Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First confirmed case of Ebola in the United States. Yahoo News

The Texas hospital where the man was admitted. Yahoo.

The first case of Ebola in the United States, and indeed the world outside of Africa, has been diagnosed in Texas. Yahoo News. The man had recently come from Liberia where the disease is running rampant. The man, who has not been identified, has been put into an isolation ward in Dallas Texas. The man arrived in Texas on the 20th, fell ill on the 24th but was not admitted until the 28th. He was not showing symptoms on the flight, so it is very unlikely that the people on the plane with him will become ill. Although four aid workers have been treated in America, this is the first case to be transmitted here "in the wild". 

My Comment:
Sounds like that study that predicted a 1 in 5 chance of Ebola arriving in the United States was correct.  This is incredibly bad news and I really hope the CDC and the Texas hospital where this man is being treated is on their game. The fact that he fell ill on the 24th but wasn't in the hospital until the 28th is extremely disturbing. Every single person this man interacted with needs to be isolated for the entire incubation period. If just one person slips through the cracks or flees then Ebola has a chance at spreading.

What are our chances here? It's not the end of the world. Senegal and Nigeria were able to contain their mini-outbreaks and their health systems are much more primitive then the United States. Our government is going to take this very seriously and we don't have the cultural practices that they do in West Africa, like touching dead bodies. So there is a very good chance that this outbreak could be contained with only a few cases or even just the one. Still, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't extremely concerned. I just posted this morning that Ebola has essentially destroyed Liberia, and even though it's unlikely to happen here, it's still a non-zero chance of disaster. It always was as long as the outbreak in Africa is still happening but now that the disease is here the chances are better.   

Republicans are predicted to take the Senate in the mid-term elections. Yahoo/AFP

Barack Obama will likely have to work with a Republican Senate. Yahoo/AFP

Republicans are poised to take the Senate away from Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections, according to new polling. Yahoo/AFP. The New York times polling says that Republicans have a 67% chance of winning the senate and the Washington Post says that they have a 76% chance. Nate Silver, a very respected predictor of elections gives Republicans a 60% chance. Democrats are not really contesting their seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, and Republicans only need to hold onto their current seats and win three more. Alaska, Arkansas and Colorado are the main battleground states while Iowa went from a dead heat to a six point lead for the Republican candidate. However, Democrats may take a seat away from Republicans in Kansas due to an Independent candidate who might caucus with them. 

My Comment:
Not too surprising. Mid-term elections tend to be a slaughter for the incumbent president's party in the best of situations. With how unpopular Obama is and how messed up everything is right now I predict that will remain the case this year. Having said that though, if Republicans do manage to capture the senate I don't see too much happening. Obama has shown time and again that he won't work with Republicans and they have shown the same thing to him. He can still veto any legislation he doesn't like and Republicans won't be able to muscle through whatever they want. 

As for my state, neither of our senators are up for election. We do have a very important governors race that could go either way. Scott Walker is up for election after the recall he had back in 2012. The race is a dead heat and has national implications since Walker is considered a possible Republican candidate for 2016. Either way though, I have to remember to register to vote! 

Liberian society is starting to collapse due to Ebola. Yahoo/AFP

One of the crematoriums where Ebola victims burned in Liberia. Yahoo/AFP

Experts are warning that Liberian society is starting to collapse due to the Ebola virus. Yahoo/AFP. There are fears of conflict and perhaps even war. Tensions are incredibly high in the capital, Monrovia, and even something as simple as removing a body has resulted in near-riots. Government institutions, including police and the military are ceasing to function due to the high number of infected. The health system has had the most problems with many key doctors and nurses sickened or killed. The countries top doctor is currently under quarantine after her deputy died and many hospitals are closed completely. Schools have been closed for months now and the economy is in shambles. Food is starting to become a problem as well.

My Comment:
I've been saying that Liberia was essentially doomed for weeks now. I've said many times that I thought this was the way it was going to play out this way. Starvation, conflict and complete economic collapse is pretty much inevitable at this point, and this article is confirmation that what I was saying. I sure didn't want to be right though. 

At this point I think Liberia is past the point of no return. If tensions are as high as the article claimed then it's only a matter of time before a western aid group or the U.S. military either gets attacked or realize that the security situation is more dangerous then Ebola. When that happens they will withdraw and the disease would spread unchecked. The people there are scared, hate and distrust their government and foreigners and soon they will be hungry too. That's a recipe for disaster for foreign aid groups, especially since many blame the west and "white people" for Ebola. And those aid groups are the only people that could conceivably make a dent in the outbreak. And even if they manage to persevere, there is a good chance that the disease will win anyways. The situation is that bad in Liberia right now. 

As for Sierra Leone and Guinea, it's still unclear. The disease is out of control in Sierra Leone but it isn't quite as bad as Liberia is. Their government, in my perception at least, has been far more proactive in fighting the disease then Liberia has. If they keep their quarantines up and get a lot of outside help then they might make it. If they don't they will go the same way as Liberia. Guinea is much the same but their chances are even better. Even though the outbreak started there it has never been as severe as the other two countries. They have the best chances out of anybody.  

Of course if Liberia does fall tens of thousands of people will flee the country and many of them will have the disease. I don't know how you stop that short of shooting everyone that tries to cross the border and even then people will slip through. The whole situation is terrible. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Most Americans think that U.S. ground troops will be deployed in the fight against ISIS. Wall Street Journal.

Americans don't believe Obama when he says no ground combat troops. Wall Street Journal/EPA

Most Americans do not believe President Obama when it comes to the deployment of U.S. ground troops against ISIS. Wall Street Journal. A new poll finds that 72% of Americans think that ground units will be used against ISIS eventually while only 20% believe the president. President Obama has repeatedly claimed that he has no desire to deploy U.S. combat troops to Iraq or Syria. 45% of Americans actually support the use of ground troops in a combat role if it is the best way to defeat ISIS, while 37% would not. America does have some forces on the ground in Iraq but they are, in theory at least, non-combat support troops and not front line infantry units. 

My Comment:
That first number doesn't surprise me at all. Our last two presidents have been experts at getting us involved in conflicts. Obama especially has gotten us involved with so many conflicts, though for the most part they did not involve the use of ground troops. And Obama doesn't have a whole lot of credibility when it comes to foreign policy and terrorism anymore. 

The second number, 45% of Americans supporting ground troops, is, on the surface, very shocking. Just a couple of years ago, a war with Syria was roundly rejected by the American public. The perception was that we were war weary and desperately wanted peace for once. That was certainly part of it, but I always thought the main reason the war was so universally rejected was because there was no good reason for it. Nobody was ever able to answer the question "what is America's interest in this war"?

