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 on: November 28, 2015, 10:49:27 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Egyptian Cleric: ISIS Grows out of Islamic Mainstream
by Raymond Ibrahim  •  Nov 25, 2015
Cross-posted from Coptic Solidarity

Originally published under the title "Al Azhar and ISIS: Cause and Effect."
Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr heads a group of former Al Azhar graduates who support a civil government.

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr, a scholar of Islamic law and graduate of Egypt's Al Azhar University—regularly touted as the world's most prestigious Islamic university—recently exposed his alma mater in a televised interview.

After being asked why Al Azhar, which is in the habit of denouncing secular thinkers as un-Islamic, refuses to denounce the Islamic State as un-Islamic, Sheikh Nasr said:

It can't [condemn the Islamic State as un-Islamic]. The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar's programs. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic? Al Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world [to establish it]. Al Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate. Al Azhar is hostile towards religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc. Al Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from religious minorities]. Al Azhar teaches stoning people. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?

Nasr joins a growing chorus of critics of Al Azhar. Last September, while discussing how the Islamic State burns some of its victims alive—most notoriously, a Jordanian pilot—Egyptian journalist Yusuf al-Husayni remarked on his satellite program that "The Islamic State is only doing what Al Azhar teaches... and the simplest example is Ibn Kathir's Beginning and End."
Al Azhar, which the New York Times calls "Sunni Islam's leading religious institution," refuses to denounce ISIS as un-Islamic.

Ibn Kathir is one of Sunni Islam's most renowned scholars; his Beginning and End is a magisterial history of Islam and a staple at Al Azhar. It is also full of Muslims, beginning with Muhammad, committing the sorts of atrocities that the Islamic State and other Islamic organizations and persons commit.

In February, Egyptian political writer Dr. Khalid al-Montaser revealed that Al Azhar was encouraging enmity for non-Muslims, specifically Coptic Christians, and even inciting for their murder. Marveled Montaser:

Is it possible at this sensitive time — when murderous terrorists rest on texts and understandings of takfir [accusing Muslims of apostasy], murder, slaughter, and beheading — that Al Azhar magazine is offering free of charge a book whose latter half and every page — indeed every few lines — ends with "whoever disbelieves [non-Muslims] strike off his head"?

The prestigious Islamic university—which co-hosted U.S. President Obama's 2009 "A New Beginning" speech—has even issued a free booklet dedicated to proving that Christianity is a "failed religion."

In short, the phenomenon known as "ISIS" is not a temporal aberration within Islam but rather a byproduct of what is considered normative thinking for Al Azhar—the Islamic world's most authoritative university.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum

 on: November 28, 2015, 10:44:07 AM 
Started by Quijote - Last post by Crafty_Dog
second post

The Fear of the Other Europe
Geopolitical Weekly
November 24, 2015 | 08:00 GMT Print
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By Reva Bhalla

Refugees are a natural byproduct of revolution. Stripped of status and security in the throes of political change, the masses will tend to sacrifice a life of familiar faces, customs and places and flock to foreign lands in search of simple things: a place to live, earn and provide for their kin in peace. But in that search for the path of least physical and political resistance, migrants cannot avoid disturbing the peace along the way. Their names, clothes, accents, languages and religions — everything that gives them a sense of place and belonging at home — make them "the other" in the eyes of their new hosts and thus undeserving of the rights and privileges of those with whom they are expected to assimilate. For the many who end up in Europe, assimilation will instead occur in the ghettos, where migrants already pushed to the fringes of society cling to rose-tinted memories of the life they left behind, widening a chasm in which radical ideas can fester for generations.

These are the conditions that threaten to radicalize and mobilize migrant offspring in France, Belgium and elsewhere. These were also the conditions endured by waves of displaced Goths who flooded the Roman Empire to flee their Hun invaders and of the millions of Eastern Europeans whose identity cards could scarcely keep up with the borders changing beneath their feet in the fervor and confusion of the world wars (the great "migration of nations," as Polish-born writer Aleksander Wat named it). In each mass migration, identities were lost, traded or hijacked along the way. As deeper phobias develop and moral restraint wears away, inventive and often dangerous schemes are developed to "solve" the problem of "the other." In 1926, the League of Nations had the idea to relocate former czarist emigres from Russia to the interior of Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru, an offer only briefly taken up by a few hundred Cossacks who warned their countrymen that a persecuted life in Europe, or even suicide, was still preferable to the exotic dangers they encountered in malaria-infested jungles. For the Third Reich, it was the ideological pursuit of lebensraum, or living space, through aggressive territorial expansion and genocide that would be framed in Nazi propaganda as an answer to Germany's post-World War I travails.
Europe Struggles to Find Its Balance

If refugees are a product of revolution, then the product of mass refugee flows is often a blend of economic stress and ethnic nationalism, the foundation of many transformative geopolitical events in our time. It would therefore be prudent to think through the deeper consequences of the large numbers of migrants fleeing lawlessness in the Middle East for a European Union that was sliding into an existential crisis before the most recent wave of migrants even showed up.

