Vladimir Putin rides wave of patriotism despite Russia’s economic woes

MOSCOW — Tatiana Bragina sighed as she examined food prices at her local supermarket in southeast Moscow.

"They seem to go up every day," the 35-year-old housewife complained as she tallied her potential purchases on a rainy afternoon this week. "Especially for meat and fish."

Ms. Bragina wasn't the only ...

ISIS subject to ‘udder’ ridicule

141021cowsCivilization is disintegrating across wide swathes of the earth, but on their potential eve of destruction, people do as they always will at such grave and fearful times – they make really silly movies about it. Or mocking songs and art.

In the case of the ISIS plague across Iraq and Syria, this is doubly ironic, as the group immediately outlawed art, history, Christian studies and many other subjects while demanding children attend school anyway – possibly so they know where find new sex slaves and human shields.

Tired of the old “rape, murder and pillage” routine and bored with merely shredding free expression, ISIS is being honest. Baring their true nature.

While al-Qaida, al-Shabab and the Taliban felt the need for a little good PR, ISIS drops all pretense. Those others would never openly admit that “human rights” are reserved for creatures with guns, beards and penises – and only a small subset of those.

This is even more than some Muslims can take, and a small percentage of them are beginning to speak up.

Lebanese musicians in 2013 formed what is becoming a very popular group, “The Great Departed.” One song, “Madad Baghdadi,” openly mocks ISIS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the master who “rules by God’s rules.” They warn he “will lead God’s servants to an abyss like no other” gathering at least a few laughs in a Beirut club where they perform regularly.

Lebanese anti-ISIS singing sensation "The Great Departed" Photo:DailyStar.lb

Lebanese anti-ISIS singing sensation “The Great Departed” Photo:DailyStar.lb

Khaled Soubeih, founder and composer of the band, revealed he was shocked to hear ISIS “talk about God’s mercy” and to continue killing people. Soubeih, formally a journalist, believes humor is the best way to fight back.

As long as al-Baghdadi exists, they will never run short on satirical inspiration. He is a veritable muse for comedians as well as their nightmares. One song extends even to farm animals, mocking al-Baghdadi’s purported edict that the udders of cows be covered: “I swear to God, if I were a cow, I would be wearing a bra.”

“The Great Departed” spreads contempt to other power-maddened Islamic leaders also, such as Egypt’s Morsi. Their 2013 song “Don’ti Mixi” is a metaphorical critique for things that don’t mix well. It’s a curious blend of English with Egyptian accents and catchy like all their traditionally flavored tunes.

Most members of The Great Departed were formerly classical musicians who decided they must deal with current topics. Arabic classical music is about love and issues in life that seem sadly irrelevant at the moment.

“This is not really contemporary. … We cannot be living in this situation and talk about flowers,” vocalist Naim al-Asmar explained in an interview with Daily Star from Lebanon.

It takes courage and defiance to do this in Lebanon, when the enemy is literally next door, waiting. Lebanon is also a major part of the “Levant” previously claimed by ISIS/ISIL. They were offered a taste of Allah’s “mercy” this August when ISIS ventured over their border taking soldiers and police hostage.

Nonetheless,  the following video is an example of Lebanese TV satire on suicide bombers:

Another social phenomena there is ISIS flag burning, akin to our ice-bucket challenge or flash mobs and sent abroad via Twitter and Facebook. But ISIS is watching even this, reacting to a Facebook posting of boys burning a paper rendition of the ISIS flag.

“The Islamic State is coming” and “Christians must go” were recently painted across churches in Tripoli. This in reaction to the grave “crime” of paper-flag desecration, which occurred near there. No proper fear or awe of ISIS – that’s what comedy can do.

Laughter is terribly threatening to psychopaths. It reminds them they are not gods and that they are ridiculous to millions. Mockery and derision are proof they can never entirely control the human spirit but only kill and die. Even dogs can be trained to pull a trigger but are generally much more likeable and in better control of their actions.

Attention to The Great Departed comes with a crest of mocking media attacks in Lebanon and across the world. The Voice of America, interviewing the band, mentions the rush of online cartoons, videos and television shows depicting the militants as “inept, bloodthirsty fighters using the guise of Islam to justify crimes.”

