“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The rapid increase in sting operations under the Obama administration is directly attributable to some 2008 amendments to the FBI's guidelines, which authorized the use of informants without requiring any factual predicate of wrongdoing. The FBI has also used these dubious tactics against aged anti-government militiamen and misfit anarchists, so it there's more than Muslims in the crosshairs: Without reforming the FBI guidelines, anyone holding unorthodox views or challenging government policies could be similarly targeted.

Manufacturing Terrorists 
Inside the FBI's terror sting operations.
Michael German | January 15, 2013  REASON

Imagine a country in which the government pays convicted con artists and criminals to scour minority religious communities for disgruntled, financially desperate, or mentally ill patsies who can be talked into joining fake terror plots, even if only for money. Imagine that the country's government then busts its patsies with great fanfare to justify ever-increasing authority and ever-increasing funding. According to journalist Trevor Aaronson's The Terror Factory, this isn't the premise for a Kafka novel; it's reality in the post-9/11 United States.
The Terror Factory is a well-researched and fast-paced exposé of the dubious tactics the FBI has used in targeting Muslim Americans with sting operations since 2001. The book updates and expands upon Aaronson's award-winning 2011 Mother Jones cover story, "The Informants." Most readers have likely heard about several alleged conspiracies to attack skyscrapers, synagogues, or subway stations, involving either individuals that the FBI calls "lone wolves" or small cells a credulous press tagged with such sinister appellations as the "Newburgh 4" or the "Liberty City 7." Many of these frightening plots were almost entirely concocted and engineered by the FBI itself, using corrupt agents provocateurs who often posed a far more serious criminal threat than the dim-witted saps the investigations targeted.
Drawing on court records and on interviews with the defendants, their lawyers, their families, and the FBI officials and prosecutors who oversaw the investigations, Aaronson portrays an agency that has adopted an "any means necessary" approach to its terrorism prevention efforts, regardless of whether there are real terrorists being caught. To the FBI, this imperative justifies recruiting informants with extensive criminal records, including convictions for fraud, violent crimes, and even child molestation, that in an earlier era would have disqualified them except in the most extraordinary circumstances.

In addition to providing leniency, if not forgiveness, for heinous crimes, the FBI pays these informants tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, creating a perverse incentive for them to ensnare dupes into terror plots. Aaronson quotes an FBI official defending this practice: "To catch the devil you have to go to hell."
Such an analysis might make sense when police leverage one criminal to gain information about more serious criminal conspiracies—in other words, to catch a real "devil." But Aaronson's research reveals that the targets in most of these sting operations clearly pose little real threat. They may have a history of angry anti-government rhetoric, but they take no steps toward terrorist acts until they receive encouragement and resources from government agents.
Aaronson takes pains to avoid portraying those caught in the stings as completely innocent of malice. But he demonstrates that they almost universally lack violent criminal histories or connections to real terrorist groups. Most importantly, while they may have talked about committing violent acts, they rarely had weapons of their own and lacked the financial means to acquire them. Yet the government provides them with military hardware that would cost thousands of dollars and would be extremely difficult for even sophisticated criminal organizations to obtain, only to bust them in a staged finale.
This aspect of Aaronson's narrative is most troubling to me, as a former FBI agent who worked undercover in domestic terrorism investigations before 9/11. My concern is partly that the artificially inflated scope of the threat in these cases appears to be specifically designed to overwhelm judges, jurors, and the general public, who might otherwise view these methods as illegal entrapment. Indeed, the judge in a case in which an informant offered a seemingly reluctant James Cromitie $250,000 to participate in his plot, severely criticized the investigation, stating: "Only the government could have made a terrorist out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in scope." Yet she let the jury's conviction stand and sentenced Cromitie to 25 years in prison. Of 150 defendants charged in these schemes, Aaronson documents only two acquittals. The majority plead guilty to mitigate draconian penalties. Law enforcement has no business staging theatrical productions that intentionally exaggerate the seriousness of a defendant's criminal conduct.
More unsettling is the flawed reasoning that drives the use of these methods. FBI agents have been inundated with bigoted training materials that falsely portray Arabs and Muslims as inherently violent. The FBI has also embraced an unfounded theory of "radicalization" that alleges a direct progression from adopting certain beliefs, or expressing opposition to U.S. policies, to becoming a terrorist. With such a skewed and biased view of the American Muslim community, the FBI's strategy of "preemption, prevention, and disruption" results in abusive surveillance, targeting, and exploitation of innocent people simply for exercising their First Amendment rights.
One area where Aaronson is off the mark, however, is in failing to recognize these tactics are neither new to the FBI nor exclusively used against Muslims. The FBI's earliest documented use of agents provocateurs was revealed during congressional investigations of labor "radicals," pacifists, and socialists in 1918. And the Church Committee's investigation of the FBI's COINTELPRO investigations revealed covert operations that targeted groups for First Amendment–protected activities from the 1950s through the 1970s.
In both cases, reform of these practices was implemented by restricting FBI intelligence activities and requiring a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before initiating investigations. Conversely, the rapid increase in sting operations under the Obama administration is directly attributable to some 2008 amendments to the FBI's guidelines, which authorized the use of informants without requiring any factual predicate of wrongdoing.
The FBI has also used these dubious tactics against aged anti-government militiamen and misfit anarchists, so it there's more than Muslims in the crosshairs: Without reforming the FBI guidelines, anyone holding unorthodox views or challenging government policies could be similarly targeted.

Michael German is a former FBI agent who currently works for the American Civil Liberties Union. These opinions are his own.


  1. Think we should also continue the discussion in the previous thread reinvigorated w/Quirk's (non Dick related) contribution near the end.

  2. A New York Times report indicates that “top intelligence officials in the New York Police Department” met Thursday to discuss how to use the Internet to “identify potential ‘deranged’ gunmen before they strike.”

    NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stated, “The techniques would include cyber-searches of language that mass-casualty shooters have used in e-mails and Internet postings…The goal would be to identify the shooter in cyberspace, engage him there and intervene, possibly using an undercover to get close, and take him into custody or otherwise disrupt his plans.”

    To anyone familiar with how the NYPD has targeted potential terrorists, it is clear what Kelly and others are considering is developed entrapment schemes or—as the NYPD would probably call them—”sting operations” for catching individuals, who might be responsible for mass shootings.

  3. Looks like the police will be writing the scripts, supplying the materials, setting up the homeless and mentally ill, then knocking them down like bowling pins. More American theater of cowardice in the name of public safety.

  4. Steve Emerson and you have pointed out here the many instances in which truths about Islamists in this country have been purged from Government Records.

    We're getting screwed from every direction.

  5. This is going into overdrive based on the Sandy Hook massacre. There is never a good end to this type of governmental excess.

    Quirk made a comment about Panetta, scrambling to twist existing law to get us on the fast track into Mali. He made a further point:

    Look at the social issues listed and responsible for 60% of the difference in life expectancy for men. Look at the pathologies for teenage girls.

    The health-care system can’t cure these ills, which are social problems with health consequences.

    IMO, our society is suffering more and more from the moral relativism that is growing in this country. And the answer? Forget about the pathologies, just attack the symptoms, more gun control, more contraceptives, more food stamps.

  6. It is all about a government, under Obama, out of control, creating its own demand for whatever interests him at the moment, abetted by lobbyists and interest groups, cheered on by the media. It is about as bad as it ever has been. It is getting worse and the only thing between us and the continuing onslaught is the GOP musket brigade. Good luck.

  7. (Reuters) - During the past two years as his frustration with a "dysfunctional" Congress has grown, President Barack Obama has resorted to bypassing the legislative branch as he did on Wednesday to implement tighter gun control laws.

