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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Am I hearing this from the Holder Just-Us Department....

The unmitigated gaul of the Holder Justice Department is on example again.
Some Chiefs Chafing as Justice Department Keeps Closer Eye on Policing

When Justice Department officials announced the results of a two-year investigation into civil rights violations at the Miami Police Department this month, it was the 11th time in two years that the federal government had put a local law enforcement agency on notice that it must change its ways or face a federal lawsuit.

Cities from New Orleans and Seattle to Missoula, Mont., and East Haven, Conn., are grappling with similar federally mandated changes after investigations into their police departments. In Miami, the Justice Department found a pattern of the use of excessive force — in an eight-month period in 2011, eight young black men were shot and killed by the police. This month, the Justice Department announced a sweeping settlement forcing Puerto Rico to change 11 areas of policing, including the use of excessive force, searches, stops and the handling of domestic violence. It was, the department said, “among the most extensive agreements ever obtained.”

Civil rights violations by police departments have been subject to investigation by the federal government since 1994, when Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. But federal intervention has become far more common and much broader in scope under the Obama administration, a development proudly highlighted on the Justice Department’s Web site.

During Mr. Obama’s first term, the department initiated 15 investigations into troubled law enforcement agencies, almost twice the number carried out in the last four years of the Bush administration. While early investigations focused narrowly on the use of excessive force and racial profiling, recent inquiries have taken on a host of other issues, including the treatment of the mentally ill, the handling of sexual assault cases and unconscious bias of officers.

Last year, the department extended its purview further, announcing its intention to investigate a district attorney’s office over the handling of sexual assault cases. The Missoula County attorney, Fred Van Valkenburg, has so far declined to cooperate, arguing that under state law, the Justice Department has no standing to investigate his office....

...But the federal intervention has also caused frustration among some police chiefs, who say the government should work to find a cheaper and more efficient process. Consent decrees, they say, can drag on for years and impose huge cost burdens on cities that are least able to afford them.

In Detroit, which declared bankruptcy on July 18, a consent decree imposed to correct a range of serious problems including the use of excessive force, false arrest, illegal detention and failures in investigation and training is in its 11th year. In New Orleans, city officials asked the Justice Department to come in but are now contesting the consent decree, saying its measures are too expensive to carry out.

“We don’t disagree with the objectives at all,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, an organization based in Washington that conducts research on policing and recently issued a report on federal civil rights investigations into police departments. “What we find issue with is the mechanics of the process.”

In addition to cost, the issues addressed in the forum’s report included concerns that standards for compliance set by the Justice Department were sometimes unreasonably high, 95 percent in some instances; that the process was often adversarial rather than collaborative; and that there was a lack of measures to tell whether the federal intervention was effective.

Some police chiefs also complained that the Justice Department, in its eagerness to promote best practices in new areas, in some cases investigated police departments that, their chiefs argued, were not clearly in violation of constitutional standards....

...In some cases, consent decrees can also make it more difficult for departments to focus on fighting crime, some chiefs said. William J. Bratton, who as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department from 2002 to 2009 steered it through seven years of a 13-year consent decree, says he has no doubt that in some cases intervention by the Justice Department is necessary.

“The state of American policing is not where it should be,” Mr. Bratton said. But, he continued, “there is a tension, and it is felt by police chiefs, between the constitutional policing that we’re obligated to provide to operate within the law and the obligation to provide public safety in terms of controlling crime and disorder.”...

A consent decree is basically an agreement to allow a contractor to oversee a local police department. Like ay bureaucracy, the contractor has a motive to not get out of the contact. Money. If Gotham City PD is "in compliant" (an uncertain ever moving target) the contractor no longer has a job. Gee, I wonder who those contractors support with donations in the campaigns.

Now a question. Who is going to oversee the Justice Department in the violoation of Brian Terry's civil rights? Yu know, the federal agent who was murdered with one of the weapons in Fast and Furious. That man worked for Holder. For some reason Eric isn't concerned about his rights. Pathetics.

Monday, July 29, 2013

What's going on in the World Today 130729

[Rooster confronts the four outlaws across the field]
Ned Pepper: What's your intention? Do you think one on four is a dogfall?

Rooster Cogburn: I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned. Or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker's convenience. Which'll it be?

Ned Pepper: I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.

Rooster Cogburn: Fill your hands, you son of a bitch!

Out for a few days camping and one of the books I'm bringing to the camp is True Grit. Gotta love anything with the Duke! Have a great week!



U.S. Naval Update Map: July 25, 2013

July 22, WNBC 4 New York City – (New York) NYC 911 dispatch fails three times in one day. A portion of New York City’s emergency call system stalled three times July 22 for a total of 45 minutes and forced dispatchers to hand write critical information. Officials stated the part of the system that failed was EMS dispatch and it was scheduled to be upgraded in 2015.

July 23, Softpedia – (National) US Army sergeant admits to stealing information from Army computers. A sergeant in the U.S. Army pleaded guilty to accessing the Army Knowledge Online accounts of two individuals without authorization. She initially gained access by tricking the help desk into giving her temporary passwords and used the information she obtained to harass the targeted individuals.


Germany's Tenuous Transition to Renewable Energy

Germany's Energy Alternatives

Comprehensive EU Defense Integration is Unlikely

Europe: Is the Economic Crisis Abating?

Ireland Seeks a Calm Exit from Its Bailout

German poster campaign launched to find surviving Nazis

A poster campaign has launched in Germany aimed at tracking down the last surviving Nazi war criminals and bringing them to justice.

Some 2,000 posters showing the entrance to the Nazi Auschwitz death camp and asking people to come forward with information have been displayed in Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne.

The US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center offers rewards for useful information.

It estimates there to be 60 people alive in Germany fit to stand trial.

Some are suspected of having served as guards at Nazi death camps or being members of death squads responsible for mass killings, particularly early on in the war.

"Unfortunately, very few people who committed the crimes had to pay for them," leading international Nazi hunter and the centre's Jerusalem branch director, Efraim Zuroff, said.

"The passage of time in no way diminishes the crimes."

Most wanted Nazi suspects

As part of its "Operation Last Chance II" project, the centre is offering rewards of up to 25,000 euros (£21,500; $33,080) for information which helps to prosecute war criminals in Germany....


China's Geopolitical Fallout

Myanmar's United Wa Army

India Boosts Its Border Military Forces

Myanmar: The United Wa State Army's Uncertain Future

India: A Military Buildup on the Border With China
Philippines: Air And Naval Forces To Move Closer To South China Sea July 28, 2013

The Philippines is planning to move air force and naval bases to a former U.S. base in Subic Bay, northwest of Manila, to have better access to disputed areas in the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said July 28, AP reported. Gazmin announced the plans while on a state visit to South Korea and used the Philippine government's newly adopted name for the area, the West Philippine Sea. Territorial disputes have created high tensions between the Philippines and China recently.

China: Budget Carrier Set To Begin China-Taiwan Flights July 23, 2013

China's Spring Airlines Co. is slated to become the first budget carrier to run flights between China and Taiwan, The Wall Street Journal reported July 23. The carrier will begin flights between Shanghai and Kaohsiung, a city in southern Taiwan, in August, and will introduce service between Shanghai and Taipei before the end of 2013, a company official said


A Presidential Election in Mali

Sudan, South Sudan: Outsiders Try Diplomacy to Prevent Oil Stoppage

Libya's Constitutional Process Threatens the Country's Stability






Al-Qaeda claims Abu Ghraib and Taji mass jailbreaks

The prison attacks were very sophisticated, says the BBC's Rami Ruhayem

Al-Qaeda has said it carried out two mass jailbreaks in Iraq, which freed hundreds of prisoners including senior leaders of the Islamist militant group.

