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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

And then there was one

I was behind on my final paper for the class and thankfully my professor let me have an unofficial three day extension to complete the assignment. He must have been finishing put because I uploaded the paper (only a 6 page item, not counting cover sheet, references, etc) at 800pm and by 1030pm he sent it back graded. 97! Got an A for the class. And now all I have left is the final class called Capstone.

Problem is the web site will not allow me to register until “all courses are completed…” and this course is shown as still in progress. So I have to wait until tomorrow and call someone to say “Hey, moron, let me pay you some more money please, err register for the class…”

Celebrated with a cigar, Community Coffee and reading a book for pleasure, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”. My goal was to read 26 books this year and I will probably fall a bit short (20 or so) but I was reading a lot for class.

Well, gotta get to sleep. Six comes up early (traffic job at eight) and I need the money. Christmas is coming up quick. And my boy Bugs has crawled under my bed sheets to say he is ready for sleep.

Have a great night.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Those who wear the badge....

I saw this on FaceBook and it puts in perspective what it means to put on the badge, the uniform and the Sam Brown. Emphasis mine.
"Those who fight monsters inevitably change. Because of all that they see and do, they lose their innocence, and a piece of their humanity with it. If they want to survive, they begin to adopt some of the same characteristics as the monsters they fight. It is necessary. They become capable of rage, and extreme violence.

There is a fundamental difference, however. They keep those monster tendencies locked away in a cage, deep inside. That monster is only allowed out to protect others, to accomplish the mission, to get the job done.....Not for the perverse pleasure that the monsters feel when they harm others. In fact, those monster tendencies cause damage...GUILT, ISOLATION, DEPRESSION, PTSD. There is a cost for visiting violence on others when you are not a monster. Those who do so know one thing...The cost inflicted upon society as a whole is far greater without those who fight monsters. That is why they are willing to make that horrible sacrifice so that others may live peaceably.

Before you judge one of us, remember this...

We witness things that humans aren't meant to see...and we see them repeatedly. We perform the duties that you feel are beneath you. We solve your problems... Often by visiting violence upon others. We run towards the things that you run away from. We go out to fight what you fear. We stand between you, and the monsters that want to damage you. You want to pretend that they don't exist, but we know better. We do the things that the vast majority are too soft, too weak, too cowardly to do.

Your life is more peaceful.....because of us.

The current political climate in this country holds that there is nothing worth fighting for. Submission is the popular mantra. Warriors are decried, denigrated, and cast as morally inferior. We know how childish, how asinine, and how cowardly that mindset is.

We know this.....There ARE things worth fighting, and dying for. We know that not every problem can be solved through rational discourse...that some problems can only be solved through the application of force and violence. And, while we do prefer the former....we are perfectly capable of the latter.

We believe that fighting what others fear is honorable, noble, and just....and are willing to pay the price for that deeply held belief. Why? For us, it isn't a choice...

It is what we are. We are simply built that way."

Michael Wallace

A book I've referred to multiple times is On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by retired Army psychologist Dave Grossman and a critical point he makes is police and military are trained to kill, but they keep this under control. Others, particularly mass shooters, have the ability to pull the trigger, but not the restraint. And yes, we run to the sound of the guns.

Security Weekly: Mexico's Disorganized Crime, September 17, 2015

By Tristan Reed

With the escape of infamous Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera in July, some speculated that his Sinaloa-based group, the Sinaloa Federation, would rise to power once again. But two months later, fissures and infighting among drug cartels continue unabated, proving that even Guzman is powerless to reverse the inevitable Balkanization of Mexico's drug trade. Ultimately, the forces that drive the evolution of organized crime are simply more powerful than any single crime boss. In fact, since Stratfor's last update in April, there has been little change in the key trends shaping Mexico's organized crime landscape.

This does not mean the territorial lines of Mexico's crime groups have not shifted, or that drug-related turf wars have subsided since the first quarter of 2015. But the trajectories of Mexico's three regional organized crime umbrellas — groups based in Sinaloa state, Tamaulipas state and Tierra Caliente — have remained constant.

Los Zetas, a Tamaulipas-based crime group, had actually expanded into Zacatecas state at the Gulf cartel's expense in an attempt to reclaim lost territory. However, the arrests of several of their leaders during the first quarter of 2015 have made it difficult for the group to consolidate its hold over criminal activity in Tamaulipas. Groups that once fell under the same crime group as Guzman are now operating autonomously and in some areas, such as in Baja California Sur, Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua and Sinaloa states, are violently competing with one another. Meanwhile, organized crime based in the Tierra Caliente region continues the steady rise it began in 2010 as crime groups fragment and the Tierra Caliente-based Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion expands into their domains.

Areas of Cartel Influence in Mexico

Sinaloa-Based Organized Crime

Soon after Guzman's escape, several English- and Spanish-language outlets predicted Guzman might consolidate control over organized crime in Mexico. After demonstrating his powerful networks, relationships with Mexican authorities and incredible wealth by orchestrating his jail break, it was thought that Guzman might take advantage of divisions and infighting among Mexican drug cartels and take over the drug trade.

However, prior to his February 2014 arrest, Guzman's Sinaloa Federation was already starting to fall apart. In western Chihuahua, particularly near the state's borders with Durango and Sinaloa states, criminal groups once under the Sinaloa Federation umbrella were clashing sporadically. In Tijuana, where drug-related violence began to climb again in 2013, virtually all organized crime-related violence was occurring among independent organizations that once fell under the top-down structures of the Arellano Felix Organization or the Sinaloa Federation. Starting in 2012, regional crime bosses who operated under the Sinaloa Federation umbrella began to fight one another in Sinaloa state. And in some cases in Sonora state, such as with Sajid "El Cadete" Quintero Navidad — who once operated under the Sinaloa Federation banner — crime bosses had realigned with Sinaloa Federation rivals like Trinidad "El Chapo Trini" Olivas Valenzuela. Before his capture in 2014, Guzman proved unable to fight against the overarching fracturing of organized crime. While Guzman was in prison, the once-consolidated trafficking circles continued to unravel in Sinaloa and other states such as Baja California Sur.

The Sinaloa Federation effectively no longer exists as a single, cohesive organization. Exceedingly powerful Sinaloa-based crime bosses remain, including Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia, Juan Jose "El Azul" Esparragoza Moreno, Damaso "El Licenciado" Lopez Nunes, and Fausto Isidro "El Chapo Isidro" Meza Flores. Collectively, these crime bosses control the vast majority of Sinaloa-based organized crime activities, but all are effectively running their own criminal organizations, at times working together and in some instances clashing violently. Guzman will use his newfound freedom to build up his enterprise once more, but he will be one of many powerful bosses, rather than the head of a single trafficking ring.

Tamaulipas-Based Organized Crime

As stated in our 2015 annual cartel update, Los Zetas were both poised to expand — as one of the widest operating of the cohesive crime groups remaining in Mexico — but ultimately suffer from the inevitable breakdown that all crime groups in Mexico face. Los Zetas had expanded into Zacatecas in early this year in an attempt to reclaim territory lost to the Velazquez network (also commonly called Los Talibanes, or simply the Gulf cartel). But many of the organization's leading members were arrested by Mexican federal troops in 2015, including the head of the group, Omar "Z-42" Trevino Morales. These losses have possibly fueled internal disputes and likely aided rivals, particularly in Nuevo Leon, Veracruz and Tabasco states, in challenging Los Zetas' position in the region.

In June, violence erupted in the Monterrey area of Nuevo Leon among rival cartels. In one of many incidents, a shooting at a Corona beer distribution center in Garcia left 10 people dead. Though Los Zetas were certainly involved given their presence in the area, precisely which other organizations played a role is not yet certain, particularly since now there are several crime groups calling themselves the Gulf cartel.