While humor is helping Lebanese and other Middle Easterners cope with threats and fear, militant Islamists prove once again immune to real humor. They simply don’t have it, don’t like it and won’t tolerate it. Oh, they can gloat and titter over mangled corpses, but that is only a sign of their diseased souls.

Last month Palestinian militants burned crosses at Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp (provided to them by the Lebanese) in protest of a television show they insist “insulted Islam and the Prophet.”

An episode of “Bas Mat Watan” (“When the Country is Dead”) mocked ISIS’ fear and loathing of cow udders – it’s true – as well as the masculinity of ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi.

Why those Palestinians objected to this says a great deal about their loyalty as well as the little KKK touch (burning cross).

Palestinians elsewhere created a short “spoof” of ISIS that has victims meekly and comically submitting to the terrorists. It also pointedly asks why ISIS is attacking everyone but Israel.

Satirical television show the “State of Myths” proves Iraq is not totally overrun by ISIS yet. Last month the Christian Post reported on the state TV series that “directly mocks Islamic State militants and acts as an anti-ISIS propaganda tool.” The creators, although frightened and under siege, hope it will more keep people from joining the invaders.

Understandably, most participants remain anonymous in the siege, but they are all cultural warriors. Actor Taha Alwan was motivated to risk everything after the loss of two of his children to violence.

“For me, it’s personal,” Alwan told the Washington Post. “It might be dangerous, but we need to send a message of how ugly these people are.”

Sadly the series doesn’t limit its attacks to al-Baghdadi but throws stones at Israel, America, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whom they believe crafted their disaster. Israel plotting with Qatar and the Saudis? Of course it’s always the Jews – and the CIA.

Original trailers for the show explained the existence of al-Baghdadi this way: egg-hatched spawn of Satan and a Jewish princess (complete with crown). It’s a ridiculous, ham-handed attempt at satire that they are promising to “fix” – now that the U.S. is materially helping Iraqis. At least they are laughing – sort of. The promo scene ends with al-Baghdadi shooting everyone there.

#ISISMovies is a hashtag used to spoof popular film titles with faux posters or previews of the ISIS/ISIL terrorists.

About these, Libyan-American writer Hend Amry tweeted, “Belittlement is your enemy’s greatest fear.”

Popular hashtags at #ISISmovies are:

  • “How to Kill a Mocking Kurd”
  • “Beheading Private Ryan”
  • “Four Beheadings and a Funeral”
  • “Dude, Where’s My Throat”
  • “Girls Just Want to Have Fundamentalism”
  • “Gone with the Head”

A hot topic in the Twitterverse is the expensive Western watch al-Baghdadi revealed in a wardrobe malfunction. Social media users ragged “Caliph Ibrahim” for his Bulgari, Rolex or Omega Seafarer – all which seem to be a weakness for Islamist terrorists.

141021spoofBaghdadi's Choice

His supporters rush to deny all, insisting the mass murderer would never stoop to such a terrible thing. According to a CNN report, they claim he was wearing a “true Islamic watch” from Saudi Arabia, with prayer times across the world. How reassuring.

Some commentators are bewailing that these humorous efforts may be “insulting to Islam.” As long as Islam is waged in its current form against the people of Iraq, Nigeria and elsewhere, they will just have to grow a very thick skin. It’s not going to stop.

SOURCES: english.alarabiya.net / Daily Star Lebanon – India Stoughton / Voice of America News / www.jadaliyya.com / www.lebanonwire.com / www.ibtimes.com / Agence France Presse / Twitter.com / New York Daily News / Countercurrentnews.com / New York Times.

Former Secret Service agent on gun mess: I knew it!

ak-47

By Seth Johnson

The disclosure that guns purchased in the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ Fast and Furious anti-drug cartel program have been found at a crime scene in the United States did not surprise Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who raised this very scenario last year.

Bongino wrote in his New York Times bestseller, “Life Inside the Bubble,” that, “One of these weapons is going to be tied to a crime on United States soil. It’s only a matter of time.”

