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Sunday, January 30, 2011

25 years murder-free in 'Gun Town USA'

A bit of a paradox...you have gun free zones and people get killed...you have fun requried areas and it's peaceful...I wonder if there is a connection...

From World Net Daily...from 07, just after Virginia Tech.


25 years murder-free in 'Gun Town USA'

Crime rate plummeted after law required firearms for residents

As the nation debates whether more guns or fewer can prevent tragedies like the Virginia Tech Massacre, a notable anniversary passed last month in a Georgia town that witnessed a dramatic plunge in crime and violence after mandating residents to own firearms.

In March 1982, 25 years ago, the small town of Kennesaw – responding to a handgun ban in Morton Grove, Ill. – unanimously passed an ordinance requiring each head of household to own and maintain a gun. Since then, despite dire predictions of "Wild West" showdowns and increased violence and accidents, not a single resident has been involved in a fatal shooting – as a victim, attacker or defender.

The crime rate initially plummeted for several years after the passage of the ordinance, with the 2005 per capita crime rate actually significantly lower than it was in 1981, the year before passage of the law.

Prior to enactment of the law, Kennesaw had a population of just 5,242 but a crime rate significantly higher (4,332 per 100,000) than the national average (3,899 per 100,000). The latest statistics available – for the year 2005 – show the rate at 2,027 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the population has skyrocketed to 28,189.

...This was not what some predicted.

In a column titled "Gun Town USA," Art Buchwald suggested Kennesaw would soon become a place where routine disagreements between neighbors would be settled in shootouts. The Washington Post mocked Kennesaw as "the brave little city … soon to be pistol-packing capital of the world." Phil Donahue invited the mayor on his show.
You admit Phil Donahue is opposed to this...like his opinion is supporting your position.

...Virginia Tech, like many of the nation's schools and college campuses, is a so-called "gun-free zone," which Second Amendment supporters say invites gun violence – especially from disturbed individuals seeking to kill as many victims as possible.

Cho Seung-Hui murdered 32 and wounded another 15 before turning his gun on himself.
I can see being a gun free zone really stopped this...but the problem is they are not focusing on the real issue. Let's just outlaw murder. If all it takes is a law that should handle it.

What's going on in the World Today 110130

Sorry it's been a while...hell of a last few days...hope you had a great weekend..

U.S. Naval Update Map: Jan. 26, 2011 | STRATFOR

NATO: Missile Defense Capability Announced January 27, 2011

NATO announced the development of a system capable of linking various nations’ anti-missile weapons to defend soldiers in the field, DPA reported Jan. 27. The theater ballistic missile defense (TBMD) capability was handed over to NATO military commanders in Uedem, Germany, after NATO technicians successfully computer-tested a software system that linked anti-missile systems from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States. The TBMD system was awarded interim capability, which allows commanders to do limited missile defense planning and swap information with national ballistic missile defense assets.

U.K.: 5 Cyber Activists Arrested January 27, 2011

British police, in conjunction with U.S. and European law enforcement agencies, arrested a 20-year-old man and a 26 year-old-man for their involvement in “distributed denial of service” attacks by Anonymous, a group of cyber activists, U.K. World News reported Jan. 27. Police also arrested three boys, ages 15, 16 and 19. The arrests were made in London and other parts of the England.


China: Egypt Blocked From Internet Searches January 30, 2011

China blocked the word “Egypt” from micro-blog internet searches including web portal sites Sina.com and Sohu.com which are comparable to Twitter, Reuters reported Jan. 30. Search results for “Egypt” said the resulting page could not be found or displayed according to regulations. The move shows the Chinese government is concerned that anti-government protests calling for reforms could spill into China’s internet space.

China Security Memo: Jan. 26, 2011 | STRATFOR
Russia: NATO To Stage Joint Anti-Missile Defense In 2011 January 28, 2011

Russia and NATO could stage joint anti-missile defense (AMD) drills in late 2011 or early 2012, Interfax reported Jan. 28. According to NATO’s information bureau chief in Moscow Robert Pszczel, an agreement on AMD cooperation has been reached and preparations for large-scale exercises are expected to last several months.

Russia: Submarine To Be Deployed January 21, 2011

The Russian Black Sea Fleet’s submarine, the Alrosa will undertake its first deployment in the Mediterranean Sea for three months, according to a military-diplomatic source, Interfax reported Jan. 21. The Alrosa will surface to pass through the Bosphorus in summer, however, this has not been completely settled with Turkish authorities, the source said, adding, the Alrosa will be accompanied by a group of ships in charge of anti-submarine defense and air defense.

Agenda: With George Friedman on Egypt | STRATFOR

Intelligence Guidance: Mubarak and the Egyptian Military | STRATFOR

The Egyptian Unrest: A Special Report | STRATFOR

Internal Security Forces Creating Problems for Egypt's Army | STRATFOR

Egypt: 3,000 Prisoners Arrested January 30, 2011

Egyptian security forces have arrested 3,113 prisoners that had been freed by protesters during unrest in the country, QNA reported Jan. 31.

Egypt: Gaza Border Closed January 30, 2011

Egypt closed its border with the Palestinian militant group Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, according to Gaza Palestinian border official Ghazi Hamad, AP reported Jan. 30. The border terminal at Rafah had been expected to reopen Jan. 30 following the routine two-day weekend closure. Hamad said he expects the closure to last several more days.

Egypt: Palestinian Prisoners Arrive In Gaza January 30, 2011

Palestinian prisoners who escaped during the riots from the Abu Zabaal prison in Egypt arrived in the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian sources who quoted a prisoner who reached his home in the al Bureij refugee camp, YNet News reported Jan. 30. According to the prisoner, Egyptian security forces killed all the political prisoners detained in the prison.

Egypt: Families Of Wealthy Businessmen Reportedly Leave Country January 29, 2011

A Cairo airport official said 19 private jets took off from the airport, carrying the families of wealthy Egyptian and Arab businessmen, Business Week reported. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the planes left Saturday and most were headed for Dubai. The passengers included relatives of Hussein Salem, a hotel tycoon and close friend of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and relatives of Naguib Sawiris, the executive chairman of Orascom Telecom.

Egypt: Mubarak's Sons Reportedly In U.K. January 29, 2011

Rumors are circulating that Mubarak’s sons, Gamal, All and Jamal arrived in London on Jan. 29 with their families and are moving from house to house under tight security, according to Arab diplomatic sources.

Egypt: April 6 Movement Calls For General Strike January 30, 2011

Members of Egypt’s pro-democracy April 6 movement called on Egyptians to begin a general strike on Jan. 30 that would last until the demands of the people are met, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. Speaking during a press conference, the group also said it was trying to persuade the army to side with the people. April 6 leader Ahmed Maher announced his group’s rejection of President Hosni Mubarak’s Jan. 28 speech, calling it the same repeated nonsense they have heard for the past 30 years. The group urged all Egyptians to continue the uprising until Mubarak steps down. In addition, Maher blamed the country’s security forces for the vandalism and theft seen in Cairo because they released thugs and convicts from prisons to terrorize the populace.

Egypt: 34 MB Members Walk Out Of Prison January 30, 2011

Around 34 members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), including leaders Essam el-Aryan and Saad el-Katatni, walked out of Wadi Natrun prison north of Cairo unhindered Jan. 30 after guards abandoned their posts during anti-government protests, a lawyer for one of the escapees said in an interview with AFP, Reuters reported. The escapees had been arrested Jan. 27 for their participation in the protests. A security source told AFP that several thousand inmates overwhelmed the guards during the night of Jan. 29. However, MB leader Mohammed Mursi told Al Jazeera that the members of his group did not escape as the doors of the prison were opened by the residents.

Egypt: Opposition Figure Says He Will Support ElBaradei January 30, 2011

In an interview with Al Jazeera television, Ayman Nour, a political opponent of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who spent more than three years in jail, said he and his allies have agreed to cooperate with Mohamed ElBaradei and the movement against Mubarak, BBC News reported Jan. 30. According to Nour, he and his allies will not conduct negotiations with the government; rather, they will conduct negotiations with the Egyptian military to seek assistance in their cause.

Egypt: Funerals Turn Into Protests In Alexandria January 30, 2011

Funerals for the victims of violent demonstrations in Egypt have turned into protests in the city of Alexandria, where several police stations have already been set on fire, Al Jazeera reported Jan. 30. Protesters are also defying the nationwide curfew.


Iraq: France Offers To Sell Mirage Fighter Jets January 27, 2011

France offered to sell 18 Mirage fighter jets to Iraq for 733 million euros ($1 billion), AFP reported Jan. 27. Deliveries of the Mirage F1 retrofitted jets could begin in late 2011, and the aircraft would be immediately operational since Iraqi pilots have been trained on them, the French ambassador said. Because of the price, the Mirage deal would not affect a deal currently being negotiated between the United States and Iraq for F-16 fighter jets, he added.

