Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

Islamic State Near Collapse?

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

That’s what this headline implies. The truth is a little less dramatic: Raqqa is on the edge of full liberation and the Islamic State is in retreat everywhere else.

Static lines of control that held for months in northern Raqqa have collapsed, as seen in this Syria Livemap screen cap:

Compare that to this map from September 5:

Islamic State fighters are running out of territory in Raqqa to defend.

Here’s a video from the battle of Raqqa:

Southeast of Raqqa, Syrian government forces and the SDF are both pushing toward Deir ez-Zor.

SDF also say they have captured Syria’s largest oilfield from the Islamic State near Deir ez-Zor.

Elsewhere in the theater, “Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces have cleared ISIS out of about 50,000 square miles and liberated more than 6 million people who were living under Islamic State occupation.”

Here’s a map of Iraqi forces collapsing the pocket of Islamic State forces to the southwest of Kirkuk that have been cut off from the rest of the Islamic State at least since the investment of Mosul.

Everywhere within it’s supposed caliphate, the Islamic State is in retreat, and nowhere is it counterattacking successfully. But it still holds a lot of territory, and there’s a lot more fighting left before declaring it dead.

Bonus video: Royal Air Force drone stops Islamic State public execution:

LinkSwarm for September 22, 2017

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Welcome to the first LinkSwarm of fall! Between a new job, car trouble, dog trouble and iPhone updates, you’re lucky there’s a LinkSwarm at all!

  • Final total for J.J. Watt’s YouCaring campaign: $37,131,967.
  • Death toll in the Mexico City earthquake hits 273.
  • Mexican rescue dog saves over 50 lives.
  • 100% of Puerto Rico is without power following Hurricane Maria.
  • Obama Administration official Samantha Power asked for over 260 unmaskings of American citizens. “She continued to seek identifying information about Americans caught up in incidental surveillance right up to President Trump’s inauguration.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • And Obama’s FBI Director James Comey was apparently eavesdropping on Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “House IT Worker At Center Of Scandal Allegedly Abused Three Muslim Women.” “Multiple women in relationships with Imran Awan, the indicted former IT aide for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have recently called Virginia law enforcement and alleged being abused by him, police reports obtained under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act show.”
  • President Trump didn’t forget Poland.
  • “The mainstream media failed to see the rise of Donald Trump in 2016. Now it’s overlooking another grassroots movement that may soon be of equal significance— the growing number of liberals “taking the red pill.” People of all ages and ethnicities are posting YouTube videos describing “red pill moments”—personal awakenings that have caused them to reject leftist narratives imbibed since childhood from friends, teachers, and the news and entertainment media.”
  • “Federal Prosecutors Say Anthony Weiner Convinced [15-year old] Teen To Strip, Touch Herself On Skype.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Evergreen State College has settled a tort claim against it from embattled Professor Bret Weinstein and his wife, Professor Heather Heying, for $500,000, according to an email sent to faculty Friday evening.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Article on the decline of NFL ratings offers and explanation in the comments section: “One after another, cogent, thoughtful comments clearly stating the exact reason that life long NFL fans have turned off the TV, dropped their cable subscription, and moved on.” Sample: “There will be no NFL at my house until the employment of players that disrespect our flag and anthem is terminated.”
  • More signs of NFL’s decline in popularity: Los Angeles Rams can’ even sell out their temporary stadium. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Flashback: Ted Kennedy, drunken serial sexual molester.
  • Wisconsin appeals court dismisses union lawsuit against right-to-work law.
  • Armed citizen stops would-be rapist near downtown Austin. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Scientists create world’s first ‘molecular robot’ capable of building molecules.” No indication these 150-atom “robots” can contain programming or self-replicate, so we’re still a long way from K. Eric Drexler’s nanotechnology…
  • Valerie Plame steps in it:

  • Possible Conflict Between Assad/Russia and SDF/U.S. Brewing?

    Saturday, September 16th, 2017

    Remember how a month ago how almost all the different Syrian factions were concentrating on crushing the last remnants of the Islamic State?

    Good times, good times.

    Well the good times may be over, as Russian and Syrian forces launched an airstrike against the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces northeast of Deir ez-Zor.

    Both are converging on Deir ez-Zor, thought to be the de facto capital of what’s left of the Islamic State. SDF also wants to keep Assad’s forces on the western side of the Euphrates.

    Here’s the situation from Syria Livemap:

    It would be nice if both sides could finish dismantling the Islamic State before launching the next war…

    LinkSwarm for September 15, 2017

    Friday, September 15th, 2017

    Greetings, and welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! Cleanup from Harvey and Irma continues apace, and there was another London jihad terror attack.

