We begin with the latest from the war of the moment, via the Los Angeles Times:
Islamic State executes scores of fellow Sunni Muslims
Islamic State forces have carried out another mass killing of civilians in western Iraq, officials said Saturday – the systematic executions of at least 50 fellow Sunni Muslim men and women belonging to a tribe that has defied the extremist militants.
Amid a months-long onslaught by the Islamic State, Iraq is growing ever more violent. The United Nations mission in Baghdad reported Saturday that at least 1,273 Iraqis had been killed in October, about two-thirds of them civilians.
In the latest grisly episode, members of the Albu Nimr tribe were lined up by the militants and shot dead late Friday in the village of Ras al-Maaa, in Anbar province, according to Naim Al-Kaood, an Albu Nimr tribal leader. He spoke to the Iraqi broadcaster Al-Sumariyah.
The Observer sees light at the end of the tunnel:
Uprising could trigger Isis undoing, says study
- Former counter-terror head at MI6 says Islamic State’s biggest challenge will be controlling dissent
A large-scale uprising from people living under the totalitarian regime of Islamic State (Isis) is the most likely trigger that will lead to the undoing of the self-declared caliphate, according to an authoritative report into the jihadi group by the former head of counter-terrorism at MI6.
A detailed appraisal of the organisation, obtained by the Observer, says that, although Isis has performed strategically well so far, its biggest challenge will be controlling dissent and coping with the difficulties of administration in the vast territory it governs.
The report by Richard Barrett, who headed the UN’s al-Qaida and Taliban monitoring team and helped establish the UN’s working group on terrorism, is one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the group and examines its genesis, revenue streams and cohort of foreign fighters along with its ambitions.
And from RT, a look at one ISIS fighter:
Face to Face with ISIS: RT speaks to jihadists in Lebanon (Exclusive)
Mass executions, kidnappings and beheadings are just some of the atrocities committed by Islamic State, as the bloodthirsty jihadists try to establish a caliphate across large areas of Syria and Iraq. The group has also killed a number of Western journalists.
CBC News admonishes:
ISIS warning given to U.K. travellers by government
Britain has taken the unusual step of issuing a general terror warning to all U.K. travelers overseas because of fears that they could be targeted by Islamic State group terrorists seeking revenge for coalition actions in the Middle East.
The Foreign Office normally offers travel warnings for individual countries. The government, for example, already warns against travel to Syria, where the Islamic State group has seized territory.
But the Foreign Office updated travel advice pages Friday to reflect a generalized threat of terrorism globally.
“There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against U.K. interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. “You should be vigilant at this time.”.
And from the Marine Corps Times via USA Today, a little paper goes a long way:
Possible ISIL leaflets found near Quantico Marine base
Officials have launched an investigation into leaflets found near Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., that “may or may not be associated with the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State.”
Quantico is a major Marine Corps installation that includes several important units and commands, such as Training and Education Command, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and Marine Helicopter Squadron 1, which transports President Barack Obama in Marine One and tests experimental aircraft. The base is also close to the FBI Academy.
A government employee came upon seven leaflets Wednesday afternoon while running through the town of Quantico, base spokesman Maj. Andrew J. Bormann told Marine Corps Times on Friday. The leaflets have a reversed image of the Islamic State group’s flag and writing in Arabic that is translated as “We are here from Mexico and came by train,” Bormann said in an email.
From the Washington Post, diminshed expectations:
Pentagon’s plans for a spy service to rival the CIA have been pared back
The Pentagon has scaled back its plan to assemble an overseas spy service that could have rivaled the CIA in size, backing away from a project that faced opposition from lawmakers who questioned its purpose and cost, current and former U.S. officials said.
Under the revised blueprint, the Defense Intelligence Agency will train and deploy up to 500 undercover officers, roughly half the size of the espionage network envisioned two years ago when the formation of the Defense Clandestine Service was announced.
The previous plan called for moving as many as 1,000 undercover case officers overseas to work alongside the CIA and the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command on counterterrorism missions and other targets of broad national security concern.