Things have changed now. The genocide of Christians and Yezidi, the utter destruction of the Iraqi Army, the defilement of temples and cultural relics, and the execution of completely innocent journalists and aid workers, all of it adds up to a huge threat, not just to America but to the world. ISIS is the kind of evil that stands out even in a part of the world downing in it. You can argue if the cause is justified or if it is a wise move to fight yet another war of choice, but you can't argue that there isn't a case for war this time around. 

What's my personal feeling on the issue? I'm conflicted. I want peace as much as the next person, but ISIS is a cancer. If it isn't destroyed it will spread. If the recent attack in Oklahoma really was inspired by ISIS it has already spread to America. There is not other force in the world that is both willing and able to defeat ISIS. Airstrikes won't be enough. Still, it would be nice if just for once Europe and the other Middle East nations would put up tens of thousands of their own troops instead of the token forces we have all grown to expect. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Occupy Central protesters vs Chinese government. Hong Kong civil disobedience. Reuters.

A protester attempting to protect himself from teargas. Reuters. 

Police and Occupy Central protesters clashed in Hong Kong today after riot police tried to break up the pro-democracy protest. -Reuters. The police fired tear gas and charged with batons, who were blocking a road. Tens of thousands of protesters came back after the initial clashes. The protests are in response to China forbidding the people of Hong Kong to choose who comes up for election. Right now only China approved candidates are allowed. China has long feared democracy and has used force to break up protests before, most famously in 1989 in Tienanmen square. Already many protesters have been arrested and detained including several leaders of the Occupy Central movement. 

My Comment:
I'm guessing that this protest will be shut down without mercy. If there is one thing that the Chinese government fears it is the people rising up. That's the main reason they have such a large army and that's why they have been so harsh to any and all democracy protests. I'm not saying it's right of course, I'm just saying that it is probably going to happen. Of course a heavy hand would have consequences. The rest of the world would not like it at all and may sanction China if they go in and kill everyone. A heavy hand could also inspire other protests in different Chinese cities. Either way a successful protest or a harsh crackdown will have consequences for China. It will be interesting to see how they handle it. 

As for the protesters, Hong Kong's history as a British colony is probably a large reason for these protests. Many of the people protesting may remember what life was like under a freer system since China only gained control of Hong Kong in 1997. I'm admittedly ignorant to what life was like under British rule but I would have to think that it was freer and more open then it is now. 

30 dead from volcanic eruption in Japan. Yahoo/AFP

A person being rescued from Mt. Ontake. Yahoo/AFP.

30 people have died in the volcanic eruption of Mt. Ontake in Japan. Yahoo/AFP. The victims were in "cardiac arrest" but that is only because doctors haven't been able to certify the deaths yet. Japan had to call off the rescue and recovery operation due to high level of sulfur gas in the area. 550 rescue workers had helped many of the people that had sheltered in cabins and other buildings in the area. The volcano deposited up to 8 inches of ash in the area. People were injured both by flying rocks and high temperature ash and fumes. 

My Comment:
Sad news out of Japan, I was hoping there wasn't going to be any fatalities. The article did clear up why people were in the area though. Apparently it is a bit more built up then I thought it would be. It sounds like Mt. Ontake and the surrounding area is a fairly active tourist area, especially this time of year. It also sounds like there wasn't any warning for these people. Bad luck all around. It's fairly rare for people to die from volcanoes in the first place, let alone in a 1st world country like Japan. They have had bad luck with natural disasters lately, but being where they are on the ring of fire, these sort of things are inevitable.  

Once again, I live in Wisconsin so the entire concept of mountains and volcanoes is a foreign one for me. I was in Japan once back when I was a kid but the closest I ever got to a mountain there was on the bullet train with Mt. Fuji in the distance. It was fairly impressive, but still, it's hard for me to conceptualize. Every other place in the world I have visited was just as flat as Wisconsin is. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The anti-ISIS coalition is growing. UK, Denmark and Belgium join strikes in Iraq. -Time.

Parliament debates joining the war. Time/Reuters

The United Kingdom, Denmark and Belgium joins the anti-ISIS coalition and will send airstrikes to Iraq. -Time.  The three countries join a growing list of European and Arab countries fighting against ISIS. In addition to the Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, France, Australia and America have all pledged airstrikes. In the United Kingdom, Parliament voted decisively for the war. As of this posting none of the new nations have pledged to expand their strikes to Syria. 

My Comment:
I'm not surprised that the United Kingdom has joined the war. They lost one of their own in brutal fashion a short time ago. They must have been under immense pressure to do something after the execution. The United Kingdom is also America's most loyal ally so it is not surprising that they would join. As for Denmark and Belgium, I'm not quite sure what their motivation is. I have to assume that they have had their problems with Islamic extremism in the past. They must want to nip it in the bud while they still can. 

So is this going to seriously effect ISIS? I don't see this doing all that much. These will be token airstrikes to support the main U.S. effort at best. Airstrikes can only do so much and when it comes down to it you need an army to defeat and army. And there is no army in Iraq or Syria that is strong enough to fight ISIS, especially since everyone is fighting everyone else there. Still, any help is appreciated. 

Of course should ISIS fail to be destroyed, which is pretty likely, they will have a propaganda and recruiting tool. They already have an aura of invincibility. Going up against the combined forces of a united Arab league as well as major European powers and the most powerful military in the world, the United States, and surviving will be a huge accomplishment, to say nothing of what happens if they continue to have major victories on the ground. And their continued campaign against western civilians have been fairly effective as a recruiting tool as well. In short, ISIS isn't going to be defeated by airstrikes and this is going to be a long, ugly war. 

Volcano erupts in Japan and traps 250 people. Yahoo/AP

Mt. Ontake erupts. 

A volcano in Japan, Mt. Ontake, has erupted and trapped 250 people in the area. Yahoo/AP. The volcano erupted suddenly around noon and covered some people in ash. 11 were injured and 8 of those injures were serious. Seven people lost consciousness. 52 people were able to escape by climbing down the mountain. Japan's meteorological agency raised the alert level for the country and warned people to stay away from the mountain. 

via Youtube

My Comment:
Not much to say on this one except that I hope everyone made it out ok. I do have to ask why on earth were there so many people climbing around an active volcano? How does that make sense? I know that major mountains can have a large amount of people climbing at any one time. Mt. Everest is a great example. But apparently Mt. Ontake is one too. I live in Wisconsin so admittedly my knowledge of mountains is pretty limited. We just don't have them here. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Man beheads woman in attack at food processing plant, Islamic extremism is a possibility. Yahoo/AP

Alton Nolen, the suspect. Telegraph. 

