually, to President Putin, I think this is a third world war by other means.''
I hope the short-term part of it is going to be the military. The medium-term is a security aspect of it. But the long-term is going to be the ideological one. So, what I'm saying is, we as Muslims have got to look ourselves in the mirror and realise that we have this problem; make this very difficult call, and then all of us come together and clearly say that, you know, these people are renegades. These people have nothing to do with Islam.
A video of the interview is embedded below.
Earlier this year, ISIS captured a Jordanian pilot and later circulated a video showing him being burned alive in a metal cage. The execution video prompted Jordan to escalate its attacks against ISIS. Jordan has reportedly increased military cooperation with Israel in light of growing regional instability.
[Photo: Flash90 ]
VIDEO-News - Climate change warnings appear on Canadian gas pumps - The Weather Network
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:12
Cheryl Santa MariaDigital Reporter
Friday, November 20, 2015, 8:55 AM - North Vancouver, B.C. is thought to be the first city in the world to add mandatory climate change stickers to its gas pumps.
The bylaw was passed unanimously by city council in a vote Monday night. It was championed by Our Horizon, a not-for-profit that called the vote an "historic global first."
Our Horizons founder Rob Shirkey told the CBC other Canadian and U.S. cities are supporting similar warnings, but North Vancouver is the first city to make the labels mandatory.
Officials hope to have the stickers on all city gas pumps by early 2016. Gas stations will need to maintain them in order to keep their business licence.
Proposed warning label samples. Courtesy: Our Horizon
"The message is that burning fossil fuels causes climate change and '... to add a positive spin, here are some tips when using your automobile on how to make it more fuel efficient," North Vancouver Mayor David Musatto told the CBC.
City officials hope the warnings will make people more aware of the link between burning fossil fuels and climate change while inspiring them to conserve fuel.
"I couldn't live without my vehicle, but I can certainly reduce the number of trips I do use it for," Musatto said.
City staff are in the process of designing the stickers, which will be approved by council within the next few months.
A staff report suggests incentives may be added to the warning labels.
Examples include offering $5,000 toward the purchase of a new electric car and providing fuel-efficient driving tips.
Source: CBC | Our Horizon
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