Israel: Change In Egypt Would Force IDF Shift - Source January 28, 2011

A fundamental shift in Egypt’s government could force a “revolution in Israel’s security doctrine,” an unnamed defense official said, Ynet reported Jan. 28. The official emphasized that the peace treaty with Egypt is an important strategic asset, allowing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to focus elsewhere. The IDF would need to allocate major resources to devote attention to the Egyptian front as well, the source said. This would not mean that Egypt is immediately an enemy country, but the IDF’s attention would need to shift, the source added.

Israel: Controlled Explosion At IDF Testing Site January 27, 2011

The Geophysical Institute of Israel carried out a controlled explosion of 100 tons of explosives at the ground forces testing site of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the Negev, Harretz reported Jan. 27. The test allowed the institute to calibrate the instruments of seismic stations that monitor nuclear testing throughout the world.

Afghanistan: Deputy Provincial Governor Killed January 28, 2011

The deputy provincial governor of Kandahar, south Afghanistan, was killed by a roadside explosive device, according to sources, Al Jazeera reported Jan. 29. Several bodyguards were also killed, sources said.

Afghanistan: Delegation Leaves For Iran January 28, 2011

An Afghan delegation led by Finance Minister Omar Zakhelwal and representatives from the Ministry of Economy and the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries left for Iran on Jan. 28, Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency reported. The visit is to discuss an agreement reached recently with Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan, who reportedly promised a solution to a fuel tanker blockade affecting fuel shipments from Iran to Afghanistan.


U.S. Missionary Killed in Mexico | STRATFOR

Mexico: Soldiers Seize Record Amount Of Opium January 21, 2011

Mexican soldiers confiscated 245 kilos (540 pounds) of opium from a home in the town of Chilpancingo in Guerrero state, AFP reported Jan. 21, citing the Secretariat of National Defense.


AQAP: Inspiring Jihadists During Times of Failure and Defeat

Except where noted courtesy www.stratfor.com

Officer Down

Corrections Officer Casimiro Pomales
New York State Department of Correctional Services
End of Watch: Friday, January 28, 2011
Age: 52
Tour of Duty: 22 years, 6 months

Corrections Officer Casimiro Pomales was killed in an automobile accident as he and another officer transported an inmate to a medical appointment.

Officer Pomales was driving a prison van on the New York State Thruway, near Ulster, when it was sideswiped by another car. The impact caused the van to overturn. Officer Pomales, the other officer, and the inmate were transported to Kingston Hospital where Officer Pomales was pronounced dead.

Officer Pomales had served with the New York State Department of Correctional Services for over 22 years and was assigned to the Eastern Correctional Facility. He is survived by his wife and several grown children.

Rest in Peace Bro…We’ll Continue The Watch

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

The Moscow Attack and Airport Security January 27, 2011

By Scott Stewart

The Jan. 24 bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport killed 35 people and injured more than 160. The attack occurred at approximately 4:40 p.m. as passengers from several arriving international flights were leaving the airport after clearing immigration and customs. The attacker (or attackers; reports are still conflicting over whether the attack was conducted by a man or a man and a woman together) entered the international arrivals hall of the airport, a part of the facility that is outside the secure area and that is commonly packed with crowds of relatives and taxi and limo drivers waiting to meet travelers.

Once the attacker was in the midst of the waiting crowd and exiting passengers, the improvised explosive device that he (or she) carried was detonated. It is not clear at this point whether the device was command-detonated by the attacker as a traditional suicide bomb or if the device was remotely detonated by another person. The attack was most likely staged by Islamist militants from Russia’s Northern Caucasus region who have conducted a long series of attacks in Russia, including the Aug. 24, 2004, suicide bombings that destroyed two Russian airliners.

The Domodedovo attack serves as a striking illustration of several trends we have been following for years now, including the difficulty of preventing attacks against soft targets, the resourcefulness of militants in identifying such targets and the fixation militants have on aviation-related targets.

Soft Targets

By definition, soft targets are those targets that are vulnerable to attack due to the absence of adequate security. Adequate security may be absent for a number of reasons, including disregard for the threat and lack of competent forces to conduct security, but most often soft targets are “soft” because of the sheer number of potential targets that exist and the impossibility of protecting them all. Even totalitarian police states have not demonstrated the capability to protect everything, so it is quite understandable that more liberal democratic countries do not possess the ability to provide airtight security for every potential target.

Moreover, some measures required to provide airtight security for soft targets are often seen as intrusive by citizens of countries where personal freedom is valued and the financial cost associated with providing such security measures is often seen as excessive. There is an old security truism that states: “If you try to protect everything all the time you will protect nothing.” Because of this reality, policymakers must use intelligence gained from militant groups, along with techniques such as risk assessment and risk management, to help them decide how best to allocate their limited security resources. While this will help protect the targets the government deems most sensitive or valuable, it will also ensure that some things remain unprotected or under-protected. Those things become soft targets.

While most militants would prefer to attack traditional high-profile targets such as embassies and government buildings, those sites have become far more difficult to attack in the post-9/11 world. At the same time, the relentless pursuit of terrorist operatives by the United States and its allies has resulted in the degradation of the capabilities and reach of groups such as al Qaeda. Today the threat posed to the West stems primarily from grassroots militants and jihadist franchises rather than the al Qaeda core. While this has broadened the threat, it has also made it shallower, since grassroots operatives are far less capable of spectacular and strategic attacks than the professional terrorist cadre of the al Qaeda core.

The combination of increased security at hard targets and the reduced capabilities of militant operatives has resulted in militant planners shifting their targeting toward softer targets, which are easier to attack. As a result of this shift, targets such as hotels have replaced embassies and other hardened sites in militant target selection.

Generally, militants prefer to attack soft targets where there are large groups of people, that are symbolic and recognizable around the world and that will generate maximum media attention when attacked. Some past examples include the World Trade Center in New York, the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai and the London Underground. The militants’ hope is that if the target meets these criteria, terror magnifiers like the media will help the attackers produce a psychological impact that goes far beyond the immediate attack site — a process we refer to as “creating vicarious victims.” The best-case scenario for the attackers is that this psychological impact will also produce an adverse economic impact against the targeted government.

Unlike hard targets, which frequently require attackers to use large teams of operatives with elaborate attack plans or very large explosive devices in order to breach defenses, soft targets offer militant planners an advantage in that they can frequently be attacked by a single operative or small team using a simple attack plan. The failed May 1, 2010, attack against New York’s Times Square and the July 7, 2005, London Underground attacks are prime examples of this, as was the Jan. 24 attack at Domodedovo airport. Such attacks are relatively cheap and easy to conduct and can produce a considerable propaganda return for very little investment.

Shifting Fire

In Russia, militants from the Northern Caucasus have long attacked soft targets, including buses, trains, the Moscow Metro, hotels, a hospital, a theater, a rock concert, shopping centers, apartment buildings, a school and now the soft side of Domodedovo airport.

In the case of Domodedovo, the past two attacks involving the facility are a clear illustration of the process by which militants shift to softer targets in response to security improvements. In August 2004, Chechen militants were able to exploit lax security on the domestic side of Domodedovo in order to smuggle two suicide devices aboard two targeted aircraft, which they used to blow up the planes. In response to that attack, security at the airport was increased. The Jan. 24 Domodedovo attack seems to have confirmed the effectiveness of these security improvements — the militants apparently believed they could no longer smuggle their suicide device aboard an aircraft. However, they adjusted their targeting and decided to conduct an attack against a vulnerable soft spot — the arrivals hall — located in the midst of the hardened airport target.

From a tactical standpoint, the attack at Domodedovo was a logical response to increased security designed to keep explosives off aircraft. This attack also demonstrates, significantly, that the militants behind it maintained the intent to hit aviation-related targets, a fixation we have discussed for some time now. One reason for this fixation is the impact that aviation-related attacks have on terror magnifiers. This was seen in the international response to the Domodedovo attacks, which was much larger than the response to twin suicide bombings of the Moscow Metro in March 2010. Even though the Metro bombings produced more fatalities, they did not resonate with the international media as the airport attack did. This media response to the most recent Domodedovo attack was presumably enhanced by the fact that it killed several foreigners.

This difference in international reaction is significant, and will certainly be noted by militants planning future terrorist attacks. In all likelihood, it will also serve to solidify their fixation on aviation-related targets and on soft targets such as arrival halls that are located in the midst of harder aviation targets. It must be noted, however, that this concept is not altogether new: Militants have long targeted the soft area outside airports’ security hardlines. Ticket desks were attacked by the Abu Nidal Organization in Rome and Vienna in December 1985, and more recently the El Al ticket desk at Los Angeles International Airport was attacked by a gunman in July 2002 and an unsuccessful car bomb attack against the main entrance of the international airport in Glasgow, Scotland, was conducted by a grassroots jihadist in June 2007.

