March 28, 2016

In Aftermath of Brussels Attacks, Scrutiny Turns to Failures of Belgium Intelligence
— Ace

CNN:


The fact that Abdeslam moved among safe-houses in the Brussels area for more than 120 days suggests Belgian authorities have few informants in Muslim communities.

After the Paris attacks, French officials grumbled about how much of the preparation was done in Belgium. Finance Minister Michel Sapin reopened the wounds Wednesday when he said there was a "lack of will on the part of some Belgian authorities, perhaps a naivety." Sapin said Belgium had failed to integrate its immigrant population.

But the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggested the problem went far beyond Belgium, saying Europe had closed its eyes "to the rise of extremist Salafist ideas in neighborhoods where a mix of drug trafficking and radical Islam have led youth astray."

I was amused at CNN's Moral of the Story at the article's end:

Another terror attack would further sour the mood as well as undermine the foundations of an open, tolerant and multicultural Europe. And that's just what ISIS wants.

Note that the preceding fifteen paragraphs were about ISIS exploiting an Open, Tolerant, and Multicultural Europe. Yet, somehow, Europe making itself a harder target is "Just what ISIS wants."

CNN also blames a failure to share intelligence for the failure, which is a typical bureaucratic response to failure.

Time mostly blames the things liberals like to blame-- a supposed failure of European society to assimilate the unassimilatable, and budget cuts for government -- but has this conclusion:

In an interview in Brussels in January, Alain Winants, former chief of Belgium’s State Security Service between 2006 and 2014, told TIME that the country’s politicians had for years sidelined intelligence officials, and that the agency was hobbled in its work. "There was not only a lack of interest but distrust from the political world in intelligence," said Winants, who is now a Supreme Court prosecutor. "It was impossible to do what we had to do," he said, adding with a chuckle, "James Bond could never be a Belgian."

Among the things they had to do which they did not do? Give Abdeslam a properly rough interrogation, writes Mark Thiessen.

When Salah Abdeslam, believed to be the logistics chief for an Islamic State terror cell, was captured, Belgian officials followed law enforcement procedures with precision. They provided Abdeslam a lawyer, told him he had the right to remain silent and put him into the Belgian criminal justice system. Four days later, the terror cell carried out bombings in Brussels that killed 35 people -- including at least four Americans -- and injured hundreds more.

Astonishingly, officials did not question Abdeslam at all for his first 24 hours in custody. He spent Friday night in the hospital recovering from a leg wound sustained in the raid. When he was finally returned to the police on Saturday, he was questioned by authorities for a grand total of . . . two hours -- and then was not questioned again until after the attacks. Why? "He seemed very tired and he had been operated on the day before," a senior Belgian security official told Politico.

He seemed tired? That’s precisely when they should be interrogating him. The CIA used sleep deprivation as one of its most effective interrogation tools. But for Belgians, a terrorist’s exhaustion is a reason to stop questioning, not intensify it.

But here is the most incredible part: During those two hours of questioning, The Post reports, "investigators did not ask ... about his knowledge of future plots."

Seriously? Abdeslam was the logistics chief for the Brussels-based terror cell that carried out both the Paris and Brussels bombings. According to the New York Times, "He was the fixer, renting cars, finding apartments, picking people up and dropping them off." He could have identified the other members of his cell, the safe houses they used, how they communicated, moved money, picked travel routes and -- most importantly -- the targets they had selected.

Unrelated? Shots reported at the US Capitol building. Nothing more to report yet, but I wanted to mention it.

Update: Shooter has been caught; one Capitol police officer wounded, not seriously.


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Report: FBI to Interview Hillary Rodham and Her Aides
— Ace

Just checkin' up to make sure everything's okay.

Federal prosecutors investigating the possible mishandling of classified materials on Hillary Clinton’s private email server have begun the process of setting up formal interviews with some of her longtime and closest aides, according to two people familiar with the probe, an indication that the inquiry is moving into its final phases.

Those interviews and the final review of the case, however, could still take many weeks, all but guaranteeing that the investigation will continue to dog Clinton’s presidential campaign through most, if not all, of the remaining presidential primaries.

No dates have been set for questioning the advisors, but a federal prosecutor in recent weeks has called their lawyers to alert them that he would soon be doing so, the sources said. Prosecutors also are expected to seek an interview with Clinton herself, though the timing remains unclear.

The interviews by FBI agents and prosecutors will play a significant role in helping them better understand whether Clinton or her aides knowingly or negligently discussed classified government secrets over a non-secure email system when she served as secretary of State.

Keep hope alive.