Confirmation came in the form of documents obtained by Judicial Watch in a lawsuit against the Phoenix police department. Those revealed an AK-47 rifle purchased by federal agents during Operation Fast and Furious was used in a gang assault in Phoenix last year.

Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the No. 2 official at Justice, announced his resignation shortly after news broke linking the Phoenix gun to Fast and Furious.

He explained he wanted to pursue work in the private sector.

Attorney General Eric Holder previously announced his resignation on Sept. 25, the same day a federal judge ordered the Justice Department to detail every document it withheld from Judicial Watch in a separate lawsuit involving Fast and Furious.

Operation Fast and Furious gained national attention when a gun purchased by agents was used in the December 2010 murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. His team was ambushed after corralling five illegal immigrants who had just crossed the border. Most of the media attention focused on crime involving the guns in Mexico, despite Terry being murdered on U.S. soil.

“The media missed the real scandal. The guns are being used here, not just in Mexico, and the real scandal is the cover-up that the administration engaged in,” Bongino said.

Bongino believes that many of the agents involved had no intention of the operation going so far wrong, but they were mismanaged by a Justice Department bureaucracy and a U.S. attorney’s office that refused to publicly own up to what happened.

“Everything in this administration is political,” Bongino said. “They did not want a photo of a dead American child with a Fast and Furious gun next to them.”

Read “Life Inside the Bubble” and find out just what it’s like behind the barricades, the tape and the closed doors.

The Justice Department under Holder has not cooperated with congressional investigators looking into the operation. Holder was also voted into civil and criminal contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

In his book, Bongino puts the blame squarely on the Justice Department and the federal law enforcement culture that requires setting an appointment to schedule an arrest, and discourages any prosecution that has even the slightest chance of ending in a loss for the government.

“By nature, a probable cause arrest is unpredictable, and unpredictability is the enemy of our federal justice system. The fastest way to get on the bad side of the U.S. attorney’s office is to start making PC arrests late at night without having thoroughly exhausted all investigative avenues,” Bongino wrote.

By January 2010, the agents had identified 20 suspects who had paid over $300,000 for 650 guns, according to Forbes, which should have been enough to make arrests and close the case.

Acting as a “straw purchaser” of weapons is illegal, and many of the buyers did not have the financial assets to make such expensive purchases on their own. Even after a straw buyer working with ATF agents delivered guns to a trafficker and recorded the exchange on a wiretap, arrests were still not made.

Until Brian Terry was murdered nine months later.

Within 24 hours of Terry’s murder, one prime suspect was arrested. And 19 other suspects were indicted two weeks later. Bongino believes that this behavior by the U.S. attorney’s office reeked of ineptitude and arrogance.

“They were moved to action only when they realized that there would be severe political ramifications after the highly publicized death of Agent Terry and from the investigation that would follow,” Bongino wrote. “Their laziness and lack of integrity had real-world consequences, and despite the numerous warnings from the ATF agents on the ground who were sounding the alarms, the DOJ acted only when there was a political cost to pay.”

Bongino said that he hopes the revelation about an AK-47 used by a gang in Phoenix is the last time Americans have to read a story about Fast and Furious guns being used in the U.S., but he fears that such bloodshed which could have been prevented will continue.

Hear Bongino yourself:

Order “Life Inside the Bubble” and find out just what it’s like behind the barricades, the tape and the closed doors.

Obama puts Ebola-nation travelers on honor system

American Airlines Reservations

NEW YORK – President Obama told reporters Wednesday he is “cautiously more optimistic” that the chances of additional infections from Liberian traveler Thomas Eric Duncan are ebbing.

However, amid Obama’s optimism, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced the CDC is placing on the honor system travelers to the U.S. from the West African nations stricken by Ebola.

Frieden explained that all travelers from West Africa who come through five U.S. gateway airports will be monitored for 21 days, the upper end of the incubation period for the Ebola virus. The daily regimen for the travelers will be to telephone the CDC once a day and report their temperatures, without any requirement to visit a physician or even to consult a doctor.

Frieden said the travelers from West Africa would be forbidden from traveling around the United States unless they first obtained permission from the CDC. But Frieden neglected to explain precisely how the government would go about finding any of the travelers who simply decided to roam about the country.

