Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Monday, January 26, 2015

The White Horse vs The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

While channel surfing YouTube I found this interviw with Clint Eastwood, comparing his characters to John Wayne's. How Wayne was a bit black and while while Clint had more than 50 Shades of Gray! :<) Less than two minutes but worth a quick view.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I have a real bad feeling about this woman......

President B Hussein Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder at his Just-Us Department last last year. I would have been shocked if President Pookie would nominate anyone other than a radical leftist and I was not disappointed. Now Bloomberg media has a review of this woman and I have no doubt she will be confirmed, she is that bad. Perfect to succeed the crook Eric Holder.

From the article, I found this interesting.

...In her June 1992 speech at the South Carolina church, she forcefully criticized the nation for the way it addressed poverty and the first Gulf War.

Helping Children

“A society that takes away hundreds of thousands of jobs, and then blames people for not working, is morally lost,” she said. “A society that drops everything to save Kuwait, but barely lifts a finger to help the 13 million American children living in poverty in this country is sending the moral message that those children are not important, that they don’t matter. And if our society tells people that they don’t matter, how can we expect people to act like anything matters?”...

"Barely lifts a finger" to help 13 million children, that is rich. We have spent trillions of dollars in anti-poverty programs, the Great Society, Medicaid, etc since 1964. The cost of the Gulf War, according to the Congressional Research Service, was around 291 billion. This is a fraction of the money just from the federal treasury. This is no way includes church groups, personal initiates, local and state programs. What planet is this woman from?

Then there is this from the same article:
"Though she was the second black U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch saw her ascension as historic in a 2000 speech: “I took office last summer, and as I did I am sure that a long line of dead white men rolled over in their graves. But at the same time, I am sure that just a stone’s throw away from here, in the African burial ground, a long line of people for whom the law was an instrument of oppression, sat up and smiled.

Mentioning black people smiling at her accent to the US attorney's office is one thing, but she seems to have a chip on her shoulder about this country's founding. Damned, she will fit right in with B Hussein Obama and Eric Holder.

I would hope the Senate would stop her nomination but Holder has already said he's going nowhere until she is confirmed. So what radical do we get now? No matter which, they are anti-police, race baiters. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will both have a direct line to her office. I just hope the next president had enough in him to purge the DoJ of the Holder and Obama leftovers.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The most important 50th anniversary of 2015!

I thought it was my 50th birthday last Saturday, but I was very wrong.

I knew it was 1965, but I didn't remember the exact month or date. The Right Honourable Sir Winston Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, RA, Defender of the Realm, past from us on this day 50 years ago.

Here are some of the greatest speeches he is remembered for, this was their finest hour!

or Never was so much owed by so many to so few...

or possibly his most famous, Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat!

RIP Sir Winston. A good cigar and scotch will commemorate you today. I know you sending out memo's in heaven to the Powers That Be explaining how to handle their operations!

Thank you Dr Jacobson for the notice at Legal Insurrection.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Geopolitical Weekly: The European Union, Nationalism and the Crisis of Europe, January 20, 2015

By George Friedman

Last week, I wrote about the crisis of Islamic radicalism and the problem of European nationalism. This week's events give me the opportunity to address the question of European nationalism again, this time from the standpoint of the European Union and the European Central Bank, using a term that only an economist could invent: "quantitative easing."

European media has been flooded for the past week with leaks about the European Central Bank's forthcoming plan to stimulate the faltering European economy by implementing quantitative easing. First carried by Der Spiegel and then picked up by other media, the story has not been denied by anyone at the bank nor any senior European official. We can therefore call this an official leak, because it lets everyone know what is coming before an official announcement is made later in the week.

The plan is an attempt to spur economic activity in Europe by increasing the amount of money available. It calls for governments to increase their borrowing for various projects designed to increase growth and decrease unemployment. Rather than selling the bonds on the open market, a move that would trigger a rise in interest rates, the bonds are sold to the central banks of eurozone member states, which have the ability to print new money. The money is then sent to the treasury. With more money flowing through the system, recessions driven by a lack of capital are relieved. This is why the measure is called quantitative easing.

The United States did this in 2008. In addition to government debt, the Federal Reserve also bought corporate debt. The hyperinflation that some had feared would result from the move never materialized, and the U.S. economy hit a 5 percent growth rate in the third quarter of last year. The Europeans chose not to pursue this route, and as a result, the European economy is, at best, languishing. Now the Europeans will begin such a program — several years after the Americans did — in the hopes of moving things forward again.

The European strategy is vitally different, however. The Federal Reserve printed the money and bought the cash. The European Central Bank will also print the money, but each eurozone country's individual national bank will do the purchasing, and each will be allowed only to buy the debt of its own government. The reason for this decision reveals much about Europe's real crisis, which is not so much economic (although it is certainly economic) as it is political and social — and ultimately cultural and moral.

The recent leaks have made it clear the European Central Bank is implementing quantitative easing in this way because many eurozone governments are unable to pay their sovereign debt. European countries do not want to cover each other's shortfalls, either directly or by exposing the central bank to losses, a move that would make all members liable. In particular, Berlin does not want to be in a position where a series of defaults could cripple Europe as a whole and therefore cripple Germany. This is why the country has resisted quantitative easing, even in the face of depressions in Southern Europe, recessions elsewhere and contractions in demand for German products that have driven German economic growth downward. Berlin preferred those outcomes to the risk of becoming liable for the defaults of other countries.

The major negotiation over this shift took place between European Central Bank head Mario Draghi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Draghi realized that if quantitative easing was not done, Europe's economy could crumble. While Merkel is responsible for the fate of Germany, not Europe, she also needs a viable free trade zone in Europe because Germany exports more than 50 percent of its gross domestic product. The country cannot stand to lose free access to Europe's markets because of plunging demand, but it will not underwrite Europe's debt. The two leaders compromised by agreeing to have the central bank print the money and give it to the national banks on a formula that has yet to be determined — and then it is every man for himself.

The European Central Bank is providing the mechanism for stimulating Europe's economy, while the eurozone member states will assume the responsibility for stimulating it — and living with the consequences of failure. It is as if the Federal Reserve were to print money and give some to each state so that New York could buy its own debt and not become exposed to California's casual ways. The strangeness of the plan rests in the strangeness of the European experiment. California and New York share a common fate as part of the United States. While Germany and Greece are both part of the European Union, they do not and will not share a common fate. If they do not share a common fate, then what exactly is the purpose of the European Union? It was never supposed to be about "the pursuit of happiness," but instead about "peace and prosperity." The promise is the not right to pursue, but the right to have. That is a huge difference.

The anthem of the European Union is from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which contains these lines from the German poet Friedrich Schiller:

Joy, beautiful sparkle of the gods,

Daughter of Elysium,

We enter, fire-drunk,

Heavenly one, your shrine.

Your magic binds again

What custom has strictly parted.

All men become brothers

Where your tender wing lingers.
I wrote in my new book, Flashpoint: The Coming Crisis in Europe, that Europe is about:

"…the joy of joining men into a single brotherhood, overcoming the divisions of mere custom. Then there would be joy. Brotherhood means shared fate. If all that binds you is peace and prosperity, then that must never depart. If some become poor and others rich, if some go to war and others don't, then where is the shared fate?"

A Crisis of Brotherhood

Europe's crisis is not ultimately an economic one. Everyone — families and nations — has economic problems. The crisis is not war, which tragically is as common as poverty. Europe's problem is that it promised a joy beyond custom, a joy yielding brotherhood and abolishing war, and a promise based on prosperity, which is a promise so vast it is beyond anyone's hope to make perpetual. Neither perpetual peace nor perpetual prosperity can be guaranteed, therefore the joy that would overcome custom and bind men in brotherhood is a base of sand.

In the European Central Bank's compromise with Germany, we can see not only the base of sand dissolving but also the brotherhood of Europe falling apart. At the heart of this promise is the idea that Germany will not share the fate of Greece, nor France the fate of Italy. In the end, these are different nations. Their customs can be overcome by the joy uniting them in brotherhood, but absent that joy, absent peace and prosperity, there is nothing binding them together.

The test of the American Republic came when the idea that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights was juxtaposed with the brutishness of slavery. Prior to the revolution, these United States were divided into sovereignties so profound that many states saw themselves as individual nations not bound by the promises of the Declaration of Independence. They believed themselves free to withdraw from the federation if displeased by others' moral interpretations of the Declaration. What ensued was the Civil War, which was fought, as Abraham Lincoln put it, to test whether a nation so constituted could long endure.

