Friday, March 30, 2012

Giant tunnel plug inflates to quarantine chemical agents

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has developed a ten-by-five-metre inflatable structure that could be quickly deployed to isolate sections of transit or rail tunnels in the event of flooding or the release of chemical agents.

The cylindrical "resilient tunnel plug" is made out of a flexible material that can be rapidly inflated and then filled with water to make it sturdier. It was developed by the DHS's Science and Technology Directorate in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, West Virginia University and ILC Dover

When the plug is not in use, it can be packed into a small storage space in the tunnel, a little like an airbag. The system has been designed to avoid situations like the one that took place in Chicago in 1992 when a leak in an unused freight tunnel caused £1.26 billion in damages and took six weeks to clear.

The plug is made out of three separate layers of strong material: a thick webbing made out of a liquid-crystal polymer called Vectran, a second non-webbed layer of Vectran and a third polyurethane layer. The design draws inspiration from manufacturing techniques used by ILC Dover to make space suits and inflatable space habitats

The plug was tested earlier this year in a dummy steel tunnel. It was then inflated and tested with pressurised liquid and gases to see whether it would keep them isolated. It succeeded in doing so.

The team hopes to test the system further over the course of 2012, with a view to commercialising the product.


They are getting ready, for something.

HURT: Brutal week for Obama, the worst of his presidency

The past seven brutal days will go down as one of the worst weeks in history for a sitting president. It certainly has been, without any doubt, the worst week yet for President Obama.

Somehow, Mr. Obama managed to embarrass himself abroad, humiliate himself here at home, see his credentials for being elected so severely undermined that it raises startling questions about whether he should have been elected in the first place — let alone be re-elected later this year.


• Last Friday, Mr. Obama wandered into the killing of Trayvon Martin. Aided by his ignorance of the situation, knee-jerk prejudices and tendency toward racial profiling, Mr. Obama played a heavy hand in elevating a tragic situation in which a teenager was killed into a full-blown hot race fight.

Americans, he admonished, need to do some “soul-searching.” And then, utterly inexplicably, he veered off into this bizarre tangent about how he and the poor dead kid look so much alike they could be father and son. It was election-year race-pandering gone horribly wrong.

• By the start of this week, Mr. Obama had fled town and was racing to the other side of the planet just as the Supreme Court was taking up the potentially-embarrassing matter of Obamacare. While in South Korea he was caught on a hidden mic negotiating with the president of our longest-standing rival on how to sell America and her allies down the river once he gets past the next election.

• Meanwhile, back at home, the Supreme Court took up the single most important achievement of Mr. Obama’s presidency and, boy, was it embarrassing. The great constitutional law professor, it turns out, may not quite be the wizard he told us he was.

By most accounts, Mr. Obama and his stuttering lawyers were all but laughed out of the courthouse. They were even stumbling over softball questions lobbed by Mr. Obama’s own hand-picked justices.

• Mr. Obama closed his week pulling off a nearly unimaginable feat: He managed to totally and completely unify the nastily-fighting Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Late Wednesday night, they unanimously voted — 414 to zip — to reject the budget Mr. Obama had presented, leaving him not even a thin lily’s blade to hide behind.

So, in one week, Mr. Obama got caught whispering promises to our enemy, incited a race war, raised serious questions about his understanding of the Constitution, and then got smacked down over his proposed budget that was so wildly reckless that even Democrats in Congress could not support it.

It was as if you lumped Hurricane Katrina and the Abu Ghraib abuses into one week for George W. Bush. And added on top of that the time he oddly groped German Chancellor Angela Merkel and got caught cursing on a hot mic.

Even then, it wouldn’t be as bad as Mr. Obama’s week. You would probably also have to toss in the time Mr. Bush’s father threw up into the lap of Japan’s prime minister. Only then might we be approaching how bad a week it was for Mr. Obama.

Not that you will see any trace of embarrassment in the face of Mr. Obama. He has mastered the high political art of shamelessness, wearing it smugly and cockily. Kind of like a hoodie.


CNN Poll: Afghan war support hits new low

(CNN) - Support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low with the majority of Americans saying the U.S. should withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan before the 2014 deadline set by the Obama administration, according to a new poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Friday indicated only 25% of Americans favored the war in the Asian country. A majority of Republicans voiced opposition to it, for the first time since the war began in 2001.

Just 37% of the general public said things are going well for the U.S. in Afghanistan, while only 34% said America is winning the war. The approval likely contributed to the 55% of those surveyed who said the U.S. should remove all of its troops from the country before 2014.

Twenty-two percent expressed support for the 2014 timetable and an additional 22% said the U.S. should keep some troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Leaders at the Pentagon have recently responded to low poll numbers by stressing the importance of fighting the war on the ground.

"We cannot fight wars by polls," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday. "If we do that we're in deep trouble. We have to operate based on what we believe is the best strategy to achieve the mission that we are embarked on. And the mission here is to safeguard our country by ensuring that the Taliban and al Qaeda never again find a safe haven in Afghanistan."

The poll, conducted for CNN by ORC International, surveyed 1,014 American adults by telephone between March 24 and March 25 with a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.


Maybe it has something to do with O losing the war

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cheap Natural Gas Makes Inroads as U.S. Vehicle Fuel

Natural gas, whose price is at record lows thanks to a shale drilling boom, is gaining traction as an alternative energy in the United States, with automakers jumping on the bandwagon.

The use of natural gas instead of oil-based gasoline to drive the country's cars and trucks "is definitely starting to take off," said Mark Hanson, an analyst at investment research firm Morningstar.

"The economics seem to work," he said, noting it was "just a question of what pace" the necessary infrastructure will take to develop.

Gas is in focus as a potential engine fuel because "it is tremendously good fuel," said David Cole, the chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research.

Unlike gasoline, whose rising prices are causing pain at the pump for consumers, natural gas is cheap in the United States as supplies bulge from production in the country's vast shale gas formations.

In addition, natural gas burns while emitting less carbon dioxide than gasoline.

Thus, it is considered a "green" fuel even though in its raw state, the methane it emits is more destructive to the Earth's ozone layer than CO2, and the artificial fracturing of gas shales, known as "fracking," has drawn fire from environmentalists.

There are several forms of natural gas used to power vehicles. Compressed natural gas (CNG) is pressurized gas stored in a similar way to a vehicle's gasoline tank.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is produced by chilling natural gas to about minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 162 degrees Celsius). It can be used as engine fuel for heavy ground or maritime vehicles.

In Europe, the fuel of choice for automobiles is liquefied petroleum gas, typically a mixture of butane and propane made from refined crude oil or natural gas.

Across the Atlantic, the three big U.S. automakers are pumping out vehicles based on alternative fuels.

Ford Motor Company, the nation's second-biggest automaker, has the largest array of alternative-energy vehicles: eight powered by natural gas.

The smallest U.S. car maker, Fiat-controlled Chrysler, in early March unveiled a pick-up truck than can use liquefied natural gas, which will go on sale in June.

Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, views natural gas as having greater potential than electricity to power vehicles.

General Motors, the US giant at the top of the global auto industry, produces two vans that use compressed natural gas, the Chevy Express and the GMC Savana, and will begin production by the end of the year on two pick-up trucks running on CNG.

GM already has sold 1,200 of the vans to U.S. telecommunications titan AT&T.

The Detroit, Michigan auto maker is working on a number of different alternative fuels and particularly on electric vehicles.

But a GM spokesman, Dan Flores, said: "We think compressed natural gas offers a lot of potential. The technology is promising."

It is particularly appealing to businesses, especially service providers such as telecoms, package deliverers like UPS, or to local governments, which operate trash removal or emergency vehicle fleets.

CNG vehicles operate at relatively short distances from a refueling hub. The economies of scale for a large business or public body can potentially justify the cost of an investment in the specialized refueling equipment.

For individual consumers, the refueling infrastructure is limited. And compressed or liquefied gas is expensive and requires substantial storage capacity, restricting the vehicles' range.

Morningstar's Hanson said that currently there are only about 400 CNG stations in the U.S.

In Europe, natural gas also is sparking interest amid rising gasoline prices, but so far it remains only a small portion of the market.

In France, for example, it represents less than one percent of the vehicle fuel consumed and only 200,000 vehicles are outfitted for liquefied petroleum gas, of the 31 million privately owned.


Militant leader in Afghanistan reportedly killed in joint strike

KABUL –The leader for an al-Qaeda linked foreign militant network in Afghanistan has been killed in a joint raid of Afghan and NATO forces, the coalition reported on Tuesday.

Makhdum Nusrat, the chief of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Afghanistan, was wanted by NATO and the Afghan government, NATO said in a statement. He was reportedly killed Monday as troops were trying to capture him in the Shirin Tagab district of northern Faryab province, near the border with Turkmenistan.

“During the operation, insurgents fired on the combined security force. The force returned fire, killing Makhdum and several additional IMU insurgents,” the statement said. “Two other insurgents were detained.” NATO troops confiscated a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, multiple rockets, several AK-47s and a number of grenades,” the statement said.

