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

Friday, September 30, 2011

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Bryan Sleeper
Burleigh County North Dakota Sheriff's Department
End of Watch: Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Age: 39
Tour of Duty: 4 years
Badge Number: 4837
Cause of Death: Heart attack

Deputy Sheriff Bryan Sleeper suffered a fatal heart attack while assisting another deputy arrest a combative subject at about 12:45 am.

The other deputy had attempted to stop the man for speeding, but the suspect refused to stop and drove to his home. During the ensuing confrontation, the man was tased twice before Deputy Sleeper could handcuff him.

Deputy Sleeper collapsed moments later. He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
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.

Chaz Bono, you wanna join up?

I remember arguing this point on the repeal of DADT.  After openly gay service members, then what?  Handicapped people?  Overweight people...remember that is now a "protected class" according to the Department of Justice.  

God knows how far this idiocy will get but I think it will not make it anytime soon.  The left is sympathetic to this but they want B Hussein Obama reelected.     
After demise of 'don't ask,' activists call for end to military ban on transgenders - Washington Times

With homosexuals now able to serve openly in the military, the gay rights movement's next battleground is to persuade the Obama administration to end the armed forces' ban on "transgenders," a group that includes transsexuals and cross-dressers.

"Our position is that the military should re-examine the policy, the medical regulations, so as to allow open service for transgender people," said Vincent Paolo Villano, spokesman for the 6,000-member Center for Transgender Equality.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which pushed to end the military's gay ban, is urging President Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting discrimination based on "gender identity."...

...SLDN's goal is contained on a Web page with the headline, "Working toward transgender military service." The page states that a decision to remove the ban must be made at the Pentagon. "Relationships between transgender organizations, medical associations, and military allies will be crucial for advancing this issue," it says.

"SLDN will continue to urge President Obama to issue an executive order to prohibit discrimination and harassment in the military based upon sexual orientation and gender identity, and we will work closely with our allies to educate and create greater awareness of this inequity," SLDN spokesman Zeke Stokes said...

...A White House spokesman declined to provide Mr. Obama's position on transgenders in the military, referring a reporter to the Pentagon.

"Transgender and transsexual individuals are not permitted to join the military services," said Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez. "The repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' will have no effect on these policies."

The SLDN says "transgender" is commonly identified as an umbrella term for "transsexuals, cross-dressers, gender-queer people, intersex people, and other gender-variant individuals."

Transgenders are not banned by law, but rather by a Defense Department instruction, "Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment or Induction in the Military Service."

It lists scores of medical conditions that make one ineligible, including: "Current or history of psychosexual conditions, including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias."...

Yes, Cher's daughter, err son is what we need in the Marine Corps.  Sorry, if you need to go through sex change you have issues and you don't need to be in the service.

God help the Republic. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Security Weekly: Mexican Cartels and the Pan American Games: A Threat Assessment September 29, 2011

By Scott Stewart

The 2011 Pan American Games will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from Oct. 14 through Oct. 30. The games will feature 36 different sports and will bring more than 6,000 athletes and tens of thousands of spectators to Mexico’s second-largest city. The Parapan American Games, for athletes with physical disabilities, will follow from Nov. 12 to Nov. 20.

Like the Olympics, the World Cup or any other large sporting event, planning for the Pan American Games in Guadalajara began when the city was selected to host them in 2006. Preparations have included the construction of new sports venues, an athletes’ village complex, hotels, highway and road infrastructure, and improvements to the city’s mass transit system. According to the coordinating committee, the construction and infrastructure improvements for the games have cost some $750 million.

The preparations included more than just addressing infrastructure concerns, however. Due to the crime environment in Mexico, security is also a very real concern for the athletes, sponsors and spectators who will visit Guadalajara during the games. The organizers of the games, the Mexican government and the governments of the 42 other participating countries also will be focused intensely on security in Guadalajara over the next two months.

In light of these security concerns, STRATFOR will publish an additional special report on the games. The report, of which this week’s Security Weekly is an abridged version, will provide our analysis of threats to the games.

Cartel Environment

Due to the violent and protracted conflicts between Mexico’s transnational criminal cartels and the incredible levels of brutality that they have spawned, most visitors’ foremost security concern will be Mexico’s criminal cartels. The Aug. 20 incident in Torreon, Coahuila state, in which a firefight occurred outside of a stadium during a nationally televised soccer match, will reinforce perceptions of this danger. The concern is understandable, especially considering Guadalajara’s history as a cartel haven and recent developments in the region. Even so, we believe the cartels are unlikely to attack the games intentionally.

Historically, smuggling has been a way of life for criminal groups along the U.S.-Mexico border, and moving illicit goods across the border, whether alcohol, guns, narcotics or illegal immigrants, has long proved quite profitable for these groups. This profitability increased dramatically in the 1980s and 1990s as the flow of South American cocaine through the Caribbean was sharply cut due to improvements in maritime and aerial surveillance and interdiction. This change in enforcement directed a far larger percentage of the flow of cocaine through Mexico, greatly enriching the Mexican smugglers involved in the cocaine trade. The group of smugglers who benefited most from cocaine trade included Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and Rafael Caro Quintero, who would go on to form a Guadalajara-based organization known as the Guadalajara cartel. That cartel became the most powerful narcotics smuggling organization in the country, and perhaps the world, controlling virtually all the narcotics smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

The Guadalajara cartel was dismantled during the U.S. and Mexican reaction to the 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique Camarena by the group. Smaller organizations emerged from its remains that eventually would become the Arellano Felix Organization (aka the Tijuana cartel), the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization (aka the Juarez cartel), the Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa Federation. The sheer number of major cartel organizations that came out of the Guadalajara cartel demonstrates the immense power and geographic reach the group once wielded.

Even after the demise of the Guadalajara cartel, Guadalajara continued to be an important city for drug smuggling operations due to its location in relation to Mexico’s highway and railroad system and its proximity to Mexico’s largest port, Manzanillo. The port is not just important to cocaine smuggling; it also has become an important point of entry for precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. For many years, the Sinaloa Federation faction headed by Ignacio “El Nacho” Coronel Villarreal was in charge of the Guadalajara plaza. Although Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco continued to be an important component of the cocaine trade, Coronel Villarreal became known as “the king of crystal” due to his organization’s heavy involvement in the meth trade.

Guadalajara remained firmly under Sinaloa control until the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) split off from Sinaloa following the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva in January 2008. This caused the Beltran Leyva Organization to ally itself with Los Zetas and to begin to attack Sinaloa’s infrastructure on Mexico’s Pacific coast. In April 2010, Coronel Villarreal’s 16-year-old son Alejandro was abducted and murdered. Like the murder of Edgar Guzman Beltran, the son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, the BLO and Los Zetas were thought to have been behind the murder of Coronel Villarreal’s son. In July 2010, Coronel Villarreal himself was killed during a shootout with the Mexican military in Zapopan, Jalisco state.

Coronel Villarreal’s death created a power vacuum in Guadalajara that several organizations attempted to fill due to the importance of Guadalajara and Jalisco to the smuggling of narcotics. One of these was La Familia Michoacana (LFM). LFM’s attempt to assume control of Guadalajara led to the rupture of the alliance between LFM and Sinaloa. (LFM has since fractured; the most powerful faction of that group is now called the Knights Templar.) The group now headed by Hector Beltran Leyva, which is called the Cartel Pacifico Sur, and its ally Los Zetas also continue to attempt to increase their influence over Guadalajara.

But the current fight for control of Guadalajara includes not only outsiders such as the Knights Templar and the CPS/Los Zetas but also the remnants of Coronel Villarreal’s network and what is left of the Milenio cartel (also known as the Valencia cartel) which has historically been very active in Guadalajara and Manzanillo. One portion of the former Milenio cartel is known as “La Resistencia” and has become locked in a vicious war with the most prominent group of Coronel’s former operatives, which is known as the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). CJNG appears to have gotten the better of La Resistencia in this fight, and La Resistencia has recently allied itself with Los Zetas/CPS out of desperation.

In July, CJNG announced it was moving some of its forces to Veracruz to attack Los Zetas’ infrastructure there. This CJNG group in Veracruz began to call itself “Matazetas,” Spanish for “Zeta killers.” It is believed that the CJNG is responsible for the recent killings of low-level Zeta operators in Veracruz. Taken with the Los Zetas/La Resistencia alliance, the CJNG offensive in Veracruz means that if Los Zetas have the ability to strike against the CJNG infrastructure in Guadalajara, they will do so. Such strikes could occur in the next few weeks, and could occur during the games.