A disgruntled former employee of a food processing plant in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, decapitated one woman and attacked another before being shot by the companies CEO. Yahoo/AP Alton Nolen is the suspect and had been fired recently. He was reportedly trying to convert people to Islam before he was fired. The companies CEO, Mark Vaughn, who is also a sheriffs reserve deputy, retrieved a rifle and shot Nolen before he could attack anyone else. Nolen is still alive and is in stable condition. It is unclear if Nolen was inspired by the recent decapitations by ISIS and their affiliates or if he had some other motivation. Nolen is a convicted felon and had been charged with battery on a police officer, and possession of cocaine. 

My Comment:
Another case of a good guy with a gun stopping a mass killing. I have no doubt that Nolen would have kept stabbing people if Vaughn hadn't put him down. Sure he was a reserve deputy, but he wasn't a cop on active duty.  If he hadn't been there with a gun more people could have died. The Islamic extremism angle will probably make the media unable to ignore the facts of this case. In other words this is a case the gun grabbing left would love to bury but they just won't be able to do so this time. I am glad that it clearly contrasts what happened with the Lee Rigby case in England. When the terrorist killed Rigby and gave an impromptu speech, many Americans commented if he had done the same thing here he would have been shot by a civilian. That's exactly what happened.

The other important angle to this story is that it is very possible that Nolen took the recent calls by ISIS to attack American civilians to heart. It's still too early to tell if he was inspired directly by ISIS or not, but it had to have been in his head either way. Murder by decapitation is incredibly rare, and the fact that he was trying to convert people to Islam builds a strong circumstantial case that he was indeed inspired by radical Islam. Even if he wasn't and was just another disgruntled person attacking people, at the very least his method of attack was probably inspired by ISIS.

In a more personal note I had supper tonight with several older family members and it was clear to me that they were upset about this. Not just because it is horrible but because they think it could happen to them. They were afraid that having something as simple as "God Bless the USA" or "Support Our Troops" as a bumper sticker could get them killed. I haven't heard that level of fear since 9/11. I don't think this kind of thing will be widespread, in the United States at least, but at this point it's something to keep in mind. It's freaking me out a bit since I work somewhere similar to this place but my company has a "no guns" policy. Should some crazed extremist tries to cut someones head off at my job, I'm SOL. 

Somali pirates kill each other over ransom money. Yahoo/AP

File photo of a Somali Pirate. Yahoo/AP

Three Somali pirates were killed in a battle over ransom money. Yahoo/AP. The fight broke out in the town of Gallkayo. The dispute was over the $1.6 million ransom paid for German-American citizen Michael Scott Moore. Moore had been captured by the pirates in 2012 but it is unclear who paid for his ransom. The United States does not pay ransoms and the Germans won't say either way. The pirate leader, who was killed in the gunfight, was accused of making a secret deal with the negotiators. The pirates turned away from out and out piracy due to more effective maritime patrols and have turned to kidnapping as an income source.

My Comment:
Gotta love it when pirates get whats coming to them. Greed kills once again. You would think that they would have been smart enough to divide the loot evenly but apparently not. Of course if they were thinking rationally they would have chosen a safer career then piracy. Not like there are many options in Somalia though, the whole country is a disaster area. Dozens of attempts at foreign intervention have failed. The UN, America, various African countries, all of them have failed. 

The good news is that piracy is on the decline in Somalia. In a rare example of international cooperation, the Navies of dozens of otherwise uncooperative countries have teamed up to really come down hard on pirate ships. Somalians learned quickly that piracy would often end very badly for them, often ending in either death or imprisonment. And that's just the initial operation, once they had hostages and ships they had to worry about commando raids like the one the Navy Seals pulled off. Hostages are easier to come by, but they still have risk. And apparently, getting shot by your own guys is one of them. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mexican drug cartels are stealing billions of dollars worth of oil. Yahoo/AP

A truck shot up by the cartels. Yahoo/AP.

Mexican drug cartels are stealing billions of dollars worth of oil. Yahoo/AP. Pemex, the state oil company, says that over $1.15 billion worth of oil has been stolen from almost 2500 illegal taps. Most of these taps are in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where fracking has greatly increased output. The theft is a major threat to developing these oil fields since it may scare away foreign investors. Both the Zetas and Gulf Cartel are active in Tamaulipas and both are stealing oil from the State. The cartels have also infiltrated Pemex as well, giving them the technical knowledge to steal more efficiently. Given the massive patrol area and general corruption, efforts to prevent these thefts have been futile to this point. 

My Comment:
Whenever someone says "if we legalize drugs the cartels will be powerless" I can point to this article. The cartels are involved in so many things besides drug smuggling that cutting off that income stream wouldn't kill them. In addition to energy theft, they are involved with kidnapping, arms smuggling, extortion, corruption and even legitimate businesses. Yes, legalizing drugs would hurt their bottom line but it wouldn't end the violence or the cartels stranglehold on Mexico.

And once again this is a huge national security concern that gets ZERO attention from the western media. It's also an economic burden as well since this oil could have been sold legitimately. I'm guessing this raises oil prices for everyone except the people that buy on the black market. Either way though the Mexican Drug War gets way less attention then it deserves. 

Sierra Leone quarantines 1 million people due to Ebola. Yahoo/AFP

A health worker disposing of Ebola contaminated equipment. Yahoo/AFP

Sierra Leone has quarantined 1.2 million people in response to the Ebola outbreak. Yahoo/AFP. The five districts include Port Loko and Bombali in the north, Moyamba in the south and Kenema and Kailahun in the east. In addition 12 cheifdoms, smaller administrative areas, were placed under quarantine as well. The quarantine affects more then 1/3rd of the 6 million people living in Sierra Leone. The people living in these areas will not be able to leave and outsiders will not be able to enter, stranding people on either side and separating families. The quarantine comes after a country-wide three day lockdown where at least 100 bodies and 200 new cases were discovered. 

My Comment:
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Will it work? I'm not sure. Isolating and monitoring patients appeared to stop the outbreak in Nigeria and Senegal but neither of those outbreaks were on this scale. I don't see how quarantining 1.2 million people will help the people in the quarantine but I do see how it could help the disease stop spreading outside of the quarantined areas. 

But what happens when people in the people in the quarantine zone panic? Liberia tried to cut off the West Point slum and that failed spectacularly. People did everything they could to break the quarantine, including swimming in the ocean. Eventually they rioted and even thought Liberia used deadly force to quell the riot, they eventually had to break the quarantine on humanitarian grounds. Will that happen in Sierra Leone? I don't know. They were able to lock down the whole country last week so maybe the people there are more cooperative. 