    "Where they won't act, I will," he said in October 2011 as part of a "We Can't Wait" campaign he launched 10 months after Republicans took over the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Since then, the president has turned to executive orders, policy directives, waivers, signing statements and other administrative steps to bypass Congress and act on contentious issues, including immigration, welfare, education reform and now gun violence.

    Acting in response to the shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, Obama announced 23 executive actions Wednesday designed to ensure guns don't get into the wrong hands. He also called on Congress to ban the sale of assault rifles, limit the size of ammunition clips and require background checks for all gun sales.

    "Increasingly, what we're seeing is a lot of the policy-making apparatus of the federal government shifting to the executive branch," said William Howell, a University of Chicago expert on presidential powers.

    Gun rights groups have accused Obama of an unconstitutional power grab.

    "It's definitely not appropriate for the president to act unilaterally," said Erich Pratt, director of communications for the Gun Owners of America.

    1. .

      To be honest, most of those 23 EO's probably fell well within the purview of the executive.

      However, there are plenty more instances to cite.


  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Oh yea, say you and what are you going to do about it? We created this god, like we created every other. This one has steel teeth, unparalleled power, unbridled ambition, an ego that can be matched by no metaphor and four more years. Obama is the master.

  10. Obama is not going to be diverted by a blow job in the Oval Office.

  11. Sorry, I had a misspell, and deleted this:

    "how to use the Internet to “identify potential ‘deranged’ gunmen before they strike.”"

    The NRA got Obamacare to include limits on what Doctors could ask patients.

    Now Obama acts like the opposite is true, and says Doctors are responible for reporting potential Perps to the Government.

    Clinton Started this in the 90's.
    Crises after crises have been exploited to get us here.

    Like Global Warming became Climate Change, Gun Control became all about keeping our Kids Safe.

    ...but Big Sis is off-message, still calling it what it is: GUN CONTROL!

  12. Administration Took Accidental Path to Setting Record for Leak Cases

    Asked about leaks during a news conference on June 8, President Obama said, “The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive.”

    WASHINGTON — Under fire from Republicans who claim that the White House has leaked classified information to make him look tough, President Obama has pointed to his administration’s unmatched record in prosecuting leaks.

    The statistics are certainly on his side: six leak-related prosecutions in Mr. Obama’s first term, compared with three under all previous presidents combined. It is a record that has heartened security hawks while drawing criticism from advocates for whistle-blowing. But a closer look reveals a surprising conclusion: the crackdown has nothing to do with any directive from the president, even though he is now promoting his record as a political asset.

    Instead, it was unplanned, resulting from several leftover investigations from the Bush administration, a proliferation of e-mail and computer audit trails that increasingly can pinpoint reporters’ sources, bipartisan support in Congress for a tougher approach, and a push by the director of national intelligence in 2009 that sharpened the system for tracking disclosures.

    Even Mr. Obama’s attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., whose Justice Department has pursued five of the six cases, was surprised by news reports pointing out that the number of cases was unprecedented, colleagues said. He has told associates that he has no desire for leak prosecutions to be his legacy.

    “When we took office in January 2009, I don’t think bringing a lot of leak cases was high on anyone’s agenda,” said Matthew Miller, who was director of public affairs at the Justice Department until July. “But then they came up one by one, and without anyone realizing it, we had set a record.”

    This month Mr. Holder directed two United States attorneys to take charge of investigating the latest disclosures, on drone strikes, cyberwar and a foiled airliner plot by Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen. If the inquiries result in still more prosecutions, they will underscore a turn toward a more adversarial stance by the government on news gathering — but one that did not result from a clear policy decision, according to White House and Justice Department officials.

    Like most presidents, Mr. Obama has been infuriated by some leaks, but aides say he never ordered investigations. Current and former officials said Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder, who are social friends, have avoided discussing investigations and prosecutions to avoid any appearance of improper White House influence, a charge Democrats lodged against the Bush administration.


    He also has a Bridge for sale in Brooklyn.

  13. All Obama needs is a good speech

    Four years ago, when Barack Obama delivered an inaugural address in the middle of the country’s worst recession in seven decades, more than 1 million supporters braved frigid weather to hear his first words as president.
    Now, as he prepares to formally take office for a new term, he faces an equally challenging task the second time around.
    With Washington almost paralyzed by partisan gridlock and Republicans threatening a government shutdown, Obama must reassure Americans he can lead the way forward after a bitter campaign and debate over the nation’s finances. For a president who’s been criticized for delegating negotiations to his vice president and staying above the fray, it will be a high hurdle.
    “He needs to have a speech that after all of that basically says, ‘Let’s all pull together’,” said Clark Judge, who was a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan. “This is a time to rise above partisanship.

    Obama rising above partisanship? Spoken in the best useful idiotic idium ever.

  14. Dr. Drew Podcast # 2

    Scroll down for download link.

    Drew and an ex-IV drug addict discuss Idol Worship, Envy, Greed, Agression, Schadenfreud, Celebrity Rehab, and Reality TV. (starting with a question at about 20 minutes in)

    BHO Keeps us continually in Crisis, which as Rahm says, should always be exploited.

    Chicago and DC have Gun Control. that why homicides are so rare there?

    BHO is the ultimate exploiter of celebrity, envy, schadenfreud, class warfare, idol worship, and alternate reality.

    ie: Alinsky in Action.

  15. Comedy, we need comedy -

    Chaplin as Adenoid Hynkel

    We need to mock the beast.

  16. "It's definitely not appropriate for the president to act unilaterally," said Erich Pratt, director of communications for the Gun Owners of America.

    from above

    That strong statement really is dispiriting.

    not appropriate

    The Gun Owners of America need a new director of communications, aka mouthpiece, aka flapping gums.

    1. Our All American Judge Andrew Napolitano would do.

      How big a Gun does Anyone Need?

      "whatever it takes"

      The third principle is the one that worries us: resistance must be able to be effective in order to be... effective. The fact that the founders did not know about AK-47s is irrelevant. In the context of the Second Amendment, "whatever it takes" is the correct answer to the "how much" question. As Judge Andrew Napolitano expressed it,

      ((((The historical reality of the Second Amendment's protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, thus, with the same instruments they would use upon us.))))

  17. Sam -

    Dante and Beatrice gaze at the Light - Gustave Dore

  18. Good clip by Judge Andrew Napolitano. Wouldn't he be a good choice for the Supreme Court? Perhaps only in the crazy universe of a Sarah Palin Presidency though.

  19. Nothing new. This agent provocatuer business is old hat to the Feds.

    Hoover used them extensively. Targeting the Black Panthers, SDS and DeLorean, to name a few.

    As for the President taking charge... the term Imperial Presidency goes back to Nixon.

    To blame Obama,for expanding the sscope of the office, revisionist

  20. You see a symptom, and think it's causation. Mainly because it fits your distaste for Obama aat a personal level.

    Removing Obama would not change the nature of the leviathan

    1. Couldn't hurt any, though. Modest improvement maybe.

  21. Other Xtreme Eating winners for 2013 include:

    - Johnny Rockets' Bacon Cheddar Double Hamburger with 1,770 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat and 2,380 milligrams of sodium. For comparison, three Quarter Pounders with Cheese from McDonald's have 1,570 calories.

    Eat and Die List


  22. Bereitschaftspotential

    Neuroscientists first became aware that something curious was going on in the brain back in the mid 1960s.

    German scientists Hans Helmut Kornhuber and Lüder Deecke discovered a phenomenon they dubbed "bereitschaftspotential" (BP) — a term that translates to "readiness potential." Their discovery, that the brain enters into a special state immediately prior to conscious awareness, set off an entirely new subfield.