As illustrated by the recent body dumps in Veracruz, or the bodies dumped in Acapulco during Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s visit to that city in March, the Mexican cartels do like to perform a type of macabre theater in order to grab media attention. With the attention of the press turned toward Guadalajara, it would not be surprising if one or more cartel groups attempted some sort of body dump or other spectacle in Guadalajara during the games.

And given the ongoing fight for control of Guadalajara, it is quite likely that there will be some confrontations between the various cartel groups in the city during the games. However, such violence is not likely to be intentionally directed against the games. The biggest risk to athletes and spectators posed by the cartels comes from being in the wrong place at the wrong time; the cartels frequently employ fragmentation grenades and indiscriminate fire during shootouts with the authorities and rival cartels.


One of the side effects of the Mexican government’s war against the cartels is that as some cartels have been weakened by pressure from the government and their rivals, they have become less capable of moving large shipments of narcotics. This has made them increasingly reliant on other types of crime to supplement their income. Crime always has been a problem in Mexico, but activities such as robbery, kidnapping and extortion have gotten progressively worse in recent years. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 Crime and Safety report for Guadalajara, crimes of all types have increased in the city. Indeed, due to the high levels of crime present in Mexico, athletes and spectators at the Pan American Games are far more likely to fall victim to common crime than they are to an act of cartel violence.

The Mexican government will employ some 10,000 police officers (to include 5,000 Federal Police officers) as well as hundreds of military personnel to provide protection to the athletes and venues associated with the Pan American Games. But when one considers that the Guadalajara metropolitan area contains some 4.4 million residents, and that there will be thousands of athletes and perhaps in excess of 100,000 spectators, the number of security personnel assigned to work the games is not as large as it might appear at first glance. Nevertheless, the authorities will be able to provide good security for the athletes’ village and the venues, and on the main travel routes, though they will not be able to totally secure the entire Guadalajara metropolitan area. Places outside the security perimeters where there is little security, and therefore a greater danger of criminal activity, will remain.

When visiting Guadalajara during the games, visitors are advised to be mindful of their surroundings and maintain situational awareness at all times in public areas. Visitors should never expose valuables, including wallets, jewelry, cell phones and cash, any longer than necessary. And they should avoid traveling at night, especially into areas of Guadalajara and the surrounding area that are away from the well-established hotels and sporting venues. Visitors will be most vulnerable to criminals while in transit to and from the venues, and while out on the town before and after events. Excessive drinking is also often an invitation to disaster in a high-crime environment.

As always, visitors to Mexico should maintain good situational awareness and take common-sense precautions to reduce the chances of becoming a crime victim. Pickpockets, muggers, counterfeit ticket scalpers, and express kidnappers all will be looking for easy targets during the games, and steps need to be taken to avoid them. Mexico has a problem with corruption, especially at lower levels of their municipal police forces, and so this must be taken into account when dealing with police officers.

While traditional kidnappings for ransom in Mexico are usually directed against well-established targets, express kidnappings can target anyone who appears to have money, and foreigners are often singled out for express kidnapping. Express kidnappers are normally content to drain the contents of the bank accounts linked to the victim’s ATM card, but in cases where there is a large amount of cash linked to the account and a small daily limit, an express kidnapping can turn into a protracted ordeal. Express kidnappings can also transform into a traditional kidnapping if the criminals discover the victim of their express kidnapping happens to be a high net worth individual.

It is also not uncommon for unregulated or “libre” taxi drivers in Mexico to be involved with criminal gangs who engage in armed robbery or express kidnapping, so visitors need to be careful only to engage taxi services from a regulated taxi stand or a taxi arranged via a hotel or restaurant, but even that is no guarantee.

Miscellaneous Threats

In addition to the threats posed by the cartels and other criminals, there are some other threats that must be taken into consideration. First, Guadalajara is located in a very active seismic area and earthquakes there are quite common, although most of them cannot be felt. Occasionally, big quakes will strike the city and visitors need to be mindful of how to react in an earthquake.

Fire is also a serious concern, especially in the developing world, and visitors to Guadalajara staying in hotels need to ensure that they know where the fire exits are and that those fire exits are not blocked or locked.

The traffic in Mexico’s cities is terrible and Guadalajara is no exception. Traffic congestion and traffic accidents are quite common.

Visitors to Mexico also need to be mindful of the poor water quality in the country and the possibility of contracting a water-borne illness from drinking the water or from eating improperly prepared food. Privately operated medical facilities in Mexico are well-equipped for all levels of medical care, and foreign visitors should choose private over public (government-operated) health care facilities. Private medical services can also stabilize a patient and facilitate a medical evacuation to another country (such as the United States) should the need arise.

In conclusion, the most dangerous organizations in Mexico have very little motivation or intent to hit the Pan American Games. The games are also at very low risk of being a target for international terrorism. The organizing committee, the Mexican government and the other governments that will be sending athletes to the games will be coordinating closely to ensure that the games pass without major incident. Because of this, the most likely scenario for an incident impacting an athlete or spectator will be common crime occurring away from the secure venues.
Mexican Cartels and the Pan American Games: A Threat Assessment is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Good news from the old home state

I moved from Louisiana to Houston in 1998 for employment. I applied to the Louisiana State Police and after initial acceptance to academy class 76, they rejected me. I failed the psych test.

No comments from the peanut gallery.

Fast forward to 2005 and we pretty much saw Louisiana in general and New Orleans in particular poorly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The clueless Mayor of New Orleans and the idiot Governor didn't put the government in the best of lights. And our football team had it's pretty much worst record in it's history Yes, I know we won more than 1980 but still, this was bad, then again when your stadium was destroyed, you're practicing on a high school baseball field, you got problems.

Fast forward to 2007 and we rid ourselves of this idiot who occupied the governor's mansion and put in a competent leader. Bobby Jindal is truly among the best and the brightest.

Every morning I get the Morning Jolt from National Review and I was happy to see this article on Governer Jindal.
1. Meanwhile, Down in Louisiana . . .

I thought about making a list of "Bobby Jindal Facts," in the vein of the Rick Perry Facts that have left us laughing in the past weeks and months. But I realized that with Jindal, wacky exaggerations are less eye-opening than some actual Bobby Jindal facts.

Ready to feel old? He turned 40 in June.

As far as I can tell, having spent much of Wednesday with him, he barely eats and he doesn't go to the bathroom. What's more, apparently his security detail noticed this during the Gulf Oil spill, and the police told each other to eat hearty breakfasts before their shifts because as far as they could tell, the governor didn't stop to eat.

At one point, during the BP oil-spill crisis, the federal government didn't like the use of certain watercraft designed to suck the oil out of the water and wanted to bar its use, out of concerns that some of the vacuumed oil might spill back into the water.

He tries to do at least two public events a day, preferably outside of the state capitol of Baton Rouge. This apparently has thrown off some Louisianans, not used to seeing their governor so frequently.

All that stuff taking up space in your garage? The firewood pile, the old kids' toys, the stuff from country fairs from long ago, etc? It's in the Governor's Mansion garage, as well.

I realize the schedule of events -- a visit to a charter school, a visit to a Catholic school where certain students are assisted by state-run "scholarships" (a lot like vouchers, yet somehow exponentially less controversial), a "state of the state" address to a chamber of commerce, a visit to a reopened aluminum-processing plant celebrating its 250th new job -- are all designed to make Jindal's term look like a cavalcade of policy triumphs. I realize I'm supposed to be impressed, and you can't get a complete look at a state, even with a marathon of events.

But from what I've seen so far, I can't shake the feeling that the past years have seen a fundamental transformation in Louisiana. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath have to have been about as hard a time as any state has ever endured, yet the failure of so many of the state's leaders during that crisis forced the residents to rethink all of their old ways of doing business. And with new ideas and new leaders comes new hope. At a time when the news out of Washington seems relentlessly bad, I've seen a thriving high-school student in New Orleans' Ninth Ward describe her determination to go to Boston University, and her classmates at least appearing to excel at pre-calculus. The roomful of business owners at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon nodded in agreement that their children and grandchildren would find good jobs in this state instead of Texas or elsewhere. At the plant, more than 70 workers who worked at the closed plant before have now returned. And the voucher -- sorry, "scholarship" school, a pre-K child just came up and hugged me. That doesn't happen often in political journalism.

Of course, while I've been galavanting around the Bayou State and having my faith restored, the wheels of the political world continue to turn.
He did have a down moment in the response to B Hussein Obama's first State of the Union address but he has shown what leadership can do. Louisiana is making progress. Slowly but LA is moving in the right direction. That cannot be said of the California or New York.