That is precisely the question of the European Union. Can an entity, founded on nations of wildly different customs, expectations and economies long endure and share a common fate? In the dry technicalities of quantitative easing, Europe has defined its limits of brotherhood. One of those limits is prosperity. Each nation determines how it will plot its own course, its money distributed by the European Central Bank, but under the rules of the individual states and without any nation being compelled to share the fate of another. The euro is a common currency that has no one's picture on the front because the histories of eurozone countries are so divided that there are no common heroes. The United States knows that Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant and Franklin are our common heritage. There is no such commonality in Europe, and, therefore, no transcendence of the customs of nations.

The strategy proposed for quantitative easing is a great compromise, and it may solve the economic problem. But at its first test, hardly on the order of slavery and the American Civil War, Europe has failed a more profound test: brotherhood, which is men bound together by a joy-transcending culture.

Some will say that I am making too much over a useful political compromise — that the basic institutions of Europe remain, and we therefore have a useful solution to the problem. I think this argument misses the deeper point. Europe never expected to face this crisis because it thought peace and prosperity would endure. It has not because it could not. Quantitative easing is not merely the desire to avoid responsibility for prosperity. There is no unity in Europe over the fears of Romania or Russia about Ukraine. There is no real unity over how to face terrorism in the name of Islam. There is simply no unity.

If Europe can parse the common search for prosperity in this way and calmly consider the secession of one of the brotherhood, Greece, over malfeasance far from terrible on the order of human things, then what is to keep any of the Europe's institutions intact? If you can secede or be expelled from the eurozone, and if you might choose to close your border to Slovaks seeking jobs in Denmark, then perhaps you can choose to close your borders to German products. And if that is possible, then what is the fate of Germany, which relies on its ability to sell its goods anywhere in Europe? After all, it is not only the poor and weak in Europe whose fates are at risk.

In the end, Europe becomes not so much a moral project as it does a convenience, a treaty, which is something a country can leave at will if it is in its interest to do so. When the South seceded from the United States, Northern men were prepared to die to preserve the Union. Is there anyone who would give his life to preserve the European Union, block secession and demand a permanent, shared fate?

I predicted that a decisive moment would arrive in Europe, but the speed at which it did surprised me. I expect that its institutions will survive a while, and I expect that most people will think I am overreacting. That's possible, but I don't think so. Regardless of the technical and political purpose behind the decision to implement quantitative easing, and however defensible it is on its own grounds, the moral lesson is that Europe ultimately is a continent, not an idea.

Last week, the question was why Europe found it so difficult to assimilate immigrants and why it resorted to multiculturalism. The answer was that the customs of the nation-state made it impossible to imagine someone born outside the customs of the nation-state to truly become part of its brotherhood. This week, the question is why the European Central Bank cannot distribute the money it prints but will give it to national banks to manage. The answer is that no country wants to be responsible for the debts of anyone else in Europe. That is not a foolish position, but it makes a union impossible, certainly not one that can overcome custom.

In Flashpoints, I wrote the following:

"We are now living through Europe's test. As all human institutions do, the European Union is going through a time of intense problems, mostly economic for the moment. The European Union was founded for "peace and prosperity." If prosperity disappears, or disappears in some nations, what happens to peace?...That is what this book is about. It is partly about the sense of European exceptionalism, the idea that they have solved the problems of peace and prosperity that the rest of the world has not."

But if Europe is not exceptional and is in trouble, what comes next? The history of Europe should give us no comfort.

The European Union, Nationalism and the Crisis of Europe is republished with permission of Stratfor.

K9 Down

K9 Sultan
Riverside County California Sheriff's Department
End of Watch: Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Breed: Belgian Malinois-German Shepherd mix
Origin: Slovakia
Age: 2
Gender: M
Incident Date: 1/21/2015 
K9 Sultan was shot and killed while attempting to apprehend an armed felon in the area of San Jacinto Street and Mayberry Avenue in Hemet.

Sultan had tracked the man underneath a house where he was shot. His handler immediately transported him to an animal hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The subject was shot and killed later in the night after he emerged from a house holding a gun.

K9 Sultan was a narcotics and tracking canine. He had served with the San Jacinto Police Department, which contracts police service from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, for two years.
Rest in Peace Sultan…till our next roll call at the Rainbow Bridge!

In Memory of all Police Dogs

They handled themselves with beauty & grace
And who could ever forget that beautiful face
Whether at work; or at home; whatever the test
They always worked hard; and did their best

They were real champions; at work or at play
But their lives were cut short; suddenly one day
While working on the job with their partner one day
They put themselves out on a limb; out into harms way

They gave the ultimate sacrifice; any dog can give
They gave up their life; so someone could live
The best of their breed; as his partner and anyone would say
Many hearts are now broken; that he had to prove it this way

Now as the trees are blowing in the gentle breeze
The sun is shining; thru the leaves on the trees
The meadows are green; and the grass grows tall
Off in the distance they can see a waterfall

As they look over the falls; down through the creek
The water flows gently; as a rabbit sneaks a peek
Far up above; in the deep blue sky
They see the birds soar high; as they fly by

They see animals playing; at the bridge by a waterfall
Chasing each other; and just having a ball
They play all day; from morning to night
There's no more rain; just warm sunlight

Off in the distance; they hear trumpets blow
Then all the animals look up; and notice a bright glow
The harps would play and the angels would sing
As they know they've come home; they've earned their wings

We remember that they died; in the line of duty
And are now with the Lord; sharing in heaven's beauty
Off to the meadows now; where they can play and roam free
With an occasional rest stop; under a tall oak tree

No more bad guys to chase; or bullets to take
Just a run through the meadow; down to the lake
A quick splash in the water; then back to the shore
Then it's off to the forest; to go play some more

These special dogs are back home; up in heaven above
They're cradled in God's arm's; and covered with His love
We'll light a candle for all of them; in the dark of night
In loving memory of all; these very special knights

By John Quealy

Police Technology: Inside house RADAR

An interesting article from USA Pravda, err Today, on new technology for cops.

New police radars can 'see' inside homes

WASHINGTON — At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance.

Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person's house without first obtaining a search warrant...
Do police agencies normally announce publicly how they will arrest someone? Sending out public information on police actions to prevent crime (e.g. announcing a zero tolerance weekend on DWIs or traffic enforcement) is one thing, but normally cops don't tell the gangs we will monitor your computer transmissions.
...The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet. They can detect whether anyone is inside of a house, where they are and whether they are moving.

The RANGE-R handheld radar is used by dozens of U.S. law enforcement agencies to help detect movement inside buildings...

Sounds like an enhanced stud finders.
Current and former federal officials say the information is critical for keeping officers safe if they need to storm buildings or rescue hostages. But privacy advocates and judges have nonetheless expressed concern about the circumstances in which law enforcement agencies may be using the radars — and the fact that they have so far done so without public scrutiny....

...Agents' use of the radars was largely unknown until December, when a federal appeals court in Denver said officers had used one before they entered a house to arrest a man wanted for violating his parole. The judges expressed alarm that agents had used the new technology without a search warrant, warning that "the government's warrantless use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions."

By then, however, the technology was hardly new. Federal contract records show the Marshals Service began buying the radars in 2012, and has so far spent at least $180,000 on them.

Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said officials are reviewing the court's decision. He said the Marshals Service "routinely pursues and arrests violent offenders based on pre-established probable cause in arrest warrants" for serious crimes.

The device the Marshals Service and others are using, known as the Range-R, looks like a sophisticated stud-finder. Its display shows whether it has detected movement on the other side of a wall and, if so, how far away it is — but it does not show a picture of what's happening inside. The Range-R's maker, L-3 Communications, estimates it has sold about 200 devices to 50 law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $6,000 each.

Other radar devices have far more advanced capabilities, including three-dimensional displays of where people are located inside a building, according to marketing materials from their manufacturers. One is capable of being mounted on a drone. And the Justice Department has funded research to develop systems that can map the interiors of buildings and locate the people within them.

The radars were first designed for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. They represent the latest example of battlefield technology finding its way home to civilian policing and bringing complex legal questions with it.