In August, attacks in Veracruz and Tabasco states revealed the growing strength of Los Zetas' rivals there as well in regions that have traditionally been strongholds for the Tamaulipas-based cartel. As-yet unidentified shooters killed a Los Zetas regional boss and his second-in-command Aug. 13 in a bar in Orizaba, Veracruz state. Such a leadership loss for Los Zetas at the hands of a rival, particularly in that region, is rare. Even as rivals confront Los Zetas, however, turf wars have not significantly raised overall levels of violence in Veracruz and Tabasco states.

Tierra Caliente-Based Organized Crime

As Stratfor also stated in its 2015 annual cartel update, the decline of both Tamaulipas- and Sinaloa-based organized crime has enabled a third regional criminal umbrella to emerge from the Tierra Caliente region in southwest Mexico. Tierra Caliente groups such as La Familia Michoacana that once operated under crime groups from one of the two other regional umbrella organizations had begun to expand on their own in 2010. While La Familia Michoacana and then its successor, the Knights Templar, have been weakened from fighting with criminal rivals and security forces, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion has since risen to lead the expansion of Tierra Caliente organized crime.

Given Sinaloa- and Tamaulipas-based organized crime's continued devolution, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion faces much less resistance from rivals as it expands into states like Baja California, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and Veracruz. Nevertheless, it still has competitors in the Tierra Caliente region where it is based, including Guerreros Unidos, Los Rojos, La Familia Michoacana, the remnants of the Knights Templar, and even civilian militias commonly referred to as self-defense militias or community police. As a result, Mexico's southwest region remains the center of organized crime-related violence in Mexico.

The breakdown of the Sinaloa Federation and decline of Los Zetas have pushed the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion into the national spotlight. In 2015, Mexico City renewed its largely ineffective efforts to combat the criminal organization. But the government has been distracted by social unrest in country's south and southwest, spurred by the Sept. 26 abduction of normalistas in Iguala, Guerrero state, and organized by militant teacher unions protesting against education reform. Since Mexico's June 7 national elections, however, unrest has fallen drastically while protesting teacher unions at the moment appear to have lost their capabilities to organize massive demonstrations that could overwhelm security forces. Federal troops will likely have more freedom to target Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion leadership.

Balkanization Continues

The continued fighting among the various crime groups, albeit occurring at lower and more localized levels, has resulted in levels of homicides in 2015 comparable to those seen in 2014. There were 9,601 intentional homicides nationwide from January to July 2015, compared with 9,317 during the same time period of 2014. Overall, violence is not likely to substantially decline by the end of 2015.

While each year Mexico's organized crime as a whole breaks down further, its sources of revenue are actually expanding. As a result, even lower-level crime groups still enjoy wealth to carry out turf wars with rivals, to evade targeted operations by federal troops and to expand despite rising competition.

As with each year since 2012, all evidence indicates that the Balkanization of organized crime in Mexico will carry on. Mexico's two most powerful crime groups, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation, will continue to fragment, possibly facing their inevitable demise. Meanwhile, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion will seemingly expand and consolidate territory — as did Los Zetas until 2013. However, as with its Tierra Caliente rivals such as La Familia Michoacana and the Knights Templar, this expansion will still attract the attention of the Mexican government, and the ensuring crackdowns will likely further fracture the drug trade in the country.

Mexico's Disorganized Crime is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Geopolitical Weekly: The Logic and Risks Behind Russia's Statelet Sponsorship, September 15, 2015

By Reva Bhalla

Mother Russia can be quite generous when it comes to her collection of statelets. In the early 1990s, when a broken Russia had no choice but to suck in her borders, a severely distracted Kremlin still found the time and money to promote and sponsor the fledgling breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia and Transdniestria in Moldova. And as Russia became more economically coherent over the years, the number of Russian troops in these territories grew, and a bigger slice of the Russian budget was cut out to keep the quasi-states afloat.

These post-Soviet statelets have a good deal in common. They are all tiny — South Ossetia is roughly 3,900 square kilometers (1,500 square miles) and has about 40,000 inhabitants, Abkhazia covers 8,500 square kilometers and its population is about 240,000, and Transdniestria is 4,100 square kilometers and has a population of 555,000. They are also all economically isolated, effectively run on black and gray economies, and are largely dependent on Russia's financial largesse for survival. Most important, from Russia's point of view, they each occupy strategic spaces in the post-Soviet sphere where Russian troops and thus the potential for further intervention can apply acute pressure on Georgia and Moldova should they draw too close to the West. The presence of Russian troops in these breakaway territories forms the tripwire that any Western patron will be wary to cross when it comes to defending those countries in their time of need. This, after all, is the true deterrent value of statelet sponsorship.

But Russia's strategy has also gotten to be a lot more burdensome and much more complicated in recent years. In addition to readopting Crimea (covering 26,000 square kilometers with a population of 2 million), Russia has added to its basket of statelets the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic (16,000 square kilometers collectively with a population of 1.5 million and 2 million, respectively) in eastern Ukraine. Though exact figures are hard to come by, various compiled estimates show Russia has annually been injecting about $300 million into Abkhazia and at least $100 million into South Ossetia and Transdniestria each to finance their annual budgets, provide cheap fuel, pay pensions and so on. In addition, Russia has allocated at least $2.42 billion in 2015 to support Crimea (not including military costs) and, according to a report written by Higher School of Economics analyst Sergei Aleksashenko, Russia has allocated at least $2 billion in the federal 2015 budget to sustain its military support in eastern Ukraine, a figure that continues to grow.

And the list is only getting longer. As the world has observed in recent weeks, Russian military support for Syrian loyalist forces in the coastal Alawite enclave of Latakia has dramatically increased, with all signs pointing to a long-term stay. Knowing that any negotiated settlement is likely to fall apart in the end, the Russian plan is to help Syria's Alawites carve out a de facto state. Meanwhile, back in the Caucasus, the long frozen conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh may also be taking a significant turn in the coming months. We see growing indications that Russia and Azerbaijan may be collaborating to shake up the status quo between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with Russia readied to send in peacekeepers and stay for the long haul in a bid to tighten its grip in the region.

From eastern Ukraine to Alawite Syria to Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia appears to be making a conscious effort to widen its footprint in strategic spaces. This will be a pricey endeavor, but the geopolitical logic behind these moves is not lacking.

Whether strong or weak, capitalist, communist or tsarist, Russia will be compelled to anchor itself to natural geographic barriers for its own security. In eastern Ukraine, the natural Russian extension is to the Dnieper River, and short of reaching that river, Russia will try its best to use the separatist regions to both undermine Kiev and create an imperfect buffer against NATO's growing involvement with Kiev. The Crimean Peninsula reinforces Russia's hold on its only warm-water base at Sevastopol on the Black Sea, and naval projection on the Black Sea gives Russia access to the Mediterranean. The ports of Latakia and Tartus on the Syrian Mediterranean coast — an Alawite stronghold now depending on Russian aid — gives Russia a physical foothold in the eastern Mediterranean and a platform to influence power plays in the Levant. In the mountainous Caucasus, where Russia has already been strengthening its presence in Georgia's breakaway territories and remains Armenia's only real patron, a developing bargain with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh has the potential to expand Russia's presence even more and thus reinforce a Russian buffer to the south.

A Buffer in Eastern Ukraine

In order of priority, Russia's position in eastern Ukraine comes first. Ukraine, from centuries past to today, forms the soft underbelly of the Russian state that must be insulated at all costs. If Ukraine comes under significant influence or control of a Western power, the Russian southwestern flank will be laid bare. But Russia is not strong enough to anchor itself on the Dnieper River and absorb both the military and economic costs of such an endeavor. So Russia must settle. The best Russia can do at this point is to try to consolidate autonomy for the eastern rebel provinces, using its tight grip over separatist commanders to dial up and down the conflict as the need arises. If Russia feels as though its demands are being ignored when it comes to NATO's buildup, sanctions or the like, violence in eastern Ukraine flares up. Once the Germans and the French get the message and start pressuring Kiev to make certain political concessions, the fighting quickly de-escalates.