Sometimes it takes hitting bottom to show what your are made of of and Katrina was the worse. But progress has been made. The feds finally played hard ball with the state and got them in getting rid of 17 levee districts around New Orleans so the now two levee boards can be interested in, get this, flood control and levee maintenance. As opposed to justifying someone's worthless job. Orleans Parish (New Orleans) has combined the two sheriff office's (they had both a civil and criminal sheriff for years) and that will get rid of a lot of the dead wood.

It took a hurricane to get Louisiana back up. Will it take a major earthquake in California or New York for them to get back up. Or will it take leadership both states are desperately missing right now. Time will tell.

And Jindal is only 40...President in 2020 or so is not out of the possibility for a Senator Jindal

Also, Saints are making another legit run for the Superbowl. Giants, they should make it in the playoffs. Jets, Chargers and 49ers...don't make me laugh.

Have a great day

Again, better times! :)

What's going on in the World Today 110928


September 24, CNN – (Washington) Police: Man who opened fire near school field dies in gunfight. A 51-year-old man started firing several rifles as he approached a Washington high school athletic field, before being killed in a subsequent gunfight with police, authorities said. The incident occurred September 24 in Issaquah, a town about 17 miles east of Seattle. A King County Sheriff's Office sergeant told CNN the man was driving through the town when he stopped "and got out with a couple of rifles." The man then walked down a street, towards the field, and began shooting. He was then "confronted by police," the sergeant said. Source: http://articles.cnn.com/2011-09-24/justice/justice_washingtonshooting_1_gunfight-rifles-authorities?_s=PM:JUSTICE 

U.S.: Man Accused Of Plot Against Pentagon, Capitol September 28, 2011

U.S. federal officials charged Rezwan Ferdaus from Ashland, Massachusetts, for plotting to use a remote-controlled aircraft strapped with C-4 plastic explosives to blow up the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, Boston Business Journal reported Sept. 28. Prosecutors said Ferdaus thought he was working with Al Qaeda. He was charged with trying to provide resources and material support to a foreign terrorist organization


EU Bailout Program Still Faces Obstacles


China: Tells U.S. It Will Go Its Own Way In South Pacific September 27, 2011

China has told the United States that it does not support combined efforts and will go its own way with its growing aid and investment in the South Pacific, a senior U.S. official said Sept. 27, AFP reported. At a 16-nation Pacific island summit this month in New Zealand, Chinese officials explained they were not interested in sharing the fruits of their engagement, said Kurt Campbell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia. Campbell said China politely explained it would do its own investment and quid pro quo bilaterally

September 25, Asahi Shimbun – (International) Hydrogen accumulates in pipes at Fukushima's No. 1 reactor. Hydrogen has accumulated to a level higher than previously thought in pipes connected to Japan's Fukushima No. 1 reactor containment vessel, the plant's operator said September 23. But Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) officials said an explosion was unlikely because nonflammable nitrogen was being pumped in to prevent oxygen from entering the containment vessel and triggering a blast. TEPCO said it is investigating the possibility hydrogen has also accumulated in a similar manner at the plant's No. 2 and No. 3 reactors. However, the company noted there was no way to tell whether the hydrogen in the pipes had been generated immediately after the onset of the crisis on March 11 or in later stages. Nor could TEPCO measure how much hydrogen may have been generated in the vessel. The nitrogen injections are believed to have lowered the hydrogen concentration considerably, but some hydrogen, being lighter than nitrogen, may be accumulating near the top of the vessel without being driven out. The hydrogen concentration was found to exceed 1 percent, the threshold of the measurement device. TEPCO said it was conducting a more detailed analysis on the concentration level. An explosion can occur in a gas containing more than 4 percent hydrogen, and more than 5 percent oxygen. Source: http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201109240257.html [Return to top]  Critical Manufacturing Sector 


Putin's Candidacy Draws Varied Reactions

Russia: Test Launch Of New IBM Missile Confirmed September 28, 2011

The Russian Defense Ministry said it carried out the first test launch of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (IBM) at the Plesetek cosmodrome on Sept. 27, Interfax-AVN reported Sept. 28. A Defense Ministry spokesman said the launch events were part of the research and development work on new missile systems. An industry source said the test launch was a failure with the missile falling to ground about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from the launch site.

 Dispatch: Putin and the Kremlin's Internal Struggle



Iraq: First Payment Made On U.S. F-16s September 27, 2011 

Iraq made its first payment on a $3 billion deal to purchase 18 F-16 jets from the United States, according to a statement from the U.S. State Department, Ynet reported Sept. 27.


Afghanistan Weekly War Update: Motives for the Rabbani Assassination


Dispatch: Egyptian Elections Scheduled

SCAF May Be Preparing Egyptian Leader For Presidential Run

Dispatch: UAV Strikes Against al Shabaab

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Criticizes Election Law September 28, 2011

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood criticized Sept. 28 Egypt’s rulers for approving a “faulty” election law, DPA reported. Allowing individual candidacy in parliamentary elections in November could allow former President Hosni Mubarak loyalists to enter parliament



Above the Tearline: The Intelligence Value of Hostage Debriefing

Except where noted courtesy www.stratfor.com


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And So Goes The Ford Commercial in Shreveport

I hearc Ford stopped showing this great F-150 commercial and Pat posted on it at
And So it Goes in Shreveport: The Ford Commercial

So here it is. As I said, personally I prefer to buy American but I refuse to buy Obama Motors. So that makes me a Ford man for now.

Ford, pease bring this commercial back....like summer of 2012! :<)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Moron update

Yesterday I posted on the two idiots recently released by Iran and how one of them was sensitive to the political prisoners in the US. Well he kept going. And is showing why we should be afraid, very afraid of the future. This idiot will pay my Social Security.
Bauer said one irony of their imprisonment was that the three have long opposed U.S. policies toward Iran. He did not go into details, and neither he nor Fattal took questions...

...When they complained about conditions in Tehran's Evin Prison, Bauer said, their jailers would "immediately remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay. They would remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world."
Yo, moron, while you were in the block house were you given a Bible (or Torah or other religious book), allowed multiple times a day to conducted prayers, three square meals. Most prisoners who come out of Gitmo have gained weight.

Young and stupid. Hey Iran, can you take them back?

Geopolitical Journey: Iran at a Crossroads September 27, 2011

By Kamran Bokhari

Geopolitically, a trip to Iran could not come at a better time. Iran is an emerging power seeking to exploit the vacuum created by the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq, which is scheduled to conclude in a little more than three months. Tehran also plays a major role along its eastern border, where Washington is seeking a political settlement with the Taliban to facilitate a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Islamic republic simultaneously is trying to steer popular unrest in the Arab world in its favor. That unrest in turn has significant implications for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an issue in which Iran has successfully inserted itself over the years. The question of the U.S.-Iranian relationship also looms — does accommodation or confrontation lie ahead? At the same time, the Iranian state — a unique hybrid of Shiite theocracy and Western republicanism — is experiencing intense domestic power struggles.

This is the geopolitical context in which I arrived at Imam Khomeini International airport late Sept. 16. Along with several hundred foreign guests, I had been invited to attend a Sept. 17-18 event dubbed the “Islamic Awakening” conference, organized by the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Given the state of Iranian-Western ties and my position as a senior analyst with a leading U.S.-based private intelligence company, the invitation came as surprise.

With some justification, Tehran views foreign visitors as potential spies working to undermine Iranian national security. The case of the American hikers jailed in Iran (two of whom were released the day of my return to Canada) provided a sobering example of tourism devolving into accusations of espionage.

Fortunately for me, STRATFOR had not been placed on the list of some 60 Western organizations (mostly American and British think tanks and civil society groups) banned as seditious in early 2010 following the failed Green Movement uprising. Still, the Iranian regime is well aware of our views on Iranian geopolitics.

In addition to my concerns about how Iranian authorities would view me, I also worried about how attending a state-sponsored event designed to further Iranian geopolitical interests where many speakers heavily criticized the United States and Israel would look in the West. In the end, I set my trepidations aside and opted for the trip.

Geopolitical Observations in Tehran

STRATFOR CEO and founder George Friedman has written of geopolitical journeys, of how people from diverse national backgrounds visiting other countries see places in very different ways. In my case, my Pakistani heritage, American upbringing, Muslim religious identity and Canadian nationality allowed me to navigate a milieu of both locals and some 700 delegates of various Arab and Muslim backgrounds. But the key was in the way STRATFOR trains its analysts to avoid the pitfall that many succumb to — the blurring of what is really happening with what we may want to see happen.