Over the past century, Europe has swung dramatically between two poles. After taking a destructive leap into ethnic nationalism, years of industrial-scale killings exhausted Europe to the point that states developed the extraordinary will to sacrifice their national sovereignty for the sake of avoiding conflict and pursuing prosperity in a union of European states. Europe's storied past, in a sense, would be overcome only by pushing nationalism under the rug and focusing on making money instead. That worked only until the promise of prosperity was crushed in the financial crisis of the early 21st century.

As economic pain grew from south to north and west to east on the Continent, the Euroskeptics calling for taking care of one's own before bailing out the distant relatives in the union gained popularity and strength at the expense of the Europeanists advocating an ever-closer union. Whether the message came from the right or the left or from the creditors or the debtors of the crisis, the idea was the same: When livelihoods are threatened, a state must look after its own interests before making sacrifices for the other. Even before Syrians, Libyans and Afghans began arriving en masse on European shores, the European Union was struggling with the idea that Germany shared the identity and fate of Greece. The suggestion, then, that a German taxpayer would now have to make sacrifices for a Syrian on the run was simply a bridge too far.

The Paris attacks did not send Europe into an entirely new direction; they catalyzed the long-running and arguably inevitable trend of European fragmentation. The debate over borders — lines that distinguish one's own from the other — is a logical flashpoint. As part of the European Union's efforts to forge a common European identity, the Schengen Agreement was designed to eliminate physical borders, a policy anchored in the bloc's foundational principle of allowing free movement of Europeans across national boundaries. But as more countries from the farther reaches of the Continent joined, fears grew of Balkan peoples straining social welfare systems and bringing crime into the core of Europe. The influx of refugees from the Middle East only deepened European disillusionment with Schengen as Syrians, Libyans and other migrants took advantage of weak border controls in the Balkans to make their way north. In the wake of the Paris attacks, the potential for militants to camouflage themselves in migrant flows only reinforces Europeans' paranoia over the security of their borders.

While lengthy, sophisticated and ultimately ineffectual debates over Schengen were taking place in Brussels, the countries on the front lines of the migrant crisis took matters into their own hands. Hungary and Slovenia built fences, and border controls were reimposed throughout the Schengen zone. No one was about to wait around while Brussels tried to come up with a 28-member consensus on how to deal with the problem. The danger now is that as Greece continues to funnel refugees northward, as Hungary and Slovenia shut off their non-Schengen neighbors to the south with fences, and as the Carpathian Mountains create physical difficulties for rerouting to the east, a bottleneck will develop in the Balkans. Already, some Balkan countries are trying to cherry-pick which refugees they will accept based on nationality and religion. This is a region where numerous unsettled issues from the 1990s can spark ethnic riots that a distracted Europe will have trouble containing.

As the Schengen pillar of the European Union comes crashing down, logically we should give the foundation of the European Union — France and Germany — a closer inspection. The European Union, after all, is a form of grand compromise between Paris and Berlin whereby they put aside their historical competitive impulses along the North European Plain and economically tether themselves to each other as a form of mutual containment. An economically stagnant France is more likely to identify with its southern Mediterranean roots as it grows more alienated from its economically healthier European peers to the north. Both France and Germany will face elections in 2017. In France, the nationalist and Euroskeptic currents underpinning Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front and Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right Republicans are likely to continue strengthening as economic stresses persist and as security concerns overwhelm the state. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's voice is already being drowned out by her more Euroskeptic Cabinet members and coalition partners who are showing less inhibition as they assert German rights in violation of pan-European interests.

