Monday, August 22

The Elusive Origin of ISIS -

When the real story
is much more interesting . . .

A dispute erupted over the origins of ISIS when Donald Trump asserted that President Obama founded it. I casually presumed Trump was speaking figuratively and didn't give his remark a second thought.

Then someone in the Mainstream Media asserted that it was Zarqawi who founded ISIS. And many others repeated that response like parrots in an echo chamber.

Oddly enough, I remember this story quite differently. I blogged it as the story unfolded because I had to study Propaganda Analysis in college and because it seemed like a historic development.

ISIS, I believe, migrated from a CGI animation.

We tell stories to help us make sense of our experiences in the world. My own memory of the story may be imperfect because some of the story may be classified top secret and because of my own efforts to make sense of what was disclosed.

There came a point in time when the Al-Qaida chapter in Iraq was having terrible problems. As I recall, every time the cult named new leadership, our team bumped them off. It became a kind of death sentence to be identified as one of their leaders. Consequently, the cult was having a hard time finding anyone willing to assume leadership.

This is how the Al-Qaida brand went toxic. The cult needed to rebrand their group or face dissolution and extinction.

And then, the second shoe dropped. Once they rebranded, how could they stop the Allies from assassinating the leadership of the "new" group?

The terrorists devised a scheme which they believed would protect them. As many young men these days play computer video games, they were familiar with CGI animation. Some of the artwork in these games and movies can be quite lifelike and convincing.

They had some friendly geeks create a CGI animation of an avatar who could appear in cyberspace on the Internet to make announcements or issue directives.

Thus it was, they created the virtual Sheikh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, Emir of the "new" group which they called the "Islamic State of Iraq."

I would conjecture our geeks in the DIA and other agencies performed some packet traces to locate the group, but, eventually, the case was cracked wide open because our team tracked down the actor who was reading the avatar's script, and he publicly confessed what he had done.

The following is an adaptation
excerpted from my blog entries at the time:

A Cyberspace Myth -

The mysterious Abu Omar al-Baghdadi - the so-called "emir" of the so-called "Islamic State of Iraq" - apparently avoided capture so elusively through a very clever ruse: He didn’t exist... (7/19/07)

A computer-generated avatar -

Sheikh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi's
speeches were read by an actor.

The ruse was devised by Abu Ayub al-Masri, and Mashhadani, who served as a propaganda chief in the organization, helped create the Islamic State of Iraq as a virtual organization that is essentially a pseudonym for al-Qaida in Iraq. (9/15/07)

The last word on this matter
has probably not yet been written.


Friday, August 19

Some Strange Appearances -

Another Florida Face-Eating Attack
has been reported this week. Drug
involvement is strongly suspected.

::nbcmiami:: - - - ::wsvn:: - - - ::local10::

*  *  *
A new Netflix documentary which will spotlight Amanda Knox will debut at the Toronto Film Festival [TIFF] next month before a global release at the end of September, according to the British Press Association at The Guardian.

Like The Tunnel, currently airing on PBS, which is a joint Anglo/French production, the Knox movie was filmed in collaboration with a Danish producer.

 A few days ago while on a supermarket checkout line, I was surprised to see the image of Jodi Arias on the cover of a tabloid publication.

Although I affirm the rights of the authors to express themselves with a movie spotlighting Amanda Knox, I think it is far too soon for such a documentary to have any serious credibility. Besides that, both Jodi Arias and Amanda Knox have been featured abundantly in the Media already.

For me, the final court outcome on Knox was akin to the Scottish "bastard" verdict and was deliberately left ambiguous for the public to resolve for themselves within a more personal realm.

*  *  *
A beautiful and intricate new
crop circle recently appeared in Wiltshire.
And it's definitely worth a look.


Monday, July 18

Pulse & Dogma -

Gimme A Fresh Angle . . .

If the Orlando terrorist attack had happened in the Fort Lauderdale area, it probably would have had a much different outcome.

Every gay man I know in this area carries a small canister of pepper spray on his key chain or in his pocket when he ventures out after dark. Although the choreography of this crime may not yet have been fully reconstructed, it is possible the shooter could have been foiled early in his enterprise by someone spraying pepper spray in his eyes and blinding him.