The foreigner arriving in Iran immediately notices that despite 30 years of increasingly severe sanctions, the infrastructure and systems in the Islamic republic appear fairly solid. As a developing country and an international pariah, one would expect infrastructure along the lines of North Korea or Cuba. But Iran’s construction, transportation and communications infrastructure shares more in common with apartheid-era South Africa, and was largely developed indigenously.

Also notable was the absence of any visible evidence of a police state. Considering the state’s enormous security establishment and the recent unrest surrounding the Green Movement, I expected to see droves of elite security forces. I especially expected this in the northern districts of the capital, where the more Westernized segment of society lives and where I spent a good bit of time walking and sitting in cafes.

Granted, I didn’t stay for long and was only able to see a few areas of the city to be able to tell, but the only public display of opposition to the regime was “Death to Khamenei” graffiti scribbled in small letters on a few phone booths on Vali-e-Asr Avenue in the Saadabad area. I saw no sign of Basij or Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps personnel patrolling the streets, only the kind of police presence one will find in many countries.

This normal security arrangement gave support to STRATFOR’s view from the very beginning that the unrest in 2009 was not something the regime couldn’t contain. As we wrote then and I was able to see firsthand last week, Iran has enough people who — contrary to conventional wisdom — support the regime, or at the very least do not seek its downfall even if they disagree with its policies.

I saw another sign of support for the Islamic republic a day after the conference ended, when the organizers arranged a tour of the mausoleum of the republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. We visited the large complex off a main highway on the southern end of town on a weekday; even so, numerous people had come to the shrine to pay their respects — several with tears in their eyes as they prayed at the tomb.

Obviously, the intensity of religious feelings varies in Iran, but a significant stratum of the public remains deeply religious and still believes in the national narrative of the revolutionary republic. This fact does not get enough attention in the Western media and discourse, clouding foreigners’ understanding of Iran and leading to misperceptions of an autocratic clergy clinging to power only by virtue of a massive security apparatus.

In the same vein, I had expected to see stricter enforcement of religious attire on women in public after the suppression of the Green Movement. Instead, I saw a light-handed approach on the issue. Women obeyed the requirement to cover everything but their hands and faces in a variety of ways. Some women wore the traditional black chador. Others wore long shirts and pants and scarves covering their heads. Still others were dressed in Western attire save a scarf over their head, which was covering very little of their hair.

The dress code has become a political issue in Iran, especially in recent months in the context of the struggle between conservative factions. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has encountered growing opposition from both pragmatic and ultraconservative forces, has come under criticism from clerics and others for alleged moral laxity when it comes to female dress codes. Even so, the supreme leader has not moved to challenge Ahmadinejad on this point.

Ahmadinejad and the Clerical-Political Divide

In sharp contrast with his first term, Ahmadinejad — the most ambitious and assertive president since the founding of the Islamic republic in 1979 — has been trying to position himself as the pragmatist in his second term while his opponents come out looking like hard-liners. In recent months his statements have become less religiously informed, though they have retained their nationalist and radical anti-Western tone.

For example, his speech at the conclusion of the second day of the conference on the theme of the event, Islamic Awakening, was articulated in non-religious language. This stood in sharp contrast to almost every other speaker. Ahmadinejad spoke of recent Arab unrest in terms of a struggle for freedom, justice and emancipation for oppressed peoples, while his criticism of the United States and Israel was couched in terms of how the two countries’ policies were detrimental to global peace as opposed to the raw ideological vitriol that we have seen in the not too distant past.

But while Iran’s intra-elite political struggles complicate domestic and foreign policymaking, they are not about to bring down the Islamic republic — at least not anytime soon. In the longer term, the issue at the heart of all disputes — that of shared governance by clerics and politicians — does pose a significant challenge to the regime. This tension has existed throughout the nearly 32-year history of the Islamic republic, and it will continue to be an issue into the foreseeable future as Iran focuses heavily on the foreign policy front.

Iran’s Regional Ambitions

In fact, the conference was all about Iran’s foreign policy ambitions to assume intellectual and geopolitical leadership of the unrest in the Arab world. Iran is well aware that it is in competition with Turkey over leadership for the Middle East and that Ankara is in a far better position than Iran economically, diplomatically and religiously as a Sunni power. Nevertheless, Iran is trying to position itself as the champion of the Arab masses who have risen up in opposition to autocratic regimes. The Iranian view is that Turkey cannot lead the region while remaining aligned with Washington and that Saudi Arabia’s lack of enthusiasm for the uprisings works in Tehran’s favor.

The sheer number of Iranian officials who are bilingual (fluent in Persian and Arabic) highlights the efforts of Tehran to overcome the ethno-linguistic geopolitical constraints it faces as a Persian country trying to operate in a region where most Muslim countries are Arab. While its radical anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli position has allowed it to circumvent the ethnic factor and attract support in the Arab and Muslim worlds, its Shiite sectarian character has allowed its opponents in Riyadh and elsewhere to restrict Iranian regional influence. In fact, Saudi Arabia remains a major bulwark against Iranian attempts expand its influence across the Persian Gulf and into Arabian Peninsula, as has been clear by the success that the Saudis have had in containing the largely Shiite uprising in Bahrain against the country’s Sunni monarchy.

Even so, Iran has developed some close relations across the sectarian divide, something obvious from the foreign participants invited to the conference. Thus in addition to the many Shiite leaders from Lebanon and Iraq and other parts of the Islamic world, the guest list included deputy Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook; Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) chief Ramadan Abdullah Shallah; a number of Egyptian religious, political, intellectual and business notables; the chief adviser to Sudanese President Omar al Bashir as well as the leader of the country’s main opposition party, Sadiq al-Mahdi; a number of Sunni Islamist leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan, including former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani whom I had the opportunity of speaking with only two days before he was assassinated in Kabul; and the head of Malaysia’s main Islamist group, PAS, which runs governments in a few states — just to name a few.

Tehran has had much less success in breaching the ideological chasm, something evidenced by the dearth of secular political actors at the conference. Its very name, Islamic Awakening, was hardly welcoming to secularists. It also did not accurately reflect the nature of the popular agitation in the Arab countries, which is not being led by forces that seek revival of religion. The Middle East could be described as experiencing a political awakening, but not a religious awakening given that Islamist forces are latecomers to the cause.

A number of my hosts asked me what I thought of the conference, prompting me to address this conceptual discrepancy. I told them that the name Islamic Awakening only made sense if one was referring the Islamic world, but that even this interpretation was flawed as the current unrest has been limited to Arab countries.

While speaker after speaker pressed for unity among Muslim countries and groups in the cause of revival and the need to support the Arab masses in their struggle against autocracy, one unmistakable tension was clear. This had to do with Syria, the only state in the Arab world allied with Iran. A number of speakers and members of the audience tried to criticize the Syrian regime’s efforts to crush popular dissent, but the discomfort this caused was plain. Syria has proven embarrassing for Iran and even groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and PIJ, which are having a hard time reconciling their support for the Arab unrest on one hand and supporting the Syrian regime against its dissidents on the other.

The Road Ahead

Attending this conference allowed me to meet and observe many top Iranian civil and military officials and the heads of Arab and other Muslim non-state actors with varying degree of relationships with Tehran. Analyzing them from a distance one tends to dismiss their ideology and statements as rhetoric and propaganda. Some of what they say is rhetoric, but beneath the rhetoric are also convictions.

We in the West often expect Iran to succumb to international pressure, seek rehabilitation in the international community and one day become friendly with the West. We often talk of a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, but at a strategic level, the Iranian leadership has other plans.

While Iran would like normalized relations with Washington and the West, it is much more interested in maintaining its independence in foreign policy matters, not unlike China’s experience since establishing relations with the United States. As one Iranian official told me at the conference, when Iran re-establishes ties with the United States, it doesn’t want to behave like Saudi Arabia or to mimic Turkey under the Justice and Development Party.

Whether or not Iran will achieve its goals and to what extent remains unclear. The combination of geography, demography and resources means Iran will remain at the center of an intense geopolitical struggle, and I hope for further opportunities to observe these developments firsthand.

Geopolitical Journey: Iran at a Crossroads is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A good look at America's finest....

