Saturday, April 08, 2017

"Return to Mosul" on CNN: reporter returns to family that sheltered her from ISIS

Return to Mosul”, a one-hour special on CNN, aired 9 PM EDT Saturday April 8, 2017, shows correspondent Arwa Damon returning to visit the family she had sheltered in place with two months before in 2016 in Mosul, Iraq. The subtitle is "Return to Hell: Finding the Mosul Family Who Sheltered Us. 

I'm reminded immediately of the US Third Amendment about quartering soldiers (or maybe refugees).

Most of the soldiers were still there; one had lost an eye, another had recovered from leg wounds. But as she traveled around the city, she found it still very unsafe.

She visits eastern Mosul, which is supposed to be more liberated.

In one place, she found ruins of a makeshift plane intended as a kamikaze.  In another place, she encountered a family that had been recently forced to become human shields after an ISIS home invasion.

She visited a school that had recently opened, with male teachers trying to install something to live for, besides fundamentalism. She found wall art where images had been covered up by ISIS,  Cell phones, banned by ISIS, were returning.

I worked with a woman who had relatives in Mosul back on 2002 in Minneapolis, so I am only on degree of separation removed from all this.  Mosul has about the same population as Philadelphia.

About half of the buildings in the city looked flattened in to rubble.

Wikipedia attribution link for Voice of America picture of Eastern Mosul in 2016, p.d. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

"ISIS: Under the Mask" examines a Catholic-turned-Muslim who left Belgium to join the group and returned

Friday night, March 31,  CNN broadcast “ISIS: Behind the Mask”, a special report with Clarissa Ward interviewing Michael Delefortrie, 28, now living in Belgium, who was raised as Catholic but left Belgium to go to Syria and fight with ISIS in his mid twenties and returned.

European authorities are very concerned about returned fighters.  But except for a brief jail sentence, Michael has stayed out of trouble.  He uses Europe's free speech to spread his ideas.  He also happily excepts welfare from the state for income.

“I am not a Belgian, I am a Muslim”, he maintains.

He denied killing anyone while with ISIS and says he will not use violence at home.

However, he wants Europe and the U.S. and the entire world to be brought under Sharia law.

He did start using drugs and getting bad grades in school as a teen.  Muslim laws seemed to give him an absolute sense of morality and a group to belong to.

He regards Osama bin Laden as a hero, and says historical figures should not be downgraded in judgement for killing people.

In general young men (and women) with some petty crime and drug use and a psychology of wanting to fit in to a warrior group sound more vulnerable to cult-like radicalization.  Also relevant is a desire to see others have to follow the same rules of living that they think have been imposed on them, as this seems to make their lives (and potential marital relationships) more exciting and meaningful.

Micheal is married and wants his son to be a fighter. The documentary mentioned some domestic abuse. He is tall, slender, very "white", and wears a beard without mustache.

Michael spoke in absolute terms, that everything is for Allah and that Allah alone will judge whether the violent actions of people suit His purposed.  He did not question why one source of scriptural authority (like the Koran) is more valid than another (the Bible). He showed no sense of epistemology.

Later the broadcast showed an experiment with recruiting online.  CNN went undercover and got 223 strangers wanting to be “friends”, from Belgium and France.  Several wanted to go underground with conversations on Telegram .   Seeker has an article on this matter here.

There was discussion of “Sharia4Beligum”.

Wikipedia attribution link for  Atomium in Brussels,    under CCSA 3.0.    

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"An Attack in Garland" on CBS 60 Minutes: Could an FBI agent have stopped it?

Anderson Cooper, tonight working as a correspondent with CBS 60 Minutes (for the first time?) reports on “The Attack in Garland” in May 2015.

The episode that an undercover FBI agent was at the “right place at the right time” to witness the aborted attack on a cartoon drawing contest sponsored by Pamela Geller.

The attackers had a huge cache of weapons and a massacre was averted by local police or sheriff.

But the FBI had tracked people associated with the attack on social media, and one had ties to extremis, as far back as 2006.
Why didn’t the FBI do more itself to stop the attack?

Monday, March 06, 2017

A few videos maintain North Korea could launch EMP attacks from orbiting satellites

Lori Buelow has a filmstrip Youtube video “Heillish Nightmare: North Korea’s Satellite Launch EMP Attack”.

I guess the article title is in subjunctive mood. The attack didn’t happen (the video dates from Feb. 2016).  But in late February 2017, former CIA director James Woolsey warned  in the WSJ that North Korea could put a warhead on a satellite and launch an EMP attack from high altitude with a small nuclear weapon. It’s unclear how many transformers in a wide area it could wipe out. Woolsey discussed the article with Erin Burnett tonight on CNN (Monday, March 6, 2017).  The satellite orbits at about 315 miles elevation.

NBC news reported this today. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Blindspot" episode on NBC highlights radioactivity dispersion device risk, even from domestic revolutionaries

I’m not a big fan of Blindspot, an NBC domestic  spy series based on an unidentified tattooed woman (Jaimie Alexander) found in Times Square.

But an episode Wednesday night, “Borrow or Rob”, did hit a lot of major risks.  A cabal based on a college fraternity seems to have developed a mathematical algorithm to calculate the best day to start world revolution.