  • Bomb attack on a London tube train injuries 20, but no reported deaths. “Officers believe that the blast on the train at Parsons Green, southwest London, was caused by an improvised explosive device and hundreds of detectives are now investigating with the assistance of MI5.” More west than southwest, I would say, since it’s north of the Themes and south of Earl’s Court.
  • Also, not one, but two jihad knife attacks in France today, fortunately with no fatalities. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Irma death toll is at 82, 39 of them in the United States, and 1.5 million homes remain without power.
  • “Houston councilman tells residents not to donate to Red Cross.”

    Houston City Councilman Dave Martin, who represents hard-hit Kingwood, had a message for the public about the American Red Cross.

    “I beg you not to send them a penny,” he said at Wednesday’s council meeting. “They are the most inept unorganized organization I’ve ever experienced.”

    In part of a broader rant that also roped in a perceived lack of assistance from his native New Orleans (“Send me your darn trucks, Mitch,” he said, a plea for the Big Easy’s mayor, Mitch Landrieu, to send waste trucks westward to haul off storm debris), Martin said local folks opened shelters and gathered water and supplies to help his northeastern suburb’s evacuees.

    “Don’t waste your money,” said Martin. “Give it to another cause.”

  • Woman downloads app during Harvey, and suddenly she’s doing rescue dispatch.
  • How many times must a gay Democratic mayor be accused of child sexual abuse before resigning? Judging by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, the answer is evidently “five.” Edited to add: Forgot to mention (as Dwight does in the comments below) that Murray was a member of Illegal Mayors Against Gun Owners.
  • Speaking of prominent Democratic office holders who are sex offenders, Anthony Weiner is arguing he doesn’t deserve to go to prison because it’s not his fault that those darn sexy 15-year-olds keep attracting his attention and taking advantage of his sickness. See Anthony, the thing is, when normal men receive a message like “High! I’m nubile jailbait!”, we ignore it because we’re: A.) Not perverts, and B.) Not complete morons. But only the dimmest, stupidest, sickest pervert would fall for that crap when he lives under a media microscope and after it’s already ruined his life.
  • The Awan family Democratic House member data breach gets murkier:

    On April 6, at midnight, in a small room once used as a phone booth on the second floor of the Rayburn House Office Building, a Capitol Hill Police Officer doing his security rounds discovered evidence that will possibly reveal one of the the biggest security breaches involving House Democrats by the Awan family, a group of entrusted IT staffers, according to court records, police reports and news reports.

    In the small room, the U.S. Capitol Police found a laptop computer registered to Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a Florida Democrat and former DNC chairwoman. Wasserman-Schultz had been fighting authorities for months to return the laptop, that she once claimed was not hers.

    What’s more concerning, say senior House officials who spoke to Circa, is that Imran Awan was also allegedly transferring files – including documents and emails – of House Democrats to a secret server connected to the less secure House Democratic Caucus. The organization was then chaired by Rep. Xavier Becerra, who left Congress in January after being sworn in as the Attorney General of California.

    The Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak was the first to break the story and last week Rosiak reported Wasserman Schultz’s IT staffer, now indicted Awan, is believed to have planted her laptop in the Rayburn office room, along with his Pakistani ID card, copies of his driver’s license and his congressional ID badge. Awan also left behind letters to the U.S. attorney.

    Awan apparently wanted the evidence discovered, according to a Capitol Hill police report on the matter.

    Officials are now asking the question of why the computer was left but the answers remain elusive.

    “There is no reason to accommodate all the members data on one server and one that was apparently hidden,” said the Senior House official. “Why didn’t Xavier Becerra know this because it happened on his watch? Each member had their own server to protect against this and Awan intentionally tried to hide what he had done from investigators.”

    Becerra’s office did not return phone calls for comment.

    The House official told Circa that Awan was also allegedly uploading “terabits of information to dropbox so he was possibly able to access the information even after he was banned from the network.” The official said there is a need for a full congressional investigation on the matter.

    “I think this may lead to information as to who really accessed the DNC server – everybody talks about Russia – but look at the access (Awan) had and potentially those emails could have been sold,” the House official added.