In an online statement, al-Qaeda said Sunday's attack was the final one in a campaign aimed at freeing inmates.

At least 20 security guards died when gunmen stormed the Abu Ghraib and Taji jails near Baghdad...






Egypt's Challenge to Contain the Muslim Brotherhood and Jihadist Militants

Egypt: Where Language Meets Geopolitics

Turkey's Losses

Syria: Accord Reached On Chemical Weapons, U.N. Says July 27, 2013

The United Nations has reached an agreement with Syria over an inquiry into its alleged use of chemical weapons, according to a statement released July 27 by the organization, AFP reported. The United Nations is demanding widespread access to investigate all allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, but the statement did not say whether U.N. inspectors would be allowed into the country. The Syrian government is reportedly insisting that inspectors only investigate possible chemical weapons use by rebels on March 19. Two U.N. envoys held talks with Syria's deputy prime minister and foreign minister July 23-24, according to the statement. The United States will continue watching the battle in Syria closely, but not with an eye toward throwing itself into the fray.

U.N. chemical arms investigator arrives in Syria to seek access

(Reuters) - The head of a U.N. chemical weapons investigation team arrived in Syria on Wednesday to discuss his inquiry into allegations that chemical arms have been used in Syria's civil war.

Ake Sellstrom's full team has not been allowed into Syria due to diplomatic wrangling over access. His mission this week aims to reach an agreement for it to start work in Syria.

Sellstrom, a Swede, is accompanied by the head of the U.N. Office of Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, who said on her arrival in Damascus that their mission was to prepare the ground for an investigation into chemical weapons use.

The team's visit is taking place at the invitation of the Syrian government and its members will meet Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem as well as technical experts.

Damascus has so far refused to let U.N. investigators go anywhere except Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and its Russian ally say rebels used chemical weapons in March.

Both sides deny using chemical weapons.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has insisted that his team be permitted to visit at least one other location, the city of Homs, site of an alleged chemical attack by government forces in December 2012.


Colombia: Placing a Militant Attack in Context

China's Expanding Involvement in the Latin American Energy Sector

Mexico: 22 Killed In Police, Gang Clashes July 24, 2013

Violent clashes between armed gangs and Mexico's security forces in Michoacan killed 22 people July 23, Reuters reported. The attacks mark a surge in violence where Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is testing a new security strategy. Mexico's Interior Ministry said in a statement that two federal police and 20 gang members were killed.

Chinese Investment in Venezuelan Energy


Geopolitical Calendar: Week of July 29, 2013

A High-Stakes Legal Battle for the IMF

July 25, IDG News Service – (National) Oil, gas field sensors vulnerable to attack via radio waves. Researchers from IOActive found a host of vulnerabilities in sensors used in the energy industry to monitor industrial processes and also found the sensors were susceptible to attack from 40 miles away using radio transmitters. Fixing the sensors would require firmware updates and configuration changes.

July 25, KNTV 11 San Jose – (California) Emergency systems break down in two Bay Area counties. In a 24-hour span, two Bay Area counties experienced disruptions in their emergency systems, including Contra Costa County’s system that sent out a countywide evacuation alert after a gas leak that was only supposed to reach a three- square block area July 24. In San Mateo County, the backup emergency line went down, forcing 9-1-1 calls to be rerouted through multiple locations while repairs were made to the system.

Except where noted courtesy STRATFOR.COM

Officer Down

Police Officer David Vanbuskirk
Las Vegas Nevada Metropolitan Police Department
End of Watch: Monday, July 22, 2013
Age: 36
Tour: 13 years, 9 months
Badge # 6482

Police Officer Dave Vanbuskirk died after falling during a nigh-time aerial rescue operation of a hiker on Mount Charleston.

The hiker had become disoriented and was stranded on a rock ledge near Mary Jane Falls. A Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department helicopter located the hiker and lowered Officer Vanbuskirk to the location.

Officer Vanbuskirk, a member of the Search and Rescue Section, attached the hiker to the hoist. As the helicopter began to raise the two to the helicopter Officer Vanbuskirk became detached from the line and fell to the canyon floor below.

Officer Vanbuskirk had served with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for 13 years. He is survived by his wife.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got 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. 

Because she's smarter than you!

Chess. When I was a kid (7-8-9) I was pretty good at the game if I say so myself. My friend Eric had a brother who came in second is state and he taught us the game. No, we never came close to challenging him but at least got to the point we could play a few minutes before he slaughtered us.

With that being said, I really don't think I would want to play this young woman.

Mass. girl, 9, becomes youngest US chess master

CHELMSFORD, Mass. (AP) — Only three years or so since first picking up the game of chess, 9-year-old Carissa Yip can already look down at 93 percent of the more than 51,000 players registered with the U.S. Chess Federation.

She has risen so far up the rankings that she has reached the expert level at a younger age than anyone since the chess federation began electronic record-keeping in 1991, a new level she reached in recent weeks.

Her father, Percy, who taught her until she began beating him within a year, said she could reach master level in as soon as a year.

‘‘Some never reach master level,’’ he said. ‘‘From expert to master, it’s a huge jump.’’

But Carissa, who will be a fifth-grader at McCarthy Middle School this fall, has improved by leaps and bounds.

She first played competitively at the MetroWest Chess Club and Wachusett Chess Club, at the latter of which she’s the top-ranked player. Last fall, she competed in an international competition in Slovenia, and in December, she'll play the World Youth Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

Carissa is hesitant when asked about her accomplishments, saying she doesn’t spend much time thinking about them.

But she also set a goal for herself this year to reach 2,100; an expert is anyone over 2,000. Anyone at 2,200 is a master. She also wants to one day become the first female to win the overall championship — not just in the female category, her father said...

...She later demonstrated her ability by playing with her back to the board, reading her moves to her father and keeping track of the whole board in her head. She has been called an intimidating player in an ironic way, because she’s far short of even 5 feet tall.

Her U.S. Chess Federation ranking places her in the top 7 percent of all players registered with the group and the top 2 percent of female players...

Great work Carissa!

Oh, the title of this post. A few weeks ago one of my girl's friends was working at a snow ball stand and her shirt said "Chess Club. Because I'm smarter than you!"

Police Officer Bruce Daniel Jacobs
Jackson Mississippi Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Age: 35
Tour: 5 years

Police Officer Bruce Jacobs was struck and killed by a vehicle on I-55, near Northside Drive, while removing debris from the highway at approximately 1:30 pm.

A barbeque grill had fallen from another vehicle and was blocking a travel lane. Officer Jacobs had retrieved it from the road and was attempting to place it in the trunk of his patrol car when he was struck from behind. He was transported to University of Mississippi Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.

The driver of the vehicle that struck him was also transported to the hospital with injuries.

Officer Jacobs had served with the Jackson Police Department for five years and was assigned to Precinct 4.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got 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. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Security Weekly: Global Arms Markets as Seen Through the Syrian Lens, July 25, 2013

By Scott Stewart

The many and diverse efforts to arm the various actors in the Syrian civil war are really quite amazing to watch. These efforts are also quite hard to decipher -- and intentionally so -- since many of the arms transfers occur on the murky gray and black arms markets. Indeed, it is quite doubtful that anyone, whether Syrian intelligence, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service or the CIA really has a complete picture of all the channels used to funnel arms into the conflict. Certainly, I cannot hope to catalogue all of them here. However, the efforts to arm all of the factions fighting in Syria do provide a great opportunity to discuss the global arms trade and its various facets.

The Nature of Weapons

To understand the global arms markets we must first understand some critical things about the nature of weapons. First of all, it is important to realize that weapons are durable goods. While certain types of weapons and weapon components have a limited shelf life -- such as battery-coolant units for the FIM-92A Stinger missile -- numerous other weapons remain functional for many decades. It is not unusual to find a militant or a soldier carrying an AK-47 assault rifle manufactured before he was born -- and in many cases even before his father was born.

