Category Archives: GWOT

Charts of the day: A tragic Bush/Obama legacy

Since George W. Bush launched his “Global War on Terror [Terra?]” and Barack Obama expanded it with even greater zeal, the flood of refugees in the Mideast has turned into a raging torrent, with millions fleeing their homes for temporary refuge both in their own and in other countries.

Two charts from a sobering new report from the Pew Research Center illustrates the scope of the problem.

First, the overall rise in refugees throughout the Middle East:



And then the rise of refugees displaced from their homes and still living in their own countries:


Yet more email sleaze emerges about Hillary

From BBC News:

A State Department official offered a “quid pro quo” deal if the FBI would change the classification of a Hillary Clinton email, FBI documents indicate.

Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy asked the bureau to unclassify the message so it could be archived, “never to be seen again”.

He made the request in relation to an email about the 2012 attacks on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

But the FBI said it did not change the classification level.

The email in question described reports in November 2012 that Libyan police were arresting suspects in the attack of two months earlier, which left Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans dead.

‘Shadow Government’

Other interesting revelations from the newly released FBI documents include:

  • A former diplomatic security agent said Mrs Clinton would often “blatantly” disregard security and diplomatic protocols, including her frequent refusal to attend overseas diplomatic functions with local ambassadors, which left envoys “insulted and embarrassed”
  • While secretary of state she ignored security advice by going to a dangerous part of Jakarta, Indonesia, in a move that “placed Clinton, her staff, the media and her security detail in unnecessary danger in order to conduct a photo opportunity for ‘her election campaign'”
  • A group of top State Department officials that some called “The Shadow Government” met weekly to discuss Freedom of Information requests related to Mrs Clinton. They wanted her emails to be released all at once, instead of on a rolling basis, as would normally be the case, according to the FBI summary. But the group did not get its way.
  • Explaining that security and protocol procedures were regularly breached, the report states that early in Mrs Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, “she and her staff were observed removing lamps and furniture from the State Department”, which were brought to her residence in Washington DC. The unnamed source does not know if the government property was ever returned.

Read the rest, including the email.

Chart of the day II: EU asylum seekers increase


From Eurostat, which reports:

During the second quarter of 2016 (from April to June 2016), 305,700 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), up by 6% compared with the first quarter of 2016 (when 287,100 first-time applicants were registered).

With nearly 90,500 first-time applicants between April and June 2016, Syrians remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States, ahead of Afghans (50,300 first time applicants) and Iraqis (34,300).

These quarterly data on asylum in the EU come from a report issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

They represent the three main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants in the EU Member States over the second quarter 2016, accounting for almost 60% of all first time applicants.

Six in ten applied for asylum in Germany

During the second quarter 2016, the highest number of first-time applicants was registered in Germany (with almost 187,000 first time applicants, or 61% of total first time applicants in the EU Member States), followed by Italy (27,000, or 9%), France (17,800, or 6%), Hungary (14,900, or 5%) and Greece (12,000, or 4%).

Among those Member States with high numbers of asylum seekers, numbers of first time applicants in the second quarter 2016 more than doubled compared with the previous quarter in Greece (+132 %) as well as in Hungary (+118%), and rose notably in Poland (+65%) and Spain (+37%). In contrast, decreases were recorded in particular in the Nordic Member States — Denmark (-59%), Finland (-53%) and Sweden (-42%) — as well as in the Netherlands (-47%), Belgium (-44%) and Austria (-22%).

Chart of the day: India more assertive under Modi

From the Pew Research Center, new evidence that India is growing more assertive and militaristic under Right wing Hindu populist Prime Minister Narendra Modi:

Microsoft Word - Pew Research Center India Report FINAL Septembe

Headlines of the day: Chickens come home to roost

First, one of two headlines from the London Sunday Mail:

‘A bomb exploding in New York is an act of terrorism’: ‘Homemade IED’ that injured 29 in Manhattan had NO ISIS connection says Governor Cuomo – but it’s still the work of a terrorist

  • Police responded to explosion in Chelsea neighborhood at West 23rd and Sixth Avenue around 8.30pm
  • Hundreds of people were fleeing the scene down the block as police cordoned off the area  
  • At least 29 people were reported injured by the Fire Department but injuries don’t appear life-threatening
  • Police have said cause of blast is unknown as bomb sniffing dogs search for remnants of a possible bomb 
  • NYPD Special Ops tweeted that they are investigating a ‘possible’ second device found four blocks away
  • The device is reportedly a ‘pressure cooker’ wrapped in plastic with a cell phone or timer attached to it   
  • CCTV footage shows blast ripping through New York’s affluent Chelsea neighborhood as people passed by  
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio said during press conference that authorities believe it was an ‘intentional act’ 
  • The NYPD tweeted that people should stay away from windows facing 27th Street until the area is clear 
  • NYPD has increased security across the city following the blast Saturday night as a precaution 
  • Subways in the area have been shut down because of the explosion, authorities said 

And the second:

Mass stabbing at Minnesota mall: Rampaging knifeman dressed as a security guard attacks eight shoppers while talking about Allah before being killed by off-duty cop

  • Stabbing attack took place at Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud
  • Eight people were taken to St. Cloud hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and one person was admitted
  • St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson says the attacker made references to Allah during the attack and asked at least one person whether they were Muslim

Finally, from the Guardian:

Pipe bomb explodes near Jersey Shore 5km run in support of US Marines

  • No injuries reported in explosion in Seaside Park, New Jersey
  • Semper Five race cancelled after unattanded backpack also found

Quote of the day II: Barack Obama, Biggest Brother

From James Bamford, America’s preeminent journalist of the world of government eavesdropping, writing for Foreign Policy:

Over his two terms, Obama has created the most powerful surveillance state the world has ever seen. Although other leaders may have created more oppressive spying regimes, none has come close to constructing one of equivalent size, breadth, cost, and intrusiveness. From 22,300 miles in space, where seven Advanced Orion crafts now orbit; to a 1-million-square-foot building in the Utah desert that stores data intercepted from personal phones, emails, and social media accounts; to taps along the millions of miles of undersea cables that encircle the Earth like yarn, U.S. surveillance has expanded exponentially since Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009.

The effort to wire the world — or to achieve “extreme reach,” in the NRO’s parlance — has cost American taxpayers more than $100 billion. Obama has justified the gargantuan expense by arguing that “there are some trade-offs involved” in keeping the country safe. “I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,” he said in June 2013, shortly after Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed widespread government spying on Americans’ phone calls.

Since Snowden’s leaks, pundits and experts (myself included) have debated the legality and ethics of the U.S. surveillance apparatus. Yet has the president’s blueprint for spying succeeded on its own terms? An examination of the unprecedented architecture reveals that the Obama administration may only have drowned itself in data. What’s more, in trying to right the ship, America’s intelligence culture has grown frenzied. Agencies are ever seeking to get bigger, move faster, and pry deeper to keep pace with the enormous quantity of information being generated the world over and with the new tactics and technologies intended to shield it from spies.

This race is a defining feature of Obama’s legacy — and one that threatens to become never-ending, even after he’s left the White House.

Chart of the day: The legacy of Dubya, Obama

From a new report from the Pew Research Center: