Friday, January 23, 2015

Watching History Repeat

To anybody who studies history, even as a hobby, it should be obvious by now that World War Three will not be fought between the US and Russia. Despite Putin's blustering -- most recently, sending his spy-ship to Havana harbor during the opening meeting between US envoys and Cuba (which earned the ship the nickname of "RS Showoffsky") -- it's clear that the glory days of the USSR are over, Russia is mired in the economic mess which the old regime brought on and can't afford anything like a major war.

No, World War Three will be fought between the Jihadis and everybody else.

Nobody else is so willing to ignore economics, politics, science, or anything else in their passionate bid to conquer the world.  Nobody else is so eager to believe their own propaganda, let alone try to sell it to the rest of the world.  Nobody else since... well, the late 1930s, which they seem determined to repeat.  For more similarities, go up on the Internet and search for Jihadist cartoons, films and TV shows which specifically attack Jews (followed by Christians, Hindus and Buddhists), not just Israel.  You'll find some incredibly offensive stuff, often copied directly from old Nazi examples.  Jihadis have been churning out this stuff since the end of WWII, and continue to, even as they howl outrage and death threats against a handful of cartoonists who pen much milder insults against Muslims, and they see no hypocrisy in it.  Besides fitting neatly any definition of fascism, the Jihadis copy faithfully the progress of the Nazis -- save only that they base their passion on religion instead of race.

Even more sobering is the Jihadis' faithful copying -- updated with modern tools -- the Nazis' strategies and tactics.  There's the infiltration of all available countries with a Third Column of immigrants/settlers who go recruiting among the natives, the artful suborning of native news media into pushing the Big Lie ("The Jews stole our land!"  "The West stole our oil!"), the preparatory -- or premature -- attacks intended to scare governments into submission, and finally the all-out takeovers of small neighboring countries. 

One can even see a parallel to the late '30s in the democratic countries' slow and unwilling awakening to their own danger.  Then, as now, the western press and politicians insisted that the "extremists" were only a small number, really not that dangerous, and everybody must be very-very careful not to insult or offend the "peaceful" majority.  Then, as now, the calculating fascists played on that tendency with claims that they'd been insulted, and the offenders must pay.

The major strategic difference between Nazis then and Jihadis now is the lack of a charismatic unifying leader.  The Jihadis have no Hitler, though plenty of ambitious sheiks and mullahs have vied for the job.  The secondary difference is that, being scattered over several countries rather than bound with nationalistic pride to any one, the Jihadis also fracture and factionalize into several sub-groups, which often compete with each other -- like Al-Qaeda competing with ISIL.  The third difference is their passionate impatience, which makes them underestimate their enemies and strike too soon.  The first attack on the World Trade Center, more than 20 years ago, was meant to economically cripple the US but can more accurately be compared to the Beer Hall Putsch.  The second, on 9/11 -- along with the other two hijackings and crashes -- was likewise meant to ruin the US's military and economy, but came off more like Pearl Harbor (except that the US did not follow through with the focus and energy our government had the first time around).  Also, the serious attacks began before the current Depression really started, and the 2008 Depression wasn't nearly as severe as the first one.  This means that, despite their intense recruiting among the poor -- particularly Black -- the Jihadis don't really have as big a Third Column as they claim or believe. (Likewise, as recent police raids around Europe have shown, thanks to modern police techniques, the various western governments do know who and where the Jihadis are.)

Despite the differences, particularly in timing, the similarities are striking.  History is indeed repeating itself, and only by understanding that can we forestall World War III -- or at least keep it from being as bad as either of the first two.

--Leslie <;)))><  



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Une Suggestion Pour le Securite de France Contre les Terroristes

Fait comme les Suisses faisant.

Arme et instructe toutes les gens.  Fait de toutes votre citoyennes un armee en reserve, observant et vigilant, prepare a agir immediatement contra un attaque terroriste.  Le danger des arretes faux est moins que le danger de la vulnerabilite a terroristes.

Nous somme toutes Charlie.  Laissez Charlie se defende.

...Et pardonne ma Francais terrible;  je ne l'ai etudie depuis 1978.