From the New York Times, a person of interest:
Former U.S. Envoy to Moscow Says Russians Are Still Spying on Him
During two years as ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul was constantly followed, harassed and demonized on state television. But though Mr. McFaul has left government service and returned home, the spying on him doesn’t seem to have stopped.
Mr. McFaul, who finished his tour as President Obama’s envoy in Moscow in February just as the clash over Ukraine was escalating, told an audience here on Friday that he believed that Russian agents were tapping his telephone as well as that of his wife, Donna Norton. He said his suspicions were confirmed recently when Ms. Norton’s boss at her nonprofit advocacy group, MomsRising, tried to reach her. “She called my wife’s cellphone and a Russian answered it,” said Mr. McFaul, who has returned to Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., where he is a professor.
What remained unclear, he added, was whether that was a glitch that accidentally exposed the spying or an intentional act to send him a warning. “Were they sloppy?” he asked during a talk at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. “Or was that a shot across the bow to say, ‘We know you’re in Palo Alto and we’re still around’?”
And from the Washington Post, questions are raised:
Probe of FBI agent leads to release of convicted drug dealers from prison
An investigation into possible misconduct by an FBI agent has forced authorities to quietly release at least a dozen convicts serving prison sentences for distributing drugs in the District and its suburbs, according to law enforcement officials, court documents and defense attorneys.
In addition, several suspects awaiting trial on drug charges and a man convicted but not yet sentenced have also been freed. Officials said more cases- that could involve the agent are under scrutiny, including one involving 21 defendants.
None of the suspects or felons have had their charges dropped or convictions overturned. Most are on home detention in what many of their attorneys describe as a holding pattern, awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the agent, who was assigned to a D.C. police task force.
The New York Times covers an agreement:
Albuquerque Agrees to Changes on Use of Force
The Justice Department has reached a settlement with the City of Albuquerque over excessive use of force by the Police Department.
Under an agreement announced Friday, an independent monitor will be installed to oversee reforms at the department for at least two years, and the department will adopt new policies aiming to ease conflict with citizens.
The Justice Department in April found a pattern of excessive force in the Albuquerque Police Department, after a string of shootings in which 23 people were killed and 14 others wounded over four years, an usually high number for a city of about 550,000 people.
Under the agreement, the Police Department will undertake a host of sweeping changes, many of them designed to reduce the use of force. Officers will be trained to handle people who are mentally unstable; the way that the department investigates shootings involving officers will be changed; and officers will be required to wear body cameras to record many interactions with the public.
From the Daily Dot, oops:
Dashcam captures two Austin police officers joking about rape
The Austin Police Department is launching an investigation into a dashcam video showing on-duty officers joking about rape.
Austin attorney Drew Gibbs made the video public after acquiring the footage during a routine car crash investigation. The footage, which is from May, shows two police officers, later reported to be Officer Mark Lyttle and Officer Michael Castillo. They appear to be sarcastically discussing what would happen if the police force “rode out” for a week.
After speculating that the crime rate would drop and “the world would be at peace for a week” if the cops did their ride-out, the conversation turns. One officer suggests that they’d simply “turn a blind eye” to crimes being reported. “I want to report a robbery! You probably deserved it,” the first officer jokes.
The video itself, posted by Austin’s Finest:
“They can’t unrape you.” – Austin’s Finest
Two Austin PD officers yucking it up about what bad asses they are while investigating a fender bender collision, until the appearance of an attractive female. One officer then blows his whistle at the female and says to his fellow officer, “Go ahead. Call the cops. They can’t unrape you.”
The critical moments after the officers started joking about not responding crime calls, transcribed by KXAN television:
Officer 1: Either that, or, you’d think that because we’d turn a blind eye towards everything.
Officer 2: Or that.
Officer 1: (Expletive) who cares.
Officer 2: Or that. It could be that.
Officer 1: I want to report a robbery! You probably deserved it.
Officer 1: Look at that girl over there.
Officer 2: (blows whistle) Go ahead and call the cops. They can’t unrape you. (laughter)
Officer 1: You didn’t turn your camera off, did you?
