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Free Markets, Free People

Closing in on the Times Square bomber? (UPDATED)

Via ABC:

Federal authorities are closing in on the man they say is a person of interest in the Times Square car bomb attempt this weekend, who is described as a naturalized American citizen who hails from Pakistan and just returned after spending five months there.

There is growing evidence the bomber did not act alone and had ties to radical elements overseas, with one senior official telling ABC News there are several individuals believed to be connected with the bombing and that at least one of them is a Pakistani-American.

Attorney General Eric Holder said today the investigators had made “substantial progress” in tracking the man who drove a Nissan Pathfinder into New York’s Times Square with a crude bomb that failed to detonate.

UPDATE:

OK, so they really were closing in on someone. According to NBC:

Authorities arrested a suspect in the attempted weekend car bombing in Times Square, NBC News’ justice correspondent Pete Williams reported early Tuesday morning.

A U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, Shahzad Faisal, was arrested Monday night on Long Island, Williams reported.

Earlier, an official told The Associated Press that the potential suspect recently traveled to Pakistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case was at a sensitive stage.

He seems like a helpful, chap, though, assisting the FBI by apparently leaving an email trail.

The officials said the man was a Connecticut resident who paid cash weeks ago for the SUV parked in Times Square on Saturday and rigged with a crude propane-and-gasoline bomb.

NBC’s Williams reported the man’s name was on an e-mail that was sent to the seller of the car last month, as well as other evidence suggesting he had a role in the attempted bombing.

And while he pulled the VIN plaque off the dashboard, he didn’t go through the trouble of removing the embossed VINs from the engine or axle.

Apparently this rocket scientist–always assuming the FBI has the right guy, and not another Richard Jewel–couldn’t have made himself easier to find if he’d dropped a yellow dye marker, and powered up a rescue strobe and homing beacon.

Interestingly, he appears to have been born and raised in Connecticut, although he is a fellow of Middle Eastern ethnicity.

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So is there a desire to pin the carbombing attempt on domestic terrorism?

That’s kind of the message I’m getting concerning the attempt Saturday to detonate a VBIED near Times Square in NYC.

Now, I’ve watched the video of the alleged suspect.  I’m having a tough time with a description of “furtive” to describe his activities.  Yes, he pulled a sweatshirt off and went with the T-shirt below, but he didn’t seem hurried, or “furtive”.  He could have been hot though.

And I don’t get this:

Mayor Bloomberg said the planned mayhem did not appear to be the work of al Qaeda or any other large terror network.

Really? Why’s that? Because the alleged perpetrator was a balding white guy? The mayor really ought to consider the term “outsourcing” and its implications.

The bomb certainly was crude. Bags of fertilizer, propane tanks, fireworks and gasoline. I know enough about fertilizer bombs to know that leaving it in the bag isn’t the way to make a bomb. However, had the propane gone off, it would have definitely had the potential to create a mass casualty situation.

Add to that the Taliban leader’s claim – in a video made before the attempt on Times Square – that he was responsible (that is to say he “commissioned” the job) and it is hard for me, at this early date to rule out “al Qaeda or any other large terror network”.

But authorities sure do seem intent on trying to do exactly that. Unless they know alot more than they’re saying, it isn’t clear to me at all that you can rule anyone or any organization out.

In fact, even more evidence turned up today suggesting that the Taliban are, in fact, involved in targeting US cities:

Two tapes were sent today to The Long War Journal by a group identifying itself as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The same group sent a link earlier today to The Long War Journal to a YouTube video of Qari Hussain Mehsud claiming that the Taliban carried out the failed May 1 car bomb attack in New York City’s Times Square.

The two Hakeemullah tapes consist of a videotape of Hakeemullah flanked by two masked fighters, and an audiotape with images of Hakeemullah superimposed over a map of the US with explosions in the background. In both tapes, Hakeemullah claimed that the Taliban have infiltrated the US and that their operatives would launch attacks in American cities.

The videotape was produced on April 4, while the audiotape was produced on April 19, according to Hakeemullah.

While I think it is entirely possible that the man seen leaving the SUV on Saturday is indeed a “middle aged, balding white man”, I also think it is entirely possible that the Taliban claims of responsibility are real.

If so, watch for other attempts in other cities soon. As for the ostriches out there – pretend this isn’t a larger plot by international terrorist organizations at your own peril. Such thinking can blow up in your face fairly quickly – no pun intended.