  • Speaking of data breaches, here’s Brian Krebs on how to protect yourself after the Equifax data breach. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • “The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that will provide $1.2 trillion to fund the government past Sept. 30, and will allocate $1.6 billion towards President Donald Trump’s border wall.” This is why I don’t freak out over all the reports of President Trump’s reported amnesty deal with Democrats. It’s not that I trust Trump, it’s that I have no interest in watching the magician make flourishes with his left hand. If such an amnesty actually approaches the voting stage, then I’ll worry. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Still, President Trump would do well to heed Kurt Schlicter’s advice and not let Chuck Schumer play him for a fool. “What we saw isn’t the art of the deal. This is the art of being suckered.”
  • An organizer for the #BlackLivesMatter rally where five Dallas police officers were killed has been arrested on felony theft charges. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Illegal alien arrested in murder involving a stolen police officer’s firearm was wearing an electronic monitor issued by United States immigration officials at the time.
  • “Outraged illegal aliens demand ICE announce their raids in advance.” Note: Not an Onion headline. (Hat tip: BigGator5’s Twitter feed.)
  • Obama Administration National Security Adviser Susan Rice admits that she unmasked Trump associates.
  • Even with President Donald Trump’s recent chumminess with Democratic congressional leaders, he’s less of an authoritarian threat than Hillary was. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Don Surber puts his finger on what’s ailing the Democratic Party:

    It comes down to one man.

    The leader of the party.

    Barack Obama.

    He was a terrible president.

    Also this:

    Calling us deplorable backfired too.

    Democrats are intellectually lazy. Decades of demonizing conservatives failed to win the last election. Name-calling won’t win votes. Racist, sexist, even Nazi, no longer have any meaning thanks to overuse.

    If Democrats want to win again, then they will have to sell their ideas, not their skin color, their sex, or any other superficiality.

    People want results, not tokens.

    (Hat tip: The Other McCain.

  • How Antifa are helping reelect Donald Trump.

    It should be apparent, but evidently is not to antifa members and leaders, that the United States, despite Donald Trump being president, is not in a comparable situation to that of Weimar Germany on the eve of Hitler’s ascension to power…Leftist violence in the 1930s in Germany led many to support the Nazis in the hope they would put an end to the continuing street brawls and violence. Today, the antifa left may even help to get Donald Trump reelected in 2020.

  • “And they wonder why people don’t vote for Democrats around here anymore.”
  • In a poll of possible Democratic candidates for 2020, Bernie Sanders has a commanding lead over— [At this point a lynch mob broke into the writer’s house to wreck terrible vengeance upon him for mentioning the 2020 presidential election more than three years out.]
  • Democrats declare war on vaping.
  • Camille Paglia says that transgender activists are committing child abuse by advocating “sex change” surgery for children.

    In sex-reassignment surgery, even today, with all of its advances, cannot, in fact, change anyone’s sex. You can define yourself as a trans man or a trans woman or one of these new gradations along the scale, but ultimately every single cell in the human body, the DNA in that cell remains coded for your biological birth.

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • “The Left Is Still Freaking Out About Betsy DeVos Because School Choice Is An Existential Threat.”
  • Don’t look now, but there’s a new war in the Congo.
  • “Brexit: EU repeal bill wins first Commons vote.”
  • When are experts right and when are they wrong? Scott Adams offers some guidelines.
  • Oberlin College: Hey! Let’s go full Social justice Warrior! Reality: Hey! Enjoy declining enrollment and financial problems.
  • Russian company develops anti-riot truck that’s like a moving battlement. Looks like it would be adept at crushing pro-democracy protestors and Antifa equally.
  • Jack Kerouac: “You stupid hippies should get the hell off my lawn!”
  • How it took four decades to restore Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil. Including a fascinating interview with Welles from 1958.
  • “Commuters express concern as Thomas the Tank Engine falls to the power of Chaos.”
  • My library was featured on the Ace of Spades Sunday book thread.
  • Israeli Strike On Syrian Chemical Weapons Facility Confirmed

    Thursday, September 7th, 2017

    Looks like we have confirmation of Israel’s strike on the Masyaf chemical weapons facility:

    The Syrian army says Israeli jets have attacked a site in the west of the country where Western powers suspect chemical weapons are being produced.

    An army statement says rockets fired from Lebanese airspace hit a military post near Masyaf, killing two soldiers.

    A monitoring group says they struck a scientific research centre and base storing surface-to-surface missiles.

    Israel, which has carried out clandestine attacks on weapons sites in Syria before, has not commented.

    The attack comes a day after UN human rights investigators said they had concluded a Syrian Air Force jet had dropped a bomb containing the nerve agent Sarin on a rebel-held town in April, killing at least 83 people.

    Funny how Israel is far more willing to enforce Obama’s chemical weapons “redline” in Syria than Obama ever was…

    Did Israel Just Bomb a Syrian Chemical Weapons Plant?

    Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

    Seeing assertions of an Israeli strike on a Syrian chemical weapons plant in Masyaf, Hama this from random people on Twitter:

    Not seeing any confirmation from news outlets yet.

    Developing…

    Update: Yes they did.

