“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."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Welcome To The War Zone, America

For 15 years, Americans have been living in a constant state of “wartime” without any of the obvious signs of war. There is no draft. The public has in no way been mobilized. The fighting has all taken place in battle zones thousands of miles from the United States. Despite a rising homegrown fear of Islamic terrorism, an American in the continental U.S. faces greater danger from a toddler wielding a loaded gun. And yet, in ways often hard to chart, America’s endless wars -- Barack Obama is now slated to preside over the longest war presidency in our history -- have quietly come home. You can see them reflected in the strengthening powers and prominence of the national security state, in those Pentagon spy drones now flying patrols over “the homeland,” and, among other things, in the militarization of police departments nationwide.
Perhaps nowhere in these years, in fact, have America’s wars come home more fiercely or embedded themselves more deeply than in those police forces. It’s not just the multiplying SWAT teams -- the police equivalent of Special Operations forces, often filled with ex-special ops types and other veterans from this country’s Iraqi and Afghan battlefields -- or the weaponry fed by the Pentagon to police departments, also from the battlefields of the Greater Middle East, including mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, automatic and semi-automatic rifles, and even grenade launchers. It’s also, as Jay Stanley and TomDispatchregular Matthew Harwood, both of the American Civil Liberties Union, suggest today, intrusive new forms of technology, developed by or in conjunction with the Pentagon for battlefield use, that are coming to your neighborhood.  So welcome to the war zone, America. Tom
Power Loves the Dark 