~McQ

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Dropping two at a mile and a half

For those of you who understand and can appreciate this – two phenomenal sniper shots (from the same guy at the same target) from a British sniper in Afghanistan:

A BRITISH Army sniper has set a new sharpshooting distance record by killing two Taliban machinegunners in Afghanistan from more than 1 miles away.

Craig Harrison, a member of the Household Cavalry, killed the insurgents with consecutive shots — even though they were 3,000ft beyond the most effective range of his rifle.

“The first round hit a machinegunner in the stomach and killed him outright,” said Harrison, a Corporal of Horse. “He went straight down and didn’t move.

“The second insurgent grabbed the weapon and turned as my second shot hit him in the side. He went down, too. They were both dead.”

The shooting — which took place while Harrison’s colleagues came under attack — was at such extreme range that the 8.59mm bullets took almost three seconds to reach their target after leaving the barrel of the rifle at almost three times the speed of sound.

The distance to Harrison’s two targets was measured by a GPS system at 8,120ft, or 1.54 miles. The previous record for a sniper kill is 7,972ft, set by a Canadian soldier who shot dead an Al-Qaeda gunman in March 2002.

Now I don’t care how good a shot you think you are, that’s incredible.  As someone said, with the drop at that distance, those bullets must have almost been at a 45 degree angle.  And I can only assume “Kentucky windage” as his method since these shots are so off the charts.

~McQ

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Observations: The Qando Podcast for 02 May 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the economy, Charlie Crist, and the Times Square bombing attempt. Billy Hollis checks in, too.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Nashville is flooded, as if you had not already heard that from a dozen sources

This is the worst flood of my lifetime here in Nashville. Several main arteries have been underwater for times varying from an hour to almost twenty-four hours. I-24 southeast of the city had the worst of it yesterday, which this video of a school’s temporary classroom floating down the interstate and imploding shows vividly:

In that video, you can also see a rather large number of cars caught up in the flood. Many were folks just driving through Nashville on the way to somewhere else, probably listening to Lady Gaga and having no idea they were about to be trapped in a flood.

This morning, the west and southwest parts got hit hardest. This video shows Charlotte Pike, which is one of main arteries going west from the city. A large section is underwater and some guys have been on a roof for a couple of hours waiting for rescue.

Last I heard, the death toll was six, but that doesn’t really communicate the large number of businesses and homes that were washed out. There are plenty of videos on YouTube showing those, plus the usual number of videos from guys in pickup trucks demonstrating their foolishness by driving through flooded areas to shoot their video. Of course, YouTube has the successful ones. We don’t get to see the ones in which “Hold my beer – watch this” was preceded by a vehicle caught up in the flood.

I’d put up some of my own pictures, but there’s no particularly photogenic flooding around my neighborhood, and the local officials have requested everyone to stay home if at all possible. The water table got high enough to flood our old coal room to about six inches deep with some artesian pressure, but the only casualty was a 25-year-old water heater I was about to replace anyway. My teenage sons and I cleared the drainholes and bailed water for a while, and it’s drained now. We even had time for a shower apiece from the old heater before the water gave out.

The rain has stopped and things will probably be back to normal soon. Some numbers: We got about twenty inches of rain in less than three days, which is normally about a six month supply for us. That’s on top of a couple of inches last week which did a nice job of saturating the ground in preparation for this deluge.

Next week’s expected outlook: widely scattered insurance claims and flood damage sales.

*** Update 6:00 PM CST ***

If you want to see plenty of pictures and some more video, including a shot of the aftermath of the I-24 flooding, Donald Sensing has a couple of good posts up (found via Instapundit):

Yesterday.

Today.

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BlogTalk Radio – Tonight 8pm (EST)

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s):

Economy – what do the most recent quarter’s numbers mean? And why is Larry Summers saying high unemployment may be a perpetual thing?

Charlie Crist – is he the shape of things to come in the November election?

NYC carbomb – even though it malfunctioned the fact that it is claimed by the Taliban is significant. Does it usher in a new era of terrorism?

Oil spill – I question the timing. Seriously, what does it mean in terms of politics and energy?

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More on the NYC carbomb

It appears it was a Taliban of Pakistan attempt:

A top Pakistani Taliban commander took credit for yesterday’s failed car bomb attack in New York City.

Qari Hussain Mehsud, the top bomb maker for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, said he takes “fully responsibility for the recent attack in the USA.” Qari Hussain made the claim on an audiotape accompanied by images that was released on a YouTube website that calls itself the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel.