This is a pattern that all sides are getting used to, but it is still far from ideal for Moscow. No matter what negotiations are in play, Russia is not about to withdraw its military foothold in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, that military dynamic provides the foundation for a pro-West Kiev to lean on the United States for help in defending itself against a persistent Russian threat. Russia must therefore carefully calibrate its military moves in eastern Ukraine, making clear that any Western push would risk a direct confrontation with the Russians, but also not going far enough to where its actions compel a U.S. response that could cause the Russian buffer to recede even more in the end.

Preparing for an Alawite Statelet in Syria

Russia's moves in Syria are deeply intertwined with this dynamic in Ukraine. Even as Russia is locked into a long-term tug-of-war with the United States over the former Soviet rim, Moscow needs mutual areas of interest on the periphery to shape a dialogue with Washington. The Russians see the conundrum the United States is in, trying to fight the Islamic State with the help of regional powers while also trying to avoid the messier process of wholesale government change. Since early this year, Russia has been expending considerable effort to try to cobble together a negotiation that would outline the shape of a post-Bashar al Assad state, making itself appear as an indispensable partner to Washington when it comes to finding an end to the civil war. The United States needs this negotiation, and it needs the backers of the al Assad government, Russia and Iran, to bring the loyalists to the table. The more the United States depends on Russia to facilitate the negotiation, so goes the Russian logic, the more leverage Moscow has to negotiate limits on Western encroachment in Russia's immediate backyard.

But Russia is also not under any illusions when it comes to bringing peace to Syria's warring factions. Any negotiation is doomed to fail so long as the more intractable and competent rebel factions prefer the battleground to the negotiating table. Russia's strategy thus comes in two parts — it must create a credible basis for a negotiation over Syria that it can use as leverage with the United States, but it must also prepare for the worst to protect its position in the eastern Mediterranean for when that negotiation inevitably falls apart. Russia's substantial military buildup at the ports of Latakia and Tartus on the Alawite coast in recent weeks, to go along with its existing naval depot at Tartus, speaks to both of these objectives.

For the Syrian government to be comfortable entering negotiations, it needs to first feel secure in its core territory, running from the south through Damascus up through Zabadani and parts of Homs and Hama to the Mediterranean coastline. This is a plan that Russia and Iran are working closely together on. (Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian major general and the commander of the Quds Force, is rumored to have traveled to Moscow earlier in September to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss the implementation of this strategy.) A look at the satellite imagery of Russia's buildup so far shows airfield construction, possible control towers and housing for troops. Russia appears to be building up the logistical capability to stage aerial assets, such as fighter jets and helicopters, to help reinforce the Alawite statelet. Stratfor sources have indicated that Russia's military buildup in Syria so far has cost around $500 million, sourced from the military budget of Russia's Black Sea command, while the military equipment Russia is deploying to Syria remains under Russian control. In essence, the Russian-Iranian plan enables the Alawites to enter a negotiation on a stronger footing, but also with the security that they will have a de facto Alawite state to fall back on as the Syrian state formally fragments with time.

A Shake-Up in the Caucasus?

Further under the radar, we can see Russia's strategy in the Caucasus starting to evolve after more than two decades of frozen conflict between the former Soviet states of Azerbaijan and Armenia over the tiny enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh (4,400 square kilometers and now a majority Armenian population of around 150,000) has been under the de facto control of Yerevan since a 1994 cease-fire ended the war between the two foes. Economically isolated, Armenia hosts some 5,000 Russian forces and sits firmly under the Russian security umbrella, lacking alternative patrons. In contrast, Azerbaijan, far less geographically constrained and endowed with energy resources, likes to keep its options open, always opting for a balance between the West and its former Soviet roots. That said, Azerbaijan and Russia have been a lot cozier than usual in recent months, raising questions in our mind whether Moscow has enticed Baku with an offer pertaining to the fiercely nationalist topic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan is fed up with negotiations mediated by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and wants to see if it can put its years of military preparations to work to retake the territory. Armenia, occupying the territory's high ground and thus holding the strategic advantage over Azerbaijan, would obviously prefer to keep the status quo. The only way Armenia would likely be forced to renegotiate terms on Nagorno-Karabakh is if hostilities resumed and Russia, Armenia's sole patron, were to play a dominant role in mediating their end. It is little coincidence that the Armenian rumor mill has been buzzing with speculation that Russia and Azerbaijan are developing an understanding that would have Russian peacekeepers occupy and neutralize the territory. We are doubtful that this plan could be imposed on Armenia solely through diplomatic means.

While we cannot be sure that this scenario will ultimately play out, we have collected enough clues to date that put a Nagorno-Karabakh shake-up high on our watch list. And with Nagorno-Karabakh on the list of territories up for Russian adoption, Russia's commitment to creating new footholds abroad has the potential to expand even more.

The Costs of Sponsorship

Russia's strategy may not be cheap, but it is entirely rational from a geopolitical point of view. Russia is weakening internally at the same time it is confronting a strong and growing threat from the United States on its former Soviet doorstep. While Russia is still in the game, it might as well create and reinforce as many perches as it can in its near abroad to leverage against the West and maintain whatever influence it still holds in preparation for much more difficult years to come. Thus, the bill that Moscow is footing for its statelets, even factoring in a volatile ruble, may still be quite reasonable from a Russian perspective. Operating from a low and still rough estimate, we can assume that Russia is spending at least $5 billion annually on these quasi-states, which is still less than 3 percent of Russia's 2015 federal budget of $206 billion. This amount does not include the large amount of pre-allocated defense budget that goes into the Ukraine and Syria operations. There is also an opportunity cost to bear in mind. Pre-allocated military resources cannot be redirected to other purposes, such as procurement, training, and research and development unless the defense budget as a whole continues to increase.

However, the costs are not just financial. Nagorno-Karabakh is a tinderbox; once the conflict resumes, it will not be easy to contain. It is a region where both a resurgent Turkey and Iran will try to push back against an overly ambitious Russia. In Syria, the threat of mission creep is also real, since the loyalist government is combating an assembly of Sunni powers with a shared interest to undercut Iran. Moreover, with Russia preparing the ground for stationing aerial assets, it must calculate the risks of operating in a crowded battlespace, with U.S., Turkish, Israeli and potentially other European and Arab coalition partners entering the fray. In Ukraine, just as Russian sponsorship of eastern Ukraine incrementally increases, a U.S. military buildup on Russia's European frontier will grow in kind. Ultimately, this is Russia's backyard, and Russia will be far more constrained than the United States when it comes to this level of competition. A statelet sponsorship strategy can go only so far.

The Logic and Risks Behind Russia's Statelet Sponsorship is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dan Blather, new media and Truth

What a crock!

Dan Rather was known for many things but one thing he is not is objective, open minded or truthful. But don't let the truth get in the way of a good fiction.

Some background. First, Dan Rather hates the Bush family, especially George W. Bush.

Then in 2000, Rather, at the last minute, brings out a 25 year old DWI incident on George W. Bush. On November 2, 2000, a couple of days before the election. And he had that news for months, but for some reason he waited till he could really hit Bush and W would have not time to react.

Now we go to 2004. Rather and Mary Mapes put out a story in saying George W Bush didn't perform his drills for the Texas Air Guard. And as backup they use Bill Burket's supposed letters to himself, that were again, written in the mid 70s.

Now I find it curious that the same objective media looks at a possible question if Bush conducted drills in the early 70s, but they will not even check into he background of our current president? But they send over 100 reporters to Alaska the day after Sarah Palin is announced at the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. And they are doing their best to destroy every Republican candidate this year. But I digress.

Now we have the propaganda from Robert Redford, a movie called Truth. Orwell is smiling now. But Redford is not explicitly saying it was "true", but that the corporate big wigs (like him) fell to pressure from the Bush campaign.
TIFF: Dan Rather Chokes Up at 'Truth' Premiere, Praises Film for Accuracy

"A film called 'Truth' should be accurate," the iconic CBS news anchor said of director James Vanderbilt’s movie about his 2006 exit and the events leading to it.

Iconic CBS news anchor Dan Rather on Saturday praised the Robert Redford-starring Rathergate movie Truth for its accuracy and performances ahead of its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.