Police Nationwide Are Secretly Exploiting Intrusive Technologies With the Feds’ Complicity 
By Matthew Harwood and Jay Stanley
Can’t you see the writing on the touchscreen? A techno-utopia is upon us. We’ve gone from smartphones at the turn of the twenty-first century to smart fridges and smart cars. The revolutionary changes to our everyday life will no doubt keep barreling along. By 2018, so predicts Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company, more than three million employees will work for “robo-bosses” and soon enough we -- or at least the wealthiest among us -- will be shopping in fully automated supermarkets and sleeping in robotic hotels.
With all this techno-triumphalism permeating our digitally saturated world, it’s hardly surprising that law enforcement would look to technology -- “smart policing,” anyone? -- to help reestablish public trust after the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the long list of other unarmed black men killed by cops in Anytown, USA. The idea that technology has a decisive role to play in improving policing was, in fact, a central plank of President Obama’s policing reform task force.
In its report, released last May, the Task Force on 21st Century Policing emphasized the crucial role of technology in promoting better law enforcement, highlighting the use of police body cameras in creating greater openness. “Implementing new technologies,” it claimed, “can give police departments an opportunity to fully engage and educate communities in a dialogue about their expectations for transparency, accountability, and privacy.”
Indeed, the report emphasized ways in which the police could engage communities, work collaboratively, and practice transparency in the use of those new technologies. Perhaps it won’t shock you to learn, however, that the on-the-ground reality of twenty-first-century policing looks nothing like what the task force was promoting. Police departments nationwide have been adopting powerful new technologies that are remarkably capable of intruding on people’s privacy, and much of the time these are being deployed in secret, without public notice or discussion, let alone permission.
And while the task force’s report says all the right things, a little digging reveals that the feds not only aren’t putting the brakes on improper police use of technology, but are encouraging it -- even subsidizing the misuse of the very technology the task force believes will keep cops honest. To put it bluntly, a techno-utopia isn’t remotely on the horizon, but its flipside may be.
Getting Stung and Not Even Knowing It
Shemar Taylor was charged with robbing a pizza delivery driver at gunpoint. The police got a warrant to search his home and arrested him after learning that the cell phone used to order the pizza was located in his house. How the police tracked down the location of that cell phone is what Taylor's attorney wanted to know.
The Baltimore police detective called to the stand in Taylor’s trial was evasive. “There’s equipment we would use that I’m not going to discuss,” he said. When Judge Barry Williams ordered him to discuss it, he still refused, insisting that his department had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI.
"You don't have a nondisclosure agreement with the court," replied the judge, threatening to hold the detective in contempt if he did not answer. And yet he refused again. In the end, rather than reveal the technology that had located Taylor’s cell phone to the court, prosecutors decided to withdraw the evidence, jeopardizing their case.
And don’t imagine that this courtroom scene was unique or even out of the ordinary these days. In fact, it was just one sign of a striking nationwide attempt to keep an invasive, constitutionally questionable technology from being scrutinized, whether by courts or communities.
The technology at issue is known as a "Stingray," a brand name for what’s generically called a cell site simulator or IMSI catcher. By mimicking a cell phone tower, this device, developed for overseas battlefields, gets nearby cell phones to connect to it. It operates a bit like the children's game Marco Polo. “Marco,” the cell-site simulator shouts out and every cell phone on that network in the vicinity replies, “Polo, and here's my ID!”
Thanks to this call-and-response process, the Stingray knows both what cell phones are in the area and where they are. In other words, it gathers information not only about a specific suspect, but any bystanders in the area as well. While the police may indeed use this technology to pinpoint a suspect’s location, by casting such a wide net there is also the potential for many kinds of constitutional abuses -- for instance, sweeping up the identities of every person attending a demonstration or a political meeting. Some Stingrays are capable of collecting not only cell phone ID numbers but also numbers those phones have dialed and even phone conversations. In other words, the Stingray is a technology that potentially opens the door for law enforcement to sweep up information that not so long ago wouldn’t have been available to them. 
All of this raises the sorts of constitutional issues that might normally be settled through the courts and public debate... unless, of course, the technology is kept largely secret, which is exactly what's been happening.
After the use of Stingrays was first reported in 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other activist groups attempted to find out more about how the technology was being used, only to quickly run into heavy resistance from police departments nationwide. Served with “open-records requests” under Freedom of Information Act-like state laws, they almost uniformly resisted disclosing information about the devices and their uses. In doing so, they regularly cited nondisclosure agreements they had signed with the Harris Corporation, maker of the Stingray, and with the FBI, prohibiting them from telling anyone (including other government outfits) about how -- or even that -- they use the devices.
Sometimes such evasiveness reaches near-comical levels. For example, police in the city of Sunrise, Florida, served with an open-records request, refused to confirm or deny that they had any Stingray records at all. Under cover of a controversial national security court ruling, the CIA and the NSA sometimes resort to just this evasive tactic (known as a "Glomar response"). The Sunrise Police Department, however, is not the CIA, and no provision in Florida law would allow it to take such a tack. When the ACLU pointed out that the department had already posted purchase records for Stingrays on its public website, it generously provided duplicate copies of those very documents and then tried to charge the ACLU $20,000 for additional records.
In a no-less-bizarre incident, the Sarasota Police Department was about to turn some Stingray records over to the ACLU in accordance with Florida’s open-records law, when the U.S. Marshals Service swooped in and seized the records first, claiming ownership because it had deputized one local officer. And excessive efforts at secrecy are not unique to Florida, as those charged with enforcing the law commit themselves to Stingray secrecy in a way that makes them lawbreakers.
And it’s not just the public that’s being denied information about the devices and their uses; so are judges. Often, the police get a judge’s sign-off for surveillance without even bothering to mention that they will be using a Stingray. In fact, officers regularly avoid describing the technology to judges, claiming that they simply can’t violate those FBI nondisclosure agreements.
More often than not, police use Stingrays without bothering to get a warrant, instead seeking a court order on a more permissive legal standard. This is part of the charm of a new technology for the authorities: nothing is settled on how to use it. Appellate judges in Tallahassee, Florida, for instance, revealedthat local police had used the tool more than 200 times without a warrant. In Sacramento, California, police admitted in court that they had, in more than 500 investigations, used Stingrays without telling judges or prosecutors.  That was "an estimated guess," since they had no way of knowing the exact number because they had conveniently deleted records of Stingray use after passing evidence discovered by the devices on to detectives.
Much of this blanket of secrecy, spreading nationwide, has indeed been orchestrated by the FBI, which has required local departments eager for the hottest new technology around to sign those nondisclosure agreements. One agreement, unearthed in Oklahoma, explicitly instructs the local police to find "additional and independent investigative means" to corroborate Stingray evidence. In short, they are to cover up the use of Stingrays by pretending their information was obtained some other way -- the sort of dangerous constitutional runaround that is known euphemistically in law enforcement circles as a "parallel construction." Now that information about the widespread use of this new technology is coming out -- as in the Shemar Taylor trial in Baltimore -- judges are beginning to rule that Stingray use does indeed require a warrant. They are also insisting that police must accurately inform judges when they intend to use a Stingray and disclose its privacy implications.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
And it’s not just the Stingray that’s taking local police forces into new and unknown realms of constitutionally questionable but deeply seductive technology. Consider the hot new trend of “predictive policing.” Its products couldn’t be high-techier. They go by a variety of names like PredPol (yep, short for predictive policing) and HunchLab (and there’s nothing wrong with a hunch, is there?).  What they all promise, however, is the same thing: supposedly bias-free policing built on the latest in computer software and capable of leveraging big data in ways that -- so their salesmen will tell you -- can coolly determine where crime is most likely to occur next.
Such technology holds out the promise of allowing law enforcement agencies to deploy their resources to areas that need them most without that nasty element of human prejudice getting involved. “Predictive methods allow police to work more proactively with limited resources,” reports the RAND Corporation. But the new software offers something just as potentially alluring as efficient policing -- exactly what the president’s task force called for. According to market leader PredPol, its technology “provides officers an opportunity to interact with residents, aiding in relationship building and strengthening community ties.”
How idyllic! In post-Ferguson America, that’s a winning sales pitch for decision-makers in blue. Not so surprisingly, then, PredPol is now used by nearly 60 law enforcement agencies in the United States, and investment capital just keeps pouring into the company. In 2013, SF Weeklyreported that over 150 departments across the nation were already using predictive policing software, and those numbers can only have risen as the potential for cashing in on the craze has attracted tech heavy hitters like IBMMicrosoft, and Palantir, the co-creation of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
