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).

Friday, July 15, 2016

Newt Gingrich says, we are At War, calls for enforcement of sedition laws, but dials down anti-Muslim rhetoric in Facebook Live talk today


Newt Gingrich, not quite chosen as Donald Trump’s VP nominee, went on Facebook Live today explaining his initial remarks (putatively about Muslims who express support for sharia) today, link here. It’s also on my own Facebook timeline.

Gingrich said, in a 25 -minute presentation, that there are three groups of people to be concerned with.  Extremists overseas we can simply exclude from the country.  Non-citizens in the US we can monitor and deport if necessary.  Citizens, however, we can only put in jail.

But Gingrich said, following the Bastille Day Nice attack (for which no responsibility has yet been claimed)  Thursday night, that the United States (and the West) is at war.  A history professor (as well as former US House Speaker) he said that a country can declare war on a mass movement (as with Eric Hoffer) just as it can on another state.  That would also presumably mean declaring war on the Islamic State, even though the State is not formally recognized. Donald Trump has echoed similar ideas.



Gingrich said, “the right of privacy is vital in peacetime” but “the right of survival is vital in wartime”.  He did talk about the Smith Act of 1940.  He suggested citizens could be prosecuted for Sedition if they actively promoted terrorist acts online (but he did not suggest shutting down the Internet, as Trump reportedly did in December, as a potential emergency national security measure).

Gingrich has also been vocal about the possibility of an EMP attack against the US from a rogue state like Iran or North Korea, as he wrote in a foreword to "One Second After" in 2009.
 
Wikipedia attribution link for anti-Communist poster in 1950.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Limited Syrian refugee resettlement happening in DC area with Lutheran Social Services


I did see an email today indicating that a church I attend is helping sponsor one Syrian refugee family with Lutheran Social Services as the sponsoring agency working with the federal government on assistance and security matters.

There was an invitation to attend a mandatory training session if you were interested.  I did not see any mention of a more general information forum which would seem to be necessary to help decide if they should volunteer.  The training session would appear to apply to those who have already joined.  But LSS has some information and a volunteer application online.

Again, the US does not allow “private sponsorship” the way Canada does.  I’ll check further into the facts and see if there is another information forum.
Update (July 17):

I'm told that this is an "information forum" as well as training, and the public can come; it's apparently not necessary to apply first before going. I'll check further.

Monday, July 4, 2016

ISIS turns to sectarian attacks on civilians in many countries as it loses territory


Carol Morello and Joby Warrick have a detailed front page story about ISIS strategy in the Washington Post Monday morning, July 4.

As ISIL loses territory, its strategy is to make itself relevant (even in competition with Al Qaeda) by intimidating civilians around the world.  The story also emphasizes that European and Asian or Middle Eastern (or African) attacks have been organized by “wolf packs” and not loan wolves (as in the US).  Michael Weiss on CNN emphasized that sectarianism is still a major objective.  The deadliest event as of early July 4 still had been the bombing in a Shia area of Baghdad.

Extremist Wahhabists seem to have other Muslims who don’t follow their sect the most.  Back in the 80s, a computer consultant (whom I worked with in Dallas) who had worked for an oil company contractor in Saudi Arabia and lived in a compound just said, “They hate each other” more than they hate Christians, Jews and atheists or agnostics.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Babylon ruins, public domain

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Smithsonian Folklife honors Basque region of Spain and France


I’ve covered the music and dance portion of the Smithsonian Folklife exhibit today in Washington on Basque culture.

There were exhibits of native sports (rowing and a kind of curling) and crafts with sewing and woodwork.  There is also an odd pre-Christian costumed dance called "joaldunak".



There were photographs of countryside homes with their own communal garden plots, and of one city, whose name I forgot (it may be Getxo).  One of the panels mentioned a past whaling industry.

I visited Bilbao myself from April 29-30, 2001, and Donastia (San Sebastian) on May 1.  I visited the Guggenheim museum on a Sunday afternoon and had a hotel suite for $100 a night, not far from where the ETA was located.   I didn’t see photos of the cities I had visited in the exhibits.

By Andrea Bocchino www.andreabocchino.it - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20762600

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chess grandmaster goes after dictators; DPRK's latest threat


I wanted to point out an article in this weekend’s “Epoch Times” by Eyal Levinter, “Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov fights the world’s dictators”, link.  There is a certain focus on Vladimir Putin. He makes an analogy to chess positions where one side (White usually) has a positional advantage or initiative, which will turn against him if he doesn’t press his advantage properly.

  

On CNN, Brian Todd reports that North Korea claims its mid range missiles can reach the Alaskan Aleutian Islands, where the US has military bases.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit: England? Whoops?


What to make of the Brexit vote to leave the EU? (A friend -- Ramsay -- from Australia tweeted "England? Whoops".

Jim Cramer of Mad Money says, don’t make too much of it.


Pundits are saying this is class warfare:  the working class against the rentier elite.  The working class was protectionism.  But then why were the voters who decided to leave mainly seniors, older Brits? (NBC story)

The vote will make it harder for companies exporting to both Britain and the rest of the UK to make as much money, because of the likelihood of two sets of regulations.  That leads to lower earnings, but the $600+ drop in the Dow was largely predicated on emotion (and part of that just canceled a pre-vote rally).

But it’s inexcusable that Wall Street was caught flat-footed and is so surprised by the result. But it has also been surprised by the success of Trump and Sanders.  Some people do want revolution.

Vox has a piece by Libby Nelsom about the prevailing British culture of "anti-intellectualism", and how the old booted their young with their debt and their contempt.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Is the Geneva Convention relevant to terrorism?


I’ve written a lot lately (on my main and Wordpress blogs) that the distinction between civilians and military is getting blurred by enemies, who leverage asymmetry and do not follow the “Geneva Convention” as we learned it in Army Basic. Enemies, especially associated with radical Islam (ISIS and Al Qaeda, as well as those in tHe Israeli-Palestinian conflicts) view civilians as bearing personal moral responsibility for what their countries do (and this may even figure into religious notions).  The idea that military service should be voluntary is obviously contradicted.
  

I thought I would list some references about the Geneva convention and asymmetry warfare, at Middle East Forum, Foreign Policy, Juris, Quora, and Wikipedia

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Afghanistan is one of the most homophobic countries in the world


A lot has been made of the possibility that US born Omar Mateen had been gay himself, and that his relationship with his father, from Afghanistan, had contributed to his personality disorders, leading up to his rampage on an Orlando FL gay club.

Newspapers have called Afghanistan, even post-Taliban, one of the most homophobic countries in the world, despite a subculture in Pashtun that practice homosexuality with very young men (as reported in French sources), behavior that would violate laws against sex with minors in the US.   It’s a little surprising, as most of us hear the worst from Iran, North Korea, Nigeria, and Uganda – and Russia with its anti-gay propaganda law.

Surprises on the Newsweek list of shame include Lithuania and Senegal (which Anthony Bourdain covered favorably without mentioning the anit-gay culture).
 
Extreme homophobia is often associated with the belief that allowing homosexuality will lead to fewer babies and weaken family lineage, an idea very important in poorer regions of the world.  The idea seems to drive Russian policy. (Fareed Zakaria interviews Vladimir Putin from St. Petersburg today – more on that later.)