Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Anti-Semitic Incident at Main State

As you must know by now, yesterday the State Department announced that a crude swastika was found scratched into the wall of an elevator at Main State. 
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter said in a briefing with reporters that the graffiti, which is synonymous with the antisemitism of Hitler’s Germany and the genocide carried out against six million Jews during the country's Nazi regime, was discovered late Monday evening.

“Unfortunately, late yesterday a swastika was found carved in an elevator in our building here, at the State Department,” Porter said.

“This graffiti has been removed and the incident will be investigated," she added.

The first report by Axios included a few more details plus a photo, and some speculation - for whose accuracy I cannot vouch - that the particular elevator was chosen because it is "near the office of its special envoy to monitor and combat anti-semitism."

Vandalism with anti-Semitic elements is not so rare, although it is unusual to find it inside a DC federal building, especially a prominent one.

It may be quite some time before we know who did it, or even have a plausible suspect, so it would be prudent to check our tendency to jump to conclusions about the offender's motive. Hate crime statistics from the Justice Department are broken down by the race and ethnicity of known offenders, and perusing them suggests to me that the odds are not overwhelming that the offender was wearing a MAGA hat.

Yesterday's incident is reminiscent of another one from last March when a Capitol Hill Police Officer was suspended after he was observed reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, of all things, while at work at an entry control point on the South Capitol Street entrance to the Longworth Building.

(FYI, the U.S. Holocaust Museum has a good background paper on that "most notorious and widely distributed anti-Semitic publication of modern times.")

That incident happened back in mid-March. At the time, the acting Chief of the Capitol Hill Police announced that she had immediately ordered the officer to be suspended until the Office of Professional Responsibility can thoroughly investigate. So, it's now late July, and you may be wondering what was done about the officer. I don't know, because the incident dropped completely out of the news. The Office of Professional Responsibility may be investigating still. Or, possibly the officer's motive may have been of a nature that does not lend itself to easy political exploitation, and the whole thing has been dropped down the memory hole.

Antisemitism is not peculiar to any particular race, politics, or national/ethnic/religious slant. Fanatics of the left, the right, and the just plain crazy might scratch a swastika into a State Department elevator for who-knows-what reason. See Black or White, It’s the Same Old Anti-Semitic Pathology for a number of examples.

Personally, I will wait and see. And I consider it even money that we will never find out exactly who did it, just as happened with the Capitol Hill offender.

Harry Dunn Case Update: Government Files For Protective Order in Civil Suit

This week the U.S. Government entered the civil case as a party that takes no position on the issues but has interests of its own that it wishes to protect.

A small Northern Virginia news outlet had the most details I've seen so far on the wording of the protective order, and the immediate rebuttal by lawyers for the Dunn family (here):
Last Friday, lawyers for the U.S. government filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria where the Dunn family filed a lawsuit in 2020, arguing that the details of Sacoolas' employment should not be released in the interests of "national security."

-- snip --

In their motion, U.S. Justice Department lawyers argued that the details of who Sacoolas was working for in the U.K. should play no part in the civil case because "information concerning the United States Government has little to no relevance to an adjudication of any remaining issues in this case."

"Specifically, although the United States takes no position on the ultimate disposition of this private lawsuit, it has a substantial interest in certain limited information at risk of disclosure in further proceedings in this litigation because of the effect disclosure of such information may reasonably be anticipated to have on the national security of the United States," the Justice Department said.

Lawyers for the Dunn family, in a filing with the court on Monday, argued that the Justice Department's proposed protective order "contains imprecise, broad language that could be used to exclude information that is both relevant to Plaintiffs' case and does not implicate the Government's interests."

"Contrary to the Government brief, this is not a case where Ms. Sacoolas has fully accepted responsibility simply by admitting that she was on the wrong side of the road," the Dunn family lawyers wrote.

That last paragraph is curious, since it seems to suggest there could have been some cause or reason for the road traffic accident other than the driver mistakenly driving on the wrong side of the road. Does that seem likely? And why exactly would the plaintiff's lawyers be in any position to say what information does or does not implicate the government's interests?

Those questions will be answered by the judge hearing the case, T.S. Ellis, who is a Reagan appointee with a long record of handling terrorism and espionage cases. He has been given the information that the government wishes to protect. Who knows what any judge will decide, however, if I were a betting man, I'd bet on the plaintiffs being disappointed.

Meanwhile, the protective order has excited the Dunn family's disastrous advisor / spokesman into a new surge of twitter activity and media interviews. You just know that the real lawyers over here who are doing all the work in the case have got to regard him as a loose cannon, especially at this delicate stage when he could just possibly provoke Judge Ellis into sanctioning the plaintiffs or even dismissing the case when he spills the beans on whatever information it is the USG wants to protect.

Not to mention the even bigger liability that he or the family could conceivably commit a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Judge Ellis is the kind of judge who would take a very dim view of anyone violating the IIPA.

I expect that the family's new team of U.S. lawyers are now learning why the original team dropped out of the case.

And you just know that loose cannon will spill anything he knows, or suspects, or wishes were true, or can pretend he has learned, about those USG interests. He is undoubtedly champing at the bit to feed insider tidbits to his favorite media figure, George Galloway, on the later's talk show on Radio Sputnik (yes, really, Radio Sputnik).

By the way, Radio Sputnik is the radio and website counterpart of RT (Russia Today) TV. RT is a subsidiary of TV-Novosti, an organization founded by the Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti in April 2005. Its division directed at the United States, RT America, was forced to register with the United States Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

As for Galloway, he was a long-time Member of Parliament until he was expelled from the Labour Party back in 2003, so being a Russian internet shill is for him a late-life occupation.

Galloway is less well known for his brief career as a military strategist and advisor to Saddam Hussein’s regime. By his own account in I'm Not the Only One, Galloway advised Saddam Hussein's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister on the best way to handle a potential American invasion:
"The only war that can be fought against a superpower is a war of movement. I brought Tariq Aziz all the writings of Che Guevara and Mao Tse Tung on the arts of revolutionary war and he had them translated into Arabic. Fight a war of movement, take the uniforms off, swim among the Iraqi people and whatever their views on the regime, they will undoubtedly provide deep aquifers of support for a patriotic resistance.”
Inexplicably, Saddam didn’t take that advice, so, in all fairness, Galloway cannot be held responsible for Iraq’s subsequent defeat.