Elsewhere in Europe, the United Kingdom is in the process of negotiating additional distance between itself and its European peers, creating political space for Poland to also go down a reverse-integration path. The Dutch have recently put forth an idea to create a mini-Schengen of culturally like-minded states with the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria, a grouping that harkens back to the Holy Roman Empire of the late 18th century. The fact that European elite are comfortable openly discussing a break-up into smaller blocs of culturally and historically harmonious entities and the ejection of more awkward elements such as Greece should not be taken lightly. Indeed, the debate over a "Grexit" is bound to resurface as a politically fragile Athens continues to struggle to implement reform. Germany's irritation will reverberate throughout the eurozone once again as Greece tries to leverage the growing number of refugees bottled up within its borders to negotiate a more lenient bailout timeline with its creditors. Only this time, the term Grexit and proposals to form new blocs is no longer taboo.
A Cycle of Division

A divided Europe will not necessarily replicate the horrors of the early 20th century. History will rhyme, however, at the intersection of several trends running in parallel. The splintering of Europe overlays the erosion of central authority within the Sykes-Picot borders in the Middle East — borders that the Europeans created to divide the region and tighten their colonial grip. With those territories in prolonged conflict, the weakening of those regimes and the radical ideologies borne out of power vacuums will risk drawing a minority of European Muslims into battle while driving migrants into the heart of Europe, accelerating Europe's path toward fragmentation.

As the core powers of Europe become more skeptical of the benefits of the European Union, compromises on issues ranging from migration to bailout policies will become elusive. A resurgent Turkey will leverage its position as the migrant gateway to Europe to exact concessions from the West while reassuming its imperial responsibilities in northern Syria and Iraq. Russia will use European divisions to its advantage as it tries to temper a Western encroachment in its former Soviet space even as it remains just as susceptible as the Europeans to the ethnic frictions and security threats emanating from mass migrant flows.

The global hegemon, by definition, will find itself at the center of this oddly familiar set of challenges afflicting Eurasia. The United States already shoulders most of the burden in extending a security buffer against Russia in Central and Eastern Europe and in trying to put a lid on conflicts in the Middle East. But an even bigger challenge may not have fully registered on Washington's radar: the darker side of a Europe willing to re-embrace nationalism in response to a fear of the other.

 on: November 28, 2015, 10:38:40 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by ppulatie

Disagree entirely with your premise. The problem was that Romney was a bad candidate. He should have won the election, but he lost because he was not good in the debates, especially after Candy Crowley gobsmacked him.  Also, the fact that Romney created his own version of Obamacare in Mass, and that was used as the basis for Obamacare, doomed him.

Who do you think controls the State RNC groups?  The National RNC has tremendous influence and gets their own people put into place at the state level.  Then they do manipulate things to get their own candidate on the ballot.

Look at Kasich in New Hampshire. Kasich is old school GOPe. His own people went to Court to get Trump thrown off the ballot for not being "republican" enough, but lost in under 60 seconds when the judge threw the case out. Go figure.

Look at South Carolina and Virginia trying to get a "pledge" requirement to not run as a 3rd party, or Trump or others could not run on the ballot. Look at Florida and the other states who change the rules for running and delegate selection every four years, doing so to support the GOPe candidate.

This is all about the professional politicians trying to stay in power, and the crony capitalists who support them for their own gain.

 on: November 28, 2015, 10:37:18 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
The pictures and maps in the original do not post here:

Russians in the Arctic: The Prize of a Presence
November 28, 2015 | 14:00 GMT Print
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Russia is bolstering its Arctic installations. As mentioned in previous Stratfor analyses about the facilities under construction by the Russian military and the logistical effort that goes into maintaining them, these outposts are not typical military bases and are not meant to host significant ground combat elements. The overall military purpose of Russia's activity in the Arctic is of a different nature.

As the northernmost outposts belonging to Russia's armed forces, the Alexandra and Kotelny island facilities are mainly used for monitoring and observation duties. Through the construction of radar stations and new runways, identified in satellite imagery by experts at AllSource Analysis, Russia is able to maintain a limited yet capable presence on the islands. The radar facilities enable Russia to track activity in the Arctic's airspace, a theater that has some significance in both the scramble for the Arctic itself and the broader military balance between Russia and the West.

The Arctic contains the most direct routes between northern Russia and North America, thereby playing an important role in the element of deterrence that is maintained through bomber fleets.

In addition to the radar stations, Russia has also been constructing new runways on the islands to support the deployment of military aircraft to its bases there. The main goal is not necessarily to set up an air combat capability, but rather to forward deploy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. Aircraft are a key part of maritime reconnaissance, and the ability to deploy them so far north vastly expands Russia's reach.

Although Moscow's most immediate concern is monitoring activities, the potential for Russia to deploy combat-capable forces to the islands in case of crisis cannot be ruled out. Ground combat forces would make little sense on the islands; any military conflict in the Arctic would be heavily focused on maritime and aerial capabilities, but nonetheless, Russia has been deploying forces to the islands to familiarize them with operations in the harsh Arctic climate. Imagery of exercises shows Russian forces using equipment geared specifically toward operations in the Arctic, but it also indicates the small scale of such deployments. In times of crisis, the Arctic bases could play a much more critical role as staging points for bomber or interceptor aircraft and perhaps even as supply points for maritime task forces.

 on: November 28, 2015, 10:25:38 AM 
Started by ccp - Last post by ppulatie
Good morning Doug!