Like the Stingray, the software for predictive policing is yet another spillover from the country’s distant wars. PredPol was, according to SF Weekly, initially designed for “tracking insurgents and forecasting casualties in Iraq,” and was financed by the Pentagon. One of the company’s advisors, Harsh Patel, used to work for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm.
Civil libertarians and civil rights activists, however, are less than impressed with what’s being hailed as breakthrough police technology. We tend to view it instead as a set of potential new ways for the police to continue a long history of profiling and pre-convicting poor and minority youth. We also question whether the technology even performs as advertised. As we see it, the old saying “garbage in, garbage out” is likely to best describe how the new software will operate, or as the RAND Corporation puts it, “predictions are only as good as the underlying data used to make them.”
If, for instance, the software depends on historical crime data from a racially biased police force, then it’s just going to send a flood of officers into the very same neighborhoods they’ve always over-policed. And if that happens, of course, more personnel will find more crime -- and presto, you have the potential for a perfect feedback loop of prejudice, arrests, and high-tech “success.” To understand what that means, keep in mind that, without a computer in sight, nearly four times as many blacks as whites are arrested for marijuana possession, even though usage among the two groups is about the same.
If you leave aside issues of bias, there’s still a fundamental question to answer about the new technology: Does the software actually work or, for that matter, reduce crime? Of course, the companies peddling such products insist that it does, but no independent analyses or reviews had yet verified its effectiveness until last year -- or so it seemed at first.
In December 2015, the Journal of the American Statistical Association published a study that brought joy to the predictive crime-fighting industry. The study’s researchers concluded that a predictive policing algorithm outperformed human analysts in indicating where crime would occur, which in turn led to real crime reductions after officers were dispatched to the flagged areas. Only one problem: five of the seven authors held PredPol stock, and two were co-founders of the company. On its website, PredPol identifies the research as a “UCLA study,” but only because PredPol co-founder Jeffery Brantingham is an anthropology professor there.
Predictive policing is a brand new area where question marks abound. Transparency should be vital in assessing this technology, but the companies generally won’t allow communities targeted by it to examine the code behind it. “We wanted a greater explanation for how this all worked, and we were told it was all proprietary,” Kim Harris, a spokeswoman for Bellingham, Washington’s Racial Justice Coalition, told the Marshall Project after the city purchased such software last August. “We haven’t been comforted by the process.”
The Bellingham Police Department, which bought predictive software made by Bair Analytics with a $21,200 Justice Department grant, didn’t need to go to the city council for approval and didn’t hold community meetings to discuss the development or explain how the software worked. Because the code is proprietary, the public is unable to independently verify that it doesn’t have serious problems.
Even if the data underlying most predictive policing software accurately anticipates where crime will indeed occur -- and that’s a gigantic if -- questions of fundamental fairness still arise. Innocent people living in or passing through identified high crime areas will have to deal with an increased police presence, which, given recent history, will likely mean more questioning or stopping and frisking -- and arrests for things like marijuana possession for which more affluent citizens are rarely brought in.  Moreover, the potential inequality of all this may only worsen as police departments bring online other new technologies like facial recognition.
We’re on the verge of “big data policing,” suggests law professor Andrew Ferguson, which will “turn any unknown suspect into a known suspect,” allowing an officer to “search for information that might justify reasonable suspicion” and lead to stop-and-frisk incidents and aggressive questioning. Just imagine having a decades-old criminal record and facing police armed with such powerful, invasive technology. 
This could lead to “the tyranny of the algorithm” and a Faustian bargain in which the public increasingly forfeits its freedoms in certain areas out of fears for its safety. “The Soviet Union had remarkably little street crime when they were at their worst of their totalitarian, authoritarian controls,” MIT sociologist Gary Marx observed. “But, my god, at what price?”
To Record and Serve... Those in Blue
On a June night in 2013, Augustin Reynoso discovered that his bicycle had been stolen from a CVS in the Los Angeles suburb of Gardena. A store security guard called the police while Reynoso’s brother Ricardo Diaz Zeferino and two friends tried to find the missing bike in the neighborhood. When the police arrived, they promptly ordered his two friends to put their hands up. Zeferino ran over, protesting that the police had the wrong men.  At that point, they told him to raise his hands, too. He then lowered and raised his hands as the police yelled at him. When he removed his baseball hat, lowered his hands, and began to raise them again, he was shot to death.
The police insisted that Zeferino's actions were "threatening" and so their shooting justified. They had two videos of it taken by police car cameras -- but refused to release them.
Although police departments nationwide have been fighting any spirit of new openness, car and body cameras have at least offered the promise of bringing new transparency to the actions of officers on the beat. That’s why the ACLU and many civil rights groups, as well as President Obama, have spoken out in favor of the technology’s potential to improve police-community relations -- but only, of course, if the police are obliged to release videos in situations involving allegations of abuse. And many departments are fighting that fiercely.
In Chicago, for instance, the police notoriously opposed the release of dashcam video in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, citing the supposed imperative of an “ongoing investigation.” After more than a year of such resistance, a judge finally ordered the video made public. Only then did the scandal of seeing Officer Jason Van Dyke unnecessarily pump 16 bullets  into the 17-year-old’s body explode into national consciousness.
In Zeferino's case, the police settled a lawsuit with his family for $4.7 million and yet continued to refuse to release the videos. It took two years before a judge finally ordered their release, allowing the public to see the shooting for itself.
Despite this, in April 2015 the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners approved a body-camera policy that failed to ensure future transparency, while protecting and serving the needs of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).  In doing so, it ignored the sort of best practices advocated by the White House, the president’s task force on policing, and even the Police Executive Research Forum, one of the profession’s most respected think tanks. 
On the possibility of releasing videos of alleged police misconduct and abuse, the new policy remained silent, but LAPD officials, including Chief Charlie Beck, didn’t. They made it clear that such videos would generally be exempt from California’s public records law and wouldn’t be released without a judge’s orders. Essentially, the police reserved the right to release video when and how they saw fit. This self-serving policy comes from the most lethal large police department in the country, whose officers shot and killed 21 people last year.
Other departments around the country have made similar moves to ensure control over body camera videos. Texas and South Carolina, among other states, have even changed their open-records laws to give the police power over when such footage should (or should not) be released. In other words, when a heroic cop saves a drowning child, you’ll see the video; when that same cop guns down a fleeing suspect, don’t count on it.
Curiously, given the stated positions of the president and his task force, the federal government seems to have no fundamental problem with that. In May 2015, for example, the Justice Department announced competitive grants for the purchase of police body cameras, officially tying funding to good body-cam-use policies. The LAPD applied. Despite letters from groups like the ACLU pointing out just how poor its version of body-cam policy was, the Justice Department awarded it $1 million to purchase approximately 700 cameras -- accountability and transparency be damned.
To receive public money for a tool theoretically meant for transparency and accountability and turn it into one of secrecy and impunity, with the feds’ complicity and financial backing, sends an unmistakable message on how new technology is likely to affect America’s future policing practices. Think of it as a door slowly opening onto a potential policing dystopia.
Hello Darkness, Power’s Old Friend
Keep in mind that this article barely scratches the surface when it comes to the increasing numbers of ways in which the police’s use of technology has infiltrated our everyday lives.
In states and cities across America, some public bus and train systems havebegun to add to video surveillance, the surreptitious recording of the conversations of passengers, a potential body blow to the concept of a private conversation in public space. And whether or not the earliest versions of predictive policing actually work, the law enforcement community is already moving to technology that will try to predict who will commit crimes in the future. In Chicago, the police are using social networking analysis and prediction technology to draw up “heat lists” of those who might perpetuate violent crimes someday and pay them visits now. You won’t be shocked to learn which side of the tracks such future perpetrators live on. The rationale behind all this, as always, is “public safety.”
Nor can anyone begin to predict how law enforcement will avail itself of science-fiction-like technology in the decade to come, much less decades from now, though cops on patrol may very soon know a lot about you and your past. They will be able to cull such information from a multitude of databases at their fingertips, while you will know little or nothing about them -- a striking power imbalance in a situation in which one person can deprive the other of liberty or even life itself.
With little public debate, often in almost total secrecy, increasing numbers of police departments are wielding technology to empower themselves rather than the communities they protect and serve. At a time when trust in law enforcement is dangerously low, police departments should be embracing technology’s democratizing potential rather than its ability to give them almost superhuman powers at the expense of the public trust.