Galloway also had other, much more lucrative, conversations with the Iraqi regime, and those came back to bite him when the U.S. Senate looked into the matter of Iraqi oil allocations and under-the-table money sent his way while he was still an MP. See the United States Senate report concerning the testimony of George Galloway (here) for the details.

Well, one good grifter deserves another, and those two are as perfect a paring as I could want.

One last thought: could this civil suit have been avoided if the UK had only done the same thing the State Department did back in 1989 and required the diplomats it hosts to obtain large amounts of motor vehicle insurance and then be issued license plates exclusively through the Foreign Office? Maybe there's a lesson to be learned.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

SFRC Hearings for State Department Nominees In Progress Now

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding hearings for State Department nominations today, one of which is for Gentry Smith, the nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.

If confirmed - which is a given - he will be only the third former DS Agent to ever hold the post.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"D.C. Jail Inmate Joel Caston Wins ANC 7F07 Race" - Washington Informer

Joel Caston, an inmate at the D.C. Jail, made history Tuesday as the first from that correctional institution to be elected to a public office in the District ... Caston will serve as the advisory neighborhood commissioner (ANC) for single-member district 7F07 in Ward 7. In addition to the roughly 1,500 residents of the D.C. jail, the district includes the Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter and residents of Park Kennedy, an apartment complex across the street from the jail ...Caston is believed to be the only incarcerated person to have been elected to a political office in the country at this time.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Fortress Embassy Niamey Has a Weird Facade

My good friends in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) just cut the ribbon on yet another new Fortress Embassy, this one in Niamey, which, I can tell you, really, really, needed one. See the details here: Dedicates the New U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger.

I have one question about the design. That rust-colored thing that covers all of the exterior windows and extends a bit above the roof, what is that? Probably a sun screen, I'm guessing, which makes sense for that climate.  

But doesn't it look exactly like the new southern border fence? 

The first section of completed new border fence 

Not that I mind an artistic reference to the border fence, you understand. However, I'm surprised that feature passed through so many architectural hands, from OBO itself to its construction contractor and their design firm, without someone objecting. 


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Harry Dunn Update: No Sign Yet of Progress Down That Cleared Path

A circular path makes no progress

It's a good news / bad news situation for the Harry Dunn case, as we get ten days out from Joe Biden's visit to the UK.

The good news is "the path is clear" for something legal to happen, or at least that's what Foreign Secretary Raab told the British press ten days ago, seconded by Boris Johnson after his meeting with Biden.

The bad news is Raab's path is evidently circular, because it's been a little while and I see no evidence of any legal action progressing. Or maybe the path is a cul-de-sac, because it seems to lead nowhere.

Most of the time when politicians speak to us they're just playing chin music. We shouldn't pay much attention to the words they use, which are really lyrics and intended only to express emotion. They are poetry and not to be taken literally.

What exactly were the lyrics that Raab sang ten days ago on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme?
"The path is clear for the legal authorities in the UK to approach Anne Sacoolas's lawyers - without any problem from the US government - to see whether some kind of virtual trial or process could allow some accountability and some solace and some justice for the Dunn family … I would like to see some accountability. I think the family deserve no less."
Let's do a little close reading of that statement, the one that launched a thousand misguided headlines, and see how it holds up to a non-poetic analysis. I have many questions.

First, “the path is clear” - Who cleared it? Was an obstacle removed? If so, what was that obstacle? Do the legal authorities in the UK agree with Raab? Who speaks for them, and what does that spokesperson say? Will any UK news organization please ask the Crown Prosecution Service exactly what action it is that they will now take?

Next, “without any problems from the U.S. government” – Doesn’t the fact the USG refused a UK request to extradite the American driver constitute a major problem for any UK legal authority that wishes to prosecute her? Doesn’t the fact that the driver was immune to the criminal jurisdiction of the UK, as has been affirmed by the UK High Court, present another major problem for any UK legal authority that wishes to prosecute her? Doesn’t the fact that diplomatic immunity includes immunity against having to give testimony in court present yet another problem to any UK legal authority that wishes to prosecute her, either in absentia or virtually or in any other way?

Then, “some kind of virtual trial or process” – Is there any kind of trial or process that could be conducted given the defendant’s acknowledged immunity to criminal jurisdiction? Has the CPS now reversed its opposition to trial in absentia ("CPS has written to Anne Sacoolas' lawyers explaining the trial over a video conference idea was not possible over concerns she would not surrender to the court or accept its powers")?

Next, “some solace and some justice for the Dunn family” – Has the Dunn family ever so much as hinted that they would receive solace or justice from any outcome other than the American driver being denied diplomatic immunity and extradited to the UK for trial? If so, please show me where and when they said that.

Lastly and most importantly, “I think the family deserve no less” – Does the family deserve to be misled about the absence of real prospects for a trial? Does the family deserve to be played by weasel-worded official statements that slyly imply what they will not say outright? Rather, doesn't the family instead deserve no less than to be treated as adults and told the unwanted, even tragic, truth?

That refusal by politicians and bureaucrats to speak truth to those who don't want to hear it is where the harm is done, because the Dunn family will grasp at any straw and they take Raab's lyrics literally:
Mr Dunn's mother told LBC: 'It means that there are no hurdles to get over now.'
'We're so grateful to the politicians for clearing the path so we'll just leave it all to the CPS now and wait to hear from them as to what the next steps will be.'
That wait will be quite a while, I think. Reality will set in some day, but that day will not be anytime soon.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

ISIS Brides Do Their Little Turn On the Catwalk

Yes! I thought so. The ISIS Brides are definitely going for public acceptance via new clothes and - oddly, I think - ball caps. 

Here's a story about a newly westernized French ISIS Bride:
Emilie Konig, 36, was pictured in her new westernised garb at the al-Roj camp in northern Syria in recent days - the same camp where Begum is being held - as she tries to convince people she is no longer radicalized so she can return to France.

Gone was the heavy black niqab, gloves and abaya robe that she previously wore - even while living in France - and in its place she wore a hooded sweatshirt, sunglasses, faux leather leggings, white hi-top trainers and a shoulder bag.

Her head was covered with a Yankees baseball cap, with her hair hanging down her shoulder in a plait.

The look mirrors that of Begum, who first appeared in interviews from Syria dressed in a black hijab and abaya robe - but recently swapped them for a baseball cap, sunglasses, hoodie, white blouse, black jeans and white Converse-style trainers.

Begum, like Konig, adopted the look while trying to convince people she no longer poses a danger so she can return to Britain, which has stripped her of her citizenship because of her membership in ISIS.

Eilish O’Gara, a counter-terrorism analyst with the Henry Jackson Society, previously theorised that the outfit is 'a soft tactic' devised by Begum's lawyers designed to 'win back the hearts and minds of the British public'.
Just "a soft tactic." But, I'm telling you, it's a tactic that is likely to work.

ISIS Bride Makeovers - the Latest Tactic to Gain Sympathy?

This one might work, whereas the old tactic of minimizing their complicity with the caliphate fell flat.

Check out the remarkable before and after photos of Shamima Begum, the ISIS bride who lost her British citizenship (she also had and still has Bangladeshi citizenship) and is now stranded in a camp in Syria while she pleads for the Brits to take her back.

Gone is the shapeless hijab, and on is the nicely-fitting tee shirt and jeans. Now she looks like any young woman you might see in the West right down to the lipstick and bright red nail polish. The Nike ball cap is a nice accessory, too.

Shallow and silly as it may be, this approach will make her more relatable to the British public, or I miss my guess.

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"Florida man acting as own attorney screams at jurors in opening of his death penalty case" -, Hillsborough County

In addition to his courtroom demeanor, this amateur lawyer really needs to work on his cross-examination skills before he takes on any more cases:
The state’s last witness was Thomas Dirks, the case detective. During cross-examination, Oneal asked Dirks if he could say for certain if Oneal committed murder.

“Yes, that’s why I arrested you,” Dirks said.

Friday, June 11, 2021

BoJo Talks Harry Dunn Case With Biden

Again, and as always with the Harry Dunn case, we see the personal confused with the political.

President Biden met with Boris Johnson yesterday, and the later told the BBC that he found Biden 'sympathetic' over Harry Dunn case. We haven't heard anything like that from Biden, I notice.

It is wishful thinking to suppose, due to the coincidence that President Biden has himself experienced personal tragedy in a fatal traffic accident, that it will affect his decision-making on the matter of diplomatic immunity. Suggesting that it will is just tabloid bait.

The matter of diplomatic immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of host nations is a principle of international law that all nations of the world have adopted in their own interests. It will not be waived by the U.S. government in this, or any other, case, not unless President Biden and SecState Blinken suddenly decide they want to undermine our national interests, which I do not see happening.

Of course, the mother of Harry Dunn primed the British media yesterday, saying she would welcome a meeting with Biden. We haven't heard from Joe or his White House spokesperson yet on her offer, but I'm sure he'll clear his schedule for that meeting.

Here's the BBC story from this morning:
One topic that came up between the leaders of the US and UK yesterday was the ongoing issues surrounding the death of Harry Dunn.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he and President Biden are "working together" to end the row over whether Anne Sacoolas should face trial over the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn.

Sacoolas, an American citizen, claimed diplomatic immunity after the teenager died in a collision with her car almost two years ago.

Speaking at the G7, Johnson said the president was "extremely sympathetic" and "actively engaged" in the case.

The confirmation of talks comes after Biden's predecessor Donald Trump refused to intervene.

Crucially, it will raise hopes for the Dunn family that Ms Sacoolas could still be stripped of diplomatic immunity in order to face a British court over the death.

The prime minister says his counterpart has his “own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue”.

Biden lost his first wife, Neilia Hunter, and their one-year-old daughter Naomi in a car crash in 1972.
The WaPo noticed the BBC report (here) but added nothing new.

"Crucially, it will raise hopes for the Dunn family." Yes, but is that a good thing? Is it better to have false hopes than none at all?

"Working together to end the row" is an ambiguous phrase that could mean merely that Johnson wants the problem, or at least the public's interest in the problem, to go away. But you can read into it whatever other meaning you want. Henry Kissenger called that kind of thing 'constructive ambiguity.'

Regarding that tragic 1972 traffic accident, the driver of the truck involved was also named Dunn (here), oddly enough.

What's more, Biden has a close personal connection to another fatal traffic event, one that involved his younger brother and which resulted in a one million dollar damage award that his brother has never paid. I haven't seen that reported by the U.S. news media, but the UK Daily Mail is all over it:
Joe Biden's brother Frank owes dead man's family $1 MILLION for 80 mph car crash.

Frank Biden was found partially legally responsible for the death of Michael Albano in August 1999 but has never acknowledged his liability or paid any compensation - not even turning up for a single court hearing, meaning the case was a default judgment

So, if you're one of the many who want to believe that everything is personal and emotional, you can view Biden's interest in the Harry Dunn case in two differennt ways: does he feel more for the survivors of fatal traffic accidents, or more for the perpetrators of them?

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Joe Biden Hopes to "Show Some Progress" on Closing GITMO

According to NBC News today, Biden quietly moves to start closing Guantánamo ahead of 20th anniversary of 9/11:
The administration hopes to transfer a handful of the remaining terrorism suspects to foreign countries, the people familiar with the discussions said, and then persuade Congress to permit the transfer of the rest — including 9/11 suspects — to detention on the U.S. mainland. Biden hopes to close the facility by the end of his first term, the people familiar with the discussions said.
Obama made a very unquiet attempt to close GITMO, and do you remember what happened with that?
Congress, however, resisted the [Obama plan to] transfer of detainees to the U.S. The House and the Senate rejected funding for the move and also blocked the transfers, with many Democrats voting against the Obama administration's plans.
You can say that again, NBC News. Congress couldn't shut that down fast enough. Even Bernie Sanders voted to keep GITMO in Cuba. 