So it's not like it's been a top secret program. Funny, I don't remember USA Today getting that upset when it was discovered the Department of Education has a SWAT team. If anyone can show me, I stand to be corrected.
Those concerns are especially thorny when it comes to technology that lets the police determine what's happening inside someone's home. The Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that the Constitution generally bars police from scanning the outside of a house with a thermal camera unless they have a warrant, and specifically noted that the rule would apply to radar-based systems that were then being developed.

In 2013, the court limited police's ability to have a drug dog sniff the outside of homes. The core of the Fourth Amendment, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, is "the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion."

Still, the radars appear to have drawn little scrutiny from state or federal courts. The federal appeals court's decision published last month was apparently the first by an appellate court to reference the technology or its implications.
Well, hate to tell you but they would not draw much scrutiny from the courts unless someone broth them to the attention of the courts.
This may shock you but the courts don't go out and rule without a case being brought to them, with exceptions (e.g. the Florida Supreme Court sticking its nose into the 2000 presidential election)...

Now legitimately there are issues of privacy and the question of guidelines being established. It is up to the executive agencies and legislative branches to set guidelines for the use of this device before a court "makes law". But pointed commentary not withstanding, this is a great review of a new technology available for police.

Officer Down

Deputy Chief Steven Bonano
New York City Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, January 17, 2015
Age: 53
Tour: 30 years
Incident Date: 9/11/2001

Deputy Chief Steven Bonano died from blood cancer he contracted after inhaling toxic materials as he participated in the rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site following the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001.

Chief Bonano, who was assigned as the commander of the Emergency Service Unit at the time of the attack, responded to the World Trade Center following the attack and worked at the scene for several months.

Chief Bonano served with the New York City Police Department for 30 years and had previously served with the United States Navy. During his time with the New York City Police Department, Chief Bonano was awarded the Police Combat Cross, the department's second highest medal, earned his pilot's license and a Master's degree from Harvard University.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, seventy-two officers from a total of eight local, state, and federal agencies were killed when terrorist hijackers working for the al Qaeda terrorist network, headed by Osama bin Laden, crashed two of four hijacked planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. After the impact of the first plane, putting the safety of others before their own, law enforcement officers along with fire and EMS personnel, rushed to the burning Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to aid the victims and lead them to safety. Due to their quick actions, it is estimated that over 25,000 people were saved.

As the evacuation continued, the first tower unexpectedly collapsed due as a result of the intense fire caused by the impact. The second tower collapsed a short time later. 71 law enforcement officers, 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and over 2,800 civilians were killed at the World Trade Center site.

A third hijacked plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania when the passengers attempted to re-take control of the plane. One law enforcement officer, who was a passenger on the plane, was killed in that crash.

The fourth hijacked plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, killing almost 200 military and civilian personnel. No law enforcement officers were killed at the Pentagon.

The terrorist attacks resulted in the declaration of war against the Taliban regime, the illegal rulers of Afghanistan, and the al Qaeda terrorist network which also was based in Afghanistan.

On September 9, 2005, all of the public safety officers killed on September 11, 2001, were posthumously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush.

The contamination in the air at the World Trade Center site caused many rescue personnel to become extremely ill, and eventually led to the death of several rescue workers.

On May 1, 2011 members of the United States military conducted a raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was hiding. During the raid, they shot and killed bin Laden.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Security Weekly: Mexico's Drug War: A New Way to Think About Mexican Organized Crime, January 15, 2015

Editor's Note: This week's Security Weekly is a condensed version of our annual Mexico drug cartel report, in which we assess the most significant developments of 2014 and provide a forecast for 2015. The report is a product of the coverage we maintain through our Mexico Security Memo, quarterly updates and other analyses that we produce throughout the year as part of the Mexico Security Monitor service.

By Tristan Reed
Mexico Security Analyst

Since the emergence of the Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s as one of the country's largest drug trafficking organizations, Mexican organized crime has continued to expand its reach up and down the global supply chains of illicit drugs. Under the Guadalajara cartel and its contemporaries, such as the Gulf cartel, led by Juan Garcia Abrego, a relatively small number of crime bosses controlled Mexico's terrestrial illicit supply chains. Crime bosses such as Miguel Angel "El Padrino" Felix Gallardo, the leader of the Guadalajara cartel, oversaw the bulk of the trafficking operations necessary to push drugs into the United States and received large portions of the revenue generated. By the same token, this facilitated law enforcement's ability to disrupt entire supply chains with a single arrest. Such highly centralized structures ultimately proved unsustainable under consistent and aggressive law enforcement pressure. Thus, as Mexican organized crime has expanded its control over greater shares of the global drug trade, it has simultaneously become more decentralized, as exemplified by an increasing number of organizational splits.

Indeed, the arrest of Felix Gallardo in 1989 and of colleagues such as Rafael Caro Quintero and Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo a few years prior led to the breakdown of the Guadalajara cartel by 1990. Thanks to geographic factors, however, Mexican organized crime was destined to increasingly dominate the global illicit drug trade, soon even eclipsing the role Colombian drug traffickers played in supplying cocaine to the huge and highly lucrative retail markets in the United States. As international law enforcement effectively dismantled the powerful Colombian cartels and stymied their maritime trafficking routes through the Caribbean in the 1980s and 1990s, Mexican crime groups became the cornerstone for any trafficking organization wishing to profit from the high U.S. demand for illicit drugs. Given that the United State's only land border to the south is shared with Mexico, Central and South American organizations had no choice but to cooperate with Mexican crime groups if they wished to transport drugs northward over land and across the nearly 3,200-kilometer (2,000-mile) U.S. border, an area with a centurieslong history of smuggling.

The remnants of the Guadalajara cartel took advantage of the regional geography to expand their own smuggling operations, leading to the creation of seemingly new criminal organizations such as the Juarez cartel (led by the Carrillo Fuentes family), the Tijuana cartel (led by the Arellano Felix family) and what would eventually become known popularly as the Sinaloa Federation (led by a number of traffickers, most famously Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera). Operating as autonomous crime syndicates, the fragments of the Guadalajara cartel expanded their respective supply chains and overall share of the illicit drug markets in the United States and overseas. But the continued Balkanization of Mexican organized crime that began with the collapse of the Guadalajara cartel would accompany the collective expansion of Mexican crime groups up and down the illicit drug supply chains across the globe.

By 2010, the criminal landscape in Mexico differed greatly from that in 1989. Numerous crime groups, some with small but critical niches, controlled drug trafficking operations in Mexico. Even so, a few cohesive crime groups still dominated the Mexican drug trade, particularly the Juarez cartel, the Tijuana cartel, the Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa Federation. Each group sought to expand its share over the drug trade, hoping to achieve the pre-eminence of their collective predecessor, leading to violent turf wars. Each group, however, faced internal divisions, leading to further Balkanization in parallel to the turf wars.

2010 marked a rapid acceleration in crime group decentralization, with each of the four dominant groups suffering a series of internal splits. This phenomenon also afflicted their eventual successors, giving rise to the present exceptionally complex map of crime groups. As Stratfor highlighted in its April 2013 cartel quarterly update, the trend of Balkanization will not likely end even if specific crime groups such as Los Zetas momentarily defy it by continuing to expand. Now in 2015, this trend has created an organized criminal landscape where it is no longer sufficient to monitor Mexican organized crime by focusing on individual groups. Instead, one must focus on the regional umbrellas that lead the vast majority of Mexican crime groups. We have therefore had to change the way we think and write about Mexican organized criminal networks, a change made visible in the radical alterations we have made to our popular cartel map.

The Regions

In 2014, as has been the norm each year since 2010, Mexican organized crime underwent substantial devolution because of continued turf wars and pressure by law enforcement and the Mexican military. The regional challenges and leadership losses the Sinaloa Federation experienced in 2013 continued, particularly with the arrest of top leader Guzman Loera. Along with leadership losses, the lower-tier structures of the Sinaloa Federation — such as the subgroups operating in Chihuahua, Sonora and Baja California states — exercised increasing autonomy from the cartel's remaining top-tier crime bosses. Meanwhile, at the beginning of 2014, the remaining Gulf cartel factions in Tamaulipas state devolved further into numerous gangs. Some cooperated in the same cities, while others waged particularly violent campaigns against one another. In Michoacan state, the Knights Templar were all but dismantled, with Servando "La Tuta" Gomez Martinez the sole remaining founding leader. Numerous crime groups, all based in the same Tierra Caliente region of southwestern Mexico from which the Knights Templar (and the La Familia Michoacana organization it once fell under) emerged, filled the void that opened in Michoacan as a result of the rapid decline of the Knights Templar.