In the wake of the Domodedovo attack, security has been increased in the arrival halls of Russian airports — a step that has been instituted elsewhere in order to make the traveling public feel secure. However, such measures are costly and will tie up security personnel who will then be unavailable to protect other sites. Because of this, these measures will likely be short-lived, and airports will return to “normal” in a matter of months. Furthermore, even when security is increased in areas such as arrival halls, the very nature of airports dictates that there will always be areas outside the rings of security where people will congregate — either to meet travelers or as they wait to clear security screening. While the threat can be pushed away from the airport building, in other words, it cannot be completely alleviated. Because of this, there will always be soft areas that are impossible to protect using traditional security measures. However, facilities that employ non-traditional security measures like protective intelligence and countersurveillance will be able to protect this type of soft area far more effectively than facilities relying solely on physical security measures.

The bottom line for travelers and security managers is that plots to attack aviation-related targets will continue and the array of aviation-related soft targets such as ticket desks and arrival halls will remain vulnerable to attack. A persistent, low-level threat to these targets does not mean the sky is falling, but it should prompt travelers to take some simple steps that can help minimize the time spent on the soft side of the airport. And, as always, travelers should practice an appropriate level of situational awareness so they can see trouble developing and take measures to avoid it.
The Moscow Attack and Airport Security is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report January 30, 2011 | 2253 GMT

Protesters wave the Egyptian flag in downtown Cairo on Jan. 30

By George Friedman

It is not at all clear what will happen in the Egyptian revolution. It is not a surprise that this is happening. Hosni Mubarak has been president for more than a quarter of a century, ever since the assassination of Anwar Sadat. He is old and has been ill. No one expected him to live much longer, and his apparent plan, which was that he would be replaced by his son, Gamal, was not going to happen even though it was a possibility a year ago. There was no one, save his closest business associates, who wanted to see Mubarak’s succession plans happen. As his father weakened, Gamal’s succession became even less likely. Mubarak’s failure to design a credible succession plan guaranteed instability on his death. Since everyone knew that there would be instability on his death, there were obviously those who saw little advantage to acting before he died. Who these people were and what they wanted is the issue.

Let’s begin by considering the regime. In 1952, Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a military coup that displaced the Egyptian monarchy, civilian officers in the military, and British influence in Egypt. Nasser created a government based on military power as the major stabilizing and progressive force in Egypt. His revolution was secular and socialist. In short, it was a statist regime dominated by the military. On Nasser’s death, Anwar Sadat replaced him. On Sadat’s assassination, Hosni Mubarak replaced him. Both of these men came from the military as Nasser did. However their foreign policy might have differed from Nasser’s, the regime remained intact.
Mubarak’s Opponents

The demands for Mubarak’s resignation come from many quarters, including from members of the regime — particularly the military — who regard Mubarak’s unwillingness to permit them to dictate the succession as endangering the regime. For some of them, the demonstrations represent both a threat and opportunity. Obviously, the demonstrations might get out of hand and destroy the regime. On the other hand, the demonstrations might be enough to force Mubarak to resign, allow a replacement — for example, Omar Suleiman, the head of intelligence who Mubarak recently appointed vice president — and thereby save the regime. This is not to say that they fomented the demonstrations, but some must have seen the demonstrations as an opportunity.

This is particularly the case in the sense that the demonstrators are deeply divided among themselves and thus far do not appear to have been able to generate the type of mass movement that toppled the Shah of Iran’s regime in 1979. More important, the demonstrators are clearly united in opposing Mubarak as an individual, and to a large extent united in opposing the regime. Beyond that, there is a deep divide in the opposition.

Western media has read the uprising as a demand for Western-style liberal democracy. Many certainly are demanding that. What is not clear is that this is moving Egypt’s peasants, workers and merchant class to rise en masse. Their interests have far more to do with the state of the Egyptian economy than with the principles of liberal democracy. As in Iran in 2009, the democratic revolution, if focused on democrats, cannot triumph unless it generates broader support.

The other element in this uprising is the Muslim Brotherhood. The consensus of most observers is that the Muslim Brotherhood at this point is no longer a radical movement and is too weak to influence the revolution. This may be possible, but it is not obvious. The Muslim Brotherhood has many strands, many of which have been quiet under Mubarak’s repression. It is not clear who will emerge if Mubarak falls. It is certainly not clear that they are weaker than the democratic demonstrators. It is a mistake to confuse the Muslim Brotherhood’s caution with weakness. Another way to look at them is that they have bided their time and toned down their real views, waiting for the kind of moment provided by Mubarak’s succession. I would suspect that the Muslim Brotherhood has more potential influence among the Egyptian masses than the Western-oriented demonstrators or Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is emerging as their leader.

There is, of course, the usual discussion of what U.S. President Barack Obama’s view is, or what the Europeans think, or what the Iranians are up to. All of them undoubtedly have thoughts and even plans. In my view, trying to shape the political dynamics of a country like Egypt from Iran or the United States is futile, and believing that what is happening in Egypt is the result of their conspiracies is nonsense. A lot of people care what is happening there, and a lot of people are saying all sorts of things and even spending money on spies and Twitter. Egypt’s regime can be influenced in this way, but a revolution really doesn’t depend on what the European Union or Tehran says.

There are four outcomes possible. First, the regime might survive. Mubarak might stabilize the situation, or more likely, another senior military official would replace him after a decent interval. Another possibility under the scenario of the regime’s survival is that there may be a coup of the colonels, as we discussed yesterday. A second possibility is that the demonstrators might force elections in which ElBaradei or someone like him could be elected and Egypt might overthrow the statist model built by Nasser and proceed on the path of democracy. The third possibility is that the demonstrators force elections, which the Muslim Brotherhood could win and move forward with an Islamist-oriented agenda. The fourth possibility is that Egypt will sink into political chaos. The most likely path to this would be elections that result in political gridlock in which a viable candidate cannot be elected. If I were forced to choose, I would bet on the regime stabilizing itself and Mubarak leaving because of the relative weakness and division of the demonstrators. But that’s a guess and not a forecast.

Geopolitical Significance

Whatever happens matters a great deal to Egyptians. But only some of these outcomes are significant to the world. Among radical Islamists, the prospect of a radicalized Egypt represents a new lease on life. For Iran, such an outcome would be less pleasing. Iran is now the emerging center of radical Islamism; it would not welcome competition from Egypt, though it may be content with an Islamist Egypt that acts as an Iranian ally (something that would not be easy to ensure).

For the United States, an Islamist Egypt would be a strategic catastrophe. Egypt is the center of gravity in the Arab world. This would not only change the dynamic of the Arab world, it would reverse U.S. strategy since the end of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Sadat’s decision to reverse his alliance with the Soviets and form an alliance with the United States undermined the Soviet position in the Mediterranean and in the Arab world and strengthened the United States immeasurably. The support of Egyptian intelligence after 9/11 was critical in blocking and undermining al Qaeda. Were Egypt to stop that cooperation or become hostile, the U.S. strategy would be severely undermined.

The great loser would be Israel. Israel’s national security has rested on its treaty with Egypt, signed by Menachem Begin with much criticism by the Israeli right. The demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula not only protected Israel’s southern front, it meant that the survival of Israel was no longer at stake. Israel fought three wars (1948, 1967 and 1973) where its very existence was at issue. The threat was always from Egypt, and without Egypt in the mix, no coalition of powers could threaten Israel (excluding the now-distant possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons). In all of the wars Israel fought after its treaty with Egypt (the 1982 and 2006 wars in Lebanon) Israeli interests, but not survival, were at stake.

If Egypt were to abrogate the Camp David Accords and over time reconstruct its military into an effective force, the existential threat to Israel that existed before the treaty was signed would re-emerge. This would not happen quickly, but Israel would have to deal with two realities. The first is that the Israeli military is not nearly large enough or strong enough to occupy and control Egypt. The second is that the development of Egypt’s military would impose substantial costs on Israel and limit its room for maneuver.

There is thus a scenario that would potentially strengthen the radical Islamists while putting the United States, Israel, and potentially even Iran at a disadvantage, all for different reasons. That scenario emerges only if two things happen. First, the Muslim Brotherhood must become a dominant political force in Egypt. Second, they must turn out to be more radical than most observers currently believe they are — or they must, with power, evolve into something more radical.