I have been waiting for you to post this.  Love your reasons for not believing the poll. But let's look at it from another perspective.

Reuters uses a 5 Day Rolling Average to arrive at the new daily numbers. So what does that tell us with this poll?

                           N16          N17       N18       N19      N20       N21     N22       N23       N24       N25      N26        N27

Trump                 37.6           35.8     36.2       36.6      35.8      36.0      32.0     32.0       33        30.0      28.0       35.0

Cruz                     11.2           11.2      11.3      10.0       11.3     12.6      18        19          20        19         19         13

Carson                15.4            15.9     16.7       16.7      17.1     17.4      17        12.7       12.2       9.2        9.4          10

Rubio             14              13.8     13.5       13.3      12.9      11.6     12.1      12.5       11.9      16         15            14

Jeb                      5.1              5.2       5.1         5.1       5.1        4.5      5.3        7.2         7.7        8.3        9            11

Sample                636             697      687        660       550       328     237      222         199       182        178        165

1. The sample size daily dropped from 697 down to 165. The smaller the sample, the greater the "weighting" of the poll. Weighting adds significant biases and increases the margin of error on small sized polls.

2.  For Trump, on Nov 21 and N 22, a 4% point drop occurs, down to 32%.  The Nov 22 sample was a much greater drop than 4%, since with a rolling average, the drop also had to take into account the previous 4 days at 36%. For N22 to be at 32%, then the actual daily results were about 20%. Add in that the sample was 237 people for the day, and you have a major issue with the poll.  (The reserve happened for Cruz that day, going from 12.6 to 18%.)

3. Look at N26 and N27, you see the same issue pop up again, based upon a 165 person sample.

Obviously, the sample size is a major determinate, along with the weighting used. Add to this that the polling is occurring during a holiday week which is generally accepted to cause reliability issues, and the results become circumspect, especially when looking at the N27 response where Trump jumped back up to 35%.

I would simply toss this week results out the window and only consider results beginning about the end of next week as being more reliable indicators, provided that sample size increases significantly.

(If not for the N27 increase in Trump's numbers to 35%, I would have looked at the results a bit differently, wondering if Trumpisms had finally caught up with him, though I would have wanted to see more daily polling to reach any conclusion.)

 on: November 28, 2015, 09:20:09 AM 
Started by Quijote - Last post by Crafty_Dog

Nov. 26, 2015 5:00 p.m. ET

Europeans will remember 2015 as the year in which national security became an everyday concern, from Russia’s encroachments on NATO’s periphery to the jihadist threat to their urban centers. So kudos to David Cameron’s government for reversing years of cuts to Britain’s military spending with a strategic review that starts to take account of the world as it is.

“We must expect the unexpected,” the Prime Minister warned Parliament on Monday. Britain, he added, “can make sure that we have the versatility and the means to respond to new risks and threats to our security.”

To that end, the government plans to spend £2 billion ($3 billion) on additional weapons for its special forces, hire 1,900 new foreign and domestic intelligence personnel, buy 20 long-range Reaper drones, restore Britain’s maritime patrol capabilities with nine P8 Poseidon aircraft (useful for hunting Russian submarines), and add new squadrons of land-based Typhoon and sea-based F-35 jets. The government will also set aside £41 billion to build Britain’s next generation of nuclear missile submarines.

As important, Mr. Cameron seems belatedly to recognize the need for Britain to maintain robust expeditionary forces. The number of deployable troops will increase to 50,000 from 30,000, including two new strike brigades of 5,000 troops each, capable of moving on short notice. “Not one of these capabilities is an optional extra,” he noted. “These investments are an act of clear-eyed self-interest.”

The Prime Minister is surely right, though even this new spending is not sufficient given the degraded state of Britain’s military. The U.K. spent 5.4% of GDP on defense in 1982, when it was barely able to muster the forces needed to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentina. Defense spending now hovers at 2.2%—large by European standards but barely meeting the NATO minimum of 2%.

Another concern is that many of the new capabilities won’t be operational for several years, while the security threats are increasing now. Mr. Cameron wants to increase Britain’s involvement in attacking Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, but Britain’s involvement is partly limited by not having an aircraft carrier capable of deploying fixed-wing aircraft. The U.K. is building two large carriers to replace the small jump-jet carriers it retired over the last decade, but the new ships aren’t scheduled to come into service until the 2020s. Maybe they’ll be put to use against whatever comes after Islamic State.