Though continued Balkanization of Mexican organized crime creates an increasingly confusing map, three geographic centers of gravity of cartel activity exist at present: Tamaulipas state, Sinaloa state and the Tierra Caliente region.

With the Mexican organized crime landscape continuing to suffer new fractures, it is marked now by newly independent groups headed by leaders who previously had participated in the same criminal operations as their new rivals. Many of these new crime bosses were born and raised in the same communities — in many cases even sharing family ties — and thus leveraged similar geographic advantages in their rise in power.

The Guadalajara cartel exemplifies this trend. Despite its name, which it received because its leaders had hideouts in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco state, nearly all of its leaders hailed from Sinaloa state. The cartel also relied on the geography of Sinaloa state to expand its illicit profits, which largely came from the concentration of marijuana and opium poppy cultivation in the Sierra Madre Occidental and from coastal routes for drug trafficking. The city of Guadalajara provided cartel leaders a large cosmopolitan area in which to hide while they rapidly expanded their international operations. When the cartel split, successors such as the Tijuana and Juarez cartels were in fact managed by criminal leaders originating from Sinaloa who continued to leverage some aspect of the state's geography, if they were not in fact still tied to communities there.

Until the early 2000s, Sinaloa-based organized crime dominated the vast majority of organized crime activities in Mexico, particularly drug trafficking routes. Only the Tamaulipas-based Gulf cartel remained as a major independent group, using drug trafficking routes along Mexico's east coast to push drugs into the United States through Nuevo Laredo, one of the most lucrative trafficking points in Mexico. Tamaulipas-based organized crime soon expanded its geographic reach, first via the Gulf cartel and then through Los Zetas, which split from the Gulf cartel in 2010. This trend led to a seemingly polarized criminal landscape by 2011, with organized crime in Mexico breaking down along a Sinaloa-Tamaulipas divide. By 2012, the Sinaloa- and Tamaulipas-based criminal camps each faced internal divisions, with individual groups in each region beginning to form alliances with groups in the other. Nonetheless, the behavior and evolution of each group was still driven by geography more than any form of ties to groups in the opposing region.

Thus, when Los Zetas split from the Gulf cartel in 2010, despite becoming known as a new or independent crime group, the collective operations and trends of Tamaulipas-based organized crime did not change: The same players were in place managing the same criminal activities. Similarly, the ongoing expansion of Tamaulipas-based organized crime — countering the spread of Sinaloa-based organized crime — did not stop, but instead it continued under Los Zetas' banner. It should be noted that the Gulf cartel, which had been immediately weakened relative to Los Zetas, did in fact ally with the Sinaloa Federation. But even so, with Los Zetas the most powerful Tamaulipas-based crime group, the Sinaloa Federation continued facing immense competition for territory from the east.

Within a given regional criminal camp, alliances and rivalries can form overnight with immediate effects, while crime bosses can quickly switch sides without necessarily causing a shift in operations. For instance, the now-detained Tamaulipas-based crime boss, Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez, first emerged within the Gulf cartel as a member of Los Zetas, then still a Gulf subgroup. When Los Zetas broke away, Velazquez sided with it. In 2012, however, Velazquez and his faction went to war with then-Los Zetas top leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, allied with some Gulf cartel factions and publicly rebranded his network as a part of the Gulf cartel. In Cancun, Quintana Roo state, where the Velazquez network oversaw local criminal activities, Los Zetas members overnight became Gulf cartel members without any preceding conflict.

In 2012, the main Sinaloa- and Tamaulipas-based crime groups suffered from ongoing internal fights and leadership losses at the hands of government troops. After the Velazquez network split from Los Zetas, Mexican marines killed top Zetas leader Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano during an operation. Meanwhile, the Sinaloa Federation faced growing challenges in its own northwest dominion from other Sinaloa-based groups such as Los Mazatlecos and a resurgent La Linea, and certain regional crime groups outside Sinaloa state that supported the Sinaloa Federation began fighting one another, including Los Cabrera and Los Dannys in Torreon, Coahuila state. The struggles in both regional crime camps in 2012 permitted the emergence of a third dominant regional camp based in Tierra Caliente, home to groups such as the Knights Templar, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, La Familia Michoacana and Guerreros Unidos.

Tierra Caliente, which means "hot lands," is a rural lowland area surrounded by mountainous terrain that was initially heavily valued by drug traffickers for marijuana cultivation, though for several years now it has produced primarily methamphetamines and heroin. The value of the region for organized crime increased along with the growth of the port of Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan, making the state a key bridge between Mexico's coast and the interior — and a key port for smuggling narcotics and chemical precursors used in regional drug production.

Most groups in Tierra Caliente originated in the 1990s, when regional organized crime was but an extension of criminal groups based in Sinaloa and Tamaulipas states. In the early 2000s, Sinaloa- and Tamaulipas-based groups, most notably the Sinaloa Federation and the Gulf cartel, began a series of nationwide turf wars that included bids for control over the Tierra Caliente region. Two prominent groups emerged from the wreckage: the Milenio cartel, which operated under Sinaloa Federation crime boss Ignacio "El Nacho" Coronel Villarreal, and La Familia Michoacana, which was supported by the Los Zetas branch of the Gulf cartel. (La Familia Michoacana first referred to itself as La Empresa.) The conflict between these groups reverberated throughout the Tierra Caliente region, ushering in other turf wars that continue today.

But the relative weakening of Sinaloa and Tamaulipas organized crime in 2012 enabled Tierra Caliente-based groups to expand — both domestically and internationally — independently as they exploited the substantial geographic advantages of the Tierra Caliente for their criminal operations. Though numerous turf wars between regional groups continued after 2012, as a whole, Tierra Caliente-based organized crime expanded geographically thanks to the efforts of groups such as the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar. Turf wars that emerged or escalated within Tierra Caliente in 2012, most notably the Knights Templar against the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Guerreros Unidos against Los Rojos, have become some of the most violent disputes in Mexico, either directly or indirectly causing the Mexican government's greatest security concerns in 2015.

2015 Forecast

The Mexican government had notable success targeting the top leadership of various criminal groups in 2014. Several senior bosses from each of the principal regional organized crime camps in Mexico were captured or killed during targeted operations involving federal troops. These successes accelerated the Balkanization of each camp while greatly shifting the balance of power among individual crime groups. The results of the government's efforts in 2014 will lead to a reorganization of each regional camp in 2015, as well as maintaining, if not accelerating, the tempo of the decentralization of organized crime in Mexico. It is likely that Balkanization will lead to new regional camps in 2015 as crime groups in geographic areas formerly controlled by outside crime bosses become entirely independent, focusing on and leveraging their own respective areas.

It should be noted that while each regional camp may experience substantial fragmentation in 2015 and lose control over criminal activities in specific geographic areas — such as the production of illicit drugs, extortion, fuel theft and kidnapping — this will not equate to an overall decline in international drug trafficking. In fact, each regional camp in Mexico will likely continue to expand its respective international drug supply chains to overseas markets such as Europe and Asia, as well as control of operations in South America.

Organized Crime in Sinaloa State

Sinaloa-based organized crime bore the brunt of targeted government operations in 2014, with the February capture of top Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, being the highest-profile incident. Each of the major Sinaloa crime groups suffered losses among its senior leadership. On June 23, authorities captured one of the top leaders of the Tijuana cartel, Luis Fernando Arellano Sanchez, in Tijuana. On Oct. 1, the Mexican army captured Hector Beltran Leyva, the leader of the Beltran Leyva Organization, at a restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato state. On Oct. 9, federal troops captured the top leader of the Juarez cartel, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, in Torreon, Coahuila state.

In addition to these arrests, numerous lieutenants for these leaders and for other high-ranking Sinaloa crime bosses fell at the hands of authorities as well. Interestingly, none of the stated arrests altered the broader trends surrounding each group or triggered internal rifts that would likely have led to substantial escalations in violence, though organizational challenges such as those experienced by the Sinaloa Federation since 2012 were likely magnified. This dynamic suggests that the continued decentralization of each group had lessened the criticality of each major crime boss within his respective organization.