Finally, in the last two paras, NBC gets down to the real story.
At a minimum, people familiar with administration discussions said, the Biden White House hopes to show some progress on closing Guantánamo by the 20th anniversary of 9/11 ... "People are starting to focus on it more," a person familiar with the discussions said.
Oh, so he just wants to show progress on closing GITMO, not to be confused with making progress on closing GITMO. That makes sense.

Obama's problem was that he and his advisors evidently really believed there was some kind of consensus around closing GITMO, and he ran straight into a wall of opposition in Congress and with the public. 

Kudos to Joe for having a better grasp on that political reality.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"You Can't Throw a Baby!" - ClickOrlando
Records show stop sticks were used to puncture James’ tires and shortly thereafter he pulled into an apartment complex and bailed out of the Nissan while holding a small child ... He’s accused of running through the complex with the baby then throwing the 2-month-old boy at a deputy, who managed to catch the child.

“You can’t throw a baby at us and expect us to treat you with kid gloves,” Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Whom the Gods of the Beltway Would Destroy, They First Approve FOIA Searches On

Remember 15 days to slow the spread?

Although it’s often incorrectly attributed to Euripides, that 'whom the Gods would destroy' phrase does indeed go back to antiquity, because it has ever been thus when the powerful feel the need for a fall guy. 

And I don't mean just ancient Greeks. U.S. Presidents have been equally ruthless when they wished to separate themselves from an appointee or ally who began to draw more heat than they were worth. See, for instance, the origin of the famous Washington phrase "twisting slowly, slowly in the wind." 

Dr. Fauci is the administration official twisting in the wind today, ever since his emails escaped from the laboratory of the NIH Public Portal and were released into the wild

Are the emails all that damning? Objectively speaking, no. But the public is not in the mood for dispassionate analysis. In the same week that a second year of graduating High School students are being given lawn signs to make up for the senior year that was stolen from them, the public mood is ugly. 

Even if they are looked at objectively, there are one or two things in those emails that could make a fair-minded person want to know more. 

Such as the April 2020 message to Fauci from the Director of the National Institute of Health, Francis Collins, with the subject line "conspiracy gains momentum" and Fauci's response completely redacted. That is way too tantalizing for it to not be taken up by any of the Congressmen whom Fauci has made enemies of. 

Plus the May 2021 message in which Fauci said he is "not convinced" the virus originated naturally and expressed support for an investigation. Oh? Has Congress asked him whether he agrees with the content of this Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology which is still up on the State Department's website? 

Those seem to be legitimate questions, even for someone who is not particularly looking for a villain to blame. 

Fauci has defended himself, of course. He has said the whole email thing is "nonsense" and his message traffic is "ripe to be taken out of context," and I would agree. 

But that doesn’t matter. Merely contrasting Fauci’s private messages to his prolix public statements and Congressional testimony is more than enough to do political damage to him. Really, just the words “I do not recommend that you wear a mask” in Fauci’s email to an acquittance work just fine all by themselves as a smoking gun. 

Once public opinion is inflamed, no one has any use for nuance or context. Next will come the bumper stickers. How about Fauci lied, the economy died? 

When Vanity Fair, of all things, is publishing long articles about Chinese lab leaks and how "those who dared to push for transparency say toxic politics and hidden agendas kept us in the dark," the writing is on the wall for the man who has been the Administration's Number 1 public figure for anything COVID. 

After all, why shouldn't Fauci be forced out of his position? At age 80 he’s the highest paid employee of the Federal government ($417,608.00 as of 2019) and has been Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He's stayed too long already, if you ask me. 

Fauci started working for the USG way back in 1968. That's 19 and 68. A bad year for America, although a good one for pop culture. The Beetles released the White Album that year, the Big Mac was introduced (at 49 cents), and theaters were showing The Graduate, Planet of the Apes, and Rosemary's Baby. 

Unfair though it may be, the public needs a villain to blame for the great personal damage that's been done to them for the past year, and the Biden Administration does not need this grief. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Day

Epitaph On My Own Friend

On this Memorial Day we should remember the pseudonymous FSO blogger Consul-at-Arms who, back in the day when FSO blogs were first becoming popular but were then cracked down upon by the Department and largely disappeared, was for a while the sole FSO blogger remaining.

He soldiered on until this month when, tragically, he passed away, far too soon. His friends and co-workers are mourning him, but I expect that some of his online readers might have known him only as Consul-at-Arms.

CAA was my oldest friend in the Department. We began as contractors both working in the same office for a few years, then later were both hired as Civil Service employees at the same time and again worked in the same office, with CAA ultimately becoming a Consular Officer and serving at several posts. Sharing an Army background and having similar interests, we stayed in touch on line and sometimes crossed paths at FSI over the many years. 

You can get a good sense of him from the image he used on his blog: a Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets sword above and a Scottish Claymore below, with U.S. Army insignia and decorations in between, on a field of desert camouflage. An active Reservist, he was called up for Desert Storm and served in many subsequent military assignments at the same time that he carried on his Consular career, deriving a great deal of satisfaction from both types of service. 

To honor his heritage, what could be better than a poem by Robert Burns? 

          Epitaph on my own Friend 

An honest man here lies at rest

As e'er God with his image blest.

The friend of man, the friend of truth;

The friend of Age, and guide of Youth:

Few hearts like his with virtue warm'd,

Few heads with knowledge so inform'd:

If there's another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.

Requiescat in pace.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

"Alabama Woman" Regrets Becoming an ISIS Bride

Hoda Multana, the woman born in New Jersey and raised in Alabama who at age 20 traveled to Syria where she did social media for ISIS, is featured in a film about the women, like her, who are now stranded in Syria after the collapse of the ISIS califate. The film is The Return: Life After ISIS, which is a title altogether too optimistic for Multhana's particular situation, given that she had her U.S. citizenship revoked due to her father's status as a Yemini diplomat at the time of her birth, making her return impossible.

From this week's New York Post story about her:
“ISIS bride” Hoda Muthana — who fled Alabama to join ISIS in 2014 and is now barred from returning to the US — said she will regret the decision “for the rest of my life,” according to a report on Wednesday.

Muthana, 26, tried to explain what led her to become part of the terror group in the new documentary “The Return: Life After ISIS” by Spanish filmmaker Alba Sotorra Clua, People reported.