If the advocates for democracy win, and if they elect someone like ElBaradei, it is unlikely that this scenario would take place. The pro-Western democratic faction is primarily concerned with domestic issues, are themselves secular and would not want to return to the wartime state prior to Camp David, because that would simply strengthen the military. If they win power, the geopolitical arrangements would remain unchanged.

Similarly, the geopolitical arrangements would remain in place if the military regime retained power — save for one scenario. If it was decided that the regime’s unpopularity could be mitigated by assuming a more anti-Western and anti-Israeli policy — in other words, if the regime decided to play the Islamist card, the situation could evolve as a Muslim Brotherhood government would. Indeed, as hard as it is to imagine, there could be an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood designed to stabilize the regime. Stranger things have happened.
When we look at the political dynamic of Egypt, and try to imagine its connection to the international system, we can see that there are several scenarios under which certain political outcomes would have profound effects on the way the world works. That should not be surprising. When Egypt was a pro-Soviet Nasserite state, the world was a very different place than it had been before Nasser. When Sadat changed his foreign policy the world changed with it. If Sadat’s foreign policy changes, the world changes again. Egypt is one of those countries whose internal politics matter to more than its own citizens.
Most of the outcomes I envision leave Egypt pretty much where it is. But not all. The situation is, as they say, in doubt, and the outcome is not trivial.

copyright: www.stratfor.com

Who cares about the Middle East or repealing Obamacare...this is more important....

We may be running low on chocolate! NOOOOOOOOO

The world faces a chocolate ‘drought’ over the next few years, an expert warned yesterday.

Political unrest in the Ivory Coast, where 40 per cent of the world’s cocoa beans are grown, has ‘significantly’ depleted the number of certified fair trade cocoa farmers.

Many have fled the West ­African country, while fair trade training programmes have also come to a halt.

Fairtrade training programmes have ground to a halt because of the danger farmers face in rural areas.

The situation is already affecting chocolate manufacturers, who are facing the highest cocoa prices for over 30 years.

Prices jumped by 10 per cent this month alone. Analysts are predicting they could soon hit $3,720 per metric tonne - a level last seen in January 1979.

It follows a curb on international cocoa exports initiated earlier this week by the country's new president, Alassane Ouattara...

Yo Ouattara I don't care if it's fair or slave labor, I want my Hersey bar! WAAAAAAA

Red Alert: Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood January 29, 2011 | 1655 GMT

The following is a report from a STRATFOR source in Hamas. Hamas, which formed in Gaza as an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), has an interest in exaggerating its role and coordination with the MB in this crisis. The following information has not been confirmed. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of concern building in Israel and the United States in particular over the role of the MB in the demonstrations and whether a political opening will be made for the Islamist organization in Egypt.

The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party.

Security forces in plainclothes are engaged in destroying public property in order to give the impression that many protesters represent a public menace. The MB is meanwhile forming people’s committees to protect public property and also to coordinate demonstrators’ activities, including supplying them with food, beverages and first aid.
copyright www.stratfor.com

Egyptian Police Redeploying January 30, 2011 | 2240 GMT

Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Looters outside Abu Zaabel prison in Cairo on Jan. 30


Egypt’s internal security forces are reportedly redeploying across the country Jan. 30 after abandoning the streets the previous day in a demonstration, showing what chaos would ensue should they be undermined by the military. As the protests show early signs of dwindling, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, who have negotiated a stay in power so far, are likely betting that the protesters, who thus far have been unable to coalesce into a unified group, will clear the streets under pressure. However, serious potential for clashes remain, especially considering hostilities between the army and the police and between the police and protesters. The coming hours will thus tell whether Mubarak’s bet on the opposition was a wise one.

Egyptian Interior Minister Habib al-Adly reportedly ordered Egyptian police patrols to redeploy across Egypt during a Jan. 30 meeting with the commanders of the Central Security Forces (CSF) in Nasr city east of Cairo.
The decision to redeploy the internal security forces follows a major confrontation that has played out behind the scenes between the Interior Ministry and the military. The animosity between Egypt’s police and soldiers was amplified Jan. 28 when demonstrators overwhelmed the CSF and plainclothes police and the army stepped in to attempt to restore order.
Fearing that he and his forces were being sidelined, al-Adly was rumored to have ordered the police forces to stay home and leave it to the army to deal with the crisis. Meanwhile, multiple STRATFOR sources reported that many of the plainclothes policemen were involved in a number of the jailbreaks, robberies of major banks, and the spread of attacks and break-ins into high-class neighborhoods that occurred Jan. 29. In addition to allowing the police to blow off steam, the implicit message that the Interior Ministry was sending to the army through these actions was that the cost of undermining the internal security forces was a complete breakdown of law and order in the country that would in turn break the regime.

That message was apparently heard, and, according to STRATFOR sources, the Egyptian military and internal security forces have coordinated a crackdown for the hours ahead in an effort to clear the streets of the demonstrators. The interior minister has meanwhile negotiated his stay for the time being, in spite of widespread expectations that he, seen by many Egyptians as the source of police brutality in the country, would be one of the first ministers that would have to be sacked in order to quell the demonstrations. Instead, both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and al-Adly, the two main targets of ire for the demonstrators, seem to be betting that they can ride this crisis out and remain in power. So far, the military seems to be acquiescing to these decisions.

The real test for the opposition has thus arrived. In spite of a minor reshuffling of the Cabinet and the military reasserting its authority behind the scenes, Mubarak and al-Adly remain in power. The opposition is unified in its hatred against these individuals, yet divided on most everything else. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamist platform, for example, is very different from opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei’s secularist campaign, which explains why no one has been able to assume leadership of the demonstrations. In evaluating the situation on the streets, the regime appears willing to take a gamble that the opposition will not cohere into a meaningful threat and that an iron fist will succeed in putting down this uprising.

Within the next few hours, police and military officials are expected to redeploy in large numbers across major cities, with the CSF taking the first line of defense. Tensions are still running high between the internal security forces and the military, which could lead to serious clashes between the army and police on the streets. The size and scope of the protests appear to be dwindling into the low thousands, though there is still potential for the demonstrations to swell again after protesters rest themselves and wake up to the same government they have been trying to remove. Moreover, as the events of Jan. 28 and 29 illustrated, protesters are far more likely to clash with the CSF than with the military.

A deadly clash in front of the Interior Ministry Jan. 29 demonstrated the varying tensions between the protesters on one side and the military versus the police on the other. According to a STRATFOR source, Al-Adly was attempting to escape the Interior Ministry under heavy protective detail Jan. 29 when he came under attack. The CSF reportedly shot dead three protesters attempting to storm the building. Eyewitness reports later came out claiming that the army had to step in and set up a barrier between the protesters and the CSF to contain the crisis.

The demonstrators are still largely carrying with them the perception that the military is their gateway to a post-Mubarak Egypt and the CSF is representative of the regime they are trying to topple. It remains to be seen how much longer that perception of the military holds. A curfew in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez has been extended from 3 p.m. to 8 a.m. local time. In the hours ahead, it will become clearer whether the redeployment of the internal security forces will contribute to improving security and the government’s control or whether their presence will simply further stoke the flames.
Copyright: www.stratfor.com

Friday, January 28, 2011

Geopolitical Weekly : Obama's State of the Union and U.S. Foreign Policy January 25, 2011

By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver the State of the Union address tonight. The administration has let the media know that the focus of the speech will be on jobs and the economy. Given the strong showing of the Republicans in the last election, and the fact that they have defined domestic issues as the main battleground, Obama’s decision makes political sense. He will likely mention foreign issues and is undoubtedly devoting significant time to them, but the decision not to focus on foreign affairs in his State of the Union address gives the impression that the global situation is under control. Indeed, the Republican focus on domestic matters projects the same sense. Both sides create the danger that the public will be unprepared for some of the international crises that are already quite heated. We have discussed these issues in detail, but it is useful to step back and look at the state of the world for a moment.


The United States remains the most powerful nation in the world, both in the size of its economy and the size of its military. Nevertheless, it continues to have a singular focus on the region from Iraq to Pakistan. Obama argued during his campaign that President George W. Bush had committed the United States to the wrong war in Iraq and had neglected the important war in Afghanistan. After being elected, Obama continued the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq that began under the Bush administration while increasing troop levels in Afghanistan. He has also committed himself to concluding the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of this year. Now, it may be that the withdrawal will not be completed on that schedule, but the United States already has insufficient forces in Iraq to shape events very much, and a further drawdown will further degrade this ability. In war, force is not symbolic.

This poses a series of serious problems for the United States. First, the strategic goal of the United States in Afghanistan is to build an Afghan military and security force that can take over from the United States in the coming years, allowing the United States to withdraw from the country. In other words, as in Vietnam, the United States wants to create a pro-American regime with a loyal army to protect American interests in Afghanistan without the presence of U.S. forces. I mention Vietnam because, in essence, this is Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization program applied to Afghanistan. The task is to win the hearts and minds of the people, isolate the guerrillas and use the pro-American segments of the population to buttress the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and provide recruits for the military and security forces.