    Scientific evidence that you probably do not have free will

    After asking their subjects to move their fingers (what were self-initiated movements), Kornhuber and Deecke's electroencephalogram (EEG) scans showed a slow negative potential shift in the activity of the motor cortex just slightly prior to the voluntary movement. They had no choice but to conclude that the unconscious mind was initiating a freely voluntary act — a wholly unexpected and counterintuitive observation.


    Why, for example, did humans evolve consciousness instead of zombie-brains if consciousness is not a channel for exerting free will? And given the nature of quantum indeterminacy, what does it mean to live in a universe of fuzzy probability?

    Perhaps a higher self is calling the shots.

  23. Yeah, Obama's a true patriot, through and through.
    We all would be, given his background and co-conspirators in Chicago.

    You're full of Ratshit, 'Rat.

    1. That is really what I was saying, just trying to be uber polite about it, given the recent disturbances.

    2. Yeah, I let myself get a little out of control, there.
      Back in to Fecal Territory.
      Quirk will be disappointed,
      ...but hey, I'm just another Dick.

    3. Nixon had the book Imperial Presidency written about him.

      Q is correct, they're all dicks.
      Two sides of the same coin.

      Obama just following the trend
      65% of the votes that count want him to follow through.

      Your Alternativ, a sorry excuse for a candidate, couldn't beat him.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. .

      I'm struggling to be as tactful as possible, Doug, something I am not used to.

      First, while I won't argue with you self-description, I will point out that all I have done in the past was to indicate that your idea of humor isn't aways my idea of humor. I take no personal umbrage at whatever you say. But at times, I merely ignore it.

      There's nothing personal involved from my side.

      If you want to make it personal, well...what can I say.


  24. Drudge Links to this Great Pageful of Political Posters

    Kim Il-sung seemed to have a preference for the cute little girls.
    Maybe that contributed to son's porno addiction?

    Other Tyrants Who Have Used Children As Props

    Obama’s shameless exploitation of children as set pieces is hardly new or original. In fact, tyrants and dictators have used kids as props down through the ages.

    Here are a few more recent examples:

    The Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin

    1. Giving the saying of Jesus 'suffer the little children to come unto me' a whole new meaning.


    2. Anonymous says: January 17, 2013 at 4:15 am

      Don’t’ forget about Jesus! “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” What a tyrant!


      squirrelprince says:

      January 17, 2013 at 4:06 am

      Who was that guy again ? Barry Davis ? Barry Dunham ? or was it Barry Soetoro ? Ohhh yeah….it was Barack Hussein Obama !!!

      (Pronounced like Gollum saying Myeeee Precious !!)

  25. My feelings about Obama are all personal and emotion-based.

    Nothing factual or analytical.

    Heil Obama!

  26. Tripping out in Syria? -

    Syria Dropped Hallucinogen Weapon on Rebels, Secret Cable Says

    By Noah Shachtman
    6:58 PM

    Agent 15?

  27. ObamaCare Survival Guide now available on line or in bookstores near you.

    Study up, extend your life.

  28. TippyCanoe and Timbuktu

    In February 2011, when the Arab Spring came to Libya, Qaddafi deployed these Tuareg units, first against unarmed protestors and then against the subsequent armed uprising. As his regime disintegrated, thousands of Tuareg, fearful of a backlash, began returning to northern Mali and Niger, putting immense pressure on already impoverished communities. As they left, many Tuareg fighters were able to smuggle weapons out of Libya’s well-stocked armories….

    When I saw him in 2011, Hamdoon said he was very worried about what was coming. We met in a hotel just outside Timbuktu’s city limits. Almost no foreigners dared come to the north these days, and its French owner had abandoned the hotel. We sat on chaise lounges next to an empty swimming pool. “You will see, the war is coming to Mali next,” he said gravely.

    Hamdoon was right. Obama’s election was a portent of something. It simply wasn’t what he expected.

    Last month, on Election Day in the U.S., I called Issaka, who himself had relocated to Bamako. He described how the capital, swollen with refugees from the north, remains tense with uncertainty and rife with rumors.

    I reminded him of how Obama’s election had stirred jubilance among Timbuktu residents four years before. He laughed. “That was a long time ago.” But then in a wistful voice added, “We need Obama now more than ever.”

    The question is: why should they need Obama more than ever? So he can pull another Libya? So he can work some more of his magic? Hamdoon and Issaka need to get touch with Alan Dershowitz, Ed Koch and Noam Chomsky to form a club.

    While these individuals may be worlds apart they have a mindset in common: the belief that someone is going to “fix it”.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. When I saw him in 2011, Hamdoon said he was very worried about what was coming. We met in a hotel just outside Timbuktu’s city limits. Almost no foreigners dared come to the north these days, and its French owner had abandoned the hotel. We sat on chaise lounges next to an empty swimming pool. “You will see, the war is coming to Mali next,” he said gravely.

      And in the deep of the mad and thoughtful night, Quirk eased his car into traffic, heading to Detroit International Airport, emergency loan money from Bob in wallet, gifts of Bourbon and candy in backpack, in his suit pockets a passport, marked Timbuktu, and pistols.....I must fix this, he had thought, nearly unconsciously, to himself.....the call to adventure received and answered.....

    2. Hamdoon, a look of despair and panic in his face, had just handed me the latest wire.

      "O my God, no" I said to Hamdoon, sitting next to me on the chaise lounges. We had drinks in hand, from Hamdoon's private stock.

      "O God, no, he told me he had to go to Vegas" I muttered.

    3. .

      I'm not fooling myself, this isn't going to be easy.


    4. Hamdoon, taking another deep pull on his drink, handed me a second wire.

      "I can't bear to look", I said. "Break it to me easy."

      "You won't believe this", Hamdoon replied. "You simply won't believe this - he says 'don't fool yourselves, boys, this isn't going to be easy'."

      "My God, my God, he didn't really say that."

      "Oh, but he did", and Hamdoon continued, "And he adds 'I have a plan'."

      Silenced, stunned, we both looked across the vacant pool, and across the vacant waste, to the mountains beyond.

      We both knew now, with final certainty, that this wasn't going to be easy.

    5. .

      11:20 am

      I look out on overcast skies as we head north and west out of DTE. Chuck, my service dog, fidgets beside me, sensing the tension I feel. It's been a long time since I've played this game.

      The stewardess, a cute blond in tight pants named Tim, brings me another mimosa. I rapidly chug half of it before telling Tim thanks. He offers a winsome smile and asks if I would like a neck massage. Chuck growls softly as I decline the offer.

      The mimosa seems to be helping. Next stop, Tokyo.


    6. "The fool reports he is flying west over the International Date Line now, and will be in Algeria yesterday" Hamdoon laughed. "Says he is stopping in Tokyo tonight. He is drinking mimosa."

      "At least he is not into the whiskey yet" I replied. "Perhaps there is at least hope for some of that."

      Hamdoon, who is tall as are all Dutchmen, stretched out on his cot and began to sleep. He is excellent at foreign policy, I thought, knows Arabic well, and is wonderful with undercover tactics. His father had fought in the resistance against jerry the final time around, and a remote ancestor had fought four straight days at The Four Days' Sea Battle during the Second Anglo–Dutch War, from 1 June to 4 June 1666.

      Slightly reassured at these thoughts, I too fell asleep to the sound of the cool desert breeze through the palm trees nearby, which had grown strong and tall over the years from the leakage from the pool, trying to steel myself for the coming arrival.

    7. .