Barring unexpected leadership losses or internal splits within the Tierra Caliente- or Tamaulipas-based crime groups, Sinaloa-based organized crime will likely experience the most fragmentation in 2015. Over the past two years, the Sinaloa Federation has seen its subgroups act increasingly independent from the top-tier leadership, leading to internal wars — independent of the top leadership — among subgroups in areas such as the Golden Triangle and the surrounding region, as well as the Baja California Peninsula. Similarly, the arrest of Carrillo Fuentes and his key lieutenants in 2014 could trigger leadership changes in 2015 where the remnants of his organization fall under the control of crime bosses based strictly in Chihuahua state. Such fragmentation would mean that new regional criminal camps, likely based in Sonora, Chihuahua or Baja California states, would emerge from the geographic areas currently controlled by the Sinaloa camp.

Tamaulipas Organized Crime

The Gulf cartel as it was prior to 2010 no longer exists. Instead, two crime groups — Los Zetas and the Velazquez network — now largely dominate Tamaulipas-based organized crime. The former is now the most widely operating cohesive crime group in Mexico. The crime groups calling themselves the Gulf cartel and operating in areas of Tamaulipas retained by the old Gulf cartel after the 2010 split with Los Zetas are (with the exception of the Velazquez network) in fact a collection of numerous independent groups, all of which operate more like powerful street gangs than the far-reaching transnational criminal organization that was their former parent organization.

Though the rapid expansion of Los Zetas slowed significantly in 2012 as a result of internal feuds, the growing independence of Tierra Caliente-based organized crime and government operations, the group has largely continued to defy the Balkanization experienced by every other crime group in Mexico. This has been largely thanks to a sudden shift in its overall expansion strategy that emerged at the end of 2012, when the cartel began relying more on alliances than violent seizures of territory. Crime groups from other regional camps, such as some of the Beltran Leyva Organization successor groups and the Juarez cartel (and its former enforcer arm, La Linea), have given Los Zetas access to the supply of illicit drugs and to drug trafficking routes in territories held by Sinaloa-based groups. Since the Gulf cartel gangs in Tamaulipas state likely rely on revenues gained from allowing drugs to be trafficked through their territory and are significantly less powerful than Los Zetas, it is likely that at least some of these groups are now cooperating with Los Zetas. Such cooperation could even include the gangs purchasing narcotics from Los Zetas.

Los Zetas' expansion will likely resume in Mexico in 2015, with the presence of Los Zetas operators and activities emerging in the western half of Mexico. Despite this expansion, Los Zetas will not be saved from the Balkanization trend, meaning another significant split could emerge in 2015 — though the exact timing is difficult, if not impossible, to forecast — with portions of Los Zetas competing with one another, either economically or militarily. Though organizational splits do not necessitate violent competition, Los Zetas' extensive network of alliances with other regionally based crime groups, as well as the immense territory directly under the cartel's control, increases the likelihood of any major split triggering violent turf wars. Where violence erupts depends entirely on where the organization splits internally.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Yes Europe, you need to be armed.

I have a good friend who is on London Metro Police Department and back around 2000, I took him shooting with my Sig 229. Did pretty well for a man who had not fired a weapon in over a decade. But we got on the subject of weapons with London PD and he told me their department has four armed response teams that can be anywhere in the city within ten minutes.

My answer, "Bill, that can be one long ass ten minutes."

We can see the issue with the Paris police officer who was murdered last week. He arrived on a bike armed with a baton and possibly a Tazer.

Now the powers that be are asking if the cops should be armed. One word, da!
Europe reconsiders police officers’ arms

PARIS — With the deaths of the three French officers during three days of terror in the Paris region and the suggestion of a plot in Belgium to kill police, European law enforcement agencies are rethinking how — and how many — police should be armed.

Scotland Yard said Sunday it was increasing the deployment of officers allowed to carry firearms in Britain, where many cling to the image of the unarmed “bobby.”

In Belgium, where officials say a terror network was plotting to attack police, officers are again permitted to take their service weapons home.

On Monday, French law enforcement officials demanding heavier weapons, protective gear and a bolstered intelligence apparatus met with top officials from the Interior Ministry. An official with the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing talks, said automatic weapons and heavier bulletproof vests were on the table.

“We don’t want necessarily the arms that American police have. We need weapons that can respond,” said Philippe Capon of French police union UNSA.

Among those weapons, he added, are modernized criminal databases, because the current databases are out of date, and fire-walled between different law enforcement branches. “The databases are not interactive. They are not accessible to all. They are not up to date,” he said.

Unlike their British counterparts, French national police are armed, although their municipal counterparts tend to be weaponless.

But Michel Thooris of the France Police labor union said they are not permitted to have their service weapons while off duty, raising the possibility that they could be targeted when vulnerable or unable to help if they stumble across crime afterhours.

Because of increasing unease and last week’s anti-terror raids, police in Belgium are again allowed to carry weapons home rather than put their handguns and munition in specialized lockers.

“The conditions we have now are clearly exceptional,” said Fons Bastiaenssens, a police spokesman in Antwerp, where there are many potential targets.

In addition, firearms suddenly became far more visible, with some police carrying heavier weaponry as they guard sensitive buildings and police offices, and paratroopers in the streets of the major cities.

In Britain, the overall threat level is “severe” — meaning intelligence and police officials have evidence that a terrorist attack is highly likely.

The threat to police officers themselves is judged to be very high after the Paris attacks as well as the recent disruption of a reported Islamist extremist plot to attack individual police officers in west London.

In response, the Metropolitan Police said Sunday it is bolstering the deployment of specialist firearms officers who are authorized to carry weapons.

Hate to say it London and Paris, times have changed. Your gun control laws, as usual, disarm only the law abiding citizens. So your cops have to be ready to defend the public, themselves and defeat the new threat.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Officer Down

Corrections Officer V Eligio Garcia
Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas
End of Watch: Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Age: 45
Tour: 22 years, 11 months
Incident Date: 1/14/2015

Corrections Officer V Christopher Davis
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
End of Watch: Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Age: 53
Tour: 17 years, 1 month

Corrections Officer Eligio Garcia and Corrections Officer Christopher Davis were killed in a prison bus crash on I-20 near Penwell, Texas, at approximately 7:30 am.

The bus was transporting 10 inmates from a transfer facility in Abilene to the Rogelio Sanchez State Jail in El Paso. The vehicle struck a patch of ice on an overpass, causing it to slide off the highway and down an embankment. The bus then struck a passing train and was dragged along the tracks, breaking apart.

Officer Garcia and Officer Davis, along with eight inmates, suffered fatal injuries at the scene. One other officer and four other inmates were transported to hospitals in critical condition.

Officer Garcia had served with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for just under 23 years.

Officer Davis had served with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for 17 years.
Rest in Peace Gentlemen…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh. 

Geopolitical Weekly: A War Between Two Worlds, January 13, 2015

By George Friedman

The murders of cartoonists who made fun of Islam and of Jews shopping for their Sabbath meals by Islamists in Paris last week have galvanized the world. A galvanized world is always dangerous. Galvanized people can do careless things. It is in the extreme and emotion-laden moments that distance and coolness are most required. I am tempted to howl in rage. It is not my place to do so. My job is to try to dissect the event, place it in context and try to understand what has happened and why. From that, after the rage cools, plans for action can be made. Rage has its place, but actions must be taken with discipline and thought.

I have found that in thinking about things geopolitically, I can cool my own rage and find, if not meaning, at least explanation for events such as these. As it happens, my new book will be published on Jan. 27. Titled Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, it is about the unfolding failure of the great European experiment, the European Union, and the resurgence of European nationalism. It discusses the re-emerging borderlands and flashpoints of Europe and raises the possibility that Europe's attempt to abolish conflict will fail. I mention this book because one chapter is on the Mediterranean borderland and the very old conflict between Islam and Christianity. Obviously this is a matter I have given some thought to, and I will draw on Flashpoints to begin making sense of the murderers and murdered, when I think of things in this way.

Let me begin by quoting from that chapter:

We've spoken of borderlands, and how they are both linked and divided. Here is a border sea, differing in many ways but sharing the basic characteristic of the borderland. Proximity separates as much as it divides. It facilitates trade, but also war. For Europe this is another frontier both familiar and profoundly alien.

