Congress Votes to Override Obama Veto on 9/11 Victims Bill [The New York Times] “Congress on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to override a veto by President Obama for the first time, passing into law a bill that would allow the families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot. Democrats in large numbers joined with Republicans to deliver a remarkable rebuke to the president. The 97-to-1 vote in the Senate and the 348-to-77 vote in the House displayed the enduring power of the Sept. 11 families in Washington and the diminishing influence here of the Saudi government. The new law, enacted over the fierce objections of the White House, immediately alters the legal landscape. American courts could seize Saudi assets to pay for any judgment obtained by the Sept. 11 families, while Saudi officials have warned they might need to sell off hundreds of billions of dollars in holdings in the United States to avoid such an outcome.” [more inside]
My mother begins a slow, thorny grieving. Time wrinkles around her periodically heaving body. In May, she decides we will make umrah, pilgrimage, in my grandmother’s memory. My immediate family doesn’t do field trips. I can’t remember the last time that we, all seven strong, went anywhere together—we are always too busy or too dispersed. By month’s end, we are flying to Saudi Arabia for the first time in fifteen years.
A quadcopter one inch in diameter can carry a one-gram charge. You can write some code to say: ‘Here are thousands of photographs of the kinds of things I want to target’. A one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of steel. You can fit about three million of those in a semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They could be here in two to three years.
Lindsay Ellis' (previously) new video series 'Loose Canon' (Previously) takes a look at the different media takes on the same cultural character or property. She takes on the longest and most detailed one yet with the media reaction to and portrayal of the 2001 9/11 attacks. Part 1 (21:21) Part 2 (27:37) (Warning for photos and video of attacks)
"A long-running undercover police operation in the Bedfordshire town of Luton, which has contributed evidence to two recent counter-terrorism trials, helped build up an incredibly detailed picture of the depths of loathing for Britain felt by the men at the heart of the investigation. Kamal switches on the recorder and speaks into the microphone, stating the date, the time and where he's about to go. And then he leaves the house, leaves his true self behind, and walks towards danger."
"When the first stampede began, my plane had just landed" - NY Magazine features a personal experience with Sunday's false reports of a shooting at JFK airport in New York City. "Horrifying" video of the police response, which is being investigated.
Connie Bruck in The New Yorker: Why Obama Has Failed to Close Guantánamo
Congress is blamed for preventing the President from fulfilling his pledge. But that’s not the whole story.
"There is something of a journalistic routine each time terror erupts. Cover the news, of course, and put it into geopolitical context. Capture the drama of the scene. Pursue every tidbit about the attackers. And, perhaps most wrenchingly, try to showcase the human suffering... It never feels like enough. During what seemed like a particularly intense spate of attacks back in March, we decided it was not enough... We decided not to move on but to look back... to show terrorism’s human toll."
Gulsen Bahadir could not have known that one week after speaking out on Facebook against the futility of war and the importance of resisting injustice, that her name would be added to the roll call of losses, along with 43 others killed in the attack on Istanbul's international airport on June 28. Three days later in Bangladesh, the country's grief would in no way be lessened by the fact that the 20 people slain by terrorists at a cafe in Dhaka were mostly foreigners.
