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BeyondGeography's Journal
BeyondGeography's Journal
March 23, 2024

Islamic State's deadly Moscow attack highlights its fixation with Russia

Speculation about who carried out the shooting at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow has quickly indicated that the terror attack will have outsized political implications in Russia and abroad. A claim has surfaced that the attack was carried out by Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) a regional affiliate of the IS terrorist organisation. IS has been implicated in some of Russia’s largest recent terror attacks, including the 2017 bombing in the St Petersburg metro that killed 15 and injured 45. US intelligence told American news agencies that there’s “no reason to doubt” the IS claims of responsibility.

The group, which is a branch of IS mainly based in Afghanistan, has increasingly focused its attention on Russia since the United States left Afghanistan in 2021. The group was formed in 2015 by members of militant groups, including those from Pakistan and Uzbekistan, and is active in central Asia and Russia. It carried out twin bombings in January in Iran that killed nearly 100 people.

…CNN reporters said they had been told that “since November there has been ‘fairly specific’ intelligence that Isis-K wanted to carry out attacks in Russia…US intelligence warned Russia about it”. Putin changed the course of the Syrian civil war by intervening in 2015, supporting President Bashar al-Assad against the opposition and Islamic State. “Isis-K has been fixated on Russia for the past two years, frequently criticising Putin in its propaganda,” said Colin Clarke of the Soufan Center, according to Reuters. The claim by the group will largely divert attention by Russian officials that the attack may have originated in Ukraine.

…Ukrainian officials had insisted that they had no link to the attack. “Ukraine certainly has nothing to do with the shooting/explosions in the Crocus City Hall (Moscow Region, Russia). It makes no sense whatsoever,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential administration. “Ukraine has never resorted to the use of terrorist methods,” he said. “It is always pointless.”

More at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/mar/23/theres-little-reason-to-doubt-attack-on-moscow-venue-was-by-islamic-state?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
March 22, 2024

U.S. says ISIS was responsible for the deadly attack in Moscow.

A branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility on Friday for the attack in Moscow that killed at least 40 people and injured about 100 others, and U.S. officials confirmed the claim shortly afterward.

The United States collected intelligence in March that Islamic State-Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, the branch of the group based in Afghanistan, had been planning an attack on Moscow, according to officials. ISIS members have been active in Russia, one U.S. official said. After a period of relative quiet, the Islamic State has been trying to increase its external attacks, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials. Most of those plots in Europe have been thwarted, prompting assessments that the group had diminished capabilities.

“ISIS-K has been fixated on Russia for the past two years,” frequently criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin in its propaganda, said Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm based in New York. “ISIS-K accuses the Kremlin of having Muslim blood in its hands, referencing Moscow’s interventions in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria.”

The attack on Friday in Moscow, like a January assault in Iran claimed by the group, could prompt a reassessment of its ability to strike outside its home territory. In addition to publicly warning on March 7 about a possible attack, U.S. officials said they had privately told Russian officials about the intelligence pointing to an impending attack. It is not clear how much information the United States gave Russian officials beyond what was in the public warning. American intelligence agencies have a “duty to warn” potential targets of dangers when they learn of them.

March 22, 2024

At least 40 killed and more than 100 wounded in Moscow concert hall attack

Source: The Guardian

At least 40 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded according to unofficial reports in the worst terror attack in Russia in years, as gunmen in combat fatigues opened fire and detonated explosives in a big concert hall in the outskirts of Moscow.

Photos showed the Crocus City Hall engulfed in flames as videos emerged from the concert hall attack, showing at least four gunmen opening fire from automatic weapons as panicked Russians fled for their lives.

In one video, three men in fatigues carrying rifles fired at pointblank range into bodies strewn about the lobby of the concert hall. The attackers also apparently detonated explosives, as the sounds of blasts could be heard in other videos from the attack. At least two blasts took place at the concert hall on Friday evening, news agencies reported.

Video published online showed horrific scenes of some people begging for help from the roof of the concert hall as it burnt behind them. Other video showed images of victims with gunshot wounds being treated in the street outside of the building.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/mar/22/moscow-concert-hall-shooting-blast?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

March 22, 2024

Today's NYT addresses the question of whether the pace of Garland's investigation of Trump was too slow

The answer is not surprisingly yes.

Two things stand out in the article IMO:

a) Garland wasn’t opposed to investigating Trump from the start, but his approach was fundamentally misguided:

After being sworn in as attorney general in March 2021, Merrick B. Garland gathered his closest aides to discuss a topic too sensitive to broach in bigger groups: the possibility that evidence from the far-ranging Jan. 6 investigation could quickly lead to former President Donald J. Trump and his inner circle.

At the time, some in the Justice Department were pushing for the chance to look at ties between pro-Trump rioters who assaulted the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, his allies who had camped out at the Willard Hotel, and possibly Mr. Trump himself. Mr. Garland said he would place no restrictions on their work, even if the “evidence leads to Trump,” according to people with knowledge of several conversations held over his first months in office.

