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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shoot/Don't Shoot

Not as cut and dry as it seems.

Yesterday I had a Facebook debate with an old friend over a recent officer shooting in Chicago. Today while I was checking my posts I found this and it's a good example of how things are difficult to judge, even when you have the weapon drawn.

Shoot or Don't Shoot

Suicide by cop scenario: Jonathan T Gilliam tells us if he presents the threat, then you have the right to present deadly force.

Posted by Carol Costello on Friday, November 27, 2015
Remember these words, to the day you die, "Action beats reaction, every time!"

Or this video:

Shoot or Don't Shoot

Inside the mind of a police officer: When do you decide to use deadly force? #RaceAndReality

Posted by Carol Costello on Friday, November 27, 2015
Saying this on a Sunday morning at home, no threat, I say I would have not let him get that close to me. Again, I'm saying that not on the scene. You can see she is excited (the heart rate is up) and she doesn't want to shoot. But she made a decision, in this case the right one.

War story from my career, we were searching for a robbery suspect on Main Street, and I discover a man who matched the description. I approached (he had two other males next to him) and he had his right hand in his packet, but his left hand was lying out. I asked "Let me see your right hand." He just gave me a strange look. I ordered him "Let me see your right hand, now!" He pulled his right hand out and immediatley put it behind his back. To say the least this concerned me and I pulled my pistol out, aimed it and screamed, "Let me see your f%^&ing hand, now!" He got the message and put both hands forward. And his buddies started to point to his ears, he was deaf. And not the suspect.

Could I justify deadly force in those circumstances, probably. But thank God it didn't go to that level.

Again, not as cut and dry on the street.

Obama's going after your pension.

                                                Even paranoids have enemies.

                                                Unofficial motto of the KGB.

With the Obama regime soon entering its final year (Thank you God!), we know his “pen and phone” will be working overtime to fundamental transform the United States into a second rate socialist nation.  He has made our foreign policy such a joke and weakened our military that our enemies don’t fear us, our friends don’t rely on us, and neither respect us.  With an administration that openly says the best way to handle ISIS is through a “Climate Change Summit”, can you expect much?  And with the  economy a disaster, Obama’s decided in the sunset of his administration to concentrate on gun control and “climate change” (Or whatever the hell it’s called next week  (Global cooling, global warming, criminate disruption, I loose track).

But an interesting article came out of the Wall Street Journal last week, below the radar, on something completely different.  The Obama regime’s Labor Department cleared regulatory hurdles to allow left leaning states (e.g. California, Illinois and Oregon) to establish publicly backed “individual retirement accounts”, which are IRAs in name only.  From the WSJ article,

California’s inchoate program requires all employers with more than five workers that do not offer retirement plans to enroll workers in a state plan that includes a to-be-specified guaranteed return. Employers will have to automatically deduct contributions from worker paychecks, though employees could opt out.

While Democrats call the plans IRAs, nothing in California’s law guarantees ownership or portability. Private financial institutions will putatively insure the plans, but with an implicit taxpayer guarantee. Illinois’s law allows the state retirement board to procure as needed, insurance against any and all loss” and accept any grants, appropriations, or other moneys from the State.” Rest assured that if Illinois officials refused to pay up, labor unions would cite this language in suing to make them pay.

It reminded me of something I wanted to blog about ages ago, 2010 to be exact.  I went into my files, found the unpublished post and the article from The Washington Examiner (link no longer working):

By: Mark Hemingway

October 31, 2010 Will the government outlaw your 401(k) plan? It seems like an absurd possibility, yet earlier this month two Democratic senators, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., held a hearing on Capitol Hill exploring the possibility of doing exactly that.

On Oct. 8, the two senators from the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on "Retirement (In)security in America." Among the proposals discussed was "Guaranteed Retirement Accounts," or GRAs.

The purpose of the GRA proposal is simple: To force Americans to stop putting their retirement savings money into private 401(k) accounts and send their money to the government instead.

GRAs would "eliminate the favorable tax treatment currently afforded to 401(k) plans, and instead use those dollars to fund government-invested GRAs into which all employees would be required to contribute a portion of their salary," according to a letter signed by House Minority Leader John Boehner and 12 other Republican representatives…

…Testifying at the hearing in favor of GRAs was Ross Eisbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal economic think tank located in the same building as the liberal Center for American Progress...