Part of me thinks that this is way too little way too late. When Ebola was limited to a few cases a wide quarantine could have work but it has spread to far into too many big cites to really slow it down. More and more, for Sierra Leone and Liberia at least, I think this outbreak ends in three ways. 
1. It mutates to a less deadly or less spreadable form
2. It continues to spread in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and perhaps Guinea as well, until it infects enough people that it runs out of victims. West Africa is completely devastated and the infection spreads to other West African nations who may or may not be able to stop it before it becomes a huge problem.
3. It goes airborne and everyone dies. 

I think options #1 and #3 are equally unlikely but not outside the realm of possibility. I don't see the outbreak being contained. It's gone to far for that. It will burn out eventually but there won't be a happy ending here.  

ISIS offshoot executes a French civilian. Yahoo/Reuters

Herve Gourdel, the Frenchman who was killed. Yahoo/Reuters

A splinter group form Al-Qaeda, allies of ISIS, have executed a 55 year old French civilian. Yahoo/Reuters. Herve Gourdel was kidnapped by the Algerian group "Soldiers of the Caliphate" and then executed. The group have sworn allegiance to ISIS and claimed the execution was in response to French airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. French President Francois Hollande, visibly shaken, condemned the murder and vowed to continue to fight ISIS. The executions follow three executions of two American journalist and one British aid worker by ISIS itself. The execution raises fears of other copycat groups attempting to do the same thing in other countries, including France itself. 

My Comment:
Another disgusting attack against someone that was truly innocent. The disturbing part is that it didn't happen in Syria or Iraq, but in Algeria in North Africa. Other terrorist groups are following ISIS's lead and are adapting their tactics. No good will come from this. The new fear is that someone will try this in a western country, though Jihadi motivated murder has happened before. The Lee Rigby murder is a recent example. So is the shooting at Fort Hood that happened back in 2009. 

As for the French, my heart goes out to them. I'm fond of the country and despite our governments occasional disagreements I personally appreciate them as an ally. So I'm obviously not happy when one of theirs gets killed like this. They are on the front lines of this war and they are doing more to fight radical Islam then many others. They also have a very impressive military which I am sure they will continue to put to good use. 

And I must say that having to hear about a new beheading what seems like every week is getting to be exhausting. I'm personally disgusted by it and I hope someday that I won't have to keep writing about someone getting decapitated by these people. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PHOTO GALLERY: American strikes on Syria. War is Boring.

A Tomahawk being fired from the U.S.S Arleigh Burke. U.S. Navy/War is Boring

War is Boring has an excellent photo gallery of the strikes on Syria. They have quite a few photos from the attacks on 9/23/14. 

My Comment:
More excellent reporting from War is Boring. There are some cool photos in this post so check it out! Not much else to say other then the BDA photos showed how precise these strikes were. It didn't look like there was any collateral damage. 

Protests and looting return to Ferguson. ABC News

Picture of the damage done to the store. ABC News/AP

The memorial burns. ABC News/AP

Protests and a fresh round of looting returned to Ferguson last night. -ABC News. The protests are in response to a fire that destroyed part of the impromptu memorial for Michael Brown. It is unknown what caused the fire but an accident involving the many candles and stuffed animals is a likely cause. An unruly crowd appeared at 9:00 pm and headed to a local business, Beauty Town, and looted it for the third time since the shooting. Police arrived and dispersed the crowd arresting 3 people. Early reports of gunfire were erroneous. The protesters are still angry that Darren Wilson, the police officer that shot Brown, has not been arrested.

My Comment:
I feel bad for whoever owns Beauty Town. They have nothing to do with any of this and they keep having their store attacked. There is no excuse for any of this behavior, especially considering that the memorial was probably destroyed by accident. But even if the Klu Klux Klan came in and lit it up with a flamethrower it doesn't justify attacking an innocent business. And I know it is probably a minority of people that are doing the looting but it really hurts the case of the protesters. If you are mad that the cops are treating you like criminals it helps to not associate with actual ones. 

Of course this could just be foreshadowing for what could be coming when Darren Wilson is either acquitted or not indicted. As of this writing I haven't seen any evidence that convinces me that Wilson is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And to be perfectly honest I haven't seen any evidence, other then notoriously unreliable eyewitness testimony that is contradicted by other witnesses, that even meets the standard for indictment. I think there will be enough political pressure for an indictment but my guess is that Darren Wilson ends up a free man. No way they get a conviction without some unknown damning evidence. Wilson will walk and then all hell breaks loose... 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How and why Ebola is destroying West Africa. -Vox.

Chart showing actual and projected cases for Ebola. Vox/HealthMap.

Vox takes a look at how the worst case scenario for 277,000 to 1.4 million cases of Ebola by the end of winter could come to pass. The article details how difficult it is to track people with the virus in an outbreak of this size where infected people have contact with dozens of potential victims. They also detail how difficult it is to find healthcare workers and volunteers to fight the disease. Doctors and nurses are also walking of the job. The economic consequences of Ebola are dire, leading to food shortages, job losses and possible permanent long term damage to the economy. Health care, already a sore spot for West Africa, has essentially been destroyed, leading to many more deaths from preventable and treatable diseases, which also feeds the Ebola epidemic. Finally, the fear of Ebola and the violence and instability it causes could lead to isolation and the withdrawal of international business and aid organizations. The only good news is that Nigeria and Senegal have managed, for now, to beat back the virus. 

My Comment:
I'll focus on the good news first. It's true that Nigeria and Senegal have manged to stop the spread of the virus, at least for now. There is always a chance that they missed someone or that a new refugee could come to those countries with the virus, but for now it seems like they dodged a bullet. That is good news for them and if other countries in the region end up with new cases of Ebola they can learn from what they did. It's the only hope to keep this from becoming a wider outbreak. 

As for Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the situation is almost beyond hope. The Vox piece points a picture of a society coming apart at the seems. Ebola isn't just  deadly disease that kills more then 50% of the people it infects. It is also war, famine and economic disruption. It is killing West Africa as surely as a nuclear bomb would. If the worst case scenario does come true then it's pretty much over for them. The population of the three West African nations is about 20 million people so if 1.4 million people are infected that's 15% of the population. Most of those people would die. And that's not counting all the deaths from other diseases, civil unrest, starvation and possibly even war. 

As for U.S. and international intervention, I don't see it working. If it had happened months ago then it might have made a difference but at this point it is probably too little to late. Every time they open a new Ebola clinic they are flooded with patients, many of them that don't have the disease but can't get treatment because everywhere else is either closed or overwhelmed. There aren't enough volunteers and the African civilians are getting even more hostile to foreigners due to superstition and prejudice. It is an almost hopeless situation and it is going to get worse before it gets better. 