The statement described Makhdum as the highest-ranking IMU insurgent operating in the country and accused him of leading attacks against Afghan and foreign troops throughout the northern provinces for the last eight months.

The Afghan government has in the past accused NATO troops of wrongly identifying Afghans and ethnic Uzbeks living in Afghanistan as militants linked to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

Two men and two women killed in a NATO operation last May were identified by the coalition as being from the militant group. But villagers described them as civilians. In protests in Takhar province following their deaths, more than a dozen Afghans were killed in clashes with NATO troops and local forces.


Report: Israel Buys Azeri Air Field on Iran's Northern Border

Foreign Policy magazine reported in an exclusive piece this week that Israel has purchased an Azeri airfield on Iran's northern border, prompting the United States to watch very closely. Journalist Mark Perry wrote the Obama administration is monitoring Israel's relations with Azerbaijan, particularly its military ties.

Israel has tightened up its relations with Baku over the past several years, helping Azerbaijan modernize its military with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and becoming its second-largest customer for oil.

In particular, the $1.6 billion Israeli deal to jointly manufacture 60 drones of various types with Azerbaijan infuriated Turkey, according to a retired U.S. diplomat quoted in the report. The IDF canceled a $150 million contract to develop and manufacture drones with the Turkish military after Ankara demanded an apology following the Mavi Marmara flotilla attempt to breach Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza.

“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” an official told the journalist, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”

The Americans believe Israel may use the site as a springboard for an attack on Iran's nuclear plants, or as a landing and refueling spot following one. The site could also be used for aircraft needed for search, rescue and recovery in the wake of an attack.

“We're watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it,” an official told the Foreign Policy writer.

Arutz Sheva

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Al-Qaeda plotting

AL-QAEDA fanatics are plotting a deadly cyanide poison attack on the London Olympics, a Sun investigation has found.

Extremists on a website with links to the terror group have posted detailed instructions on how to cause carnage at this summer's Games.

The chilling online plot was uncovered as two convicted al-Qaeda terrorists were released early from jail and put back on the streets ahead of the Olympics.

And the specific nature of the "cyanide slaughter" web posts suggest they should be taken seriously by the security services.

An extremist who called himself Abu Hija Ansari said the poison should be mixed with a handcream that would enable it to be absorbed through the skin.

He wrote in Arabic: "Through skin: 1 — cyanide, 2 — skin cream. Mix the ingredients. The skin cream will open the pores in the skin and speed up the absorption and effectiveness of the poison."

He said plotters should wear "medical gloves" when producing the lethal mixture.

A second extremist said on the website: "It is a good idea and you need to plan well."

She added chillingly under a logo of the 2012 Games: "It's time to prepare for the event, as once again they are interfering with innocent Muslims."

Our investigator used a false identity to access the website which has 17,000 members worldwide and known links to six al—Qaeda terrorists.

He said: "There is a contingent using this site who want to strike at the Games. The explicit nature of what is being said would indicate more than just sabre-rattling but a wish to do real harm to the event and the people at it."

Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the all-party homeland security group, said: "I hope the individuals are identified so action can be taken. Those who believe there is no terrorist threat are living in cloud cuckoo land."

Britain's security services are on high alert to counter any attack on the Olympics, which start on July 27 in the main stadium.

They will not be helped by the early release of fanatics Nabeel Hussain and Tariq al-Daour.

Hussain, 28, was given eight years in 2009 for being part of a plot to bomb 19 jets flying from Heathrow to America. Al-Daour, 26, got ten years after he was found guilty of inciting murder online in 2007. They have both been freed to London bail hostels.

Their release boosts to more than 100 the number of convicted terrorists likely to be on Britain's streets before the Olympics.

The Sun

War surplus sought for U.S. security

Two Texas lawmakers, joined by 17 border sheriffs from Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, have asked Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to authorize the shipment of surplus equipment being returned from the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan to the border with Mexico as a matter of “national security.”

Reps. Ted Poe, a Republican, and Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, said in a letter the massive drawdown of U.S. forces has resulted in the shipment of more than 1.5 million pieces of equipment out of Iraq over the past year and that nearly 900,000 items remain - all of which would be useful to federal, state and local law enforcement in their efforts to secure the border with Mexico.

The surplus equipment includes, among other combat gear, Humvees, weapons, communications trailers, observation platforms and night-vision goggles.

Mr. Poe also introduced a House resolution known as the Send Act that would direct the Defense Department to make 10 percent of certain equipment returning from Iraq available for use by law enforcement agencies that patrol the nation’s southern border.

“We have brought this right to the secretary of defense because border security is a national security issue,” Mr. Poe said. “State and local officials are on the front lines of the southern border fighting to protect Americans from spillover violence from Mexico.

“They do the best they can with what they’ve got, but they are outmanned and outgunned by the drug cartels and they are desperate for more resources,” he said.

Mr. Poe said that for years the American people have invested their money in equipment that has been used to defend the borders of other nations and it was time that same equipment be used to secure the United States.

Mr. Cuellar said he joined with Mr. Poe and the border sheriffs to “help reinforce collaboration” with Mr. Panetta for the “betterment of our border communities.”

“If we want to boost border security, we have to help law enforcement agencies beef up their resources to meet this demand. We cannot have one without the other,” said Mr. Cuellar. “We intend to keep the lines of communication open with the Defense Department so we can help our border law enforcement agencies navigate the equipment application process.”

In January, Mr. Cuellar hosted a meeting with Defense Department Assistant Undersecretary Paul N. Stockton in Laredo, Texas, to brief local law enforcement agencies on programs available through the Defense Department’s Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative. More than 100 officers, including border federal law enforcement agents, participated.

The Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative coordinates Defense Department efforts to identify, evaluate, deploy and transfer technology, items and equipment to federal, state and local first responders. The initiative fulfills Congress’ intent to support public safety and homeland security by leveraging taxpayer investments in defense technology and equipment.

Washington Times

No 'secret deal' on missile defense, Pentagon tells House

An Obama administration official on Wednesday said he was not aware of any "secret deal" made by the White House on missile defense as Republicans continued to hammer the president for his remarks to Russia's leader on the issue.

Republicans have questioned where there is a deal between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on missile defense since Monday, when Obama told Medvedev — in a private conversation picked up by a live microphone — that he would have "more flexibility" to deal with missile defense after the presidential election.

Republicans argue the conversation suggests Obama intends to compromise on U.S. missile defense plans from Eastern Europe to the Pacific.

"As we talk to the issue of North Korea ... it raises the question what is the president's secret deal to limit our missile defense systems," Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) asked officials at a Wednesday hearing.

"We are all very, very concerned about what this secret deal could be, as we face the rising threat of North Korea," he said during Wednesday's House Armed Services hearing on security issues on the Korean peninsula.

Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Security Affairs, told Turner's panel he was unaware of any "secret deal," and defended U.S. missile defense policies toward the Korean peninsula.

He noted that North Korea's growing arsenal has prompted the Pentagon to work closely with South Korea and other regional allies to keep track of Pyongyang's activities. "We do believe our ... approach to missile defense in the Asia-Pacific region is very much alive," Lavoy said. "It is something we are committed to."

Republicans in the Senate — along with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) — on Wednesday continued to criticize Obama for his comments to Medvedev.

"This is my last election,” Obama told Medvedev during a conversation picked up by live microphones. “After my election, I have more flexibility."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said it was crystal clear what Obama was trying to convey.

"It means he's willing to compromise to Russian demands," McCain told reporters on Wednesday.

The gaffe came days before both leaders are scheduled to attend a global nuclear security conference in South Korea.

"The president is playing fast and loose with national security," McCain said, pointing out that the president had been a sharp critic of missile defense during his time in the Senate.

The president's missile defense comments were "disconcerting," Lieberman said at the same Wednesday briefing on Capitol Hill.

"I don't know what the president meant when he said he could be flexible" on missile defense issues, he added.

More than 40 Republican senators, led by Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), sent a letter to Obama on Tuesday, pushing him not to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the wake of his comments.

Turner also shot off a letter to the president on Monday demanding an “urgent explanation" of his comments regarding missile defense issues in Eastern Europe.

The Hill

Rubio endorses Romney, saying he's 'earned' it

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., endorsed Mitt Romney for president Wednesday night on Fox News' "Hannity," saying Romney offers "a very clear alternative" to President Obama's vision for the future of the country.

Rubio, a young, first-termer who has been discussed as a possible vice presidential candidate, criticized talk of a fight for the Republican nomination on the convention floor, a possibility that is keeping alive the campaigns of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

"I think that's a recipe for delivering four more years of Barack Obama," Rubio told Fox News' Sean Hannity.

Romney has "earned this nomination," Rubio said, though he again shot down questions about whether he would accept any offers of a spot on the ticket.

"I don't believe I'm going to be asked to be the vice presidential nominee," he said, adding it's not something he wants.


I guess I need to find a Romney20012 link

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Internal memo shows ATF rank and file don't trust the brass

Top leaders at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, already under fire from lawmakers in the wake of the “Fast and Furious” debacle, also get harsh marks from the men and women who serve under them, according to an internal survey.

