Archive for March 16th, 2012
Back when I worked in municipal government, one of the vendors commonly used by our public safety personnel for gear and apparel was Galls. From their website:
Galls, The Authority in Public Safety Equipment & Apparel, has been in the public safety business for over 45 years. Originally specializing in police gear and police equipment; however over the years Galls has expanded to other areas of public safety and tactical gear markets including fire, EMS, military, corrections and security. Simply put if you are in public safety Galls is the place for you.
As the largest dealer of public safety equipment and apparel Galls is privileged to have relationships with all the major industry vendors. Top brands like 5.11 Tactical, Bates Boots, Safariland and Streamlight trust us to deliver their brands to the market. We have also taken our years of experience and customer interaction and developed a line of Galls branded products that combine value and performance.
So if you are in looking for on duty police gear, police equipment or tactical gear or off duty tactical gear from major brands such as 5.11 Tactical, Bates Boots, Safariland and Streamlight – Galls is your source. We have a complete price match guarantee and offer many exclusive deals and free gifts; be sure to sign-up for our email promotions and like us on facebook to get the latest offers.
While Galls is known for doing business with various government agencies, many of their products are available for purchase by the public.
The Lexington, Kentucky-headquartered company also offers:
• An award-winning catalog
• Convenient online ordering
• Dedicated sales representatives
• 6 retail stores, and a showroom centrally-located in Lexington, Kentucky
Galls has been a BBB Accredited Business since December 1, 2004, and currently receives an “A+” rating for its BBB Business Review.
Right now, Galls is running a promotion of 15 percent off and $5 UPS ground shipping on any order over $99, which ends at midnight (ET) on March 19. Information on this promotion is featured in a banner near the top of the Galls home page. In addition, keep an eye out for links to other promotions, special deals, and clearance items on that same page.
Click on the banner ad below and see what Galls can do for you. Please note that by clicking on the ad and purchasing a product, I receive a commission from the sale.
(Editor’s note: Ad not available, as Galls is currently not participating in the affiliate marketing program I belong to)
Poll: 80 Percent Of U.S. Adults Surveyed Say Family’s Financial Situation Not Better Off Compared To Four Years Ago
The results from a CBS News/New York Times survey that was conducted by telephone from March 7 to 11, 2012, among 1,009 adults nationwide are quite revealing as it concerns how Main Street views the economy. From Stephanie Condon on the CBS News website on March 12:
The economy and jobs remains the most important problem facing the country today, according to 51 percent of Americans. Three in four Americans think the economy is at least somewhat bad, including 30 percent who say it is very bad.
More Americans, 30 percent, say the economy is getting better; 24 percent say it is getting worse. The public’s economic outlook was slightly better last month, when 34 percent said the economy was getting better.
It’s the next finding that probably has the White House and Democrats at least somewhat concerned, although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed it as being “so meaningless.” Condon added:
Just 20 percent of Americans feel their family’s financial situation is better today than it was four years ago. Another 37 percent say it is worse, and 43 percent say it is about the same.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
“Reid: Poll finding 80 percent of Americans not better off ‘so meaningless’”
FYI, here’s how the question was presented to survey takers:
Compared to four years ago, is your family’s financial situation better today, worse today, or about the same?
Possible answers? “Better today,” “ Worse today,” “About the same,” and “Don’t know/No answer.”
Condon, Stephanie. “Poll: Obama’s approval rating sinks to new low.” CBS News. 12 Mar. 2012. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57395703-503544/poll-obamas-approval-rating-sinks-to-new-low/). 16 Mar. 2012.
These days, have you ever noticed that the “good” stuff (really the “bad” stuff) comes out of the nation’s capital on Fridays? The following is no exception. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which provides nonpartisan budget analysis for Congress, has been analyzing President Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposals and reported the following on their website today:
What Would Be the Effects on the Federal Budget of Enacting the President’s Proposals?
Most of the net budgetary impact would come from changes in tax policies, but changes in spending policies would also play a role. CBO, incorporating estimates by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) for the President’s tax proposals estimates that enactment of the President’s proposals would have the following consequences for the budget:
• The deficit in 2012 would equal $1.3 trillion (or 8.1 percent of gross domestic product), $82 billion more than the 2012 deficit projected in CBO’s baseline.
• In 2013, the deficit would decline to $977 billion (or 6.1 percent of GDP), $365 billion more than the shortfall projected for 2013 in CBO’s baseline…
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
According to the CBO, their baseline projections “largely reflect the assumption that current tax and spending laws will remain unchanged.”
The important thing to take away from this post is, if President Obama’s FY 2013 budget is approved and the CBO’s forecast turns out to be correct, the nation could be looking at what basically amounts to another trillion dollar deficit year.