The Mainstream Media immediately jumped
on the story with not one but two Treatments:

First, they treated it as a Gay Hate Crime. Although it was experienced by the Gay community as a hate crime, it turned out to be a terrorist attack. The doctored 911 records were not appreciated.

Then, they tried to treat the Pulse story as an argument for Gun Control. The jihadi terrorists do not necessarily use guns; they have been known to use other weapons. And, by the same token, you don't necessarily have to use a gun to counteract them.

I understand that cell phones have been used to remotely detonate their bombs from a safe distance. Are we going to outlaw cell phones, too?

According to reports, Omar Mateen repeatedly expressed his devotion to the leader of one of the Islamic-style terrorist cults, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi. This is a pronounced characteristic of cult activity, whether the devotion is to Charlie Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, or any other leader.

ISIS is just one of a cluster of regional cults which have a long history. Many of them attribute their existence to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire which they fantasize as a Golden Age they wish to recapture. The Muslim Brotherhood, one of the earliest of these groups, was founded in Egypt in 1928.

What should we call these groups? The nomenclature issue has become an unnecessary controversy. If you wish to avoid any mention of Islam, you can call them Militant Jihadis or Caliphate Militants. This controversy has become a red herring.

The term "caliphate" is just a word which can mean many different things to many different people. For some, it may mean a kind of Shangri-la; for others, a Utopia. For a terrorist jihadi cult, it means the establishment of their own Slave Empire.

:: Pulse Orlando Shootings ::

:: Censored 911 Records? ::


Monday, June 6

Markel Murder: Not So Thin Air -

More information about the murder case of
Law Prof Daniel Markel has been released . . .

The investigation involved a lot of cyber sleuthing and digital bread crumb tracking, according to Mike Vasilinda at News4Jax.

Then, too, Morgan Norwood points to the importance of cell phone pings when added to security and traffic camera video tape evidence, etc.

Jose Lambiet, a well-known South Florida society diarist, has written up an article for The Daily Mail in their style, but don't jump to any hasty conclusions just yet!


Saturday, May 28

Law Prof's Murder: Update -

A multi-agency arrest has been made
at a Hallandale Beach gas station of
a Miami Beach man for the murder
of FSU Law Professor Daniel Markel.

The 34-year-old man, Sigfredo Garcia, lists
his profession as "heavy machine operator."

The authorities have sealed the papers for the case
which, they explain, is still active and ongoing.

:: NBC 6 :: - - - - - :: Tampa Bay Times ::


Thursday, May 26

Rough Passages -

ZombiCon Killer, BookSlut
Bows Out, and a Grotesque Diatribe . . .

Last year, during a ZombieCon festivity in Fort Myers, a man fired a gun into the crowd, killing 20-year-old Expavious Tyrell Taylor. The shooter is still at large. If you have any information which could help the police, there is a $36,000 reward.

You can call the Fort Myers Police Department at 239-321-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.

::NBC Miami:: - - - ::News-Press:: - - - ::NBC News::

*  *  *  *  *
The Literati on the Internet
are losing a valued contributor.

Jessa Crispin has announced that she has decided to end her BookSlut project, which included a Blog and a monthly online literary magazine. While I was reading her remarks about the finale of the project, I was remembering David Bowie's poignant song Where Are We Now?

Much has changed since the early days of the new century as far as writing online. Feed Magazine was an example of less emphasis on form and more of a focus on content. Experts advised us to make our landing page load as quickly as possible.

Today, a typical online "magazine" is often heavy with an over-abundance of fancy computer code in its format, but contains thin contents, which may be there simply to promote something else the writer is selling.

Maybe Jessa could still contribute an
occasional piece to The Guardian Book Blog.

*  *  *  *  *
A vile agitprop piece worthy of Der Sturmer, demonizing George Zimmerman, was posted at The Daily Beast recently. The poison pen involved was wielded by a writer named Gideon Resnick, who seemed to be trying to incite some loose screw into killing the former NCW.

Have a nice holiday weekend!


Friday, May 13

Some Wizards Behind The Curtain -

Although I haven't had much time for surfing lately,
I still have an inclination to collect links like a magpie.