An ATF memo obtained by reveals that rank-and-file workers at the beleaguered federal agency, where whistleblowers who first alerted lawmakers to the “gun-walking” scandal say they were threatened or even punished, don’t trust the agency’s leaders.

“A key area in which ATF fell short was leadership,” the e-mail from ATF Headquarters, describing the results of the internal survey, reads.

“Most troubling were responses to the question – ‘My senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.’”

Just 44 percent of ATF employees said that their leaders maintained such standards last year, according to the Partnership for Public Service, the non-profit that administers the annual survey to government employees.

On “leadership effectiveness” in general, ATF scored a 40.5, placing the agency nearly last among government agencies, at 215th out of 228 agencies surveyed. That rating was the first since the "Fast and Furious" scandal broke, and it is down 10 percentage points from the year before.

Asked by about the survey, ATF spokesman Drew Wade acknowledged the Fast and Furious scandal has taken a toll on morale.

"The controversies plaguing ATF over the last year have weighed heavily on the morale of employees and their faith in senior leadership," Wade said. "Mistakes were made."

But he said ATF leadership is working hard to change.

“Acting Director [B. Todd] Jones has put new leaders in place in new positions to enhance the quality of leadership and take ATF in the right direction. The new leadership team is working hard to earn [the] trust again of employees," Wade said.

Vince Cefalu, an agent who helped expose the “Fast and Furious” scandal, said it is "too soon to tell" whether ATF will turn things around. For now, he says, the survey results don’t surprise him.

“Guess I and [the other whistleblowers] weren’t the only disgruntled malcontents, were we?” he said, sarcastically referring to what he believes were attempts to marginalize him and others who came forward.

Cefalu says his own situation is a case study in ATF dishonesty. The ATF attempted to fire Cefalu last year, after the “Fast and Furious” scandal broke, but so far has been unable to do so because Cefalu has accused them in court of retaliating against a whistleblower. Now, he said, he is given no assignments.

“I am sitting in Lake Tahoe drawing $150,000 [a year from ATF] to do absolutely nothing,” he said.

Others at ATF who took the survey told that ATF's treatment of whistleblowers affected the ratings they gave.

"I gave them a low rating," said an ATF manager who spoke to on condition of anonymity.

"In the midst of the Fast and Furious investigation... [ATF leadership] sent a letter to Senator [Charles] Grassley [R-Iowa], saying ‘these whistleblowers are lying,’" he explained. "There's no integrity."

He added that while ATF says it has now replaced old leadership with new players, the old leaders never get fired.

"Where are we, 15, 16 months outside of Brian Terry's murder? Nobody's been held accountable for anything," he said, referring to a border patrol agent who was killed with an illegal weapon that was allowed to enter Mexico as part of operation Fast and Furious.

The problem goes deeper than Fast and Furious, he added.

"When a manager gets caught in an unethical or unlawful act, the only ‘punishment’ that comes with it is a taxpayer-funded move. You'll retain full pay, full benefits, and we'll pay to move you, usually to headquarters in DC."

ATF scores well in some other aspects of the employee survey. In “pay,” it rates eighth out of all 228 agencies. The average salary for an ATF employee is $96,370 per year.

"Our pay and our benefits are good," a special agent, who spoke to on condition of anonymity, said. "Some people work for it and earn it, and others not so much."

He added that in his experience, more than half of the agency’s leadership was "more problem than solution."

"They're abusive, self-serving characters," he said.

Despite their grievances, the agents interviewed by Fox expressed hope that the bureau will get its act together.

“I think there is an air of, 'we want to get better,'" Cefalu said. "They haven't implemented anything yet, but the initial steps are transparent and up-front."

Cefalu and the special agent interviewed said that Tom Brandon, the new deputy director at ATF, is held in high regard by field agents.

"I think he will try to change things," the special agent said. "Whether he will have the ability, due to the culture here, is anybody's guess."


Homeowner, 80, charged in shooting of burglar: 'Unjust that I can't protect me'

An 80-year-old tavern owner in Englewood believes it's "unjust" that he is facing charges after shooting a burglar, but believes he will prevail in court.

"It's wrong," Homer "Tank" Wright said as he walked into his bar after being released from jail this afternoon. "Unjust that I can't protect me."

Awakened by his 75-year-old wife, Wright confronted a 19-year-old burglar who had broken through some plywood over a bathroom window in hopes of stealing liquor, according to police. Wright grabbed his 38.caliber pistol, loaded with four rounds, and shot the intruder in the leg.

The suspect was arrested -- but so was Wright. Because of prior weapons convictions, Wright was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, sparking calls by his family and neighbors for prosecutors to back down.

"If somebody breaks into a place where they are not supposed to be, I bet something will happen," Wright said, adding that he was angry about the arrest. "That's wrong."

The Army veteran said his wife woke him about 4 their home on the 6400 block of South Morgan Street because she heard noise in the bathroom. When he got there, he said he saw a shadow fleeing. A few hours later, they heard more noise and this time he saw the intruder and shot him, Wright said.

The teen crawled back out the bathroom window and ran off but collapsed down the alley, where police and paramedics found the teen, Wright said.

Wright said his bar has been broken into four to six times, and he and his wife had started staying overnight at the property to protect it. "This is our living," he said, adding that he has had triple bypass surgery. "I'm going to be here. I'm not leaving. This is where I'm planning to stay."

Anthony Robinson, of the 6000 block of South Wood Street, was charged with felony burglary after he was treated at St. Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center and released. Wearing a white-and-blue hospital gown and his left hand wrapped in a bandage, Robinson limped into bond court this afternoon and was ordered held on $150,000 bond.

Wright was charged with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon after police discovered he had two prior weapons convictions from 1968 and 1994, officials said. Records show Wright also was convicted of theft in 1990. In the 1990 and 1994 cases, Wright got probation.

Wright clutched a tan baseball hat as he appeared in court dressed in a blue- and white-striped polo shirt and khaki pants.The judge ordered him released on his own recognizance, and he walked out of the courthouse at about 2:15 p.m. with his court-appointed attorney, Assistant Public Defender Anand Sundaram.

Several of Wright's relatives cheered in the gallery after the judge ordered him released, drawing a rebuke from deputies.

After the hearing, Wright's grandson Courtney Cook said his grandfather has the right to protect his home and the tavern he has run for 40 years.

"You have to look at what's right and what's wrong in that situation," he said. "He's supposed to protect his home and his family. I mean, you know, is he supposed to be the victim? I mean, you know, just let it keep happening? If it's going to keep happening, then where's the law? What good is the law?

"Everybody makes mistakes, but everybody is not supposed to be pushed around and let everybody do what they want to do to them."

On his South Side block, Wright is known as a hard-working neighbor who runs a bar that has become a neighborhood institution. Known as "Tank," Wright has operated the bar next to his home for more than 40 years, neighbors said.

"He doesn't fiddle around and he's strictly business," said Delmar Dunn, who operates a barber shop across the street from the bar. "He tries to keep order and he tolerates no foolishness. He's not an aggressive man, so I'm surprised he shot. He must have been pretty afraid or concerned for his own safety."

Anita Dominique, head of the block club in the neighborhood, said she has known Wright for more than 30 years. "He is a pillar of our community,” she said. “What does it say to me and other senior citizens that we will be arrested if we defend ourselves?"

Neighbors held a news conference this morning to call on prosecutors to drop the charges.

"If a man can't defend himself from harm, what can he do?" asked Darryl Smith. "If he hadn't defended himself, we would be here for a different reason -- because an intruder came in and killed him.

"We're outraged as a community and we're calling for the state's attorney's office to drop the charges," he added. "This man has done nothing wrong."

Smith said police and prosecutors should have found a way to avoid charging Wright. "Just take the gun," Smith said.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday at an unrelated news conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declined to talk about Wright's arrest. "I cannot comment on it in the middle of an investigation. It would be inappropriate," he said.

Chicago Tribune

That's why you need Stand your Ground.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Obama's disbelief after staring into N. Korea

After squinting through binoculars into a nation frozen in time, US President Barack Obama reeled off a contempt-laden and startlingly frank indictment of North Korea.

The Stalinist remnant of the Cold War was, in Obama's eyes, nothing but a nation which cannot make "anything of any use", "doesn't work", and even its vaunted weapons exports were hardly state of the art.

"It is like you are in a time warp," Obama said Sunday, after he toured a rocky border post in the demilitarised buffer zone that has split the Korean peninsular for longer than he has been alive.

"It is like you are looking across 50 years into a country that has missed 40 years or 50 years of progress," Obama marvelled later, after taking a helicopter back to teeming, prosperous Seoul, just 25 miles (40 kilometres) away.

Obama, who is locked in his first showdown with the North's new leader Kim Jong-Un over a planned rocket launch, stood behind a bullet proof screen four inches thick and surveyed rocky hills and wooded slopes in North Korea.

He gazed over a windswept no man's land between the two nations, split by a brutal Cold War conflict six decades ago, after his armoured SUV took a road through a minefield and tank traps.

Then he turned to his left, and looked out across bare fields to a huge North Korean flag -- flying at half-mast to remember late leader Kim Jong-Il, who died in December leaving his youthful and untested son in charge.