Along with the fact that a person infected with Ebola might not show symptoms for 21 days, the symptoms initially aren’t specific to Ebola. A fever, vomiting or diarrhea might be indicatives of other serious illnesses, including typhoid fever or malaria. Or it could reflect the stress of changing time zones.

The CDC said state and local authorities “will require travelers to report the following information daily: their temperature and the presence or absence of other Ebola symptoms such as headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, lack of appetite, or abnormal bleeding; and their intent to travel in-state or out-of-state.”

Frieden told reporters that in the event a traveler does not report to the CDC, state or local public health officials will take immediate steps to locate the individual to ensure that active monitoring continues on a daily basis.

“States will establish a plan to locate people if they do not check in on a daily basis,” he said, without specifying the plan.

“The states will also establish a procedure to follow up with a traveler who calls in and reports a fever, including where to transport that person, how to transport that person, and how their assessment will be managed,” said Frieden.

In addition, CDC plans to hand travelers from West Africa a “CARE” kit, standing for “Check and Report Ebola.” It contains a tracking log, pictorial description of symptoms, thermometer, guidance for how to monitor with a thermometer, a wallet card on who to contact if they have symptoms and a health advisory “info-graphic” on monitoring health for three weeks.

Frieden disclosed CDC was discussing with the states whether the daily monitoring could be done by email, SKYPE, telephone, Facetime or some other means of communication, including through occupational or employee health programs.

The CDC honor-system procedures reminded critics of the deportation-hearing notices routinely ignored by illegal aliens in the U.S.

Frieden neglected to explain what adverse consequences a traveler from West African would face for neglecting to follow the self-reporting procedures.

WND reported Wednesday morning a number of international passengers screened for symptoms of Ebola have been sent to local hospitals for observation.

Tuesday night, two passengers at O’Hare in Chicago from Liberia were ordered to hospitals for observation. A passenger at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey was detained for hospital observation and four passengers who flew into Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., last week were taken to a local hospital.

Researchers: Can’t stop Ebola without travel ban

american_airline

NEW YORK – A team of physicians with experience in epidemiology and health science research applying scientific methods and statistical analysis have concluded that as long as travel from West Africa remains open, there is no way to stop the international spread of Ebola.

The scientific analysis further demonstrates that as the number of Ebola cases in West Africa increases, as the World Health Organization has predicted, the risk of the disease spreading also rises.

The analysis, co-authored by a team of 18 physicians and health-care specialists, was published Monday under the title, “Assessment of the potential for international dissemination of Ebola virus via commercial air travel during the 2014 west African outbreak,” in the current issue of the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.

Moreover, the analysis indicates that exit and entry passenger screening will produce negligible reductions in international travelers disseminating the disease, largely because Ebola’s incubation period of up to 21 days allows infected passengers to pass security undetected.

The CDC announced Wednesday it would begin monitoring all travelers from the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for 21 days. But the monitoring requires self-reporting, relying on the travelers to check in each day in person or by telephone, Skype or Facetime or through employers.

On Oct. 1, WND reported a separate study published in the scientific journal PLOS Currents: Outbreaks that came to the same conclusion. It found that only a complete quarantine of air travel out of West Africa would prevent Ebola from going international, while a reduction in air travel of as much as 80 percent would only delay the international spread of the disease by three or four weeks at most.

Ebola-infected travelers

The authors’ methodology was to first quantify the total volume of commercial air travel out of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Then, the data was adjusted for the reduction in total airline seat capacity resulting from flight cancellations and travel restrictions applied to the three countries Sept. 1.

Next, the authors obtained WHO estimates of the number of Ebola cases in each of the three countries and calculated an infection rate by dividing the number of cases by the estimated total population of the nation.

The number of outbound travelers likely to be infected with Ebola was then calculated by multiplying the monthly total number of international outbound air travelers by the Ebola infection rate calculated for each nation.

The study makes clear that as the number of outbound international travelers is reduced – for instance, by air travel restrictions imposed by other nations – the likelihood international air travelers would spread Ebola beyond West Africa decreases.