Because of this durability, weapons provided to the anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s are still being used against coalition troops in Afghanistan. But 1980s-era weapons are not the only durable weapons in the theater: The Taliban is also attacking coalition forces in Afghanistan with British Lee-Enfield rifles sent to South Asia during the Victorian era. These antique main battle rifles with their larger cartridges and longer barrels have a demonstrated ability to engage targets at longer distances than the more modern AK-47.

But Afghanistan is not the only place where the durability of weapons is seen. Weapons provided by the United States and the Soviet Union to rebels and governments during Central America's civil wars are still making their way into the arsenals of Mexican drug cartels, and M-40 recoilless rifles provided by the United States to the government of Libya before Moammar Gadhafi's 1969 coup proved to be a very effective weapons system in the battle of Misurata, and today are being shipped from Libya to the rebels in Syria.

Sometimes, weapons can even outlast the countries that manufactured them. East German MPiKMS and MPiKM assault rifles are still floating around the world's arms markets more than two decades after the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist.

It is important to recognize that ammunition is also an important facet of the global arms trade. Ammunition tends to be less durable than weapons, and is also consumed at high rates. This means that while weapons are durable, they can only remain functional if sufficient supplies of the appropriate ammunition are available. One of the reasons weapons like the AK-47 have proliferated so widely is the ease and low cost of finding compatible ammunition for the rifles. In the case of Syria, the rebels can both purchase ammunition for weapons like the AK-47 and seize it from the government.

Weapons are also fungible, or interchangeable. An AK-47-style rifle manufactured in Russia is essentially the same as one manufactured in Pakistan or Egypt, and an M16-style rifle manufactured in China can easily replace an M16 manufactured in the United States. Indeed, in a place like Afghanistan or Syria, it is not unusual to find AK-47-style rifles manufactured in various countries and decades being carried within the same rebel group. Journalist C.J. Chivers has done a wonderful job chronicling the proliferation of the AK-47 in his book The Gun and in his blog.

Weapons are also goods that tend to retain their value and are easily converted to cash. Combined with their durability and fungibility, this explains why they so readily flow to conflict zones where there is an increased demand for them. Buying weapons from a place where there is an oversupply and then selling them in a place where there is a heavy demand can be highly lucrative. After the fall of the Soviet Union, arms merchants like Viktor Bout became incredibly rich buying excess Soviet weapons for very low prices in places like Ukraine and selling them for much higher prices in places like Liberia. In addition to cash, guns can also be exchanged for commodities such as diamonds, drugs and even sugar.

Arms Markets

There are three general types of markets for arms. The first is the legal arms market, where weapons are bought and sold in accordance with national and international law. The legal arms market also includes military aid sent by one government to another in accordance with international law. The parties in a legal arms deal will file the proper paperwork, including end-user certificates, noting what is being sold, who is selling it and to whom it is being sold. There is a clear understanding of who is getting what and under what conditions.

The second arms market is that involving illicit, or gray arms. Gray arms transactions involve a deceptive legal arms transaction in which legally purchased arms are shifted into the hands of someone other than the purported, legal recipient. One of the classic ways to do this is to either falsify an end-user certificate, deceiving the seller, or to bribe an official in the purported destination country to sign an end-user certificate but then allow the shipment of arms to pass through his country to a third location. This type of transaction is frequently used in cases where there are international arms embargoes against a particular country (like Liberia) or where it is illegal to sell arms to a militant group such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

In one example of a gray arms deal, Ukrainian small arms were sold to Ivory Coast on paper but were then transferred in violation of U.N. arms embargoes to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Another example occurred when the government of Peru purchased thousands of surplus East German assault rifles from Jordan on the legal arms market ostensibly for the Peruvian military. Those rifles then slipped into the gray arms world and were dropped at airstrips in the jungles of Colombia for use by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The third market is the illegal, or black arms market. In this market, the weapons are clearly transferred in violation of national and international law and there is no attempt to cover the impropriety with devices such as forged end-user certificates. Black arms transfers can involve regimes, such as when the Gadhafi regime in Libya furnished weapons to terrorist groups like the Abu Nidal Organization or the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Nation-states will often use the gray and black arms markets in order to deniably support allies, undermine opponents or otherwise pursue their national interests. This was clearly revealed in the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s, though Iran-Contra only scratched the surface of the untold tons of arms that were smuggled during the Cold War. But other times, the black arms market can involve non-state actors or even organized crime groups. The transfer of Libyan weapons from militia groups to Tuareg rebels in Mali or of weapons from the conflicts in the Balkans to criminals in Europe exemplify this.

Some weapons are also made in an unregulated manner, such as the homemade rockets and mortars made by Palestinian militant groups or the Syrian resistance. The cottage industry of illicit arms manufacture in Darra Adam Khel Pakistan has long supplied militants and tribesmen on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Weapons Flows to Syria

Currently, Syrian President Bashar al Assad's regime is being supplied through the legal arms market by Russia. At the same time, they are being supplied by Iran, but since Iran is forbidden from exporting weapons under U.N. Resolution 1747, these transactions are illegal or occurring on the black arms market.

Similarly, the Iranian and Syrian weapons provided to the al Assad regime's ally, Hezbollah, are illegal under U.N. Resolution 1701. Advanced Chinese weapons have also found their way into Hezbollah's arsenal, such as the C-802 anti-ship missile used in a July 2006 attack on the Israeli corvette Hanit. It appears Hezbollah received these weapons from Iran, which has purchased some of the missiles from China and manufactured its own copies of the missile.

The rebel groups in Syria are quite fractured. The weapon flows to these groups reflect this diversity, as do the number of different actors arming them. To date, the United States and EU countries have resisted directly arming the rebels, but covert efforts facilitate the flow of arms from other parties to the rebels have been going on for well over a year now.

One of the functions of the U.S. presence in Benghazi, Libya, was to help facilitate the flow of Libyan arms to Syrian rebels. From the American point of view, sending weapons to Syria not only helps the rebels there, but every SA-7b shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile sent to Syria to be fired at a regime helicopter or MiG fighter is one less missile that can find its way into the hands of militants in the region. Promoting the flow of weapons out of Libya to Syria also makes weapons in Libya much more expensive, and can therefore reduce the ability of local militia groups -- or regional militant groups such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or Boko Haram -- to procure weapons from Libya.

Even though the U.S. and Turkish governments are involved in the process of passing arms from Libya to Syria, it is nonetheless a black arms channel. The Austrian Steyr Aug rifles and Swiss-made hand grenades in rebel hands were purchased by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates through legal channels but then diverted to the Syrian rebels several years later via black market channels. I have not seen any of the documentation pertaining to the Croatian weapons sold to Saudi Arabia and then channeled to the Syrian rebels via Jordan, so it is difficult to judge if they were arms sold legally to the Saudis and then diverted via an illicit gray arms transaction or if the entire transfer was clandestine and hidden in black arms channels.

Obviously, the weapons supplied by the Islamic State of Iraq to Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist rebel groups is another case of black arms transfers. But some rebel groups have purchased weapons with cash on the black market in Lebanon and Turkey while other rebel groups have even purchased weapons from corrupt officials in the Syrian regime. Of course, the rebels have also captured some sizable arms depots from the government.

As one steps back and looks at the big picture, it becomes clear that as these diverse channels move instruments of war into Syria, their individual themes are being woven together to orchestrate a terrible symphony of death. It may be years before the symphony is over in Syria, but rest assured that shortly after its final crescendo, economic forces will work to ensure that the durable and fungible weapons from this theater of war begin to make their way to the next global hotspot.