Behind the flag were simple low military buildings, and in the distance a town could just be picked out in the haze, but there was no sign of North Koreans who live hungry, isolated and cut off from the 21st Century.

Wearing a brown leather jacket and beige slacks, Obama stood in an open bunker and chatted with senior US and South Korean officers, just as Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did on trips during their presidencies.

Earlier, he had told some of the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea they were performing honoured service at "freedom's frontier" and brought news of annual college basketball playoffs from home.

The ramparts of Observation Point Ouellette, a UN-commanded post where he stood, is the closest point to the demarcation line in the 250-kilometre (160-mile) long and 4-km (1.6-m) wide Demilitarised Zone.

Later, Obama shared his observations with reporters as he held a joint press conference with South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak, on the eve of a major nuclear summit in Seoul.

And he seemed unable to process the logic of three generations of leaders who had kept their people imprisoned, impoverished and in thrall to successive personality cults.

"If a country can't feed its people effectively, if it can't make anything of any use to anybody, if it has no exports other than weapons and even those aren't ones that in any way would be considered state of the art.

"If it can't deliver on any indicators of well-being... for its people... then you'd think you'd want to try something different," Obama said in a highly undiplomatic and unusually frank public appearance.

"There are certain things that just don't work and what they are doing doesn't work."


What an idiot, now he realizes?

Al Qaeda’s Network in Iran

Koblenz, Germany
An al Qaeda cell slated to take part in one of the final plots ordered by Osama bin Laden made use of an Iran-based terror network that, according to the Obama administration, operates “under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government.” That revelation has emerged from legal proceedings in Germany, including the trial of Ahmad Wali Siddiqui, an al Qaeda recruit who took the stand for the first time last week in Koblenz.

We observed two days of Siddiqui’s testimony. Thus far, prosecutors have allowed the gregarious defendant to do most of the talking. Cleanshaven, he has sought to present a sharply different demeanor than the one he displayed as a bearded jihadist in propaganda films shown to the court. Still, his disturbing narrative provided an extraordinary window into the inner workings of al Qaeda and allied organizations.

The alleged terror recruit, with dual German and Afghan citizenship, has discussed the time he and his fellow plotters spent at the same mosque attended by al Qaeda’s 9/11 Hamburg cell, as well as his own transformation into a violent jihadist. “We wanted to fight .  .  . against Americans,” Siddiqui told the court. Wiretapped conversations played by prosecutors have provided additional insight into Siddiqui’s extremist worldview. During one telephone call to his mother he explained the difference between living in the West and living, as he was then, among the believers: “Life in Germany is not good. You live with gays, lesbians, and Jews. Islam rules here.”

Siddiqui initially joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a terrorist organization closely allied with al Qaeda, in northern Pakistan. He quickly migrated to al Qaeda itself.

According to the indictment, senior terrorists decided to send Siddiqui back to Germany to take part in a potentially devastating attack intended “to weaken Europe’s economy.” In the fall of 2010, Western intelligence officials learned that Osama bin Laden had ordered attacks in several cities that were supposed to mirror the November 2008 siege of Mumbai. After Siddiqui was captured in Afghanistan, he revealed the nascent plot.

In testimony before the court, Siddiqui described how he and his co-conspirators planned different travel routes in order to avoid suspicion beginning in early 2009. But their travels had a common theme: Iran was their principal gateway to jihad.

According to Siddiqui, two of his co-conspirators—Rami Makanesi and Naamen Meziche—traveled from Vienna to Tehran in order “to not get caught.” Their trip was booked in a Hamburg travel office by an unknown Iranian. Siddiqui explained that the pair could not travel directly to Pakistan because they are Arabs. Pakistani authorities would have questioned the duo’s intentions and perhaps detained them, but by traveling through Iran they avoided such scrutiny.

When Makanesi and Meziche arrived in Tehran, Siddiqui explained, they called a facilitator known as “Dr. Mamoud,” who works for the IMU. The two were ushered to Zahedan, a city on the eastern border of Iran, close to both Afghanistan and Pakistan. There, Siddiqui says, Dr. Mamoud “welcomed them.”

Zahedan is a well-known hub of al Qaeda and IMU activity. The IMU has repeatedly used the city’s Makki mosque, the largest Sunni mosque in Iran, to shuttle fighters into Afghanistan and Pakistan. Al Qaeda has an established presence there, too. For instance, before his May 2011 suicide at Guantánamo, an Afghan detainee named Inayatullah admitted to authorities that he was al Qaeda’s emir of Zahedan, from where he delivered recruits to senior al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan. Even since Inayatullah’s capture, al Qaeda fighters have continued to travel through Zahedan, as Makanesi and Meziche did.

Meziche has long been known to European counterterrorism officials. His father-in-law, Mohamed al-Fazazi, was a radical preacher whose sermons and spiritual advice guided al Qaeda’s 9/11 Hamburg cell. Meziche was reportedly close to Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker in the 9/11 attacks, and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, al Qaeda’s point man for the 9/11 operation. Bin al-Shibh reportedly tried to call Meziche just days before the 9/11 attacks. Meziche was later implicated in Al Qaeda in Iraq’s operations after European officials found that he had been recruiting fighters for the organization.

According to Der Spiegel, senior al Qaeda terrorists instructed Meziche and another member of the cell, an Iranian national named Shahab Dashti, to travel to Iran where “they would be told where in Europe they were to be deployed to begin building structures for bin Laden’s organization.” Once in Iran, Dashti “was to undergo facial plastic surgery” because he had already appeared in a propaganda video and was therefore recognizable to European authorities. However, Dashti did not get a chance to fool Western intelligence officials, because he was killed in a drone strike in northern Pakistan in early October 2010, after the Mumbai-style plot was uncovered.

Initial reports indicated that Meziche was killed in the same drone strike, but he survived it and is now being sheltered by the Iranians. The New York Times reported in January that Meziche and several other members of the cell are “waiting in Iran, trying to return to Europe.” European authorities are not eager to see them come back, as they pose obvious security risks.

Anonymous U.S. officials interviewed by the Times described Meziche and one of his Iran-based compatriots as “lower midlevel” al Qaeda operatives. “These two have been involved in al Qaeda external operations activities for some time now,” one official said. Citing multiple intelligence sources, the New York Times explained that “Iran appears to be harboring them in hopes that, when and if they leave, they will cause trouble in the West.”

Rami Makanesi, who set off for Tehran with Meziche, was not as fortunate. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2010 and sentenced to nearly five years in prison last year by a Frankfurt court.

Makanesi has his own ties to Iran-based al Qaeda operatives. According to Guido Steinberg, a researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division of the German Institute for International Security Affairs, Makanesi met a top al Qaeda operative known as Yassin al-Suri in February 2010. Steinberg, in his analysis brief for IHS Jane’s, a military and intelligence consulting group, explains that Suri asked Makanesi to “accompany him to Iran.” Makanesi said that Suri “was responsible for funneling money and recruits via Iran and that he was known to cooperate with the Iranian government.”

Indeed, in July 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department revealed that Suri operates in Iran as part of a “secret deal” between the Iranian government and al Qaeda. Treasury contends that Suri’s Iranian network serves as “a critical transit point for funding to support al Qaeda’s activities.” In December 2011, the U.S. government offered a $10 million reward, one of the highest ever, for information leading to Suri’s capture.

When the Treasury Department designated Suri in 2011, it also designated several other members of al Qaeda who utilize the Iran-based network. One of them was Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, who was subsequently killed in a drone strike in northern Pakistan. The Treasury Department explained: “Rahman was previously appointed by Osama bin Laden to serve as al Qaeda’s emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials.” Makanesi seems to have at least known Rahman. According to Steinberg, Makanesi has explained that Rahman “was known to have lived in Iran for many years.”

When exposing al Qaeda’s Iran-based network in 2011, the Obama administration highlighted its role in the Iraq and Afghan wars. But this same network has delivered recruits to al Qaeda who were slated to take part in attacks in the West. Iranian officials may or may not have known the specific details of Osama bin Laden’s 2010 plot. But we do know this: Al Qaeda’s Iranian network has a global reach, capable of delivering trained terrorists to Europe’s doorstep.

The Weekly Standard

President Obama Asks Medvedev for ‘Space’ on Missile Defense — ‘After My Election I Have More Flexibility’

SEOUL, South Korea — At the tail end of his 90 minute meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Monday, President Obama said that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense, but incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to give him “space.”

The exchange was picked up by microphones as reporters were let into the room for remarks by the two leaders.

The exchange:

President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.

President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…

President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

When asked to explain what President Obama meant, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes told ABC News that there is room for the U.S. and Russia to reach an accommodation, but “there is a lot of rhetoric around this issue — there always is — in both countries.

A senior administration official tells ABC News: “this is a political year in which the Russians just had an election, we’re about to have a presidential and congressional elections — this is not the kind of year in which we’re going to resolve incredibly complicated issue like this. So there’s an advantage to pulling back and letting the technical experts work on this as the president has been saying.”


