Do you have a right to view an ISIS Kill List?

According to The Clarion Project, a political information bureau that warns westerners of the growing threat from radical Islam, ISIS has published a ‘kill list’ that includes the names, addresses and emails of 15,000 Americans.

Clarion_300So far, this is interesting news, but it is not really new. I found ISIS, Hezbollah and Al-Qaida kill lists going back at least 8 years. This 2012 bulletin complains that NBC would not release the names contained on a kill list.

A kill list is newsworthy, and the Clarion article is interesting—but the article has more “facts” with which the publisher wishes to generate mob frenzy…

  • It explains that 4,000 of the names on the Kill List have been leaked by hackers
  • It echos a report by Circa News that the FBI has decided to not inform citizens that they are on the ISIS kill list.

In a clear effort to whip up and direct audience indignation, it asks readers to take a one-question poll. Which answer would you choose?

  1. I have a right to know if I am on an ISIS kill list
  2. I do not need to know if my name is on the ISIS kill list.
    The FBI can protect me without my knowing

Let’s ignore, for a moment, that the editorial comment appended to answer #2 involves a misleading assumption (i.e. that your safety is related to inclusion on the list and that you need or would be the focus of FBI protection). Even before this cheap tactical mis-direction, I am frustrated with the sleazy promotional and shock tactics of The Clarion Project (formerly, stopradicalislam.org).

Muslim Imam, orders the destruction of Christian churches

This a pity—because the Clarion Project also creates and distributes valuable educational literature. For a few years, they were the credible standard in defining and issuing warnings about the dangers of radical Islam—especially as it is seeded and spread from within. The Clarion Project also produces terrific “wake-up” videos and documentary evidence about life under Sharia law and the shocking intolerance, misogyny and disrespect for human rights that characterize ISIS. It highlights the brutal tactics that emerge when regional governments are controlled by religious zealots. Like any repressive dictatorship, ISIS rules through fear instilled by bands of roaming thugs and by turning everyone into snitches.*

But the Kill List Poll points to a growing trend at Clarion. Four years ago, I objected to Meira Svirsky’s inflammatory report that criticizes a DOJ official for refusing to answer a complex and subtle question with a Yes-or-No response. The Clarion Project has a critical and noble goal. But pushing the emotional hot buttons of an audience by over simplifying or vilifying subtleties undermines the entire organization. In the end, it only demonstrates that they are bullies. And just like Donald Trump, bullying plays only to mobs. It is no the way to win hearts and minds.

My Answer to the Poll

  • I do not need to know if my name is on the ISIS kill list

Rationale

Both ISIS leaders and radical clerics have repeatedly declared that *all* Americans, American allies, Jews and non-believers may be killed on the spot or taken as sex slaves to pleasure suicide bombers and Jihadist soldiers. quranThey state that doing this fulfills Jihad and prophecy and is sanctioned by the Holy Qur’an. With this in mind, I feel that the poll options are political, selfish and offensive. It assumes that readers are idiots…

The multiple choice answers are incomplete and misleading. Of course, Americans have a right to know if they are on a kill list—and, in fact, we already know. We are all on that list!

About Radical Islam

The warning bell at the heart of Clarion journalism is an alarm that must be heard—very loudly. Radical Islam is a cancer and not just figuratively. It exhibits all earmarks of a spreading pathogen that invades and attaches itself to its neighbors while building offensive outposts far from the region that it started. It has not yet been contained and excised. It presents a significant ongoing threat to our safety, our health and our wealth.

~Ellery Davies


* I could illustrate my point with photos of men being burned in a cage, the abduction of preteen school girls from their homes (they were given to soldiers), a child slitting the throat of captives, or a women having her nose cut off because she was raped by a stranger. After all, in the twisted world of radical Islam, anyone who is different, unique gay, Christian, or not in agreement with the local Imam is to be tortured and killed.

But I can similarly point to even this comparatively mild video. It shows a Turkish music store under attack last week (June 2016), because a group of thugs suspects that the band signing autographs represents secular hedonism—or that that fans in the store might be consuming alcohol during Ramadan.