Unfortunately, power loves the dark.
Matthew Harwood is senior writer/editor with the American Civil Liberties Union. His work has appeared at Al Jazeera America, the American Conservative, the GuardianGuernicaSalonWar is Boring, and the Washington Monthly. He is a TomDispatch regular.
Jay Stanley is senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberty Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. He is the editor of the ACLU's "Free Future" blog and has authored and co-authored a variety of ACLU reports on privacy and technology topics.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
Copyright 2016 Matthew Harwood and Jay Stanley


  1. Deuce ☂Sun May 22, 09:20:00 AM EDT
    People would rather die than be occupied, tormented and humiliated



    800 Jews decided to kill themselves rather than accept capture by Romans, was, in large part, because they just simply couldn't stand the thought of having their women and children abused by the Romans, as they understood they would be, and many of the men in that case believed that they were going to be executed.

    Maybe the so called "palestinians" should take your advise and off themselves in protest???

    1. But as I said on the previous thread, when the Romans OCCUPIED Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem and such?

      It was the Jewish Lands.

      There was no arab presence.

      And of course "islam" would not be invented for another 600 years.

      Thank you again for being clear, the arabs? are the new occupiers.


    2. Just ask the Kurds, Berbers, Coptics, Jews, Druze....

    3. Interesting that Deuce now compares the Israelis to the Romans....

      It's laughable of course but it illustrates Deuce's mental condition when it comes to the Jewish state.