I think O needs to explain himself, sounds like treason to me, impeachable treason

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Patrick Cockburn: The attempt to topple President Assad has failed

The year-long effort to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and his government has failed. Two or three months ago, it seemed to come close to succeeding, as insurgents took over enclaves in cities such as Homs and Deir el-Zour. There was talk of no-fly zones and foreign military intervention.

Severe economic sanctions were slapped on Syria's already faltering economy. Every day brought news of fresh pressure on Assad and the momentum seemed to build inexorably for a change of rule in Damascus.

It has not happened. Syria will not be like Libya. The latest international action has been an EU ban on Assad's wife, Asma, and his mother travelling to EU countries (though, as a UK citizen, Asma can still travel to Britain). As damp squibs go, this is of the dampest. The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, claims this increases the pressure on the Syrian government but, on the contrary, it relieves it. Curtailing Asma's shopping trips to Paris or Rome, supposing she ever intended to go there, shows the extent to which the US, EU and their allies in the Middle East are running out of options when it comes to dealing with Damascus.

"Nobody is discussing military operations," the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said last week. The insurgent Free Syrian Army has been driven out of strongholds in the central city of Homs, Idlib province in the north and, most recently, Deir el-Zour, in the east. Last Tuesday, Syrian soldiers supported by tanks rolled from four sides into Deir el-Zour, which is about 60 miles from the Iraqi border, forcing the rebels to flee and take shelter in homes and apartments after a short gun battle. Their retreat may make it more difficult to bring guns across the Iraq border from the overwhelmingly Sunni Anbar province. The swift Syrian army advance was in contrast with the month-long siege of the Baba Amr district of Homs which killed hundreds of people and left much of the area in ruins. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have blithely advised arming the insurgents, but there is little sign of them doing so.

What went wrong for the advocates of regime change? In general, they overplayed their hand and believed too much of their own propaganda. By this January, everything they did was predicated on international military intervention, or a convincing threat of it. But this ceased to be an option on 4 February when Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution, backed by the Arab League, calling on Assad to step down. The experience of the US, EU, Nato and the Arab Gulf states in overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi turned out to be misleading when it came to Syria.

This has been the experience of revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries throughout the ages. What succeeds in one country proves a recipe for disaster in another. There was also a misreading of what had happened in Libya. Watching al-Jazeera television, it might appear that heroic rebel militiamen – and at times they were heroic – had overthrown a tyrant but, in reality, military victory was almost wholly due to the Nato air assault. The militiamen were a mopping-up force who occupied territory after air strikes had cleared the way (this was also the pattern in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2003).

Conditions are very different in Syria. The regime has a radicalised core based on the Alawite community, a powerful army and security forces. There have been few high-level defections or military units changing sides. Regime loyalists feel they have no alternative but to fight to the end, and are quite prepared to kill anybody who gets in their way. Economic sanctions do not worry Assad loyalists because a dictatorship can always commandeer resources even when they are reduced in quantity. Assad has already lost the support of most of the Syrian business community. Militarisation of the conflict does not pose a threat to the government at this stage; it is more of an irritant, though this could change if guerrilla warfare develops.

In the second half of last year Assad appeared to be facing an all-powerful international coalition. It included Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the US, EU and Turkey. It emerged, however, that everybody was in favour of somebody doing something to bring him down – so long as that somebody was somebody else. There was talk of "safe havens" being established on the Jordanian or Turkish borders, but neither Jordan nor Turkey showed any enthusiasm for an act that would lead immediately to armed conflict with Syria. King Abdullah of Jordan said ruefully that he had nothing against "safe havens" so long as they were a long way from Jordan. Turkey cooled on the idea as it became apparent that it was becoming embroiled in a regional Shia-Sunni conflict that would lead to Iran retaliating against Turkey in defence of its Syrian ally.

The Syrian protesters did everything they could to give the impression that what happened in Libya could be repeated in Syria. They are now being criticised for their divisions and lack of leadership, but probably they felt they had no choice. The uprising had begun among the under-class of Syrians, but by last summer had spread to the middle class. But the use of snipers and death squads by the regime made street protests highly dangerous and they have got smaller in recent months (one of the benefits of the Arab League monitoring team was that it opened the door again to street demonstrations). Protesters now seldom wave olive branches and chant "Peaceful, Peaceful". Militarisation of the protest movement and the increased sectarianism played to the strengths of the regime. Sectarianism not only weakens the opposition inside Syria, it helps divide the coalition facing it abroad. In a presidential election year, US voters do not care much who rules Syria, but they care a lot about al-Qa'ida.

One of Barack Obama's themes in the presidential campaign will be that it was his administration that killed Osama bin Laden and focused, unlike President Bush, on eliminating the perpetrators of 9/11. The White House does not want al-Qa'ida to show signs of life, so it has been nervous of its increasing role in Syria. For instance, only last week an al-Qa'ida-inspired group called the Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant claimed responsibility for two recent suicide bombings in Damascus that killed more than two dozen people. "We tell the [Syrian] regime to stop the massacres against the Sunnis, otherwise, you will bear the sin of the Alawites," said the Al-Nusra Front statement. "What is coming is more bitter and painful, with God's will."

The Syrian regime will not fall without a radical change in the balance of forces. The appointment of the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan as a UN-Arab League peace envoy is a face-saver to mask the failure so far of the regime's opponents. This is bad news for the Syrian people, who face a prolonged and vicious civil war like Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s.


Former Islamic Insider Offers Warning

[Listen to an audio podcast of Jeff's interview with Reza Kahlili]

In previous columns I have quoted Reza Kahlili. He was gracious enough to speak with me at length about the nature of the Islamic Republic and the strategic goals of the regime. As a former CIA operative who worked inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, he understands the strengths and weaknesses of the Islamic Republic. He knows the Islamist mindset, and the errors that plague U.S. policy.

Always the West has attempted to find “moderates” within the Iranian regime. Always, the U.S. has attempted to negotiate and conciliate. Always, the Americans have been duped, refusing to see that the Islamists are enemies of the West. The Islamists, in fact, cannot help themselves. They cannot stop or question the principles that drive them forward. Every success is proof of God’s blessing. “The clerics grow up with the vision that the only way for justice is for infidels to die,” Kahlili explained.

But isn’t Islam the “religion of peace,” as President Bush claimed?

Kahlili laughed, “Religion of peace? If they exploded one nuclear bomb on the Saudi oil fields, it would shut down all production because the oil would have been [radioactively] contaminated. Given our dependence on oil, the resulting calamity would be one of the worst in all history.”


Saturday, March 24, 2012

APNewsBreak: Europe faces jihadist threat

BERLIN (AP) - With France's deadly attacks, Islamic terror has apparently struck once more in the heart of Europe - and authorities say there's a dangerous twist: the emergence of homegrown extremists operating independent of any known networks, making them hard to track and stop.

"We have a different kind of jihadist threat emerging and it's getting stronger," Europol chief Rob Wainwright told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from The Hague. "It is much more decentralized and harder to track."

France's motorcycle gunman traumatized a nation heading into presidential elections and spread fear across the continent that the specter of al-Qaida was once again threatening daily life.

Mohamed Merah, a 23-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent, sowed his terror over the course of nine days, killing paratroopers, Jewish children and a rabbi. He died Thursday in a shootout after police raided the Toulouse apartment where he had been holed up.

Merah traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan and had claimed to have trained with al-Qaida there, but French authorities said Thursday they had no evidence that he had any contact with terrorist groups or that al-Qaida had ordered the killings.

Wainwright warned that Europe faces a tough challenge ahead.

Combating individuals acting in apparent isolation, he said, will take smarter measures in monitoring the Internet, better intelligence and international cooperation in counterterrorism efforts.

And he conceded there were limits to what law enforcement officials can do. "We can't police the Internet," he said.

Other European terror authorities echoed that view, saying that apprehending suspicious individuals with no clear connections to terrorist networks is legally problematic.

"We have one law for war, one law for peace, but we don't have a law for the current situation," said Alain Chouet, a former intelligence director at France's DGSE spy agency.

"If we stopped (Merah) three weeks ago, what would people have said? 'Why are you stopping him? What did he do?'"

German officials expressed the same frustration in the case of Arid Uka, a Kosovo Albanian who gunned down two American airmen and wounded two others last year at the Frankfurt airport before being captured. Aside from illegally acquiring a handgun, the 22-year-old, who was convicted last month, had committed no crime until he shot his first victim in the back of the head.

"A group preparing an attack with bombs or other instruments is running the danger of being detected," said a high-ranking German intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

"A single person or a group of two, they have a greater chance of not being observed by security forces or getting tracked by police. It is very hard to find individuals like this and stop them from acting."

Some experts believe that al-Qaida's new strategy is, in fact, to stop acting like a network.

Encouraging individuals to carry out terrorist attacks, without organizing them in cells, has become integral to the terrorist organization's modus operandi, said Noman Benotman, a former jihadist with links to al-Qaida and who now works for the London-based Quilliam Foundation.

"They are part of the overall al-Qaida strategy, and they are part of the instructions - or suggestions, if you will - for groups and individuals seeking guidance or inspiration," he said.