Islam invaded Europe twice from the Mediterranean — first in Iberia, the second time in southeastern Europe, as well as nibbling at Sicily and elsewhere. Christianity invaded Islam multiple times, the first time in the Crusades and in the battle to expel the Muslims from Iberia. Then it forced the Turks back from central Europe. The Christians finally crossed the Mediterranean in the 19th century, taking control of large parts of North Africa. Each of these two religions wanted to dominate the other. Each seemed close to its goal. Neither was successful. What remains true is that Islam and Christianity were obsessed with each other from the first encounter. Like Rome and Egypt they traded with each other and made war on each other.

Christians and Muslims have been bitter enemies, battling for control of Iberia. Yet, lest we forget, they also have been allies: In the 16th century, Ottoman Turkey and Venice allied to control the Mediterranean. No single phrase can summarize the relationship between the two save perhaps this: It is rare that two religions might be so obsessed with each other and at the same time so ambivalent. This is an explosive mixture.

Migration, Multiculturalism and Ghettoization

The current crisis has its origins in the collapse of European hegemony over North Africa after World War II and the Europeans' need for cheap labor. As a result of the way in which they ended their imperial relations, they were bound to allow the migration of Muslims into Europe, and the permeable borders of the European Union enabled them to settle where they chose. The Muslims, for their part, did not come to join in a cultural transformation. They came for work, and money, and for the simplest reasons. The Europeans' appetite for cheap labor and the Muslims' appetite for work combined to generate a massive movement of populations.

The matter was complicated by the fact that Europe was no longer simply Christian. Christianity had lost its hegemonic control over European culture over the previous centuries and had been joined, if not replaced, by a new doctrine of secularism. Secularism drew a radical distinction between public and private life, in which religion, in any traditional sense, was relegated to the private sphere with no hold over public life. There are many charms in secularism, in particular the freedom to believe what you will in private. But secularism also poses a public problem. There are those whose beliefs are so different from others' beliefs that finding common ground in the public space is impossible. And then there are those for whom the very distinction between private and public is either meaningless or unacceptable. The complex contrivances of secularism have their charm, but not everyone is charmed.

Europe solved the problem with the weakening of Christianity that made the ancient battles between Christian factions meaningless. But they had invited in people who not only did not share the core doctrines of secularism, they rejected them. What Christianity had come to see as progress away from sectarian conflict, Muslims (and some Christians) may see as simply decadence, a weakening of faith and the loss of conviction.

There is here a question of what we mean when we speak of things like Christianity, Islam and secularism. There are more than a billion Christians and more than a billion Muslims and uncountable secularists who mix all things. It is difficult to decide what you mean when you say any of these words and easy to claim that anyone else's meaning is (or is not) the right one. There is a built-in indeterminacy in our use of language that allows us to shift responsibility for actions in Paris away from a religion to a minor strand in a religion, or to the actions of only those who pulled the trigger. This is the universal problem of secularism, which eschews stereotyping. It leaves unclear who is to be held responsible for what. By devolving all responsibility on the individual, secularism tends to absolve nations and religions from responsibility.

This is not necessarily wrong, but it creates a tremendous practical problem. If no one but the gunmen and their immediate supporters are responsible for the action, and all others who share their faith are guiltless, you have made a defensible moral judgment. But as a practical matter, you have paralyzed your ability to defend yourselves. It is impossible to defend against random violence and impermissible to impose collective responsibility. As Europe has been for so long, its moral complexity has posed for it a problem it cannot easily solve. Not all Muslims — not even most Muslims — are responsible for this. But all who committed these acts were Muslims claiming to speak for Muslims. One might say this is a Muslim problem and then hold the Muslims responsible for solving it. But what happens if they don't? And so the moral debate spins endlessly.

This dilemma is compounded by Europe's hidden secret: The Europeans do not see Muslims from North Africa or Turkey as Europeans, nor do they intend to allow them to be Europeans. The European solution to their isolation is the concept of multiculturalism — on the surface a most liberal notion, and in practice, a movement for both cultural fragmentation and ghettoization. But behind this there is another problem, and it is also geopolitical. I say in Flashpoints that:

Multiculturalism and the entire immigrant enterprise faced another challenge. Europe was crowded. Unlike the United States, it didn't have the room to incorporate millions of immigrants — certainly not on a permanent basis. Even with population numbers slowly declining, the increase in population, particularly in the more populous countries, was difficult to manage. The doctrine of multiculturalism naturally encouraged a degree of separatism. Culture implies a desire to live with your own people. Given the economic status of immigrants the world over, the inevitable exclusion that is perhaps unintentionally incorporated in multiculturalism and the desire of like to live with like, the Muslims found themselves living in extraordinarily crowded and squalid conditions. All around Paris there are high-rise apartment buildings housing and separating Muslims from the French, who live elsewhere.

These killings have nothing to do with poverty, of course. Newly arrived immigrants are always poor. That's why they immigrate. And until they learn the language and customs of their new homes, they are always ghettoized and alien. It is the next generation that flows into the dominant culture. But the dirty secret of multiculturalism was that its consequence was to perpetuate Muslim isolation. And it was not the intention of Muslims to become Europeans, even if they could. They came to make money, not become French. The shallowness of the European postwar values system thereby becomes the horror show that occurred in Paris last week.

The Role of Ideology

But while the Europeans have particular issues with Islam, and have had them for more than 1,000 years, there is a more generalizable problem. Christianity has been sapped of its evangelical zeal and no longer uses the sword to kill and convert its enemies. At least parts of Islam retain that zeal. And saying that not all Muslims share this vision does not solve the problem. Enough Muslims share that fervency to endanger the lives of those they despise, and this tendency toward violence cannot be tolerated by either their Western targets or by Muslims who refuse to subscribe to a jihadist ideology. And there is no way to distinguish those who might kill from those who won't. The Muslim community might be able to make this distinction, but a 25-year-old European or American policeman cannot. And the Muslims either can't or won't police themselves. Therefore, we are left in a state of war. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called this a war on radical Islam. If only they wore uniforms or bore distinctive birthmarks, then fighting only the radical Islamists would not be a problem. But Valls' distinctions notwithstanding, the world can either accept periodic attacks, or see the entire Muslim community as a potential threat until proven otherwise. These are terrible choices, but history is filled with them. Calling for a war on radical Islamists is like calling for war on the followers of Jean-Paul Sartre. Exactly what do they look like?

The European inability to come to terms with the reality it has created for itself in this and other matters does not preclude the realization that wars involving troops are occurring in many Muslim countries. The situation is complex, and morality is merely another weapon for proving the other guilty and oneself guiltless. The geopolitical dimensions of Islam's relationship with Europe, or India, or Thailand, or the United States, do not yield to moralizing.

Something must be done. I don't know what needs to be done, but I suspect I know what is coming. First, if it is true that Islam is merely responding to crimes against it, those crimes are not new and certainly didn't originate in the creation of Israel, the invasion of Iraq or recent events. This has been going on far longer than that. For instance, the Assassins were a secret Islamic order to make war on individuals they saw as Muslim heretics. There is nothing new in what is going on, and it will not end if peace comes to Iraq, Muslims occupy Kashmir or Israel is destroyed. Nor is secularism about to sweep the Islamic world. The Arab Spring was a Western fantasy that the collapse of communism in 1989 was repeating itself in the Islamic world with the same results. There are certainly Muslim liberals and secularists. However, they do not control events — no single group does — and it is the events, not the theory, that shape our lives.

Europe's sense of nation is rooted in shared history, language, ethnicity and yes, in Christianity or its heir, secularism. Europe has no concept of the nation except for these things, and Muslims share in none of them. It is difficult to imagine another outcome save for another round of ghettoization and deportation. This is repulsive to the European sensibility now, but certainly not alien to European history. Unable to distinguish radical Muslims from other Muslims, Europe will increasingly and unintentionally move in this direction.

Paradoxically, this will be exactly what the radical Muslims want because it will strengthen their position in the Islamic world in general, and North Africa and Turkey in particular. But the alternative to not strengthening the radical Islamists is living with the threat of death if they are offended. And that is not going to be endured in Europe.

Perhaps a magic device will be found that will enable us to read the minds of people to determine what their ideology actually is. But given the offense many in the West have taken to governments reading emails, I doubt that they would allow this, particularly a few months from now when the murders and murderers are forgotten, and Europeans will convince themselves that the security apparatus is simply trying to oppress everyone. And of course, never minimize the oppressive potential of security forces.