    Islamic State War Update: Deir ez-Zor Relieved, Raqqa Crumbling, Tal Afar Captured

    Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

    Before we turn our attention to North Korea, there’s still the war against the Islamic State to be won. And there’s lots of significant news there.

    First, Syrian government forces have just relieved the Islamic State’s three year siege of Deir ez-Zor (AKA Deir el-Zour):

    Syrian government forces and their allies reached the eastern city of Deir el-Zour on Tuesday, ending a nearly 3-year-old ISIS siege on government-held land near the Iraqi border, Syrian state TV reported.

    State TV said troops advancing from the west reached the outskirts of the city and broke the siege after ISIS defenses “collapsed.”

    Breaking the siege, which has been divided between an ISIS and a government-held part since January 2015, marks another victory for President Bashar Assad, whose forces have been advancing on several fronts against ISIS and other insurgent groups over the past year.

    Meanwhile, the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have taken the old city of Raqqa:

    U.S.-backed forces in Syria have captured the Old City of Raqqa, the latest milestone in their ongoing assault against the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State’s rapidly shrinking territories, according to a U.S. military statement on Monday.

    Kurdish and Arab fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces secured the neighborhood over the weekend after vanquishing a last pocket of resistance in the city’s historic Great Mosque, the statement said.

    The capture followed a grinding two-month battle for the neighborhood that has proved the toughest challenge yet of a three-month-old offensive for Raqqa, launched in June and still far from over.

    Unlike in Mosul, the Old City does not lie at the heart of Raqqa and its seizure does not signify an imminent end to the fighting, said a U.S. military spokesman, Col. Ryan Dillon.

    The SDF now controls about 60 percent of Raqqa, said Dillon, who would not put a timeline on how long it would take to claim the rest but predicted that weeks of fighting lie ahead.

    Here are some maps (captured from Syria.livemap.com) that paint a picture of how the battle unfolded over the last few months.

    June 9:

    July 12:

    August 13:

    August 25:

    September 5:

    For an idea of what it’s like in Raqqa right now, this piece, originally publishing in the Wall Street Journal over a week ago, provides a pretty vivid account:

    Before launching the battle to capture Islamic State’s de facto capital, the U.S.-led military coalition dropped leaflets calling on extremists to surrender. On the ground, militants were going door to door, demanding that residents pay their utility bills.

    Islamic State, long bent on expanding its religious empire with shocking brutality in the form of public executions, crucifixions and whippings, is desperately focused on its own survival.

    Raqqa has been a crucial part of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate. Until a few months ago, public squares were lined with decomposing bodies of those who had run afoul of Islamic State’s religious rules or bureaucracy.

    Instead of ruthlessly enforcing no-smoking decrees and dress codes, though, militants now are doing whatever they can to hold on to areas still controlled by the group—and revenue needed to help keep Islamic State afloat financially.

    They are so preoccupied that some women in Raqqa dare to uncover their faces in public. A few men defiantly smoke in the streets and shave their beards, current and former residents say.

    When the call to prayer sounds from mosques, some residents no longer bother to go. Islamic State used to force shops to close and people to pray.

    Women accused of violating Islamic State’s strict dress code were once whipped. In May, though, militants released two women unharmed after they were forced to buy new robes and all-covering face veils sold by Islamic State’s religious police for 10,000 Syrian pounds each, or a total of about $40, says Dalaal Muhammad, a sister and aunt of the women.

    Ms. Muhammad, 37 years old, says her sister had to beg a family member to borrow the $40 from friends.

    “They didn’t even have enough to buy bread,” she said at a camp for displaced Syrians, wearing sandals held together by twine. “They just wanted to get the money quickly because we were running out of time” to flee Raqqa.

    An estimated 25,000 civilians remain trapped in Raqqa under Islamic State control, according to the United Nations, and more than 230,000 people have fled Raqqa and its suburbs since early April. On Thursday, the U.N. called for a pause in the assault so civilians can escape.

    Fighters for the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is leading the assault to oust Islamic State from Raqqa, say on some days they have helped dozens of civilians reach safety. Other days, no one makes it out. Militants execute smugglers helping civilians flee and those accused of collaborating with the U.S.-led coalition.

    The Pentagon has estimated there are fewer than 2,500 Islamic State militants left in the city, down from about 4,500.

    Militants spent months girding for the long-anticipated assault before it began in June. They dug extensive tunnels beneath streets and homes, set up snipers’ nests and planted improvised explosive devices everywhere to stop people from fleeing.

    “They wanted us as human shields,” says Obaida Matraan, 33 years old, a taxi driver who escaped with his family one night just before the battle began. They carried a piece of white fabric to wave as they approached the SDF.

    Before the escape, he saw on public display the bodies of executed men with signs that said “smuggler” as “a warning to others,” recalls Mr. Matraan.