"Naturally I was pleased, and pleasantly surprised. This film is very accurate. A film called Truth should be accurate," Rather told The Hollywood Reporter during a prescreening party. James Vanderbilt's movie centers on Rather's 2006 exit from CBS after a 60 Minutes investigation two years earlier into President George W. Bush’s alleged draft-dodging during the Vietnam war.

Rather praised the performances of Redford as the famed CBS newsman and Cate Blanchett as his CBS 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes. "The acting is superior. I think it's an emotional film. Of course people will say I found it emotional because it's about me. But I say that as objectively as I can," he said.

The movie, which played to a standing ovation at the Winter Garden Theater, paints a highly sympathetic picture of Rather's role in the scandal that cost him his job at CBS. After the screening, Rather appeared on stage with director Vanderbilt and actors Elisabeth Moss and Topher Grace (Redford did not attend).

Rather choked up when asked by an audience member if he would have done anything differently in his career. "Journalism is not an exact science," he said, adding that there were "plenty of things I would do over."

Since his exit from CBS, Rather said he had "spent a lot of time practicing humility … and tremendous gratitude." In the film, Rather and producer Mapes are depicted as crusading journalists whose story is attacked by critics with a political agenda. CBS News chief Andy Heyward is depicted particularly negatively.

The clear suggestion in the movie is that Rather and Mapes were fired to appease the Bush White House and to protect the CBS financial bottom line. Before the screening, Rather looked beyond his exit from CBS to stress Truth was less about him, Mapes and President Bush and more about the broader corporatization of the news business.

"In recent years, lobbyists, very large corporate executives and political operatives have begun to influence the news people get far more than people realize. In my years in journalism, this is the biggest development — the corporatization, the politicization and the Hollywoodization of news," he said....

Now what caught Bill Burkett and destroyed the credibility of the story was bloggers and other web sites looks at this supposedly 30 year old note and noticed the test was multiple sized.

Letters are different widths, such as an "I" is not as wide as a "W". However, in the early 70s very few typewriters had this feature, they set all letter widths to a standard size. There were some models that had different widths, but they were expensive and used for things like newspapers. I know this because in high school when I was in Air Force Junior ROTC we had two of them and used them to produce the squadron news paper, The Cadet. We would type the draft and then on each line mark it "-6" or "+5", meaning we would have to add a add or subtract spaces to make a right side adjusted. Took forever. Something you do by clicking a button now.

Bloggers and other web sites immediately looked at this and said "Wait, this looks like MS Word default settings and you will never get that from a typewriter." Within days Rather and Mapes were put on the defensive and left to saying "Well, there is no proof they are wrong." Now if his ego had not gotten in the way, Rather could have slipped out of it by saying, "We've got a few issues with our evidence and we'll get back with you..." but he couldn't do that. His hatred of the Bushes overrides anything and it finally bit him in the ass.

One of the major outcomes of this was the slap in the face it was to the major media. For ages they had great power in what was covered, but more importantly, what was not covered. Now with social media, Internet publishing and the deluge of new media their monopoly is gone. And they don't like that. But you can't stop the flow of time and your time is up. For Dan Rather, and the old time major media.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Security Weekly: Countering a Shapeless Terrorist Threat, September 10, 2015

By Scott Stewart

Last week's Security Weekly discussed how the digital revolution has allowed terrorist operatives employing leaderless resistance methods to act as their own media. For groups such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State, this ability greatly enhances the effectiveness of propaganda. At the same time, however, the information disseminated benefits authorities by providing valuable insight into the planning and execution of attacks.

Three weeks ago I countered the misconception that leaderless resistance always means that assailants act alone. Terrorists can also organize small cells, which can prove more dangerous than individual attackers. Unlike lone wolves, the members of these cells can combine their skills and resources to launch more effective attacks, although operational security becomes more difficult.

Building on these two themes, this week I will focus on how operatives carry out attacks. This is key — understanding the process can help authorities identify operatives not directly connected to a terrorist organization who would otherwise go unnoticed.

The Terrorist Attack Cycle

Counterterrorism agencies and programs are very good at targeting known groups and individuals — this is what they were designed to do. But they struggle with the ambiguity of leaderless resistance. This is, of course, why the jihadist movement and others have adopted this strategy.

Authorities have had their successes. There have been numerous cases in which these actors, practicing poor operational security, have reached out to outsiders (most often a government informant) to seek help conducting an attack. In other instances, they have even identified themselves on social media. These amateurish mistakes have made these particular operatives easy pickings for investigators, but more skilled operatives have shown themselves adept at hiding in the murky ambiguity of society. These are often identified too late, only after they have conducted an attack.

These more sophisticated grassroots operatives know how to operate under the radar, but this does not mean they are not vulnerable. This is because regardless of ideology or operational model, anyone planning a terrorist attack must follow the steps of the terrorist attack cycle. This is underscored by the 14th edition of Inspire magazine, released Sept. 9, in which al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula provided a step-by-step tutorial on how to plan assassinations that highlighted the terrorist attack cycle.

This cycle will always vary at least slightly based on the specific circumstances. A simple pipe bomb attack, for example, will require less surveillance than an assassination or kidnapping, and a suicide attacker needs no escape plan. Despite these variations, certain steps will need to be taken, meaning there will be windows when planners are unavoidably vulnerable to detection. Operatives are most open to detection during the pre-operational surveillance, weapons acquisition and deployment phases of the attack cycle.

Sophisticated terrorist organizations understand this and will attempt to minimize this risk of detection by using different cells for specific functions. The Provisional Irish Republican Army, for example, used separate cells for surveillance, weapons acquisition, bombmaking and launching the attack itself. Sophisticated jihadist attacks have followed a similar strategy, including the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings and David Headley's surveillance of targets prior to the Mumbai attacks.

Grassroots operatives working alone are particularly weak in this regard because they must conduct every step of the terrorist attack cycle by themselves. They therefore expose themselves to detection multiple times before they can even launch an attack. Even grassroots cells, however, are limited — they rarely have the manpower or membership needed to conduct multiple tasks. On top of this, grassroots operatives have limited terrorist tradecraft in areas such as surveillance, planning and bombmaking.

Because they have limited resources, authorities normally deploy countermeasures such as surveillance detection only at hard targets. For this reason, grassroots operatives tend to focus on soft, poorly defended targets. And there are always soft targets. No government can protect everything, even with a massive security budget or powerful internal security service. When authorities shift their focus to protect one class of targets, terrorists can switch to more vulnerable alternatives. But the operatives must still follow the same cycle — and this behavior is evident if someone is paying attention.

The How

The terrorist attack cycle is extremely vulnerable during the pre-operational surveillance phase. Most operatives are particularly bad at surveillance tradecraft. They tend to behave suspiciously, look out of place and lurk — what we refer to as bad demeanor. The only reason they are able to succeed is that in general nobody is watching for these signs.

Many people think that the government is all-powerful, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the United States, the FBI has fewer than 14,000 special agents to investigate all of the criminal statutes it is responsible for enforcing. This includes counterintelligence, white-collar crime, bank robbery and kidnapping. At any one time there are only around 2,000 or 3,000 FBI special agents assigned to work counterterrorism across the entire United States, which includes transnational responsibilities. By way of comparison, there are more than 34,000 police officers in the New York Police Department alone.

These limited counterterrorism resources are mostly focused on monitoring people with known terrorist training and connections, who tend to be the most dangerous. The chance of a grassroots operative being caught in an operational act by an FBI agent or even a police officer assigned to a Joint Terrorism Task Force is fairly small unless he makes an egregious operational security blunder.

Especially with a soft target, a grassroots operative has a far greater chance of being observed conducting an operational act such as surveillance by an ordinary citizen or regular police officer. Indeed, this is why we have long stressed that police officers and citizens play an important role as grassroots defenders in helping provide the last line of common defense against the grassroots terrorist threat.