--Leslie <;)))>< Fish   

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Another Antidote to the Cop Problem

I don't usually quote whole articles from other folks, but this one is painfully opportune:

"10 Rules for Dealing with Cops, By a Cop

Few people understand that your constitutional rights only apply if you understand and assert them.
As a 33-year law enforcement veteran and former training commander with the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department, I know how easy it is to intimidate citizens into answering incriminating questions or letting me search through their belongings. This reality might make things easier for police looking to make an easy arrest, but it doesn't always serve the interests of justice. That's why I believe all citizens should understand how to protect their constitutional rights and make smart decisions when dealing with officers of the law.

Unfortunately, this important information has remained largely unavailable to the public, despite growing concerns about police misconduct and the excesses of the war on drugs. For this reason, I agreed to serve as a technical consultant for the important new film, '10 Rules for Dealing with Police'. The 40-minute docudrama aims to educate the public about basic legal and practical survival strategies for handling even the scariest police encounters. It was produced by the civil liberties group Flex Your Rights and is narrated by former federal judge and acclaimed Baltimore trial lawyer William "Billy" Murphy, Jr.

The opening scene portrays Darren, a young black man getting pulled over. He's driving home from college. This is the fifth time he's been pulled over in a year. Frustrated and scared, Darren immediately breaks Rule #1: Always Be Calm & Cool. Mouthing off to the officer, Darren aggressively exits the car and slams the door. The officer overreacts, dropping Darren with a taser shot to his chest.

Should the officer have tased Darren in that situation? Probably not. Would the officer likely be disciplined? No. But that's not the main point of 10 Rules. The point is that the choices you make during the course of such encounters have a massive impact on whether it ends with a simple warning, a tasing -- or worse. This is true even if you've done nothing illegal.

While being calm and cool is key to getting the best possible outcome, it's not enough to keep police from violating your constitutional rights. For example, when the officer commandingly asks Darren "You're not hiding any AK-47s in there? You don't mind if I take a look?", Darren gets tricked like most people do.

Intimidated and unaware of other options, he consents to the search. The officer carelessly dumps his bags, accidentally shattering Darren's laptop on the asphalt. In another "what if" scenario, the officer finds a small amount of marijuana hidden away. While someone else might have left it there, Darren winds up getting arrested.

What few people understand, but police know all too well, is that your constitutional rights only apply if you understand and assert them. Unless they have strong evidence (i.e. probable cause) police need your permission to search your belongings or enter your home. The instant you grant them permission to invade your privacy, many of your legal protections go out the window and you're left on the hook for anything illegal the police find, as well as any damage they cause in the process.

Of course, even if you know your basic rights, police officers are trained to shake your confidence. If you refuse a search, I might respond by threatening to call in a drug-sniffing dog and sternly reminding you that things will go much easier if you cooperate. Creating a sense of hopelessness for the suspect enables us to break down their defenses and gain compliance. In the film, we show several variations on these common threats, but the main lesson is that it doesn't matter what the officer says; you still have to remain calm and protect your rights.

In today's world of smartphone video, YouTube and Twitter, stories of police abuse travel fast, creating greater awareness of the problem of police misconduct. Unfortunately, this heightened awareness often serves to reinforce the notion that "cops can do whatever they want." It's true that much work remains to be done towards ensuring police accountability, but the very first step is to educate the public about basic constitutional rights.

Citizens who understand their rights are much less likely to experience negative outcomes, both on the street and in a court of law. Until each of us has the ability to protect our individual rights and recognize injustices against others, we're not likely to accomplish much in the realm of broader policy reform.

I hope 10 Rules for Dealing with Police will be embraced by parents, teachers, activists, and even police departments as we work towards reducing the tension that too often characterizes the relationship between cops and the communities they serve.

Here are the ten rules featured in the film:
1. Always be calm and cool: a bad attitude guarantees a bad outcome.
2. Remain silent: what you don't say can't hurt you.
3. You have the right to refuse searches: saying no to searches can't be held against you.
4. Don't get tricked: remember, police are allowed to lie to you.
5. Determine if you're free to go: police need evidence to detain you.
6. Don't expose yourself: doing dumb stuff in public makes you an easy target.
7. Don't run: they'll catch you and make you regret it.
8. Never touch a cop: aggressive actions will only earn you a more aggressive response.
9. Report misconduct: be a good witness.
10. You don't have to let them in: police need a warrant to enter your home."

The film, "10 Rules for Dealing with Police" is available right now on YouTube.  Yes, it's well worth watching.

--Leslie <;)))><