All of this is a reminder of the danger of shortchanging the military in a belief that the world will stay peaceful without a robust deterrent. That’s one of President Obama’s signature illusions, with his predictions of a receding tide of war. U.S. defense spending is also too low in an era of multiplying threats. Still, Mr. Cameron has made a useful start, and his NATO allies should follow his lead.

 on: November 28, 2015, 06:36:28 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

I wonder what the stats would look like for Venezuela?

What is strange, is that Marxism is scientific. Or so I have been told.

 on: November 28, 2015, 02:09:52 AM 
Started by G M - Last post by DougMacG
Mon - Fri, 8 - 5.

 on: November 28, 2015, 01:46:29 AM 
Started by ccp - Last post by DougMacG
Reuters Ipsos, Trump down 12 points in one week.
Lib poll, under sampled R's, previous poll was an outlier, etc.

 on: November 27, 2015, 10:43:28 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

Los Angeles Just Proposed the Worst Use of License Plate Reader Data in History.

Last month, when I spoke on a panel called “Spying in Public: Policy and Practice” at the 25th Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Washington, DC, we were embroiled in a discussion of license plate readers. As a law enforcement technologist, and a working police detective, I generally support the use of license plate readers. I discussed at the conference a child pornography case in which the suspect (now indicted) had fled the city and the police located him using the technology.
From the back of the room came the comment, “The issue is the potentially chilling effect that this technology has on freedom of association and freedom of transportation.”
That’s literally the phrase that leapt into my mind when I read the monumentally over-reaching idea posed by Nury Martinez, a 6th district Los Angeles city councilwoman, to access a database of license plates captured in certain places around the city, translate these license plates to obtain the name and address of each owner, and send to that owner a letter explaining that the vehicle was seen in, “an area known for prostitution.”

Councilwoman Nury Martinez
Councilwoman Martinez feels that prostitution is not a “victimless” crime, and that by discouraging johns, the incidence of the crime can be reduced. Martinez told CBS Los Angeles, “If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox. But if you are, these letters will discourage you from returning. Soliciting for sex in our neighborhoods is not OK.”
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to ask the office of the District Attorney for their help implementing the plan.
Have Ms. Martinez and the Los Angeles City Council taken leave of their senses? This scheme makes, literally, a state issue out of legal travel to arbitrary places deemed by some — but not by a court, and without due process — to be “related” to crime in general, not to any specific crime.
There isn’t “potential” for abuse here, this is a legislated abuse of technology that is already controversial when it’s used by police for the purpose of seeking stolen vehicles, tracking down fugitives and solving specific crimes.
It is theoretically possible that a law enforcement officer could observe an area he understands to be known for prostitution, and, upon seeing a vehicle driving in a certain manner, or stopping in front of suspected or known prostitutes, based on his reasonable suspicion that he bases on his analysis of the totality of these specific circumstances, the officer could speak with the driver to investigate. This is very uncommon, because it would take a huge amount of manpower and time.
The City Council and Ms. Martinez seek to “automate” this process of reasonable suspicion (reducing it to mere presence at a certain place), and deploy it on a massive scale. They then seek to take this much further, through a highly irresponsible (and probably illegal) action that could have significant consequences on the recipient of such a letter — and they have absolutely no legal standing to write, let alone send it. There are grave issues of freedom of transportation and freedom of association here.
Guilt by association would be a higher standard.
Worse, they seek to use municipal funds to take action against those guilty of nothing other than traveling legally on city streets, then access the state-funded Department of Motor Vehicle registration records to resolve the owner data, then use municipal moneys to write, package and pay the United States Postal Service to deliver a letter that is at best a physical manifestation of the worst kind of Digital McCarthyism. There are clearly Constitutional issues here.
Oh, and what happens to those records once they are committed to paper? As letters sent by the District Attorney or City Council, they would be rightly subject to Freedom of Information Laws. And mandatory retention periods that exceed those of automated license plate data, even though no investigation has been consummated.
Which means that, under Councilwoman Martinez’ scheme, anyone will be able to get a list of all vehicles driving in certain parts of town merely by requesting “all ‘John’ letters sent” between a date range.
Far from serving as, in the words of one proponent, a private “wake-up call,” these letters will surely be the basis of insurance, medical, employment and other decisions, and such a list can be re-sold to public records companies, advertising mailing list companies…the list is, literally, endless.
This wrong-headed law has, out of the gate, a chilling effect on association and transport.
No non-fascist state should ever allow this to happen.

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