We know we're going to be accused of alarmism, but please follow the logic. First, however self-serving it may be, the accusation of a Russian intelligence hand in the WikiLeaks dump of hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee is plausible. Famously, the e-mails reveal DNC staffers pulling for Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders, prompting the resignation of the supposedly neutral body's chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The DNC had apparently been hit by Russian hackers, and Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook is now openly charging that Moscow is trying to boost Donald Trump.
The man who apparently shot dead three police officers before being brought down himself in Baton Rouge on July 17, Gavin Eugene Long, was a former Marine sergeant who went by the online name Cosmo Setepenra. His blog seems to be still online, as well as his YouTube rants in which he made clear that he did not want to be associated with any organized groups, apparently in anticipation of his attack. "I'm affiliated with the spirit of justice: nothing else, nothing more, nothing less," he said in one clip. But the Kansas City Star notes that he filed documents last year with county authorities at his Missouri home declaring himself a "sovereign" affiliated with the "United Washitaw de Dugdahmoundyah Mu'ur Nation, Mid-West Washita Tribes." It is a little strange to suddenly see the Washitaw Nation making headlines on NBC, and being mentioned in CNN, the New York Times and the like.
The suspected sniper who killed five police officers and wounded two civilians following a peaceful Black Lives Matter march in Dallas was killed when police deployed an explosives-rigged robot into the parking garage where he was holed up. Police say there were hours of fruitless negotiations before the robot outfitted C4 explosive was sent in. Associated Press said this "appears to be the first time US police have used a robot for lethal purposes. As such, it may represent the latest escalation in the use of remote and semi-autonomous devices by law enforcement." Ironically, the robot was ostensibly procured by the police force for "bomb-disposal" purposes. This apparent first use of a killer robot in domestic policing comes as human rights groups are calling for restrictions on their use in actual warfare.
Here we go again. Omar Mateen, named as the shooter in the Orlando massacre of at least 50 at a gay nightclub, is said to have made a 911 call before the attack, in which he pledged allegiance to ISIS and invoked the Boston Marathon bombers. (CNN) Amaq News Agency, the ISIS media arm, issued a statement saying the attack "was carried out by an Islamic State fighter." (Heavy) The ISIS statement is doubtless mere opportunism, simply claiming Mateen because he had declared for them, thereby becoming a one-man franchise. But there's more. A bizarre Washington Post story tells us that Mateen's father is a vocal supporter of the Taliban and "appears to be portraying himself as the president of Afghanistan"...
A former member of the Black Panthers was released from prison on Feb. 19 after having spent a record 43 years in solitary confinement. Albert Woodfox had been held in solitary confinement since 1972 after being charged and convicted of fatally stabbing a prison guard. Authorities first moved Woodfox to isolation in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola and later to "closed-cell restriction" at state jails. In June a federal judge ordered that Woodfox be unconditionally released, which included strong language barring any further trials on the original charges of murdering prison guard Brent Miller. He was able to be released after striking a deal in which he plead "no contest" to two lesser charges.
As officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a new wave of deportations of Central American migrants who entered the US illegally over the past two years, protests against the government action were carried out across the country. Dozensoccupied the intersection outside the Immigration Court on Varick Street in Lower Manhattan on Jan. 8, with seven arrested. An action was also held outside the West County Detention facility in Richmond, Calif., days earlier. At the close of the Jan. 2-3 weekend, 121 adults and children had been taken into custody in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, according to Jeh Johnson, head of the Homeland Security Department, who warned of thousands more to be deported within the next weeks because they have exhausted their legal appeals. Johnson added that the number of people trying to cross the border illegally has begun to climb again in recent months—despite just over than 330,000 migrants having been apprehended in 2015, the second-lowest number in more than four decades.
A group of self-styled "militiamen" made headlines over the weekend when they took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters building in eastern Oregon's Harney Basin. They are evidently led by Ammon Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher known for his 2014 standoff with the federal government (over unpaid grazing fees to the Bureau of Land Management). They say they are acting on behalf of Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son of a local ranching family, who were sentenced to five years in prison for setting a fire on BLM land after the Ninth Circuit upheld the mandatory minimum for arson on federal lands. By various accounts, the fire was ostensibly set to clear invasive plants, or as a "backfire" (or "controlled burn") to keep a brush-fire form spreading to their property. But the Justice Department press release on the sentencing portrays a reckless act intentionally designed as a provocation to the feds. In any case, the Hammonds don't seem too enthusiastic about the action taken on their behalf. The right-wing militant Idaho 3 Percent was instrumental in the take-over, according to an early account on Central Oregon's KTVZ.
OK, here we go. Get ready for the tiresome semantic debate about whether the San Bernardino massacre was "terrorism," or not. As if that's the most important question we should be grappling with.... Was this yet another random "mass-shooting" motivated by some personal grudge and rooted in America's homegrown culture of vigilantism and personal revenge? (This kind of thing is so commonplace that the same day's shoot-up in Savannah, Ga., barely made the news because only four people were shot, one fatally, the WaPo says.) Or was it inspired or even directed by an extremist political tendency of one stripe or another? This question is pathologically politicized...