I'm no couch potato, but for this year's open house week on Cable TV, I browsed a bit and impulsively decided to watch the first season of True Detective on HBO.

It required binge-watching 8 episodes within a few days, and somehow I managed to slog through it all. The story involved the gradual discovery of a serial killer.

I'm still not into binge-watching, but it was pretty good.

Also just noticed that Sarah Weinman has linked to a newly discovered serial killer story.

I admire her commitment to the genre.

# Along the way, it came to my attention that Christopher Fowler has produced a new book of short mystery stories called London's Glory.

Try not to notice the men
behind the curtains pulling the strings . . .

# Some people are surprised that F*cebook allegedly manipulates its news feed. If that's your only news source, you are seriously shortchanging yourself.

# Here are some of our new Gate-Keepers
who worship the false idols of algorithms.


When Hecklers Veto Trump -

Over the past decade
there has been a surprising increase
in the number of cases belonging to
the genre of Heckler's Veto . . . 

It's been surprising for two reasons. First, many of these cases have occurred on American college campuses, an environment previously regarded as a bastion of Intellectual Freedom; and, second, because most of us older adults don't generally find ourselves in that environment, so that we are not usually aware of what's going on there.

A hypothetical case which illustrates this kind of incident might go like this: A campus organization invites a prestigious figure to give an address, but a group of protesters show up at the venue and make such a racket that the prospective speaker is forced to withdraw.

What is Heckler's Veto?
There are two basic definitions.

The first definition is a narrow legal definition. Take the hypothetical situation above, when suddenly the police appear on the scene. They unplug the speaker's microphone and tell him to pack up and shut it down. Why? The cops tell him that they don't want any trouble here and that there are angry people outside trying to get in who say they are going to rip the place up and riot if the speaker is allowed a forum here.

In this first definition, it is the government or its representatives, the police, who abrogate the speaker's First Amendment right to speak. Such behavior by the police may also raise the issue of Prior Restraint.

In the second definition, which is broader and more informal, it is the protesters themselves who silence the speaker.

Why the rise in such incidents on American college campuses in recent years? That's a good question!

When we were youngsters, we were taught that we should not infringe on the rights of others. "You have the right to swing your arm as far as the tip of the next guy's nose." We were taught to respect the rights of others.

When did this change?

The increase in this type of situation seems to coincide with the ascendancy of Cable TV News.

Today, Cable TV News provides a potential 24/7 Media Environment capability. And CNN can be considered the leader of the pack, because its "Reach" exceeds its subscription base. If you walk into many fast food outlets, there is a flat screen TV mounted on the wall. And, odds are, it will be tuned to CNN.

CNN readily acknowledges that Breaking News is its stock in trade. When something happens which a lot of people are interested in, viewership rises. But when the world is quiet, viewership tends to decline. Since its advertising revenue is based to some degree on how many viewers are tuned to their channel, the organization has to have strategies to help them maintain a higher level of viewers. More viewers equals more advertising revenue.

It's my impression that one of the strategies CNN has been using recently is to adopt some of the techniques used with successful effect in Reality TV Series. We find Story Arcs, attenuated Drama/Conflict, and Treatments. We even find the classic Unreliable Narrator being featured and given airtime.

These techniques are integral to Hollywood machinery. So, has CNN simply gone Hollywood?

If their recent Treatment of civil disorders and riots is any barometer, maybe it has.

They assigned Don Lemon to act as Master of Ceremonies, giving the disorder an Academy Awards worthy Red Carpet runway approach on which Lemon, who has all the gravitas of a hair stylist, was interviewing anyone with a wild fairytale to tell - the wilder, the better - seemingly, solely for its entertainment value.

Even if you don't subscribe to Cable TV, you might be exposed to it while you're grabbing a bite in a restaurant. It behooves you to keep your wits about you in order to avoid getting bamboozled by CNN et al.

Some of the talk they are airing on the pretext that it is commentary about the News has very little connection to any of the actual facts in the events - maybe no connection at all.

Do try to keep that in mind, even if it seems entertaining at the moment.

:: Wikipedia: Heckler's Veto ::

:: Law Prof Eugene Volokh ::