Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Question in Zone C and West Bank appropriation: follow-up

I got an answer back from someone deeply involved in the West Bank issue, on why the expropriation of Palestinian homes continues to be a problem, even if Israel is supposedly controlling only Zone C.  The link is here.

Note the original story, too, by Johnny Harris, of why people settle the West Bank today.  It seems to be economic incentives, in the Vox video.
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Negev by Godot13, under CCSA 3.0

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Russia is starting a new Cold War, with threat to Baltic states (Finland?)

CBS produced a rather frightening look at the “new Cold War” tonight on 60 minutes.  There was a chess-piece-like simulation of how a ground war with NATO would go if Russia were to decide to attack the former Baltic states that had been republics in the Old Soviet Union.   There is also the possibility on both sides to use tactical nuclear weapons with relatively low impacts on nearby civilians (that is hard to imagine – what about the fallout?)  The basic link is here. An African-American Air Force staff general was asked about Putin, whom he saw as an “opportunist”.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vox explains the Oslo Accord areas in the West Bank (especially Area C), but there is no mention of direct "expropriation" of Palestinian homes

Vox Media has set up a very helpful card-stack to explain the entire controversy over relations between the state of Israel and the West Bank, giving a whole history back to 1948.

It also posted a video on Facebook but linked it in a very unconventional manner that makes it impossible for me to find a url or to replay it.

The West Bank settlements actually started with private efforts, from individual families which say settling as a religious duty.  The settlements are actually in a part of the West Bank called “Zone C”, over which Israel has “sovereignty.”  Palestinians have sovereignty over about 18% of the West Bank, but Israeli control over the rest severely hampers their economy.

But the video and cards don’t seem to explain reported practice of eviction of Palestianian families without compensation, as reported here Aug. 2, 2015 and July 24, 2015, and especially  May 20, 2013, from George Meek in Arlington VA, whom I know through the Trinity Presbyterian Church   It was reported here on Sept. 11, 2016 that eight Palestinian individuals had come to the US for a few dats to speak to Congress about the expropriation issue.
Wikipedia source on Areas A, B, and C.  
By UN - OCHA oPt - on OCHAoPt Map Centre.Part of (95 MB), Public Domain,

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Radical Islam: an exploding youth population in authoritarian countries that corrupt religion for their own political agendas

Jon Emont has a couple of recent articles about how population demographics exacerbates the threat of radical Islam.

The least developed parts of the Muslim world have the most children. Authoritarian counties with few legitimate economic opportunities leave young men (and often women) with little else but to join mass movements and fight, for camaraderie, brotherhood, and a sense of false empowerment.  The most important article is here  (Sept. 12, p. A16, Washington Post).

Fareed Zakaria has often echoed this view – a “cancer” in the Islamic world.  But the tendency is for young men in the Muslim world to blame western consumers for effectively cheating the rest of the world.  That’s actually the way the radical, Communist left looked at things in the 60s.    

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Presentation today on Syrian refugees living in Turkey; also, West Bank hearing in Congress

Today, the Trinity Presbyterian Church, on “Rally Sunday”, presented a brief program about food distribution to refugees in Ankara Turkey.

There were many slides shown, including some in Mosul, where people cannot work to earn a living (unless they “convert”), in a volatile and changing environment. No pictures were taken of them – it’s possible that publication could endanger someone overseas.  $10 is supposed to buy enough food for a refugee family in Turkey got several days.

The Ankara Girl Scouts have a web site on Wix about the issue, here.

When I was working for the Minnesota Orchestra in 2002-2003, I met a coworker with (Christian) relatives in Mosul (while under Saddam Hussein), and I have no idea what happened to them.  But a crisis like this can hit personally with few degrees of separation.

Trinity also reports that up to eight persons from Suslya, on the West Bank, and losing their homes to Israeli occupation (apparently without compensation) will speak to a committee Congress on Friday Sept. 23.  It does appear that their logistical and housing arrangements have been taken care of.

I ate with a family headed for Nationals Park, barely time to get there before the game.

Later today, CNN reported the "radical hospitality" of Gander, Newfoundland residents who housed plane passengers for four days after 9/11 when planes could not enter the US.

Wikipedia image:
By Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell on the Turkish border -, Public Domain,

Saturday, September 10, 2016

North Korea's nuclear threat; Aleppo (Johnson's brain freeze) and Kerry's agreement with Putin

The good news, and the bad news come together.