      11:03 am (Tokyo time)

      The noise of the landing gear wakes me as we make our descent into Narita. I wipe the dried spittle from my cheek and raise the seat back. Chuck is stretched out beside me, snoring louding. As I look around, the other first class passengers are looking at us with thinly veiled contempt. Instinctively, my right hand moves to my hip. Then I remember the pistols provided by Bob were merely to get me from the suburbs though the worst parts of Detroit and safely to Metro Airport. I had wiped down the guns and dumped them into a trash receptacle outside the airport.

      As my head started to clear, my thinking became clearer, "Get ahold of yourself, Q. You're losing it."

      I shook Chuck awake and ordered mimosas for both of us.

      Tim seemed decidedly less friendly this morning.


    8. .

      We have a 2 hour layover before our Cathay Pacific flight to Bangkok.

      After the obligatory pat down and frisk by customs (wasn't too bad this time and Chuck seemed to REALLY enjoy it) we visited the duty free shops at Narita. I picked up a box of chopsticks. I learned long ago that you don't use the ones they give you in restaurants. Also, picked up a fedora and some sunglasses for Chuck.

      We then went to the Delta SkyClub to wait for our next flight. We both washed up and then settled in and tried to relax.

      I ordered some congee while Chuck went for the sushi with burdock and egg sheet. Chuck had a Sapporo while I had Asahi, both on tap and in those wonderful frosted beer glasses.

      The time seemed to fly by and we were soon headed for our Cathay Pacific flight.


    9. .

      7:00 pm (Bangkok time)

      Things have take a turn for the worse. IMO Cathay Pacific is the best airline in the world. However, it seems that the rules on service dogs vary by country and by airline. Chuck is now resting uncomfortably in coach.

      Fortunately, our flight is ahead of schedule and I will have time to walk him before the car arrives to pick us up. I am getting my walking shoes on now.


    10. I woke up in a cold sweat, hip aching, and reached instinctively to rub it. Hamdoon was sound asleep now, dreaming of strategies. I longed to wake him and ask for reassurances. Would we be all right? Would we make it? He might be here even tomorrow. He had mentioned Algeria. Why Algeria, I wondered. Why? Could he be planning some unauthorized warm up action? Some pre-game fancy stuff. He had done this before, I recalled, showboating in Egypt, and Mecca too. He had my money, and my bourbon. What could go wrong? Fitfully, I feel back, exhausted, and slept.

    11. .

      The pilot announced it was 33 C and partly cloudy as we rise to de-plane at Suvarnabhumi, the Airport of Smiles. Luckily, its January and the "Cool' season in Thailand is just beginning.

      Once we enter the terminal, I spot our driver holding a sign with 'Quirk' written on it although he was holding it upside down and it actually read 'kriuQ' which I beleive is also the name of an ancient Buddhist monestary near Phuket.

      I approached him, nodded and said Sa wat dee. He bowed slightly and repeated the greeting. We then proceeded to baggage pick-up and from there to the car. At this point, Chuck, who was still in a snit over being consigned to coach, refused to enter the car and instead flagged down a tuk-tuk and said he would meet me later.

      Knowing there was no use arguing, I got in the Mercedes and proceeded to the Naughty Lady.


    12. .

      The Naughty Lady is a seedy dive in the Nana Plaza redlight district. It is run by the big man, Uncle Frank. Ex-CIA, Frank ran agents and operations out of Long Tieng, the key base in MR2 in Laos during the Vietnam war. After the war, he drifted down to Udong and then on to Bangkok. He bought a bar in Nana just about the time T.G. "Cowboy" Edwards opened his bar in the Soi Cowboy district in '77.

      Uncle Frank made is money from selling cheap hooch and the percentage he made on the dancers' 'bar fines', as well as, other less legitimate interprises.

      The entrance to the Naughty Lady bore a sign with the obligatory:

      UNDER 20 YEARS


    13. .

      Entering the 'Naughty Lady' was disorientating, moving from the light into the steamy darkness, the pounding music, and the wall to wall people. American and European tourists there on sex tours along with trekkers and other hippy types sat there drinking with the bar girls, and in some cases the kathoey 'ladyboys'.

      My eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness and before long I spotted Uncle Frank at a table at the back of the bar. He was flanked by Big Tony on his left and Colonel Mong on his right. Mong was wearing the same dark sunglasses he was wearing the last time I had seen him.

      Tony was an ex-Raven pilot and flew Cessna O-2 spotter planes out of Long Tieng during the war. He ended up in Bangkok shortly after Frank had purchased the Naughty Lady. Mong was a ROK Marine colonel who faught in Vietnam during the war. Neither Mong nor Uncle Frank ever gave any details on how they had met.

      I walked up to their table and was surprised that I was immediately recognized. It had been many years since I had seen any of the three. Also, so as to look like an American on one of the ubiquitous 'sex tours', I was wearing tight slacks and the outline of the stuffed sock I had attached to my money belt showed through prominately against my left thigh. I also had not shaved for two days and I had attached a Cathay Pacific pillow to my waist underneath the long, Hawaiin print shirt that I wore in order to complete the disguise.

      Uncle Frank smiled and said, "Hello, Johnny. You've put on a little weight. Sit down. What brings you here?"

      I had tried to explain on numerous occasions that my name wasn't Johnny but it just never seemed to get through to Frank so I said, "Good to see you Uncle Frank." I nodded to the other two as I sat down. "Tony. Mong." Tony shook my hand. Colonel Mong said nothing but merely stared at me from behind dark glasses.

      "I need help Uncle Frank. Got some people that are in a mess and that are likely getting a little nervous right about now. I need some new paperwork. Also, I will need new vaccination certificates for my service dog. And I need them quick."

      Uncle Frank hesitated for a second before responding, "I can get you the passports, credit cards, AARP membership card, and whatever other papers you need; but the dogs vaccination may take a while. I I assume you want the best quality."

      "That's right, Uncle Frank. Do the best you can. Lives may depend on it. Here is the list of what I need."


    14. When I awoke again in the morning, there was a note from Hamdoon. It said " Q on side trip.... Gambling in Macau....something about entering a naughty lady. I am going to town for provisions. Be back tomorrow, H".

      Reading this, I decided to go to a casino too for the local Special Events Night.

    15. .

      Uncle Frank proved he still had it. He called us at the Padong Hilton and told us he would have everything we needed before our scheduled flight out the next day. We stopped by the Naughty Lady and picked up the papers on our way to the airport. I had three sets of papers; passports in various names and nationalities, credit cards, gym memberships, the whole ball of wax. Chuck had three sets of phony vaccination and registration certificates; one in the name of Henrik, a Norwegian Elkhound, one for Ching, a Chinese Char-Pei; and one for Emile, a French poodle. We decided to fly out of Don Mueang International rather than Suvarnabhumi so as not to make it too easy on anyone trying to follow us.

      The plan was to fly from Bangkok to Macau for a couple nights RnR. I know thiw wasn't on the agenda but my nerves were on edge and although Chuck wasn’t quite as moody, the scruff of his neck still seemed to rise for the most insignificant reasons. We both need to unwind or we could blow this mission. After Macau, we would return to Spain then take the ferry from Malaga to the Spanish city of Melilla on the north coast of Morocco. There I would be met by a Spanish ex-pat and former Legionnaire currently living just outside of Tangier. He would arrange to get me to the southernmost tip of Algeria and then into Mali thus avoiding most of the fighting in the North.

      Chuck and me would then head east until we hit Bourem on the Niger. We would continue east along the river until we were in the vicinity of Timbuktu. I could then contact Bob and Hamdoon and we would exit the country together.


    16. .