The United States is different in this sense. It is an artificial regime, not a natural one. It was invented by our founders on certain principles and is open to anyone who embraces those principles. Europe's nationalism is romantic, naturalistic. It depends on bonds that stretch back through time and cannot be easily broken. But the idea of shared principles other than their own is offensive to the religious everywhere, and at this moment in history, this aversion is most commonly present among Muslims. This is a truth that must be faced.

The Mediterranean borderland was a place of conflict well before Christianity and Islam existed. It will remain a place of conflict even if both lose their vigorous love of their own beliefs. It is an illusion to believe that conflicts rooted in geography can be abolished. It is also a mistake to be so philosophical as to disengage from the human fear of being killed at your desk for your ideas. We are entering a place that has no solutions. Such a place does have decisions, and all of the choices will be bad. What has to be done will be done, and those who refused to make choices will see themselves as more moral than those who did. There is a war, and like all wars, this one is very different from the last in the way it is prosecuted. But it is war nonetheless, and denying that is denying the obvious.

A War Between Two Worlds is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Another example of "This is so stupid it has to be true"

I've gotten into debates with teachers and others on the wisdom of arming educators in case of an active shooter. Putting that aside for the moment, this is beyond the limit of sanity.
Middle School Asks Kids To Bring In Cans To Fight School Shooters

In a letter to parents obtained by WHNT, W.F. Burns Middle School principal Priscella Holley and assistant principal Donna Bell asked each student to bring in a canned food item to throw at an intruder.

“We realize at first this may seem odd, however it is a practice that would catch an intruder off-guard,” the letter said. “The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive. The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure in case an intruder enters their classroom.”

Bell told BuzzFeed News that the administration decided to ask parents to send the items after receiving training from the ALICE Training Institute.

The private company offers training courses to prepare schools, churches and other institutions for an active shooter.

Nick Feyerchak, a representative from the company, told BuzzFeed News their courses have been offered at more than 30,000 schools and give school staff better tools than a lockdown to ensure their students’ safety.

One of those tactics, he said, is throwing heavy objects at the shooter if all else fails.

“It’s a distraction (to the shooter),” he said.

Feyerchak dismissed criticism that the children would just agitate or anger the shooter, possibly making the situation worse.

“How does it get any worse?” he asked, adding, “How is just simply hiding under your desk when a gunman is shooting at you going to help?

Feyerchak said the program does not specifically say you must throw cans, but he has heard of schools recommending cans be used in defense.

“You want to go out fighting,” he said...

...The police department in the city of Valley, Alabama, where the school is located, did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment about the plan.

Where to start on this. One, one study after another shows there is only one thing that stops a bad guy with a gun. A good guy with a gun. Two, if there is an active shooter the one thing you are going to want to do is run off as fast as possible, not stand and fight while you are unarmed. And if you don't know it, a can is not a match to a gun. Three, if you are unarmed and can't get out, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to yourself. Throwing a can at someone will make you a greater target. Finally, I wonder if this school system, or the company offering the training realize what kind of liability they have opened themselves open to if there is an active shooter here.

Sorry guys, pay off duty cops or hire rent-a-cops for this.

Good news from Georgia. A cop killer is put down

This is a painful video to watch and for some reason I'm drawn to it. I've watched it dozens of times and it keeps telling me things. I try to not criticize a fallen officer, but I want to know what he did wrong and insure I don't do it myself. As Otto von Bismarck said, “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” And in this profession we must learn from the experiences of others.

The circle is now complete. This animal, Andrew Howard Brannan, was put down like a rabid dog. I guess that is appropriate, but I would still rather him be hanged in a public square. But a needle does the job.

If you question my belief in capital punishment, watch this video.

Ga. man executed for killing of deputy during traffic stop

A man who fatally shot a sheriff's deputy who stopped him for speeding on a Georgia interstate was put to death Tuesday for the 1998 killing

JACKSON, Ga. — A man who fatally shot a sheriff's deputy who stopped him for speeding on a Georgia interstate was put to death Tuesday for the 1998 killing, which was captured on the patrol car's video camera.

Andrew Howard Brannan, 66, was pronounced dead at 8:33 p.m. Tuesday after a single-drug injection at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted of the January 1998 shooting death of Kyle Dinkheller, a 22-year-old sheriff's deputy in Laurens County, central Georgia.

"I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle's parents and his wife and his two children," Brannan said in a statement moments before the injection was administered.

Lawyers for Brannan, a Vietnam veteran, had unsuccessfully argued to authorities to spare the inmate's life, saying the shooting was tied to mental illness directly traced to Brannan's military service.

Dinkheller had stopped Brannan for driving 98 mph and demanded he take his hands from his pockets during a traffic stop, officials said Brannan then began cursing, dancing in the street and saying "shoot me" before he rushed the deputy. After a scuffle, Brannan pulled a high-powered rifle from his car and shot Dinkheller at least nine times, authorities said.

The confrontation was captured by a video camera in Dinkheller's patrol car and a microphone he wore. Parts including the scuffle between the two happened off camera, according to court documents. But Dinkheller can be heard yelling orders at Brannan, who responded with expletives, authorities said. Brannan can also be seen crouching by his car and firing at the deputy as Dinkheller yelled at him to stop. Brannan walked toward the patrol car, still firing, exhausted one magazine, reloaded and continued firing, authorities said.

Police found Brannan the next day hiding under a camouflage tarp near his home. He had been shot in the stomach, apparently by Dinkheller...

...The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles held a hearing Monday on a petition for clemency from Brannan's lawyers and denied the request to commute the sentence to life without parole.

"Is it right to execute a mentally-ill veteran whose sole incidence of violent behavior is traceable directly and inexorably to mental illness resulting from his combat service?" Brannan's lawyers had written in that clemency petition...

Mr. Brannon, I have several friends who served in Vietnam and many will tell you they question the wisdom of many of their actions. However, none of them will say it justifies murdering another man. So your explaination rings hollow with this vet. I'll will give you this, you were man enough to apologize to the family of the man your murdered. Hopefully that helps with the Judge you met last night.

To the Dinkheller family, I know this won't remove the pain of your loss, but at least we know he will never do this again. And hopefully your loved one rest easier now.

RIP Deputy Dinkheller. We Got The Watch.

Security Weekly: Jihadism in 2014: Assessing the Islamic State, January 6, 2014

Jihadism in 2014: Assessing the Islamic State

By Scott Stewart

Editor's Note: The following is the third installment of a series examining how the global jihadist movement evolved in 2014.

As noted in part one of this series, the largest change in the jihadist movement in 2014 was the split between al Qaeda and the Islamic State. In part 4 of the 2013 Gauging the Jihadist Movement series, we discussed the tensions between al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, as the organization was referred to then. We also noted that the group was the most powerful of the regional jihadist franchises, that it was growing in power and that it had the potential to be the next jihadist group to establish an emirate. Finally, we noted our belief that this growing power was going to draw the attention of the Unites States and its allies, who do not want to permit the emergence of a jihadist emirate in the heart of the Middle East.

However, while we correctly outlined the general trends that were going to transpire, the actual scope of how those trends played out caught us by surprise. We simply did not foresee the organization being able to conquer as much land in Iraq as it did, with the speed that it did. Also, while Stratfor has long been concerned about the capabilities of the Iraqi security services after the U.S. withdrawal, we were surprised by how quickly the U.S.-trained and -equipped Iraqi army broke and fled in the face of attacks by a far smaller and lesser-equipped force. We were also caught off guard at the way the generally well-regarded Kurdish peshmerga was initially driven back during the Islamic State's offensive into Iraq.

In that context, we will examine the Islamic State in terms of its goals and by comparing its stated aims to insurgent and terrorist theory.


Despite its current ideological squabbling with al Qaeda, and the pointed criticism of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri that was discussed in part two of this series, the Islamic State nevertheless continues to pursue the broad strategy al-Zawahiri outlined in a 2005 letter he sent to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of the group that has become the Islamic State.

In that letter, al-Zawahiri wrote: "It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established in the manner of the Prophet in the heart of the Islamic world." He also noted that the first step in such a plan was to expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage was to establish an emirate and expand it into a larger caliphate. The third stage was then to attack the secular countries surrounding Iraq (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria and Jordan) and bring them into the caliphate. The fourth step was to use the power of the combined caliphate to attack Israel.