Which would be the fifth straight year of trillion dollar or more budget deficits in the United States.
I don’t know about you, but such spending sounds simply unsustainable.
CBO. “CBO Releases An Analysis of the President’s 2013 Budget.” Congressional Budget Office. 16 Mar. 2012. (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43103). 16 Mar. 2012.
This past Tuesday I blogged about the National Shooting Sports Foundation and their First Shots introduction to shooting program.
But did you know the NSSF also runs a website that helps firearm owners find places where they can shoot?
Enter WhereToShoot.org. From the website:
WhereToShoot.org is the web’s most comprehensive directory of shooting ranges. Managed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry’s trade association, this site is updated frequently with range information in every state.
Users of the site can find a gun range through a:
• Search by state
• Search by distance from zip code
• Search by sport or amenities
And there’s even something called “5-Star Ranges.” From the website:
In your search you may find ranges identified with up to five stars. This is a rating system developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) that distinguishes these ranges as the best at providing quality-level recreational experiences…
Facilities can earn up to five stars based on an evaluation of 6 criteria: appearance, customer/member focus, customer/member development, management, community relations and amenities.
Current lists of both 4- and 5-star ranges can be viewed.
Finally, in addition to all this information, WhereToShoot.org contains additional sections, “Video Tips” and “Resources for Shooters,” for the benefit of gun owners.
Start your search for a shooting range here.
I apologize about not publishing a ROTW post the last couple of weeks. From now on, I will make an extra effort to get one out each and every week.
(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)
One last post about terrorism this week. Scott Stewart of the global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or STRATFOR, has authored a series of Security Weekly reports entitled “Fundamentals of Terrorism.” The first of these, “The Myth of the End of Terrorism,” was released on February 23. It’s a good, informative read, and serves as a reminder that just because major terror attacks directed against the United States and its interests haven’t been too successful lately, the threat hasn’t gone away. Reprinted with permission of STRATFOR:
The Myth of the End of Terrorism
By Scott Stewart
In this week’s Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman discussed the geopolitical cycles that change with each generation. Frequently, especially in recent years, those geopolitical cycles have intersected with changes in the way the tactic of terrorism is employed and in the actors employing it.
The Arab terrorism that began in the 1960s resulted from the Cold War and the Soviet decision to fund, train and otherwise encourage groups in the Middle East. The Soviet Union and its Middle Eastern proxies also sponsored Marxist terrorist groups in Europe and Latin America. They even backed the Japanese Red Army terrorist group. Places like South Yemen and Libya became havens where Marxist militants of many different nationalities gathered to learn terrorist tradecraft, often instructed by personnel from the Soviet KGB or the East German Stasi and from other militants.
The Cold War also spawned al Qaeda and the broader global jihadist movement as militants flocking to fight the Soviet troops who had invaded Afghanistan were trained in camps in northern Pakistan by instructors from the CIA’s Office of Technical Services and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Emboldened by the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and claiming credit for the subsequent Soviet collapse, these militants decided to expand their efforts to other parts of the world.
The connection between state-sponsored terrorism and the Cold War ran so deep that when the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union’s collapse, many declared that terrorism had ended as well. I witnessed this phenomenon while serving in the counterterrorism Investigations Division of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in the early 1990s. While I was in New York working as part of the interagency team investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a newly appointed assistant secretary of state abolished my office, declaring that the DSS did not need a Counterterrorism Investigations Division since terrorism was over.
Though terrorism obviously did not end when the Berlin Wall fell, the rosy sentiments to the contrary held by some at the State Department and elsewhere took away the impetus to mitigate the growing jihadist threat or to protect diplomatic facilities from it. The final report of the Crowe Commission, which was established to review the twin August 1998 bombing attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, explicitly noted this neglect of counterterrorism and security programs, as did the 9/11 Commission report.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered a shift in international geopolitics by leading the United States to concentrate the full weight of its national resources on al Qaeda and its supporters. Ironically, by the time the U.S. government was able to shift its massive bureaucracy to meet the new challenge, creating huge new organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, the efforts of the existing U.S. counterterrorism apparatus had already badly crippled the core al Qaeda group. Though some of these new organizations played important roles in helping the United States cope with the fallout of its decision to invade Iraq after Afghanistan, Washington spent billions of dollars to create organizations and fund programs that in hindsight were arguably not really necessary because the threats they were designed to counter, such as al Qaeda’s nuclear briefcase bombs, did not actually exist. As George Friedman noted in the Geopolitical Weekly, the sole global superpower was badly off-balance, which caused an imbalance in the entire global system.
With the continued diminution of the jihadist threat, underscored by the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden and the fall in Libya of the Gadhafi regime (which had long employed terrorism), once again we appear on the brink of a cyclical change in the terrorism paradigm. These events could again lead some to pronounce the death of terrorism.