Global Arms Markets as Seen Through the Syrian Lens is republished with permission of Stratfor

More proof that I will always have a job!

Last week I posted Always bring a gun to a knife fight!. Well this idiot kinda got that wrong.
Man Attempts To Rob Gun Store With Bat « CBS Seattle

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — The Washington County sheriff’s office says a man who attempted to rob a Beaverton gun store with a baseball bat and a knife was thwarted when the manager drew his own gun.

The sheriff’s office says the suspect walked into Discount Gun Sales Thursday afternoon, smashed a display case with the bat and removed a handgun.

Moments later the manager armed himself and ordered the suspect to drop the gun, the bat and a knife he also was carrying. The manger detained him until deputies arrived and arrested the 22-year-old Beaverton man on robbery and other charges.

More comment is not needed.

Police Officer Bruce Daniel Jacobs
Jackson Mississippi Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Age: 35
Tour: 5 years

Police Officer Bruce Jacobs was struck and killed by a vehicle on I-55, near Northside Drive, while removing debris from the highway at approximately 1:30 pm.

A barbeque grill had fallen from another vehicle and was blocking a travel lane. Officer Jacobs had retrieved it from the road and was attempting to place it in the trunk of his patrol car when he was struck from behind. He was transported to University of Mississippi Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.

The driver of the vehicle that struck him was also transported to the hospital with injuries.

Officer Jacobs had served with the Jackson Police Department for five years and was assigned to Precinct 4.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got 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. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Shift change!

The difference is clear as day and night!

Officer Down

Police Officer Robert "Bobby" Hornsby
Killeen Texas Police Department
End of Watch: Sunday, July 14, 2013
Age: 32
Tour: 4 years

Police Officer Bobby Hornsby was shot and killed while participating in a SWAT deployment at an apartment complex in the 1600 block of Grandon Drive shortly after midnight.

Earlier in the evening a resident in the complex displayed a weapon as he confronted several people who were using the pool. When initial units arrived the subject brandished an AK-47 rifle and barricaded himself in his apartment. The agency's Tactical Response Unit was deployed and arrived at the scene approximately one hour after the initial call.

As members of the tactical unit attempted to make contact with the man, the subject fired one shot and then opened the apartment door with his hands up. When the subject refused to exit the apartment the tactical team moved in to subdue him. The man backed further into the apartment, grabbed the rifle, and opened fire. Officer Hornsby and another officer were wounded before the subject was killed by return fire.

Both officers were transported to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, where Officer Hornsby succumbed to his wounds shortly before 2:00 am.

Officer Hornsby had served with the Killeen Police Department for four years. He is survived by his wife, daughter, and son.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got 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. 

A great play off a Paul Harvey classic

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Geopolitical Weekly: Recognizing the End of the Chinese Economic Miracle, July 22, 2013

By George Friedman
Major shifts underway in the Chinese economy that Stratfor has forecastand discussed for years have now drawn the attention of the mainstream media. Many have asked when China would find itself in an economic crisis, to which we have answered that China has been there for awhile -- something not widely recognized outside China, and particularly not in the United States. A crisis can exist before it is recognized. The admission that a crisis exists is a critical moment, because this is when most others start to change their behavior in reaction to the crisis. The question we had been asking was when the Chinese economic crisis would finally become an accepted fact, thus changing the global dynamic.
Last week, the crisis was announced with a flourish. First, The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-recipient Paul Krugman penned a piece titled "Hitting China's Wall." He wrote, "The signs are now unmistakable: China is in big trouble. We're not talking about some minor setback along the way, but something more fundamental. The country's whole way of doing business, the economic system that has driven three decades of incredible growth, has reached its limits. You could say that the Chinese model is about to hit its Great Wall, and the only question now is just how bad the crash will be."
Later in the week, Ben Levisohn authored a column in Barron's called "Smoke Signals from China." He wrote, "In the classic disaster flick 'The Towering Inferno' partygoers ignored a fire in a storage room because they assumed it has been contained. Are investors making the same mistake with China?" He goes on to answer his question, saying, "Unlike three months ago, when investors were placing big bets that China's policymakers would pump cash into the economy to spur growth, the markets seem to have accepted the fact that sluggish growth for the world's second largest economy is its new normal."
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs -- where in November 2001 Jim O'Neil coined the term BRICs and forecast that China might surpass the United States economically by 2028 -- cut its forecast of Chinese growth to 7.4 percent. 
The New York TimesBarron's and Goldman Sachs are all both a seismograph of the conventional wisdom and the creators of the conventional wisdom. Therefore, when all three announce within a few weeks that China's economic condition ranges from disappointing to verging on a crash, it transforms the way people think of China. Now the conversation is moving from forecasts of how quickly China will overtake the United States to considerations of what the consequences of a Chinese crash would be. 

Doubting China

Suddenly finding Stratfor amid the conventional wisdom regarding China does feel odd, I must admit. Having first noted the underlying contradictions in China's economic growth years ago, when most viewed China as the miracle Japan wasn't, and having been scorned for not understanding the shift in global power underway, it is gratifying to now have a lot of company. Over the past couple of years, the ranks of the China doubters had grown. But the past few months have seen a sea change. We have gone from China the omnipotent, the belief that there was nothing the Chinese couldn't work out, to the realization that China no longer works.
It has not been working for some time. One of the things masking China's weakening has been Chinese statistics, which Krugman referred to as "even more fictional than most." China is a vast country in territory and population. Gathering information on how it is doing would be a daunting task, even were China inclined to do so. Instead, China understands that in the West, there is an assumption that government statistics bear at least a limited relationship to truth. Beijing accordingly uses its numbers to shape perceptions inside and outside China of how it is doing. The Chinese release their annual gross domestic product numbers in the third week of January (and only revise them the following year). They can't possibly know how they did that fast, and they don't. But they do know what they want the world to believe about their growth, and the world has believed them -- hence, the fantastic tales of economic growth. 
China in fact has had an extraordinary period of growth. The last 30 years have been remarkable, marred only by the fact that the Chinese started at such a low point due to the policies of the Maoist period. Growth at first was relatively easy; it was hard for China to do worse. But make no mistake: China surged. Still, basing economic performance on consumption, Krugman notes that China is barely larger economically than Japan. Given the compounding effects of China's guesses at GDP, we would guess it remains behind Japan, but how can you tell? We can say without a doubt that China's economy has grown dramatically in the past 30 years but that it is no longer growing nearly as quickly as it once did.
China's growth surge was built on a very unglamorous fact: Chinese wages were far below Western wages, and therefore the Chinese were able to produce a certain class of products at lower cost than possible in the West. The Chinese built businesses around this, and Western companies built factories in China to take advantage of the differential. Since Chinese workers were unable to purchase many of the products they produced given their wages, China built its growth on exports
For this to continue, China had to maintain its wage differential indefinitely. But China had another essential policy: Beijing was terrified of unemployment and the social consequences that flow from it. This was a rational fear, but one that contradicted China's main strength, its wage advantage. Because the Chinese feared unemployment, Chinese policy, manifested in bank lending policies, stressed preventing unemployment by keeping businesses going even when they were inefficient. China also used bank lending to build massive infrastructure and commercial and residential property. Over time, this policy created huge inefficiencies in the Chinese economy. Without recessions, inefficiencies develop. Growing the economy is possible, but not growing profitability. Eventually, the economy will be dragged down by its inefficiency. 