This has worked several times already. In July 2011, an alert gun store clerk notified police after a man behaved suspiciously while purchasing smokeless powder. The authorities investigated and learned that the man, an Army deserter, had planned to construct a pressure cooker bomb and attack a restaurant frequented by U.S. Army personnel. A device constructed with the same plans from Inspire magazine was later used in the Boston Marathon bombing.

There are other telltale signs. Attackers will frequently test bomb components they have manufactured. This will often result in small, unexplained explosions. Other indicators of bombmaking activity include the presence of unusual quantities or unexplained presence of chemicals such as acetone, acid, peroxide and methyl alcohol, or metallic powders such as aluminum, magnesium and ferric oxide. Beyond chemicals, bombmakers tend to use laboratory implements such as beakers, scales, protective gloves and masks — things not normally found in a hotel room or residence. (Some of this same equipment is associated with the manufacture of methamphetamines.)

Additionally, although electronic devices such as cellphones or wristwatches may not seem unusual in the context of a hotel room or apartment, signs that such devices have been disassembled or modified and have wires protruding from them should raise a red flag because these devices are commonly used as initiators for improvised explosive devices.

Obviously, not every person lurking suspiciously outside of a shopping mall is a terrorist, and not every container of nitric acid will be absolute confirmation of bombmaking activity, but reporting such incidents to the authorities will give them an opportunity to investigate and determine whether the incidents are innocuous or sinister.

That said, it is important to note that grassroots defenders should not be vigilantes, and this is not a call to institute the type of paranoid informant network that existed in East Germany. It is also not a call to Islamophobia — the Muslim community itself is an important component of grassroots defense, and many plots have been thwarted based upon tips from inside this community. Indeed, it is the children of Muslim families who are being recruited by jihadists to serve as shock troops or human smart bombs, and Muslims have suffered terrible losses at the hands of the jihadists. Grassroots defenders are just citizens who take responsibility for their own security and for the security of those around them. In an era when the threat of attack comes from increasingly diffuse sources, a good defense requires more eyes and ears than the authorities possess.

Countering a Shapeless Terrorist Threat is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Geopolitical Weekly: Britain's Status as a Trading Nation Ties It to Europe, September 8, 2015

By Mark Fleming-Williams

At some point in the next two years, British voters will decide whether to remain a part of the European Union. This will be the first time Britons have been consulted on the subject since 1975, when 67 percent voted to stay in. If it does decide to leave, the United Kingdom will become the first country to leave the European Union since it was created as the European Community in 1957. The repercussions would be felt not just in Britain, but also across the Continent and indeed across the world. To predict the eventual result of the vote, it is first important to understand the factors that have kept the United Kingdom in the union this long.

The story starts with geography. Britain is a relatively small island situated off a large but historically divided continent. It is narrow, with navigable rivers, natural resources and fertile land. These factors have various implications for the country's development. As an island with narrow dimensions, the coast is always nearby, making a large portion of the population maritime. Add an ample supply of wood, and conditions are ripe for the construction of a strong navy. The fertile soil allows for a stable population, while resources such as coal, metals and sheep (for wool), along with navigable rivers, provide propitious circumstances for international trade. From the United Kingdom's perspective, the divisions in the Continent both reduced its threats — limiting Continental powers' ability to build a navy strong enough to invade — and increased its opportunities as British traders found ways to insert themselves between countries that were often at war. Thus, once the island's basic needs of safety and nourishment were satisfied, Britain's geography enabled it to flourish as a maritime trading power.

Changing British Fortunes

The 19th-century historian John Seeley described Britain as having acquired its empire in a "fit of absence of mind." Britain's merchants led it to conquer the world. Thriving wool trade was eventually superseded by the arrival of cotton, and it became important for Britain's textiles industry to have sources of the material in warmer climes. This need, along with the promise of other exotic trade goods, drove it to establish trading posts and colonies in the Caribbean and North America. The ever-strengthening navy provided more opportunities further afield, and trading stations in India and Asia also grew, feeding an ever more rapacious British consumer. The British had to counter threats from local groups or competing European powers, and ultimately it became more economically viable for Britain to just take control of whole countries to protect trade. This expansion repeated again and again, and by the start of the 20th century the British Empire covered 22 percent of the world's land mass. Control, of course, also enabled the United Kingdom to keep trade weighted in its favor — a factor that undermined its industrial competitiveness. But the twin requirements inherent in Britain's geography led to the empire's ultimate demise; when Germany threatened to unite the European continent and develop an empire of its own, British interests were endangered both at home and abroad. The result was two world wars that exhausted the trading empire and effectively ceded global domination to the up-and-coming United States.

The United Kingdom that emerged in 1945 was a shadow of its former self. The remains of its empire dropped off in the following decades, and it found it was unable to keep up its former trading prowess. In fact, the amount of sterling held around the world by its former colonies was a great burden on the faded British economy, depreciating the currency strongly. The United Kingdom had to institute exchange controls in 1947. Manufacturing in northern England was now exposed as uncompetitive in the global market, as were the great shipbuilding cities on the coasts. Moreover, the population had grown so much in the previous 150 years that the island now needed to import half of its food. Doing so was affordable in the days of empire, but now the United Kingdom struggled to pay with its depleted finances.

Meanwhile, Europe was suppressing its divisions and uniting under Franco-German leadership, with the only consolation for the United Kingdom being that the new bloc did not appear hostile. Confronted with the danger of losing all influence on the Continent, and with abundant French and Italian food supplies offering an answer to many problems, Britain joined up in 1973, in the process erecting trade barriers against the rest of the world, including all of its former colonies. London's slow realization of its new circumstances and France's veto of two British applications in the 1960s — mainly because of uncertainty over whether the United Kingdom would be a productive member — delayed Britain from joining sooner.

The Financial Advantages of Membership

Being a part of the European Union (originally the European Community) was always a challenge for the United Kingdom. Not having joined at the bloc's creation, London found the rules weighted against it. French and Italian agriculture benefitted from the subsidies of the Common Agricultural Policy, and Germany's industrial efficiency challenged Britain's waning manufacturing industries. It was not until the 1980s, when Britain traded in its veto power for the creation of a single market in financial services, and achieved a rebate for its excess payments, that the economic advantages truly emerged.

London, the epicenter of British finance, had been suffering like the rest of the country after the war. It fell far behind New York on the global stage with the U.S. dollar's ascension as the global reserve currency at the expense of the British pound. But a massive liberalization program in the 1980s, partly touched off by the removal of exchange controls in 1979, complemented investment access to the European market. It allowed London to reclaim its place as the home of international finance in the following decades (a large portion of New York's transactions are domestic), even after the United Kingdom chose to stay out of the eurozone in 1992.

London currently generates 22 percent of the United Kingdom's gross domestic product with just 13 percent of the country's population. In the services trade, of which financial and business services make up 55 percent, the United Kingdom is now second only to the United States, and with its goods trade so depleted, the entire country now relies on the sector as its source of foreign capital. The British navy is no longer an influential force in the world, but the country's trading instincts persist, facilitating transactions from the comfort of its own home.

The Benefits of Remaining an EU Member

The financial services sector, then, is the life raft that emerged from the sinking empire. These are the interests that the United Kingdom must protect if it is to preserve any semblance of its great power status. Knowing this, it is now possible to approach the broader question of whether the United Kingdom's interests are better served by staying in the European Union or by leaving it.

A recent episode provides a clue. In March, the United Kingdom won a court case against the European Central Bank at the European Court of Justice. The ECB had been attempting to move the clearing function for eurozone transactions within the monetary union itself. The move would have excluded London and made Paris and Frankfurt significantly more attractive as financial centers, endangering London's position in Europe's financial services sector. The court case victory was an example of the benefits of retaining influence in the European Union. In 2013, 41 percent of Britain's financial services exports went to EU countries. If the United Kingdom were to leave the European Union, it seems likely that tariffs would be raised and actions taken to encourage this trade to move back into the bloc.