Incredible article on Marines in Afghanistan. This part summarizes it well.
...At Patrol Base Fulod, about a 15-minute ride in an armored vehicle from the Jackson camp, Cpl. Ernest Tubbs is something special among his peers. He has discovered three-dozen hidden bombs on this deployment. A smooth talker who radiates confidence, he remembered the first time he uncovered an IED, or improvised explosive device, "heart racing, so many emotions at one time."

Tubbs, 22, of Parsonsburg, Maryland, leads patrols with a metal detector, potentially the most dangerous job in the lineup. In a small victory celebration, he smokes a cigarette whenever he finds an IED; he smoked two in a row after one very hazardous experience.

He is desperate to return to his wife and newborn son, and become a civilian, but he won't forget what it is like to be a kind of savior, to know men depend on him for their lives.

"The feeling of when things happen out here, it's a feeling that you'll never get rid of. But it's a feeling that will always belong to you," he said. "There's no more adrenaline rush in the world than finding an IED. I'm going to miss that a bunch."

For families in the United States, there are no such thrills, only the grind of not knowing. Tubbs' wife, Hannah, gave birth to a boy, Gabe, last month. Her husband's oldest brother cut the umbilical cord. In an e-mail to The Associated Press, she wrote:

"Even when I was still pregnant with him I would tell him that his daddy loves him and can't wait to meet him. I tell him who his daddy is and all about him. Being pregnant for most of the deployment didn't help the emotional part of it all. It was hard getting ready for the baby without him. It was even harder to hear about guys who had been hurt or even killed knowing they did the same job as my son's father."...

God bring him and the rest of them home safe and soon Mrs. Tubbs.

Where do we get such men?

What's going on in the World Today 110926






China Political Memo: A Crisis over Private Lending?


Russia: President Gives Deputy PM Until End Of Day To Resign September 26, 2011

Russian Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksey Kudrin should resign by the end of Sept. 26 if he will not serve in a government with current President Dmitri Medvedev as prime minister, Medvedev said during a meeting of the presidential commission on modernization in Dimitrovgrad, RIA Novosti and Interfax reported. Kudrin said he will consult with current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin before deciding whether to step down.

Russia: Finance Minister Resigns September 26, 2011

Russian Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin resigned from his post Sept. 26, Reuters reported. President Dmitri Medvedev signed and accepted Kudrin’s resignation, Medvedev’s spokeswoman said.



Turkey: Relations With Israel Not Normal Until Demands Met - PM September 25, 2011

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sept. 25 that Turkey’s relations with Israel will not be normalized until Israel apologizes and compensates Turkey for the 2010 flotilla raid and the Israeli embargo on Gaza is removed, CNN reported. Erdogan said, “The Israeli people are only resorting back to the issue of genocide in history,” adding that they are always acting “as if they are the victims all the time.” Erdogan said that Turkey has never exerted such cruelty on Israel.

Afghanistan: Attack On Kabul CIA Building Confirmed September 26, 2011

An unnamed U.S. official confirmed that an attack occurred on a building used by U.S. officials in the Afghan capital of Kabul late Sept. 25, saying the situation was still evolving and the investigation ongoing, AP reported Sept. 26. Afghan authorities confirmed reports of gunfire around a building used by the CIA, near the former Ariana Hotel which is in the vicinity of the Afghan presidential palace, but Kabul authorities could not confirm any casualties or injuries.

Afghanistan: Shooter At CIA Office A U.S. Embassy Employee September 26, 2011

The shooter at the Kabul CIA building was an Afghan security guard employed by the U.S. Embassy, Reuters reported Sept. 26.

Egypt: Protest Groups List Demands September 26, 2011

The April 6 Youth Movement and Al-Wasat announced their participation in the “End Emergency Law” million-man protest in Tahrir Square on Sept. 30, Ahram Online reported Sept. 26. The April 6 Youth Movement and Al-Wasat Party demanded the end of emergency law by a referendum and a timeline for the transitional period with clear election dates.



Dispatch: UAV Strikes Against al Shabaab

September 23, Anniston Star – (Alabama) International observers others watch chemical weapon burn process. Several officials were on hand September 22, when the Anniston Chemical Agent Disposal Facility incinerated the last of the chemical weapons — 72 mustard munitions — on site. They included the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), which confirmed operations complied with environmental standards. Also in attendance were inspectors from the global Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — the international oversight group that came out of a 1997 treaty signed by 188 countries — who made certain the facility destroyed all 661,529 chemical weapons. Although all the munitions have been destroyed, ADEM workers will stay on site around the clock for the next 2.5 years to oversee cleanup and dismantling of the incinerator, an ADEM spokesman said. International representatives will be released from their Anniston duty next month, said the government project manager. Source: http://annistonstar.com/bookmark/15640303-International-observers-otherswatch-chemical-weapon-burn-process

Except where noted courtesy www.stratfor.com


A rant of the worst and best of the Yutes of America.

I've often posted on my issues with people, especially younger people, being clueless to life around themselves. My pervious rants on idiots near a hold up alarm or near a shooting scene. But this one really got to me.

I have paid scant attention to story of the three hikers (Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal) who were kidnapped by the Iranians a couple of years ago. There are thousands of miles to hike in America (Rockies, Appalachian Trail, countless states and federal parks) but these three morons decide “let's go around the border of a third world dictatorship...” Not like you could hike in Europe, numerous Asian and African countries in relative safety. No, they wanted to hike all over where they could be captured by the worlds foremost 13th century nation.

After countless effort by their betters the young woman was released last year and after someone came up with the ransom Beavis and Butthead were released. Now it would be easy, intelligent and dignified to simply show gratitude for getting out.

That is too much to ask.

Shane Bauer put his foot in his mouth after his partner in crime thanked the government of Oman for paying off the Iranians with this quote, “...we sincerely hope for the freedom of other political prisoners and others imprisoned in America and Iran.” I would have thought someone who just spent two years in solitary confinement in an Iranian prison, without cable TV, without a weight room or gym, a lack of good food, no tax payer provided lawyers or multiple other lawyer groups putting one roadblock after another in front of the justice system, would kinda get the idea America wasn’t so bad. No, don’t every underestimate the stupidity of the young out here. I could just ask the idiot name one political prisoner in America but I know he will answer it with a cop killer like Troy Davis, You would think an intelligent person would know not to compare Iran and America. Then again I should not confuse intelligence and education.

I did take a quick look at the three and besides the usual left wing causes (environmental movement, writing for Mother Jones, etc.) they were all part on the Palestine Solidarity Movement. Maybe children this would show you how much that helps you with the powers in the Middle East. Or how much the Palestinian issue means to them.

On to better subjects I have seen the recent Medal of Honor winner, SGT Dakota Meyer and he is now working with the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund for the children of wounded Marines. His goal is to raise a million by May 28th 2012.

I sent 20 dollars to the man. Please send what you can.

The best of this country...and the not so good. I’ll stick with SGT Meyer.

Have a great week!

On being good and great in football.

I can sympathize with the man.

Blew dat

Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (8) was left hanging his head after he and his teammates blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead sunday in a 40-33 loss to the saints in new Orleans.  Schaub threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns, but the Texans couldn’t stop New Orleans’ Drew Brees late in the game. (Houston Chronicle Cover 9/26/11)

After starting a strong 2-0, Houston was handed its first defeat in the New Orleans Superdome yesterday.  We can put out the cliches about getting back up on your feet, it's only a single game, etc but that does't change one thing.  Loosing hurts, it stings.

As I said I can sympathize with the man.  As a long time Saints fan (aka sufferer) I lived through the real  bad years, the bad years and the good years.  The late 80s to the early 00s were the good years.  Several seasons we were a good, strong team.  And we had the misfortune of being in the same division (the then NFC West) as San Francisco when the 49ers were in their prime.  When they had Joe Montana throwing to Jerry Rice and an unreal talent level for the entire team.  Any team that has Steve Young (a man who could easily walk onto half the teams in the league and start at the time) as a back up is incredible.  But New Orleans was stuck because of the organization of the league.  We would go 10-6 then go into San Francisco for the first round and get slaughtered.  But in the years of NFC dominance some of the commentators noted "If New Orleans was in the AFC they would be in the Superbowl..." or "New Orleans has a better record against better teams than the two teams playing for the AFC Championship..."

Fast forward to 2006 and New Orleans comes from nowhere and makes it to the NFC Championship.  Two years later and the Lombardi Trophy is finally won by New Orleans.  My team has a QB that is ranked in the top of the league and the Saints are a contender for the playoffs in any realist look at the teams.  Yes, these are the great years for my team and I'm enjoying them.