      The trip to Macau was pure genius. Chuck and I were both wired and now we were both pumped for some more action. We returned to Spain and I called Bob on the satellite phone but I got Hamdoon instead. He said Bob was nursing a bad hip and was lying down. I didn’t like talking to someone I didn’t personally know but we were running out of time so I explained the plan to H and told him we would be there within two days.

      What I didn’t tell him was that the candy was almost all gone and that despite the fact that we had tried to restock at every duty-free store we came across, the booze was about gone too. No sense giving the guys another reason to worry, keep their spirits up for as long as possible. Chuck/Ching, now disguised as a Shar-Pei (that dog has amazing body control, wrinkles up the ass) agreed.

      Oh, and one other thing I didn’t get into with Hamdoon was that I hadn’t really fully developed a plan for getting the four of us out of Mali yet.


    17. .

      Still working on THE PLAN and some ideas are starting to come together.

      I think I might have some good alternatives to offer the boys.


    18. .

      The ferry ride to Melilla was lovely as we took the special Sunset Cruise. It cost a little more but there was a nice buffet and wine was included. It was a young crowd and the native musicians were rocking the Algerian raï and Moroccan chaabi.

      After arriving in the city, we met up with Petrus, the ex-pat, and headed for the Algerian border. The rest of the trip was a little hairy, avoiding the numerous checkpoints along the way; however, we were travelling by night and usually saw nothing but the billions of stars that lit the night sky in the Sahara and heard nothing but the sound of Chuck/Ching marking every small shrub in the area when we made a pit stop.

      By the next morning , we had crossed the Algerian border near Kidal in Eastern Mali. We thanked Petrus, paid him, and watched him disappear north in the Land Rover. Chuck/Ching and I spent the next two hours resting before setting out on the bicycle Petrus had stolen for us, me peddling and Chuck/Ching trying to maintain his balance in the oversized basket. The weapons Petrus had provided were tied to a carrier in the back.


    19. The automatic weapons fire began in the morning, just as the sun was rising.

      Blamblbamblamblam right down the windows on the first floor of our refuge the vacant hotel, then they began working the doors....blamblamblamblam...methodical, lethal, like the coming of robotic death. Hamdoon was dragging Q, who was as drunk as he had been when in Rome on the Paolo deal, by a heel, Q's head bumping on the staircase to the basement, I was dragging the cur, growling, resisting, along behind. By the time we reached our safe room, dug out by hand by Hamdoon and I, under the furnace, the Molotov cocktails were beginning to explode above. We would be all right, we had air vents out to under the palms, and an escape tunnel as well. They could burn the entire hotel down for all we cared. Hamdoon slammed Q. against the wall of the safe room and commanded "Stay!" and I did the same with his cur. Hamdoon said "I am going to severely punish Q for giving our location away when the firing stops."

      Hamdoon had shown me the results that Q had sent us over the teletype of his passage through Algeria:

      REPORT: Hostages held in Algeria killed...
      REPORT: Four freed...
      BLOODBATH: Helicopters strafe gas plant in desert...
      Fate of 7 Kidnapped Americans Unknown...
      Hostages 'made to wear explosives'...
      Gunmen dubbed 'Signatories for Blood'...
      Mystery agent from Detroit on scene?...
      Attack planned BEFORE French strike in Mali?

      It was a disaster, and I thought of how Q always shows up pat, like the figure of catastrophe in the old comedy.....

    20. .

      Quirk was slowly regaining consciousness. He tried to remember what had happened. Then it started coming back to him.

      Earlier that day, at about noon, he and Chuck/Ching had reached Bourem on the Niger, and the way was all downhill from there.

      The cloud continued to lift and now Quirk fully regained consciousness.

      By 10:00 pm, (Mali time) we, Chuck and I, had set up an observation post on the edge of a small wadi just south and east of Timbuktu. I had contacted Bob and Hamdoon on the satellite phone earlier and Chuck and I were waiting for them to show.

      Chuck and me were both dressed in desert camo and wearing night vision goggles, although Chuck’s didn’t fit quite right. I was tracking the desert floor to the west through a NightForce 8-32x56mm NXS illuminated reticle scope mounted to a No 3. Barrett .50 Cal sniper rifle with tripod mount. Chuck was scanning the desert to the north although still having trouble with his goggles.

      After what seemed like an eternity, Chuck spotted two figures heading towards us from the northwest. As they got closer, I could see it was Bob and another man, a dark semitic man, with wiry black hair and an other-wordly look in his eyes. I moved towards Bob and saw hints of that same haunted look in his eyes. I had seen it before. It was fear, cold and stark. Either that or the boys had been hitting that rotgut whiskey Bob had always liked. Hitting it hard.

      Just as I was reaching out my hand to Bob, I felt the blow from behind. Before I lost consciousness I could hear Chuck's warning growl. Then blackness.

      Now as I am regaining consciousness, I hear two high-pitched voices bragging about their safe-room, air-vents, and a secret tunnel. Then I notice a stong odor of kif in the air and see the bottles, mostly empty, of mahya, the heavy date wine of the region. I look around and begin to laugh.

      "You nitwits" I roar.

      Safe room? Your safe room consists of a shallow dug out section covered by two large (refrigerator size) card board boxes. Your secret tunnel is only the back door leading to the alley. You two are higher than a kite.

      I free Chuck and scream, "Who sucker-punched me?"


    21. .

      The two men stop their giggling and spring back as if they had seen a ghost. Hamdoon grabs an empty wine bottle and tries to break it against the wall. He can’t. And after several tries, he just stands there holding it defiantly. After his initial surprise, Bob recovers somewhat and begins some kind of martial arts dance routine out of some now long forgotten Kung Fu episode. He continues in this manner until his hip gives out and he is forced to sit down.

      Chuck had been disoriented by Bob’s actions but now that he was seated, the old Chuckster remembered that he was pissed. It all came back to him, the embarrassing flight in coach, the cowardly sneak attack, being drug down here in harness, being told to ‘stay’, it was more than any dog could stand. He bared his fangs and moved forward. Seeing this, Hamdoon dropped his bottle and sat down next to Bob.

      I said, “Easy, Chuck. Back off. They know not what they do.”


    22. .

      After sitting quietly for a couple hours, the two men’s eyes seemed to clear. It was obvious they were in some pain as each was holding his head and quietly moaning.

      After a while, Bob said, “What do we do now?”

      I said, “We get the hell out of here.”

      Bob responded, “I’ve got a plan.”

      I said, “Let’s hear it.”

      Bob spread a map on the table and started to explain.

      “We’ve got enemies in every country around us so we wait until dark and then take canoes south down the Niger till we reach Segou. We then portage over to the Bani and travel south until we reach the middle fork that will take us down to Sikasso and from there into the Cote D’Ivoire. We travel by night to avoid the current conflicts in that country, travelling south until we reach the coast and the Atlantic. We then hug the coast north until we reach Liberia. We stow away on a freighter heading for the US and bam, we’re home. Easy, peasy.”

      “Sounds interesting but let me take a look at the map, Bobbo.”

      After studying the map for about 2 seconds, I said, “You know, there is one possible alternative.”

      Bob leaned forward and Hamdoon rose from his seat and moved to the table. Chuck was over in the corner licking his balls.

      “Or, since all the fighting is in the north, we could,” I started, “just rent a car or grab a cab and drive south down to Bamako and fly home. We should be out of the country and on our way home tonight.”

      Bob said, “Hmn, I don’t know.”

      Hamdoon said, “I like Bob’s plan. It seems more practical.”

      I said, “Rock, paper, scissors?”

      Everyone agreed and I had to smile. Neither Bob nor Hamdoon realized that I had snookered them. Chuck played ‘rock, paper, scissors’ at the semi-pro level and had won a number of international pro-am competitions.