Of course, opportunities do exist outside the European Union. London has been pursuing the nascent Islamic finance market, in which it is the number one Western trading location, and it also plays host to two-thirds of all yuan transactions that take place outside Hong Kong and China. Historical links, similar legal systems and language similarities will all play their part in creating opportunities for the United Kingdom in former colonies — many of which are projected to be among the world's fastest-growing economies — in the decades to come. However, in Asia, British inevitably will confront the strong hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore, while in the Americas, New York will continue to be a strong adversary. Europe represents a domestic market, which gives the United Kingdom global clout — and not only in financial services. Thus the risks of departure are stark, and the opportunities do not outweigh them.

In the coming months, British Prime Minister David Cameron will attempt to negotiate more favorable terms for the United Kingdom in Europe. His wish list will include restrictions of future immigration, attempts to regain some of the sovereignty Britain has given up, exemptions from the trajectory leading toward the United Kingdom losing its independence and assurances over Britain's continuing access to the single market in financial services. Europe does not want to see Britain leave either. Britain gives Europe military depth and direct access to the United States, and serves as a balance between Germany and France. So Cameron will have some bargaining power and may be able to make some progress in achieving these goals, or he may return with cosmetic results as did Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1975. The British public could welcome any gains that are achieved, or disapprove of a perceived lack of results, but it will not affect the United Kingdom's final decision. Britain is a trading nation that has always been led by its economic considerations, and right now, remaining in the European Union fits with Britain's interests.

Britain's Status as a Trading Nation Ties It to Europe is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Politicians, the press and the appearance of impropriety

One of my favorite columnist and reporters was the late Robert Novak. One of the last gumshoe reporters in the Washington DC area, he was famous of being a terror to both conservatives and liberals alike. There was no question where the man's politics were, he was openly conservative, but many a Republican felt his wrath if there was dishonesty or corruption. Damned Bob, we need you now.

From this posting last month in the American Thinker, a good look at how incestuous Washington and the media that is supposed to be serving as the loyal opposition is.
What Mike Royko Knew that Jon Stewart and the Mainstream Media Don't

By Richard Winchester

The late Mike Royko -- a columnist in Chicago for many decades -- warned young reporters against hobnobbing with politicians
because it might compromise their objectivity. As he noted, “[i]f you get too close, then you’re going to feel uncomfortable when you have to stick it to them.” Unhappily, contemporary media personalities such as The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, along with most of the press, seem to be unaware of Royko’s wisdom. As we shall see, the need for journalists to abide by Royko’s advice is just as compelling today as it was when he wrote.

It was recently revealed that Stewart, who will depart his show following tonight’s episode, secretly met with President Obama in the White House in 2011 and 2014. The left-leaning Stewart’s faux news show has been especially popular among younger Americans, because they believed he told it like it is. (Young people are the least politically knowledgeable segment of the populace.) Now, after revelations that he secretly met Obama in the White House, and especially since Obama’s most recent appearance on his show, Stewart is not credible when it comes to speaking truth to left-wing Democrats in power.

Stewart’s cozy relationship with Obama (and other left-wing Democrats) is all-too-typical of practices of today’s media, many -- if not most -- of whom have incestuous connections with America’s ruling class. Not only do many media denizens routinely associate with the ruling class at work and at play, it is no longer rare for a journalist’s significant-other and/or relative to be a key government official. The presidents of CBS News and ABC News, for example, have siblings who are major players in Obama’s administration. In 2013, CNN’s deputy bureau chief, Virginia Mosley, was married to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy, Tom Nides. One also thinks of instances in which a former key member of a Democrat administration -- such as George Stephanopoulos -- becomes a TV anchor at ABC News. (I originally wrote that Stephanopoulos “changed careers” to join ABC News, but after remembering that he donated at least $75,000 to the Clinton family foundation, I decided he hadn’t “changed careers” after all.) Other former political operatives may not work in the media, but they hold prominent positions in major J-schools. (Guess what that means for socialization of future generations of media personalities.)...

...To complicate matters further, and to demonstrate why Royko’s unwillingness to hobnob with pols is an necessary (but not necessarily sufficient) step toward some degree of media objectivity, media personalities and the ruling class tend to come from the same socio-economic background, and to attend the same schools and colleges/universities.

Once-upon-a-time, members of the press, who were known as “ink-stained wretches” -- the media were almost entirely print in those days -- came from working-class backgrounds, and most of them grew up pretty close to main street America. Royko, for example, exemplified the earlier tendency. Born to working-class parents, Royko grew up in an apartment over a bar in Chicago. He briefly attended junior college, but dropped out to enlist in the Air Force in 1952.

As a high school graduate with some junior college experience, Royko was better educated than many other “ink-stained wretches” from a by-gone era. Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, for example, perhaps the most famous journalist of the late 19th century, dropped out of school after the 5th grade.
Perhaps the best-known American journalist of the first half of the 20th century was H. L. Mencken, a.k.a. “the Sage of Baltimore.” Mencken graduated from a mathematics, technology, and science-oriented high school, and took a correspondence class or two in journalism from Cosmopolitan University. Beyond that, Mencken learned journalism on the job.

Mencken’s career illustrates two practices that were common in the press prior to the middle of the 20th century. First, entry into the profession was usually a matter of starting at the bottom, most likely serving a period of apprenticeship before being accepted as a working journalist. Second, virtually every member of the press came out of the lower social orders, had little if any formal schooling, and toiled in a low-paying job, mostly rubbing shoulders with hoi polloi. Elite journalists -- such as James Gordon Bennett, Sr., Samuel Bowles, Horace Greeley, and Henry Raymond -- who hobnobbed with major national political figures, were few and far between. Press tycoons, such as Joseph Pulitzer or William Randolph Hearst, were rarer still.

Media practices of yesteryear are almost never encountered today. As is true of most professions these days, “credentialism” reigns supreme when it comes to recruitment of media personnel. Virtually all members of today’s media are college/university graduates -- a Peter Jennings is an oddity -- and, increasingly, take classes in journalism schools. (It goes without saying that the academic credentials of media personalities reveal few who matriculated at third- or fourth-tier schools -- using the U.S. News & World Report’s system for ranking American institutions of higher learning -- public universities, and that degrees from elite national universities and liberal arts colleges are disproportionately represented.)

Another factor common to most elite media personnel is that, even if they were born and raised in “fly-over country” -- Tom Brokaw, for example, came from South Dakota, while Dan Rather spent his youth in Texas -- they tend to live and work inside the New York City / Washington, DC corridor, and share the outlooks and value systems common to that region.

There are at least two consequences of today’s media patterns.

First, since virtually all media personalities are college/university graduates, and many have advanced higher education experience, few come from America’s lower social orders. Most working-class families, especially those sending a first- generation child to college/university, can’t afford the expense now associated with attendance at an elite institution of higher learning. It isn’t unusual to see lower-middle-class families frozen out as well. That means a large portion of those working in the media have, at worst, upper-middle-class backgrounds, and thus have little or nothing in common with America’s “common” men and women.

More important, given their socioeconomic background, and the locales in which they live and work, today’s media personalities have much in common with our ruling class. They inter-marry, send their kids to the same schools, intermingle at rest and/or play, and very often view the world through the same lenses as the ruling class.

That is why Royko’s dictum against close relationships between journalists and politicians becomes especially worthwhile. If journalist X and politico Y tend to share the same class background, attended the same kind of -- maybe even the identical -- college/university, live in the same locale, are related by blood and/or marriage, and share other qualities associated with upper- middle to upper-class existence, it is essential to maintain some professional separation.

Too bad that more journalists don’t practice what Mike Royko preached. Who knows? Maybe the media would have a slightly better public reputation for integrity.

The New York file critic Pauline Kael famously said of Richard Nixon after his 49 state landslide election in 1972, "I don't know how Nixon won, I don't know anyone who voted for him?" The media, academe, Hollywood and the government elites have morphed into a new aristocracy, with multiple centers on the coast (New York, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angles, San Francisco), select universities and professions. And they consider themselves above those in fly over country, the region between the coasts that produces the products and create the wealth of this nation. The Northeast and California are dying economically not because of any natural disaster but because of a deliberate decisions of men and women who will not suffer the consequences. It's sad that California, a state that used to be the 7th largest economy in the world is dying , but until the populations, i.e. voters, remove these new monarchist from power, this will not change.