For the fans of the Texans, the team of my adopted home, these are the good years.  There is no question the Texans have a much improved defense and a more powerful offense.  They are not in the basement of the NFL anymore.  But they are not in the same breath as Green Bay, New Orleans or New England. They are good.  They are not great.

Will this day come, will they ever been ranked in the great teams of the NFL?   Only God knows.  Four teams have never made it to the Superbowl and of the teams that have made it, fourteen have never won one.  You can only get back, learn from what went wrong and improve on what went right.

A lesson in life if ever there is one.

Onward to Jacksonville for the Saints and Pittsburg for the Texans.

Life goes on.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's going on in the World Today 110924


eptember 22, Assoicated Press – (Alabama) Army nears end of chemical weapons destruction at Alabama incinerator. The U.S. Army said it is ready to burn the last of tons of chemical weapons that were stored for decades at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama, the Associated Press reported September 22. Only a few dozen shells filled with mustard gas remain to be destroyed at the depot’s chemical weapons incinerator. Officials said those weapons could be fed into the flames as early as September 22. About 900 people work at the incinerator, which began operations in August 2003. Since then, the complex has destroyed tons of lethal nerve agent, and mustard-filled munitions. Anniston’s mayor said the community is relieved the chemical weapons are almost gone after about 50 years of storage.

September 22, Wired – (International) Military struggles to find helium for spy blimp surge. According to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the U.S. military is sending so many spy blimps to Afghanistan that “industry cannot keep up with the increased demand” for helium and the containers that hold the gas. With their ability to stay in the air for days at a time and hold more spy gear than any drone, aerostats and airships are quickly becoming surveillance tools of choice in the Afghan War. The military carried out three aerostat surges between fall 2010 and summer 2011; several dozen are deployed in Afghanistan now. Early in 2012, the U.S. military is planning to send two airships to Afghanistan — if the blimps can get the helium and helium containers they need to fly. When one of those airships, the Long Endurance MultiIntelligence Vehicle (LEMV), needed its gas, it ran into a problem. LEMV-builder Northrop Grumman “could not obtain the helium and/or the large number of bulk containers needed for its initial fill and as such, required emergency support, according to a DLA contracting document. To meet LEMV’s “huge gaseous helium requirements” in time, DLA Energy could not competitively bid out the 800,000 standard cubic feet of helium needed to fill up the airship. The DLA ran into similar bottlenecks trying to fill up the smaller, tethered aerostats used in Afghanistan to watch and listen for enemy action. In justifications for “other than full and open competition,” the DLA said it was unable to competitively bid out container lease contracts in the rush to keep the aerostats aloft. “Manufacturing new bulk helium ISO containers is a very lengthy process.” “Industry cannot keep up with the increased demand for containers needed by the Army’s second and third Aerostat deployment surges,” the agency admitted in July. Source: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/09/helium-spy-blimp-surge/ 




China Security Memo: Foreigners and the Law


Agenda: Russia's Upcoming Leadership Decision

Russia's Putin and Medvedev: Who Will Seek the Presidency?

Russia: NATO Missile Defense Agreement By 2012 - NATO September 23, 2011

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia and NATO will agree on missile defense cooperation by the NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21, RIA Novosti reported Sept. 23. In an announcement of the summit’s date, Rasmussen said NATO member states might possibly be able to declare interim operational capability of the missile shield during the summit, a significant achievement after many years of effort.

Russia: Moscow Plans To Develop Marine Missile Defense September 22, 2011

Russia plans to develop a sea-based missile defense system, Vladimir Kozin, deputy director of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said Sept. 22, RIA Novosti reported. Kozin made his comments during a video conference between Russian and Ukrainian officials about European security.

Iran: Russia Returns Payment For S-300 Missile Systems September 23, 2011

Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport returned the $167 million it received as a prepayment for the S-300 missile system to Iran, citing U.N. Security Council sanctions as force majeure, Rosoboronexport chief Anatoly Isaykin said, Kommersant reported Sept. 23.





Libya: Weapons Taken From Tripoli Spread Around Country September 24, 2011

Fighters loyal to Libya’s National Transitional Council have taken weapons seized from Tripoli to other parts of Libya, a representative of the fighters in Souq al-Jomaa, Abdelraouf al-Kurdi, said Sept. 24, Reuters reported. Al-Kurdi said that weapons have been taken to Zentan and Misurata by coordination through various armed groups

Libya: Opposition Groups Unite Under Single Command September 23, 2011

Hundreds of anti-Moammar Gadhafi armed groups operating across Libya will unite under a single command called the Union of Revolutionary Battalions, RIA Novosti reported Sept. 23, citing Arab media. Field commanders from around the country met in Misurata to form the new group.


Mexico Security Memo: Congressman Killed in Guerrero State

September 22, The Register – (International) U.S. military satellite to get attackwarning equipment. A U.S. military satellite is to be fitted with equipment which will enable it to detect hostile action and inform ground controllers what is going on, according to reports. An Air Force general said September 21 that a classified satellite is now planned to go into space equipped with a Self-Awareness Space Situational Awareness (SASSA) package. SASSA would let a satellite know if it was being jammed, blinded, or scrambled, while other dedicated spacecraft would be able to watch events in Earth orbit and detect or monitor anti-satellite operations involvingactual intercepts and collisions. Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/09/22/sassa_to_fly/
Military Times – (California) 3rd MAW halts training flights; victims named. Nearly all training flights for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) were canceled until September 22, according to the unit commander, who made the announcement 1 day after a deadly helicopter crash at Camp Pendleton in California. That came shortly before wing officials identified the pilots killed in the September 19 crash, both assigned to Marine Light Attack Training Squadron 303 at Camp Pendleton. A major general ordered the “operational pause” as investigators look for the cause of the crash of the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter, according to 3rd MAW. “All of our training flights are going to be grounded,” a wing spokeswoman at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California said September 20. The pause allows commanders “to conduct any safety stand-downs [and] conduct any routine maintenance on aircraft,” she said. “It’s not for a loss of confidence in their aircraft,” she added. The order affects rotary-, tilt-, and fixed-wing squadrons belonging to Marine Aircraft Group 11, MAG-13, MAG-16, and MAG-39 at Camp Pendleton, Miramar, and MCAS Yuma, Arizona. Source: http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2011/09/marine-training-flights-haltedpendleton-california-092011w/ 

Except where noted courtesy www.stratfor.com


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Security Weekly: Cutting Through the Lone-Wolf Hype, September 22, 2011

By Scott Stewart

Lone wolf. The mere mention of the phrase invokes a sense of fear and dread. It conjures up images of an unknown, malicious plotter working alone and silently to perpetrate an unpredictable, undetectable and unstoppable act of terror. This one phrase combines the persistent fear of terrorism in modern society with the primal fear of the unknown.

The phrase has been used a lot lately. Anyone who has been paying attention to the American press over the past few weeks has been bombarded with a steady stream of statements regarding lone-wolf militants. While many of these statements, such as those from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano, were made in the days leading up to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, they did not stop when the threats surrounding the anniversary proved to be unfounded and the date passed without incident. Indeed, on Sept. 14, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, told CNN that one of the things that concerned him most was “finding that next lone-wolf terrorist before he strikes.”

Now, the focus on lone operatives and small independent cells is well founded. We have seen the jihadist threat devolve from one based primarily on the hierarchical al Qaeda core organization to a threat emanating from a broader array of grassroots actors operating alone or in small groups. Indeed, at present, there is a far greater likelihood of a successful jihadist attack being conducted in the West by a lone-wolf attacker or small cell inspired by al Qaeda than by a member of the al Qaeda core or one of the franchise groups. But the lone-wolf threat can be generated by a broad array of ideologies, not just jihadism. A recent reminder of this was the July 22 attack in Oslo, Norway, conducted by lone wolf Anders Breivik.

The lone-wolf threat is nothing new, but it has received a great deal of press coverage in recent months, and with that press coverage has come a certain degree of hype based on the threat’s mystique. However, when one looks closely at the history of solitary terrorists, it becomes apparent that there is a significant gap between lone-wolf theory and lone-wolf practice. An examination of this gap is very helpful in placing the lone-wolf threat in the proper context.

The Shift Toward Leaderless Resistance

While the threat of lone wolves conducting terrorist attacks is real, the first step in putting the threat into context is understanding how long it has existed. To say it is nothing new really means that it is an inherent part of human conflict, a way for a weaker entity — even a solitary one — to inflict pain upon and destabilize a much larger entity. Modern lone-wolf terrorism is widely considered to have emerged in the 1800s, when fanatical individuals bent on effecting political change demonstrated that a solitary actor could impact history. Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who assassinated U.S. President William McKinley in 1901, was one such lone wolf.