During Bastille Day celebrations on the Promenade des Anglais, which runs along the Mediterranean, a truck driver plowed through crowds (FR) over a long distance, then exited and began shooting. At time of posting, 60 are feared dead, and many more injured. That it was a planned attack is being evoked by witnesses and police: “People were shouting ‘It’s a terrorist attack, it’s a terrorist attack’, it was clear that the driver was doing it deliberately,” said Maryam Violet, an Iranian journalist visiting Nice. [more inside]
Bangladesh Attack Is New Evidence That ISIS Has Shifted Its Focus Beyond the Mideast [The New York Times] Friday night’s assault on the Holey Artisan Bakery in the diplomatic district of Dhaka, in which at least 20 hostages and two police officers were killed, marks a scaling up of ambition and capacity for Bangladesh’s Islamist militancy, which has until now carried out pinpoint assassinations, mostly of critics of Islam and members of religious minorities. [more inside]
Robert Hall, Canadian hostage, killed by Abu Sayyaf militants in Philippines. [CBC.ca] A Canadian man being held hostage for months by a militant group in the Philippines has been killed, sources say. Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf [wiki] had warned it would kill Robert Hall today if it didn't receive a ransom of some $8 million. Sources close to the situation in Jolo, the island where the al-Qaeda-linked group is based, and within Philippine security confirmed Hall's death early Monday to CBC News. [more inside]
Fifty people were killed and at least fifty-three more were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. According to ABC news, "The shooter has been identified by officials as Omar Mateen of St. Lucie County, Florida, an American-born citizen with Afghani parents." Mateen had previously been considered a person of interest by the FBI in 2013 and 2014. Mateen was shot and killed by police. [more inside]
Charlie Daniels' latest promotional video for the National Rifle Association contrasts strongly with the more easygoing persona on display when he recorded Uneasy Rider... [more inside]
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About How ISIS Uses The Internet by Sheera Frenkel [Buzzfeed] They talk on Telegram and send viruses to their enemies. BuzzFeed News’ Sheera Frenkel looks at how ISIS members and sympathizers around the world use the internet to grow their global network. [more inside]
"I met Steve while volunteering at a Challenged Athletes Clinic in Boston back in September of 2013. But Steve didn’t seem to want to be there. Everything about his body language said, “Don’t talk to me.” His beard needed trimming, his arms were crossed, and he stood as far from the center of activity as possible. And who could blame him? How would you feel if you lost your leg 5 months earlier as a spectator at the finish line of the Boston Marathon?" [more inside]
Tabletop Gaming has a White Male Terrorism Problem (TW: nasty stuff)
BBC: "At least 69 people have been killed and scores injured in an explosion at a public park in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, officials say. The park was crowded with families, some celebrating Easter. Many victims are said to be women and children. Police told the BBC it appeared to be a suicide bomb. A Pakistan Taliban faction said it carried out the attack. Pakistan's president has condemned the blast and the regional government has announced three days of mourning."
Brussels explosions: Many dead in airport and metro terror attacks BBC: "Many people have been killed or seriously injured in terrorist attacks at Brussels international airport and a city metro station, Belgium's PM says. Two explosions hit Zaventem airport at about 07:00 GMT, and another struck Maelbeek metro station an hour later. The government has not confirmed casualty numbers. Brussels transport officials say 15 died at Maelbeek and media say up to 13 died at the airport. Belgium has now raised its terror threat to its highest level. The attacks come four days after Salah Abdeslam, the main fugitive in the Paris attacks, was seized in Brussels."
The Tough Legacy of Ulrike Meinhof
“I think there’s a very common narrative about women being motivated by sexual or emotional dependence on men,” Katharina Karcher, a research associate at the University of Cambridge, told me. She was “shocked” at similarities between media coverage of Meinhof and Beate Zschäpe, a member of the far-right National Socialist Underground that committed a series of murders of immigrants between 2000 and 2007.
Having evaded capture and been the 'most wanted man' in Europe for the four months following the Paris attacks Salah Abdelslam was arrested yesterday 500 metres from his childhood home in the now infamous Brussels suburb of Molenbeek. [more inside]
Investigations into the San Bernardino attack by the FBI have been potentially impeded by information locked in an iPhone 5c found on one of the perpetrators. A federal court judge has ordered Apple to assist the FBI in defeating any and all security measures built into the device. In a turn similar to Ladar Levison's letter to Lavabit users (previously), Apple has written a letter to end users about the civil rights at stake.
The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people "In 2014, the former director of both the CIA and NSA proclaimed that "we kill people based on metadata." Now, a new examination of previously published Snowden documents suggests that many of those people may have been innocent."