Friday, September 11, 2015

If this doesn't put a chill in you

Three years ago the world was introduced to James Holmes when he walked into a theater in Aurora CO and murdered a dozen people. He was recently sentenced to over 3000 years (won't serve half of it). Now I heard that he set a trap in his apartment but damn, this is incredible. And terrifying. Look at this video.

ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos
Inside the booby-trapped apartment of Aurora shooter James Holmes

Newly-released photos and video offer a chilling look into the booby-trapped apartment of Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes.

The photos were taken after Holmes opened fire and killed 12 people during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at a suburban Denver, Colorado movie theater in July 2012.

After arresting Holmes, the 27-year-old revealed to police that his nearby apartment was rigged with explosive and incendiaries intended to kill anyone who opened the front door.

Bullets in napalm set to go off by the fire.  Hundreds of them.

Holmes intended for the bombs to go off in his home after he was long gone. He devised a plan to coax police to break into his apartment, catching a trip wire that would spill a thermos of glycerin into a frying pan of chemical potassium permanganate - starting a fire
Holmes intended for the bombs to go off in his home after he was long gone. He devised a plan to coax police to break into his apartment, catching a trip wire that would spill a thermos of glycerin into a frying pan of chemical potassium permanganate - starting a fire

Liter bottles filled with gasoline and gunpowder are spread out along the floor and would further accelerate the flames when they caught fire.  The flames would cause the fuses to catch fire and detonate the more than 15 spherical bombs gathered in the center of the floor in the living room

Also triggered would be the pickle jars filled with napalm and bullets. Once ignited, the bullets would should out in all directions, tearing through the apartment

A BMX bike belonging to Holmes is propped against a wall and draped with orange fuse wire at his home after the mass shooting...

...The pictures, some of which were taken by a bomb disposal robot, show the carpeted floor of Holmes' apartment littered with about 20 black spherical bombs, which are rigged together with a tangle of fuse wires.

Also seen are pickle jars packed with napalm and bullets that would have torn through the home if ignited. Nearly a dozen liter soda bottles filled with gasoline rest on the floor, along with a dusting of white gunpowder, intended to catch fire and speed up the process.

Luckily, no one was hurt by Holmes' mouse-trap of bombs. The apartment and surrounding buildings were evacuated while bomb experts carefully disengaged the explosives with the help of a robot.

Police and FBI teams broke into the house through the window in Holmes' bedroom. Above, shattered glass seen in the room next to a poster for the cult classic Pulp Fiction

...It appears that Holmes intended to blow up the apartment after he left for the movie theater by planning two ways to start the fire remotely.

The first was a trip cord connected to the front door. After he left the apartment, Holmes started a recording in his apartment that was 40 minutes of silence followed by blaring music.

He thought the noise would prompt one of his neighbors to call police and that responding officers would break into the home through the front door, starting off a series of explosions.

The other plan was a remote control that he left outside his apartment, next to a remote-controlled toy car. If police didn't respond to the noise complaint. He thought someone would see the car and try to play with it using the remote, which was in fact hiding a remote detonator.

...Neither plan worked, though one neighbor did say she tried knocking on Holmes' door around midnight when she grew tired of his music. She got no answer on the door but did not report the music to police.

Gary Smith, a bomb expert with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told KUSA about the process of securing the apartment.

'No, I really wasn't too scared,' he said. 'It doesn't surprise me to run across anything anywhere really. It's just a matter of time before something like that ends up here, kind of the way we look at it, kind of worst case scenario, you always try to think ahead.'

In addition to the booby-trap of bombs, the pictures from inside Holmes' home include a few items that shed light on his life before the mass murder.

A name tag from the University of Iowa graduate program bears Holmes' name, pointing out his past life in academia. Elsewhere, a binder is seen propped up against a backpack, decorated with stickers in the shape of bullet holes. By the time he carried out the attack, Holmes had already stopped going to neuroscience classes at the University of Colorado.

Several posters are also hung up in Holmes' apartment including one for the comedy Anchorman and another for the cult classic Pulp Fiction - which shows John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson holding up handguns. But one seemingly-benign drinking poster holds a darker meaning in the aftermath of the attack. It is a play on a motivational poster and shows a tequila shot with the caption: 'Challenge: When life presents a challenge...take a shot.'

Even more spooky is a Batman mask which was found sitting on the top of Holmes' flatscreen TV. It was a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, that Holmes chose to target...

I am at a loss for words. There are more pictures in the full article. Thank you ATF and EOD for handling this so well. Even if the building had been evacuated the loss would be staggering if this went off.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The facade of the "Black Lives Matter" campaign, and what black lives mean to other blacks

I've often said the biggest block to progress for blacks in "Da Hood" are other blacks and liberals, black and white. More on the liberals in a minute, but for now look at the other blacks. All too often if you get a young black child actually making progress in school, he's accused of "acting white". So learning and expanding your horizons is looked down upon by your peers, and we all know what peer pressure can do. One of George Bush's greatest moments on the 2000 campaign was when he addressed the NAACP and discussed "the soft bigotry of low expectations."

Now Mr. Riley put it out much letter than I can. Here is his article from the Wall Street Journal:
‘Black Lives Matter’—but Reality, Not So Much

By Jason L. Riley

Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect.

— Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

The great lie of the summer has been the Black Lives Matter movement. It was founded on one falsehood—that a Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot a black suspect who was trying to surrender—and it is perpetuated by another: that trigger-happy cops are filling our morgues with young black men.

The reality is that Michael Brown is dead because he robbed a convenience store, assaulted a uniformed officer and then made a move for the officer’s gun. The reality is that a cop is six times more likely to be killed by someone black than the reverse. The reality is that the Michael Browns are a much bigger threat to black lives than are the police. “Every year, the casualty count of black-on-black crime is twice that of the death toll of 9/11,” wrote former New York City police detective Edward Conlon in a Journal essay on Saturday. “I don’t understand how a movement called ‘Black Lives Matter’ can ignore the leading cause of death among young black men in the U.S., which is homicide by their peers.”

Actually, it’s not hard to understand at all, once you realize that this movement is not about the fate of blacks per se but about scapegoating the police in particular, and white America in general, for antisocial ghetto behavior. It’s about holding whites to a higher standard than the young black men in these neighborhoods hold each other to. Ultimately, it’s a political movement, the inevitable extension of a racial and ethnic spoils system that helps Democrats get elected. The Black Lives Matter narrative may be demonstrably false, but it’s also politically expedient.

It’s the black poor—the primary victims of violent crimes and thus the people most in need of effective policing—who must live with the effects of these falsehoods. As the Black Lives Matter movement has spread, murder rates have climbed in cities across the country, from New Orleans to Baltimore to St. Louis and Chicago. The Washington, D.C., homicide rate is 43% higher than it was a year ago. By the end of August, Milwaukee and New Haven, Conn., both had already seen more murders than in all of 2014.

Publicly, law-enforcement officials have been reluctant to link the movement’s antipolice rhetoric to the spike in violent crime. Privately, they have been echoing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who said in a speech last week that the movement was harming the very people whose interests it claims to represent. “Most of the people who now live in terror because local police are too intimidated to do their jobs are black,” the governor said. “Black lives do matter, and they have been disgracefully jeopardized by the movement that has laid waste to Ferguson and Baltimore.”

Over a three-day stretch last week, the New York Times ran two heart-wrenching stories about black mothers of murdered children. Tamiko Holmes, a Milwaukee native, has seen two of her five children shot dead this year and a third wounded by gunfire. Sharon Plummer of Brooklyn lost a 16-year-old son on Aug. 30. He was gunned down while standing on a street corner two blocks away from where his 17-year-old brother was shot dead three years earlier. After the older child’s death, Ms. Plummer moved to a safer community, but the younger son repeatedly returned to the old neighborhood to hang out with friends. She didn’t move to escape predatory cops, which is what the Black Lives Matter activists would have us believe. Rather, she moved to protect her children from their predatory peers.