Ex-NSA Boss says FBI is Wrong on Encryption

What happens if the National Park Service fences off scenic lookout points at the Grand Canyon’s south rim near the head of the Bright Angel trail? Would it prevent the occasional suicide jumper? Not a chance. (The National Park Service tried this in the mid 1980s). People will either gore themselves on fences and posts or they will end their lives on the road in a high speed automobile, putting others at risk. Either way, tourists will be stuck with looking at the North Rim and the Colorado River through prison bars.

Let’s move from analogy to reality. What happens if you jam cell phone signals on tunnels and bridges. Will it stop a terrorist from remotely detonating a bomb? No. But it will certainly thwart efforts to get rescue and pursuit underway. And what about personal encryption?…

Gadgets and apps are finally building encryption into their wares by default. Does a locked-down iPhone or the technology that businesses use to secure trade secrets and plan strategy among colleagues enable criminals. Not even close. But if the FBI criminalizes encryption, they cripple the entire American economy. After all, the Genie is already out of the lamp.

Bear with me for just one more analogy (I’m still reaching for the right one): Criminalizing kitchen knives will make cooking impossible and the criminals will still have knives.

A Wild Duck has not previously linked to a media article. I am proud of our all-original content and clear statement of opinions. But in this case, I could not have said it better myself. (Actually, I have said it this all along: End-to-end encryption is a good thing for government, businesses and individuals alike. It is communications and storage empowerment.)

With this article, you will see that the former NSA director gets it. The current FBI director hasn’t a clue. Ah, well…That’s OK. Some concepts are subtle. For some politicians, an understanding of the practical, personal and sociological implications requires decades of exposure and post-facto reflection.

Memo to FBI director, Jim Comey: Get your head out of the sand and surround yourself with advisers who can explain cause and effect.


, Jan 13, 2016)encryption

Encryption protects everyone’s communications, including terrorists. The FBI director wants to undermine that. The ex-NSA director says that’s a terrible idea.

The FBI director wants the keys to your private conversations on your smartphone to keep terrorists from plotting secret attacks.

But on Tuesday, the former head of the U.S. National Security Agency…

Read the full article at CNN Money
http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/13/technology/nsa-michael-hayden-encryption/

Is Islam a Religion of Tolerance?

In my armchair observation of the world’s major religions, they each have scriptures, righteous examples or commandments that seek the destruction or subjugation of other races, infidels or non-believers. In short, among all the talk of love, peace and coexistence, there is inevitably a doctrine, which—if interpreted literally—espouses hate or the smiting of people who are different. Is this the case for every religion? Perhaps an exception is Buddhism and other religions that are associated more with spiritual or political philosophies rather than a deity (e.g. Confucianism is not really a religion).

islam_385x261But here’s the thing: Despite holy scripture that places adherents spiritually or morally above their neighbors, few individuals believe or act on scripture that suggests burning neighbors, cutting off their hands, or raping their daughters. They also leave their neighbors to establish and administer their own political and cultural practices, according to their own set of beliefs. That is, most cultures accept the universal maxims: “Live and let live” and “Treat others as you wish to be treated”.  Adhering to these two simple golden principles of non-interference and cooperation are the keys to living in a multicultural world. Everyone understands this. Everyone lives it! Well, not quite everyone…

islamThe problem with Islam, as I see it, is that a large fraction of followers actually implement an “interference doctrine”. But when an institution combines a nihilistic philosophy with growth and evangelism, it takes the form of a cancer: Constantly pushing out its boarders and consuming anything in the way. Many Islamic adherents (how many?) refuse to accommodate tolerance—at least for those outside of its beliefs, even when an Islamist community is a minority in the homeland of other cultures and philosophies.

I believe in tolerance. Given a connected world with a great many cultures and beliefs, it is the only way to foster peaceful and productive coexistence. The concept of Sharia Law—practiced against non-believers and especially outside of an Islamist homeland—is not only intolerant and abhorrent, it is impossible to reconcile within any framework of coexistence. Therefore, the only philosophy or practice of which we should be intolerant is intolerance itself.

Islam-10

I honestly don’t know the fraction of Islamists who teach hate and who seek to spread intolerance. But I can see that the absolute numbers are staggering. It’s not just growing in the Arab world, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali and Timbuktu. It has taken root in France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Finland and even in North America. While I cringe in response to some reader suggestions (“We must destroy Islam. We need to institute a genocide”), I honestly don’t see how to contain a cancer by any means other than destroying it. As with any cancer, there is an urgent imperative to prevent spread and the consumption of surrounding tissue.