“When you are brainwashed, you don’t realize it until you snap out of it,” Muthana said. “I took everything too fast, and too deep.”

What she experienced was “this horrible way of life that I really regret for the rest of my life and that I wish I could just erase,” she says in the film, according to People.
The most American thing about her is the way she blames her overly strict parents and her poor relationship with her mother for her decision to go to Syria.
“I grew up as an American, born and raised in America, and all I had waiting for me in the future was an arranged marriage — the exact way my parents wanted it to be,” Muthana continued. “So I had no time to dream about anything.”
Disappointment set in at once, she now says:
In Syria, Muthana insisted that she expected to find “a happy place with Muslims, helping in hospitals, helping in schools, helping a community out and just being good decent Muslims to each other.”

Instead, “It was a big mess. It was hell on earth. Really,” she said.
But then, why did she propagandize for ISIS for quite some time before the califate collapsed? As the story notes:
She continued to post online, celebrating burning her US passport and calling for attacks on Americans.
That is a puzzle.

Havana Syndrome Strangely Neglected by State Leadership

Wasn't there an Accountability Review Board convened back in 2018 to look into unexplained medical injuries that occurred in Havana? 

There was, but evidently it failed to resolve much and there has been a lack of continuing attention to the problem. 

This past week several State Department employees sent a letter to Department leaders to say that "Havana Syndrome" sufferers are not getting proper care. You can read the letter here courtesy of NBC News.
A group of U.S. diplomats and other government staffers suffering from symptoms consistent with "Havana Syndrome" are voicing frustration with the Biden administration's early response, and warning that injured workers are still being denied proper care.
The letter included this digression into the signers' failed expectations: "After four years of challenges [Biden arrived, but] ... Unfortunately, our experience thus far has fallen short of our renewed expectations." 

I understand that to say: 'we spent the whole last administration expressing our distain and obstructing its policies as best we could, and this is the thanks we get? We're still waiting in line outside the 7th Floor and so far leadership has refused to hear directly from us. C'mon Man!© Stop the malarkey and do something.' 

The letter writers named several practical measures that the Department could, indeed, take to help its injured personnel, even if the exact cause of their injuries remains unknown.
The staffers are also urging the administration to increase diagnostic and treatment options for children affected by Havana Syndrome, ensure long-term monitoring of injured workers for 10 to 20 years, and conduct baseline testing on diplomats before they're sent abroad — something Canada's government is now doing in the wake of the unexplained incidents.

It sounds like the Canadian government is taking the lead on this matter. What exactly is the problem on the 7th Floor? 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Secret Service Scandals Revisited in New Book

With such entertaining material to work with, especially the sex scandals, it's no surprise that a WaPo reporter has written a book about the rash of Secret Service failures we've seen in recent years. Of course, the Secret Service spokesperson has pushed back:
Cathy Milhoan, director of communications for the Secret Service, praised the agency in a statement. “The U.S. Secret Service is aware of an upcoming book which re-hashes past challenges the agency overcame and evolved from,” she wrote. “Now and throughout its 156 year history, the agency’s skilled workforce is dedicated to the successful execution of its critical protective and investigative missions.”
All those many "challenges," ranging from the Columbian prostitutes to the demented intruders who had the run of the White House and grounds, are now in the past? Okay, if you say so.

Personally, I still think the Service is running a clever media campaign to attract mid-20s male slackers to government employment.

Still Biden His Time on Ambassadorial Nominees

According to the Current Ambassador Tracker from our friends at AFSA, as of mid-May the Biden administration has nominated only ten persons to fill 189 total positions.

C'mon, man!© You know how long it'll take to get people through Senate confirmation hearings. If you want anybody in those positions this year, then stop the malarkey and appoint somebody, already.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Harry Dunn Case Update: New Team of Lawyers Appointed (at the Request of the Old Team of Lawyers)

My favorite lawyer, hands-down, is Saul Goodman. But he isn't available for the civil suit that I've been following, the one launched by the parents of Harry Dunn in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia.

This week it was out with the old, in with the new, as the old team of lawyers requested that the judge in the case allow them to separate themselves from the plaintiffs. This is the second time the Dunn family has changed lawyers in mid-course, the first time being after they lost their case before the UK High Court. Of course, this time the reason for separation might be a little different than mere disappointment over a failed argument. Because the old team took the initiative to separate themselves from the Dunn family, it would seem there was a serious disagreement between the parties.

What could that disagreement have been about? Since a civil suit can really only be about monetary damages, some might assume the old team became frustrated by the family's refusal to settle, maybe because the family is above all else obsessed with the pipe dream of forcing the defendant to return to the UK for trial despite her diplomatic immunity.

Possibly the disagreement was over something else, but I don't completely dismiss the monetary motive. There won't be much monetary damages awarded in the case of an unemployed 19 year-old with no dependents, however, that cold reality is in contrast to the warm and fuzzy million dollar payday which the family's carnival barker was talking up last year.
With a U.S. criminal trial out of question since the accident occurred in Britain, the family is pursuing a civil case, Seiger said, adding that it would seek “significant” damages.

In the U.S. you can sue for millions of dollars if someone spills some hot coffee on your hand at McDonalds,” he said.
The McDonald's lawsuit? That guy is so consistently wrong that I marvel how he keeps his con going. FYI, here's a debunking of the spilled coffee canard.

And so the civil suit goes on, just with another delay, presumably, as the new team gets acquainted with the client it has taken on. Can they persuade the family to settle for something that is in the general vicinity of reality? Probably not.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

New Consulate Office Building in Hermosillo, Mexico, Topped Out

Sweet deal for CG Hermosillo, which gets to move out of the quirky building it has occupied since the early 1980s, the one that kind of resembles a Pizza Hut only with a pagoda roof. You can see it in this photo, courtesy of Mexican news media:

The old building was the product of a family-owned construction firm that at one time very nearly monopolized the diplomatic construction business of the USG in Mexico. The patriarch had been a subcontractor on the early 1960s embassy job in Mexico City and his two sons went on to build most of our consulates, including the ones in Tijuana, Guadalajara, Ciudad Juarez, and Monterrey. The family saved design expenses by using the exact same design to build both Juarez and Monterrey, which is commendable.