    In early 2014, Raqqa was the first city in Syria or Iraq to fall under Islamic State’s complete control. The group has lost about 60% of the territory it held in January 2015, including its former Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, according to analysts at IHS Markit Ltd.’s Conflict Monitor.

    Even as the self-declared caliphate crumbles, Islamic State has continued to claim responsibility for deadly terror attacks around the world, including in Spain last week, in a bid to project power.

    The SDF has encircled Raqqa and says it has seized more than half the area of the city. But militants are capable of striking behind the coalition’s front lines and are scrambling to hoard the little food and water left in areas they control. Much of Raqqa remains a battlefield.

    The ground advance by the SDF has been aided by coalition airstrikes. At least 465 civilians have likely been killed in those airstrikes since the battle began, independent monitoring group Airwars reported.

    The U.S.-led coalition said it investigates civilian casualties. Monthly reports released by the coalition show far lower estimates of civilian casualties.

    Syrian activist groups estimate that at least dozens more civilians were killed during the past week. Civilians still in Raqqa say the airstrikes seem indiscriminate and kill more civilians than militants, who hide out in tunnels.

    At the height of Islamic State’s control, life in Raqqa and elsewhere in the group’s territory was dictated by so many laws on everyday life that residents struggled to keep track of them.

    Banned items ranged from men’s skinny jeans (too Western and provocative) to canned mushrooms (made with preservatives) to bologna (because the group said it contained pork).

    Enforcement slackened as the Syrian Democratic Forces advanced toward Raqqa through the Syrian countryside and eventually surrounded the city, according to residents who fled recently.

    Checkpoints thinned out as Islamic State leaders and many militant fighters abandoned the city and headed to the eastern province of Deir Ezzour, residents said. The group still holds much territory in the oil-rich region and is expected to make its last stand there.

    People who have left Raqqa say militants suddenly seemed to care much more about money than morals. Islamic State’s revenue—from oil production and smuggling, taxation and confiscation, and kidnapping ransoms—is down 80% in the past two years, IHS Conflict Monitor estimates.

    For months, Islamic State ordered businesses and residents to use only the caliphate’s own currency of gold and silver coins, current and former residents said. The move forced people to trade in their U.S. dollars and Syrian pounds to Islamic State, which wanted those currencies as its territory shrinks.

    Mr. Matraan, the taxi driver, says Islamic State made him pay $30 for water, electricity and a landline telephone bill just weeks before his family fled.

    “They would go to people’s homes and demand payment,” said Mr. Matraan, who wore a San Jose Sharks cap under the searing sun at a camp for displaced Syrians in Ain Issa, a city north of Raqqa. “In the end, their main concern was money.”

    Abdulmajeed Omar, 27, says militants began fining those caught violating Islamic State’s smoking ban, rather than jailing or whipping them. Being caught with a pack of cigarettes brought a $25 fine. The fine for a carton of cigarettes was $150.

    “They didn’t bother with poor people,” says Mr. Omar, who fled Raqqa before the battle and returned with the Kurdish YPG militia to fight Islamic State.

    Before Ms. Muhammad fled the city, militants spent a month digging a tunnel underneath her home in the eastern neighborhood of al-Mashlab, she said. Like many of her neighbors, Ms. Muhammad was afraid to ask them what they were doing.

    Inside one house in al-Mashlab, which has since been captured by SDF forces, a tunnel opening cut through the living-room floor. The fighters filled the hole with broken furniture because they weren’t sure where the tunnel led.

    “We are suffering from snipers and tunnels,” said Dirghash, a Kurdish YPG commander on the city’s eastern front line who wouldn’t give his last name. “The tunnels are all in civilian homes, and we suddenly find [Islamic State militants] popping up behind us.”

    On the western side of Raqqa, a warning painted in silver on the metal shutters of a motorcycle shop simply read: “There are mines.”

    In captured neighborhoods, the walls already are covered with new graffiti by the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia that is the dominant group in the Syrian Defense Forces. Every conquering force that has swept through Raqqa since the Syrian conflict began more than six years ago has left its mark with cans of paint.

    The Islamic State has also reportedly been driven from Uqayribat, its last stronghold in Hama Governorate in central Syria. What little territory they still hold there is completely cut off from the rest of the Islamic State by Syrian government forces.

    Assuming both Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa both fall this month, the Islamic State is left with very little viable territory in Syria, mainly a populated strip along the Euphrates from Al Busayrah to Abu Kamal on the Iraqi border, which is some 63 miles or so.