Israel shoots down a Syrian fighter. Yahoo/Reuters.

File photo of an Israeli tank in the Golan Heights. Yahoo/AFP. 

Israel has shot down a Syrian fighter jet flying near or over the Golan Heights. Yahoo/Reuters. The Israelis fired a Patriot missile at the Sukoi fighter jet, destroying it. It has been reported that the pilot was able to eject. The fighter was most likely striking the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra front who had taken the border town of Quneitra. Syria condemned the attack and claim the fighter had entered Israeli territory by accident. Israel acknowledges the possibility but say that mistake or not it was justified. The Israelis have not shot down a Syrian warplane since 1985.

My Comment:
I'm kind of surprised that Israel did this. From a purely pragmatic viewpoint, you would think they wouldn't have a problem with killing Al-Qaeda linked militants. I know Israel and Syria don't get along in the best of circumstances, but still, Al-Qaeda is a common enemy. Common enemy or not, it doesn't seem like Syria is getting a chance to work with anyone in their war against Islamic extremism. That's what happens when you destroy a secular reform movement. 

As for my policy of not covering Israel, in this case it directly contradicts my policy of covering the Syrian Civil War. Israel is directly involved with the conflict and is a major player in the area, so when they shoot down a war plane it's big news. It's worth talking about.

Monday, September 22, 2014

BREAKING NEWS! Airstrikes begin in Syria! -CNN

U.S. led airstrikes have begun against ISIS militants in Syria. -CNN. U.S. jets struck targets in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. Tomahawk missiles were also used. Undisclosed Arab nations are also participating in these airstrikes. For weeks the intelligence community has been trying to find targets worth striking and the current round of strikes are against hard targets like buildings. ISIS leadership is a primary target.

My Comment:
This is a breaking news story, so I'd expect some lack of clarity. But there are some questions I want answered.

1. Was the government of Syria consulted about these strikes? Did they approve or not? And if they didn't, will they attack U.S. airplanes? What happens if they shoot one down? And if we are working with Syria, isn't that a huge change of policy?

2. Were these strikes successful in destroying ISIS leadership? Will it matter all that much if it was? Is this going to be a threat to ISIS or just an annoyance?

3. How will ISIS respond? More executions of prisoners? Terrorists strikes?

4. Who is on our side here? The CNN report said it was just Arab nations helping. Who are they? Why aren't Europeans fighting too? Will the Arab nations face consequences? Will they send troops?

200,000 people are fleeing from ISIS from Syria. -CNN

Newsy World

Up to 200,000 people have fled ISIS in Syria in the past four days. -CNN. The refugees are from the town of Kobani, a Kurdish town, which had been threatened by ISIS. 130,000 of those refugees have entered Turkey. Turkey has been criticized for it's handling of the situation, largely because they were reluctant to let the Kurds in. While refugees are fleeing ISIS, many Kurds are crossing the border the other way to join the fight. They will have a tough fight on their hands, ISIS has brought heavy weapons to Syria from Iraq, including tanks and artillery. ISIS has captured 60 villages in Syria in the past few days. 

My Comment:
I'm sure the Turks are anything but pleased to bring these Kurds in. They have had problems with Kurdish insurgents for years. The fact that these people were let in to Turkey at all is an example of how desperate the situation against ISIS is. If nothing else Turkey would have been rightly criticized if they hadn't let these refugees in. Of course the fact that many militant Kurds are leaving Turkey to fight in Syria is probably considered a "bonus" for the Turks. 

As for ISIS it seems that they have had a shift in priorities. American and French airstrikes may have forced them to concentrate their forces in Syria. It's possible that they haven't though and if that's true it's even more impressive that ISIS has been so successful this week. It also doesn't say much for the fighting prowess of the Syrian Kurds, who have been praised everywhere, including this blog. It's not all their fault, they are completely outgunned and they aren't getting the support that the Iraqi Kurds are. They need a ton of help and it doesn't look like they will get it. 

ISIS is threatening American and French civilians. Yahoo/Reuters

A map showing ISIS controlled areas and the location of the French airstrike. Yahoo/AP

ISIS websites called for fresh attacks on civilians in America, France and other coalition partners. Yahoo/Reuters. The threats come after fresh American and French airstrikes in Iraq. In addition, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adani taunted Obama and coalition members. Calling Barack Obama a "mule of the Jews", al-Adani claimed that America would be drawn into yet another ground war and would fail. He also called members of the coalition "crusaders" and compared Obama with former president George Bush. 

My Comment:
More propaganda from ISIS. I'm not to worried about the "criticism" that these ISIS supporters have for Obama and our allies. Obama's fairly weak, yes, but they almost seem desperate to get the United States in a ground war. I don't see that happening, at least not in the short term, so these statements are mostly a bunch of sound and fury signifying very little.. I do have to admit that ISIS calling John Kerry an "uncircumcised old geezer" is probably one of the funniest things I have ever heard in any context. I'm wondering if that isn't some kind of translation error, but should you desire the full statement from ISIS look here. ISIS may be brutal, evil and completely wrong, but they can be funny when they want too. 

On a more serious note the west should take these threats seriously. I've already talked about how ISIS is desperately trying to get "lone wolf" attacks in America. The calls against France are new though and I think they have a better chance of pulling off an attack there then in America. France has a very large Muslim population, many of which are radicalized and not integrated into French society. That's a recipe for disaster and there very well may be terror attacks or executions there. America does not have nearly the population of radicalized Muslims and most Muslims here have been integrated into society. It could still happen though.   

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The new warfare. "Gamergate", the Culture War and hypocrisy.

#GamerGate is one of those internet scandals that are easy to miss if you aren't deeply invested in the internet, but completely impossible to ignore if you are. Some of my readers will have no idea what GamerGate is and I'm guessing that most of you will just be confused when I say it's a campaign for and against better standards in video game journalism. Sounds like something that shouldn't be on a political and warfare blog right? Normally that would be true, I care little for twitter drama, but the situation is driven by politics and, at this point, resembles a war. It's worth talking about.

So what the hell is GamerGate about? Essentially an otherwise unimportant game developer cheated on her boyfriend with 5 men in the industry, allegedly for good reviews on her game, Depression Quest (sounds like fun game right?). Her ex posted about it on Reddit, 4chan and other places until it went viral and people started to pay attention. The controversy completely exploded with alleged death threats, doxing (aka revealing personal info on the internet), censorship on a scale that has to be seen to believed, a coordinated attack on "gamers" and a massive twitter campaign for reform in the games journalism industry. Forbes has an excellent review of the scandal here if you want more background.