Hermosillo was the end of the family's streak of good luck, as by then OBO had finally decided it would henceforth take charge of its own business in Mexico. Ever since, OBO has been replacing one old Mexican consulate after another with 'safe, secure, and sustainable' New Consulate Compounds. Plus a New Embassy Compound, too, assuming that project ever gets completed.    

So, NCC Hermosillo marks the end of an era for OBO in Mexico. What's more, the old consulate was the last time OBO ever built a new office building anywhere in the world without taking security standards (boo, security) into account, because in that pre-Inman Commission day there were no standards, at least none that were mandatory.

Enjoy the new building, Hermosillo.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Extradite This Terrorist

You may be familiar with this diplomatic conflict between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Jordan. The bottom line is that we have a wanted fugitive by the name of Ahlam Ahmad Al-Tamini, whom the Department of Justice would like to prosecute for "Conspiring to Use and Using a Weapon of Mass Destruction Against a United States National Outside the United States Resulting in Death and Aiding and Abetting and Causing an Act to be Done." Al-Tamini lives very openly in Jordan, but the authorities there refuse to render her to the U.S. for trial.

Jordan's stated reason for not extraditing Al-Tamini is that her prosecution in the U.S. would violate the old Anglo-Saxon principle of double jeopardy, since Al-Tamini was once before convicted and imprisoned in Israel for the same bombing that gives rise to the U.S. charges. That excuse is complete rubbish. The U.S. charges are for the separate offense of murdering a U.S. citizen overseas, and the Justice Department appears to be confident they can prosecute her without implicating double jeopardy.

In any case, the idea that the King of Jordan won't extradite Al-Tamini because of some tender concern for English common law traditions is too ridiculous for words. He can and will act like a king when he wants to, and good for him. 

Moreover, Al-Tamini's release from prison in Israel, although it is sometimes confused with her being pardoned by Israel, was obtained by means of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. "Exchange" does not begin to describe that one-sided affair in which Israel gave in to political/emotional coercion by the terrorist group HAMAS. But, really, what else could they do? That small country is like an extended family, so to end the five year-long torment of one Israeli solider was worth releasing over a thousand prisoners. 

All monarchies strike me as farcical, but the legitimacy of the Hussein dynasty of Jordan is even thinner than most. Why the Palestinian native population tolerates a British-imposed royal family that originated from elsewhere, I have never understood. (Of course, at least one Palestinian nationalist did not tolerate it.) Does the USG really need to placate them?

Well then, why doesn't the USG bring enough pain to Jordan to overcome its reluctance to extradite Al-Tamini? Presumably, the Biden administration (like its predecessor) must see some larger foreign policy interest involved that makes it willing to tolerate the dissonance of naming a top-wanted fugitive that it will not make a serious effort to capture.

I am realistic about the chances of a petition stirring up any action in either the Administration or Congress, but I'm signing it anyway. Al-Tamini has punishment coming to her from the fellow citizens of one of her victims, and I hope she gets it.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"Toronto Police Service Guns Seized" - Twitter Site

I love following Toronto Police Service Guns Seized for the antique pieces they take #offthestreets with some frequency. Usually it's something like an old Iver Johnson break-top .32, or a British military Webley or Short Magazine Lee-Enfield. But this week's seizure takes it to a new level. This pistol was 'on the streets' practically before there were streets.

Assuming it's not a modern reproduction - and that looks very unlikely - what the Toronto Police Service have seized is a muzzle-loading caplock percussion pistol complete with ramrod, probably of 14-bore caliber, and seemingly of the French 1822 pattern. It may even be a caplock conversion of a flintlock [!] pistol. Whatever it is, there must be an amazing bit of military history in the story of how it turned up in Toronto in the year 2021.

If that one ends up being destroyed instead of sent to a museum, I'll be shaking my head for a long time.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Harry Dunn Case Update: Civil Hearings Pushed Back to October

From the latest second-hand and unreliable internet chatter we learn that hearings in the civil case have been pushed way back to late October.

Has there really been an agreement between the parties? I find that hard to believe, in light of the Dunn family's total refusal so far to consider anything other than the driver's return to the UK. 

Consider the sole public interview given by the driver's lawyer, which was to Law in Action, BBC 4 (exclusive interview with the lawyer of Anne Sacoolas) back on 9 March. From that primary and reliable source we learned that: 

"It seems there has been no interest [on the part of the family] in moving forward short of her [the American driver] return to the United Kingdom."

I can easily believe that, since it's exactly what the family has said in each and every one of the many public comments they have ever made. 

That interview also cleared up a couple common misunderstandings about the case. 

First, there is no Interpol Red Notice for the driver and there never was. That bit of nonsense was spread by the family's ringmaster/spokesman and was immediately, publicly, refuted by the police force he had cited as his source, but it nevertheless lives on in internet perpetuity. 

Also, after the crash the driver called RAF Croughton base police and also flagged down a motorist who called local emergency services, contrary to the outrageous and slanderous contention otherwise which the family's U.S. law firm made in the civil suit. 

Finally, the driver was interviewed by police at the scene, and again days later, and later still after she returned to the U.S. The police know all there is to know about the crash and its immediate aftermath. There is nothing left to learn that requires a deposition or any other kind of face-to-face meeting.

So that's the current state of play. What are the odds there will be an agreement between the parties that settles the case before the October 28 hearing? Well, what's the closest I can get to zero while still hedging a tiny bit? Let's call it 98-to-2 against.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"Incident involving stripper at job site 'entirely unacceptable'" - Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, dateline Toronto
CBC News also obtained graphic video of the incident showing at least four men watching and two men touching the woman while she dances. Nobody in the video is wearing a mask or physically distancing, despite government rules for job sites.

There it is: the stripper was not wearing a mask, and no one was physically distancing. You can bet the stripper wasn't wearing ear and eye protection either, much less steel toe stilletos. Write that contractor up for health and safety violations.