Inflation vs. Unemployment

As businesses become inefficient, production costs rise. And that leads to inflation. As money is lent to keep inefficient businesses going, inflation increases even more markedly. The increase in inefficiency is compounded by the growth of the money supply prompted by aggressive lending to keep the economy going. As this persisted over many years, the inefficiencies built into the Chinese economy have become staggering. 
The second thing to bear in mind is the overwhelming poverty of China, where 900 million people have an annual per capita income around the same level as Guatemala, Georgia, Indonesia or Mongolia ($3,000-$3,500 a year), while around 500 million of those have an annual per capita income around the same level as India, Nicaragua, Ghana, Uzbekistan or Nigeria ($1,500-$1,700). China's overall per capita GDP is around the same level as the Dominican Republic, Serbia, Thailand or Jamaica. Stimulating an economy where more than a billion people live in deep poverty is impossible. Economic stimulus makes sense when products can be sold to the public. But the vast majority of Chinese cannot afford the products produced in China, and therefore, stimulus will not increase consumption of those products. As important, stimulating demand so that inefficient factories can sell products is not only inflationary, it is suicidal. The task is to increase consumption, not to subsidize inefficiency.
The Chinese are thus in a trap. If they continue aggressive lending to failing businesses, they get inflation. That increases costs and makes the Chinese less competitive in exports, which are also falling due to the recession in Europe and weakness in the United States. Allowing businesses to fail brings unemployment, a massive social and political problem. The Chinese have zigzagged from cracking down on lending by regulating informal lending and raising interbank rates to loosening restrictions on lending by removing the floor on the benchmark lending rate and by increasing lending to small- and medium-sized businesses. Both policies are problematic. 
The Chinese have maintained a strategy of depending on exports without taking into account the operation of the business cycle in the West, which means that periodic and substantial contractions of demand will occur. China's industrial plant is geared to Western demand. When Western demand contracted, the result was the mess you see now.
The Chinese economy could perhaps be growing at 7.4 percent, but I doubt the number is anywhere near that. Some estimates place growth at closer to 5 percent. Regardless of growth, the ability to maintain profit margins is rarely considered. Producing and selling at or even below cost will boost GDP numbers but undermines the financial system. This happened to Japan in the early 1990s. And it is happening in China now.
The Chinese can prevent the kind of crash that struck East Asia in 1997. Their currency isn't convertible, so there can't be a run on it. They continue to have a command economy; they are still communist, after all. But they cannot avoid the consequences of their economic reality, and the longer they put off the day of reckoning, the harder it will become to recover from it. They have already postponed the reckoning far longer than they should have. They would postpone it further if they could by continuing to support failing businesses with loans. They can do that for a very long time -- provided they are prepared to emulate the Soviet model's demise. The Chinese don't want that, but what they do want is a miraculous resolution to their problem. There are no solutions that don't involve agony, so they put off the day of reckoning and slowly decline.

China's Transformation

The Chinese are not going to completely collapse economically any more than the Japanese or South Koreans did. What will happen is that China will behave differently than before. With no choices that don't frighten them, the Chinese will focus on containing the social and political fallout, both by trying to target benefits to politically sensitive groups and by using their excellent security apparatus to suppress and deter unrest. The Chinese economic performance will degrade, but crisis will be avoided and political interests protected. Since much of China never benefited from the boom, there is a massive force that has felt marginalized and victimized by coastal elites. That is not a bad foundation for the Communist Party to rely on.
The key is understanding that if China cannot solve its problems without unacceptable political consequences, it will try to stretch out the decline. Japan had a lost decade only in the minds of Western investors, who implicitly value aggregate GDP growth over other measures of success such as per capita GDP growth or full employment. China could very well face an extended period of intense inwardness and low economic performance. The past 30 years is a tough act to follow.
The obvious economic impact on the rest of the world will fall on the producers of industrial commodities such as iron ore. The extravagant expectations for Chinese growth will not be met, and therefore expectations for commodity prices won't be met. Since the Chinese economic failure has been underway for quite awhile, the degradation in prices has already happened. Australia in particular has been badly hit by the Chinese situation, just as it was by the Japanese situation a generation ago. 
The Chinese are, of course, keeping a great deal of money in U.S. government instruments and other markets. Contrary to fears, that money will not be withdrawn. The Chinese problem isn't a lack of capital, and repatriating that money would simply increase inflation. Had the Chinese been able to put that money to good use, it would have never been invested in the United States in the first place. The outflow of money from China was a symptom of the disease: Lacking the structure to invest in China, the government and private funds went overseas. In so doing, Beijing sought to limit destabilization in China, while private Chinese funds looked for a haven against the storm that was already blowing. 
Rather than the feared repatriation of funds, the United States will continue to be the target of major Chinese cash inflows. In a world where Europe is still reeling, only the United States is both secure and large enough to contain Chinese appetites for safety. Just as Japanese investment in the 1990s represented capital flight rather than a healthy investment appetite, so the behavior we have seen from Chinese investors in recent years is capital flight: money searching for secure havens regardless of return. This money has underpinned American markets; it is not going away, and in fact more is on the way. 
The major shift in the international order will be the decline of China's role in the region. China's ability to project military power in Asia has been substantially overestimated. Its geography limits its ability to project power in Eurasia, an endeavor that would require logistics far beyond China's capacity. Its naval capacity is still limited compared with the United States. The idea that it will compensate for internal economic problems by genuine (as opposed to rhetorical) military action is therefore unlikely. China has a genuine internal security problem that will suck the military, which remains a domestic security force, into actions of little value. In our view, the most important shift will be the re-emergence of Japan as the dominant economic and political power in East Asia in a slow process neither will really want.
China will continue to be a major power, and it will continue to matter a great deal economically. Being troubled is not the same as ceasing to exist. China will always exist. It will, however, no longer be the low-wage, high-growth center of the world. Like Japan before it, it will play a different role.
In the global system, there are always low-wage, high-growth countries because the advanced industrial powers' consumers want to absorb goods at low wages. Becoming a supplier of those goods is a major opportunity for, and disruptor to, those countries. No one country can replace China, but China will be replaced. The next step in this process is identifying China's successors.
Recognizing the End of the Chinese Economic Miracle is republished with permission of Stratfor.

What kind of cop are you?

From Cop Humor

Monday, July 22, 2013

To some this would be good news....

I grew up in the mid 70s and early 80s and I remember fools saying we were running out of oil. Now I admit I believed it when I was 10. I also believed for a bit there was a thing called global cooling, err global warming, oh climate change.

Now we have been able to obtain additional sources of crude oil to fuel our economy for the foreseeable future. From the BBC.
The receding threat from 'peak oil'

Concerns about oil supplies running dry are receding, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Massive new discoveries in the US have led to a "dramatic" change in global prospects.

The IEA's head of oil markets, Antoine Halff, says forecasts have had to be repeatedly revised upwards in the past two years.

Declining US production has been reversed as oil extracted from shale and other new sources comes on stream.

Mr Halff told BBC News that concerns about an approaching "peak" in oil production have been "moved to the back burner".

"Just a few years ago, everybody thought US production was in permanent decline, that the nation had to face the prospect of continuously rising imports - and now the country is moving towards self-sufficiency," he explained.

"In the last few years, many forecasters have had to revise their forecasts upwards continuously - sometimes the ink was not dry on the previous forecasts before they had to raise their outlooks again."

Developments in major new fields in Texas and North Dakota are behind the change in US oil fortunes, with the so-called Monterey shale beneath California also in prospect.

There's enough oil in this country for another 100 years with our present technology”

According to one IEA estimate, the US may be on course to produce as much oil as Saudi Arabia by 2020, and possibly as soon as 2017....

...According to one independent oil producer, Fred Holmes of Holmes Western, the key factor is a high price for oil, making it worthwhile to continue exploiting existing fields and explore new ones.

"There's still plenty of oil - we just haven't got all of it out of the ground yet. There's not a real danger of there being no fossil fuel… the oil is still valuable and it's not easy to get," he told BBC News.

"There's enough oil in this country for another 100 years with our present technology and there's more around the world to be found yet."