    4. After the Jewish-Roman wars (66-135), Hadrian changed the name of Iudaea province to Syria Palaestina and Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina in an attempt to erase the historical ties of the Jewish people to the region.[8] In addition, after 70, Jews and Jewish Proselytes were only allowed to practice their religion if they paid the Jewish tax, and after 135 were barred from Jerusalem except for the day of Tisha B'Av. The Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its state religion with the Edict of Thessalonica on 27 February 380.

      So we have established that Arabs are not native to the Jewish lands.

      Thanks Deuce.

    5. "Maybe the so called "palestinians" should take your advise and off themselves in protest???"



      I might be persuaded by some high rhetoric to vote for that....

    6. (only the 'of age' men)

    7. No, can't be biased, must be gender equal..

    8. I admit you may be right.

      This IS the age of sexual equality, and all that.

      I'll give the matter further thought....

  2. Along with out of control government forces of all sorts, I'm becoming concerned about the possibility of self driving suicide bomb cars. Any possibility of that ?

    It's past time to retire to the countryside, away from the maddening cities....

  3. Hark not a "palestinian" to be seen or heard from...

    In spite of the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt, Jews remained in the land of Israel in significant numbers. The Jews who remained there went through numerous experiences and armed conflicts against consecutive occupiers of the Land. Some of the most famous and important Jewish texts were composed in Israeli cities at this time. The Jerusalem Talmud, the completion of the Mishnah and the system of niqqud are examples.

    In this period the tannaim and amoraim were active, rabbis who organized and debated the Jewish oral law. The decisions of the tannaim are contained in the Mishnah, Beraita, Tosefta, and various Midrash compilations. The Mishnah was completed shortly after 200 AD, probably by Judah haNasi. The commentaries of the amoraim upon the Mishnah are compiled in the Jerusalem Talmud, which was completed around 400 AD, probably in Tiberias.

    In 351, the Jewish population in Sepphoris, under the leadership of Patricius, started a revolt against the rule of Constantius Gallus, brother-in-law of Emperor Constantius II. The revolt was eventually subdued by Gallus' general, Ursicinus.

    1. Where did these "arab Palestinians" come from????


      They invaded of course...

    2. Now if the Jewish State treated the arabs like the Romans did?


      The party would have ended decades ago.

  4. What is "Occupation"?

    Is it a land dispute?

    Is it a border?

    Is it what America did to the Japanese after WW2 or what Japan did to the Korean people?

    I think those that complain about Israel and it's land dispute with the arabs of the "west" bank, are crying wolf

  5. Rufus Alert !

    Even The Washington Compost has The Donald in the lead.....


  6. Our blog host's obsession with the Jewish State is interesting.

    As it is the MOST tolerant nation in the middle east, having a population of Jews, atheists, Christians, Moslems, Arabs, Bahai's, Druze and more.

    Is there tolerance in any of these nations and or areas?

    Saudi Arabia?


    1. Not quite as interesting at the US government’s fixation and obsession with Israel, all paid for by The Israel First Lobby

    2. A FRACTION of what America spends on protecting the arab oil in one year.

      You obsessed with the Jews. Israel.

      Now that you are an official Iranian firster yourself? Do you have plans on moving to Iran?

  7. .

    So we have established that Arabs are not native to the Jewish lands.

    It's also established that the Jews aren't native to the Jewish lands.

    Where did these "arab Palestinians" come from????


    They invaded of course...

    Where did these Jews come????


    They invaded of course...

    Arabia Ur of the Chaldees or Egypt if you like. Who gives a toot?


    1. Which was there 1st Quirk?

      The Fakistinains or the Jews?

      Why don't you take a trip to the zionist entity and go up to the Temple Mount and ponder that question....

      Of course no one is native, but the palesinians are as un-native as it gets...

    2. If you studied the history of the middle east Quirk you'd find that the Jews settle in the areas we are discussing THOUSANDS of years before the arabs, let alone the newly coined "palestinians"

      and that is the issue at hand.

    3. What are the Poles doing in Michigan ? Why didn't they stay in Poland, where they belong ?

      Well, as long as they obey our laws, don't blow shit up, treat the women right, and don't want to genocide some other group by pushing them into Lake Michigan I don't give a toot.

      But if they go into the advertising business, well that's another matter...

  8. I'm trying to decide whether it would be better to turn loose the full power of these new police technologies on, say, Detroit, Michigan in the hopes of saving lots of lives, the Constitution be damned, or let the sucker continue to rot from within, considering the human cost of that.

    Since I can't seem to decide yet, I'm going to the Casino.

    Cheers !!


  9. .

    Which was there 1st Quirk?

    Completely irrelevant but if you want the answer it was the Egyptians.


    1. Actually the ancient Egyptians are the Coptics. The arabs that invaded that now call themselves "egyptian" are in no relation to the ancient people.

      But If you are going to cite the Egyptians?

      I know those people well, they held my people slaves for 400 years...

    2. Every time you try to show off Quirk, you show your lack of intelligence on the topics...

      Tsk tsk

    3. .

      What the shit are you talking about?

      Egypt is Egypt and it was there and ruling the land (in those times when the Canaanites weren't) long before the Jews and their sheep wandered in from Mesopotamia.