Benotman, who maintains contact with the jihadist community, said that since the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida's strategy has evolved to include more individual attacks, rather than the heavily choreographed and expensive operations seen in the Sept. 11 attacks or the London suicide bombings in 2005.

The German intelligence official noted that al-Qaida theorist Abu Musab al-Suri published a book about 10 years ago putting forth the strategy of "leaderless resistance." The official said that with Internet propaganda, "you don't need any teacher or some other person any more to push people toward these actions."

Wainwright also sees al-Qaida's hidden influence in the France attacks.

"He was acting in line with al-Qaida inspired tactics, and although it may not have been closely coordinated, it was certainly al-Qaida inspired," he said.

Wainwright said Merah lacked the professionalism of terrorists of the past. He said the gunman seemed divided between wanting to increase his death toll and publicizing his acts by filming his deeds and bragging about them.

"It is very telling that he filmed his exploits," he said. "Still, in spite of the mistakes, he managed to carry out significant damage. ... That is the challenge for us."

A British security official said the key to targeting this brand of individualized terror was figuring out whether people were simply thinking extremist thoughts or would truly turn violent.

"We prefer the term self-starting over lone wolf," the official told the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work.

"But the reality is that there are hosts of people like this out there and most of them will never do anything. You have to have information to suggest they are about to do something. Unfortunately, there are no thought police."

There are, nonetheless, plenty of recent examples of the dangers of terrorists working in isolation:

- Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people during the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting rampage in 2009.

- Taimour Abdulwahab, an Iraqi-born Swede, who targeted Christmas shoppers in Stockholm in December and blew himself up.

- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was sentenced last month to life in prison after admitting he attempted to blow up an international flight with a bomb in his underwear as the plane approached Detroit on Christmas 2009.

President Barack Obama said last summer that a "lone wolf" terror attack in the U.S. is more likely than a major coordinated effort like 9/11.

In the case of Merah, it's still too early to know whether he was acting alone or had outside support.

Authorities are trying to determine whether Merah's 29-year-old brother, Abdelkader, was involved, and are searching for accomplices who might have encouraged Merah to kill or furnished the means to do so.

Merah told negotiators he killed to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children and to protest the French army's involvement in Afghanistan as well as France's law against the Islamic face veil.

French authorities have acknowledged that Merah had been under surveillance for years and that his travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan were known to French intelligence, raising the question of whether security services might have been able to act against him before he was able to carry out his attacks.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told German media that there were striking similarities between the Uka and Merah attacks, and that it drives home the need for a "security partnership" between intelligence services and Muslim groups and communities.

"We need them to report the first signs," he said. "We need the help of society."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Flying like a bird

DoD Networks Completely Compromised, Experts Say

The Defense Department’s (DoD) computer networks have been totally compromised by foreign spies, according to federal cybersecurity experts. The experts, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, say current efforts to protect those networks are misguided at best.

Those expert claim that the billions spent by the government on cybersecurity have provided only a limited increase in protection; attackers can penetrate DoD networks; and the defense supply chain and physical systems are at high risk of attack.

James Peery, director of Sandia National Labs’ Information Systems Analysis Center, told the committee. “We’ve got the wrong model here. … I think we’ve got this model for cyber that says, ‘We’re going to develop a system where we’re not attacked.’ I think we have to go to a model where we assume that the adversary is in our networks. It’s on our machines, and we’ve got to operate anyway. We have to protect the data anyway."

The DoD has layered security onto a uniform architecture which only protects against known threats and doesn’t adapt to new ones, according to Acting Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Kaigham Gabriel. The offensive situation is no better, he warned, because the DoD has merely tried to scale up its intelligence-based cyber capability–which is a long way from actually giving the Pentagon an offensive threat.

“DoD is capability-limited in cyber, both defensively and offensively,” Gabriel told the panel. “We need to change that.”

It is difficult to know how many of these warnings are hyperbole, since some, but not all of them, were accompanied by pleas for more funding. Michael Wertheimer, director of research and development at the National Security Agency (NSA) said proposed 2013 funding levels are adequate and that the government just needed to spend it more wisely. The NSA is one of several agencies with budgets that can only be speculated on because they are kept top secret.

So, the DoD can’t protect its networks but we're supposed to think the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be able to protect those in the private sector? That legislation is still out there, and it's making me more nervous every day.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

The New Nazis .

There was a time when Jewish children were hunted down and killed in France. Their killers believed themselves to be members of a superior group that was destined to rule the world and enslave or exterminate members of inferior groups. The cowardice and appeasement of the French authorities allowed them to operate freely, to kill Jews and launch attacks on other countries.

What was then is now again. The occupying army doesn't wear uniforms, it wears keffiyahs. It doesn't speak German, it speaks Arabic. It doesn't believe that it is superior for reasons of race as much as for reasons of religion. It does not view all others as Untermenschen, but as infidels. It looks forward not to a thousand year Reich, but to a thousand year Caliphate.

Mohammed Merah did not chase down a French-Jewish seven year old girl, put a gun to her head and pull the trigger because he came from an economically depressed area or any of the other media spin. He was only doing what Muslims had been doing to non-Muslims for over a thousand years. He didn't do what he did because he was "radicalized", he did it because he became a fully committed Muslim.

It won't end with taking down one man and it won't end with Jewish children. When your ideology believes that it is in a zero-sum struggle with the rest of the world and that membership means that you are a superior breed of human being because you worship the Fuhrer or Allah, then it won't stop. It won't ever stop. Not until the figurehead is toppled, the creed is humiliated and the supermen are shown to be cowards, neurotics, pedophiles, insecure men dressing up their weaknesses in power fantasies.

Between all the non-stop coverage, the expressions of grief, the political pandering, no one is stating the obvious. France has been occupied all over again. Once again the occupation has been carried out with the consent of the authorities who have decided that cowardice is the only way. Vichy France has become Vichy Europe, Vichy America, Vichy Australia, where the blatant appeasement is disguised as honor, treason is portrayed as responsible leadership and collaboration in the mass murder of your own people is never acknowledged as such.

It's not Neo-Nazis that are the threat to Jews today. It's the new Nazis and the old Nazis who were rounding up Jews into ghettos and murdering their children long before a thousand years before Hitler. The Neos are pathetically longing for the return of a genocidal state that isn't coming back, while the Muslims are actually working to bring back their genocidal state. They are doing it in Egypt, in Libya, in Pakistan and in England, France and Spain.

Muslims have hated Jews before the telephone, the telegraph, the steam engine, gunpowder, movable type and paper currency. And now surrounded by smartphones, credit cards and jet planes, they still hate them. That simple undeniable fact is denied by government, in every university and in every center of culture. And every one of those deniers has blood on his hands.

Not only the blood of the Jewish children murdered by Mohammed Merah. Not only the blood of Jews murdered by Muslims in France. But the blood of all those who have been killed by Muslim immigrants, no matter of what generation, in the name of Islam.

The names of Chamberlain, Petain and Quisling have become eternally infamous because they stand for appeasement and collaboration. But then what do we make of the names Blair, Sarkozy and Stoltenberg? What have the latter done differently from their predecessors? The left likes to pretend that its collaboration with Islam is moral, while the collaboration with Nazism was immoral. It's a distinction without a difference.

Does it really matter whether the men murdering children in the name of their Fuhrer call him Adolf or Mohammed? Does it matter whether they call themselves Hans or Mohammed? Does it matter whether their fantasies of superiority are based on bad science or bad religion? What matters is the end result. A foreign enemy controls your cities, murders at will and takes your future for his own.

The Tolouse Massacre did not come out of the blue, it follows decades of Muslim violence in France-- a Kristalnacht that has been going on year after year. It will not stop here. Not while there are five million Muslim in France, some of whom are bound to pick up the Koran and take it seriously. The "radical" clerics that Mohammed Merah listened to did not innovate a new religion, there has never been any basis to the teachings of the so-called radicals other than the Koran. The only book more popular in the Muslim world than Mein Kampf.

"O Muslims, O Servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." That is what Muslims look forward to in their end times. Rocks and trees that tell them where the Jews are so that the fat faithful servants of Allah don't have to spend too much time and energy searching for their victims. Mohammed Merah did not have any trees or rocks to tell him where to find Jews to kill. But he had a compliant French state which tolerated a known Jihadist to the detriment of his victims.

The question, as always, after every act of Muslim terror is how many more must die? How many? Because the killing will continue. It has gone on for over a thousand years. It is not about to stop now. Muslim leaders who condemn these acts do it for tactical reasons, not moral ones. They don't believe it's wrong to kill rebellious non-Muslims... unless the act rebounds against non-Muslims.

The difference between the "radicals" and the "moderates" is that the radicals want to engage in genocide even while they are a minority, while the moderates want to wait until they are a majority. The radicals are satisfied with killing a few Hindus, Christians, Jews, here and there. The moderates want to wait and kill millions. Neither are our allies. Both are our murderers.

There is no peaceful way forward here. Carving up Czechoslovakia, Cyprus or Israel will not sate the blood lust of people whose egos are fed by hate, who treat every concession as proof of their own superiority, who love nothing so much as for others to fear them. There is no peace to be had with a creed that defines peace exclusively in terms of its own dominance over others.