Tonight at 9 p.m. ET President Obama will give his final State of the Union address. (Barring unexpected developments.) He is expected to reflect on his legacy in office and also look towards the future with the same optimistic viewpoint which has always been a signature of his political identity. [more inside]
Temixco is two hours' drive south of Mexico City, close to the resort town of Cuernavaca. The city of about 90,000 was catapulted into international headlines when its first female mayor was assassinated after less than 24 hours in office. [more inside]
Lou Milione, a senior official at [the DEA], told me, “One of the things the DEA is kind of in the business of is almost all of our investigations are proactive.” But Russell Hanks, a former senior American diplomat, who got a ﬁrsthand look at some of the DEA’s narco-terrorism targets during the time he served in West Africa, told me, “The DEA provided everything these men needed to commit a crime, then said, ‘Wow, look what they did.’” He added, “This wasn’t terrorism — this was the manipulation of weak-minded people, in weak countries, in order to pad arrest records." [more inside]
The Malaysian Government is rushing through an anti-terrorism bill that has already been likened to a draconian dictatorship - providing the Prime Minister and a group of other Ministers with special powers such as seizing property, curfews with hefty fines, demolishing unoccupied buildings, arresting anyone threatening "national security", and various other emergency measures enacted without safeguards. Many groups have denounced the bill and called for its repeal, including the main Opposition coalition, the Malaysian Bar and other lawmakers, and human rights organizations.
America's gun problem is completely unique: Why is it that for all the outrage and mourning with every mass shooting, nothing seems to change? To understand that, it's important to grasp not just the stunning statistics about gun ownership and gun violence in the United States, but America's very unique relationship with guns — unlike that of any other developed country — and how it plays out in our politics to ensure, seemingly against all odds, that our culture and laws continue to drive the routine gun violence that marks American life. [more inside]
So long as I was smoking, I would never reach the point where there would be nothing more to be done. Emmett Rensin on the peculiar self-management of anxiety.
The deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic is part of a disturbing trend.
Three people were shot dead and nine injured Friday at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic, the first time since 2009 that anyone has been killed in an incident linked to activity at an abortion clinic. The attack comes amid an exponential increase in threats and violence against abortion providers since the release of a series of viral—and widely debunked—videos.[more inside]
In preparation for police raids tonight in Brussels, Belgian authorities asked journalists not to tweet using #brusselslockdown. The response has been a hundred thousand photos of cats.
Counterterrorism "expert" David Kilcullen discusses the rise of ISIS with historian Robert Manne. Kilcullen was a senior adviser to General David Petraeus in 2007 and 2008, when he helped to design and monitor the Iraq War troop "surge".
Tonight at 9 EST Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley will come together for a debate in Iowa at Drake University. [more inside]
Fresh from The Intercept (that fearless vanguard of journalism helmed by Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras): disturbing documents exposing the unfathomable reach of the United Kingdom's GCHQ in its quest for total awareness of global internet traffic. A hundred billion user actions logged per day. A "Black Hole" database of 1.1 trillion logs. Frightening programs like KARMA POLICE, MEMORY HOLE, and MUTANT BROTH that correlate the kilo-crore corpus -- IP addresses, cookies, forum posts, search histories, emails, and passwords all compiled and cross-referenced into a real-time "diary" that gives penetrating insight into the relationships, beliefs, and desires of every web user on the planet. Internal documents suggest only widespread encryption can threaten the regime -- a movement the UK is determined to subdue (previously). [more inside]
The Mystery of ISIS
The problem, however, lies not in chronicling the successes of the movement, but in explaining how something so improbable became possible. The explanations so often given for its rise—the anger of Sunni communities, the logistical support provided by other states and groups, the movement’s social media campaigns, its leadership, its tactics, its governance, its revenue streams, and its ability to attract tens of thousands of foreign fighters—fall far short of a convincing theory of the movement’s success.[more inside]
"I got out, and it’s not too late for you." - Sarah Nyberg on being the subject of an online hate mob. Meanwhile Zoe Quinn talks about sympathy for her abusers, and actions turned out to have consequences for internet troll Joshua Goldberg.
Living in the Age of Permawar by Mohsin Hamid [The Guardian]
You see from your nook that humanity is afflicted by a great mass murderer about whom we are encouraged not to speak. The name of that murderer is Death. Death comes for everyone. Sometimes Death will pick out a newborn still wet from her aquatic life in her mother’s womb. Sometime Death will pick out a man with the muscles of a superhero, pick him out in repose, perhaps, or in his moment of maximum exertion, when his thighs and shoulders are trembling and he feels most alive. Sometimes Death will pick singly. Sometimes Death will pick by the planeload. Sometimes Death picks the young, sometimes the old, and sometimes Death has an appetite for the in-between. You feel it is strange that humanity does not come together to face this killer, like a silver-flashing baitball of 7 billion fish aware of being hunted by a titanic and ravenous shark. Instead, humanity scatters. We face our killer alone, or in families, or in towns or cities or tribes or countries. But never all together.