…EPI’s work on retirement security issues also has some suspect backing. The think tank has teamed up with two of the most powerful unions in the country -- the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union -- to push a public campaign for a "Retirement USA" initiative (see Retirement-USA.org).

One of the proposals being touted on Retirement USA's Web site is, you guessed it, GRAs. At the hearing, Eisbrey noted that Retirement USA had not specifically endorsed GRAs, but did "affirm that it meets all of the 12 principles the coalition set out as essential to deliver retirement income that is universal, secure, and adequate."

But why are unions pushing this? The average union pension plan is only 62 percent funded, far below the point at which the government considers a pension plan "endangered." Estimates suggest unions' multi-employer pension plans are underfunded by $165 billion and could be on the verge of collapse.

Union leaders see these "retirement security" ideas like GRAs as vehicles to a back-door pension bailout, where union leaders will no longer have to worry about the fact they've underfunded their rank and file members' pension plans. Just let Uncle Sucker take care of it.

Labor is the biggest source of campaign cash for Democrats (Retirement USA backers AFL-CIO and SEIU are spending $88 million this election),..

Regardless, forcing everybody into a government retirement system that pays out equally to Americans who have scrimped and saved and to those in organized labor who have grossly mismanaged their pension plans seems almost too crazy to contemplate…

This is not the first time the radical left has lusted after pension funds.  Jesse Jackson has proposed multiple times since the 1980s to seize thefunds to “rebuild” inner cites.  And there is money to get.  As of 2014, Americans have over 15 trillion in private pension funds.  Is there reason to be concerned?  “If you like your health care plan….”, need I say more?

The basics of the current IRA/401 system is you get an immediate tax advantage, the fund builds tax shielded (you generally pay taxes when it’s withdrawn) and if you die, the fund is passed to your estate.  This gives the individual a degree of independence.  With the proposed GSA, your money is pooled with others, you are guaranteed by “full faith and credit of the United States” and upon your death half (ain’t that nice of them) goes to your estate.  Don’t we already have things like this?  Social Security, the assets of which are only two safes of IOUs in a building in, I believe, West Virginia.  Similar to the Medicaid Trust Fund and the Federal Highway Trust fund, they have nothing but IOUs.  The “full faith and credit of the United States” ain’t worth much.

But again, look at something over the last seven years.  A point I’ve made countless times is Obamacare is working perfectly.  What is the purpose of Obamacare?  It is the bridge to single payer.  You destroy the private health care system and the only thing left is government, a form of “Medicaid for All”.  Remember him saying to AFL-CIO:
I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care plan. The United States of America–the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent–14 percent of its gross national product on health care and cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody and that’s what Jim is talking about when he says, ‘Everybody in. Nobody out.’ A single payer health care credit–universal healthcare credit. That’s what I’d like to see, but as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House and we’ve got to take back the Senate and we’ve got to take back the House.”
But I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out or 15 years out or 20 years out..”
Some of the first acts of B Hussein Obama in January 2009 included having the Department of Education take over student loans, increased government control of housing, establish government control over multiple industries (e.g. banking through Dodd-Frank).  Going full fore for gun control and industry regulation through climate regulation.  Do you see a pattern here?  All critical functions of life are now requiring government interaction.  Over the next 13 months you can see the metastasis of the Julia cartoon from the 2012 election campaign.  Retirement planning?  Need I say more.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Police Hiring

Fellow cop, retired chief of police, published author and friend, Scott Silverii, is publishing a series on his blog, SilverHart Writers, on policing, geared for the writer. Here is the first in the series,The Hiring Process.

Police Life Series: Part 1 – The Hiring Process

SilverHart’s Police Life Series will post each Wednesday to give writers an insight into the daily life of law enforcement officers. There are so many phases to the profession that writers miss the opportunity to see the depth of effort and effect for doing the job.

So you are ready to make the commitment. Now what?

Hiring into a law enforcement agency can be much more difficult than any other profession. The process is usually long and involves multiple stages before you may be considered for employment.

Hiring processes may take as long as one year before the applicant is contacted by the agency. Within that period many find work elsewhere, join the military or redeploy or enroll in college courses.

On average, less than 10% of applicants are hired into law enforcement. The many phases seem to DQ or wash candidates out.

Be Prepared
People base their knowledge of policing on what they’ve read in books or seen in TV, movies and myth. Watching Law & Order: SVU will not prepare you for a job in policing.

Know the requirements for the agency to which you are applying. Most have a minimum age of 21, but some allow applicants at age 18.