Several developments last week served to demonstrate that while the perpetrators and tactics of terrorism (what Stratfor calls the “who” and the “how”) may change in response to larger geopolitical cycles, such shifts will not signal the end of terrorism itself.
The Nature of Terrorism
There are many conflicting definitions of terrorism, but for our purposes we will loosely define it as politically motivated violence against noncombatants. Many terrorist acts have a religious element to them, but that element is normally related to a larger, political goal: Both a militant anti-abortion activist seeking to end legalized abortion and a jihadist seeking to end the U.S. military presence in Iraq may act according to religious principles, but they ultimately are pursuing a political objective.
Terrorism is a tactic, one employed by a wide array of actors. There is no single creed, ethnicity, political persuasion or nationality with a monopoly on terrorism. Individuals and groups of individuals from almost every conceivable background — from late Victorian-era anarchists to Klansmen to North Korean intelligence officers — have conducted terrorist attacks. Because of the impreciseness of the term, Stratfor normally does not refer to individuals as terrorists. In addition to being a poor descriptor, “terrorist” tends to be a politically loaded term.
Traditionally, terrorism has been a tactic of the weak, i.e., those who lack the power to impose their political will through ordinary political or military means. As Carl von Clausewitz noted, war is the continuation of politics by other means; terrorism is a type of warfare, making it also politics by other means. Because it is a tactic used by the weak, terrorism generally focuses on soft, civilian targets rather than more difficult-to-attack military targets.
The type of weapon used does not define terrorism. For example, using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device against an International Security Assistance Force firebase in Afghanistan would be considered an act of irregular warfare, but using it in an attack on a hotel in Kabul would be considered an act of terrorism. This means that militant actors can employ conventional warfare tactics, unconventional warfare tactics and terrorism during the same campaign depending on the situation.
Terrorist attacks are relatively easy to conduct if they are directed against soft targets and if the assailant is not concerned with escaping after the attack, as was the case in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. While authorities in many countries have been quite successful in foiling attacks over the past couple of years, governments simply do not have the resources to guard everything. When even police states cannot protect everything, some terrorist attacks invariably will succeed in the open societies of the West.
Terrorist attacks tend to be theatrical, exerting a strange hold over the human imagination. They often create a unique sense of terror dwarfing reactions to natural disasters many times greater in magnitude. For example, more than 227,000 people died in the 2004 Asian tsunami versus fewer than 3,000 on 9/11, yet the 9/11 attacks produced a worldwide sense of terror and a geopolitical reaction that has had a profound and unparalleled impact on world events over the past decade.
Cycles and Shifts
A number of events last week illustrate the changes happening in the terrorism realm and demonstrate that, while terrorism may change, it is not going to end.
On Feb. 17, the FBI arrested a Moroccan man near the U.S. Capitol in Washington who allegedly sought to conduct a suicide attack on the building. The suspect, Amine el Khalifi, is a clear example of the shift in the jihadist threat from one based on the al Qaeda core group to one primarily deriving from grassroots jihadists. As Stratfor has noted for several years, while these grassroots jihadists pose a more diffuse threat because they are harder for national intelligence and law enforcement agencies to focus on than hierarchical groups, the threat they pose is less severe because they generally lack the terrorist tradecraft required to conduct a large-scale attack. Because they lack such tradecraft, these grassroots militants tend to seek assistance to conduct their plots. This assistance usually involves acquiring explosives or firearms, as in the el Khalifi case, where an FBI informant posing as a jihadist leader provided the suspect with an inert suicide vest and a submachine gun prior to the suspect’s arrest.
While many in the media tend to ridicule individuals like el Khalifi as inept, it is important to remember that had he succeeded in finding a real jihadist facilitator rather than a federal informant, he could have killed many people in an attack. Richard Reid, who many people refer to as the “Kramer of al Qaeda” after the bumbling character from the television show Seinfeld, came very close to taking down a jumbo jet full of people over the Atlantic because he had been equipped and dispatched by others.
Still, the fact remains that the jihadist threat now predominantly stems from unequipped grassroots wannabes rather than teams of highly trained operatives sent to the United States from overseas, like the team that executed the 9/11 attacks. This demonstrates how the jihadist threat has diminished in recent years, a trend we expect to continue. This will allow Washington to increasingly focus attention on things other than jihadism, such as the fragmentation of Europe, the transformation of global economic production and Iran’s growing regional power. It will mark the beginning of a new geopolitical cycle.
Last week also brought us a series of events highlighting how terrorism may manifest itself in the new cycle. On Feb. 13, Israeli diplomatic vehicles in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia, were targeted with explosive devices. In Tbilisi, a grenade hidden under a diplomatic vehicle was discovered before it could detonate. In New Delhi, a sticky bomb placed on the back of a diplomatic vehicle wounded the wife of the Israeli defense attache as she headed to pick up her children from school.