The essential problem with this strategy is that it wants to control the outcome of the war while simultaneously withdrawing from it. For that to happen, the United States must persuade the Afghan people (who are hardly a single, united entity) that committing to the United States is a rational choice when the U.S. goal is to leave. The Afghans must first find the Americans more attractive than the Taliban. Second, they must be prepared to shoulder the substantial risks and burdens the Americans want to abandon. And third, the Afghans must be prepared to engage the Taliban and defeat them or endure the consequences of their own defeat.

Given that there is minimal evidence that the United States is winning hearts and minds in meaningful numbers, the rest of the analysis becomes relatively unimportant. But the point is that NATO has nearly 150,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan, the U.S. president has pledged to begin withdrawals this year, beginning in July, and all the Taliban have to do is not lose in order to win. There does not have to be a defining, critical moment for the United States to face defeat. Rather, the defeat lurks in the extended inability to force the Taliban to halt operations and in the limits on the amount of force available to the United States to throw into the war. The United States can fight as long as it chooses. It has that much power. What it seems to lack is the power to force the enemy to capitulate.


In the meantime, the wrong war, Iraq, shows signs of crisis or, more precisely, crisis in the context of Iran. The United States is committed to withdrawing its forces from Iraq by the end of 2011. This has two immediate consequences. First, it increases Iranian influence in Iraq simply by creating a vacuum the Iraqis themselves cannot fill. Second, it escalates Iranian regional power. The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq without a strong Iraqi government and military will create a crisis of confidence on the Arabian Peninsula. The Saudis, in particular, unable to match Iranian power and doubtful of American will to resist Iran, will be increasingly pressured, out of necessity, to find a political accommodation with Iran. The Iranians do not have to invade anyone to change the regional balance of power decisively.
In the extreme, but not unimaginable, case that Iran turns Iraq into a satellite, Iranian power would be brought to the borders of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria and would extend Iran’s border with Turkey. Certainly, the United States could deal with Iran, but having completed its withdrawal from Iraq, it is difficult to imagine the United States rushing forces back in. Given the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan, it is difficult to see what ground forces would be available.

The withdrawal from Iraq creates a major crisis in 2011. If it is completed, Iran’s power will be enhanced. If it is aborted, the United States will have roughly 50,000 troops, most in training and support modes and few deployed in a combat mode, and the decision of whether to resume combat will be in the hands of the Iranians and their Iraqi surrogates. Since 170,000 troops were insufficient to pacify Iraq in the first place, sending in more troops makes little sense. As in Afghanistan, the U.S. has limited ground forces in reserve. It can build a force that blocks Iran militarily, but it will also be a force vulnerable to insurgent tactics — a force deployed without a terminal date, possibly absorbing casualties from Iranian-backed forces.


If the United States is prepared to complete the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011, it must deal with Iran prior to the withdrawal. The two choices are a massive air campaign to attempt to cripple Iran or a negotiated understanding with Iran. The former involves profound intelligence uncertainties and might fail, while the latter might not be attractive to the Iranians. They are quite content seeing the United States leave. The reason the Iranians are so intransigent is not that they are crazy. It is that they think they hold all the cards and that time is on their side. The nuclear issue is hardly what concerns them.

The difference between Afghanistan and Iraq is that a wrenching crisis can be averted in Afghanistan simply by continuing to do what the United States is already doing. By continuing to do what it is doing in Iraq, the United States inevitably heads into a crisis as the troop level is drawn down.

Obama’s strategy appears to be to continue to carry out operations in Afghanistan, continue to withdraw from Iraq and attempt to deal with Iran through sanctions. This is an attractive strategy if it works. But the argument I am making is that the Afghan strategy can avoid collapse but not with a high probability of success. I am also extremely dubious that sanctions will force a change of course in Iran. For one thing, their effectiveness depends on the actual cooperation of Russia and China (as well as the Europeans). Sufficient exceptions have been given by the Obama administration to American companies doing business with Iran that others will feel free to act in their own self-interest.

But more than that, sanctions can unify a country. The expectations that some had about the Green Revolution of 2009 have been smashed, or at least should have been. We doubt that there is massive unhappiness with the regime waiting to explode, and we see no signs that the regime can’t cope with existing threats. The sanctions even provide Iran with cover for economic austerity while labeling resistance unpatriotic. As I have argued before, sanctions are an alternative to a solution, making it appear that something is being done when in fact nothing is happening.

There are numerous other issues Obama could address, ranging from Israel to Mexico to Russia. But, in a way, there is no point. Until the United States frees up forces and bandwidth and reduces the dangers in the war zones, it will lack the resources — intellectual and material — to deal with these other countries. It is impossible to be the single global power and focus only on one region, yet it is also impossible to focus on the world while most of the fires are burning in a single region. This, more than any other reason, is why Obama must conclude these conflicts, or at least create a situation where these conflicts exist in the broader context of American interests. There are multiple solutions, all with significant risks. Standing pat is the riskiest.

Domestic Issues

There is a parallel between Obama’s foreign policy problems and his domestic policy problems. Domestically, Obama is trapped by the financial crisis and the resulting economic problems, particularly unemployment. He cannot deal with other issues until he deals with that one. There are a host of foreign policy issues, including the broader question of the general approach Obama wants to take toward the world. The United States is involved in two wars with an incipient crisis in Iran. Nothing else can be addressed until those wars are dealt with.

The decision to focus on domestic issues makes political sense. It also makes sense in a broader way. Obama does not yet have a coherent strategy stretching from Iraq to Afghanistan. Certainly, he inherited the wars, but they are now his. The Afghan war has no clear endpoint, while the Iraq war does have a clear endpoint — but it is one that is enormously dangerous.

It is unlikely that he will be able to avoid some major foreign policy decisions in the coming year. It is also unlikely that he has a clear path. There are no clear paths, and he is going to have to hack his way to solutions. But the current situation does not easily extend past this year, particularly in Iraq and Iran, and they both require decisions. Presidents prefer not making decisions, and Obama has followed that tradition. Presidents understand that most problems in foreign affairs take care of themselves. But some of the most important ones don’t. The Iraq-Iran issue is, I think, one of those, and given the reduction of U.S. troops in 2011, this is the year decisions will have to be made.

This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's going on in the World Today 110126


USARussia: U.S. To Buy Helicopters January 21, 2011

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Contracting Center said in a Jan. 13 statement it would award an exclusive contract to the Russian company, Rosoboronexport, for the purchase of 21 Mi-17 helicopters, adding “This item is restricted to Rosoboronexport.” Sources familiar with the details confirmed that tool kits, spare parts and testing were included in the deal.

France, Russia: Details On Helicopter Carrier Construction Agreement January 25, 2011

Following an agreement between Russia and France, Russian United Shipbuilding Corporation President Roman Trotsenko said 20 percent of the first Mistral class helicopter carrier’s construction will be based in Russia, Interfax reported Jan. 24. Afterward, 40 percent of the second carrier’s construction will be based in Russia; 60 percent of the third carrier’s construction will be based in Russia; and 80 percent of the fourth carrier’s construction will be based in Russia. Trotsenko also said he hopes to sign a contract for this construction by April 30. Each helicopter carrier will cost less than 600 million euros ($815.9 million).

Pakistan: Intelligence Reveals Suicide Attack Plans January 26, 2011
Suicide attacks have reportedly been planned on high value targets across Pakistan, including the Iranian embassy, ministers, chief ministers, and prominent Shia leaders, according to two separate intelligence agencies, The Express Tribune reported Jan. 26. Sirajuddin Haqqani (Pakistani Taliban leader), Jundallah (Iranian militants), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Pakistani militants) and Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami (Kashmiri militants) have reportedly united to carrying out potential attacks, and a joint secret meeting was held in the Kashmiri capital of Muzaffarabad on Jan. 5, 2011 at the residence of Chhota Ilyas to form three groups of suicide bombers, 13 commanded by Hafiz Leiq, 11 led by Hafiz Khursheed while seven suicide bombers will be with Bashir Alam. Another intelligence agency said six bombers have been assigned the task of assassinating three chief ministers and their immediate families. Reports also said Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami chief Qari Saifullah entered Punjab province with two accomplices, Mir Murttaza and ‘Doctor,’ with the intent to attack Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s convoy in south Punjab using an explosive-packed vehicle.

