Links for 2-16-2015

  • The Atlantic published a great article on what ISIS is trying to accomplish:

    The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.

    Later:

    There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.

  • Ars Technica published an article summarizing a Kaspersky Lab paper describing the spectacular exploits of a hacking group they call the “Equation Group.” The Equation Group is almost certainly a unit of the NSA.

  • The New Yorker published a long profile of Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s head of design.

  • Jewish journalist Zvika Klein spent 10 hours walking around Paris wearing a yarmulke while being recorded by a hidden camera. France has an antisemitism problem: “A little boy was shocked at his appearance in his neighbourhood, he reports. ‘What is he doing here Mommy?’ he asked. ‘Doesn’t he know he will be killed?’”

  • The head of Israel’s election commission arranged to censor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress by delaying the broadcast in Israel by five minutes so editors can delete anything deemed too political. Apparently this person is unfamiliar with YouTube.

  • Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denied that he’s Barack Obama’s pen pal.

  • In 2005 and 2006, the CIA purchased chemical weapons in Iraq to keep them out of the hands of terrorists. Many of the rockets they purchased were junk, but some contained high quality sarin gas.

  • The latest ceasefire in Ukraine is a joke – the fighting for the town of Debaltseve never even paused, let alone stopped.

  • Breitbart launched an effort to help Mexican citizen journalists document the activities of drug cartels. The first “Cartel Chronicles” article describes how the cartels resort to more conventional crime – kidnappings and bank robberies – when they’re having trouble meeting payroll.