Inspired by al-Zawahiri's letter, and emboldened by successes on the battlefield despite the death of al-Zarqawi in a U.S. airstrike, al-Zarqawi's group renamed itself the Islamic State in Iraq in 2006, thereby declaring the establishment of a jihadist polity in Iraq. While the group was severely weakened as a result of the U.S. surge of forces into Iraq and the corresponding Anbar Awakening in the Sunni areas of the country that began in 2007, the organization never let go of its goals. It rebuilt after the 2011 U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and took advantage of the civil war in Syria. Following a successful military campaign to seize large portions of the Sunni areas in Iraq, on June 29, 2014, the Islamic State organization announced not only the re-establishment of an emirate but also of a caliphate and demanded that all Muslims pay homage to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is now known as Caliph Ibrahim.

The Islamic State currently controls large sections of Syria and Iraq, including significant portions of Syria's energy production apparatus. It also controls Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, having assembled the largest and best-equipped jihadist armed force ever. It has therefore accomplished a great deal over the past year. However, jihadist emirates have been relatively short-lived, including the previously declared Islamic State in Iraq and the emirate declared by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in northern Mali in 2012. They have also been destroyed by foreign intervention, and it is very likely that the Islamic State will find it extremely difficult to hold onto its gains in the face of the concerted international campaign against it.

Insurgency and Terrorism

The militants of the Islamic State have been fighting an insurgent war in Iraq for more than a decade now. They have also been heavily involved in the Syrian civil war since 2011. Through numerous battles in Iraq and Syria, the military leadership of the Islamic State learned hard lessons from attempting to stand toe-to-toe with the U.S. military in Fallujah (twice) and Ramadi. There have also been brutal conflicts with Syrian and Iraqi armed forces and an assortment of militant groups such as Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra — the al Qaeda franchise group in Syria that split from the Islamic State. As seen from its dramatic gains on the battlefield in 2014, the Islamic State has grown quite competent at guerrilla and mobile, light infantry warfare.

Much of the Islamic State's battlefield success came from the fact that it has accepted many former Sunni Iraqi military officers into its ranks, leaders who lost their positions after Saddam Hussein fell. These former soldiers have shown the ability to plan operations, handle logistics, and even operate and maintain heavy weapons systems captured from the Syrian and Iraqi militaries. Experienced militants from Libya, Chechnya and elsewhere have also bolstered the Iraqi contingent. The Islamic State's ability to employ heavy weapons like tanks and artillery greatly assisted its offensive operations in 2014.

While the Iraqi soldiers brought a good deal of military experience to the group, they have not been able to provide much in the way of terrorist tradecraft. Indeed, the Iraqi government was fairly successful in its military campaigns against its own minorities and other regional powers, such as the Kuwaitis and Iranians. However, Iraq struggled to project power transnationally through terrorism.

Hussein's government supported numerous terrorist groups with logistics and training facilities, but others carried out much of the terrorist tradecraft training conducted in those camps. Saddam's military and intelligence personnel were masters at instilling terror in their native population, but they never really mastered transnational terrorism tradecraft themselves.

The Iraqi government's lack of transnational terrorist tradecraft was plainly evident in January 1991 when it launched a string of botched and thwarted attacks across Asia, to include Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok and Beijing. Despite having the luxury of being able to send terrorist materials to intelligence officers assigned to its embassies, for passage to their terrorist teams via the diplomatic pouch, these would-be terrorists committed egregious technical and operational security mistakes. First, because of faulty timers, their bombs either failed to go off or killed their own operatives. Second, their operatives were traveling on sequentially numbered Iraqi tourist passports, and once that sequence was discovered, their terrorist teams were quickly rounded up in a number of countries.

The Hussein government's transnational terrorism incompetence was again displayed in April 1993 when the Iraqi intelligence service attempted to assassinate former U.S. President George HW Bush in Kuwait City. The Iraqis used the same type of explosives used in the 1991 Asia attacks, PE-4A, and the explosives were even from the same manufacturer's lot number the Iraqi intelligence service had sent to Asia and elsewhere via the diplomatic pouch in 1991.

As we have previously discussed, the Islamic State and its predecessor organizations have never conducted terrorist attacks outside their region of operations, and even their efforts to launch attacks in neighboring Jordan have not been successful compared with their terrorist operations in Iraq and Syria. This lack of success stems from the challenges associated with operating remotely in hostile territory, a far more difficult task than operating locally and using internal communication lines. Indeed, projection of terrorist capabilities at the transnational level requires different elements of terrorist tradecraft than attacking locally. For example, in bombmaking it is far more challenging to construct a viable explosive device from improvised components than it is to assemble one using military-grade explosives and other ordnance.

This lack of capability to project terrorist power was evidenced by the Islamic State's call to grassroots jihadists in the West to embrace the leaderless resistance model of terrorism and conduct attacks where they live.

If the Islamic State begins working to develop the tradecraft capabilities required for transnational terrorist operations, we would expect to first see it display a greater ability to project force within its region before we would see it attempt to project force half a world away. We have recently seen reports of the Islamic State attempting to infiltrate personnel into Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but those efforts have been amateurish, as have the group's terrorist attacks to date in Lebanon.


The Islamic State has surpassed al Qaeda's accomplishments on the battlefield, declaring a caliphate in an attempt to assume leadership of the global jihadist movement. However, as noted two weeks ago, we have yet to witness major defections of jihadists from al Qaeda to the Islamic state, outside of the Syria/Iraq theater of operations. The group's pointed criticism of al Qaeda for being too moderate and religiously flawed will likely serve to alienate those who venerated Osama bin Laden. The group's attacks on the Taliban, Mullah Omar and other Deobandi Muslims will also likely hurt the Islamic State's appeal to militants in South Asia.

It must be remembered that specific regional factors aided the Islamic State's growth — the brutal sectarianism in Iraq and Syria, for example — and the lack of those factors in other areas will continue to limit the group's ability to spread beyond its core locality.

The Islamic State has quite publicly tied its legitimacy to its success on the battlefield, essentially stating in Dabiq magazine and other outlets that its battlefield successes were a way to prove its claim to the caliphate and to show that it was being divinely favored. Yet, as the international campaign against the Islamic State progressed, the organization's offensive stalled and the Islamic State weathered dramatic losses on the battlefield in Kobani, Baji and Sinjar, to name a few. Indeed, it would seem that the reason the Islamic State continues to attack Kobani and suffer mounting casualties there is because of its propaganda claims. The city really has little strategic importance to it otherwise.

The U.S.-led coalition has also repeatedly struck at Islamic State-controlled oil infrastructure in an effort to limit the group's ability to finance itself through the black market sale of oil. Despite the Islamic State's recent public announcement of a $2 billion budget for 2015, its expected $250 million surplus for the year and John Cantlie's video assurances that the Islamic State's economy is fine, there are signs that the organization is struggling financially. Certainly, the group gained a great deal of money and goods when it seized banks, government buildings and military bases, but it is spending a lot of money to provide salaries for its fighters and services for the citizens of the cities and towns it controls. Anecdotal reports suggest that food, medicine and other essential goods are in scarce supply and that the residents of cities such as Raqaa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq are becoming unhappy with the many taxes the Islamic State has levied to support its economy. With very little other economic activity, shaking down the local population for "taxes" can work only for so long until people are bled dry.

The Islamic State also lost several key leaders, including its emir (governor) for Kirkuk, the head of military operations in Iraq, and al-Baghdadi's deputy, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, a former lieutenant colonel in Iraqi special operations. While the group had some success in recruiting foreign fighters, replacing al-Turkmani, a savvy and seasoned military man with on-the-ground fighting experience, will prove difficult.

While the Islamic State will attempt to celebrate such deaths as martyrdoms, these losses, when combined with the loss of territory on the battlefield and financial hardship, will nonetheless work to undermine the carefully crafted claim that the Islamic State is a divinely favored and inexorable force.

There will be no huge surge of U.S. combat troops into Iraq to combat the Islamic State as there was the last time it established a jihadist polity in Iraq. Instead, the fighting will be done by Iraqi troops, from the national army, the Shiite militias and the Kurdish peshmerga. Because of this, it will take longer to push the Islamic State out of cities such as Mosul, especially if Islamic State fighters choose to dig in and fight to the end rather than flee. However, once its lines of communication are cut and coalition airstrikes have hampered its ability to mass forces, the Islamic State will find it very difficult to retain the caliphate it has conquered.