Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Air War Against ISIL Sunday August 28th, 2016 at 8:05 AM

The Air War Against ISIL

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Attrition: The Air War Against ISIL

August 28, 2016: The American led air campaign in Iraq and Syria is now two years old. In those two years there have been nearly 15,000 air strikes, with 75 percent of them carried out by American aircraft. So far 60 percent of the air strikes have been against targets in Iraq. The main objective of the air campaign was to cripple and then destroy ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). About a third of the airstrikes were against non-ISIL targets and most of the attacks on ISIL hit buildings (especially warehouses full of weapons and supplies), parking lots (for military and civilian vehicles used by ISIL) and fortifications. Since the air campaign began ISIL has lost half the territory it controlled and over 40 percent of its personnel strength.
Things got a lot worse for ISIL in early 2016 because the American led air campaign has become much more effective. While the number of warplanes used over Syria and Iraq has not changed much since the bombing campaign began in 2014 the ROE (Rules of Engagement) has. Thus the number of weapons “released” has gone way up. There were 269 weapons used in August 2014 and this rose to 1,888 in December 2014 then to 2,823 in July 2015. By the end of 2015 it was over 3,000 a month and headed for 4,000. The increased weapons count correlated with the growth in ISIL deserters and civilians who escaped ISIL territory reporting higher casualties from air strikes. The U.S. gradually loosened up its ROE in 2015 and accelerated this after October when Russian warplanes began operating in Syria. The Russians had a much less strict ROE and their air attacks were doing far more damage to ISIL and other rebel groups despite the heavy use of human shields by ISIL. All this led to more dead civilians but the amount of damage done to ISIL increased so much that in the last year ISIL manpower in Iraq and Syria has declined about 20 percent.
Sufficient data was obtained from people (ISIL deserters and civilians fleeing ISIL territory) and electronic and photo surveillance to come up with accurate date on ISIL personnel losses. This U.S. intelligence believes that since September 2015 ISIL appears to have lost 25,000 fighters in combat (mainly in Syria, Iraq and Libya). Thus about 45,000 ISIL fighters have died since 2013. It’s believed that ISIL currently has only about 20,000 fighters available, mostly in Syria and Iraq. There are a few thousand more in northern Libya, eastern Afghanistan and Egypt. In all five countries ISIL is under heavy attack.
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China's in the hot seat on 2 major foreign-policy issues - Business Insider

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Business Insider

China's in the hot seat on 2 major foreign-policy issues
Business Insider
Similarly, Fan Changlong, one of the vice chairmen of the Chinese Central Military Commission, told US National Security Adviser Susan Rice that THAAD deployment will only worsen things on the Korean peninsula. Meanwhile, the rogue regime continues ...
Why China's G20 is the moment of truth for the Asian giantsSouth China Morning Post

all 17 news articles »

Trump thinks NSA has Clinton's deleted emails - The Hill (blog)

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Trump thinks NSA has Clinton's deleted emails
The Hill (blog)
"I hear the NSA maybe has the emails," Trump said in a phone interview on Fox News' "On The Record." "A lot of people say the NSA would have the emails if they really wanted to get them." Clinton deleted more than 30,000 emails from the personal email ...

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Surveillance program raises questions about tech, privacy - The Star Democrat

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PC Magazine

Surveillance program raises questions about tech, privacy
The Star Democrat
The disclosure came at a time when the Baltimore Police Department is under increased scrutiny: just two weeks ago the U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report outlining widespread discrimination and use of excessive force in the ...
Baltimore City Council to Hold Hearing on PD's Undisclosed Police Surveillance ProgramGovernment Technology
Look up: Police surveillance planes are probably flying over Baltimore right nowTechnical.ly Baltimore
Baltimore Police Secretly Running Aerial Mass-Surveillance Eye in the Sky | American Civil Liberties UnionAmerican Civil Liberties Union
Los Angeles Times -Radiolab -Baltimore Sun
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FBI Raids SAT Critic Over Leaked Test Questions - Gizmodo

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Gizmodo

FBI Raids SAT Critic Over Leaked Test Questions
Gizmodo
The Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a search warrant on the home of Manuel Alfaro, former executive director of assessment design and development at the College Board, which develops the SAT, an aptitude test for college bound high schoolers, ...
Exclusive: FBI raids home of ex-College Board official in probe of ...Reuters
SAT fight leads to FBI raidWashington Examiner (blog)

all 7 news articles »

Philly's new mayor made it 8 whole months before the FBI began looking at him - Hot Air

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Philly's new mayor made it 8 whole months before the FBI began looking at him
Hot Air
Philadelphia elected a new mayor last November and I'm sure hopes were high for a prosperous and vital future in the City of Brotherly Love. But as usual, reality has to rear its ugly head in the form of a union official going by the endearing name of ...