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Mid-Morning Open Thread [CBD}
— Open Blogger

999.jpg

What is the largest number you can represent with three digits?

[ROE are unchanged]

And the answer is:

999

Posted by: Open Blogger at 05:00 AM | Comments (750)
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Morning Thread (3-28-2016)
— andy

Back to work, peasants. The tax man cometh.

Posted by: andy at 12:35 AM | Comments (175)
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March 27, 2016

Overnight Open Thread (3-27-2016) - Easter Edition
— Maetenloch

Quote of the Day I

The upper-middle-class climate-warriors at the heart of Sanders's movement imagine themselves victims of a world-destroying capitalist conspiracy. Incremental nationalization of the energy industry is their path to global salvation; nor is the silencing of climate dissenters too high a price to pay. Other Sanders socialists aim to shut down Trump rallies. This is not democracy but a return of authoritarian socialism, the most seductive secular religion that history has ever known.

-- Stanley Kurtz on feeling the Bern

Quote of the Day II

"Europe has been real a******s about Israel," [Bill] Maher said.

"I mean, in general. The U.N. - as of 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council had issued more official condemnations of Israel than the rest of the world's nations combined. I wonder now that Europe has been attacked four times now in a little over a year, and they say ISIS has 400 fighters that they are ready to introduce back into Europe, and they're trying to get a dirty bomb - maybe Europe will have a little more sympathy for what Israel goes through."

Quote of the Day III

Socialism creates the decline, and other groups come in, like parasites on a weakened host.

-- Neo-Neocon on the history of Molenbeek's decline

So Our National Science Scold Took an Ignorant Dump on Batman

ndtbatmandouche

batnotblind

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Sunday Afternoon Chess Thread 03-27-16 [OregonMuse]
— Open Blogger


arguing with liberals.jpg


Good afternoon morons and moronettes, and welcome to the Sunday Afternoon Chess Thread, the only AoSHQ thread devoted to chess, written specifically for all of us noobs, fish, patzers, and wood-pushers who pay homage in the temple of Caïssa, goddess of knight forks and rooks on the 7th. Also good for discussion in the comments are other games you can play with boards, cards, pieces and no electricity. Even the newfangledyassed board games like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan. And poker. Poker's good, too. I suspect there's a lot of Moron poker players here.


“It is always better to sacrifice your opponent’s men.” (Tartakover)


Chess Resources On Teh Internetz

Based on the comments in the last chess thread, a number of you had questions about how to play chess and how to get better at chess.

How To Play: If you do a Google search for 'free online chess tutorial', you'll get a ton of hits. But for most of them, 'free' means 'free for the first one or two lessons', and I was too lazy to search for any exceptions.

There are are a number of explanatory YouTube videos that are meant to show the absolute beginner how to play. And I didn't like most of them for one reason or another and don't recommend them. But there are some that don't completely suck. One of them is the 'grobchess' YouTube channel and they have a 3-part tutorial that covers the basics.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Alternately, here is a free 15-minute video preview of a basic-chess-lessons DVD aimed at children by GM Susan Polgar, which covers the basics. And then, once you've learned the basic rules and how the pieces move, you should be ready for this 40-minute lecture by Polgar called "How To Think Like A Grandmaster" that goes over some basic concepts of how to play an actual chess game.

The Chesscorner.com Learn To Play Chess page looks like a half-way decent intro to chess. There's an explanation of the basic rules, plus intro to some tactics (forks, pins, skewers, etc.) and also openings.

The Learn How To Play Chess from Chess.com is the one I like the best. It has everything you to need to know to learn the game, moves are demonstrataed via animated, interactive chessboards, and there's a pointer to other free lessons (and even more if you want to pay).

If any of you chess-playing morons know of other free chess tutorial sites I missed, by all means, let me know in the comments.


Chess Problem #1 - Nothing Fancy

Nothing tricky or devious here, it's just White mates in 3:


White mates in 3 - 01.jpg

Answer later. more...

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Food Thread: I Want My Maypo! [CBD]
— Open Blogger

maypo.jpg

I begged and begged and begged for Maypo, and while my mother usually didn't suffer fools gladly (and I was surely a fool), I must have been particularly irritating because she finally bought a box, just to shut me up.

And I didn't like it at all!

What about the rest of The Horde? When you were kids, what foods were special, both good and bad?

We ate lots of weird stuff, so my list is long and disgusting. Calves brains, kidneys, tripe, octopus (although I love it now)...you name it, we ate it. I remember watching with horrid fascination as my father trimmed a beef heart. he showed me the structures and explained how it worked. All very cool for a 10-year-old kid. But then it showed up at dinner. Less cool.
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wharrgarbl until stomped [krakatoa]
— Open Blogger

That is all.