    In Iraq, U.S.-supported forces also continue to make gains against the Islamic state, including the liberation of Tal Afar at the end of August. “The Iraqi forces killed over 2,000 Islamic State (IS) militants and more than 50 suicide bombers during a major offensive to free Tal Afar area in west of Mosul, officials said.” The operation is described as a “blitzkrieg” rather than the grinding urban warfare that characterized the Battle of Mosul.

    Finally, the anti-Islamic State coalition received a new commander today: Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commander of III Armored Corps stationed at Ft Hood, assumed command of coalition forces, relieving Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, who took over in August 2016. The timing suggests a regular duty/force rotation than any change in policy.

    To quote Funk: “ISIS is on the run.”

    “The War George W. Bush Had Won, Barack Obama Had Lost”

    Sunday, August 20th, 2017

    This video is an antidote to the widespread revisionism that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a debacle from beginning to end and that George W. Bush was responsible for the rise of the Islamic State. One can question the wisdom of many decisions involved in the conduct of the that war, but the fact is that The Surge had largely succeeded in pacifying Iraq and that the country was functioning quite well by the very lose standards of the Middle East before Barack Obama withdrew American troops, facilitating the rise of the Islamic State.

    (Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)

    LinkSwarm for August 18, 2017

    Friday, August 18th, 2017

    The House IT scandal, another UK Islamic rape ring, jihad terror attacks, Charlottesville, Google: Another packed week of news, all big stories that deserve more time than I have to fully untangle. I especially don’t want to get dragged into the endless Charlottesville debate/recrimination/squirrel! morass, since that’s exactly where the leftwing activists and the MSM (but I repeat myself) want us to focus our attention, rather than the economy or Islamic terrorism.

    Plus two Disney links, just because that’s the way the week shook out.

  • “Newcastle has joined a list of British cities where grooming gangs, made up of predominantly Pakistani Muslim men, systematically rape and abuse vulnerable, white girls. A nationwide pattern emerged after the first prosecutions in Rotherham, and then Rochdale, where a ‘culture of silence’ and political correctness led to inaction by authorities who feared being called ‘racist’.”
  • Barcelona jihad terror attacks kill 13.
  • But news reports go out of their way to avoid mentioning “Islam” or “Jihad.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • On the same subject:

  • Jihad stabbing attack in Finland? Obviously Finland needs stricter knife control…
  • “Imran Awan, a former IT aide for Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was indicted Thursday on four counts including bank fraud and making false statements.”
  • The Feds also indicted Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi. “In addition to lying on multiple mortgage disclosures, as an affidavit alleged at the time of Imran’s arrest, the indictment claims Hina lied by claiming medical hardship in order to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars from a retirement program.”
  • “Feds Accuse Former Texas Police Chief of Working with Mexican Cartel.”

    McALLEN, Texas — Federal authorities arrested a former chief and current police sergeant for his role in allegedly helping Mexico’s Gulf Cartel move cocaine and marijuana through his jurisdiction. The Texas cop claimed that he needed money to pay for his upcoming bid for county constable after a failed attempt for the Hidalgo County Sheriff position.

    Current Progreso Police Sergeant Geovani Hernandez went before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby who formally charged him with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine.

    The case against Hernandez began earlier this year when agents with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations received information from a confidential informant indicating that Sgt. Geovani Hernandez was working for the Gulf Cartel, court records obtained by Breitbart Texas revealed. According to the documents, Hernandez bragged to an informant that he was a friend of former Gulf Cartel leader Juan Manuel “El Toro” Loza Salina and was able to travel to Reynosa without heat. The Texas cop told the informant that he needed money for his upcoming race for Hidalgo County Constable.

    Hernandez, like the majority of candidates running for office in the Rio Grande Valley, is a Democrat. The person he lost to in the 2012 Democratic, Guadalupe “Lupe” Trevino, is in prison for money-laundering. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Participant at Charlottesville rally claims police actively pushed attendees into the arms of antifa to be attacked. Which would seem to be a misuse of police power even if the people being abused are white nationalist scumbag LARP Nazis.
  • Agreeing with the above version of events: Those well-known Nazi sympathizers, the ACLU:

    “I was there and brought concerns directly to the secretary of public safety and the head of the Virginia State Police about the way that the barricades in the park limiting access by the arriving demonstrators and the lack of any physical separation of the protesters and counter-protesters on the street were contributing to the potential of violence,” said Gastanaga. “They did not respond. In fact, law enforcement was standing passively by, seeming to be waiting for violence to take place, so that they would have grounds to declare an emergency, declare an ‘unlawful assembly’ and clear the area.”