Does the agency DQ for felony arrests and/or convictions. What about misdemeanor arrests and / or convictions.

Is college required, and if so will they substitute military service?

Is there a residency requirement, and if so are you willing to relocate?

Know the basic requirements. Agencies will not bend the rules because you played through Call Of Duty on your PlayStation without getting killed.

Written Test
Most agencies require a written test. This is a standard exam and you may purchase study materials and guides to prepare. This is usually the big wash out for most hopefuls.

Most agencies also give additional points for military service, college credits, or prior law enforcement service. Know the rules and the point system.

Oral Exam
Lets say you pass the written portion. You will next move to an oral exam. This is a high-pressure interview before a panel of experienced law enforcement officers. They have a standardized selection of situational scenarios to read to you.

You will be graded not only on what you say, but how you say it. Posture, eye contact, voice inflection, tone and pronunciation are being graded.

There is also usually no “right” answer but you are being judged on your ability to use critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills. Think before you speak.

Background Investigation
Consider the fact that an experienced investigator will work to dig up anything they can to discredit you. Criminal history, DWI, domestic violence, termination, or an active arrest warrant. These are all situations investigators uncover.

Once the dirt has been dug up, you may be required to submit to a lie detector exam, and a drug test. It’s unfortunate that many apply with the hopes that their past transgressions remain uncovered – they won’t.

Make sure your references have references. It’s a tough squeeze to get into that 10%, and the agency wants to make sure you’re worthy of wearing the same shield they do.

Bolster Your Position
Don’t wait until you fill out an application to show you want the job. Volunteer to do service work or apply as a Reserve Officer. Ask to go on ride-alongs to get an understanding of the agency and the requirements of the job. Volunteer to do internships if you are in college, and make opportunities for you to get noticed.

Physical Fitness Exam
Get in shape. If you wait until they call you for the PT Exam then its already too late. Fitness is a basic requirement for hire and a major requirement to complete the academy. Before you hand in that application, make sure you are prepared to run, push up, sit up and complete an obstacle course.

Did We Say It Already? Be Prepared
If you truly want to work in law enforcement then it is incumbent upon you to get yourself in the academic, physical, social and moral condition to apply and compete for the job. Make no mistake, it is a competition and your chances of winning are at or less than 10%. Do you have what it takes?

How not to use policy technology....

I travel daily in a POV through gang infested drug trafficking areas where there is prostitution going on. It's called my daily commute to the station.

I support the use of license plate readers, they are a God send in finding stolen vehicles, felons, etc. But this is absurd. Lady, it may shock you but in Houston we have thousands of middle class early 20s something males driving through a known prostitution area daily. These are students driving to the University of Houston, which lies in the middle of the Third Ward, a crime infested neighborhood. Or a friend of mine, back when he lived in Los Angeles, used to drive across South Central daily to get to work. I guess he would get a nasty letter by your idea.

By your plan, they could have letters sent to their house just so for the crime of driving. Ms Martinez, you are an idiot.

Los Angeles Just Proposed the Worst Use of License Plate Reader Data in History.

Nick Selby

Last month, when I spoke on a panel called “Spying in Public: Policy and Practice” at the 25th Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Washington, DC, we were embroiled in a discussion of license plate readers. As a law enforcement technologist, and a working police detective, I generally support the use of license plate readers. I discussed at the conference a child pornography case in which the suspect (now indicted) had fled the city and the police located him using the technology.

From the back of the room came the comment, “The issue is the potentially chilling effect that this technology has on freedom of association and freedom of transportation.”

That’s literally the phrase that leapt into my mind when I read the monumentally over-reaching idea posed by Nury Martinez, a 6th district Los Angeles city councilwoman, to access a database of license plates captured in certain places around the city, translate these license plates to obtain the name and address of each owner, and send to that owner a letter explaining that the vehicle was seen in, “an area known for prostitution.”

Councilwoman Martinez feels that prostitution is not a “victimless” crime, and that by discouraging johns, the incidence of the crime can be reduced. Martinez told CBS Los Angeles, “If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox. But if you are, these letters will discourage you from returning. Soliciting for sex in our neighborhoods is not OK.”

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to ask the office of the District Attorney for their help implementing the plan.

Have Ms. Martinez and the Los Angeles City Council taken leave of their senses? This scheme makes, literally, a state issue out of legal travel to arbitrary places deemed by some — but not by a court, and without due process — to be “related” to crime in general, not to any specific crime.