      Now, you are trying to get it down to which pissant tribe was temporarily in power there.

      No one gives a shit what happened 3000 years ago. It certainly doesn't represent any kind of birthright. You offer us fairy tales. Next, you are going to be telling us the land belongs to the Jews because god gave it to them.

      Aren't you the least bit embarrassed by all this?


  10. Quirk was born by nature a show off.

    Once one gets used to it it's kind of endearing, and humorous.

    It does get him in do-do once in a while, though.

    1. (it started back in grade school when he used to show off to the girls on the monkey bars)

  11. So deuce and Quirk both admit that the Jewish lands, from the river to the sea were in fact populated by Jews.

    The egyptians were there, the Romans were.... and too the the Jewish People.

    not an arab not a palestinian to be seen for a couple THOUSAND years.

    1. .

      You are nuts. People have been raping, pillaging, and intermarrying since the beginning of time going back at least as far as the neanderthals, that is, when they weren't screwing sheep. There were only two Jews in Jerusalem in 1165 according to Maimonides. Do you think they weren't getting a little Arab tang on the side? And today with all the intermarriage, well...

      All of the Middle East is tribal and nutz.

      A DNA study of Jews and Palestinian Arabs (including Bedouins) found that these were more closely related to each other than to people of the Arabian Peninsula, Ethiopian Semitic-speaking people (Amharas, Tigre people and Tigrayans), and the Arabic speakers of North Africa.[11][12]

      Genetic studies indicate that modern Jews (Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahi specifically), Levantine Arabs, Assyrians, Samaritans, Syriacs-Arameans, Maronites, Druze, Mandaeans, and Mhallami, all have an ancient indigenous common Near Eastern heritage which can be genetically mapped back to the ancient Fertile Crescent, but often also display genetic profiles distinct from one another, indicating the different histories of these peoples.[13]

      Get over it, the Jews are simply one more tribe in a region of tribes.


  12. Yes and the Romans were in Camulodunum and Londinium. The Vikings in East Anglia and the Celts were in Gaul, now France.

    You argue like a twelve year old. Your ridiculous claims as being special or chosen are as silly and as preposterous as your religion and all other religions.

    Zionism is about as worthy as every other failed “fable-ism” throughout history and will likely last as long.

    1. There were no Jews or Arabs, Canaanites, Israelites, or Egyptians. There were only Neolithic farmers and herders and before that hunters and nomads. There was no concept of nation. It is crystalline nonsense, made up history worthy of Norse and German Mythology.

    2. I don't recall WiO making any ridiculous claims about his group being special or chosen, any more than any other, and I submit your understanding of religion as a whole is about at the 12 year old level, IMHO.

      Thank you.

    3. Agriculture first developed around 9000 BC, the Neolithic Revolution and with that the beginning of settled villages. That happened in the present day Middle East.

      The Iraqis have greater claims through Mesopotamia but there was no Iraq.

    4. My understanding of religion is basic. At best it is wishful thinking rising to dangerous and toxic tripe.

    5. That's why you're still at the 12 year old level.

      The idea of a Judgement, for instance, is hardly wishful thinking.

      Many - all ? - might wish there were no such concept.

    6. And yet you enjoy the weekend

      Thank the Jews and their faith for it.

  13. May 22, 2016

    CENTCOM commander in secret visit to Syria

    By Rick Moran

    An Associated Press reporter accompanied US CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel to a secret location in Syria where the general visited some of the 200 US military advisors who are training Syrian Kurds and Arabs to fight Islamic State.

    Votel is the highest ranking American to visit Syria.

    Votel's motives for visiting American forces were to highlight the work they are doing in training anti-ISIS fighters. There are no American combat troops in Syria, but US special forces are thought to be assisting Kurdish fighters on the battlefield.

    Votel said he brought reporters with him because, "We don't have anything to hide. I don't want people guessing about what we're doing here. The American people should have the right to see what we're doing here."

    Votel flew into northern Syria from Iraq, where he had conferred on Friday with U.S. and Iraqi military commanders. In Syria he met with U.S. military advisers working with Syrian Arab fighters and consulted with leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group of Kurdish and Arab fighters supported by the U.S.

    A small group of reporters accompanied Votel under ground rules that, for security reasons, prohibited disclosing his visit until after he had left Syria. After landing at a remote camp where American military advisers are training Syrian Arab troops in basic soldiering skills, Votel split off from the reporters who flew in with him; he then visited several other undisclosed locations in Syria before returning to the camp.

    Syria is a raging war zone, torn by multiple conflicts that have created severe human suffering across much of the country. But on Saturday the U.S. advisers camp that Votel visited was quiet. Situated about 50 miles from the nearest fighting, it was remarkably quiet. The sharpest sound was a month-old puppy's yapping as he ran between visitors' legs. A light breeze nudged several bright-yellow flags of the Syrian Democratic Forces attached to small bushes and atop a post buried in an earthen berm beside a shooting range.