Officer 2: They can’t unrape you
Pursuing the exploltable with the Yomiuri Shimbun:
‘Bug hunters’ wanted by security firms
A vulnerability reward program, in which information technology companies pay bounties to good-willed engineers who find flaws in their computer programs, is attracting attention as a new defensive measure against cyber-attacks.
Vulnerabilities caused by computer bugs and other problems tend to become security loopholes that can be misused in cyber-attacks. Information on them is said to be traded at high prices among hackers.
Vulnerability reward programs attempt to encourage the identification of bugs with the help of good-willed outsiders, allowing the bugs to be fixed before potential cyber-attackers become aware of them. But, it is not yet clear whether such reward programs will flourish within the culture of Japanese companies, which tend to dislike the disclosure of vulnerabilities in their computer programs and may even consider efforts to find them as criminal.
From TheLocal.it, an offer they thought they couldn’t refuse:
Italy president: Mafia tried to blackmail state
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano told a trial in which state officials are accused of making a secret deal with the Mafia that mobsters carried out bombings in the 1990s to coerce the government, a transcript released Friday showed.
Napolitano, who is not accused of playing a role in the alleged deal, gave evidence Tuesday as prosecutors attempt to unearth fresh evidence on mob bombings two decades ago which killed 21 people including two top anti-Mafia judges.
According to a transcript of the hearing released by the president’s office, he told prosecutor Nino Di Matteo the attacks were a form of “extortion or outright pressure aimed at destabilizing the entire system, on the premise that there there might be disarray among state authorities”.
InSecurity in Mexico from Punch Nigeria:
Seven kidnapped triathletes freed in Mexico
Seven triathletes kidnapped while training in Mexico City have been released, a spokesman for the National Security Commission said on Saturday, amid reports of a ransom payment.
The Director of the Police Anti-abduction Unit, Renato Heredia, made this known to newsmen in Mexico.
“The four women and three men were freed after negotiations over an unspecified ransom were successful. Another man captured at the same time managed to escape and contact police,” Heredia said.
He said the group was seized on Thursday in a wood in Ajusco, a southern part of the Mexican capital, after completing a training session on their bicycles.
Opposition from CCTV News:
China strongly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan
China has urged the United States and Italy not to go forward with a proposed arms deal with Taiwan, saying the people of China and its government “have always been firmly opposed” to such arms sales.
Hong Lei, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterates that “China is resolutely opposed to any foreign countries selling weapons to Taiwan and any form of exchange or cooperation in military technology. We demand that the relevant countries respect China’s core interests, abide by the One China principle, and take concrete action to support the peaceful development of Cross-Strait relations and the reunification of China.”
The strong Chinese statement comes after reports that the US company Lockheed-Martin and the Italian company Intermarine have signed a deal to help build six minesweepers in Taiwan.
And from the Japan Times, abominable intransigence:
The uncomfortable truth about ‘comfort women’
In recent weeks, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his chief Cabinet secretary have accused the Asahi Shimbun of “shaming Japan.” In August, the newspaper retracted articles based on the testimony of a Japanese solider, Masao Yoshida, who claimed to have rounded up “comfort women.”
Comfort women is a euphemism for the females serving as prostitutes to the Japanese military during World War II. The conservative press, led by the ultranationalist Sankei Shimbun and the Yomiuri Shimbun, seized upon the Asahi’s partial retraction of past reporting as absolute proof that the government had no role in coercing women into working as prostitutes.
The right-wing argument seems to work like this: If there are 1,000 pieces of evidence and one or two of them are wrong, they’re all wrong by extension.
By this logic, the Japanese military wasn’t involved in sexual slavery and no women were victimized — in short, that all women testifying to their deplorable experience are money-grubbing whores.
After the Asahi retraction, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party issued a statement demanding that newspapers worldwide correct their mistaken reports — which, they seemed to imply, was based solely on Yoshida’s testimony. The LDP has also pledged to conduct an investigation into the comfort women issue.