      We left Mamako that night on African Air.

      Chuck Ching.


    23. As the days slowly worked into weeks I watched as Hamdoon slowly deconstructed Q like you would take apart a small building made of Legos and put it together again, structurally sound. The first hours were the worst, Quirk nearly weeping, sitting in one of the two chairs in our safe room, against the wall, while Hamdoon loomed over him, and got in his face, like you might think of Crockett interrogating a mislead youth, in to it over his head.

      "Listen up, pal" said Hamdoon with steely voice, "this isn't a play station here anymore, punk, and you ain't game boy, and if that isn't ok, don't play."

      I began to see improvements in Q's attitudes daily. It was heartening, like seeing a youth become a man. Q had been a man once, but had taken a step backwards somehow, perhaps it was the drugs between Winnemucca and Vegas that time alone, and now it was time to take two steps forward, which is the rhythm of our lives. Hamdoon told me he loved it, seeing someone man up. "By my troth, I owe God a death, and who dies today is quits for the morrow" he quoted. Bloody good, he said. No more damn fear. Not of women, not of God, not of death, not of the muzzies.

      Quirk had been a lovely youth, a strapping strong young lad, healthy and hale, but over the years, with age and disappoints, the spirit had lagged. Sometimes now his body looked to have been abandoned by his spirit, sagging, almost as if dead meat, poison spider bit.

      His friends had noticed how often he would begin to create imaginative narratives, things that never happened, or could have ever happened, and try to pawn them off as truth. It was wonderful to see real life begin to get a grip on him again, and his true colors begin again to start to shining through.

    24. As the days slowly turned into weeks, we began to make forays into the countryside at night. This was easy for us all to do, even Quirk, who had grown up in Detroit. Food was not a problem, nor water, for we had found a seep among the palm trees. Hamdoon led us in discussions as to what might be the most morally profitable thing for us to do in our situation, to help some people here. Looking back on it, I believe he had already decided in his mind the best course of action, and was leading us to voluntarily agree.

      We began to raid for weapons, and to reach out to what Christians we could contact, or others too, of non moslim persuasion. The black Christians were magnificent, much better than the Italian variety the Swiss Guard in Rome had told us about, and their leadership too were wonderful. We began to network, and establish relationship charts, in our minds but not on paper.

    25. And as the weeks turned into months, we began to feel, each one of us, that we had reached the limits of what what we could do, to be of help. We began unconsciously to make plans to depart. Sometimes, on a lovely night, I would sit under the stars and moon among the palms trees, and think of others. Of those I would see soon again, and of others I would never see, nor had ever seen, nor even talked with, but had loved. And sometimes a lively understandable spirit would come over me, and entertain me, and I would rejoice.

      One day then, it had been decided that we would depart, without even discussing it. Hamdoon waved goodbye goodluck to us as he drove off in a Jeep he had procured somewhere, heading west towards the coast of Africa. Quirk and I stayed together, made dress like camel jockeys and headed for the nearest border. We would all be OK.

      So that is the end, or the beginning. And there are always two narratives, or even more, like in the Life of Pi, and one must choose which to believe, or make your own, and in the making do something to create yourself.

    26. .

      There it's done, the first of many forgeries I expect to have to write to keep the bizarre legacy of Bob alive. Orders from HQ. When I used the satellite phone to report what had happened here they were back within minutes with their instructions. KATM deemed it in their interest to keep Bob's messages coming even under the various pseudonyms he had assumed.

      When I asked what would happen if someone questioned my forgeries, said I was lying, that it really wasn't Bob writing them, KATM responded, "What would Bob do? Lie. Deny. Obfuscate. Who really listened that closely to Bob anyway?

      We've seen this scenario play out in the case of the many Anonomouses that populate the various blog spaces. People accuse others of using that veiled charade to avoid responsibility for their posts and then the perp denies it. But there is no way of proving a negative. Nothing is ever settled. Bob out-anonymoused any Anonymous when it comes to his multiple personalities.”

      I could see the truth in what they were saying so I did it and now it is done and here it will lay until some credulous fool arrives and claims to have a message from the insane blind god that was Bob.

      It’s only fitting, a false flag ending to a false flag life.

      At the moment, I am numb, but there is no time now for reflection.

      We have to move.


    27. .

      Hacking into Blogger to take over Bob's persona(s) was child's play.


    28. .

      The events of the past few days keep rolling through my mind.

      Both Bob and Hamood had move back to their chairs. Hamood reached for one of the unopened bottle of date wine, but I snatched it from his hand. While the two men watched, I gathered up all the remaining bottles of the mahya and emptied them in the alley. I then searched the room for any additional drugs and I frisked both Hamood and Bob. There was no remaining but I did find some prescription drugs in a large first-aid kit that was sitting next to the furnace. I stuffed them in my pockets before leaving.

      I told the two men to stay there and I would be back in a short while. They said nothing but that haunted look seemed to be coming back to their eyes. Before leaving, I turned to Chuck and told him to “Stay”. I thought I might have finally pushed him over the edge, but though obviously pissed, he also remained silent.

      I stepped through the door and into the night. The only weapon I had was a 9mm Sig 226 with night sights and a suppressor. Luckily, I was still carrying it when I was blind-sided by Hamood. They left all the heavier weapons back at the wadi. The only other supplies I had from the cache that I had brought was Chuck’s night-vision goggles. They hd gotten around his neck while he was struggling with Bob. I grabbed the goggles on my way out the door.

      I had no extra ammo clips as those were also left behind. The clip I had was an extended one but the Sig wouldn’t be much help at distance or against any of the larger predators I could expect to see outside the walls of the city.

      I looked around using the goggles. Fortunately, there was only a sliver of a moon and I was wearing dessert camo which would help hide me among the dust colored buildings. There was also a stiff breeze blowing from the northwest off the Sahara and biting dust filled the air. Because of that and the brisk night air the streets appeared empty.


    29. .

      The little hotel Bob had holed up in was on the easternmost edge of the Sarakeina district, east of the Place De L’independence and far south of the Gendarmerie located in the Sancore district.

      I began searching for a vehicle of some sort but couldn’t find anything drivable. After about half an hour I gave up. Likely, any vehicle that could be driven had been driven south. Any vehicles remaining were probably in the northern part of the city, the part currently occupied by the Islamist forces. I couldn’t risk going too far in that direction.

      I sat by the wall of a one of the two-storied houses that dotted this neighborhood. Its façade had been peppered by automatic weapon fire. I searched for alternatives. Unfortunately, the only one I could come up with was a modified version of the one Bob had suggested. However, instead of taking the center branch of the Niger and heading for the Ivory Coast, a quicker, more straightforward route would be to take the northern branch straight to Kamako and catch an Air France flight from there to Europe.

      I remembered seeing the occasional boat by the shore as we hugged the bank of the Niger approaching the city. It was nearing the end of the cool dry season that stretches from October to February throughout most of Mali. The river should still be high enough to allow transit all the way to Kamako. To avoid detection, we would need to travel the first part of the journey at night which would carry its own unique dangers; but we had little choice.

      I headed east until I found the river then travelled downstream until I came across a small boat we could use. It was shaped similar to a dhow, with a lateen rig. It was 16-18 feet long, big enough for the river but small enough for one man to operate. Given the possibility that the boat might not be there if we delayed our trip, I headed back to the hotel.


    30. .

      As soon as I entered the room, I knew something was wrong. Chuck was in the corner with his head on his paws and the tangy scent of death was in the room. I went to Bob first. He was sitting on the floor with his back against the wall and his eyes were clouded and vacant. I moved to Hamood. His eyes were also open but he saw nothing. I checked his pulse to confirm the obvious then turned back to Bob.