The 1970s brought lone wolf terrorists like Joseph Paul Franklin and Ted Kaczynski, both of whom were able to operate for years without being identified and apprehended. Based on the success of these lone wolves and following the 1988 Fort Smith Sedition Trial, in which the U.S. government’s penetration of white hate groups was clearly revealed, some of the leaders of these penetrated groups began to advocate “leaderless resistance” as a way to avoid government pressure. They did not invent the concept, which is really quite old, but they readily embraced it and used their status in the white supremacist movement to advocate it.

In 1989, William Pierce, the leader of a neo-Nazi group called the National Alliance and one of the Fort Smith defendants, published a fictional book under the pseudonym Andrew Macdonald titled “Hunter,” which dealt with the exploits of a fictional lone wolf named Oscar Yeager. Pierce dedicated the book to Joseph Paul Franklin and he clearly intended it to serve as an inspiration and model for lone-wolf operatives. Pierce’s earlier book, “The Turner Diaries,” was based on a militant operational theory involving a clandestine organization, and “Hunter” represented a distinct break from that approach.

In 1990, Richard Kelly Hoskins, an influential “Christian Identity” ideologue, published a book titled “Vigilantes of Christendom” in which he introduced the concept of the “Phineas Priest.” According to Hoskins, a Phineas Priest is a lone-wolf militant chosen by God and set apart to be God’s “agent of vengeance” upon the earth. Phineas Priests also believe their attacks will serve to ignite a wider “racial holy war” that will ultimately lead to the salvation of the white race.

In 1992, another of the Fort Smith defendants, former Ku Klux Klan Leader Louis Beam, published an essay in his magazine “The Seditionist” that provided a detailed roadmap for moving the white hate movement toward the leaderless resistance model. This roadmap called for lone wolves and small “phantom” cells to engage in violent action to protect themselves from detection.

In the white-supremacist realm, the shift toward leaderless resistance — taken because of the government’s success in penetrating and disrupting group operations — was an admission of failure on the part of leaders like Pierce, Hoskins and Beam. It is important to note that in the two decades that have passed since the leaderless-resistance model rose to prominence in the white-supremacist movement there have been only a handful of successful lone-wolf attacks. The army of lone wolves envisioned by the proponents of leaderless resistance never materialized.

But the leaderless resistance model was advocated not only by the far right. Influenced by their anarchist roots, left-wing extremists also moved in that direction, and movements such as the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front actually adopted operational models that were very similar to the leaderless-resistance doctrine prescribed by Beam.

More recently, and for similar reasons, the jihadists have also come to adopt the leaderless-resistance theory. Perhaps the first to promote the concept in the jihadist realm was jihadist military theoretician Abu Musab al-Suri. Upon seeing the success the United States and its allies were having against the al Qaeda core and its wider network following 9/11, al-Suri began to promote the concept of individual jihad — leaderless resistance. As if to prove his own point about the dangers of belonging to a group, al-Suri was reportedly captured in November 2005 in Pakistan.

Al-Suri’s concept of leaderless resistance was embraced by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the al Qaeda franchise group in Yemen, in 2009. AQAP called for this type of strategy in both its Arabic-language media and its English language magazine, “Inspire,” which published long excerpts of al-Suri’s material on individual jihad. In 2010, the al Qaeda core also embraced the idea, with U.S.-born spokesman Adam Gadahn echoing AQAP’s calls for Muslims to adopt the leaderless resistance model.

However, in the jihadist realm, as in the white-supremacist realm before it, the shift to leaderless resistance was an admission of weakness rather than a sign of strength. Jihadists recognized that they have been extremely limited in their ability to successfully attack the West, and while jihadist groups welcomed recruits in the past, they are now telling them it is too dangerous because of the steps taken by the United States and its allies to combat the transnational terrorist threat.

Busting the Mystique

Having established that when a group promotes leaderless resistance as an operational model it is a sign of failure rather than strength, let’s take a look at how the theory translates into practice.

On its face, as described by strategists such as Beam and al-Suri, the leaderless-resistance theory is tactically sound. By operating as lone wolves or small, insulated cells, operatives can increase their operational security and make it more difficult for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify them. As seen by examples such as Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hassan and Roshonara Choudhry, who stabbed British lawmaker Stephen Timms with a kitchen knife in May 2010, such attacks can create a significant impact with very little cost.

Lone wolves and small cells do indeed present unique challenges, but history has shown that it is very difficult to put the lone-wolf theory into practice. For every Eric Rudolph, Nidal Hasan and Anders Breivik there are scores of half-baked lone-wolf wannabes who either botch their operations or are uncovered before they can launch an attack.

It is a rare individual who possesses the requisite combination of will, discipline, adaptability, resourcefulness and technical skill to make the leap from theory to practice and become a successful lone wolf. Immaturity, impatience and incompetence are frequently the bane of failed lone-wolf operators, who also frequently lack a realistic assessment of their capabilities and tend to attempt attacks that are far too complex. When they try to do something spectacular they frequently achieve little or nothing. By definition and operational necessity, lone-wolf operatives do not have the luxury of attending training camps where they can be taught effective terrorist tradecraft. Nasir al-Wahayshi has recognized this and has urged jihadist lone wolves to focus on simple, easily accomplished attacks that can be conducted with readily available items and that do not require advanced tradecraft to succeed.

It must also be recognized that attacks, even those conducted by lone wolves, do not simply materialize out of a vacuum. Lone wolf attacks must follow the same planning process as an attack conducted by a small cell or hierarchical group. This means that lone wolves are also vulnerable to detection during their planning and preparation for an attack — even more so, since a lone wolf must conduct each step of the process alone and therefore must expose himself to detection on multiple occasions rather than delegate risky tasks such as surveillance to someone else in order to reduce the risk of detection. A lone wolf must conduct all the preoperational surveillance, acquire all the weapons, assemble and test all the components of the improvised explosive device (if one is to be used) and then deploy everything required for the attack before launching it.

Certainly, there is far more effort in a truck bomb attack than a simple attack with a knife, and the planning process is shorter for the latter, but the lone wolf still must follow and complete all the steps. While this operational model offers security advantages regarding communications and makes it impossible for the authorities to plant an informant in a group, it also increases operational security risks by exposing the lone operator at multiple points of the planning process.

Operating alone also takes more time, does not allow the lone attacker to leverage the skills of others and requires that the lone attacker provide all the necessary resources for the attack. When we consider all the traits required for someone to bridge the gap between lone-wolf theory and practice, from will and discipline to self-sufficiency and tactical ability, there simply are not many people who have both the ability and the intent to conduct such attacks. This is why we have not seen more lone-wolf attacks despite the fact that the theory does offer some tactical advantages and has been around for so long.

The limits of working alone also mean that, for the most part, lone-wolf attacks tend to be smaller and less damaging than attacks conducted by independent cells or hierarchical organizations. Breivik’s attack in Norway and Hasan’s attack at Fort Hood are rare exceptions and not the rule.

When we set aside the mystique of the lone wolf and look at the reality of the phenomenon, we can see that the threat is often far less daunting in fact than in theory. One of the most vocal proponents of the theory in the white supremacist movement in the late 1990s was a young California neo-Nazi named Alex Curtis. After Curtis was arrested in 2000 and convicted of harassing Jewish figures in Southern California, it was said that when he made the jump from “keyboard commando” to conducting operations in the physical world he proved to be more of a “stray mutt” than a lone wolf.

Lone wolves — or stray mutts — do pose a threat, but that threat must be neither overstated nor ignored. Lone attackers are not mythical creatures that come out of nowhere to inflict harm. They follow a process and are vulnerable to detection at certain times during that process. Cutting through the hype is an important step in dispelling the mystique and addressing the problems posed by such individuals in a realistic and practical way.
Cutting Through the Lone-Wolf Hype is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

I am a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment

But I think we can make an exception in the case of this idiot....

Taco Bell Hot Sauce Beef Ends In Patron's Bust | The Smoking Gun
SEPTEMBER 21--Angered that his Taco Bell drive-thru order failed to include hot sauce, a Missouri man returned to the fast food restaurant and allegedly pulled a shotgun on an employee, who fled in fear from the takeout window.

The bizarre incident Saturday evening resulted in the arrest of Jeremy Combs, a 30-year-old convicted felon, on both state and federal charges. Combs is pictured in the below mug shot.