Sounds completely pointless right? That's what I thought too. I still play video games occasionally but the second I discovered Youtube walk-through's I left so called "gaming journalism" behind, for good reason. The industry has never been anything other then advertising for the video game companies. So on the surface it seems like I would have no interest in either side.

And I didn't until I noticed something. People on the opposite side of GamerGate were all giant hypocrites. The vast majority of counter arguments against GamerGate had nothing to do with video games journalism and everything to do with how the developer of Depression Quest (who I won't name here) and a few others on her side who were allegedly harassed. Of course, if the allegations are true, then that's unacceptable. Nobody should be harassed and sent death threats.

And there is my problem. The people that are against GamerGate are hypocrites. I won't condemn all of them because it is wrong generalize a whole group, but enough of them either have done the same things that GamerGate members have been accused of, or, at the very least, approved of it when it happened to the other side.

So my question to people who are opposed to GamerGate is this. If death threats and doxing are wrong and if internet harassment is a huge problem for feminism and women, why is it ok when other people get harassed? How about when it happens to someone you don't like or who isn't on your side? Is it still a huge problem that has to be dealt with then? What about the people that have gotten harassment like this in other situations but nobody cared? Most of these won't be GamerGate related but all of them are people that I assume that the anti-GamerGate crowd has a problem with since they are likely perceived to be "wrong" in the demographics that make up the anti-GamerGate movement.

When anti-GamerGate supporters DDOS'ed the Escapist forums where were you? Why is it ok to close threads on Reddit an 4chan and attack websites where GamerGate is being discussed? Is that not harassment too? And what about the allegations that GamerGate supporters have face the same harassment? Why was it ok to claim that every minority involved with the #notyoursheild twitter hashtag was a sock-puppet? Why was what happened to the Fine Young Capitalists ok?

Nobody rose a stink when Jack Thomson got death threats from the gaming community. Was it because he was conservative? Was it because he was wrong? Or was it ok in that particular circumstance?

When the media accused George Zimmerman of being a racist, after shooting Trayvon Martin, where were you? "But he was a killer" you say. Sure, but he had a right to a fair trial, and he almost didn't get one because people wanted him to be worse then he actually was. I remember during the trial, that there was a facebook group that literally said "Kill George Zimmerman". How is that ok? And how was it ok that when I reported it to facebook, NOTHING happened? Why is there still a page up on facebook calling for the murder of George Zimmerman? 

Ok, so you don't buy that Zimmerman was a victim of harassment. That's fine. What about the completely innocent couple that had there personal information leaked by Spike Lee because he though they were George Zimmerman? Aren't they victims too? Why wasn't there a huge movement for them?

How about the various people that were harassed out of jobs because they didn't like gay marriage? People like the former CEO of Mozillia, Brendon Eich and the star of Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson? Why is it ok to try and force those people out of their jobs when it is wrong to do the same thing to video game developers and journalists?

How about the completely innocent gun owners who had their personal information posted, "doxed" if you will, by The Journal News?  Why is wrong to "dox" people who are involved in the games industry but right when it happens to permitted and legal gun owners?

Will you be there for me if someone decides they don't like what I post on my blog do the same thing that happened to all these other people?

So again, I ask the opponents of GamerGate if it was wrong for people to send death threats, cyber-harass and "dox" the developer of Depression Quest and her supporters, why was it right do it to the all of these people? Some of you may say that it wasn't right when it happened to anyone, and if you are in that group, I agree. But I am guessing that people will be making excuses. In all of those cases the victims were either conservative and/or the harassers were liberal. Regardless of whether you think those people are bad or evil, they didn't deserve this kind of harassment regardless of their politics.  I won't try to pigeonhole the GamerGate movement, since there is quite a bit of leftist support for it too, but the places that it originated from trend conservative, libertarian or anarchist, hardly friends of liberalism. And it's not like certain leftists weren't harassed by other leftists as well during this debacle.

Now I am not arguing that liberals have a larger problem then conservatives for cyber harassment. It would be very easy to assemble a list where conservatives harassed liberals, and I am sure that if you want one you can find one easily enough. I am arguing that this is the new normal. Harassment is how things are done these days and it is incredibly naive to think that any one side has a monopoly on it. It's the new public shamming. If someone does something you don't like on the internet, simply harass and threaten them until they go away. If that doesn't work go after their job. It doesn't matter who they are or if they are innocent or not, as long as they are one of "them". You know "those" people. The ones you don't like. And it will happen again and again. Why? Because if history has taught us anything this past decade it is this. Terrorism works. 

And there is no doubt in my mind that internet harassment, death threats and "doxing" are the poor man's terrorism. Why risk going to prison if you want to get rid of your opponents? Just use fear as a weapon. Who would want to fight people that use threats of violence, distribution of personal info and threats against your livelihood? It's a win win. When someone does they same thing you did to them you can play the victim and conveniently ignore the fact that you are just as guilty of doing the same thing.

This is the new standard kind of warfare in the Culture War. It's underground and it's for the most part non-violent but have no doubt it is a war. People like the developer of Depression Quest or the innocent gun owners that got "doxed" aren't victims. They are casualties in a war. The left and right no longer have any middle ground in America and they are openly fighting each other on the internet and are pretending that only one side is to blame. Propaganda is everywhere and everyone knows that it could be their turn next.

So what can be done? What, if anything, should be done? I don't have the answers. All I know that it's hugely hypocritical to blame one side or the other when everyone is guilty of it. This is no black and white issue, with clear good guys and bad guys, it's grey vs gray, with no one side having a monopoly on victim-hood. And I see no end to it and no victory for either side, just constant warfare and ruined lives. It's the new normal and nothing will be done to change it. Because almost everyone is guilty of it.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

How Ebola uses our humanity against us. Slate

A sick boy in West Point, Liberia. The man here is taking a huge risk by interacting with him. Slate/Getty Images

Ebola thrives on compassion, an article in Slate argues. The people most at risk for Ebola transmission are families, women and medical professionals, all people who take care of the stricken. The article points out how human nature compels people to help those in need, thus dooming the helpers. Simple acts of kindness, like comforting a child, helping someone to a clinic or a child trying to comfort a parent can spread the disease. The author points out how efforts to curtail the spread of AIDS failed because people were unable to stop having high-risk sex. Now, in western Africa, we have high-risk compassion, which is even less likely to stop. 

My Comment:
It won't be often that I link to Slate but in this case the author is 100% right. This disease does spread through compassion. It would take very strong willpower, or a complete lack of humanity, to not comfort a family member who is suffering from Ebola. Even knowing how dangerous it is people would want to do the "right" thing, which is of course, the wrong thing to do. The article also helps explain how the disease has been spreading so easily. It seems that the only way to protect people from this outbreak is to completely isolate the victims from their families and to have doctors without any compassion. Neither of those things are possible.