Is it possible that Islam can be gently prodded to correct the extremism within its many sects and among its zealous Mullahs? I don’t know. And I don’t know if we have time to engage on such a benign level. Despite my disdain for intolerance, I keep returning to my own maxim: The only thing of which we can be justifiably intolerant is intolerance itself. I believe that if we do not quickly squash intolerance, the haters will consume us.

(Continue below image)390806_257718917664687_371811942_n

That’s my opinion on the growth of a very destructive force from the dark side. My father had a considerably less tolerant plan… He died before there was a western acronym for ISIS [ISIL, Daesh, The Caliphate], but he once wrote that captured Taliban and Hammas fighters should be killed and a video sent to their families. The video would show the corpse of a religious extremist as it is buried alongside open carcasses of pigs, including intestines and pork brains. He figured that the graphic display of eternal damnation might persuade the next generation from spreading their hate and killing across other cultures. I hold out hope for a more civilized and humane way to encourage tolerance among neighbors.

In response to the titular question: Is Islam a religion of tolerance? It doesn’t appear to promote tolerance at any level. Not from religious leaders and not that I can see from the adherents. If Islam were tolerant, we would see swift condemnation of terrorist acts. We would see acceptance of other cultures and practices. We would sense an acceptance that women can be educated and treated as something other than cattle, and we would see a peaceful and productive coexistence with the greater communities, both religious and secular.

All 4 photos: http://enriqueiglesias.com

Malaysia 370: Unexplored possibility

Malasia Air flight 370With nearly a month since the disappearance of Malaysia Air flight 370 with 239 souls on board, the pundits have put forth many theories to explain the mystery of the missing jumbo jet. They explore possibilities such as mechanical failure, terrorist passengers, a mentally unbalanced pilot or copilot, a fire or electrical problem caused by batteries or something stored in the cargo bayand the leading early theory: a plot to steal the plane.

But I have not seen another explanation—one that, to me, seems entirely more likely…

Malasia Air pilot & copilot

Zaharie Ahmad Shah,      Fariq Abdul Hamid

A reasonable explanation for the disappearance of this plane is the accidental lockout of authorized individuals from the cockpit. In the past decade, the cockpits of large planes have been turned into fortresses. The cockpit door has been fortified to withstand attack by axe or explosive. To enter the flight deck, a layered security protocol requires a passcode from the outside in combination with authorization from the inside or 3rd party cooperation. If the flight crew rushed to the doorway due to an innocent event (say the injury of an attendant who was just entering or someone falling as they stood up), or if the crewman remaining in the cockpit was incapacitated by accident or illness, it seems entirely possible that the plane could fly on autopilot while the crew struggles in vain to re-enter the flight deck.

No one at the controls

No one at the controls

Cabin-Ground Communication?

I wonder if Boeing or a jumbo jet pilot can tell us this: If all individuals are locked out of a cockpit as a plane flies on, is there any way to establish voice contact with the flight controllers in Malaysia, Vietnam, or even via satellite? I can imagine that a call might be possible from the cabin phone or perhaps there are Bluetooth-like devices in the galley. But with the recent fortress-like upgrades, I wonder if designers had sufficient foresight to ensure that every plane shipped in any configuration was equipped with cabin-ground capability—and that the all devices were charged and the crew regularly tested on their location and use.

New Topic: Black Box Pinger

While we’re discussing the disappearance of Malaysia Air flight 370, here is something else that I could never figure out.The media informs us that the best batteries we can achieve in a small, indestructible container last for only 30 days. (And that assumes that they are fresh, were recently charged, and stored at the proper temperature!). But this raises a very obvious question (obvious to Wild Ducks, that is)…

“Pings” broadcast from gray cylinder (left)

“Pings” broadcast from gray cylinder (left)

Rather than using a limited reserve to continuously ping for help, why not listen instead? After all, the ping can only penetrate ocean water for a mile or two. It would consume far less power to wait in “standby” mode until the unit is interrogated by a roaming device seeking response. In fact, if the pinger was primarily in a passive state until polled, I bet that the designers could budget for a much bigger energy burst on the ping. After all, when sensing an interrogation, someone is getting within range and we saved all the energy we would have spent on thousands of useless pings during past months!