Sounds like good news for the country. Now one point to make is if it was up to B Hussein Obama et all we would not have this new supply.

Now with such good news, you know some people would not stand for it.
The prospect of a new oil rush has angered environmental campaigners, who argue that the focus should remain on a transition away from fossil fuels.

Kassie Siegel of the Centre for Biological Diversity said that "a rapid shift to clean energy" was needed to help tackle climate change, and that the mere existence of new oil resources did not mean that they had to be extracted and burned.

She told BBC News: "We need to win the battle against this big new oil boom in California - and we have to win it in California, where we pride ourselves on being a leader in responding to the climate crisis. Because if we can't win in California, where in the US can we win it?

"We're faced with a choice about what we're going to do with all this new oil - and we cannot burn this oil without lighting the fuse on a carbon bomb which would shatter our state's efforts to deal with greenhouse gas emissions."

Tom Frantz, an almond farmer and campaigner, has kept watch on the first fracking operations in the area of Shafter, near Bakersfield in California, as oil companies start exploring the potential of the Monterey shale.

"This is the tip of the iceberg with 70 wells," he told BBC News. "There could be 500 wells in the same area in three years if it's economical and this could extend north.

"Everybody in the path of this thing could be run over in a tidal wave of oil drilling and fracking and hazardous emissions."...

Five hundred wells? Man, in spite of the best efforts of the idiots like Jerry Brown their might be hope for the economy of California. And of America. We could have an economic renaissance if it were not for people with their boot's on the neck of our industry. Hopefully we see them gone from power soon enough.

Officer Down

Police Officer Larry Candelari
Pasadena Texas Police Department
End of Watch: Friday, April 26, 2013
Age: 49
Tour: 23 years
Badge # 0888

Police Officer Larry Candelari was struck and killed by a vehicle as he and another officer attempted to help victims of a previous accident on I-10, near the Kerr County / Gillespie County line, at approximately 10:00 pm.

Officer Candelari and the other officer were returning to Pasadena from a hunting trip when they encountered the accident on a highway bridge. One of the involved vehicles had been pulling a trailer that was blocking one of the travel lanes. Both officers exited their vehicles and displayed their badges on their shirts as they tended the victims of the accident.

A tractor trailer entered the accident scene and struck the vehicles that had been involved in the crash as well as several other vehicles. Officer Candelari and the other officer were both caught in the wreckage as they stood outside one of the cars. Officer Candelari was fatally injured while the other officer suffered an injury that caused him to lose one leg.

Officer Candelari was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Pasadena Police Department for 23 years. He is survived by his wife, two sons, and one granddaughter. One of his sons is also a police officer.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got 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. 

What's going on in the World Today 130721

Hannibal Lecter: You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition's given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you've tried so desperately to shed: pure West Virginia. What is your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you... all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars... while you could only dream of getting out... getting anywhere... getting all the way to the FBI.

Clarice Starling: You see a lot, Doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don't you - why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you're afraid to.

Hannibal Lecter: A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.



July 12, Health IT Security – (Texas) Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital reports data breach. Patients admitted to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth between 1980 and 1990 were notified after the hospital discovered a portion of a microfiche that contained the patient’s personal information and was meant to be destroyed by its paper-shredding vendor, Shred-It, was found in a park. As a result, the hospital changed its paper destruction vendors.

Source: http://healthitsecurity.com/2013/07/12/texas-health-harris-methodist-hospital- reports-data-breach/


German Chancellor Merkel urges better data protection rules

Chancellor Merkel made her comments during her annual summer interview with Germany's public broadcaster
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to push for tougher European laws to protect personal information on the internet.

In a TV interview with the public broadcaster ARD, she said Germany wanted internet companies "to tell us in Europe who they are giving data to".

Her comments follow revelations about a US spying operation that collects users' data from internet companies.

Mrs Merkel also said she expected the US to abide by German law.

Tensions have been running high between the two countries following reports that the US has been eavesdropping on EU and German officials.

"I expect a clear commitment from the US government that in future they will stick to German law," she said...

Poland: An EU Success Story Hits Troubled Times


Japan's Elections Set the Stage for Reforms

India Declares 5,748 Missing in Himalayan Floods

Britain to offer military training to Burma to help end ethnic conflicts
Britain will offer Burma military training and official assistance to tackle its internal conflicts during a groundbreaking official visit by President Thein Sein to meet David Cameron that was due to begin on Sunday night.

Japan: Chinese Naval Fleet Spotted Off Northern Coast, Defense Ministry Says July 14, 2013

A Chinese naval fleet was spotted July 14 sailing through the Soya Strait from the Sea of Japan to the Sea of Okhotsk, the Japanese Defense Ministry said, AFP reported, citing Kyodo. Chinese ships had never been seen in the strait, which narrowly separates the Russian island of Sakhalin and the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido. The fleet included two missile destroyers, two frigates and a supply ship that took part in joint naval exercises with Russia off the coast of Vladivostok from July 5 to July 12, according to the ministry. Two other Chinese ships that also took part in the drills were seen moving into the East China Sea on a typical route farther from the Japanese coast. The reason for the passage through the strait is unknown, an unnamed ministry official said.


Three killed in attack on bus in Egypt’s Sinai

At least three people were killed and 17 wounded when suspected militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at a bus carrying workers in Egypt’s North Sinai province early on Monday, security and medical sources said.



Urban Investment in Inland China

China economic growth slows, partly on purpose

Although it's a 'painful process,' China's leaders seem willing to sacrifice rapid economic expansion for stable growth that creates jobs with higher salaries.

BEIJING — China's economy is slowing fast. And that may be a very good thing.

Falling exports and tighter credit cooled China's growth in the second quarter to 7.5% from a year earlier, officials said Monday. Growth in the first quarter was 7.7% and many analysts now predict the nation's gross domestic product will expand 7.5% — or even less — for the year.

Although that's a blistering pace compared with those of the U.S. and many other Western nations, it would be a drop from China's 7.8% rate last year and the country's slowest growth since 1990 after nearly two decades of double-digit annual expansion.

Although some of the deceleration is linked to global economic factors — such as continued weakness in Europe and the prospect of tighter monetary policy in the U.S. — a portion seems to be the result of deliberate policy choices by the new Chinese leaders who took office in the spring.

In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, Chinese authorities unleashed a flood of stimulus to keep the economy going while the rest of the world slowed, and they kept the spigots on until this year. But much of the cheap money ended up circulating in financial markets or being plowed into real estate ventures and infrastructure projects rather than being used to expand and improve businesses...




Hassan Rouhani, Iran President-Elect, Criticizes Ahmadinejad For Misleading Economic Data

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's president-elect on Monday leveled his first criticism of the outgoing administration since June's election, saying it has mismanaged the country's economy.

Several newspapers quoted Hasan Rouhani as saying his team of experts see the government's economic assessments as sugar-coated, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as having left much work to be done.

"We asked current officials about the situation of the country but their reports and those of our teams were very far from each other," he said in remarks published by the pro-reform Shargh daily.

Despite Ahmadinejad's claims of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, he added, only an average 14,000 were created annually over the 2006 to 2012 period.

Inflation, he said, actually stands at 42 percent and not the officially reported 32 percent. On Sunday, the central bank put the rate at nearly 36 percent....

Iran's New President Hints At Easing Internet Controls

Iran's President-elect Hasan Rowhani has already called for less filtering of the Internet, saying Iran must maintain its principles, but also needs to engage with the wider world.

"We should rectify our relations with the world," Rowhani said in remarks carried by Iran's Press TV. "Gone are the days when a wall could be built around the country.... Today there are no more walls."

There are certainly walls in Iran's cyberspace today – thousands of sites are blocked as dangerous or offensive, and technology to circumvent government filters is banned. An aggressive cyber-police corps actively hunts for those trying to get around state controls....