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Sunday Morning Book Thread 03-27-2016: Life Out Of Death [OregonMuse]
— Open Blogger


cat reading book.jpg
Everybody Likes To Read

Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. Welcome to AoSHQ's uuuge, stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The Sunday Morning Book Thread is the only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. And when I type up the book thread, my pinkies remain elevated the whole time, that's how classy it is.

“‎Since I could only take six books per visit from the library, I had to time it right, or I'd be stuck on Sundays rereading the five Reader's Digest Condensed Books sitting on our red laquered living room shelf.”
― Randy Susan Meyers


A Possible Solution For Pixy-Banning?

For a variety of reasons relating to internet privacy considerations, I decided to fork over the dough for a VPN connection. And for those of you who know even less than I do about internet topography, the internet knows you by your IP address, which is assigned to you by whatever ISP you signed up with. If you point your browser at sites such as whatismyipaddress.com, you may be surprised to see a little map where your home is located and info about what ISP you're with. It's kind of unsettling the first time you see it. So, what a VPN (virtual private network) does is add a layer of security by giving you a completely different IP address than the one your ISP gave to you. So I signed up with https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/ and so far, it's working pretty well. It occured to me that this might be a possible solution for those of you who have been pixy-banned. With my VPN, I get a whole new IP address, and not only that, I get to choose what part of the country my IP will be traced to. Right now, if you do an nslookup on my IP address, it thinks I'm using some ISP I've never heard of in New Jersey, which is 3000 miles away from where I actually am.

The downside to this is that if I go to an online retail store and the site attempts to tell me about brick-and-mortar locations near where I live, it won't even be close.

Here's a comparison of the various VPNs that are out there. Competition has driven the price down.

And I know this solution works, because I had to use it myself. I had to restart my computer and the VPN gave me a new IP. I discovered that, oh crap, none of my comments were showing up on the morning thread. I was getting no error messages, no warning, the comments just didn't appear. Pixybanned! So I disconnected the VPN, reconnected, got yet another IP, and now my comments post just fine.

My VPN costs $40 per year. But it has a 30-day trial version for $7. I suggest you do the trial version first, see if it fixes your pixy-banning, and if it doesn't, you can easily cancel and all you're out is $7. But if it does, if you find that you're now able to post comments on AoSHQ that stay put, then you've got a decision to make, whether that's going to be worth $40 per year.


A Rehash Of Grim History

This item was already written and finished before Friday when Obama started yammering about how there's little difference between communism and capitalism.

My church's denomination has sister churches in the former Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe and the Ukraine. I've met pastors from these churches at our annual denominational meeting, and inevitably, the conversation turns to American politics. And to a man, these pastors are all, like, "Why is the most successful country on earth trying to commit suicide by implementing a failed economic system? Listen to us: we've already TRIED socialism. IT DOESN'T WORK!! When are you stupid Americans going to wake up?!"

Also: "You know all that 'it takes a village' rhetoric that Hillary likes to spew? You Americans should know that we used to hear that crap in the Ukraine all the time back in the commie days, and take it from us, it's all bullsh*t."

Now, those who are telling me this are ministers of the Gospel, and they are uniformly kind and gracious men. So I've obviously spiced up the language here a bit. But I wanted to capture their sense of bafflement and incredulity that the most successful country in history is so determined go down a path that they've already learned from bitter experience leads nowhere but to economic ruin.

I was reminded of this when Amazon suggested this book to me, Memories of Poland, Lessons From Growing Up Under Communism by Paylie Roberts, an immigrant from Poland:

The author was born into communism (in Poland) and experienced that life until about the age of six when her family immigrated to the United States. With this background she has a unique perspective on the realities of living in a socialist/communistic society. She discusses the parallels of that life with what is occurring in the United States today. There are numerous examples that describe how and why we are losing our freedoms and hard-fought liberties. The author discusses the consequences and harsh realities of what this will lead to based on history and human nature. At a time when so many believe that socialist solutions are the ideal, this book is a welcome reality check to those notions.

Unlike many who write on this topic, the author offers solutions on how each of us can help to course correct, and also prepare to survive and overcome what she believes is an inevitable economic collapse and dawn of of an oppressive government.

The author is probably more optimistic than I. She may think we've taken a wrong path, one on which we can back up until we can take the right one. Me, I think a better way our current situation is that we're on a burning airplane in a nosedive: 3 engines have failed, the 4th is sputtering, and the attempts to effect fire control and emergency engine repairs are being actively resisted by a good percentage of the passengers as well as some of the flight crew.