The revolution apparently includes ruining the real estate values of much of America with dirty bombs.  It’s an idea that sounds chillingly plausible.  Donald Trump, given his real estate career centered on property rights and "air rights",  would have more incentive to “keep us safe” from such an idea than anyone else.  But this scheme seems to be domestic and based on 70s style terror, not foreign. Immigration bans would be irrelevant.

The “cult”, for what it was worth, with the pinko gowns, rather reminded me of the 1999 film “Eyes Wide Shut”.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"End Day": a scientist creating a strangelet is taken through three other ways to end the world first

The BBC TV film “End Day” (2005, written and directed by Gareth Edwards), in 48 minutes, covers four ways civilization could come to an end.

A scientist (Bill McGuire) gets up in his London condo and heads for the airport to New York.  Once he gets there, he will turn a key on a particle accelerator (it’s actually in Switzerland) that, it turns out, creates a strangelet that consumes the Earth and converts it to grey goo. The film does mention the idea of a microscopic black hole, which would evaporate (as Hawking radiation).

But the first three acts reenact three other possibilities:  They’re all handled in pretty cornball fashion. In each case, the scientist tries to fly to NYC.

One is that the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands splits in half, with an underwater landslide that sends a 500-foot tsunami toward the East Coast.  That’s high enough to topple the skyscrapers in New York, and it would go much farther than three miles inland.

A second scenario is that a huge asteroid hits Berlin, preceded by meteor storms.  Attempts to blow it up with nuclear weapons fail (even with Trump as president).  The disasters are narrated dispassionately by a BBC news anchor who shows no emotion.

The other idea is that a 1918-style bird flu suddenly spreads by air travel from the far East.

The film is available on Instant Play with Netflix subscription.

Wikipedia attribution link for Aceh 2004 Indonesia tsunami VCSA 2.0 unde CCSA 2.0 byr Aus AID.  

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

"Passports in the Shadows": CNN reports bust of Venezuelan passport fraud in Iraq

AC360 tonight had a 10 minute report, “Passports in the Shadows”, involving massive fraud with Venezuelan passports issued in Iraq, which might have been used anywhere in Europe by terrorists.

Although the FBI office in Madrid was aware of this (the interview with the whistleblower was conducted in Spain), it seems that CNN uncovered this story.  Donald Trump is so critical of the media, but this time CNN helped him out with a major terror bust.

Will Venezuela be placed under travel restrictions?  How would Obama or Hillary Clinton react to this story (or how would Anderson Cooper himself were he president).  Maybe the liberal Democrats know more about terror than Trump gives them credit for.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Baghdad red zone.  p.d. by Robert Smith.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Milo Yiannopoulos explains how left-wing civil disorder threatens to shut down free speech

Milo Yiannopoulos gets interviewed by Tucker Carlson about the Berkeley Riots.  His event was canceled by effectively a "heckler's veto".

There are many rumors.  For example, the rioters were not students but outside agitators from a Symboniese-like Left.

Milo points out that university officials complained about Trump’s tweet threatening to cut off funding, but not about the rioting itself.

Here’s another Milo video explaining why Hillary lost

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Steve Bannon has a script for "Islamic States of America"

Steve Bannon had plans for a film “Islamic States of America” as far back as 2004, and had written the screenplay in something like FinalDraft, according to a Washington Post story, front page, Saturday morning, by Matea Gold, link here.

Bannon seems to imagine a cultural laxness and lack of social cohesion and drop in resilience that allows an enemy to destroy society, probably more gradually than in many other accounts (such as witn WMD or EMP attacks).

Bannon seems obsessed with “the other” indeed.

Yet, at an individual level, his idea that capitalism should be tempered with some sort of faith, since pure individualistic intellect can rationalize anything, makes some moral sense.  It’s the magical thinking, the invoking of holy wars and crusades and personification of Satan and the like that is scary.  That gets way beyond individual personal responsibility and speaks to the durability of the group.

Steve Bannon has produced a lot of right-wing films, and directed some, such as “Occupy Unmasked”, which I have reviewed on Wordpress.

It sounds like Bannon thinks that writing an Executive Order is like writing a screenplay: in your imagination, you can hurt people (like in "The Town").

But Bannon’s influence on Trump is indeed alarming.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

"The Jihadis Next Door": British filmmaker interviews some of the UK's most notorious radical Islamists

In the Channel 4 short (46 documentary) “The Jihadis Next Door” (20160, British filmmaker Jamie Roberts interviews a fundamentalist radical preacher Abu Haleema, and bouncy castle salesman Abu Rumaysah now one of the world’s most wanted men.  He also explores the possibility of similarity of one of the men’s voices to “Jihadi John” in the ISIS beheadings.

Both men (it’s hard to tell them apart) espouse the idea that Britain should live under Sharia law.  They claim everyone will live well if obedient to Allah, but people who refuse will have their property and lives taken from them by force.  The preacher is pretty blunt about this.  He also claims civilians deserve to be treated as  combatants, because individual Muslims in the Middle East are attacked by the British.

There is a major descriptive link for the film here.
Toward the end, the documentary shows a brief clip in Paris after the November 13, 2015 attacks.
You get the feeling that combativeness of radical Islam is driven in part by a desire not to deal with people “as they are”.