Series of bomb attacks in Iraq kill at least 42

BAGHDAD (AP) — A series of evening bombings near markets in and around Baghdad and other blasts north of the capital killed at least 42 people and wounded dozens of others Monday in the latest eruption of bloodshed to rock Iraq.

The attacks were the latest in a wave of violence that has claimed more than 2,000 lives since the beginning of April. Militants, building on Sunni discontent with the Shiite-led government, appear to be growing stronger in central and northern Iraq.


Israel, U.S.: Joint Aerial Drill Launched July 21, 2013

The U.S. and Israeli launched a joint drill July 21 at Isreal's Uvda Base in the southern Negev Desert, according to an Israeli military statement, Xinhua reported. The two-week-long drills will involve an undisclosed number of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, with pilots practicing air-to-air combat maneuvers, mid-air refueling, bombing runs and other missions. The exercise is designed to improve the interoperability and cooperation between the two forces, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said.

Israeli PM threatens to strike Iran

Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel may have to act against Tehran unilaterally to curb it from achieving its nuclear goal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran is moving "closer and closer" to building a nuclear weapon and warned that his country may have to act against Tehran to curb it from achieving its goal before the United States does.

"They're edging up to the red line. They haven't crossed it yet," Netanyahu said on Sunday on CBS News's "Face the Nation."

"They're getting closer and closer to the bomb. And they have to be told in no uncertain terms that that will not be allowed to happen."

Netanyahu went on to say that Israel had a more narrow timetable than Washington, implying it may have to take unilateral action to halt Iran's controversial nuclear programme...

Turkey: Israel Did Not Use Turkish Base To Launch Syria Attack - Foreign Minister July 15, 2013

Turkey did not let Israel use a Turkish military base or its air space to launch an attack on Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said July 15, Hurriyet reported. The attack in question was a reported July 5 airstrike to eliminate Russian Yakhont missiles in Latakia, Syria. Turkey supports the Syrian rebels in their fight against Syrian President Bashar al Assad, but will not risk a military intervention as long as the United States continues its restrained policy toward Syria.




The Pakistani Taliban's Dubious Syrian Claims

Report: Egypt opens criminal investigation against Morsi

Morsi, who comes from the Muslim Brotherhood, continues to be detained in what the military has called a "safe place."

CAIRO — Egypt announced a criminal investigation Saturday against the nation's first democratically elected leader, in a move that could lead to charges, Reuters reported.

Prosecutors — who have received complaints against ousted leader Mohammed Morsi and eight other Islamist figures, among others — are examining complaints of inciting violence, destroying the economy and spying, Reuters said, citing a statement from the public prosecutor's office....


A Dispute Within Mercosur

Mexico: Will Los Zetas Unravel Without Their Leader?


Geopolitical Calendar: Week of July 15, 2013

Except where noted courtesy STRATFOR.COM

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What a cop needs to be concerned about....

I found this article about the expansion of SWAT teams in the US since LAPD pioneered the concept in the late 1960's. If you look through their it raises some legitimate issues of overuse of SWAT. I remember how many people were astonished that the federal Department of Education has a SWAT team. Or that other departments which has little or no legit law enforcement function have them.

One thing did catch my eye.
If you browse online police discussion boards, or chat with younger cops today, you will often encounter some version of the phrase, "Whatever I need to do to get home safe." It is a sentiment that suggests that every interaction with a citizen may be the officer's last...

...Many longtime and retired law-enforcement officers have told me of their worry that the trend toward militarization is too far gone. Those who think there is still a chance at reform tend to embrace the idea of community policing, an approach that depends more on civil society than on brute force.

In this very different view of policing, cops walk beats, interact with citizens and consider themselves part of the neighborhoods they patrol—and therefore have a stake in those communities. It's all about a baton-twirling "Officer Friendly" rather than a Taser-toting RoboCop.

Mr Balko, a cop has more than one thing that is hazardous when he starts the watch, besides the possibility of getting shot. Many a year more cops are killed by auto accidents than pistol shots. However this is not the America of 1950s when a man started a watch, walked around with his baton and ate an apple from the fruit vender. Every time an officer pulls someone over the driver might be armed and not wanting to go back.

Suffice to say, SWAT and the militarization of policing in America will continue to one point or another. I for one would like to see SWAT teams stripped from the Department of Education, among other bureaucracies, as they have nothing to do with legitimate law enforcement. Sorry, DoE may have some issues with student loan fraud but that should be handled by the Department of Justice, either civil or criminal.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

K9 Down

'Indestructible' Minn. K-9 Euthanized

A Minnesota agency's police dog euthanized April 30 left a lasting legacy in law enforcement after enduring a stabbing, kicking, and near drowning.
Roseville Police Officer John Jorgensen used to call his German shepherd Major indestructible. Major was forced to retire from law enforcement in 2010, when a burglary suspect stabbed him several times, leaving his rear legs paralyzed. 
Major's sacrifice will help the state's working police dogs. Officer Jorgensen pushed for harsher penalties for those who assault police dogs. In 2011, Gov. Mark Dayton signed new legislation that makes any assault resulting in substantial bodily harm to a police K-9 a felony, reports the Pioneer Press.
RIP Major...

Geopolitical Weekly: Keeping the NSA in Perspective, July 16, 2013

By George Friedman

In June 1942, the bulk of the Japanese fleet sailed to seize the Island of Midway. Had Midway fallen, Pearl Harbor would have been at risk and U.S. submarines, unable to refuel at Midway, would have been much less effective. Most of all, the Japanese wanted to surprise the Americans and draw them into a naval battle they couldn't win.

The Japanese fleet was vast. The Americans had two carriers intact in addition to one that was badly damaged. The United States had only one advantage: It had broken Japan's naval code and thus knew a great deal of the country's battle plan. In large part because of this cryptologic advantage, a handful of American ships devastated the Japanese fleet and changed the balance of power in the Pacific permanently.

This -- and the advantage given to the allies by penetrating German codes -- taught the Americans about the centrality of communications code breaking. It is reasonable to argue that World War II would have ended much less satisfactorily for the United States had its military not broken German and Japanese codes. Where the Americans had previously been guided to a great extent by Henry Stimson's famous principle that "gentlemen do not read each other's mail," by the end of World War II they were obsessed with stealing and reading all relevant communications.

The National Security Agency evolved out of various post-war organizations charged with this task. In 1951, all of these disparate efforts were organized under the NSA to capture and decrypt communications of other governments around the world -- particularly those of the Soviet Union, which was ruled by Josef Stalin, and of China, which the United States was fighting in 1951. How far the NSA could go in pursuing this was governed only by the extent to which such communications were electronic and the extent to which the NSA could intercept and decrypt them.

The amount of communications other countries sent electronically surged after World War II yet represented only a fraction of their communications. Resources were limited, and given that the primary threat to the United States was posed by nation-states, the NSA focused on state communications. But the principle on which the NSA was founded has remained, and as the world has come to rely more heavily on electronic and digital communication, the scope of the NSA's commission has expanded.

What drove all of this was Pearl Harbor. The United States knew that the Japanese were going to attack. They did not know where or when. The result was disaster. All American strategic thinking during the Cold War was built around Pearl Harbor -- the deep fear that the Soviets would launch a first strike that the United States did not know about. The fear of an unforeseen nuclear attack gave the NSA leave to be as aggressive as possible in penetrating not only Soviet codes but also the codes of other nations. You don't know what you don't know, and given the stakes, the United States became obsessed with knowing everything it possibly could.