There isn’t “potential” for abuse here, this is a legislated abuse of technology that is already controversial when it’s used by police for the purpose of seeking stolen vehicles, tracking down fugitives and solving specific crimes.

It is theoretically possible that a law enforcement officer could observe an area he understands to be known for prostitution, and, upon seeing a vehicle driving in a certain manner, or stopping in front of suspected or known prostitutes, based on his reasonable suspicion that he bases on his analysis of the totality of these specific circumstances, the officer could speak with the driver to investigate. This is very uncommon, because it would take a huge amount of manpower and time.

The City Council and Ms. Martinez seek to “automate” this process of reasonable suspicion (reducing it to mere presence at a certain place), and deploy it on a massive scale. They then seek to take this much further, through a highly irresponsible (and probably illegal) action that could have significant consequences on the recipient of such a letter — and they have absolutely no legal standing to write, let alone send it. There are grave issues of freedom of transportation and freedom of association here.

Worse, they seek to use municipal funds to take action against those guilty of nothing other than traveling legally on city streets, then access the state-funded Department of Motor Vehicle registration records to resolve the owner data, then use municipal moneys to write, package and pay the United States Postal Service to deliver a letter that is at best a physical manifestation of the worst kind of Digital McCarthyism. There are clearly Constitutional issues here.

Oh, and what happens to those records once they are committed to paper? As letters sent by the District Attorney or City Council, they would be rightly subject to Freedom of Information Laws. And mandatory retention periods that exceed those of automated license plate data, even though no investigation has been consummated.

Which means that, under Councilwoman Martinez’ scheme, anyone will be able to get a list of all vehicles driving in certain parts of town merely by requesting “all ‘John’ letters sent” between a date range.

Far from serving as, in the words of one proponent, a private “wake-up call,” these letters will surely be the basis of insurance, medical, employment and other decisions, and such a list can be re-sold to public records companies, advertising mailing list companies…the list is, literally, endless.

This wrong-headed law has, out of the gate, a chilling effect on association and transport.

No non-fascist state should ever allow this to happen.
Thank you Darren at Right on the Left Coast for the link.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Forecasting Japan: 25 Years Later


Editor's Note: Since the end of the Cold War, the Pacific Rim has seen China rise and Japan stagnate. However, Japan is approaching an epochal shift that will enable it to challenge the current order. This analysis is the fourth and final part of a series that forecasts the nature of that shift and the future of Japan. Part one explored the origins of Japan's slow-burning crisis. Part two examined the rise of China and its impact on Japan. Part three assessed the failure of Tokyo to enact meaningful reforms.

In the coming years, Japan will transition out of its slow-burning state of crisis as it seeks to make a radical break with its current, decaying Cold War political order. The transformation will take place against the backdrop of significant demographic changes. Since 2005, Japan has seen its 65-and-over population grow by more than 33 percent, faster than any past or future forecast rate. Over the next decade, this rate of aging will slow substantially, as will the decline in Japan's working-age population. These trends will persist until around 2040, when most of those born in the country's 1968-1976 baby boom will have entered retirement. Then, between 2035 and 2045, the rate of the working-age population's decline will pick up slightly, increasing pressure on the system. By 2060, the situation will become dire. Even under constant fertility conditions, Japan's population will fall to around 86 million; if fertility declines, population levels will drop further still to 79 million. As a result, Tokyo will likely be increasingly confronted with internal issues related to economic and social management in the years after 2040.


In the next five years, Japan's break from the post-Cold War period will begin. Tokyo will start to dismantle key elements of its current political order and the reforms that have made that order more democratically accountable. The process will require substantial changes in the relationships between the Liberal Democratic Party, civil service and keiretsu, and Tokyo will have to find some way to curb or eliminate the electoral strength of economically non-competitive public utilities while offsetting the growing power of the over-65 voting population. Meanwhile, the Japanese government will need to make reforms to improve the productivity, efficiency and competitiveness of Japanese businesses. Only these changes will ensure that Japan can cope with the acute population aging and workforce shrinkage it will face in the decades after 2020 while guaranteeing the country's national security.