    Aides said Votel's flight into Syria was the first made in daylight by U.S. forces, who have about 200 advisers on the ground. Military ground rules for the trip prohibited reporting the kind of aircraft Votel used, the exact location of where he landed and the names and images of the U.S. military advisers, who said they have been operating from the camp since January.

    An Associated Press reporter and journalists from two other news organizations were the first Western media to visit the secretive operation.

    Is it just a coincidence that Russia has offered to carry out joint strikes with the US? Votel disappeared for several hours from the training camp and could have met with Russian military leaders in Syria:

    Washington Examiner:

    The White House isn't ruling out an offer from Russia to begin jointly planning and carrying out airstrikes against al-Nusra Front, as well as other militants groups in Syria that are not observing a ceasefire....

    1. Anything wrong with the idea of Russia and the USA jointly attacking ISIS from the air ?

      If there is I don't see it yet....

  14. Deuce ☂Sun May 22, 06:19:00 PM EDT
    Yes and the Romans were in Camulodunum and Londinium. The Vikings in East Anglia and the Celts were in Gaul, now France.

    You argue like a twelve year old. Your ridiculous claims as being special or chosen are as silly and as preposterous as your religion and all other religions.

    Zionism is about as worthy as every other failed “fable-ism” throughout history and will likely last as long.

    Then all you say applies to the arabs and islam.

    1. Deuce's uses the terms "bulldozen choosen" to attempt to ridicule Jews and Israel.

      Jews believe that they are entitled to self determination JUST like every other peoples on the planet.

      Deuce believes that even made up "peoples" like the palestinians deserve their own state.

    2. Hopefully, we are witnessing the final gasp of theocracy and religious fanaticism.

    3. I can agree with that !

      I don't can't stand theocracy, or any other State 'ism', and can't stand religious or any other sort of fanaticism.

    4. Theocracy, and fanaticism....still more reasons to oppose a 'Palestinian' State.

    5. Deuce ☂Sun May 22, 06:54:00 PM EDT
      Hopefully, we are witnessing the final gasp of theocracy and religious fanaticism.

      Yes this is why the fakisinians are dying as a political movement

  15. The 'Palestinians' don't deserve a State because it would obviously be misogynist, racist, genocidal, and aggressive.

    That is why I don't support a state for them.

    There are way too many states having some or all of those characteristics already.

    Israel is not one of them. Nor is the good ol' USA.

    1. And theocratic and fanatical.

  16. A Brutal polling day for team Hillary. Two A- Polls (NBC/WSJ and ABC/Washington Post) showed Hillary up by three, and down by two, respectively. These are major haircuts from their last polls.

    It seems that a significant number of the "Bernie or Bust" contingent decided that if they couldn't have a pure communist they would just go for . . . . . Trump? Evidently, so. As the pubbies are coming home, so will most of these - but, how many would just be a guess.

    The fact is, right now, you could not call this race anything better than a toss-up if you're Hillary, and could easily claim a small to medium lead if you're a Trumpster.

    I'll still stick with my "Hillary +6," but with considerably less comfort than a week ago. :)

    1. Don't put any money on that !

    2. You might not know it but Jack Nicklaus has endorsed The Donald !

      So he's got the NRA AND the PGA.

      Unbeatable !

  17. The good news is I paid $0.89 for a dozen Extra Large eggs at Walmart. :)

  18. ( Anbar – On Sunday, official journalists with the Ministry of Defense announced, that the Iraqi F16 fighter jets destroyed a laboratory for manufacturing improvised explosive devices and killed dozens of ISIS members in Fallujah District.

    The journalists said in a statement obtained by, “The Iraqi Air Force conducted a number of air strikes in Fallujah District, based on accurate intelligence information, and destructed a laboratory for manufacturing improvised explosive devices belonging to ISIS, as well as killing dozens of ISIS terrorists and burning two vehicles.”

    The statement added, “The strikes also resulted in the destruction of the so-called ISIS Sharia Court.”


    1. Iraq Announces Start Of Falluja Operation, Some Residents Flee

      The army is asking residents to leave the city ahead of the battle.

      BAGHDAD, May 22 (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the launching of an offensive to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Falluja after the military told residents on Sunday to get ready to leave before fighting started.

      “Zero hour for the liberation of Falluja has arrived. The moment of great victory has drawn near and Daesh has no choice but to flee,” Abadi said on his official Twitter feed, using an Arabic acronym for the jihadist group.

      He said the offensive would be conducted by the army, police, counterterrorism forces, local tribal fighters and a coalition of mostly Shi’ite Muslim militias. A U.S.-led coalition that has bombed Islamic State in Iraq and neighboring Syria for nearly two years was expected to provide air support.

      Falluja, a longtime bastion of Sunni Muslim jihadists, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, was the first city to fall to the jihadists, in January 2014, six months before the group declared a caliphate spanning large parts of Iraq and Syria.

      Iraqi officials said Shi’ite militias, including ones backed by neighboring Iran, may be restricted to operating outside the city proper, as they were largely in the battle for Ramadi, to avoid aggravating sectarian tensions with Sunni residents.