Iran, Pakistan: Taftan Border Crossing Reopened January 26, 2011
Iran has reopened the “zero-point” at the Taftan border crossing after a formal ceremony, Associated Press of Pakistan reported Jan. 26. The crossing, located along the Pakistani border, had been closed since July 15, 2010, following a deadly blast in Iran’s Sistan province

Iran: Comprehensive Air Defense Plan To Be Implemented January 26, 2011

Commander of the Iranian army Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi said on Jan. 26 that Iran is ready to implement a comprehensive air defense plan to protect the country’s entire airspace, Fars News Agency reported. He said the five-year plan was drawn by the Air Defense Base and completed in the General Staff of the Armed Forces; it will be put into action once approved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Salehi said.

Iran: Construction Continues On Qom Nuclear Facility January 25, 2011

Construction on Iran’s Qom nuclear facility continues, and the facility will be filled with centrifuges in 2011, Israeli Military Intelligence head Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said, the Jerusalem Post reported Jan. 25. The Bushehr facility is active for civil capabilities and has a symbolic status, Kochavi said, and it can create useful materials with technical expertise. Iran will have a nuclear weapon a year or two after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad orders enrichment to 90 percent, Kochavi said, adding that it would be several more years before a nuclear missile would be built. Tehran does not plan to press ahead with enrichment in 2011 because of instability and religious tension; Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei knows that breaking the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would open the country to a military strike, Kochavi said.

Iraq: Significant Natural Gas Field Discovered January 26, 2011

Heritage Oil Plc announced the discovery of the largest natural gas field in Iraq in more than 30 years, Bloomberg reported Jan. 26. The Miran West-2 well in the Kurdistan region uncovered a geologic structure that may hold up to 12.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 75 million barrels of oil, according to Heritage.

Israel: Sanctions Not Affecting Iranian Nuclear Program - Official January 25, 2011

Israeli military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kohavi on Jan. 25 said sanctions imposed on Iran have not harmed the country’s nuclear program or its military, The Jerusalem Post reported. The regime currently maintains its strength despite the sanctions, Kohavi said. However, the sanctions have imposed an economic burden on Iran, as Tehran can only afford to supply its citizenry with 25 percent of its available gasoline. Though Iran has raised 600 million shekel ($166 million) through gasoline subsidy cuts, it has yet to make up for the losses caused by sanctions, Kohavi added.

A Week in the War: Afghanistan, Jan. 19-25, 2011 | STRATFOR

U.S.: Afghan Security Forces May Be Expanded January 25, 2011

The United States may expand Afghan security forces by nearly 70,000 above the 306,000 Afghan police and military set to be trained and equipped by 2012, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin stated after a trip to Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq, AFP reported Jan. 25. U.S. President Barack Obama may announce the decision in the next few days, Levin said. Pakistan may not want to see a larger Afghan army, Levin stated, adding that if Pakistanis want the Afghans to take greater responsibility on their side of the border, then Pakistan should not object to increased Afghan security forces


Mexico's La Familia Cartel Disbands | STRATFOR
Above the Tearline: The Challenges of Investigating Terrorist Attacks | STRATFOR

Mexico: Los Zetas Regional Leader Killed In Nuevo Leon State January 25, 2011

The Mexican Defense Ministry announced Jan. 25 one of the main regional leaders of Los Zetas drug-trafficking organization was shot and killed in Nuevo Leon state during a series of clashes with Mexican soldiers, BNO News reported. The leader, known as “Comandante Lino,” was killed in Escobedo municipality, along with two others Los Zetas members.

Mexico: Cartel Announces That It Is Disbanding January 25, 2011

La Familia announced that is disbanding in Michoacan state, Mexico, because it has been “unjustly blamed,” Reforma.com reported Jan. 25. It called for Mexican President Felipe Calderon to investigate members of his Cabinet, including Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, for giving him bad advice. The cartel said it has fought rapists and kidnappers in recent years. Banners appeared early Jan. 25 in Patzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan, Quiroga, Santa Clara del Cobre and Apatzingan. The government had not issued a statement, although the banners were being removed almost immediately after they appeared.

Except where noted courtesy www.stratfor.com

A Short History of the Tea Parties

One of my daily reads is The Morning Jolt from National Review Online. Today the author Jim Geraghty reviewed first the latest evidence of global warming, the over 12 inches of snow and it's effect on the roads around DC. But I found this story on the Tea Parties really interesting.

2. A Short History of the Tea Parties

Yesterday's D.C. meeting was spurred by a foreign lawmaker who wanted to get a sense of how the Tea Parties came about (with, I suspect, an interest in facilitating a similar movement in his home country). What follows is the gist of what I told him, from an unfinished article idea:

The modern incarnation of the Tea Parties is a spectacularly sober movement, inspired by animating spirits that seemed dormant for the better part of a generation.

For decades, conservatives watched large rallies in Washington for gay rights, opposition to Middle Eastern wars, the Million Man March, gun control, and dozens of other trendy lefty causes, and consoled themselves with the idea that the grassroots of the Right just weren't the kind of folks who attended big rallies. (Pro-lifers, with their annual March for Life held in bitter January weather, made a striking exception.) Unions often secure the day off for their members; college students and professors find it all too easy to skip or cancel class. If you didn't see the demographics that make up the GOP base -- small businessmen, parents, members of the military -- marching and waving signs, it's because they were too busy working for a living.

The libertarian magazine Reason has noted that Americans who subscribe to a socially liberal, fiscally conservative philosophy are the ideological demographic most likely to own jacuzzis and hot tubs. Couple this with a preference for individualism over broad-based group action, and one can quickly understand why you don't often see giant libertarian rallies: They're mostly at home having fun in their hot tubs. In fact, it takes a dire threat to their liberties to get them out of their hot tubs.

Enter the Obama administration.

Like most successes, at least a thousand figures are claiming fatherhood of the Tea Party phenomenon, but certainly a key moment came Feb. 19, 2009, from an unlikely source: CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli, who launched into an off-the-cuff rant when asked to evaluate the initial moves from the Obama administration to deal with a housing market that had plummeted. "The government is promoting bad behavior!" Santelli shouted, accusing the administration of a plan that amounted to "subsidizing the losers' mortgages."

"This is America!" Santelli shouted. "How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors' mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? . . . President Obama, are you listening?"

He articulated the concern that drove welfare reform, the most significant policy achievement of Bill Clinton's presidency: Government was taking from the responsible in order to save the irresponsible from the consequences of their own bad decisions. Americans are a charitable people, but they quickly anger when they suspect they're being played for a sucker.

The first national "Tea Party" day, held April 16, 2009, ran into the usual trouble; if you're trying to rally big crowds of squeezed and harried taxpayers, it's probably a mistake to hold the rally the day that federal taxes are due. But a Tea Party skeptic, liberal blogger Nate Silver, went through accounts of crowds from Denver (5,000) to Bound Brook, New Jersey (20) and came up with a minimum number of estimated attendees nationwide: 111,899, a number he granted was "reasonably impressive."

Listen to a discussion of the debt and deficit at a Tea Party meeting, and you won't hear a lot of numbers; instead, it is articulated as a moral issue, and a national moral failure. The spending spree of TARP and the stimulus -- and a deficit exacerbated by plummeting tax revenues -- is spurring Americans to look at the debt as a great horror inflicted upon their children and grandchildren. Occasionally, you'll hear a bit of denunciation of the Chinese holding American debt, but by and large this is seen as an American failure to practice thrift, impulse control, and responsibility -- or more specifically, American lawmakers' failure to do so.

It's fairly standard for a conservative lawmaker to encounter angry liberal crowds. But during the summer of 2009, as Congress took up a massive health-care bill after passing massive spending bills, Democrat lawmakers returned to their districts to find huge angry crowds turning out at their public meetings. Democrats had never seen anything like it: overflow crowds, angry chants, and in one case, a lawmaker hung in effigy. Inside-the-Beltway veterans like David Broder of the Washington Post predicted a backlash, but none arrived. Americans concluded if you want to enjoy the relatively pampered life of a congressman, you had better be ready to listen to a constituent tell you why you're doing such a lousy job. Democrats largely responded to the challenge by refusing to hold additional public meetings.

Coverage of the Tea Parties mostly focused on the inevitable odd character who dressed up in Revolutionary garb, or signs misspelled, or worse. Gather a large enough crowd, and some yahoo will express their opposition to the president in a distasteful or racist manner. Much more ubiquitous was the Gadsden flag, one of the first flags of the United States, which depicts a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike with the legend "Don't Tread on Me."

While the Tea Parties were being mocked, dismissed, and demonized, the ill omens for Obama piled up to an almost comical level: Republicans won two big governor's races in 2009; Scott Brown, a Republican, won the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy; higher turnout in Republican primaries through 2010, for the first time in 80 years; the Gallup poll showing the largest enthusiasm gap between the parties they had ever recorded.