Ellery Davies is a partner at CRYPSA, the Cryptocurrency Standards Association.
He is a frequent contributor to Yahoo News, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal.

Border Control & Immigration: A case for open borders

In May and December 2010, I wrote 3 pieces about border control and immigration.
Here they are combined into one posting.
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In May 2010, I wrote A Case for Open Borders, originally in response to
Los Angeles to boycott Arizona over immigration law.

Twice, during the past 12 years, I have tried – unsuccessfully – to host a married couple from China for a 3 month tourist visa. Both husband and wife are retired and their child and grandchildren are US citizens. Prior to this month, the US consulate office in Beijing refused to issue Visas, based on two presumptions about my prospective guests:

  1. They were recently professionals (a medical doctor and a University science professor), and might be seeking to restart their careers in America.
  2. They failed to demonstrate sufficient ties to China. That is, they did not have a large amount of money in the bank, a home that was paid off, or a business that would fail without them. (Home ownership is relatively new in China).

Yet, this month, they were issued Visas on their first visit to a US Consulate, and now they are in my home, making plans to see the Grand Canyon, Bay of Fundy (Nova Scotia) and Washington DC. So what has changed?

Of course, my family acted as sponsor and guarantor. Right on the Visa application, we commit that our guests will not require public funds and that they will return to their homeland. But this covenant was required with each failed application in the past. What has changed?

To learn more about the swift approval after years of effort, I contacted a US official in Beijing who was involved in the decision process. Of course, 911 played a role in the reduction of visas issued during the past decade. America needed to develop better mechanisms to detect and prevent terrorists and those who support terrorism from entering the country. But this was not the primary reason that they were denied for so long. The real reason was economic…

Until recently, the US tried hard to block visitors seeking economic opportunity. But in the past few years something has changed. Not only does China enjoy an enormous trade surplus, they have lower unemployment than many regions of the US and their new found wealth has trickled down to most urban areas. (It is no longer true that a professional earns $400/year. That was in 1996. Now, a white collar job that might pay $100,000 in USA is paying $42,500 and the gap is closing quickly. Factory workers in rural areas are still behind—but not as much as you might think, especially not if their employer has ties to the west.

So the real reason for the quick visa decision now, is that the US consulate office understands that America is no longer a land of opportunity (at least not a land of disparate, relative-economic opportunity!). Visitors from many countries have better opportunities at home: A stronger currency and lower unemployment.

I suspect that even if this were not a temporarily truth, the desire of Americans to block immigration is either racially motivated or based on misguided economics. Visitors who work (on the tax roles or even on the sly) do not “steal jobs” from Americans. Instead, they raise the living conditions of all Americans. Even during tough times, protecting borders from visitors and immigrants is counter productive. It serves absolutely no purpose. The issue isn’t enforcement of immigration law. The quotas and restrictions shouldn’t exist at all!

At the risk of overwhelming detractors, I suggest a country with NO visa requirements and a very different border control: Let in everyone with a non-criminal past! (How’s that for heresy?!). Instead of spending resources trying to block economic and political immigration, focus only on terrorist threats. [Willingness-to-work = Good], [Desire-to-kill-neighbors = Bad]. Really very, very simple.

The conventional fear of open borders is that those of us fortunate to be here first will suffer from a glut of “wannabe” Americans. Nonsense! When other countries see the drain of talent, of capital and of dedicated workers, they will have only one way to ‘retaliate’: To compete with an open, democratic, capitalist, and pluralistic society, they must adopt these traits. They must build up their own welcoming ‘melting pot’ and create a competitive and proud work force. Result: All boats float higher—even across the pond with trading partners.

A Wild Duck blog is not the place to argue the macro-economic mechanisms. I won’t attempt defending my position here. But think it through. Get past your prejudice—And post your feedback.

-Ellery Davies
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Also in May 2010, I added this observation in a Guest Editorial for Yahoo in response to
Police chiefs voice concerns to AG about Ariz. law
          By Pete Yost, Associated Press. Yahoo News, 26-May-2010

WASHINGTON – Police chiefs from around the country have told Attorney General Eric Holder that Arizona’s new immigration law will divert law enforcement resources away from fighting crime. In an hour long, closed-door meeting with Holder, the chiefs have said that being forced to determine whether a person is in the United States illegally will break down the trust that police have built with communities. One participant at the meeting, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, said the Arizona law and similar legislation proposed in other states will actually increase, rather than decrease, crime. Arizona immigration law empowers police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.