Over the next two years, Tokyo will focus on achieving Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "virtuous circle." Each of Abe's proposed economic reforms aim to address the root causes of underemployment, with the hope that higher employment will drive up domestic consumption, thereby boosting the economy and raising employment levels even further. This cycle will need to be in place before the Bank of Japan pulls back on monetary easing or the central government is forced to improve its fiscal position by raising the national sales tax or increasing corporate taxes. The bank's current rate of bond purchasing is unsustainable, and Stratfor expects that the Bank of Japan will cut back on its bond purchases, perhaps significantly, before 2017.

While the prime minister's "Abenomics" measures will make some progress before 2017, the administration's efforts are not extreme enough to put Japan back on the path toward sustainable growth within the next two years. The weak economies of both China and Europe – key destinations for Japanese exports – will make this outcome even more unlikely. Therefore, when the Bank of Japan inevitably pulls back on its bond purchases, Japanese companies with extensive overseas operations will see repatriated funds decline in value, which will reduce their incentive to invest domestically. The cost of Japanese goods will also rise yet again, eroding the country's competitiveness with China and South Korea.

The drawdown in bond purchases and declining investment will lead to fiscal deficits for the Japanese government, putting pressure on Tokyo to raise taxes on either companies or individuals. Whichever Tokyo chooses, by the start of 2017, it will once again find itself facing a dilemma after a short period of economic growth.

But Abenomics will not implode. The Japanese government will likely find a way to avoid defaulting on its sovereign debt and the Bank of Japan will manage to implement a modest amount of monetary stimulus without undermining the country's sovereign debt markets. Inflation may hit 2 percent, wages may rise and Japan will likely succeed in attracting some foreign investment into long-protected sectors and new industries. Abenomics is fundamentally sound and economically rational, but its economic benefits in the long term will be preceded by hardship for individuals. In 2016, as Japan's growth picks up, these side effects will become slightly less glaring, but if the Bank of Japan pulls back on bonds and the government raises taxes, they will resurface.

Life will not substantially deteriorate for ordinary Japanese people, but events will hurt the prime minister and his administration at the polls. Abe survived the December 2014 elections because of an incoherent opposition, but Japan's fragmented playing field will not last forever. By 2017, dissatisfaction among older voters, especially those with ties to the agriculture lobby or to other keiretsu, as well as middle-aged and older small business owners, will begin to undermine Abe's electoral position.

A Quiet Revolution

The fate of the Abe administration will have relatively little bearing on whether the core policies of Abenomics persist. Over the next five years, two trends will emerge, the first being the rise of a new generation of bureaucrats dedicated to the reforms necessary to ensure Japan's long-term security. At the same time, an older population averse to those reforms, especially military normalization, will come to dominate the electoral system. Since avoiding reform is not an option, the government will move away from a system of electoral democracy.

Japan will continue to hold regular elections, and parties will exchange places at the head of Japan's legislature. Beneath the surface, however, the ministries that make and implement policy will begin to reassert their autonomy from the legislature. This will reverse two decades of reforms aimed at strengthening Japan's legislative and judicial branches and increasing the major parties' power relative to key ministries, harkening back to the early post-World War II decades when the bureaucracy was autonomous from politics and informally controlled the nation. This autonomous civil service itself had roots in a much longer tradition of governing through a small cadre of administrative elites that reaches back to the Meiji Restoration and deep into Japan's feudal past. Once the new generation of administrators has secured its position, it will work to ensure that the core elements of Abenomics survive.

China's Continued Rise

Over the next five years, the regional security situation will become increasingly volatile; economic dislocation and political turmoil within China will combine with China's expanding military power. Urged on by the United States, Japan will become more proactive not only in its own maritime patrolling and reconnaissance activity but also in deepening cooperation with Southeast Asian partners. The sheer quantity of vessels and aircraft deployed in the region will raise the risk of short, sharp crises. Such incidents will ultimately serve to bolster popular support within Japan for a defense posture against Chinese aggression.

Greater volatility in the Pacific will fuel the rise of the new generation of activist bureaucrats and keiretsu leaders by underscoring the need for reform. By 2020, these rising civil servants and business leaders will have made significant headway in consolidating their influence within key ministries. Meanwhile, Japan will seek to capitalize on the increased integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to expand Japanese influence in Southeast Asia and nearby India. Japan will pursue these goals with an eye toward containing Beijing, but they will yield benefits independent of China.

Forecast After 2020

Japan will enter the 2020s in a relatively strong position. Despite growing opposition from an electorate dominated by older voters, the government will be more successful than previous administrations in implementing reform. Breaking up the agricultural and other lobbies in the late 2010s will expedite the process. As the generation born before World War II leaves politics and tensions with China grow, nationalist sentiments in Japan will surge, allowing the government to more actively mobilize support for defense reforms.

