Wars And Rumors Of Wars…

U.S. Military Engagement In Syria Intensifies As Mideast Conflicts Grow More Tangled

The U.S. says it shot down a Syrian government jet after it attacked U.S. backed forces battling ISIS in Northern Syria. The Syrian government said the jet was attacking ISIS. The action was the first shoot-down by the U.S. of a Syrian jet and the first time the U.S. has shot down any manned fighter jet in 10 years.

This comes just a few days after President Trump gave Defense Secretary James Mattis the authority to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, to fight the resurgent Taliban, and support Afghani troops which have suffered a series of embarrassing losses. As a General, Mattis was formerly head of U.S. Central Command, better known as CENTCOM.

And don’t forget the intensifying conflict between Trump’s new BFF, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. According to Bloomberg, Secretary of State Tillerson is skipping a trip to Mexico, awaiting Saudi Arabia to present Qatar with a “list of demands”. Meanwhile the first of Turkey’s promised military support arrived in Qatar. Turkey has already sent food. This New York Times story explains the conflict, at its heart, is mostly about Iran.

And Iran this weekend launched missiles across its border at ISIS in Eastern Syria, in retaliation for terrorist attacks earlier this month in Tehran. Iran has been one of the main supporters of Syria’s President Assad.

Attack On Mosque Early This Morning In London

One person is dead and at least 10 injured, after a van plowed into a crowd leaving a mosque in Finsbury Park, North London. The Guardian has a continuously updating live feed dedicated to the story.

The driver of the van was captured by people in the crowd, and arrested by police. Some witnesses say he was accompanied by at least two others in the van.

Prime Minister Theresa May called it a “potential terrorist attack.”

The attack follows the killing of 8 people two weeks ago, when three men drove a van into crowds on London Bridge, then jumped out and started stabbing people at random.

Terrorist Attack In Mali: Why It’s Important

A terrorist attack at a tourist resort in the African nation of Mali resulted in at least two deaths. At least three of the four attackers were also killed by government security troops. Mali has been the target of terrorists before. A group linked to Al-Qaeda took credit for killing 20 people at a Radisson in the country’s capital two years ago. Al-Qaeda holds large areas of desert in the northern part of the country.

While much of U.S. focus has been on rooting out terrorists in the Mideast, there is growing concern that parts of Africa have now become new or stronger safe havens for terrorists. Because many of these countries, including Mali, are former French colonies, France is taking the lead on this, and that’s created conflict with the U.S. and others. At issue: who will fund anti-terror troops, will efforts be coordinated through the United Nations, and is the France-devised plan sufficient? When he won election, one of the first things new French President Emmanuel Macron did was travel to Mali in support of the 1,600 French troops there.

The Internet, Again, Tries To Address Extremism

According to the New York Times, YouTube (which is owned by Google), will get much stricter with videos it determines express extremist views, even if they do not meet its standards for removal. Videos right now that promote terrorism are taken down, but those that might contain hate speech, but do not expressly promote violence, are not.

YouTube still won’t take down those videos. What it will do is add a warning, and not allow the clip to be recommended or commented on. The basic idea: harder to find is harder to share.

And while YouTube in the past has focused on engineering solutions, it now says it’s bringing in humans too: experts from NGOs to help decide what videos might have news value or be legitimate religious speech vs. what is intended solely to promote violence.

We have been a big advocate of getting more real people involved, although we also understand how difficult that is to do with the numbers YouTube deals with every day (although they are pretty good at keeping out porn.)

While not related directly to YouTube, we came across a glaring example of how one-size-does-not-fit-all when it comes to engineering solutions. Because we were searching for info on the Mali terrorist attack throughout the day, Facebook and/or TripAdvisor decided we were probably interested in staying at the resort under attack. So we started getting ads like these for Le Campement in Bamako, Mali in our Facebook feed (tons of ’em):

Curious, we checked and found Priceline was willing to get us a room at the hotel under attack as early as today:

Tuesday, To Some Extent, Is Democrats Day Of Reckoning

That’s when we’ll finally know the results in the hotly contested race for an open seat in congress in Georgia. Despite a lot of noise, and President Trump’s growing unpopularity, Republicans still have a perfect record of holding on to national seats that went up for special elections when their previous holders joined Trump’s White House team.

The Georgia seat vacated by Republican Tom Price when he became Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary will be one of the Democrats last chances. Right now Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel are in a dead heat in the most expensive congressional race ever.

While one Democratic seat in congress may not matter that much, the momentum swing could be momentous when it comes to money. According to Roll Call, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised a record amount in May: $9.3-million, with many small and first-time contributors. An Ossoff win could go a long way to getting that enthusiasm to continue.

There’s also a special election in South Carolina that same day, to replace now Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.


Trump spent the weekend at Camp David, which he once described (without seeing it) as “likeable for about 30 minutes.” Now that he’s seen it, he calls it a “special place.” (Those are not necessarily contradictory statements in ‘Trump-speak.’)

Meanwhile, one of his lawyers, Jay Sekulow, appeared on just about any TV show that would have him, denying the President is being investigated for firing the FBI Director. That’s after Trump Tweeted: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director….” The lawyer said that Tweet was responding to a media report, not something that he was actually experiencing.

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