In order to collect data about nuclear attacks, you must also collect vast amounts of data that have nothing to do with nuclear attacks. The Cold War with the Soviet Union had to do with more than just nuclear exchanges, and the information on what the Soviets were doing -- what governments they had penetrated, who was working for them -- was a global issue. But you couldn't judge what was important and what was unimportant until after you read it. Thus the mechanics of assuaging fears about a "nuclear Pearl Harbor" rapidly devolved into a global collection system, whereby vast amounts of information were collected regardless of their pertinence to the Cold War.

There was nothing that was not potentially important, and a highly focused collection strategy could miss vital things. So the focus grew, the technology advanced and the penetration of private communications logically followed. This was not confined to the United States. The Soviet Union, China, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, India and any country with foreign policy interests spent a great deal on collecting electronic information. Much of what was collected on all sides was not read because far more was collected than could possibly be absorbed by the staff. Still, it was collected. It became a vast intrusion mitigated only by inherent inefficiency or the strength of the target's encryption.

Justified Fear

The Pearl Harbor dread declined with the end of the Cold War -- until Sept. 11, 2001. In order to understand 9/11's impact, a clear memory of our own fears must be recalled. As individuals, Americans were stunned by 9/11 not only because of its size and daring but also because it was unexpected. Terrorist attacks were not uncommon, but this one raised another question: What comes next? Unlike Timothy McVeigh, it appeared that al Qaeda was capable of other, perhaps greater acts of terrorism. Fear gripped the land. It was a justified fear, and while it resonated across the world, it struck the United States particularly hard.

Part of the fear was that U.S. intelligence had failed again to predict the attack. The public did not know what would come next, nor did it believe that U.S. intelligence had any idea. A federal commission on 9/11 was created to study the defense failure. It charged that the president had ignored warnings. The focus in those days was on intelligence failure. The CIA admitted it lacked the human sources inside al Qaeda. By default the only way to track al Qaeda was via their communications. It was to be the NSA's job.

As we have written, al Qaeda was a global, sparse and dispersed network. It appeared to be tied together by burying itself in a vast new communications network: the Internet. At one point, al Qaeda had communicated by embedding messages in pictures transmitted via the Internet. They appeared to be using free and anonymous Hotmail accounts. To find Japanese communications, you looked in the electronic ether. To find al Qaeda's message, you looked on the Internet.

But with a global, sparse and dispersed network you are looking for at most a few hundred men in the midst of billions of people, and a few dozen messages among hundreds of billions. And given the architecture of the Internet, the messages did not have to originate where the sender was located or be read where the reader was located. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The needle can be found only if you are willing to sift the entire haystack. That led to PRISM and other NSA programs.

The mission was to stop any further al Qaeda attacks. The means was to break into their communications and read their plans and orders. To find their plans and orders, it was necessary to examine all communications. The anonymity of the Internet and the uncertainties built into its system meant that any message could be one of a tiny handful of messages. Nothing could be ruled out. Everything was suspect. This was reality, not paranoia.

It also meant that the NSA could not exclude the communications of American citizens because some al Qaeda members were citizens. This was an attack on the civil rights of Americans, but it was not an unprecedented attack. During World War II, the United States imposed postal censorship on military personnel, and the FBI intercepted selected letters sent in the United States and from overseas. The government created a system of voluntary media censorship that was less than voluntary in many ways. Most famously, the United States abrogated the civil rights of citizens of Japanese origin by seizing property and transporting them to other locations. Members of pro-German organizations were harassed and arrested even prior to Pearl Harbor. Decades earlier, Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War, effectively allowing the arrest and isolation of citizens without due process.

There are two major differences between the war on terror and the aforementioned wars. First, there was a declaration of war in World War II. Second, there is a provision in the Constitution that allows the president to suspend habeas corpus in the event of a rebellion. The declaration of war imbues the president with certain powers as commander in chief -- as does rebellion. Neither of these conditions was put in place to justify NSA programs such as PRISM.

Moreover, partly because of the constitutional basis of the actions and partly because of the nature of the conflicts, World War II and the Civil War had a clear end, a point at which civil rights had to be restored or a process had to be created for their restoration. No such terminal point exists for the war on terror. As was witnessed at the Boston Marathon -- and in many instances over the past several centuries -- the ease with which improvised explosive devices can be assembled makes it possible for simple terrorist acts to be carried out cheaply and effectively. Some plots might be detectable by intercepting all communications, but obviously the Boston Marathon attack could not be predicted.

The problem with the war on terror is that it has no criteria of success that is potentially obtainable. It defines no level of terrorism that is tolerable but has as its goal the elimination of all terrorism, not just from Islamic sources but from all sources. That is simply never going to happen and therefore, PRISM and its attendant programs will never end. These intrusions, unlike all prior ones, have set a condition for success that is unattainable, and therefore the suspension of civil rights is permanent. Without a constitutional amendment, formal declaration of war or declaration of a state of emergency, the executive branch has overridden fundamental limits on its powers and protections for citizens.

Since World War II, the constitutional requirements for waging war have fallen by the wayside. President Harry S. Truman used a U.N resolution to justify the Korean War. President Lyndon Johnson justified an extended large-scale war with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, equating it to a declaration of war. The conceptual chaos of the war on terror left out any declaration, and it also included North Korea in the axis of evil the United States was fighting against. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is charged with aiding an enemy that has never been legally designated. Anyone who might contemplate terrorism is therefore an enemy. The enemy in this case was clear. It was the organization of al Qaeda but since that was not a rigid nation but an evolving group, the definition spread well beyond them to include any person contemplating an infinite number of actions. After all, how do you define terrorism, and how do you distinguish it from crime?

Three thousand people died in the 9/11 attacks, and we know that al Qaeda wished to kill more because it has said that it intended to do so. Al Qaeda and other jihadist movements -- and indeed those unaffiliated with Islamic movements -- pose threats. Some of their members are American citizens, others are citizens of foreign nations. Preventing these attacks, rather than prosecuting in the aftermath, is important. I do not know enough about PRISM to even try to guess how useful it is.

At the same time, the threat that PRISM is fighting must be kept in perspective. Some terrorist threats are dangerous, but you simply cannot stop every nut who wants to pop off a pipe bomb for a political cause. So the critical question is whether the danger posed by terrorism is sufficient to justify indifference to the spirit of the Constitution, despite the current state of the law. If it is, then formally declare war or declare a state of emergency. The danger of PRISM and other programs is that the decision to build it was not made after the Congress and the president were required to make a clear finding on war and peace. That was the point where they undermined the Constitution, and the American public is responsible for allowing them to do so.

Defensible Origins, Dangerous Futures

The emergence of programs such as PRISM was not the result of despots seeking to control the world. It had a much more clear, logical and defensible origin in our experiences of war and in legitimate fears of real dangers. The NSA was charged with stopping terrorism, and it devised a plan that was not nearly as secret as some claim. Obviously it was not as effective as hoped, or the Boston Marathon attack wouldn't have happened. If the program was meant to suppress dissent it has certainly failed, as the polls and the media of the past weeks show.

The revelations about PRISM are far from new or interesting in themselves. The NSA was created with a charter to do these things, and given the state of technology it was inevitable that the NSA would be capturing communications around the world. Many leaks prior to Snowden's showed that the NSA was doing this. It would have been more newsworthy if the leak revealed the NSA had not been capturing all communications. But this does give us an opportunity to consider what has happened and to consider whether it is tolerable.

The threat posed by PRISM and other programs is not what has been done with them but rather what could happen if they are permitted to survive. But this is not simply about the United States ending this program. The United States certainly is not the only country with such a program. But a reasonable start is for the country that claims to be most dedicated to its Constitution to adhere to it meticulously above and beyond the narrowest interpretation. This is not a path without danger. As Benjamin Franklin said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Keeping the NSA in Perspective COPYRIGHT: STRATFOR.COM