      The Iraqi army, police and the militias, backed by coalition air strikes, have surrounded Falluja since late last year, while the jihadists have been preventing residents from leaving for months.

      Families who cannot flee should raise white flags to mark their location in the city, the military’s media unit said in a statement on state television, a tactic employed with some success in other recent offensives.

      Deputy District Council Chairman Falih al-Essawi said three corridors would be opened for civilians to camps west, southwest and southeast of the city, and a subsequent military statement said some residents had begun to flee.

      “Our goal is to liberate civilians from Daesh’s repression and terrorism,” Abadi said in a televised speech.

      Huffington Post

  19. If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

    If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

    If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,

    If you can understand when your loved ones
    are too busy to give you any time,

    If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

    If you can conquer tension without medical help,

    If you can relax without alcohol,

    If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

    Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!

  20. They've given up on Mosul and have turned to an easier target.


  21. I recall how Quirk mocked me when I said the world, except for the mid-east, is actually getting better, not worse. Here is my reply -

    Why the State of the World Is Better Than You Think

    Stewart M. Patrick, Megan M. Roberts |Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    Is there something about living near Detroit that darkens a man's landscape ?

  22. One boy's puppy love made these rescue pooches more comfortable.

    Jacob Tumalan, a 6-year-old with autism, reads to shelter dogs every week at the Carson Animal Shelter in Gardena, California, as part of a group called "Rescue Readers," ABC News reported.


    "My son has always had a big problem with loud noises and a lot of activity around him," Katie Tumalan told ABC News. "When he's there, he looks like he's pretty focused and he could block a lot of that out.

  23. .

    And yet you enjoy the weekend

    Thank the Jews and their faith for it.

    Oh, you were actually being serious.

    I think I'll thank the farmers, the labor movement, Henry Ford, and FDR.


  24. Donald Trump is the clear choice for pro-Israel voters

    By David Friedman

    May 19, 2016 | 8:28pm

    Modal Trigger Donald Trump is the clear choice for pro-Israel voters
    Photo: Getty Images

    There are many reasons to vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton on Election Day.

    But I believe one being missed too often is the importance of restoring and enhancing the critical relationship between the United States and Israel. If this is something you endorse, Donald Trump is the clear choice.

    There are at least five aspects of the crucial US-Israel alliance that Trump understands better than Clinton:

    Strategic: Israel shares a common enemy with the United States — radical Islamic jihadism — and is on the front lines of the battle against it. Israel’s cooperation with the United States on intelligence and security is essential to keeping radical Islamists off American shores and away from Israeli targets.

    Military: The Israel Defense Forces work closely with all branches of the US military. All US military aid to Israel is reinvested in American manufacturers, and Israel improves the products it purchases as well (a recent example being the F-35 fighter plane).

    Each of the two nations’ respective armies is stronger because of this cooperation.

    High-tech: Technological advancements drive our commercial future, and the United States and Israel are the Western world’s two technological superpowers. Their alignment is essential to compete against nations like China, India and Russia.

    Moral: Israel is a robust democracy surrounded by rogue nations, terrorist states and dictatorial theocracies. It is the only nation in the world that permits (Arab) members of its parliament to advocate the overthrow of the state.

    1. Israel is the vanguard of Arab civil rights, but the only non-Arab nation in the region. And, from Haiti to Thailand, its medical SWAT teams are the first to land on foreign soil after a natural disaster — something the Obama administration conspicuously ignored when crediting foreign nations for their Haiti response. Trump would never hesitate to remind the international community of Israel’s moral example.

      Religious/historical: The United States was founded upon Judeo-Christian values, rooted in the Old Testament and other sacred texts. In the very beginning of the Old Testament, God promises the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. That covenant still means something to many Americans, and even non-believers recognize the ancient right of the Jewish people to the Holy Land.

      People who take one or more of these principles to heart constitute the “pro-Israel” crowd. And these are the principles held dear by Donald Trump.

      Mr. Trump believes in keeping Israel strong, safe and secure, in never pressuring Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians and in moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital.

      Trump suffers no confusion as to who is a friend and who is a foe. He remembers how the Palestinians celebrated in the West Bank and Gaza after the 9/11 attacks, and he remembers how the Israeli people mourned — so grief-stricken that their painful experiences were now being felt by their closest ally.

      Secretary Clinton, in contrast, is no friend of Israel despite her protestations to the contrary. She will continue all of President Obama’s worst policies — threatening Israel, insulting its leaders, nuclearizing and funding Iran, excusing terrorists and projecting weakness throughout the world — and then she will make matters even worse.

      Just look at the emails she tried to keep secret: They show her complementing the radically anti-Israel views of Max Blumenthal and considering a plan for the United States to organize Israeli Arabs to engage in anti-Israeli protests. And one can’t ignore her willingness, as secretary of state, to accept financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation from rogue nations in exchange for government favors.

      Simply put, Clinton perpetuates all of the anti-Israel activity of the Obama administration, but her demonstrable lack of a moral compass makes her even more dangerous.

      Pro-Israel voters can enthusiastically get behind Donald Trump. They should run like the wind from Hillary Clinton.