The following table shows the authors’ conclusion that an estimated 7.17 Ebola-affected international travelers per month depart West Africa under current rates of infection as long as outbound air travel remains unrestricted.

Source: The Lancet

Source: The Lancet

Air travel risk projected to increase

In its most recent situation assessment, Oct. 17, WHO reported 1,519 Ebola cases in Guinea, 4,262 in Liberia and 3,410 in Sierra Leone, for a total of 9,193 cases.

The researchers calculated that in 2013, 0.2 percent of the world’s total commercial international air traffic was comprised of air travelers from Guinea (185,485), 0.2 percent from Sierra Leone (163,274) and 0.1 percent from Liberia (148,101).

There were 815 new reported Ebola cases in West Africa Oct. 17, compared to the Oct. 10 WHO report.

If WHO is correct that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could produce 10,000 new cases each week by the end of the year, the number of infected international travelers could increase tenfold.

If the number of cases increased tenfold, the authors of the study estimate the cumulative number of outbound infected travelers between September and December 2014 would be 14.6 from Guinea, 160.5 from Liberia and 54.6 from Sierra Leone, assuming no new air travel restrictions are put in place.

Passenger screening not effective

The authors were skeptical of the ability of either exit screening at West African airports or entry screening at international destinations to reduce the number of Ebola-infected travelers.

A major problem is that the Ebola virus infection in the early stages has non-specific symptoms, with an incubation period that can take up to 21 days. It provides an infected Ebola traveler leaving West Africa up to a full three weeks in which to depart without symptoms of the disease being evident.

“The predictive value of a positive health screening would be extremely low,” the researchers concluded, “regardless of its sensitivity or specificity.”

The researchers discouraged reliance on enhanced exit screening:

“Hence, screening travellers on multi-segment flights to their final destination would probably have minimum benefits to unaffected countries but could incur important opportunity costs. Moreover, the short flight durations out of affected countries, compared with the much longer incubation period of Ebola virus, indicates that if exit screening from affected countries were implemented effectively, the incremental gains from additional entry screening would be negligible.”

The study further cautioned that exit screening may actually be counterproductive, because it “is likely to further draw on valuable health and human resources from resource-poor countries in the midst of an emergency.” The study said “support from the international community will be necessary to effectively implement these recommendations.”

Since most international air travelers from West Africa reach the United States though flights that connect out of Europe, the study warned that multiple possibilities for layovers at connecting destinations and the ability to connect to the U.S. on separately booked connecting flights complicates entry screening.

“Entry screening at international airports to which no direct flights are arriving from affected countries would be highly inefficient if border authorities are unable to easily identify which travellers originated from countries currently experiencing community-based Ebola virus transmission,” the study concluded.

Even more problematic are international travelers who remain for a time at the connecting destination in Europe and travel to the U.S. on a separate ticket that may enter any one of a dozen U.S. destinations. The CDC has selected five gateway airports for enhanced screening.

Training personnel to a high level of proficiency at all the entry destinations in the U.S. will be costly.

Zero risk requires a quarantine

The study also ran sensitivity measures involving reduction in air travel from West Africa of 50 to 75 percent. The results indicated that even with a 75 percent reduction, 3.7 outbound infected West African air travelers would leave Guinea between September-December 2014 should the incidence of the disease increase as fast as anticipated, plus another 40.1 outbound from Liberia and 13.7 from Sierra Leone.

The only restriction in air travel that reduced the risk to zero appeared to be a complete quarantine that stopped all commercial traffic out of the West Africa nations as long as the Ebola outbreak continues.

“As shown in our analysis and witnessed by the imported case of Ebola virus into Nigeria and the USA, the potential for further international spread via air travel remains present,” the researchers concluded.

“Of additional concern is that the anticipated destinations of more than 60% of travellers departing Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are to low-income or lower-middle income countries, where inadequately resourced medical and public health systems might be unable to detect and adequately manage an imported case of Ebola virus disease, including possible subsequent community spread.”