The reform measures initiated under Abenomics will slowly come into force after 2020 but will fall short of generating sustained annual GDP growth above 1-2 percent. Demographics will undergird this poor performance: Between 2015 and 2020, Japan's workforce will shrink by 3.3 million, or about 4 percent, increasing the pressure on the economy's productive capacity. Reform measures, however, will help ensure relatively stable GDP, improved efficiency and productivity as well as constant quality of life. This will provide a workable basis for the government's efforts to revamp the country's regional and global image and extend its political, military and economic reach.

From 2020 to 2030, Japan's working-age population (ages 20-64) will fall by around 4.8 million to 5.6 million. This drop will be well below the decline of 7.7 million-8.3 million people from 2010 to 2020, but it will be substantial nonetheless. To maintain a constant GDP, Japan will need to ensure average annual productivity growth of at least 2 percent. Doing so will require securing labor reforms. It will also depend on the Japanese government's ability to stimulate higher value-added services (such as financial services) and computer technologies industries at home.

Fixing employment problems will be critical for supporting Japan's growing elderly population. Compared with the years between 2010 and 2020, when the country's over-65 population grew by 7.5 million, the rate of population aging will slow considerably in the 2020s. Still, the absolute burden of caring for Japan's elderly population will only grow. By 2030, people over 65 will account for 32 percent of Japan's population, as opposed to 56 percent of the population at working age.

Tokyo will make tangible progress throughout the 2020s in cementing reforms and encouraging the kinds of industries needed to improve the overall productivity of Japan's economy. But the Chinese and European economies will remain weak through the early 2020s, and Japan's internal changes are unlikely to generate enough taxable income to reverse Tokyo’s reliance on deficit spending. Japan probably will not default on its debt, given the high rate of domestic ownership, but the amount of debt will grow, as will debt servicing costs.

Japan's relations with China will be in flux between 2020 and 2030. Even as China's economy slows between 2015 and 2018 and the Chinese government struggles with rising unemployment and social dislocation at home, the United States, Japan and their partners in broader Asia will pull closer together to balance against the perceived Chinese threat.

Beijing will continue to invest in its military and maritime expansion, and the world will continue to expect an imminent Chinese economic recovery. This will fuel integration efforts by the United States and Japan. But before 2025, the limits to China's economic trajectory and military capabilities compared with those of the U.S.- and Japan-led coalition will have become unmistakably clear. This will coincide with the unleashing of long-suppressed social and political energies within China, a process that could reach a climax before the scheduled 2022 generational leadership transition. The extreme centralization of political power before 2020 will have thoroughly undermined the system of checks and balances within the Communist Party of China and will make for a tumultuous transition process.

Up to 2025, Japan's neighbors will continue to view it as the leading counterbalance to China. Before long, however, internal political turmoil and continued economic dislocation within China will start to put the brakes on this dynamic. Stratfor expects China's ongoing economic slowdown to bottom out sometime around 2020. Throughout the early 2020s, China will be engaged in a process of restructuring and rebuilding its economy, a process that will weigh on annual GDP growth through the late 2020s. It will not be until the end of the decade that China's painful restructuring comes to fruition and domestic consumption by the urban middle class emerges as a genuine driver of national economic growth. As a result, China will exist in a state of economic dysfunction between the leadership transition of 2022 and perhaps as late as 2029-2030, likely increasing regional economic fragmentation.

The United States will realize the state China is in and will begin to slowly adjust the U.S. position in the region. Washington will move to prevent a complete Chinese political and economic collapse, fearing that such an outcome would cause extraordinary disruption across East Asia and provide an ascendant Japan a chance to move beyond the United States. To prevent its displacement, the United States will move to constrain Japan while avoiding open displays of friction with the Japanese.

Thus, Japan will find itself in the second half of the 2020s caught between a recovering China and a United States more amenable to assist in that recovery. This strategic bind, combined with Japan's deepening demographic decline, could well pave the way for another period of relative introversion in the 2030s.