John Kerry has announced an agreement with Russia for a “cease fire” to curb the violence in Syria, NBC news story. Will this help Hillary Clinton look better?  Will this help stop the flood of refugees?  How would this affect stopping ISIS and maybe taking back Aleppo and Raqqa.

Yes. I could have answered a news moderator’s question about Aleppo.  I would not have stumbled like Gary Johnson did.

NBC News has a detailed story by Cassandra Vinogard on “What you need to know” about North Korea’s latest (apparent) nuclear detonation.  There are many videos.  The upshot: in a few years, North Korea probably could reach the northwestern US (at least Alaska) with a small nuclear warhead on a missile.  The most extreme scenarios have missiles crossing the Canadian NWT and reaching Michigan by a Great Circle.   The latest test was detected by an earthquake.

It sounds conceivable that North Korea could try to launch a high altitude EMP blast, especially over South Korea or Japan (maybe Taiwan or Philippines).  We don’t know if China is really their friend or not.

Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. photo of Youngbyon facility

Monday, September 5, 2016

CNN releases trove of documents showing intended scope of 11-13 attacks

CNN released documents with many videos and news stories today about additional components that ISIS had intended for its Nov. 13, 2015 terror attacks, link here. The documents detail certain individuals, one in particular, fortunately arrested  (in Austria).  The attack had been orchestrated as a “treasure hunt” with operatives given only what they needed to know on encrypted communications.  Some attackers tried to destroy their phones or SIM cards when arrested. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Washington Post challenges Americans to accept more Syrian refugees

Saturday morning, the Post has a lead editorial, “10,000 is not enough; the problem’s scale and America’s capacity demand that we accept more Syrian refugees”,  .  Online, the title is, “America has accepted 10,000 Syrian refugees.  That’s still too few.”

But Stephanie Dinan of the Washington Times reports that the US will go beyond the 10000, and that 7% are denied admission, here.

The biggest obstacle, of course, is the popular perception that accepting more refugees would require Americans to accept an existential risk personally.  Syrian refugees are carefully vetted, although Donald Trump et al maintain that real vetting from that part of the world is impossible,  The practical risk is certainly much less than what we live with all the time (like Mexican drug cartels reaching into the US – Post story Saturday by Peter Hermann).

Syrian refugees are normally housed in commercial apartment buildings (or with relatives who know them), and supervised by social service agencies and lots of volunteers per family.  That’s not the case with asylum seekers, where the personal risk taking by hosts may be much greater, and a subject that needs more thoughtful exposition.  In Canada, private sponsorship sometimes leads to more private hosting of refugees (as in Europe sometimes), but there is a history of private “radical hospitality” in the past with the Mariel boatlift from Cuba in 1980.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Customer refuses to tip waitress based on perceived (incorrectly) immigrant status

Here we go, with a horrible story on anti-immigrant bias.  In Harrisonburg VA, a couple writes on a restaurant check for a meal served by a Hispanic-looking woman, “We only tip citizens.”  The waitress is a native born American citizen.  She even says she would serve the couple again.
Presumably, as a job applicant she would have to show a Social Security card (normal for citizens), passport, or a green card or visa.

Friday, August 5, 2016

New Philippines president goes outside the law to execute drug users as well as dealers; US companies do manufacturing there

Note the editorial in the Washington Post today “Death Squads in the Philippines” ,  The title is more telling: “’I will really kill you.’ The new president of the Philippines unleashes a surge of extrajudicial killings of drug dealers and users.”  Note the “extrajudicial”.  That’s not law and order, even in Trump’s world.  The editorial refers to new president Rodrigo Duterte. 
The Philippines houses a lot of outsourced US manufacturing, such as for the print-on-demand production side of the self-publishing book industry.  The country is exposed to severe typhoons (such as what happened in 2013).  
On another matter, there are reports of violence and police activity at gay pride in Uganda this weekend (the second ever).  Check the news for this.  
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of president’s official residence, by Lord Antagonist, under CCSA 3.0.