Asked recently about the increase in violent crime, New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said what precious few public officials and commentators have been willing to say. He stated the obvious. “We have, unfortunately, a very large population of many young people who have grown up in an environment in which the . . . traditional norms and values are not there,” Mr. Bratton told MSNBC. The commissioner added that Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report warning that the disintegration of the black family could lead to other social ills had proved prescient. “He was right on the money,” Mr. Bratton said, “the disintegration of family, the disintegration of values. There is something going on in our society and our inner cities.”

But the left has no interest in discussing ghetto pathology. Summer movies like “Straight Outta Compton” are too busy glorifying it, and summer books like Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me” are too busy intellectualizing it. The Black Lives Matter crowd has become an appendage of the civil-rights industry, which uses the black underclass to push an agenda that invariably leaves the supposed beneficiaries worse off.

I've often posted on what I see in the ghetto, apartment complexes with multiple generations of people families living there, only knowing welfare, dependency and crime. And trying to get out by getting an education, not starting a family before you're out of school, etc, is looked down upon. And the dirty secret is the liberals like it that way. The more successful people are, the more conservative they become and they vote that way. And if the lives of millions are wasted so they can keep power over this country and its treasury, so be it.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Oakland is showing how not to enforce laws, and is dropping off the cliff.

Anything with law enforcement and the current administration you know is corrupt and false. Now we have from the San Francisco Chronicle a review of the latest "reforms" suggested by the B Hussein Obama regime and the "Just-Us" department.

Obama official: Calif. police department sets good example

The executive director of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing said Oakland policing is one to emulate

San Francisco Chronicle

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Oakland Police Department is an example of what police agencies across the nation should emulate in the post-Ferguson era, the executive director of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing said Thursday...

Oakland CA. A place to emulate. The second most dangerous big city in America.

Now let's look at what the new Chief of the Oakland Police, Police Chief Sean Whent is doing:
"...Ceasefire is one in a slew of changes to Oakland’s police culture, and it dovetails with other measures, such as the near-universal use of body cameras, a new foot-chase policy that bans officers from chasing suspects who jump backyard fences, and a “pipeline project” to set aside up to 40 seats in the cadet program for graduates of Oakland public schools, beginning in October.

“It’s a way of sending a very clear message that we want people from this community to be the guardians of this community,” Schaaf said.

Such reforms are essential, Davis said, at a time of heightened scrutiny and national protests over police misconduct.

“When a new police chief comes in, in many cases you’re starting a reconciliation process,” he said. “Part of that process is the acknowledgment in the role that law enforcement has played in Jim Crow, or the disparate arrests of young men of color.”

In the mid-’90s, Oakland police arrested roughly 30,000 people per year, and saw those statistics as a benchmark of success, according to Whent. Now, he said, the department arrests between 11,000 and 12,000 people a year — yet crime has dropped..."

No kidding. You basically say "crooks, run off and we won't chase" and then decide to inject your academy with "Boyz from the Hood". That will really make your department efficient.

There are reasons cops don't live in the areas we patrol. Why don't you see a lot of cop cars in River Oaks, the richest subdivision in Houston? Because there is no crime there. The reason you do see a lot of cop cars in "Da Hood" is because that is where the crime is. And that is why cops don't live there. If the turd who busted up his "Baby's Moma" is arrested and knows where the cop lives, he will go after that cop's family. And sorry, I'm not going to subject my family to that. Maybe chief and mayor, if you want to show a good example to us, get out of your fenced in area and guarded neighborhood you live in and move to "Da Hood". And give up your taxpayer provided security and tell us how good it is.

Typical liberal crap.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Memes, and words, mean things.

Friday morning as I was getting ready for a cop’s funeral, I saw this meme posted on FB by a high school friend. They probably don’t know the author of this and something just stuck me for a few seconds, then I saw what was staring me in the face. And again, words mean things.

Earlier this week when we were all discussing the death of the Harris County deputy, I made a point on a friend’s (and fellow cop) FB posting describing the death as an “execution”, that this was not an “execution”, but a “murder”.

A killing of another human is a homicide, an unnatural death, and can be accidental (e.g. a traffic accident) or deliberate (e.g. murder). Not all deliberate killing is unlawful; killing in self-defense, for example, is not a crime. “Murder” is intentionally or knowingly taking someone’s life without justification. “Execution” is the state taking a life with due process of law. One point I've made in discussing this is when Texas executes someone the death certificate says “Cause of Death: Homicide” and in the remarks section it says “Execution by court order”.

The racial activists (B Hussein Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Eric Holder) want to equate killing of criminals by police with murder. The lie that Michael Brown was “murdered” helps stir that pot. And no, he was justifiable killed by Officer Darren Wilson. But the fact doesn’t fit the story, or in this case, the meme.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Cop's Funeral

As you no doubt know, Deputy Darren Goforth of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office was murdered on August 28, 2015. As he filled his vehicle a piece of human debris walked up behind him and shot him in the head. To finish the murder he emptied his magazine and departed. Fortunately the suspect was arrested the next day and is now in the Harris County Jail and the DA has filed Capital Murder charges.

I turned off of I-10 onto Voss Road at 1010am and met a traffic jam. The church was 1.7 miles away and it was going at a snail’s pace. And I moved slowly. It took 30 minutes to get a mile down the road, then the traffic cooled off a bit. I got within a quarter mile when I noticed a sign “Overflow parking” and I got in there. A couple has allowed us to park our vehicles on the front lawn at their half million dollar home. And all around the church and on the street there are people with signs supporting police.

The front of Second Baptist Church
The flag between two engine latters

Every overflow room was standing room only
Signs of support everywhere.

Houston Second Baptist Church

Here is the arrival of the HCSO's Honor Guard:

I listen to the Sheriff thank the thousands who attend today to support the Goforth family.  Then a Houston Police Lieutenant discusses Deputy Goforth and how he loved to work on cars,  that this was his passion and we wanted to have a piece of land with a garage and to work on classic cars.. And how he and Goforth were friends since 4th grade and how they go into trouble in school and with both their parents.

Unfortunately I cannot stay much longer. I have an extra job I couldn’t get someone to cover and the man I normally relieve at noon can only stay to “1300ish”. So I start walking and I am blown away at how densely the cars are packed. And I walk and there are no less than 50 people between the church and the house where my car is, all of them say “Thank you” to me as I pass. I make it to the house and I see a young man there with a dog. Thankfully I can still drive out of the house and I ask “Is this your house?” and he said yes. I asked his if his parents were home because I wanted to thank him for the extra parking, but unfortunately they are home. But I shake his hand and ask him to thank his parents for me.

I make it out and start driving to the interstate and there is a convoy already started. Around 30 wreckers. Cops and wreckers have a love/hate relationship, but I’ve had mostly good experiences from them. And I manage to get to the interstate before most of them make it, and I decide to block some traffic to allow them to get out easier. Thanks guys for your help.

Anyone who’s been through his before knows the family will be brought out, then the casket, the 21 gun salute fired and the Sheriff hands over the flag to Deputy Goforth’s widow. Here is the ceremony.

And then the final Call. The dispatcher calls Deputy Goforth on his radio and then after receiving no response, he’s “Off Duty”. Or as we say, his “End of Watch”.

I’m getting tired of this. This is the third cop’s funeral I’ve attended in as many months, but it’s a possibility of the job. Now is our time to mourn, tomorrow is our time to see justice done.  I see two more meeting in the future.  I will attend the opening of the Capital Murder trial for the POS, which is normal.  Kill a cop and on the day your court time starts, you can rest assured the room with be filled with blue.  And later, probably 9-12 years later, I'll be at Huntsville with my Blue Knight and Thin Blue Line family to see you off to hell.

I’ve just seen the picture of Mrs. Goforth after she received the flag, and it tears at you.

God will get you through Mrs. Goforth and this is no real comfort, but he is in a better place now.