  • “The ridiculous campaign by virtually every media outlet, every Democrat and far too many squishy Republicans to label Trump some kind of racist and Nazi sympathizer is beginning to have the stink of an orchestrated smear. The conflagration in Charlottesville is beginning to feel like a set-up, perhaps weeks or months in the planning.” Also this tidbit I’ve seen elsewhere: “The ‘founder’ of Unite The Right, Jason Kessler, was an activist with Occupy Wall Street and Obama supporter.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “Charlottesville Deputy Mayor’s Troubling Twitter Feed: ‘I Hate Seeing White People.'”
  • “As for Antifa, it’s a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were,” Noam Chomsky told the Washington Examiner. “It’s a major gift to the Right, including the militant Right, who are exuberant.” Noam Chomsky and I agreeing on something. And the moon became as blood… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “Why Was This ‘Crowd Hire’ Company Recruiting $25 An Hour ‘Political Activists’ In Charlotte Last Week?”
  • Scott Adams: “How To Know You’re In a Mass Hysteria Bubble”:

    A mass hysteria happens when the public gets a wrong idea about something that has strong emotional content and it triggers cognitive dissonance that is often supported by confirmation bias. In other words, people spontaneously hallucinate a whole new (and usually crazy-sounding) reality and believe they see plenty of evidence for it. The Salem Witch Trials are the best-known example of mass hysteria. The McMartin Pre-School case and the Tulip Bulb hysteria are others. The dotcom bubble probably qualifies.

    Snip.

    One sign of a good mass hysteria is that it sounds bonkers to anyone who is not experiencing it. Imagine your neighbor telling you he thinks the other neighbor is a witch. Or imagine someone saying the local daycare provider is a satanic temple in disguise. Or imagine someone telling you tulip bulbs are more valuable than gold. Crazy stuff.

    Compare that to the idea that our president is a Russian puppet. Or that the country accidentally elected a racist who thinks the KKK and Nazis are “fine people.” Crazy stuff.

  • German town of Bad Nenndorf discovers best way to defeat both Neo-Nazis and Antifa: Have a big party! (Hat tip: Will Shetterly.)
  • 7 Things You Need to Know About Antifa,” including the fact that 92% still live with their parents.
  • On this Althouse thread I joked that SJWs would soon start digging up the graves of Confederate soldiers to put their bones on trial for war crimes. Guess what?
  • Next up on the statue destruction spree: Well-known Confederate sympathizer Abraham Lincoln, whose statues have been the target of multiple incidents of vandalism.
  • The hard left is drawing up big plans for November 4. “It’s very likely nothing will come of this, that it’s just another left-wing wish-fulfillment pantomime of a type carried out by leftists every year – if not every six months – since the 60s.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Where this is all leading:

  • Google engineer James Damore explains why he was fired:

    I was fired by Google this past Monday for a document that I wrote and circulated internally raising questions about cultural taboos and how they cloud our thinking about gender diversity at the company and in the wider tech sector. I suggested that at least some of the male-female disparity in tech could be attributed to biological differences (and, yes, I said that bias against women was a factor too). Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai declared that portions of my statement violated the company’s code of conduct and “cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.”

    My 10-page document set out what I considered a reasoned, well-researched, good-faith argument, but as I wrote, the viewpoint I was putting forward is generally suppressed at Google because of the company’s “ideological echo chamber.” My firing neatly confirms that point.

  • “James Damore was just fired for being insufficiently Googly.”

    He rejected Google’s internal mythology, and worse, he did so with basic math, in a company where mathiness is supposed to be part of the culture.

    He also rejected a piece of the general mythology so firmly that what he said was actively misreported — so blatantly that one has to conclude the reporters either can’t read the hard parts of the memo, didn’t bother to read the memo, or somehow managed to see things that weren’t there. (That last is my guess, based on the examples of Trump Trance we’ve seen over the last six months.)

  • “I’m An Ex-Google Woman Tech Leader And I’m Sick Of Our Approach To Diversity!”

    In the copious hiring I did at Google, 97% of the people I hired were men. I wrote reams of appeals to the hiring committee to make cases for cross-functional candidates who would be great assets to Google, even though a (typically) male dominated software engineering interview crew did not find these candidates up to snuff. I had a 90+% success rate changing the hiring decision for these candidates. Almost every one of these hires made an amazing difference to the company. 98+% of these candidates were men.

    It’s not like I wasn’t trying to hire women. But I was working with a candidate pool composed of 90% men. Try software engineers with experience in sensors, wireless and hardware stacks before angrily correcting my stats there. There was no way I was going to come out of that with a larger percentage of women hires than I did.

  • Slashdot commenter nails them for their endless social justice warrioring:

    Yes, there are some unproductive people in major corporations and the media who wish to push their left-leaning political agendas on the public at large.

    But we want no part of it.

    And you know what? It’s no different here at Slashdot.