      “What did you guys take?”

      No answer.

      As I looked around the room, I noticed the first-aid kit was open. I went to it and saw the bottle of rubbing alcohol that was in it before was now gone. Looking around, I found the near-empty bottle on the floor between Hamood and Bob. No way to tell how much either man had drunk. Hamood was a strange dude, impulsive and erratic; definitely more butch than Bob. There was a good chance he would have quaffed the lion’s share of the bottle. There could still be a chance for Bob. I called KATN and reported what happended and what I planned to do.

      “Chuck, let’s go.”

      I picked up Bob, got his arm over my shoulder and we headed for the river, the boat, and hopefully, freedom. The going was difficult; Bob is not a small man. As we headed east, we passed mausoleums, ornate cultural relics centuries old that had been hacked to pieces by pickaxes and torn to the ground by Islamist militants from the north who considered them blasphemous. But there wasn't time to reflect on this sacrilege at the moment.

      We entered the palms which eventually gave way to acacia and baobabs. Finally, we saw the Niger snaking through the mangroves and the hippo grass.

      A few minutes later we had Bob in the boat, I had raised the sail and we were headed south through a section of river choked with hippo grass and hyacinth. Our luck had held. Perhaps it was the wind and the dust it drove. We had seen no animals, neither prey nor predator. I took the Sig out of my belt and laid it beside me. It would have been little help had we come across a lion or even a hyena.

      The lateen rig is hard to handle if you are forced to tack, it is a slow process since you have to move the spar and the sail to the other side of the mast. However, we soon made it to the center of the river and were heading south with the current and a following wind. Here the aerodynamics of the triangular sail propelled the small boat forward at a fast pace. By first light, we were well on our way downriver, far from the heaviest of fighting.



    31. .

      The trip south was tense.

      Bob would occasionally murmur something in his sleep, usually “Hamood…Hamood…” then every so often a sly giggle. With everything else that was happening I had forgot to ask him how he had come to meet Hamood and why he was holed up with him in a sleazy dive in Timbuktu. But that’s something for another time. Not my business anyway. However, every so often Bob would launch into a long combination snore/snicker/giggle similar that of John Bickerson, the one that used to drive his wife Blanche nutz. In Bob’s case, it was poor Chuck who was being driven nutz. When Bob started, Chuck would lay in the bow of the boat with his paws over his ears and quietly moan.

      Just before reaching Kamako, we were approached by a small powered cutter containing agents from KATN. They indicated they had made arrangements to try to get Bob help. I was never so glad to see anyone. Bob was delirious since we left Timbuktu and he seemed to be fading. The doctor that accompanied the agents said things looked bad but with any luck they might be able to nurse him back to normal in a few years, maybe. As they were preparing to pull away, the agent in charge leaned towards me and said, “Remember your instructions. He will be kept incommunicado for now but no one must know before he returns to normal, or at least to as close to normal as he ever gets. I nodded knowing that my false identity (identities?) could continue for some time.

      Chuck and I watched the cutter pull away then I set the sail and we headed for Kamaka.


  30. 21. Blast From the Past

    “Now more than ever”

    The metamorphosis of Barack Obama from campus layabout to clubhouse grifter to posturing ten cent Mussolini to Richard Nixon proceeds apace.

    He lacks however the work ethic, intellectual gifts, or attachment to their putative cultures evidenced by either Il Duce or RMN.

    The human capital still comes from outside of the Islamic world.

    After three or more generations of living off of the energy industry the natives are still dependent on foreign labor.

    Was 9-11 the measure of them at their most productive?

  31. Maybe Ike's intrusion into the Suez Crisis was about as helpful in the long term as Wilson's War.

  32. So, the Teurang that fought for Colonel Q have morphed into radical Islamists back home in Mali?

    1. I thought they've referred to the Teurang and the radical Islamists in some of the reports I've seen. Not sure though...

  33. Protectionist tendencies are alive and well in the U.S. too. In October, a Congressional probe said that Huawei Technologies Inc. and ZTE Inc. posed a national security threat to the United States, reported the Wall Street Journal.

    That report recommended that the U.S. government avoid using equipment from the two Chinese firms. It also suggested that U.S. companies look for different vendors for telecom equipment.

    Also impeding collaboration are intellectual property fears. On average, 64% of companies said that the lack of intellectual property protection is one of the main reasons why they’d be reluctant to collaborate with entrepreneurs or other companies.

  34. Did E L James hijack the E B?

  35. An Australian tour guide was showing a group of American tourists the Top

    On their way to Kakadu he was describing the amazing abilities of the
    Australian Aborigines to track man or beast over land, through the air and under the

    The Americans were incredulous.

    Later in the day, as the group rounded a bend on the highway they
    discovered, lying in the middle of the road, an Aborigine...
    He had one ear pressed to the white line, whilst his left leg was held high
    in the air!

    The bus stopped and the guide and the tourists gathered around the prostrate

    "Hey Jacky," said the tour guide, "what are you tracking and what are you
    listening for?" The aborigine replied, "Down the road about 25 miles is a

    1971 Valiant Ute... It's a red one. The left front tyre is bald... The front end is out

    of whack, and him got bloody dents in every panel...

    There are 9 black fellas in the back, all drinking warm sherry.

    There are 3 kangaroos on the roof rack and 4 dogs on the front seat."

    The American tourists moved forward, astounded by this precise and detailed

    "God Lord man, how do you know all that?," asked one.

    The Aborigine replied:... 'I fell out of the fucken thing about half an hour

  36. A Republican man in a wheelchair entered a restaurant one afternoon and asked the waitress for a cup of coffee. He looked across the restaurant and asked, "Is that Jesus sitting over there?"

    The waitress nodded "yes," so the Republican requested that she give Jesus a cup of coffee, on him.

    The next patron to come in was a Libertarian, with a hunched back. He shuffled over to a booth, painfully sat down, and asked the waitress for a cup of hot tea. He also glanced across the restaurant and asked, "Is that Jesus, over there?"

    The waitress nodded, so the Libertarian asked her to give Jesus a cup of hot tea, "My treat."

    The third patron to come into the restaurant was a Democrat on crutches. He hobbled over to a booth, sat down and hollered, "Hey there honey! How's about gettin' me a cold mug of Budweiser?" He too looked across the restaurant and asked, "Isn't that God's boy over there?

    The waitress nodded, so the Democrat directed her to give him a cold beer.

    "On my tab," he said loudly.

    As Jesus got up to leave, he passed by the Republican, touched him and said, "For your kindness, you are healed." The Republican felt strength come back into his legs, got up, and walked out the door, thankful to Jesus.

    Jesus passed by the Libertarian, touched him and said, "For your kindness, you are healed." The Libertarian felt his back straightening up, and grateful to the Lord, he raised his hands, praised the Lord, and walked out the door.

    Then, Jesus walked towards the Democrat, just smiling. The Democrat jumped up and yelled, "Don't touch me...I'm collecting disability."

  37. Women often receive warnings about protecting themselves when out shopping and in dark car parks, etc. This is the first warning I have seen for men. I wanted to pass it on in case you haven't heard about it. A 'heads up' for those men who may be regular customers at MORRISONS, Waitrose, Tesco & Sainsbury. This one caught me totally by surprise. Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get shopping has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you or your friends.

    Here's how the scam works. Two nice looking, teenage girls will come over to your car as you are packing your purchases into your vehicle. They both start wiping your windscreen with a cloth and glass cleaner, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. (It's impossible not to look). When you
    thank them and offer them a tip, they say 'No' but instead ask for a lift to McDonald's.