Update: Aug. 22

Duterte has also blasted the US for failing in Syria, and for allowing the police profiling of blacks to go out of control.  He talks about leaving the UN. This could have the potential to affect US companies operating plants in the Philippines (including on-demand publishers).  The NBC New story by Emma Margolin is here

Thursday, August 4, 2016

FBI sting nets DC Metro police officer, shows how federal anti-terrorism law works; a sinister plot broken in North Carolina

Two big arrests in the news:

In northern Virginia, a Metro police officer was arrested in a sting when the FBI posed as an IS IS contact and apparently purchased phone cards allegedly intended for the group. The Washington Post, in a story by Rachel Weiner, identifies the person today as Nicholas Young, arrested at WMATA headquarters in downtown Washington DC.  (I’ve been in that building – when I went to fill out a police report after a 2013 minor robbery).   Young had worked as a Metro police officer for seven years.  Metro says that the subway system itself was never in danger from him.  He was fired immediately, and his townhome in northern Virginia is closed off for investigation.

It’s important to remember that any support at all for any foreign terrorist group (it could be Hamas or something else, not necessarily ISIS or Al Qaeda) violates federal law and can lead to arrest.  That could include something as innocuous as providing a gift card.  Such arrests are relatively rare in practice, and are usually set up by long-time stings.

.ABC News reports the arrest of Erick Jamal Hendricks, of Charlotte, NC, in a federal sting for trying to recruit other people to launch domestic attacks (for ISIS), especially against US military service-members.  The targets would be identified from a list developed by a previous hacker who is now awaiting sentencing in an Alexandria VA federal court.  The story of risks to service-members on social media was documented in the major media in 2014.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Brutal arson attack on bus with riders inside in Paris reported in underground media, not yet by majors

The Daily Caller and several other sources are reporting a particularly brutal attack on a bus in Paris, where attackers threw Molotov cocktails and yelled Islamic slogans.  The bus was set on fire with riders inside. The story and graphic video are here.

The attack happened around July 27 and does not seem to have been reported by major media, don’t know why.  I looked on OANN and didn't see it there, either. No claim of responsibility.  Sounds like a lone wolf.

Wikipedia attribution link for Champs-Elysee 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kirkpatrick speech about US foreign policy for GOP in 1984 is a surprising flip from this year; who was "The Ostrich"?

The speech by Jeane Kirkpatrick at the 1984 Republican convention (when Ronald Reagan would be easily re-elected) accused the Democrats of the negative thinking that now is being used to describe Donald Trump.  Kirkpatrick accused the Democrats of belittling America, and uses the word “ostrich” in the same way we used it in the barracks of Fort Eustis, VA back in 1969. "The Lizard and the Ostrich".

All very curious.  I remember getting an aggressive letter from the DNC in the summer of 1984 saying that I “owed” $35 to support Walter Mondale.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Attack in church in France perpetrated by suspect on home detention

Donald Trump is saying, “France is no longer France”, the day after a brutal slaying (and hostage taking) in a Catholic church in St. Etienne du Rouvray on July 26, with the CNN story on increased security measures here.

One of the attackers had been on house arrest with an ankle monitor but had been living in the town.
I visited the area in May 1999, and stayed in Bayeux, where I lost my rent car keys while in the “William the Conquerer” museum.  Hotel keys are just too big and force out other pocket contents when traveling.

Wikipedia attribution link of commuter train in the area by Aripauteur under CCSA 4.0.  I took a similar train to Caen to get a replacement car.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Reporting on Turkey's rebuffed military coup fooled and endangered journalists

Last night’s "military ball" coup attempt  in Turkey turned into a fiasco for the media.  Early on , it was reported that Erdogan had applied for asylum in Germany and been turned down.  It was reported (on CNN) that the Army was in control, then the claim was withdrawn into uncertainty.

 Later on it was reported that the Turkish parliament in Ankara was bombed.  A CNN affiliate in Turkey was closed.  There were tweets about the safety of journalists.

Dispute Erdogan’s authoritarianism and suppression of speech, Turkey is still seen as relatively stable and moderate in the Islamic world.  That’s very important in responding to “radical Islamic terrorism” (to quote Ted Cruz most directly).

Social media were closed in Turkey, but it wasn’t clear by whom.  Martial law was declared in some areas, but, again, by whom?

Turkey claims the situation is under control, but an air base by the US is closed for now (CNN). There is also a story that an alleged mastermind of the attack is a cleric living in Pennsylvania, and Turkey wants him extradited. However, the cleric supposedly supports service and education.

Wikipedia attribution link for Lion Gate in Hattusa, Turkey, by Benutzer He-na-mue under CCSA 3.0   There is also a Lions Gate in Greece (which may inspire the name of the movie studio).