And it's important to explain how easy this disease spreads. Lets say you are a parent with a sick child. What is the first thing you do? Check his temperature with the back of your hand? Got a tiny cut on your hand? Touch your eyes or mouth afterwards? Congrats, you just caught Ebola from being a good parent. And god help you if you change a diaper. Ebola only needs a couple of viral particles to enter the bloodstream and once that happens you will have the disease. But how on earth can we expect a parent to ignore a sick child? How do we expect family members to not help a sick person? How do we expect doctors to treat patients without touching them at all? There doesn't seem to be a solution here so the disease will continue to spread. This situation is incredibly bad and I just don't see it getting any better anytime soon. 

Almost 1/4 of all Americans support secession. Yahoo/Reuters.


A new poll has found that 23.9% of Americans support their state leaving the union. -Yahoo/Reuters. More then half opposed secession, but the numbers of supporters in southern and western states were higher. More then 1/3rd of South-westerners supported secession, while only 17.4 % of New Englanders did. 29.7% of Republicans support secession and, surprisingly 21% of Democrats did as well. Reasons cited for support of secession included Obamacare and the perception that the Federal government is vastly expanding its influence. Others cite the presidency of Barack Obama and a do-nothing congress. Either way, secession would not come up to a vote like it did for Scotland and England, America fought it's bloodiest war to date over the issue. 

My Comment:
If there was a way to do it peaceably I would be all for it. The disconnect between Washington and the average person has grown to unsustainable levels. The perception is that Washington simply does not listen to what the voters want, which isn't true. They DO listen. They just listen to the wrong people. The political and cultural divide is what really drives this issue, and when a Republican or Democrat says he wants to secede, chances are that  they are saying that they want to divorce the other party, not the country. Both sides have grown so apart that there is no room for compromise anymore. 

The other faction are those who are just sick of the government in general. Things like Obamacare, gun control and the NSA scandal are driving this sentiment. Taxpayers are wondering why they should fund a government that does nothing but interfere with lives and abuse rights. Americans have never trusted government and we have a very strong libertarian streak. Out government was founded on the idea that governments must have checks and balances, so when our current administration subverts, bypasses or outright ignores those checks and balances it is little wonder why so many people are upset. At this point, for many people, the Federal government is more trouble then it is worth, especially with our current president.  

Of course if an actual secession movement arose, it would be a 2nd civil war. Washington has made it very clear that nobody gets to leave America once they are in, and they are willing to fight for it. As of right now, few people are willing to fight for the right to leave. If that changes we will be in for a massive, bloody, unwinnable war. It wouldn't matter too much who would win since the country would be destroyed in the process. Of course people know this and still want secession. They would rather rebuild from the ruins then continue in this broken system. 

France joins the war against ISIS. Yahoo/Reuters.

French President Francois Hollande. Yahoo/Reuters

French Rafale jets struck an ISIS logistical depot in Iraq, marking France joining the war against ISIS. Yahoo/Reuters.  Four airstrikes, including two Rafale fighters, a recon plane and a refueling plane, struck the storage facility located near Mosul. France is the first European country to join the U.S. in the air campaign to fight ISIS. Secular and religious leaders in Iraq, including Shiite leader Ayatollah Sistani, praised both the French strikes and U.S. strikes, but hoped that foreign ground troops would be unnecessary. Neither the United States or France have struck ISIS fighters in Syria, where the group has had several victories over local Kurdish forces.

My Comment:
Always good to see the French exercise their considerable military muscle. People tend to give France a hard time due to World War II, but that is stupid. They have been a military powerhouse from the beginning and a strong military tradition. In short, the French are "bad-ass". The French have an excellent military and are not to be underestimated. They have almost defeated Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Mali with every little outside help. They have a strong air force and any help they can provide will be appreciated. Unfortunately their government is very weak right now, and they have other military commitments in Mali and other parts of Africa. Still, symbolic gesture or not, it is appreciated. 

As for why they are doing it, I am guessing they would rather fight ISIS in Iraq then fight them at home in a couple of years. France has a huge problem with Muslims not integrating and generally not getting along with anyone, so the existence of a radical state in the Middle East that would exacerbate these problems isn't something they can tolerate. I don't see this being all that unpopular for the French either. President Hollande is very, VERY unpopular and the only thing the French people give him high marks on is foreign policy. They like what he is doing in Mali, so I think they will like what he is doing here. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Editor's Note

Finished buying a car! It's pretty sweet. Blogging should return to "normal" either late this evening or early tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Editor's note

Blogging might be light for the next couple of days. I'm looking at buying a new car and it's taking up a lot of time. I should have some new posts this weekend, and hopefully I will have something tonight too.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The NSA shares data about U.S. citizens with Israel. -New York Times

Otto Dettmer/New York Times

The U.S. regularly sends un-redacted data on U.S. citizens to a secret Israeli unit called Unit 8200. New York Times. This data is not just so-called meta data, the logs of who was contacted and for how long, but the actual contents of the communications. None of the data sent to Israel was altered or protected in any way and all identifying data was left intact. Last week several former and current members of Unit 8200 sent a complaint to Prime Minster Netanyahu, detailing how they abused Palestinians by using this data. Both the Israelis and the NSA routinely collect the data of which pornographic sites that certain Muslims use. All of the information comes from an interview with Edward Snowden and the leaks he provided. 

My Comment:
This is kind of an old story, but when it first came out nobody paid attention to it. Even anti-Semites ignored the story. I don't like writing about Israel under any circumstances due to the inevitable flame war that erupts but in this case the story is too important to ignore. Regardless of what you think of Israel there is no reason why they should ever have unrestricted access to the private data of United States citizens. I don't care who those citizens are, if they are American they should be protected from foreign governments. Israel's interests are not our own and the is no reason to share data with them. 

As for the revelation that the NSA and Israel collect data on what adult websites Muslims use, that's not a new revelation either. I have no doubt that non-Muslims are being targeted this way too. It would be naive to think they wouldn't do so. The difference is that for non-Muslims adult websites don't carry anywhere near the stigma it does for fundamentalist Muslims. Still there are other groups that could be blackmailed this way.  