Their impact is decisive, but not overwhelming. Democrats hung on in a few key Senate and governor's races, and a few traditional Democratic strongholds resisted the Republican wave. But even President Obama called the results "a shellacking."

"The impact of the Tea Party movement cannot be understated. The energy harnessed by the movement helped mobilize Americans to support Republican candidates, and more importantly go to the polls to vote against the higher-tax, big-government, anti-business Obama agenda," said a Washington Republican helping coordinate strategy for the lower house of Congress. "Their energy and support helped push the number of competitive races from the usual 30 or 40 to well past 100 and turned a wave election into a tsunami."

As Obama stumbles, liberals are beginning to realize that he is the last hope for their movement; they will not elect a more progressive, more popular, more charismatic president by a wider margin anytime soon, and they will never enjoy a more perfect political environment than they did in autumn 2008. By contrast, the Tea Parties are asymmetrical warfare applied to the political realm. Sarah Palin, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky are all key figures in the Tea Party movement, but none are irreplaceable. Unlike most powerful organizations in Washington, there is no one main phone number for the Tea Parties, an incomprehensible development to many Washington reporters. There are quite a few groups claiming to speak for the Tea Party movement -- FreedomWorks, the Tea Party Patriots, the Tea Party Express -- but in the end they're simply event organizers rather than directors. The whole point of this movement is that these people hate being told what to do.

Unlike the usual angry crowds of striking workers in France or pensioners in Greece, the Tea Party is the strange phenomenon of citizens demanding government spend less instead of more. For all of our flaws, Americans are waking up to the hard fact that when their government spends, they end up paying every cent, sooner or la ter.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sheriff Dupnik may be removed from office...a bit too late

Earlier this month I gave my opinion of the Sheriff of Pima County AZ and his official performance after the mass shooting in Tucson.
Sheriff Dupnik, during one of your screeches you mentioned you have been a law man for over 50 years, which means you were a cop years before I was born. And Sheriff Dupnik, from one cop to another, you are embarrassing me.

...I know you are an elected Democrat but you are either exploiting this mass murder to get yourself in the spotlight or you are clueless. I don’t know which is worse for the head of the Pima County Sheriff’s office of a million person community, but I know which one is more disgusting.

...I remind you sir you are the leader of you department. The officers of your department deserve better. Just solve the damned crime!

And I know I was not the only person thinking that…but at least there is a chance he can be held accountable for his actions.

...When National Review Online asked Pima County GOP chairman Brian Miller whether there was any doubt in his mind that Dupnik, a vocal liberal in a state with comparably few, had used his office to score political points in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, an almost incredulous Miller responded: “No doubt at all. It’s inarguable. It’s been videotaped.”

And now, Pima County Republicans are more determined than ever to do something about it. They’ve launched dumpsheriffdupnik.com, the virtual locus of a money-bomb that hopes to raise $100,000 to oust the 30-year, seven-term incumbent...

As of day one they've raised a little over 1000...it's a start. Next paycheck I will send in something to rid us of this disgrace to the badge.

Officer Down

Officer David Moore
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
End of Watch: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Age: 29
Tour of Duty: 6 years

Officer David Moore succumbed to gunshot wounds suffered three days earlier while making a traffic stop near 3400 North Temple Avenue.

As Officer Moore approached the car at approximately 9:00 am, he was shot four times by the driver who fled the scene. A passer-by called 911 to report that an officer was down. Officer Moore, who was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, was shot in the chest, the left thigh and twice in his face. He was taken to Wishard Memorial Hospital where he remained in a coma until being taken off life support and his organs were donated.

A 60-year-old parolee was arrested later that evening and is being held on unrelated armed robbery charges.

Officer Moore had served with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for six years and was assigned to the North District. He is survived by his parents. His mother currently serves as a sergeant and his father retired as a lieutenant with the department.

Rest in Peace Bro…We’ll Continue The Watch

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A bit of a vent on more political correctness

My friend Darren at RotLC alerted me about the enlightened and tolerant Canadians banning the song Money for Nothing by Dire Straits because of this line:

The little faggot with the earring and the makeup.
Yeah, buddy, that's his own hair.
That little faggot's got his own jet airplane.
That little faggot he's a millionaire".

It's inappropriate to use the term faggot for homosexuals according to the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council. OK. Now I wonder if this song is a really not up to standards:

I got my black shirt on.
I got my black gloves on.
I got my ski mask on.
This s***'s been too long.

I got my twelve gauge sawed off.
I got my headlights turned off.
I'm 'bout to bust some shots off.
I'm 'bout to dust some cops off.

Cop killer, better you than me.
Cop killer, f**k police brutality!
Cop killer, I know your family's grievin' (f**k 'em)
Cop killer, but tonight we get even.

Cop Killer from the artist Ice T

Or this great music entitled In Da Club from Half Dollar...err 50 Cent

When I pull out up front, you see the Benz on dubs
When I roll 20 deep, it's 20 knives in the club
Niggas heard I f*** with Dre, now they wanna show me love
When you sell like Eminem, and the hoes they wanna f***
But homie ain't nothing change hold down, G's up
I see Xzibit in the Cutt that nigga roll that weed up
If you watch how I move you'll mistake me for a playa or pimp
Been hit wit a few shells but I dont walk wit a limp
In the hood then the ladies saying "50 you hot"
They like me, I want them to love me like they love 'Pac
But holla in New York them niggas'll tell ya im loco
And the plan is to put the rap game in a choke hold
I'm feelin' focused man, my money on my mind
I got a mill out the deal and I'm still on the grind
Now shawty said she feeling my style, she feeling my flow
Her girlfriend wanna get bi and they ready to go

My flow, my show brought me the doe
That bought me all my fancy things
My crib, my cars, my pools, my jewels
Look nigga I got K-Mart and I ain't change

I wonder if the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council or any of the other alphabet soup groups funded by the Canadian taxpayer find offense of the word "nigger" in the classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Oh wait, they don't have to be offended anymore...they can you use the new version that uses slave instead (and doesn't use Injun for American Indians...hey people don't get upset...I don't want to offend the AIM).

I got the vent when I was driving in and I heard on 107.5 FM in Houston and they started playing Money for Nothing...but when they came to the offensive line they just cut it out...the cleaned version is:
The little ______ with the earring and the makeup.
Yeah, buddy, that's his own hair.
That little ______'s got his own jet airplane.
That little ______ he's a millionaire".

A term falls from accepted use we just eliminate it or ban it. For those of you who have read it, 1984 had similar items where pictures of people who had fallen from favor would be redoctored to eliminate the man. I guess this is the modern equivalent. I've often said out loud Mel Brooks could not make Blazing Saddles or History of the World today...and I recall when script writers were first working on adapting the novel The Hunt for Red October there were issues...how to write in a women into a pretty much all male story. It's kinda ironic that these idiots from Hollyweird who like to call themselves independent and free thinkers who like to push the envelope. Only certain envelopes are allowed to be pushed.

George Orwell wrote 1984 in large part as a warning...I pray it's not too late...and I hope it doesn't get rewritten like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn..

What's going on in the World Today 110124


January 17, Boston Globe – (National) 1b effort yields no bioterror defenses. The Pentagon is scaling back one of its largest efforts to develop treatments for troops and civilians infected in a germ warfare attack after a $1 billion, five-year program fell short of its primary goal. Researchers were unable to break through the limitations of genetic science, according to government officials and specialists in biological terrorism. The Pentagon’s next $1 billion for the Transformational Medical Technologies program will focus on better ways to identify mutant versions of Ebola, Marburg, and other deadly viruses. Those are among the genetically modified agents that officials fear could be used by terrorists or rogue states against urban or military targets. The continued flow of money, even with the shift in strategy, should help states retain jobs and research labs focused on this arena. The new strategy represents a return to the drawing board for an ambitious program conceived after the mailing of anthrax to members of Congress and media organizations. Scientists initially set out to develop new medicines capable of attacking viruses that might be altered by terrorists to make them more deadly. After more than 50 research projects by more than 100 contractors, only two experimental medicines have shown promise. Even those are far from being ready for limited clinical tests. A hurdle in the government’s effort is that treatments cannot be tested in human clinical trials because it is unethical to expose people to deadly virus in such a study, requiring animals with similar traits as humans to serve as surrogates. Source: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/articles/2011/01/17/after_1b_spent_pentagon_shifts_strategy_on_bioterror_threats/?page=full

January 19, Computerworld – (International) Keyless systems on cars easily hacked, researchers say. The passive keyless entry and start systems supported by many modern cars are susceptible to attacks that allow thieves to relatively easily steal the vehicles, security researchers at Switzerland’s ETH Zurich University said. In demonstrations using 10 cars from 8 makers, the researchers showed how they were able to unlock, start and drive away the cars in each case, by outsmarting the smart key system. The break-ins were carried out using commercial, off-the-shelf electronic equipment available for as little as $100, the researchers said in a paper describing their exploits. Although the possibility of such attacks on keyless systems has been discussed previously, it has not been clear before if they would be feasible on modern cars, the researchers said. “In this paper, we demonstrate that these attacks are both feasible and practical,” they said. Source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9205478/Keyless_systems_on_cars_easily_hacked_researchers_say


South Korea Pushes the Missile-range Envelope | STRATFOR

China's Economic Challenges for the Year Ahead STRATFOR

Pakistan: 2,000 Rally Against U.S. UAV Strikes January 21, 2011

About 2,000 people in the Taliban-controlled town of Miran Shah in North Waziristan, Pakistan, rallied against U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes, calling for an end to the strikes and the arrest of the U.S. officials ordering them, AP reported Jan. 21.