    We come here to learn about new technologies, about new scientific and mathematical discoveries, and to discuss computing.

    We don’t want to waste our days arguing about genitalia, sexual preference, racism, and transgenderism.

    We just want this bullshit to end.

    We want those on the political left to stop trying to divide society into small groups based on arbitrary traits.

    Or at the very least, we want everybody else to ignore the divisions that the political left are trying to create.

  • Is a war between China and India brewing in the Himalayas? That would seem to be a bigger story than some century-old statues. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Liberals: “There should be fewer regulations on cool things I like!” Everyone else: “What about regulations on things other people like?” Liberals: “Fuck them!
  • Madness is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
  • “Jury orders blogger to pay $8.4 million to ex-Army colonel she accused of rape.”
  • College girl gets her picture taken with the Vice President. Lunatics freak out.
  • If any Republican wrote that Adolf Hitler was “had in him the stuff of which legends are made,” the way John F. Kennedy wrote in his diary in 1945, his career would be over.
  • Ted Nugent believes he would be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if he weren’t such an outspoken supporter of gun rights. He’s probably right: How do you think is a bigger “Rock and Roll Legend”: Ted Nugent, or ABBA?
  • In case you’re wondering how big a joke that Southern Poverty Law Center “hate list” is, Bosch Fawstin, a critic of Islam who drew Mohammed and was targeted for assassination in Garland, is evidently a “hate group” all on his own:

  • “He tried to kill them with a forklift!” Alice in Wonderland, that is. Who is a man. And then it gets weird…
  • The rise and fall of Disney’s River Country, a small water park near Disney World in Orlando that’s been closed and allowed to decay for 15 years.
  • 10 Disney Princesses Re-imagined as Electoral Maps.”
  • Battle of Raqqa Grinds On

    Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

    News from the Battle of Raqqa is hard to come by.

    U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have reportedly linked up to completely surround Islamic State forces. The Islamic State had already been surrounded on land, but their access to a small stretch of the Euphrates allowed some passage of fighters and supplies. That’s now gone.

    Here’s another Livemap screen cap:

    Compare that with this screen cap a month ago:

    It’s obvious that the SDF have taken more of south and southwestern Raqqa.

    Meanwhile, the Islamic State itself is making claims of a successful counter-offensive…that seemed to consist of four car bombs.

    Here’s an interview that suggests that conditions for remaining residents of Islamic State-held Raqqa are desperate, which is exactly what you would expect of modern urban warfare in a besieged city.

    The battle is an urban street fight where IS relies on snipers and traps [IEDs]. From what I’ve been able to gather, Islamic State numbers do not exceed 400 fighters.

    The SDF is slowly advancing with air support from the coalition.

    It’s clear that IS has no intention of giving up easily.

    That 400 fighters would be encouraging, if true, but it’s probably too low. Yesterday’s fighting reportedly killed 95 Islamic State fighters, which would suggest they’re quickly running out of fighters, but given the lack of a sudden collapse in Islamic State resistance, this seems unlikely.

    Indeed, Syrian Kurdish commander Haval Gabar says that the capture of Raqqa could take up to four months:

    “We’ve cleared about half of Old Raqqa … and we’re advancing on all axes,” said Haval Gabar, the 25-year-old commander from the Kurdish YPG militia who is directing the assault on the Old City front in Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold.

    Units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance dominated by the YPG, fully linked up in Raqqa’s southern districts on Tuesday, encircling the militants in the city center which includes the Old City.

    “The day before yesterday there was still a small gap,” Gabar said on Wednesday. “Yesterday it was closed. We are now pressing towards Mansour and Rashid districts.”

    If you wonder why those northern battle lines seem static, it’s evidently because they’re heavily mined.

    Gabar said that despite resistance, several hundred militants had surrendered themselves, and estimates not more than 1,000 are left. He believes their morale “is zero”.

    “Maybe 600 Daesh have surrendered. It’s mostly foreign fighters left in the city now. Those with families tend to be the ones to hand themselves over.”

    Gabar said that Chechen snipers were especially deadly.

    Supposedly even the Russians are helping out:

    After a sweeping Syrian military advance to the edge of the besieged Isis “capital” of Raqqa, the Russians, the Syrian army and Kurds of the YPG militia – theoretically allied to the US – have set up a secret “coordination” centre in the desert of eastern Syria to prevent “mistakes” between the Russian-backed and American-supported forces now facing each other across the Euphrates river.

    That piece is by Robert Fisk, who says he thinks the Syrian army will be heading toward Deir ez-Zor, where Syrian army units have been besieged by the Islamic State since 2014. But keep in mind this is the man for whom the word “Fisking” was coined, so add as many grains of salt as you see fit…