“Follow the connective tissue upward,” said Mr. Garland, adding a directive that would eventually lead to a dead end: “Follow the money.” With that, he set the course of a determined and methodical, if at times dysfunctional and maddeningly slow, investigation that would yield the indictment of Mr. Trump on four counts of election interference in August 2023.

Garland apparently thought J6 couldn’t have happened without significant funding to mobilize the troops. But Trump is a cult figure and his followers are willing to spend their own dime to heed the call. They didn’t need mileage reimbursement or hotel rooms. They slept in their cars or in tents.

This basic misreading ties into the second point.

b) Garland didn’t feel particularly time-constrained because he underestimated Trump as a political force and as someone who knows how to gum up the legal system with delaying tactics.

He wasn’t alone in this. In Franklin Foer’s Biden book The Last Politician, at the start of 2022 Biden was surprised to see that Trump had maintained his hold on the Republican Party, and it wasn’t until late summer of 2022 that he started to use the term “extreme MAGA Republicans.”

Likewise, Garland was convinced the country had Trump in the rear-view mirror:

In trying to avoid even the smallest mistakes, Mr. Garland might have made one big one: not recognizing that he could end up racing the clock. Like much of the political world and official Washington, he and his team did not count on Mr. Trump’s political resurrection after Jan. 6, and his fast victory in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, which has complicated the prosecution and given the former president leverage in court. In 2021 it was “simply inconceivable,” said one former Justice Department official, that Mr. Trump, rebuked by many in his own party and exiled at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago, would regain the power to impose his timetable on the investigation.

So Garland had lots of company.

This second point is what has bothered me the most. I’m not posting this to start another Garland bash-fest; he’s just the symptom of a larger problem. For some reason, the CW at key moments and at the highest levels of our party has been consistently steps behind the reality of Trump.

I think we’ve finally learned our lesson and I’m hopeful it’s not too late. But without this kind of reflection, we’ll never learn.

Here’s a gift link of the article:


March 20, 2024

Could Trump be forced into bankruptcy? Hear why former investment banker thinks so

Banker doesn’t see how Trump avoids bankruptcy would be a better title.

The interview runs from 2:12-7:12.

March 20, 2024

Warren Buffet put a finger on Trump's present collateral issues a long time ago

In the aftermath of a landmark ruling that mandated former President Donald Trump to pay $355 million for fraudulently augmenting the values of his properties — a judgment that prohibits him from assuming the role of director in any New York-based company for three years — the Warren Buffett's insights during a series of lectures at Notre Dame in 1991 are uncannily accurate.

Buffett, whose reputation as a legendary investor and the guiding force behind Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is well-established, used the lectures to articulate a critical examination of Trump’s business methodologies, specifically targeting his penchant for leveraging debt.

His analysis, preserved on TilsonFunds.com, pointed to Trump’s overreliance on leverage as a fundamental flaw. “The big problem with Donald Trump was he never went right,” Buffett said, adding that Trump’s strategy of heavily borrowing money to finance acquisitions was flawed from the start.

According to Buffett, Trump managed to secure loans for properties at prices well above their value, creating a significant disparity between his assets’ actual worth and the debt incurred to acquire them. “He was terrific at borrowing money. If you look at his assets and what he paid for them and what he borrowed to get them, there was never any real equity there,” Buffett said, highlighting the precarious financial foundation on which Trump built his empire.

March 20, 2024

Young people becoming less happy than older generations, research shows


Young people are becoming less happy than older generations as they suffer “the equivalent of a midlife crisis”, global research has revealed as America’s top doctor warned that “young people are really struggling”.

Dr Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general, said allowing children to use social media was like giving them medicine that is not proven to be safe. He said the failure of governments to better regulate social media in recent years was “insane”.

… After 12 years in which people aged 15 to 24 were measured as being happier than older generations in the US, the trend appears to have flipped in 2017. The gap has also narrowed in western Europe and the same change could happen in the coming year or two, it is thought. Murthy described the report findings as a “red flag that young people are really struggling in the US and now increasingly around the world”. He said he was still waiting to see data that proved social media platforms were safe for children and adolescents, and called for international action to improve real-life social connections for young people.

… World Happiness Report, an annual barometer of wellbeing in 140 nations coordinated by Oxford University’s Wellbeing Research Centre, Gallup and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, showed “disconcerting drops [in youth happiness] especially in North America and western Europe,” said Prof Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, director of the Wellbeing Research Centre and editor of the study. “To think that in some parts of the world children are already experiencing the equivalent of a midlife crisis, demands immediate policy action,” he said.

More at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2024/mar/20/young-people-becoming-less-happy-than-older-generations-research-shows?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Student Reporting Labs speaks with Surgeon General on youth mental health:


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