Feedback from Ellery Davies:

Being in this country illegally isn’t a violation of Arizona law nor local municipal laws. It is of interest only to the Federal government and demographic sociologists. Moreover, it is a technicality. Those who make it out to be more than a technicality are either under the false impression that aliens cause more crime than citizens or – more likely – they are xenophobic.

I would argue that enforcement of Federal immigration law and anti-alien statutes does not help Arizona at all. As the police chiefs point out, it may increase crime due to the breakdown of trust between individuals (including citizens) and the police.

Supporters of the Arizona statute claim that illegal aliens disproportionately murder, rape and siphon public resources. Yet a very significant and disproportionate contribution by immigrants – legal and illegal – is more accurate.

Border control should focus upon blocking access to criminals directly: terrorists, drug runners – and of course those who are likely to require free services.

It’s easy to discourage lechers. Stop giving them services. You don’t need to frisk people in the street. Check their ID at the schools, hospitals and food stamp dispensaries. It’s that simple. Limiting any other demographic (even if “illegal”) is a holdover to racism or based on an unfounded fear that immigrants steal jobs…

Ahhh, yes. JOBS! The economics of this last issue is widely misunderstood. So let’s lay out the fact, and we can debate it until the cows come home…

Immigrants take jobs that legacy residents refuse to perform. As they integrate into communities and raise capital, they create jobs that employ all of us. By welcoming immigrants, we benefit by attracting freedom-loving foreigners from all countries. Their homelands experience a brain drain (and, yes, the flight of common laborers too). To fight back, they gradually resort to free markets: Hey wait! That means capitalism and personal freedoms. Precisely! And this benefits us all.

G-d! I wish that everyone could see the big picture. It took me 50 years to understand the cause and effect of border control. I hope that society figures it out in less time.
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In December 2010, U.S. border patrol agent, Brian Terry, was shot and killed in Rio Rico Arizona. When USA Today distributed this article from The Arizona Republic, it got an unusually large amount of reader feedback. In response to readers blaming liberals or expressing racial hatred toward Mexicans and Africans, I contributed this reply:

It’s easy to blame liberals, immigrants and weak borders. But how many among us is not an immigrant or born of immigrants? The crossing of “illegals” * is facilitated by a great incentive: disparate opportunity. Solve it by fixing incentives (a “carrot & stick”):

  •  Increase opportunity in their lands through democracy & trade
  •  Eliminate opportunity here: Health benefits, assistance & taxpayer subsidy. When word gets back that illegals have no opportunity & protection, they stay with family or work the system (a legal, taxpayer route). We must recognize racial & cultural prejudice. Hispanic, Asian, African, Jew or Native American—They are not the problem. They are a solution! It is what makes us great. The problem is chronic unemployment on both sides of the border (due to gov policy), excessive doles on our side, and artificial trade restrictions.

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Follow up:  On Oct 24 2011 . . .

The Daily Beast writer, Peter Beinart, observes that the term “illegals” is selectively applied as a noun to denote “illegal immigrants” and typically, those of Latino ancestry only.

As a noun, the term “illegals” is a racist euphemism and rallying cry. When is the last time anyone has called an Irish immigrant an “illegal”? How about a corporate officer who fails to file a tax return? What about Mitt Romney? He paid an undocumented landscaper. Is he an ‘illegal’ – or does the term apply only to the laborer that he hired? It’s something to ponder as we sit in glass houses, wrapped in a flag, eating apple pie and with passport in hand.

Should undocumented immigrants collect free services that burden U.S. taxpayers? No! Should we carefully screen for criminals and terrorists at our borders? Of course – even if the selection process stereotypes tourists & returning Americans! But for what reason do we fear border crossings by those seeking freedom and opportunity? What is the threat? Are we afraid of those who seek nothing more than pay taxes while serving as a gardener, nurse-assistant, laborer or child care worker? What is the threat?!
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Ellery contributes political commentary to Yahoo, CNet, Google and other forums.
He welcomes feedback in his blog, A Wild Duck .