January 19, Global Security Newswire – (International) Radioactive capsules recovered in India. Indian authorities have recovered four radioactive isotope cylinders and detained one person allegedly linked to the apparent theft of the material, the Statesman reported January 15. The capsules turned up inside a public restroom at a low-income neighborhood near the Durgapur Steel Plant, the site of their disappearance. The removal of the capsules prompted concerns among managers, police, and experts about the facility’s security measures. The site is continuously overseen by 1,500 personnel with India’s Central Industrial Security Force. The capsules are “deadly harmful for human beings and are supposed to be preserved in a secure environment,” plant officials said. Experts have expressed concern radioactive material could be dispersed by a radiological “dirty bomb.” Source: http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20110119_7551.php 8. January 18, Computerworld – (National) Gaping security flaw exposed on anti-tamper devices. Security devices used in transportation, packaging, and even in accounting for nuclear materials are very vulnerable to attack, two security researchers warned January 18 at a Black Hat security conference in Arlington, Virginia. The physical security devices, known as “tamper-evident devices,” are not intended to prevent theft but to alert inspectors something has been broken into. The devices are wide-ranging in design and application, and are used to seal everything from evidence bags, large shipping containers and even things like the warranty seal on gaming consoles. Two analysts with i11 Industries went through a long list of tamper-evident devices at the conference and explained, step-by-step, how each seal can be circumvented with common items, such as solvents, hypodermic needles, razors, blow dryers, and in more difficult cases with the help of tools such as drills. The more difficult devices may be bolt locks designed to secure shipping containers, or polycarbonate locks designed to shatter if cut. Source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9205461/Gaping_security_flaw_exposed_on_anti_tamper_devices [Return to top]

Russia: Afghan Drug Inflow Dropping January 21, 2011

The flow of drugs into Russia from Afghanistan has dropped by about 10 percent, according to Russia’s anti-narcotics service, Interfax reported Jan. 21. Viktor Ivanov, head of the anti-narcotics service, said 15,000 metric tons of opium has accumulated in Afghanistan, and the total amount of opium crops in the country was about 123,000 hectares (303,000 acres). He also said the estimated number of Afghan families involved in drug production grew to 250,000 from 247,000 in 2010 from 2009.

Iran in a Position of Relative Strength | STRATFOR

Iran: Russia Preferred For New Nuclear Plant Construction January 20, 2011

Russia is Iran’s preferred choice for winning a future tender to build a new nuclear power plant in the country, Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh said Jan. 20, Interfax reported. Iran trusts Russia more than it trusts any other country, Soltaniyeh added.

Iran: National Tanker Company To Increase Fleet By 72 Percent January 24, 2011

The Iranian National Tanker Company (INTC) is going to add 22 tankers to its fleet by 2013, increasing the fleet’s size by 72 percent, Fars News Agency reported Jan. 24, citing a company official. International sanctions have had no effect on the activities of the company, the official said, adding that INTC was currently transporting oil for companies such as Shell and Total, as well as Saudi, Kuwaiti and UAE oil companies.


Norway: Oslo To Recognize Palestine If Peace Talks Fail January 20, 2011

Norway will recognize Palestine as a state if negotiations with Israeli fail to make progress by September 2011, according to Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, Ice News reported Jan. 20. Stoere said Norway is striving to help with the development of the Palestinian economy and believes that a political peace process could be a success. Norway will be one of the first European states to recognize Palestine when there is an act as an international team, Stoere said, adding, Norway will continue to back negotiations between Israel and Palestine while supporting Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s plan.

Israel: Palestinian Negotiator To Meet With Israeli Officials - Source January 21, 2011

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will head a delegation that will travel to Israel to meet with Israeli negotiators and U.S. envoys Dennis Ross and George Mitchell, a STRATFOR source said Jan. 21. The meeting was agreed upon during Erekat’s visit to Washington on Jan. 12, the source said. Israel Radio had earlier reported Jan. 20 that unnamed senior Palestinian officials would soon meet with Israeli officials as well as Ross and Mitchell.

Israel: Interim Palestinian State Plan Drafted - FM January 24, 2011

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed he is drawing up a plan that seeks to create an interim Palestinian state with temporary borders in the absence of a full peace agreement, AP reported Jan. 24, citing Lieberman’s interview on Israel Radio. According to Lieberman, “there is no other way” since the Palestinians have rejected previous Israeli offers. He added a full peace deal remains impossible. According to a government source, the plan turns up to 50 percent of the West Bank over to the Palestinians.

Afghanistan: Russia Ready To Invest In Electricity Project January 21, 2011

Russia will invest $500 million in the Central Asia-South Asia (CASA) 1000 electricity project if Inter RAO is chosen as its operator, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, Reuters and Itar-Tass reported Jan. 21. During talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Putin said the same applied to a possible line from Turkmenistan that could be linked to CASA 1000 around Kabul. CASA 1000 is supposed to transmit electricity from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to South Asia. Russia is also prepared to restore a house-building plant and a concrete plant in Kabul, as well as infrastructure such as the Salang Tunnel and an irrigation system, Putin said.

Afghanistan: Russia Ready To Rebuild Soviet-era Facilities January 21, 2011

Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked Russia to rebuild Soviet-era facilities in the country during talks with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, Reuters reported Jan. 21. Karzai said he wanted to restart key projects that were started long ago. In a joint statement, Russia said it was ready to take part in “priority economic projects” in Afghanistan, including the Salang Tunnel in the Hindu Kush, hydroelectric power facilities in the provinces of Kabul and Baglan, a customs terminal and a Kabul university.

Afghanistan: Governor Escapes Grenade Attack January 21, 2011

The governor of Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province survived an attack Jan. 21 in the provincial capital of Mehtar Lam, sources said, Afghan Islamic Press reported. Islamic Emirate militants threw a hand grenade as the governor entered his office, and it is not yet known whether any casualties resulted, according to the Voice of Jihad website.


Mexico: Cartel Operative Dies In Confrontation January 20, 2011

A suspected top operative, Leonardo Vazquez, aka “El Pacis,” of the Zetas drug cartel died on Jan. 19 during a confrontation with Mexican military, federal, state and local police forces in Poza Rica in the state of Veracruz, AP reported Jan. 20, citing Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa.

South Korean Vessel Retaken from Somali Pirates | STRATFOR

Except where noted courtesy www.stratfor.com

Monday, January 24, 2011

Officer Down

Sergeant Tom Baitinger
St. Petersburg Florida Police Department
End of Watch: Monday, January 24, 2011
Age: 41
Tour of Duty: 15 years

Police Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz
St. Petersburg Florida Police Department
End of Watch: Monday, January 24, 2011
Age: 39
Tour of Duty: 12 years

Sergeant Tom Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz were shot and killed while attempting serve a warrant on a suspect wanted for aggravated battery.

Several members of a regional task force had gone to the home to question a family member about the man's whereabouts. After making contact with the woman the officers were informed that the man was in the attic and possibly armed.

Officer Yaslowitz, who served on the department's canine unit, had just finished his shift and was en route home when he volunteered to respond to the call.

After attempting to talk the man out of the attic Officer Yaslowitz and a member of the United States Marshals Service made entry into the attic and were immediately shot.

Another officer was able to pull the deputy marshal from the attic but was unable to reach Officer Yaslowitz. The suspect then fired from the attic, striking Sergeant Baitinger who providing cover from the main level.

A SWAT team used a tactical vehicle to breach a wall of the home and came under fire, but was able to recover Officer Yaslowitz. Officer Yaslowitz and Sergeant Baitinger were both transported to a local hospital where they were pronounced dead.

The suspect was found dead several hours later after the home was partially dismantled using heavy machinery.

Sergeant Baitinger had served with the St. Petersburg Police Department for 15 years. He is survived by his wife.

Officer Yaslowitz had served with the St. Petersburg Police Department for 12 years. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Rest in Peace Gents…We’ll Continue The Watch