For the love of Dr. Fauci and everything holy, I just hope this sort of misconduct does not spread to those job sites run by my good friends in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations. I hold them to a higher standard.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Fortress Embassies to be Fully Funded in the New FY

(CG Guadalajara, according to an OBO design contractor) 

I love the architect's-pastel-watercolor-rendering stage of new embassy construction. The buildings never look half as good in execution as they do in the imagination. It's practically theater of the mind stuff. 

Well, there will be more such happy architectural dreaming this year because the new international affairs budget request has been published and it did not forget my good friends in the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations. They are looking at handling another year of capital security construction projects, i.e., new Fortress Embassies. 

It's on page 29 of the FY21 Congressional Budget Justification:
EMBASSY SECURITY, CONSTRUCTION, AND MAINTENANCE - The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), funded through the Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance (ESCM) appropriation, is responsible for providing U.S. diplomatic and consular missions overseas with secure, safe, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. Government to the host nation and support the Department’s staff in their work to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives. These facilities represent the best of American planning, design, engineering, construction, and facility management.
The FY 2021 Request is $1.7 billion. The work supported by this request is vital, as more than 93,000 U.S. Government employees from more than 30 agencies at over 291 locations depend on the infrastructure OBO provides and maintains. The FY 2021 Request includes the Department of State’s share of the $2.2 billion Capital Security and Maintenance Cost Sharing Programs to construct and maintain, new, secure facilities, and $100 million to address deferred maintenance for State’s non-cost shared facilities
Which lucky posts will get the next round of safe, secure, and functional new facilities? That is a carefully risk-managed decision, as is explained in this publicly available source of information:
OBO will continue to construct diplomatic facilities based on the Department's list of the most vulnerable facilities and to address other security concerns overseas consistent with available resources. This Vulnerability List, published each year by DS, ranks posts according to their vulnerability across different security threats. The process for identifying and prioritizing projects begins with a review of the Vulnerability List mandated by SECCA. The Vulnerability List is then used to establish the Top 80 list that helps OBO to prioritize facilities that need to reduce security vulnerability. In addition to new construction projects, OBO must also design and construct security upgrades to existing facilities. 
That sounds like a tricky business, but I assume whoever it is in DS who ranks overseas posts according to their vulnerability to security threats must know what he or she is doing.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"Chinese zoo embarrassed after attempting to pass off golden retriever dog as an African lion" - South China Morning Post

Biden His Time On Ambassador Appointments

When you're as old as Biden, and have been in Washington as long as Biden, time becomes of very little importance, really. What difference does it make if he waits a few months before making any ambassadorial appointments? What's the rush? Those embassies and foreign capitals will still be there this summer, or next year. C'mon man!© Stop the malarkey and get off his back about it, already.

But some people are just impatient, according to CNN:

Washington (CNN) - More than two months into his term, President Joe Biden has yet to name a single ambassador to send overseas, putting him behind the pace set by his most recent predecessors and leading to early frustrations among some career State Department officials and big-time Democratic donors.

Though Biden has been presented with the names of top contenders for ambassadorships to the European Union, NATO and other high-level posts, including China and Russia, and is expected to make a decision on at least some of those positions in April, people familiar with the matter say that on the vast majority of ambassador posts, the president is still weeks away from deciding on the broader makeup of his diplomatic corps.

The slow-moving process has however been the subject of rising frustration among some top-level donors, who have been eyeing key ambassador posts since Biden won the election. The whispers have largely remained in the background, however, as top Biden advisers have made clear that campaigning for an ambassadorship is highly frowned upon.

A key gatekeeper is Katie Petrelius, who served as national finance director for the Biden campaign, and is now the special assistant to Biden for presidential personnel. She is tasked with fielding inquiries from donors, lawmakers and others who are interested in ambassador posts.

"Under President Biden, ambassadorships will be remarkably hard to come by," a top Biden donor who is familiar with the process told CNN. "That has been made perfectly clear."

The State Department has identified a number of career officials who could take on ambassador roles, said a State Department official. Without White House decisions on which political appointees will get certain posts, the department is stuck waiting.

Several prominent names are already topping the lists for some posts: former Ambassador Nick Burns for China; former Biden national security adviser Julie Smith for NATO; former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for Japan.

Biden is also keeping in mind longtime friends and allies from the Senate who were helpful to his campaign. In addition to Cindy McCain, who is seen as on track for a European post, Biden is also believed to be considering former Missouri Sen. Claire Mckaskill, former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar for posts, along with Vicki Kennedy, whose late husband Edward Kennedy served along Biden for decades.

So it looks like the widows of his old cronies are first in line for appointments, followed by big-bucks donors, followed by living ex-cronies, and then the current and former career officials can fight for what's left over.

The mere fact that Biden's campaign finance director is now his special assistant for personnel ought to tell you how the appointment priorities stack up.

Cultivate the value of patience, all you wishful career officials.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Harry Dunn Case Moves to Discovery Phase, Depositions By End of July

Upon the utterly unsurprising failure of the parties to reach a settlement, the judge in the case has now set a date for depositions. 

That means two things. First, the mother of Harry Dunn will at long last have her nemesis cornered in a little room. Will she be attended by a full staff of mediators and crisis counselors at the moment of confrontation, as she insisted on as a condition of meeting the American driver when that opportunity was offered to her in the White House a year ago? I doubt it, but who knows? And will her carnival barker of a spokesman/advisor be present? He most certainly will be if he has anything to say about it, but, he won't have anything to say about it. 

The second thing that will happen is that the Dunn family will also be deposed, since they bear the burden of proving the mental and emotional injuries which are the basis of their claim for damages. They may well be required to be examined by shrinks of the insurance company's choosing, for instance. Judging by the many interviews the mother has given since the civil suit began, I don't think she understands that depositions apply to both parties in a suit. 

From Sky News, Harry Dunn death: Parents set to hear face-to-face legal testimony from son's alleged killer:
Mrs Sacoolas, and her husband Jonathan, have now been told they will be "deposed" by 23 July - meaning they will give their account of events under oath in front of Mr Dunn's mother, Charlotte Charles, and father, Tim Dunn.
The deposition will form part of the "discovery" process in the Dunn family's civil claim, in which correspondence and documentation relevant to the case will be handed over ahead of a trial at the end of the year.
Indeed, the mother seems to not understand that a civil suit cannot force the driver to return to the UK for a criminal trial, which even today she insists is "the only resolution."
But Mrs Charles told Sky News: "She needs to come back to the UK and go through the justice system. It's not up to us, or them, to decide what penalty, if anything should be handed down."
"She wants to find resolution; the only resolution is to face the UK justice system."
"She needs to move on with her life, we need to rebuild ours, but without her going through the UK justice system that can't be done."