Last night (Thailand time), its capital city, Bangkok, has been struck by a deadly blast near one of its famous shrines, the Erawan shrine, in the centre of the city. 22 casualties have been reported, with the Thai Defense Minister claiming that the attack was targeted at foreigners, towards hurting the tourism industry. At the same time, the Royal Thai Army chief and deputy defence minister General Udomdej Sitabutr claimed that the attack did not match the hallmarks of the southern separatist insurgents. Bangkok has been the centrestage of political disturbances in recent years, but this has been seen to be the deadliest attack it's suffered in years, posing a challenge to the military-led administration.
Alberto Nisman accused Iran and Argentina of colluding to bury a terrorist attack. Did it get him killed? [more inside]
About a month ago Motherboard posted about artist Jesse England looking for a lost Mac game that he played in his 7th grade social studies class. He knew it was about terrorism and an aircraft hijacking but not much else besides some images he remembered, which he drew out and shared in hopes someone would recognize it. Fortunately, he found it, and decided to share it with everyone. Let's Play: Research Paper Writer
"In other words this bomb is so sensitive that the slightest movement either inside or outside will cause it to explode." In 1980, a bomb was smuggled into Harvey's Wagon Wheel Casino in Lake Tahoe. In an attempt to defuse it, it exploded and severely damaged the hotel. It was the largest domestic bomb to be detonated in the US until the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. And yet, no-one was killed. [more inside]
The Inexplicable by Karl Ove Knausgaard [The New Yorker] Inside the mind of a mass killer.
It was out of this world that the thirty-two-year-old Anders Behring Breivik stepped when, on the afternoon of July 22, 2011, he set out from his mother’s flat in Oslo’s West End, changed into a police uniform, parked a van containing a bomb, which he had spent the spring and summer making, outside Regjeringskvartalet, lit the fuse, and left the scene. While the catastrophic images of the attack, which killed eight people, were being broadcast across the world, Breivik headed to Utøya. That was where the Workers’ Youth League had its annual summer camp. There Breivik shot and killed sixty-nine people, in a massacre that lasted for more than an hour, right until the police arrived, when he immediately surrendered.
...authorities have lost sight of domestic extremists and failed to prevent acts of terrorism, while the violence is metastasizing and the threat is growing. - Kansas City Star [more inside]
Somali Militants Kill 147 at Kenyan University [New York Times]
Somali militants burst into a university in eastern Kenya on Thursday and killed nearly 150 students in the worst terrorist attack since the 1998 bombing of the United States Embassy here, laying bare the nation’s continuing vulnerability after years of battling Islamist extremism. A small group of militants, most likely between four and 10, roved from dorm to dorm, separating Christian from Muslim students and killing the Christians, the authorities said. Students described being awakened before dawn by the sound of gunfire and fleeing for their lives as masked attackers closed in.[more inside]
How the deaths of two women who mistakenly drove into high-security checkpoints reveal an intersection of racial and trans bias with fears about terrorism.
A 92-point checklist, obtained and published by The Intercept, reveals what kind of passenger behavior can merit a red flag for TSA agents responsible for pulling out possible terrorists and criminals out of airport security lines. [more inside]
Globalization is a brutal phenomenon. It brings us mass displacement, wars, terrorism, unchecked financial capitalism, inequality, xenophobia, climate change. But if globalization is capable of holding out any fundamental promise to us, any temptation to go along with its havoc, then surely that promise ought to be this: we will be more free to invent ourselves. In that country, this city, in Lahore, in New York, in London, that factory, this office, in those clothes, that occupation, in wherever it is we long for, we will be liberated to be what we choose to be.- Discontent and Its Civilizations (excerpt), by Mohsin Hamid (previously); reviewed [more inside]