The rates of workforce decline and population aging will both remain moderate in the 2030s before picking up precipitously in the 2040s. Efforts to boost fertility rates in the late 2010s and 2020s may help counteract the effects of working-age and population decline after 2040, but by and large, their effects on Japan's workforce will not be felt in the 2030s. If fertility does improve, Japan's workforce (by 2040, only 52 percent of the population) could find itself even more financially strained than in the previous decade. By 2060, Japan's workforce will have declined by 50 percent since 2015, while the country's total population could fall by as much as 25 percent. With this in mind, the years after 2040 are likely to be increasingly dominated by internal economic and social management-related issues.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Update on Active Shooter

A few years ago I post on my department's active shooter class and I called it the best in-service class I've ever had. I still stand by that. Well last night I caught 60 Minutes and they had a report on New York Police Department and Washington DC Police Department officers training for a nightmare. It's just over 15 minutes but well worth your time.

And 60 Minutes Overtime:

I guess this was Active Shooter Sunday. From the Houston Chronicle.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

STRATFOR REPORT: What to Expect After the Nov. 13 Paris Attacks. November 14, 2015

What to Expect After the Nov. 13 Paris AttacksFrench security forces evacuate Paris’ 10th arrondissement following a string of Nov. 13 attacks. (KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)

Update (9:30 a.m. CST): The death toll from the Nov. 13 attacks has now reached over 120, according to France 24. 
Update (6:00 p.m. CST): According to French media reports, French security forces have stormed and secured the Bataclan theater. The attackers apparently used grenades inside the main concert hall, Aujourd'hui Paris reported Nov. 13. Details are still emerging. 
As many as 60 people died Nov. 13 in multiple terrorist attacks throughout Paris. At least five gunmen – likely jihadists judging from witness's accounts – conducted the attacks.
Timeline of the Attack
The attacks, which were clearly coordinated, took place in multiple locations and involved different methods. In the first wave, two suicide bombers detonated their explosives at locations near the Stade de France, where a soccer match between France and Germany was taking place. (French President Francois Hollande himself was at the stadium at the time of the attack. He was escorted from the scene and met with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve in a closed meeting shortly thereafter.) It is unclear whether grenades or other explosives were used, and it is possible a suicide bomber may have been involved. 
Meanwhile, gunmen also opened fire, reportedly with Kalashnikov rifles, on a tightly packed Cambodian restaurant in a drive-by shooting. Shots were also fired at the Bataclan concert hall, where a hostage situation is now underway.
Roughly 25 minutes later, gunmen also opened fire on Rue de Charonne. And about an hour after the initial attacks, attacks by other terrorist cells took place at the Louvre and Les Halles.
Special police units, including RAID, a police intervention unit, have been rapidly mobilized and are currently securing the areas around the stadium, the bars and restaurants in the area of the 10th and 11th arrondissement, a part of Paris popular with young people and tourists, and the Bataclan concert hall, where at least some of the gunmen, allegedly armed with explosives, are reportedly located and holding up to 100 hostages. 
Events in Paris could evolve rapidly – the standoff with the gunmen at the Bataclan concert hall could end at any moment if the French special police units believe that the gunmen are going to harm the hostages. 
Though shocking, the attacks are not completely surprising. Multiple individuals from France and other European countries have traveled to Syria to join extremist groups there. As the Charlie Hebdo attacks have also demonstrated, there is a persistent risk of terrorist attacks within Europe. An important question going forward is whether the attacks were entirely grassroots in nature or whether the assailants received instruction or assistance from abroad from groups such as the Islamic State or al Qaeda. Furthermore, the recent influx of refugees into Europe from places such as Syria highlights the risk that jihadist groups could have placed some of their members among the large refugee flow in order to conduct attacks in Europe. 
In an address to the nation, French President Francois Hollande said that the country will close off its borders. The French government will prioritize immediately locking down the city, protecting civilians and capturing the attackers. The next piece of that will be to close down transportation and the borders to prevent any perpetrators from escaping. Finally they will begin to investigate to uproot the parties responsible for the attacks. Notably, Hollande has officialy declared a state of emergency.Political Fallout 
The attacks will surely have political consequences. They come five days before France's only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, is due to set sail for the Persian Gulf for actions against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. France has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria since late September. Should the attacks be traced back to the Islamic State's core area of operation, France will probably deepen its involvement in anti-Islamic State operations in Syria and Iraq at a time when the Syrian battlefield in particular is becoming crowded and complicated. 
From a political perspective, the attacks are a reminder of France's longstanding ethnic frictions following several months in which the focus has been on neighboring Germany. High numbers of migrants have been entering Germany from the east and south, with very few carrying on to France. As a result, France has kept a relatively low profile in the attempts to stem the flow of migrants, though it has been present at the numerous summits on the issue and has supported Germany's push for a relocation of asylum seekers across Europe. Nevertheless, this event can be expected to strengthen the argument of those groups that have been calling for a halt in the flow of immigrants and the closing of borders in countries such as Germany, Sweden and much of Central and Eastern Europe 
In the wake of these attacks, Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Front party could see their popularity rise. Le Pen kept a low profile after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January and still saw an increase in her party's popularity because of its longstanding anti-immigration message. Hollande also saw a brief uptick in popularity after the Charlie Hebdo attack because of his reaction to the events, but a repeat of this trend is not expected because people will now question whether the anti-terrorism measures that were approved this year actually worked. The leader of the center-right Republicans Party, Nicolas Sarkozy, also has a history of taking a strong stance on security issues; he was campaigning on the subject only last week. He is expected to battle the milder Alain Juppe for his party's nomination in the 2017 elections, and voters may swing to his side in the wake of the attacks.