ISIS is getting more support after U.S. airstrikes and executions of western prisoners. -Yahoo/Reuters

Shia fighters training in Iraq. Yahoo/Reuters

ISIS is getting more support after U.S. airstrikes and the executions of two American journalists and a British aid worker. Yahoo/Reuters. ISIS has been very effective in its social media campaign and the execution of the western prisoners is a major factor in the increased support they are seeing. Since the executions were so effective as recruiting tools it is believed that ISIS will try to capture more western prisoners for execution or ransom. Some European countries do pay ransoms to ISIS while the United States and the United Kingdom does not. Many of these new recruits are European, Australian or American and it is worried that they will return to their home countries and commit terror attacks. 

My Comment:
It would have been nice if Reuters had bothered to explain why U.S. airstrikes would result in more recruiting. I would think that it would have the opposite effect. I guess not though, and to be fair if you are already a radicalized Muslim I could see being upset about it. People love underdogs and if ISIS can keep the perception that they are thriving even though the full might of the United States Air Force and Navy, then they will continue to have support. 

ISIS is, of course, very savvy at social media. I remember hearing reports that they had sent death threats to Twitter employees for banning accounts and the world just kind of laughed at it. I'm guessing the people that were laughing didn't realize that Twitter and other social networks are a huge recruiting and propaganda tool for ISIS. They make high quality propaganda film with real combat footage and execution that makes them look very competent. 

It's all an illusion of course. ISIS is just as vulnerable as any other fighting force in the Middle East. The fact of the matter is that a large part of ISIS's success is that people believe their hype. Sure it is unquestionable that they are very brutal and horrible, but when it comes to fighting, they would lose more often if people weren't so terribly scared of them.They can be beaten, if only there were people strong enough to fight them. As the airstrikes slowly destroy their equipment and weapons shipments to the Peshmerga fighters, they will lose their only other advantage. All that fancy stolen American equipment will be destroyed and they will be left with just their numbers and reputation. 

My take on the Adrian Peterson case.

I don't usually cover sports on this blog but since this is both a political, criminal and cultural issue I'll let it pass. Besides, it is a very disturbing case. For those who don't follow sports or American news, here is a recap of the allegations. 

Adrian Peterson is one of the best running backs to ever play football and he currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings. He is accused of disciplining one four year old son with a "switch", which is a stick with the leaves taken off used for whipping. According to the police report he hit his son so hard with the switch that he broke the skin and drew blood. In addition, the boy had injuries to his leg, buttocks, ankles and testicles. Peterson had also been accused of hurting another son, somehow giving him a head injury severe enough to cause a scar.

What's my take on it? I saw the photos in both cases and I can't imagine this being in any way justified. I won't link to them since they are fairly graphic and I'm not really comfortable posting pictures of injured children but 10 seconds on google will find the images if you really want to see them for some reason. I'm opposed to corporal punishment in general, and if I ever have kids I won't spank them, but there is a huge difference between a light swat on the backside and what happened in this case. I'm no fan of spanking but I can see some situations where it might be justified to do so, or at the very least understandable. For example, if a kid was running into traffic and got rescued it might be ok to spank then. But I can't ever see a situation where it would be ever ok to do this to a four year old. Or an adult for that matter. 

Which is why I decided to write something up for this case. So many people in comment sections on the Peterson case were looking at this case and were saying "what is the big deal?" I've got news for those people. If you hit your kid hard enough to draw blood then it's not discipline, it's abuse. If you hit your kid hard enough to leave any lasting mark then it's probably abuse. Again, I'm no fan of spanking or corporal punishment but if you have to spank your child then there is a right way to do it and a wrong way. If it involves a weapon like a switch or causes any kind of wound you went too damn far. 

I'd like to think that most of these people either didn't see the pictures or are just misguided fans but unfortunately I think there are way too many parents out there who think there is nothing wrong with what Peterson did. I know there are cultural differences at play here, but even though i was spanked as a child it was never anywhere as severe as this case and I can't imagine anyone doing this to a four year old. There is nothing they could do that is so horrible that they would deserve this. Even if you support spanking, you should be able to see that this was a case of disproportionate response. 

And the most shocking thing to me is that Peterson had a child die due to child abuse. He didn't do it, and he didn't have a relationship with his son, but the case was a result of discipline gone wrong. You would think that he would have had that in the back of his mind when he was thinking of ways to punish his children. The sad fact of it is that is extremely easy to accidentally hurt or kill a child when you use this kind of punishment, which is a lesson Peterson should have learned. I don't know what was going on in his head but I am thinking it was less "he needs to learn to correct his behavior" and more "I'm mad as hell and this kid is going to pay". 

As for the case itself, I won't talk much about what should be done. I do say that he does deserve his day in court, even if it seems to me that he is very obviously guilty. I don't know if keeping from making a living is justified since he hasn't been convicted yet, but I completely understand the kind of pressure the Vikings and the NFL are getting on this case, especially given all the other scandals they have been having lately. I certainly won't lose any sleep over it but something about the situation does make me a bit uncomfortable. I'll support due process for anyone and Adrian Peterson is entitled to it just like any other citizen. I don't like extrajudicial punishments without either civil or criminal findings of liability, but I also don't like child abusers. 

And if I have any advice for parents out there it would be this. If you absolutely have to spank your child, and I don't think any parent should have too unless it's a life or death situation, please don't do what Peterson done. Don't spank while angry, don't use a weapon, don't leave a mark and for God's sake don't take it too far. Children are so fragile and it's way easier to injure or kill them then most people think. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ISIS is encouraging "lone wolf" attacks in the United States. Yahoo News

ISIS fighters. Yahoo/Reuters

An ISIS supporting message board has been posting instructions for "lone wolf" bombing attacks in the United States. -Yahoo News. Potential targets include Times Square, the Las Vegas Strip and various trains and subways. The forum posted the same instructions that Tsarnaev brothers used to make their "pressure cooker" bombs they used at the Boston Marathon. The instructions are nothing new but the advice on targeting is. New York has upped security in light of these new threats.

My Comment:
It was bound to happen sooner or later. ISIS is of course going to try and retaliate for the airstrikes in Iraq. This kind of forum post will encourage people to try on their own which requires zero effort from ISIS and will have a huge impact on America. When the Tsarnaev brothers went on their bombing and shooting rampage they shut down the whole city. Cops were pointing guns at civilians, running through peoples houses and kept people inside their house. All it would take is for one person on these forums to succeed to do it again. The threat of terrorism is bad of course but the response is just as dangerous. 

As for if anyone will pull it off, I think it's possible. These bombs aren't that hard to create, if you have access to fireworks or gunpowder. But I don't think that it's very likely here. America doesn't have a huge Muslim population and most of the ones that are here haven't been radicalized. I think pretty much anywhere in Europe has a better chance of an ISIS terror attack. Of course, like most online forums, it could be that this is just a bunch of wannabes trying to stir up trouble but with no real plans of actually doing anything.