Islam, like Nazism, is a disease of the soul, a twin sense of superiority and victimhood possessed by the angry corner dwellers of the world, who are certain that they would rule if only it wasn't for all the others holding them back. To understand a Nazi or a Muslim, you don't need to learn their creeds, just stare into the eyes of a wife beater, a pedophile or any bully and you will see that same smirk which easily transforms into outrage, the arrogant tone that turns unctuous when it is set back on its heels, the flickering eyes that are always looking at what they can't have.

You don't need to read the Koran to understand Mohammed Merah, you can just as easily understand the Koran by reading about what Mohammed Merah did. Nothing much has changed in all the centuries, except that Mohammed Merah didn't get to rape the girl he murdered, because the French state was still functional enough to keep him on the run. The day will however come when it won't be and then the peoples of the free world will learn what true Muslim terror really is, as the peoples of Africa and Asia, as the many other religions of the Middle East, including the Jews learned, in the day of the original Mohammed.

There is nothing extraordinary about what Mohammed Merah did. You may think that there is, but that is because you are a citizen of the free world and you have become used to that rare thing known as civilized behavior. But when your nations opened their borders to people who consider your infidel lands, the Dar Al-Harb, the House of the Sword, then civilization gets its throat cut, it gets chased down at a school, has a gun put to its head and the trigger gets pulled.

Killing children is not a shocking act in the Middle East, except when CNN points its cameras the right way. Parents routinely kill their own children for minor offenses that would hardly get an American child grounded. When they move to America or Canada, they kill their children there too and we considerately look away. If they do that to their children, why do you think they will have any more mercy on yours?

There is no point in holding Mohammed Merah accountable for what he did, just as there was no point in bringing Nazi leaders to trial for crimes against humanity. Mohammed recognizes no form of law other than the law of Islam, just as the Nazis recognized no other form of humanity than their own. There is no common moral or legal system that we share with Islam. Equality before the law, the cornerstone of our system, is so much noise in the windy corridors of the mosque. How can the Subhuman be equal to the Aryan, how can the Infidel be equal to the Muslim?

Mohammed Merah is a mad dog and should be treated as what he is. Accountability is for those who share our moral system. It is for our own leaders who continue perpetuating the macabre myth of a religion of peace, even while attending the funerals of tis victims. Accountability is for the Petains, the Chamberlains and the Quislings who have led us into this hole and keep waving in more Mohammeds to come and join the party.

The old Nazis marched in at the head of an army. The new Nazis bought a plane ticket. The old Nazis had to get by the French Armed Forces and the Royal Air Force. The new Nazis are welcomed in and anyone who says a word otherwise faces trials and jail sentences. The old Nazis deported Jews to camps. The new Nazis kill them right in the cities. And the killing will not stop until the Muslim occupation of Europe comes to an end.

Right Side News

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Villagers: Afghan slayings were act of retaliation

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - Residents of an Afghan village near where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians are convinced that the slayings were in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack on U.S. forces in the same area a few days earlier.

In accounts to The Associated Press and to Afghan government officials, the residents allege that U.S. troops lined up men from the village of Mokhoyan against a wall after the bombing on either March 7 or 8, and told them they would pay a price for the attack.

The lawyer for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused in the March 11 killings of the 16 civilians, has said that his client was upset because a buddy had lost a leg in an explosion on March 9.

It's unclear if the bombing cited by attorney John Henry Browne was the same as the one described by the villagers that prompted the alleged threats. After a meeting at a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Browne said Bales told him a roadside bomb blew off the leg of one of his friends two days before the shootings occurred.

A spokesman for the U.S. military declined to give any information on the bombing or even confirm that it occurred, citing the investigation of the shootings. He also declined to comment on the allegation that U.S. troops threatened retaliation.

"The shooting incident as well as any possibilities that led up to it or might be associated with it will be investigated," Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said Tuesday.

Bales, 38, is suspected of leaving a U.S. base in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, entering homes and gunning down nine children, four men and three women before dawn on March 11 in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai. Mokhoyan is about 500 yards (meters) east of the base.

The shootings have further strained ties between the U.S. government and President Hamid Karzai who has accused the U.S. military of not cooperating with a delegation he appointed to investigate the killings.

Karzai's investigative team is not convinced that one soldier could have single-handedly left his base, walked to the two villages, and carried out the killings and set fire to some of the victims' bodies. The U.S. military has said that even though its investigation is continuing, everything currently points to one shooter.

The U.S. military does not release information on incidents such as roadside bombings if no coalition troops are killed so it has been impossible to independently confirm the eyewitness accounts.

Ghulam Rasool, a tribal elder from Panjwai district, gave an account of the bombing at a March 16 meeting in Kabul with Karzai in the wake of the shootings.

"After the incident, they took the wreckage of their destroyed tank and their wounded people from the area," Rasool said. "After that, they came back to the village nearby the explosion site.

"The soldiers called all the people to come out of their houses and from the mosque," he said.

"The Americans told the villagers 'A bomb exploded on our vehicle. ... We will get revenge for this incident by killing at least 20 of your people,'" Rasool said. "These are the reasons why we say they took their revenge by killing women and children in the villages."

Naek Mohammad, who lives in Mokhoyan, told the AP that he was inside his home when he heard an explosion on March 8.

"At first I thought it was an airstrike," Mohammad said. "After some time I came out and talked with my neighbor. He told me that there was an explosion on NATO forces."

Mohammad said that as the two discussed the incident, two Afghan soldiers approached them and ordered them to join other men from the village who had been told to stand against a wall.

"One of the villagers asked what was happening," he said. "The Afghan army soldier told him 'Shut up and stand there.'"

Mohammad said a U.S. soldier, speaking through a translator, then said: "I know you are all involved and you support the insurgents. So now, you will pay for it - you and your children will pay for this.'"

Mohammad's neighbor, Bakht Mohammad, and Ahmad Shah Khan, also of Mokhoyan, gave similar accounts.

The U.S. soldiers arrived in the village with their Afghan army counterparts and made many of the male villagers stand against a wall, Khan said.

"It looked like they were going to shoot us, and I was very afraid," said Khan. "Then a NATO soldier said through his translator that even our children will pay for this. Now they have done it and taken their revenge."

Several Afghan officials, including Kandahar lawmaker Abdul Rahim Ayubi, said people in the two villages that were attacked told them the same story.

Mohammad Sarwar Usmani, one of several lawmakers who went to the area to investigate the shootings, said that after hearing accounts by villagers, he believed their assertions that the slayings were carried out by more than one gunman and that they were in retaliation for the bombing.

Usmani also said that the Afghan National Army had confirmed to him that an explosion occurred near Mokhoyan on March 8.

Abdul Salam, an Afghan soldier, showed an AP reporter in Panjwai district on March 13 the site of the blast, which made a large crater in the road. The soldier said the explosion occurred three days before the shootings. Salam said he helped gather the men in the village, but that he was not close enough to hear what the troops said to them.

The identity of the soldier who allegedly threatened the villagers is not known.


Coup in Beijing, Says Chinese Internet Rumor Mill

Over the night of March 19 and early morning of March 20, Bejing local time, a message about a large number of military police showing up in Beijing spread widely across microblogs in mainland China.

UPDATE 2: Bo Xilai Placed Under House Arrest, Reports Suggest
The key figures in the action are said to be: Hu Jintao, the head of the CCP; Wen Jiabao, the premier; Zhou Yongkang, who has control of the People’s Republic of China’s police forces; and Bo Xilai, who was dismissed from his post as head of the Chongqing City Communist Party on March 15 by Wen Jiabao, after a scandal involving Bo’s former police chief.

UPDATE 1: Words Related to ‘Coup’ in Beijing Censored on Weibo
Li Delin, who is on the editorial board of Securities Market Weekly and lives in Dongcheng District of Beijing, wrote on his microblog a report that confirmed unusual troop movements: “There are numerous army vehicles, Changan Street is continuously being controlled. There are many plainclothes police in every intersection, and some intersections even had iron fences set up.”

The Epoch Times


Monday, March 19, 2012

US, Iranians ‘clash’ at sea

KUWAIT CITY, March 5: US troops opened fire on a boat carrying six Iranians near Kuwait’s territorial waters, a source told Al-Shahed daily, adding four Iranians were killed, one was wounded and another was reported missing.

According to the source, the Iranian boat approached a prohibited area that was under the control of US Navy and refused to obey orders. Kuwait’s Coast Guards have been put on alert following the incident, which occurred northeast of the territorial waters of the country.

The source also added that US-Kuwait joint forces began searching for the missing Iranian, while the injured was referred to the US military hospital for treatment. The remains of the four Iranians were recovered by US troops and will be repatriated to Iran.

The US Army has launched an investigation into the incident and is keeping the damaged boat to find out why the Iranians wanted to enter the prohibited area.

Arab Times

Maybe O can be reasoned with after all

The Pirate Bay to Fly 'Server Drones' to Avoid Law Enforcement

The world’s largest and most resilient BitTorrent site plans to redefine “cloud computing” with a plan to move at least some of its servers onto unmanned drones miles above Sweden.