Security Weekly: Paris Attacks: The Acuity of Hindsight, November 14, 2015

By Scott Stewart

Editor's note: Stratfor has produced this supplemental edition of the Security Weekly to amplify understanding of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. The Security Weekly publishes regularly each Thursday.

Until Nov. 13, the eight attackers responsible for the night of violence in Paris were just a handful of radical Islamists in a large universe of Islamist radicals in France. Many of these radicals are nonviolent, while a small segment of them are extremists who espouse violence to achieve their radical agenda — the type we refer to as jihadists. Yet even among the jihadists who advocate violence, there are divisions. Some maintain that jihad should be waged only defensively in support of fellow Muslims being oppressed or attacked in places such as Syria. Another subset advocates for attacks in a Western country such as France. Even among the latter group, there are those whose threats are merely hot air and those who are actually willing to act. Even among those willing to attack there are actors who pose different degrees of threat.

For French authorities, sorting through the universe of potential attackers to identify those who pose the greatest risk is a daunting challenge — as it is for any other government. The process is like a shark attempting to select a few fish from among a vast shoal of baitfish swimming in unison. A shark has an incredible sensory array that is extremely effective at identifying prey to be devoured by its rows of formidable teeth. But the shoal provides security by making it next to impossible for the shark to identify the specific individual fish its needs to target.

This is exactly the situation in which the French authorities find themselves. They have incredible intelligence capabilities (sensors) and very capable police and military forces (teeth). Yet, those intelligence and enforcement resources are quite limited and can be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the shoal of potential jihadist attackers.

It requires an incredible amount of resources to maintain live telephone taps on one target, much less 24/7 physical surveillance. This means that security services very quickly reach their capacity. Thus, they need to use risk assessments to rank the potential threats and deploy their resources selectively against those threats deemed the most dangerous. This is especially true in a democratic country such at France, where there is rule of law and one cannot just conduct sweeps to arrest every known potential threat and then sort them out in prison. But frankly, as seen in even authoritarian countries, one simply cannot arrest (or kill) their way out of the problem and, often, draconian measures serve only to fuel anger and resentment, further aiding in radicalization.

Because of this reality, some attackers will slip through the screen, no matter the proficiency of security services. Once they attack, they are immediately removed from the shoal of potential threats and are subjected to an incredible amount of scrutiny. Their electronics will be seized as evidence and searched, and their past travel, associations and communications will be reviewed under a microscope. Under this heavy scrutiny, investigators will undoubtedly find clear warnings and indicators that the attackers were up to no good before the attack. Indeed, we will undoubtedly that some, if not all the attackers had previously come to the attention of the authorities.

To use another analogy, prior to the attack, the authorities had a mountainous pile of puzzle pieces with no frame or reference picture — some of those pieces could have led them to these attackers had they been assembled. But sorting through a gigantic pile of pieces of data and putting those pieces together without a frame of reference is often very difficult. Following this attack, the French authorities now have both the frame and the reference picture, and as they examine individual pieces of information, they will be able to place them into context using the frame of reference and (in retrospect) discover smoking guns.

Many will criticize the French government for missing such obvious clues, but those who do have lost sight of the initial challenge of the shoal of suspects and the vast amounts of data associated with each individual fish. Hindsight can be far more acute than foresight.

Paris Attacks: The Acuity of Hindsight is republished with permission of Stratfor.

South Park takes on the cops..enjoy.