Nevertheless, officials in both the UK and the U.S. have made it abundantly clear that the driver will not face the UK justice system, from whose criminal jurisdiction she had immunity from the day she arrived in the UK to the day she departed, as a matter of international law. A civil suit for damages cannot change that. 

And so the stage is set for a great reckoning in a little room, sometime before July 23rd.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"Satan Tries to Get a Date on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Train" - NBC 10 Boston

That approach is more personable then looking for dates on Tinder, I suppose. But frankly, I find it implausible that Satan would ride public transportation in Boston, or anywhere.

Now, my idea of a real Satan is someone who sounds Mick Jagger/Keith Richards-ish and lives in Las Vegas, where he buys and sells James Brown's soul and makes winner-take-all bets about dragging the Vegas Strip at dawn.

Please enjoy:

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

White House Press Secretary Briefly Fends Off Question re Harry Dunn Case

Yesterday, Jen Psaki was asked by a White House reporter - not identified - to clarify whether or not the diplomat's wife in the Harry Dunn road traffic accident and civil suit had diplomatic immunity. She referred the questioner to the State Department.

Here's the Q and A transcript:
Speaker 9: (01:02:05)

And if I could, Anne Sacoolas is still wanted in the UK on charges of causing death by dangerous driving. Now, the original rationale for her leaving the country with diplomatic immunity was that she was the spouse of somebody who was working at RAF Croughton, which under the terms of the agreement there meant she would have diplomatic immunity. It since seems to have emerged, from her lawyer in court here, that she was actually employed by the State Department or the US intelligence services. I wonder if you can clarify whether she was working in UK for the United States government and whether she does actually, as far as you’re concerned, have diplomatic immunity?

Jen Psaki: (01:02:41)

I would point you to the State Department. They, of course, engage in any questions about diplomacy, diplomatic immunity. Of course, the status of somebody who served during the prior administration, I don’t have anything more for you from it on it from here. Go ahead in the back.
She does like to circle back, doesn't she?

Now, the question of whether the diplomat's wife had diplomatic immunity has been repeatedly answered in the affirmative by, among others, the UK's own Foreign Minister and its High Court, as well as by the USG at every level from the former Ambassador to the UK to the former SecState, and the USG's position has been reaffirmed by the State Department spokesman for the current administration. That matter really isn't up for grabs. The jury is in, so to speak.

But I find it amusing that Psaki reflexively tosses the ball back to the Trump years, as if "somebody who served during the prior administration" is qualitatively different from the professional staff and their family members who are serving today. She separates herself from that bunch, and doesn't have any more on that/them from here.

In other news, the civil case against the diplomat's wife will take another step forward tomorrow when the court resumes. Psaki aside, there may be more on that matter then.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The RAND Corp Reports on Durations of Attacks on Western Diplomatic Facilities

The RAND Corporation published an interesting little report last week that has quite a bit of relevance to the physical security of U.S. diplomatic missions. Read it here: Seizures of Western Diplomatic Facilities, Historical Timelines, 1979–2019.

It addresses these research questions:
What were the durations of attacks on Western diplomatic facilities since 1979, and how much advance warning was there of each attack? And,
What implications do historical timelines of duration and advance warning of attacks on diplomatic facilities have for efforts to respond to such attacks?
The report found there have been "33 successful seizures of Western diplomatic facilities since 1979 ... The majority of attacks culminated in two hours or less, and over 90 percent culminated in six hours or less ... the median attack duration was four hours, and the average was 4.8 hours." 

Mind you, those incidents were not only at U.S. diplomatic missions. My general sense of the history of these things is that you'd see a longer average duration if only U.S. missions were considered.   

RAND supposes that "the lengthening of this [attack] duration could offer wider windows of opportunity to intervene," such as, intervention by U.S. military forces. Hum. Does that sound likely?  

RAND is the Defense Department's think tank, so far be it from me to question whatever they say about the chances of U.S. military intervention to an attack underway at a U.S. diplomatic mission. But, I can legitimately point out that the last time there was such an intervention was in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion in China. Can you think of another? I can't. 

There was an attempted intervention in Iran in 1979 - operation Eagle Claw - but it failed. There has not been another one since, and for what should be an obvious reason. The U.S. military is not a police force, and a U.S. embassy cannot just call 911 and expect an immediate response from the SWAT team. 

The closest thing to a military SWAT team is the Crisis Response Force (formerly known as the Commander's In-Extremis Force) and those, as we learned form the Benghazi Accountability Review Board report, are prepared to respond to a crisis within six hours. On the night of the Benghazi attack, the closest In-Extremis Force was training in Zagreb, Croatia, and the attack was long over before they could have arrived.      

The realities of time and space make it completely unrealistic to expect a timely intervention from the U.S. military to an attack underway at any of the 270+ U.S. diplomatic missions around the world. The Select Committee on Benghazi heard testimony from both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to that effect. Does anyone doubt it? If so, then I think you read too much Tom Clancy and play too many video games. 

All that said, please do read about The China Relief Expedition Joint Coalition Warfare in China Summer 1900, which is even better than the Charlton Heston movie version.  

Most Head Skakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"Rooster fitted with knife for cockfighting kills its owner by slashing his groin as it tries to escape" - Daily Mail
The fighting cock had a blade strapped to its leg ready to take on an opponent when it tried to flee the vicious blood sport ... His owner was cut and rushed to hospital in rural Telangana state but died of blood loss before he arrived ... The killer rooster was briefly held at the local police station earlier this week before it was sent to a poultry farm.

I love how the Daily Mail ascribes a motive to the rooster - "it tried to flee" - which makes it all sounds deliberate. The rooster had a definite consciousness of guilt all right, and I just hope it's prepared to pay the price for its rash act. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time, even if it's hard time on a poultry farm.