On Feb. 14, an Iranian man was arrested after being wounded in an explosion at a rented house in Bangkok. The blast reportedly occurred as a group was preparing improvised explosive devices for use against Israeli targets in Bangkok. Two other Iranians were later arrested (one in Malaysia), and Thai authorities are seeking three more Iranian citizens, two of whom have reportedly returned to Iran, alleged to have assisted in the plot.
While these recent Iranian plots failed, they nonetheless highlight how the Iranians are using terrorism as a tactic in retaliation for attacks Israel and Israeli surrogates have conducted against individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program.
It is also important to bear in mind as this new geopolitical cycle begins that terrorism does not just emanate from foreign governments, major subnational actors or even transnational radical ideologies like jihadism. As we saw in the July 2011 attacks in Norway conducted by Anders Breivik and in older cases involving suspects like Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski in the United States, native-born individuals who have a variety of grievances with the government or society can carry out terrorist attacks. Such grievances will certainly persist.
Geopolitical cycles will change, and these changes may cause a shift in who employs terrorism and how it is employed. But as a tactic, terrorism will continue no matter what the next geopolitical cycle brings.
The Myth of the End of Terrorism is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
Talking about what Iran might do if its nuclear sites are attacked brought to mind something I read several years ago. But before I go there, have you ever heard of the “American Hiroshima” threat? I blogged about it back on May 6, 2011. I wrote:
In 2005, Dr. Paul L. Williams, a journalist and author, published the book The Al Qaeda Connection, in which he discussed plans for a future nuclear terrorist strike, dubbed “American Hiroshima.” He wrote:
Bin Laden asserts that he must kill four million Americans- two million of whom must be children- in order to achieve parity for a litany of “wrongs” committed against the Muslim people by the United States of America. The “wrongs” include the establishment and occupation of military bases between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, the support of Israel and the suppression of the Palestinian people, the Persian Gulf War and the subsequent economic sanctions, and the invasions of Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Few military and intelligence officials question bin Laden’s ability to carry out this threat. US, Saudi, Pakistani, Russian, Israeli, and British intelligence sources have confirmed that al Qaeda possess a small arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons- weapons that are being prepared for the “American Hiroshima.”
Dr. Williams said later on in the book that several nuclear weapons are already in the United States and that the attack is planned to occur simultaneously on a number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, DC.
Spooky stuff. But back to what I was saying before about the current situation with Iran. On April 28, 2006, the following appeared on WND.com courtesy of Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin (FYI, Hamid Mir is a Pakistani journalist and terrorism expert who interviewed Osama bin Laden in 1997):
[Hamid] Mir said that he met with an Egyptian engineer last week who lost an eye after one of bin Laden’s nuclear tests in the Kunar province of Pakistan. The Pakistani journalist said the encounter with the engineer greatly disturbed and depressed him since it provided further assurance that a nuclear nightmare for America is about to dawn.
Mir believes that an “American Hiroshima” will occur as soon as the U.S. launches an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)
According to Mir, the terrorist group and Iran have a “secret relationship.” The piece continued:
Mir’s position that al-Qaida’s nuclear weapons may have already been forward-deployed to the United States confirms the report of Sharif al-Masri, a key al-Qaida operative who was arrested in Pakistan in November 2000.
Al Masri, an Egyptian national with ties to [Ayman] al-Zawahiri, said that al-Qaida had made arrangements to smuggle nuclear weapons and supplies to Mexico. From Mexico, he said, the weapons were to be transported across the border and into the United States with the help of a Latino street gang.
Mir also maintains that numerous sleeper agents are in place in major cities throughout the United States to prepare for the nuclear holocaust. Many of these agents, he says, are Algerians and Chechens who obtained European passports and are posing as Christian and Jews.
He further says that many of these agents have been in the United States since bin Laden’s issuance of his “Declaration of War on Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Holy Places.” That fatwa was issued Aug. 23, 1996.
Talk of an “American Hiroshima” has increasingly disappeared in the years since 9/11. Doubters of the theorized attack argue that if Al-Qaeda had nukes in their possession, they would have used them already. However, if that capability truly exists (and I hope it doesn’t), I can understand why the terrorist group might want to wait for an attack on Iran before bringing nukes into play. Retaliating against the so-called “Great Satan” with such devastating weapons in response to an attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran could be a huge PR coup in the Muslim world at a time when Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia struggle to find their national identity and where exactly they stand with the West.
“‘American Hiroshima’ linked with Iran attack.” G2 Bulletin. 28 Apr. 2006. (http://www.wnd.com/2006/04/35923/). 15 Mar. 2012.
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