By the way, these men I referred to, these ministers of the Gospel, when I hear them tell their stories, I am just astounded by their courage, cheerfulness, and faith under the most adverse circumstances, dealing with daily deprivations, governmental corruption, and hostile scrutiny that I can barely imagine, and I am reminded how much of America's prosperity and security I take for granted. I am not worthy to be in the same room with these guys.

But I am also reminded that out of death comes life. And on that note, happy Easter to all. He. Is. Risen.
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EMT 3/27/16 We can be Better edition. [krakatoa]
— Open Blogger

Lot of anger and frustration boiling over last week, obviously.




Let's try to keep everything in perspective though, ok?

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March 26, 2016

Overnight Open Thread (26 Mar 2016)
— CDR M

One would be naive to think that this is only going to happen in Europe. Raids uncover evidence of Europe-wide jihadist cell. Meanwhile, Obama reiterates his desire to admit 100,000 "refugees". more...

Posted by: CDR M at 04:55 PM | Comments (562)
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"That's Not Funny, That's SICK!" [OregonMuse]
— Open Blogger

That was how my mother reacted when I tried to tell her things I thought funny, like 'Little Willie' jokes:


Willie took his sister Nell
And threw her down into the well
She's there now because it kilt her
Now we have to buy a filter.

Mom never really understood my sense of humor, and of course, her shocked-face reaction would make me laugh even harder, but if she got disgusted enough, she'd whop me a good one.

So perhaps it's best she's no longer around to see this. I'm watching this video over and over again, and even though it looks absolutely brutal, I can't stop laughing. Goalkeeper Scott Stirling is kind of like the 'Ow, My Balls' guy from Idiocracy, only with his face:

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Rod Dreher: "Cheer Up, Conservatives" [CBD]
— Open Blogger

In Cheer Up, Conservatives, Rod Dreher praises a David Brooks column (yeah, suspicious), but goes on to express some interesting points, none of which cheered me particularly.

But here he makes an excellent point, and one which could be expanded to the embrace of some populist stances....

I am a social and religious conservative who cannot be a libertarian on principle, because I am a conservative. Yet I find that I have to be a libertarian for pragmatic reasons, because I want my little platoon left alone by the government.

But then he goes on to say:

And I am an embittered ex-Republican who is trying to bring himself around to realizing that as awful as the GOP is, they, and their judicial appointments, are the only thing standing between my little platoon and some pretty unfortunate outcomes. So yeah, I'll take good cheer where I can find it.

Huh?

At least it's short, and worth a few seconds to see how self-described conservatives are viewing the current...difficulties.

Posted by: Open Blogger at 11:45 AM | Comments (324)
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Ace of Spades Pet Thread [Misanthropic Humanitarian]
— Open Blogger

Z Ipeed app cover.jpg

more...

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Saturday Gardening Thread: Bookworm Edition [Y-not and KT]
— Open Blogger

Note: Open Thread Below for non-gardening discussions. more...

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Open Thread (KT)
— Open Blogger

To change the mood just a bit, Happy Easter Saturday!

Posted by: Open Blogger at 06:39 AM | Comments (121)
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Does Anyone Have a Plan to Stop Isis? [Y-not]
— Open Blogger

As Europe burns, differences between the GOP presidential contenders' approaches to terrorism are emerging. Here's a brief rundown:

Kasich Wants To Redraw Middle East Map (March 10th):

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the U.S. needs Muslim allies to stop the Islamic State group, even if that means allowing regional powers to create a new Middle East. As Republican presidential candidates debated how to fight ISIS militants Thursday night in Miami, Kasich took the opportunity to remind voters that he spent 18 years on the armed services committee...

It appears to have gone largely unnoticed, but during that same debate Donald Trump called for between 20,000 and 30,000 ground troops. Mr. Trump has previously called for boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq.

Ted Cruz has continued his tough talk about ISIS:
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The Luxurious High-Energy Pro-Trump Open Thread [Y-not]
— Open Blogger

It seems that the ISIS thread has ruffled the feathers of our more delicate Trump supporters, so here's a thread for them which they can use for 100% non-stop pro-Trump chat.

Some thread-fodder below:
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EMT 3/26/16 [krakatoa]
— Open Blogger

So that was a week at the HQ, eh? Meltdowns, gratuitous insults, nut-punches, titty-twisters & general unpleasantness for everyone involved.

As Robert Brault* wisely said: If you can’t forgive and forget, pick one.

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