Clean The Closet

To this day I can still hear my mother telling me to go and clean up my room. Dutifully, I would go to my room to start the process, only to get distracted by reading the comic book that I was supposed to put neatly in the stack. But soon the distraction was interrupted by my mother warning that she would be up in 5 minutes to inspect the room. Unable to effectively clean the room in that time, I would proceed to hide everything I didn’t know what to do with in the closet, make the bed, and then wait for her to come in—hoping that she wouldn’t look in the closet.

Obama brings in 1,900 people from another Ebola nation

obama-grimace

Since an outbreak of Ebola hit the Democratic Republic of the Congo in July, the Obama administration has brought into the U.S. at least 1,900 refugees from the disease-stricken nation, WND has learned.

Required medical screening for refugees may not detect all diseases. The mandatory blood and urine tests for all refugees would not detect Ebola.

The strain of Ebola found in the Congo is slightly different from the virus that has been ravaging West Africa. Researchers have conclude the Congolese outbreak is not connected to the epidemic in West Africa.

The U.S. refugee program this year is on pace to resettle 70,000 citizens, including a limit for the fiscal year of 2014 of 14,000 from Africa, with the State Department giving priority to Congolese refugees.

Since July, at least 1,900 Congolese refugees have been resettled within the U.S., according to statistics provided by the State Department.

A report from the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration shows 944 refugees were admitted from the Congo in July; 628 in August and 338 in September, for a total of 1,910 Congolese refugees.

The exact number of arrivals from the Congo for this month are not yet published. However, the total number of October arrivals so far from the region of Africa, according to the State Department, is 934, with most likely coming from the Congo.

The Congo has had its own outbreak of Ebola that started in late-July reportedly after a hunter brought home an infected bush animal carcass. Since then, 49 people have died in the Congo.

The latest confirmed case of Ebola was Oct. 4, leading experts to believe the disease may have been contained there. There is speculation the World Health Organization could declare the Ebola outbreak in the Congo over by the middle of November if no new cases are presented.

Asked for comment on the issue, State Department Spokesman Daniel Langenkamp referred WND to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Langenkamp stated the CDC’s Immigrant, Refugee, and Migrant Health Branch “has the delegated regulatory authority to oversee the quality of overseas medical exams required of immigrants and refugees coming to the United States.”

The CDC has not returned WND’s phone and email inquiries on the subject for the past two days.

WND asked the CDC’s media relations department whether the agency has taken any extra precautions before admitting Congolese refugees after the Ebola outbreak there, including by providing any specific antibody blood tests.

The CDC’s website explains all refugees admitted to the U.S. must undergo a basic medical examination.

The CDC mandates that all incoming refugees be given a complete blood count with a white blood cell differential, platelets count and a general urinalysis. Newborn infants are also given a metabolic screening, according to different state guidelines.

Congolese refugees

Congolese refugees

The CDC website documents the purpose of the blood test is usually to determine the existence of Anemia, a common finding in refugees. Those refugees found to be anaemic will be provided with treatment.

Diagnosing Ebola in an person who has been infected for only a few days is usually difficult, with some remaining asymptomatic for a small period of time.

Specific laboratory tests for Ebola-like antibodies can sometimes detect the disease after a few days of symptoms.

If the CDC is relying in part on a patient’s oral medical history to determine the presence of Ebola, there is concern a refugee, eager to arrive in the U.S., could provide an inaccurate health profile. The refugee can also take medication to reduce a fever prior to a physical examination.

Thomas Duncan, the Liberian who became the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., reportedly lied about his history of contact with Ebola when he filled out an airport questionnaire in Liberia before boarding a Brussels Airlines flight to Brussels and then a transfer flight to Washington and ultimately to Dallas/Fort Worth.

Congolese refugees are not the only Africans arriving to the U.S. from Ebola-plagues nations. Last week, the Daily Signal reported the U.S. was still providing visas from the three West African countries at the heart of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, according to the State Department’s most recent report to Congress on the U.S. resettlement program, refugee arrivals from Africa “are also strong and are on-pace to exceed our regional projection of 12,000 refugees.”

The report documents the U.S. has given priority to Congolese refugees, as the U.S. has joined the United Nations and international resettlement community in an effort to resettle 50,000 Congolese in coming years.

With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.