In a Sunday blog post, The Pirate Bay announced new "Low Orbit Server Stations" that will house the site's servers and files on unmanned, GPS-controlled, aircraft drones.

One of the sites administrators, MrSpock, said with the advent of miniature computers such as the Raspberry Pi, a $35 micro computer the size of a thumb drive that includes a WiFi and SD card slot for storage, the site can take its servers far from any law enforcement.

“We’re going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air,” MrSpock wrote. “This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.”

The Swedish site has operated since 2003 by an “anti-copyright organization” and despite numerous raids, remains one of the most popular music and movie pirating sites on the web. The site hosts thousands of “torrent” files—tiny files that allow users to connect to and download files from other users. The system is one of the most popular ways to anonymously share large files and often comes under fire from copyright holders, who argue that the service allows people to easily share copyrighted movies, music, games and software.

[Opinion: Digital Piracy is Still a Problem]

The site has repeatedly mocked American copyright laws and has said that American laws “[do] not apply [in Sweden].” Earlier this year, four of its staffers were sentenced to Swedish prison. Last year, the site apparently moved some of its servers to a mountain cave complex in Sweden.

“Experiencing raids, espionage and death threats, we’re still here,” the site wrote in a blog post last month. “We’ve been through hell and back and it has made us tougher than ever.”

The move to hovering servers could make it nearly impossible for authorities to shut the site down, a fact not lost on the site’s administrators.

“We can’t limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore,” MrSpock wrote. “When time comes we will host in all parts of the galaxy, being true to our slogan of being the galaxy’s most resilient system.”


Russian Anti-Terror Troops Arrive in Syria

A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was "a bomb" certain to have serious repercussions.

Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad's strongest allies despite international condemnation of the government's violent crackdown on the country's uprising, has repeatedly blocked the United Nations Security Council's attempts to halt the violence, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to start another war.

Now the Russian Black Sea fleet's Iman tanker has arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea with an anti-terror squad from the Russian Marines aboard according to the Interfax news agency. The Assad government has insisted it is fighting a terrorist insurgency. The Russian news reports did not elaborate on the Russian troops' mission in Syria or if they are expected to leave the port.

The presence of Russian troops in Syria could be a "pretty obvious" show of support to the regime, according to Russian security expert Mark Galeotti.

"No one thinks of the Russians as anything but Assad's last friends," said Galeotti, professor of global affairs at New York University.

The Iman replaced another Russian ship "which had been sent to Syria for demonstrating (sic) the Russian presence in the turbulent region and possible evacuation of Russian citizens," the Black Sea Fleet told Interfax.

RIA Novosti, a news outlet with strong ties to the Kremlin, trumpeted the news in a banner headline that appeared only on its Arabic language website. The Russian embassy to the U.S. and to the U.N. had no comment, saying they have "no particular information on" the arrival of a Russian anti-terrorism squad to Syria.

Moscow has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Assad regime, to which it sells billions of dollars of weapons. In return Russia has maintained a Navy base at Tartus, which gives it access to the Mediterranean.

Last week Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had no plans to send troops to Syria.

"As for the question whether I consider it necessary to confront the United States in Syria and ensure our military presence there… in order to take part in military actions -- no. I believe this would be against Russia's national interests," Lavrov told lawmakers, according to RIA Novosti.

Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov denied reports that Russian special forces were operating inside Syria. He did say, however, that there are Russian military and technical advisors in the country.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the U.S. government had not heard of the reports of Russian troops in Syria and declined to comment.


Well that's it for any Libya strategy. O waithed too long

‘The Road We’ve Traveled:’ A misleading account of Obama’s mother and her insurance dispute

Narrator Tom Hanks: “He knew from experience the cost of waiting [on health care reform].”

President Obama : “When my mom got cancer, she wasn’t a wealthy woman and it pretty much drained all her resources”

Michelle Obama: “She developed ovarian cancer, never really had good, consistent insurance. That’s a tough thing to deal with, watching your mother die of something that could have been prevented. I don’t think he wants to see anyone go through that.”

Hanks: “And he remembered the millions of families like of his who feel the pressure of rising costs and the fear of being denied or dropped from coverage.”

--series of statements with images of Obama and his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, in the Obama campaign film “The Road We’ve Traveled”

“The Road We’ve Traveled” is a very slick and impressively produced campaign film—sheer catnip for Obama fans. There are a number of facts and figures that could be challenged, but for now we are going to focus on this sequence. The series of words and images is an excellent example of how such films can create a misleading impression, while skirting as close as possible to the edge of falsehood.

The sequence, in fact, evokes a famous story that candidate Obama told during the 2008 campaign—that his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, fought with her insurer over whether her cancer was a pre-existing condition that disqualified her from coverage.

But the story was later called into question by Dunham’s biographer. The fact that Obama’s initial claim is not directly repeated suggests the filmmakers knew there was a problem with the campaign story, but they clearly wanted to keep some version of it in the film.

The Facts

During the 2008 campaign, Obama frequently suggested his mother had to fight with her health-insurance company for treatment of her cancer because it considered her disease to be a pre-existing condition. In one of the presidential debates with GOP rival John McCain, Obama said:

“For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”
But then earlier this year, journalist Janny Scott cast serious doubt on this version of events in her excellent biography, “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s mother.” Scott reviewed letters from Dunham to the CIGNA insurance company, and revealed the dispute was over disability coverage, not health insurance coverage (see pages 335-339).

Disability coverage will help replace wages lost to an illness. (Dunham received a base pay of $82,500, plus a housing allowance and a car, to work in Indonesia for Development Alternatives Inc. of Bethesda, according to Scott.) But that is different than health insurance coverage denied because of a pre-existing condition, which was a major part of the president’s health care law.

Scott writes that Dunham, who died in 1995 of uterine and ovarian cancer, had health insurance that “covered most of the costs of her medical treatment…The hospital billed her insurance company directly, leaving Ann to pay only the deductible and any uncovered expenses, which, she said, came to several hundred dollars a month.”

Dunham had filed the disability claim to help pay for those additional expenses. The company denied the claim because her doctor had suspected uterine cancer during an office visit 2 ½ months before Dunham had started the job with Development Alternatives, though Dunham said the doctor had not discussed the possibility with cancer with her. Dunham requested a review from CIGNA, saying she was turning the case over to “my son and attorney Barack Obama.”

When Scott’s book was published, the White House did not dispute her account. “The president has told this story based on his recollection of events that took place more than 15 years ago,” a spokesman said.

Now let’s look at what the movie does with this story. It does not directly repeat the claim that Obama’s mother was denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, fighting for treatment in her hospital room. But look at what it does say:

1. Hanks says the president knew the cost of waiting on reform. (Though disability coverage was not an issue in the health care debate.)

2. The president says cancer “drained all her resources.” (Health insurance paid for most of her bills, so this is not the case of someone being bankrupted by tens of thousands of dollars in bills. Her salary of $82,500 in 1995 was the equivalent of $123,000 today, but Scott says she had little savings.)

3. Michelle Obama says Dunham “never really had good, consistent insurance.” (It is unclear what she means by this, except maybe that Dunham had different jobs, some of which did not provide insurance. But Dunham had good health coverage when the cancer was discovered.)

4. The first lady also suggests the death “could have been prevented.” (Again, it was not an insurance issue. Before going overseas, Dunham was too busy with work and had skipped an important test recommended by her U.S. doctor, dilation and curettage, that might have spotted the cancer earlier. Then an Indonesian doctor diagnosed her problem as appendicitis and removed her appendix. By the time the cancer was finally discovered, it was third-stage.)

5. Hanks says that Obama’s family felt “the pressure of rising costs and the fear of being denied or dropped from coverage.” (Maybe for disability, but not health insurance.)

In the end, the impression left by the film, especially if you watch it (go to the 8:45 mark), is very similar to Obama’s 2008 campaign rhetoric: His mother was denied health-insurance coverage, draining her resources, and with better coverage she might have lived longer. The film suggests this experience helped inspire the president to keep fighting for the health care law, even in the face of advice from aides that he accept a less-than-satisfactory compromise.

Note that none of the quotes in the film actually use the words “health insurance” or “health insurance coverage.” Instead, the first lady says “insurance” and Hanks says “coverage,” which could just as easily mean disability insurance. But that would not be as evocative—or as motivating.

Asked for a response, the Obama campaign referred us to the previous White House statement on Scott’s book.

The Pinocchio Test

We use a “reasonable man” standard here, and we think there are few viewers of this film who would watch this sequence and conclude that Dunham was involved in anything but a fight over health-insurance coverage.

The disability-insurance dispute certainly may have motivated the president, but he has never explicitly stated that. In any case, the filmmakers must have known they had a problem with this story or else they would have recounted it as Obama had done in the 2008 campaign, using phrases such as “pre-existing conditions,” “health insurance,” and “treatment.”

Instead, they arranged the quotes and images to leave a misleading impression of what really happened.

Three Pinocchios

WaPo Fact Checker