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Does China still harvest organs of executed? Doctors divided - The Columbian

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The Columbian

Does China still harvest organs of executed? Doctors divided
The Columbian
The case adds to doubts among many doctors internationally about whether China has met its pledge to stop harvesting the organs of executed inmates. The practice is widely condemned by the World Health Organization and others because of concerns ...

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India's Grand Gamble With China - Forbes

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Forbes

India's Grand Gamble With China
Forbes
There is only one major emerging economy doing well at the moment. That, of course, is India. India grew 7.6% in the year ended March 31, and the last quarter was a barn-burner, producing stunning 7.9% growth. This year won't be bad either. The IMF ...

Turkey extradites 5 Macedonians planning to join Islamic State

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Macedonian police say Turkey has extradited five Macedonians arrested in Istanbul in an operation to crack down on recruitment for the Islamic State group.
     

ATTRITION: The Air War Against ISIL

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Four rockets hit SE Turkish Diyarbakir airport

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August 28, 2016, 8:41 AM (IDT)
Four rockets were launched at the southeastern Turkish airport of Diyarbakir Saturday night, causing no casualties or disruptions. The attack, apparently by the Turkish Kurdish insurgent PKK, came four days after Turkey’s military incursion into Syria which drove ISIS back from the border town of Jarablus but was also aimed at evicting Syrian Kurdish fighters from the border regions with Washington's assent.. The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia has been striking back. In the ensuing clashes, one Turkish soldier was killed and three wounded when an YPG rocket hit their tank and Turkish F-16 jets bombed a YPG position and also hit six Islamic State targets.
 

First formal intelligence briefing for Hillary Clinton

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August 28, 2016, 9:14 AM (IDT)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received an intelligence briefing at FBI headquarters in New York Saturday. It took about two hours. Declared presidential candidates are granted these briefings under American law. The Republican candidate Donald Trump received his earlier this month.
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Kurdish militants fire rocket at civilian airport in Turkey

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Passengers were taken to safety after the attack and flights resumed after a brief pause during the police investigation.
     

Europe's refugee crisis simmers despite efforts to solve it

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European nations continue to squabble about whether, and how, to share the newcomers between them.
     

Commentary: Judeo-Christian and Islamic values - Press Herald

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Press Herald

Commentary: Judeo-Christian and Islamic values
Press Herald
Although the efforts of the National Reform Association never reached beyond the House Judiciary Committee, where it languished for years, and even though it was periodically reintroduced with no success, the “Christian” character of America was ...

10,000th Syrian reaches US this week in resettlement program

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Close to 5 million Syrians have fled civil war since 2011. Most struggle to survive in tough conditions in neighboring countries.
     

The Middle East’s Good Old Days 

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After nearly eight years in office, most observers would conclude that President Barack Obama has done little to advance, and may well have undermined, American interests in the Middle East. While he would tout the Iran nuclear deal as perhaps his greatest foreign policy achievement, a debatable proposition in itself, the region is embroiled in a series of crises the current administration seems unable to address or understand.
In their masterful new book, Ray Takeyh and Steve Simon contend that in the not too distant past the United States was far more successful in the region. As they write, “by the time the Cold War ended the United States did achieve its core objective—the exhaustion of a rival superpower, establishment of a robust system of air and naval bases, preservation of a steady supply of oil, and emergence of a secure Israel.”
In making their case, the authors rely on ample research and their own considerable expertise, as both have served at the highest levels of the U.S. government. The book’s ten chapters cover events in the Middle East from the end of World War II through the 1991 end of the Cold War. Readers are taken through the early days of the Palestinian problem, the Six Day War, the Iran-Iraq War, and the first Gulf war. American political maneuvering, backed by military power, combined to produce outcomes favorable to U.S. interests.
Their analysis is persuasive but still subject to challenge. As the authors acknowledge, the ten examples they address—albeit significant—are but a subset of the much broader and decades-long story of the Middle East’s political and security struggles. Would a broader or different sample have rendered the same conclusions? The authors are silent on this but readers can reach their own conclusions. This is at most a quibble with an otherwise first-rate book.
Given past successes and current policy chaos, the conclusions Takeyh and Simon draw are insightful. Nonetheless, in looking across recent events in the Middle East, they take what to some must seem like the politically incorrect position that it is those in power in the Middle East who bear the heaviest and most direct responsibility for the current state of affairs. “Whatever miscalculations America may have made, the principal cause of the region’s disorders are its leaders and the choices and decisions that they have made.”
There is no lack of evidence to support that judgment, but readers also may easily conclude that the region’s current state of disarray is in no small measure a product of eight years of Washington’s indifference and skewed priorities that are wholly at odds with the nuance and past successes the authors write about so cogently.
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Turkish bombing kills at least 20 in northern Syria

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Turkey sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels drive the Islamic State group out of the border town of Jarablus last week.
     
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