    You agree and they climb into the vehicle. On the way, they start undressing. Then one of them starts crawling all over you, while the other one steals your wallet.

    I had my wallet stolen October 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, again on the 17th, 20th, 24th, and the 29th. Also November 1st, 4th, 8th, twice on the 10th & 12th, and very likely again this upcoming weekend.

    So tell your friends to be careful. What a horrible way to take advantage of us older men. Warn your friends to be vigilant.

    Asda has wallets on sale for £2.99 each. I found even cheaper ones for .99p at the Poundworld. Also, you never get to eat at McDonald's. I've already lost 11 pounds just running back and forth between Tesco to Sainsbury's to Waitrose.

    So please, send this on to all the retired men that you know, and warn them to be on the lookout for this evil scam. (The best times are just before lunch and around 4:30 in the afternoon.)

  38. A woman went to a petshop and immediately spotted a large, beautiful parrot. There was a sign on the cage that said $20.00.

    "Why so little?" she asked the pet store owner.

    The owner looked at her and said,

    "Look, I should tell you first that this bird used to livein a house of prostitution, and sometimes it says some pretty vulgar stuff."

    The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the bird anyway.

    She took it home and hung the bird's cage up in her living room, and waited for it to say something.

    The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said,"New house, new madam."

    The woman was a bit shocked at the implication, but then thought "that's really not so bad."

    When her two teenage daughters returned from school,the bird saw them and said,

    "New house, new madam, new girls."

    The girls and the woman were a bit offended, but then they began to laugh about the situation considering how and where the parrot had been raised.

    Moments later, the woman's husband,Keith, came home from work.

    The bird looked at him and said,

    "Hi Keith."

  39. Did you ever wonder why there are no dead penguins on the ice in Antarctica ?
    Where do they go?

    Wonder no more ! ! !
    It is a known fact that the penguin is a very ritualistic bird which lives an extremely ordered and complex life. The penguin is very committed to its family and will mate for life, as well as maintain a form of compassionate contact with its offspring throughout its life.

    If a penguin is found dead on the ice surface, other members of the family and social circle have been known to dig holes in the ice, using their vestigial wings and beaks, until the hole is deep enough for the dead bird to be rolled into, and buried.

    The male penguins then gather in a circle around the fresh grave and sing:

    "Freeze a jolly good fellow."
    "Freeze a jolly good fellow."

  40. During his physical examination, the doctor asked a man
    about his physical activity level.
    He described a typical day this way: "Well, yesterday afternoon, I took a five hour walk about 7km through some pretty rough terrain. I waded along the edge of a lake slipping and sliding in the mud
    I pushed my way through brambles and nettles.
    I got sand in my shoes and my eyes.
    I just avoided standing on a large snake.
    I climbed several rocky hills.
    I took a few 'leaks' behind some big trees.
    then got caught in the rain and soaked to the skin
    The mental stress of it all left me so shattered.
    that at the end of it all I had to drink eight beers."
    Inspired by the story, the doctor said, "You must be one hell of an outdoors man!"
    "No," he sighed, "I'm just a bloody shitty golfer".

  41. A RURAL Fire Service investigation is under way after untreated water from a sewage plant was dumped on volunteers battling a blaze on the mid-north coast.

    Up to 50 firefighters and four aircraft were working on the 30ha bushfire at Kew, near Port Macquarie on Tuesday when a helicopter mistakenly drew up the wastewater from the wrong pond at the nearby sewage treatment plant and dropped it on them.

    More than half the firefighters had to be decontaminated along with their equipment and were treated by paramedics at the scene.

    None reported any adverse symptoms from the incident.

    An RFS spokeswoman said 12 firefighters had been directly exposed to the “secondary treatment” water, while a further seven were in the general area.

    “All 29 firefighters on the fireground and their equipment were immediately withdrawn and decontaminated by Fire and Rescue NSW” the spokeswoman said. “As a precaution, each firefighter has since been provided with further medical follow-up. At this time, no firefighters have complained of any ill-effects. They will continue to be monitored by the Rural Fire Service.”

    The fire, which began Tuesday morning forced closures of the Pacific Highway, but was fully under control and being patrolled by Thursday.

    The wastewater dumped on the firefighters came from the Kew sewage treatment plant run by the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council.

    A council staff member and employees has been advised not to comment on the incident because it had been under the management of the RFS.

    “We weren’t in control of it whatsoever so it’s not something we’d comment on” the staff member said.

    According to the Sydney Water website, most of the rubbish and 60 percent of solid material has been filtered out wastewater once it passes through primary treatment.

    Rural Fire Service Association general manager Bernard Cox said he had never heard of such an incident happening before.

    “They shouldn’t have taken it from (that pond) and that’s why they probably will do some kind of investigation about why it was picked up,” said Mr Cox, who praised the RFS for their quick thinking in protecting the firefighters

  42. On this day in 1706, Ben Franklin was born.

  43. My wife worked at the Multnomah county jail kitchen in 1999, she was cheating on me with someone in law enforcement! I and my side of the family became a victim of a sting operation started by my wife and her buddy's in law enforcement, and they had their sting operation all planned out, and they concentrated on turning others against me behind my back and by performing for video surveillance in order to make me look like a bad guy!

    My wife's buddy's in law enforcement told my wife to quit her job, and on that day my wife and her side of the family through a celebration about law enforcement setting me up, and the very next morning my wife's buddy's in law enforcement put a 72 hour notice on our next door neighbors apartment!

    Three days later an hour after our old neighbors moved out plain clothed officer's took immediate possession of the next door apartment! and plain clothed officer's began loading the apartment up with police equipment and office equipment!

    After my wife's buddy's in law enforcement took over the next door apartment and got settled in, my wife announced to me and our daughters that she wanted us all "Out of town for a day" and said she decided she was taking u8s all to the beach!

    When we get back home to our apartment at our duplex the next day I immediately notice a long crack in our ceiling going from one side of the living room to the next, I immediately knew how it got there and why, and as I was looking at the crack my wife noticed the crack, she grinned at it, said nothing to me, grabbed her cellphone, and he went to the bathroom and called her sister!

    In the bathroom over the pone my wife told her sister "They cracked the ceiling!" and told her sister "He hasn't noticed it yet!" referring to me!
    My wife was quite amused by the fact that she thought I did not notice it yet, and she was telling her sister to come over to look at it and told her it was in the living room ceiling!

    The very next morning my wife's sister comes over faking a visit and she goes right to where the crack is, looks up at it, and then grins at my wife, my wife was grinning back at her sister! they proceeded to make small talk at this point, still not making any verbal mention of the crack, but they were grinning about it from ear to ear in front of me none the less!

    A week later I get a phone call from my mother, she is disabled and lives in her own home in another state, she called me up to tell me she now has a new person moving in with her, and she told me he was a close look-a-like to me, I immediately has reason to believe this was connected to what my wife and her buddy's in law enforcement were doing, and I asked my mother the question "WHEN did you meet him?" and my mother told me about two weeks ago.

    My mother went on to add that multiple people were pressuring her to take that person into her home, and that she knuckled under and agreed!

    So shortly after my wife's buddy's in law enforcement filled out paperwork to take over the apartment next door to me, my mother was being pressured by multiple people to take in a LOOK-A-LIKE of me into her home!

    This is the beginning stages of a corrupt sting operati0n done by my wife and her side of the family and by my wife's buddy's in law enforcement!

    First things they concentrated on was taking full control of the surrounding area around my apartment, and they set up video cameras, and they brought in a look-a-like to act as a double of me! and my wife quit her job at county jail to hide her connections with law enforcement!