A New Way for Terrorists to Hide

Venezuela is starting to look like broken state. And in the death throes they are doing things – probably that they believe will strike at the West. (Or at least some of them want to strike at us.) Venezuela illegally issued 10,000 passports to Syrians, Iranians, report says | Fox News

10,000 people are a lot of people, and probably a lot of them are good people just running for the exits in a bad situation. But if even a tiny minority of them are bad actors, then that is a major problem.

“Today we don’t know where these people are, nor what they are doing,” said [Former director of Venezuela’s Office of Identification, Migration and Foreigners ] Medrano, who currently resides in the United States.

“They can be anywhere in the world, traveling with Venezuelan documentation,” adding that the number of Middle Eastern individuals with irregular Venezuelan documentation could be much larger.

And apparently there is a guy in Venezuela that’s been tied to Hezbollah, to the chances that some of thoose 10,000 people are bad actors is not zero.

Fake News, Tab Clearing, Etc

The LA Times got it wrong from the start, and all the rest of the Fake News Outlets media piled on. What You’ve Heard About The ‘MOAB’ AKA ‘Mother Of All Bombs Is Wrong!

The giant bomb U.S. forces dropped Thursday on an ISIS training camp in Afghanistan did not cost $314 million to develop, or $16 million per unit as reported by multiple news outlets.

Since the Air Force built it themselves out of stuff they had on hand from other projects, there is no independent accounting. (It isn’t built by an outside contractor.)

The sudden reaction of the Left to a President carrying out bombing missions is fascinating. You could almost think it didn’t happen last year. Map shows where President Barack Obama dropped his 20,000 bombs | The Independent

Outgoing US leader carries out 3,000 more strikes in 2016 than year before

Will have to do a Google search to see who was completely outraged by that campaign.

Too little too late? Merkel Admits ‘There Is No Doubt’ Some Migrants Are A Threat | The Daily Caller

The original is in German, but the translation is quite good (via Chrome anyway)

Iowa Gets “Stand Your Ground” and More

More 2nd Amendment rights are recognized in Iowa. Branstad hails Iowa’s new ‘significant…pro-Second Amendment’ law (AUDIO)

The new law’s “stand your ground” provisions will shield Iowans from lawsuits or criminal charges if they shoot to defend life or property, not just in their own homes, but anywhere they are legally permitted to be. That part of the bill takes effect July 1.

People from any state with a permit to carry a concealed weapon will be able to take it into the state capitol after July 1st, too.

There are more provisions.

Congratulations to the folks in Iowa and the legislature who worked to make these changes.

Hacker Shows That Dallas Area Emergency Sirens Are Not Secure. Officials are Angry.

They should be embarrassed. This isn’t 1997, it is 2017. Infrastructure needs to be secured against hacking. But they are all “appalled at the attack.” Hacker Set Off All Dallas Emergency Sirens in Middle of Night, City Says – NBC News

A city spokesman said all 156 emergency sirens were activated at 11:42 p.m. Friday, and the office of emergency management service agency eventually disabled the entire system at 1:17 a.m.

Here is the money quote.

The OEM hopes to have the system back up and running, with safeguards to prevent another hack, by Sunday night.

So the million dollar question is, “Why weren’t those safeguards in place last week?” Here are some other questions: When was the last security audit by an outside firm? (Can you spell “Red Team?”) What amount of the budget is dedicated to security? Are other aspects of the public infrastructure at similar risk? Who is that OEM, and how did they get the contract? (I don’t expect any of these questions to be answered.)

If you think this is only a problem in Dallas, there is probably some Florida swampland still available for purchase.

The Bureaucratic Failures that Lead to the Attack on a German Christmas Market

The 19th of December, 2016 was for Germany, a bit like 9/11 was for the USA. Before that date, they were mostly in an “It can’t happen here,” state of denial. Berlin Attack: “An Attack is Expected” | ZEIT ONLINE

Zeit produces long articles, and this no exception, but it is an interesting look at how the German federal system works – or in this case didn’t work.

The German authorities knew a lot about the Tunisian Anis Amri. Actually, almost everything. Nevertheless, shortly before Christmas he was able to commandeer a truck in Berlin and kill twelve people.

A total of 56 people were injured in that attack, and some of them are still in hospitals.

How the police in various states (Lands in the German parlance) knew about Amri, and yet didn’t manage to stop him, in the face of crimes committed, false statements made to authorities and more. He was identified as a threat, at least by one police department, and yet nothing was done.

As for that denial…

With the Berlin attack, a phase of relative comfort came to an end in the Federal Republic. While bombs exploded in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and Belgium, and terrorists shot or ran down people down with trucks, Germany was until then spared major Islamist attacks.

Germany Is Happy to Have the US Continue to Fund the Bulk of NATO

Because that’s the way we’ve always done it. Germany balks at Tillerson call for more European NATO spending | Reuters

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was neither “reachable nor desirable” for Germany to spend the agreed NATO target of two percent of member states’ economic output on defense. NATO allies have until 2024 to do that.

And they say they’re worried that we aren’t serious about the alliance. But if they were serious, they would meet their funding obligations.

Some More Cracks Are Forming in the EU

The EU leadership – and the media, which seems to have appointed itself as the cheerleaders of the coalition – would like everyone to believe that all is well. But some cracks are beginning to show.

First, Poland is not too happy with the way things are going in the EU. Poland Foreign Minister Waszczykowski Interview – SPIEGEL ONLINE

As many people have pointed out, there are aspects of the EU governance structure that are not exactly democratic.

The European Council, for example, consists of representatives of elected governments, meaning it has a high degree of democratic legitimacy. As such, it should have the most power. The Commission, by contrast, is made up of deputies sent by the member states. They are bureaucrats. As such, the Commission shouldn’t have the right to monitor member states, as happened to us with the Rule of Law Framework. The Commission should only be able to carry out directives from the Council and should not have its own political ambitions.

There are other problems between Poland and the EU (and between Poland and Germany) that are festering. It is an interesting read, and not terribly long.

Next, Germany is about to start charging foreigners a toll to use the Autobahn. Not everyone thinks that is living up to their obligations. Austria says it will take Germany to court over autobahn ‘foreigner tolls’ – The Local

Germany’s upper house of parliament on Friday approved a controversial law imposing tolls on the country’s famous autobahns (motorways), in the face of objections from neighbouring countries who say it discriminates against foreign drivers.

The headlines (for the most part) imply that all is well with the Greeks and their economy. The truth isn’t quite so simple. Greece-Creditors Negotiations Stall Again Over Labor Law Issues and Pension Cuts | GreekReporter.com

The International Monetary Fund is not backing down on Greece’s request to implement pension cuts from 2020 onwards, insisting that pension reforms must be implemented in 2019. Furthermore, there are still differences on labor market legislation on issues like mass layoffs, the lockout and collective bargaining.

On pensions, the IMF argument was that since the present government’s term expires in 2019, the Greek side cannot guarantee that the next government will implement the changes.

Who will budge? I’m not sure either side can at this point.

That doesn’t even cover the rift between Germany and the US over Germany’s military budget, and whether or not the 2% goal is binding on NATO members or not. But that is a post for another day.