You know he does look like a turd

According to a U.S. District Court complaint, investigators with the Lee’s Summit Police Department interviewed Combs Sunday afternoon about the incident. Combs admitted that he had purchased several items from Taco Bell, only to return home to discover “the Taco Bell employee had failed to include his…hot sauce.”

While Combs told cops that he “became upset and drove back to the Taco Bell to confront the employee,” he denied brandishing a shotgun at the drive-thru worker. He said the item was actually a tire iron, a claim police say is belied by Taco Bell surveillance footage showing Combs in his Ford F-150 truck.

During a subsequent search of Combs’s residence, police discovered a Mossberg shotgun with live rounds of ammunition affixed to its side (the weapon was hidden under the mattress in Combs’s bedroom). In a conversation Monday with a Lee’s Summit detective, Combs reportedly copped to possessing the shotgun at Taco Bell, adding that he bought the weapon--which did not have a serial number--“from ‘Mark’ at a drug house in Independence, Missouri.”

The incarcerated Combs is scheduled for a detention hearing tomorrow in federal court in Kansas City. According to the criminal complaint, Combs’s rap sheet includes 14 felony arrests and three felony convictions. (3 pages)
A gun with the serial number erased...gotta love this one. Hey, maybe he can be a G-Man and sell them to Mexican gangs...hey if ATF can do it why not him.

You would think a lawyer would have some standards

In recent years I had to testify in a case that involved a sexual assault of a juvenile. The child was less than 6 years old when he was violated. I was speaking with the prosecutor afterwards (and yes he was convicted and sentenced to life) and told him "I almost felt some sympathy for the devil himself. Not the turd, his lawyer. You have to defend that!"

Lawyers sometimes have to defend the worse in our society and a defendant has the right to a competent defense. Lawyers for civil litigation on the other hand can decline to take a case. And I would expect that in this case.

To whomever took this case you're doing your profession no credit.
B.C. man sued by mother for parental support - British Columbia - CBC News

'I haven't talked to her in years and years and years'

Ken Anderson, 47, has been fighting a lawsuit by his mother, Shirley Anderson, 73, since 2000.

Shirley, who has not had a relationship with Ken or his two siblings for decades, is asking for $750 per month in support from each of them.

A rarely used section of B.C.'s Family Relations Act says adult children are responsible for legally supporting parents who are "dependent on a child because of age, illness, infirmity or economic circumstances."

The B.C. Law Institute recommended repealing the section in a 2007 report.

"I don't know how anybody could go after their kids," Anderson said in an interview with CBC News. "First of all the law is brutal that they can allow this to happen. Hopefully they'll change the law."

Case asked to be thrown out

Anderson said he was left behind at 15 when his parents and younger brother moved from Osoyoos to the Kootenays. The teen lived with other families and quit school to find work.

"We don't have a relationship. I haven't talked to her in years and years and years," he said. "She's just out to make our life miserable."

"I had to make my own way in life and now she's coming back for ... a free living from us kids," said Anderson. The married truck driver lives north of Osoyoos with two teenage sons...

Hopefully the judge dismisses this quick. I personally think children should support their parents in their declining years but this woman is no parent. She's a breeder. Sorry woman but parents raise children, are there for them in the good times and bad and I cannot see a mother abandoning the children they have born. You are no mother but a leech. I pray these people are rid of you quick. They have families to take care of and and excellent example of how not to handle children.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's going on in the World Today 110921



U.S. Naval Update Map: Sept. 21, 2011

U.S.: UAV Bases Being Built In Africa, Arabian Peninsula September 21, 2011

The Obama administration is building secret unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) bases for counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, specifically Ethiopia, the Seychelles and Djibouti, as part of a new campaign targeting al Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen, U.S. officials said, The Washington Post reported Sept. 21. The CIA is also building an airstrip in the Arabian Peninsula to allow for the deployment of UAVs over Yemen.

September 19, Defense News – (National) Schwartz: F-22 grounding ends this week. The F-22 Raptor will take to the air September 21 after 4 months on the ground for safety reasons. The U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff announced an end to the fleetwide stand-down September 19 — first in a letter to Congress, then in a statement posted on the Air Force's Web site. The chief approved a plan developed by Air Combat Command that allows the 160 twin-engine fighters to fly above 50,000 feet — the Raptor flies at 60,000 feet in normal circumstances — after an extensive inspection of every aircraft's life support systems. The systems also will be inspected daily. In addition, the plan calls for pilots to undergo physiological tests and to use additional protective equipment, although the statement did not specify the equipment. In his statement, the Chief said he based his decision on studies conducted by the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, which has been investigating the Raptor since the standdown took effect May 3. Source: http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=7725181&c=AME&s=AIR

September 17, NewsCore – (Michigan) Homemade bomb found in women's restroom in Detroit. A homemade bomb was discovered September 17 inside the ladies' restroom at Adi's Coney Island diner in Detroit, causing a section of the city to go into lockdown. A restaurant employee discovered the device, which police called an IED (improvised explosive device) around 3 p.m. and called police. The entire neighborhood was blocked off and businesses closed while investigators swept the area for other potential threats. Members of the bomb squad detonated the explosive at a nearby car wash. Officials said people could have been seriously hurt if the device had gone off inside the bathroom. A glass bottle was inside the plastic shell, and it was loaded with gasoline, police said. The DHS is investigating and the person(s) responsible will likely face federal charges. Source: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/09/17/homemade-bomb-found-in-womensrestroom-in-Detroit/


New York Times – (International) Siemens abandoning nuclear power business. Siemens, the largest engineering conglomerate in Europe, announced September 18 that following the German government’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022, it would stop building nuclear power plants anywhere in the world. Siemens, which built all of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants, is the first big company to announce such a shift in strategy. But other German companies involved in the nuclear energy industry are also reconsidering their options. The company will continue to produce some products used in nuclear power. “We will provide conventional steam turbines that can be used for nuclear power plants and conventional power plants,” a spokesman for Siemens’ energy business said. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/business/global/19ihtsiemens19.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss


Dispatch: India and China Compete For Influence in the South China Sea

U.S.: Officials Plan To Sell Taiwan F-16 Upgrades September 21, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration submitted to Congress on Sept. 21 a proposed sale that would provide Taiwan upgrades for F-16 A/B jets rather than new C/D F-16 jet models, Bloomberg reported. The deal allows Taiwan to get $5.3 billion in upgrades for 145 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 A/B fighter jets. According to Pentagon notices on the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s website, the upgrades include radar, communications, guided bombs and other technology and training. The United States would sell $52 million in spare parts and a $500 million pilot training and support program to Taiwan.


Ukraine Joins Russia, Belarus in Military Exercises


Dispatch: Freed Hikers and Iran's Power Struggle






Rabbani Assassination Raises Questions As Negotiations Begin

Afghanistan Weekly War Update: Haqqani Network Hints at Joining Negotiations


Pakistani Taliban Attack a Police Official's Home

Egypt: Emergency Laws Will Stay In Place - Official September 21, 2011

Egyptian emergency laws will continue functioning through June 2012, the head of Egypt’s ruling military council, Gen. Adel El-Moursi, told Egyptian news agency MENA Sept. 21, Ahram Online reported.


Leaks from Colombia's Internal Intelligence Agency

Above the Tearline: Mexican Cartels and the Threat to Journalists


Geopolitical Calendar: Week of Sept. 19, 2011

Intelligence Guidance: U.S.-Taliban Talks, Iran's Power Struggle, Greek Austerity

September 20, Softpedia – (Texas) 3D printers used to create ATM skimmers. ATM skimmers were printed with high-tech 3D devices by a group of fraudsters who managed to steal more than $400,000 from unsuspecting bank customers, Softpedia reported September 20. The thieves replicated credit card slots on automated teller machines. The four men indicted by a federal court in June used a 3D printer to create scanners to place on ATMs. The scam began after the gang's leader was imprisoned for ATM fraud in 2009. The group's technical expert decided to print the front of ATM slots. The accomplice who handled the “heavy lifting” was a man from Missouri City, Texas. He was in charge with mounting skimmers on the machines, making sure that the surveillance camera's were blocked. The last member of the gang had the mission of driving all around Texas, emptying the bank accounts of the victims. According to the owner of a company that handles 3D printing, costs for a high-end device that could almost flawlessly reproduce the front of an ATM can reach $20,000. Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/3D-Printers-Used-to-Create-ATM-Skimmers222574.shtml

Except where noted courtesy www.stratfor.com