The tape has yet to be verified, but US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal believe it is legitimate. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel on YouTube was created on April 30. Officials believe it was created to announce the Times Square attack, and Qari Hussain’s statement was pre-recorded.

All indications are the tape is legitimate. YouTube has pulled the video and shut down the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel since this article was published.

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Car Bomb Attempt in Times Square

The details are still a bit sketchy, but NYPD has evacuated Times Square after discovering a car bomb.

Police said a Nissan Pathfinder at West 45th Street and Seventh Avenue was loaded with a bomb made of electrical components, three propane gas tanks and two additional gas canisters. They received the call about the suspicious vehicle around 6:30 p.m. and blocked the area from West 43rd to 47th streets along Broadway and Seventh Avenue with metal railings. Parts of 48th Street were also closed.

A press conference from NYPD is scheduled momentarily.

UPDATE (22:24 PST): Apparently, the bomb had been activated.  The vehicle was smoking, and an NYPD mounted officer kicked off the evacuation.  No injuries, and NYPD cleared Times Square in record time.  I suspect NYPD will have some questions for the vehicle’s owners, but it seems the license plate on the vehicle didn’t match the one originally issued.

According to MSNBC, cameras captured the car being parked at approx. 6:30PM ET and smoke coming out a few minutes later.

UPDATE (23:19 EST): Press Conference:

An T-Shirt vendor, who is a Viet Vet, called the cops.  Cops arrived, saw smoke, and evacuated the area, then called the bomb squad.

Bomb materials and such were found in the car.

It seems like the materials, though, are evidence of an amateur job.  Gas cans, propane tanks, consumer fireworks, etc.  In other words, it wasn’t stuffed to the gills with nitrates.

Mayor Bloomberg says the set-up was “amateurish”.  So, it seems like more of a whack-job doing something nutty, than some sort of al-Qaeda deal.

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Why are Democrats so tone deaf? (update)

Rasmussen has a poll out that addresses the public’s feeling about government and job creation. To put it succinctly, they mostly think that government can best serve the public in that regard by cutting taxes.

And:

Sixty-five percent (65%) say decisions made by U.S. business leaders to help their own businesses grow will do more to create jobs than decisions made by government officials. Twenty-five percent (25%) say decisions made by government officials to create jobs will do more.

So their faith in a government solution v. a private sector solution is obvious. As another survey points out, the public is “dubious” of the administration claimed success in aiding any economic recovery:

Just 33% say the economic stimulus passed by Congress last year has helped the job situation and only somewhat more (42%) say the loans the federal government provided to troubled financial institutions prevented a more severe financial crisis. Less than a third (31%) says that the government has made progress in fixing the problems that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

That means Democrats are unlikely to reap the political reward from an economic turnaround that they would like.

It goes without saying, dissatisfaction with the economy and government (and government’s efforts in behalf of the economy) mean political trouble for the party in power. It means even more trouble for that party when the people make clear their priorities for the party in power (jobs, the economy and the deficit) and that party ignores them (HCR, financial reform, cap-and-trade, etc).

Another interesting tidbit from the Rasmussen poll which shows how disconnected the “Political Class” is from “Mainstream Voters”:

Similar distinctions are evident in the views of Mainstream voters versus those of the Political Class. Eighty-one percent (81%) of Mainstream voters, for example, think decisions made by U.S. business leaders to help their own businesses grow will do more to create new jobs than job-creation decisions made by government officials. The plurality (47%) of Political Class voters have more confidence in the decisions made by government officials.

So how did a victorious Democratic party and a president swept into power on the “Hope and Change” platform become so tone deaf to what the public really wants?

Most, I’m sure, remember candidate Obama saying that one of the things he really wanted to do was make government “cool again”. And, one can imagine, he thought that was part of his and the Democrats mandate when he was elected. Of course, the underlying premise of a desire to make government “cool again” is the belief that government is the answer to most problems.  Or more government is good government and good government is “cool”. They’ve accomplished the “more government part”, but it certainly certainly hasn’t translated into a perception of good government, has it?

Interestingly, David Brooks recently addressed that in an article saying:

In the first year of the Obama administration, the Democrats, either wittingly or unwittingly, decided to put the big government-versus-small government debate at the center of American life.

But Arnold Kling differs with that and I think what he says is more on the mark. His premise helps explain a lot, such as the Democratic tone deafness and their reaction to the emergence of the Tea Parties, etc. Talking about Brook’s statement above he says:

I would put this somewhat differently. The left decided that the debate was settled. They took the view that the financial crisis proved once and for all that markets do not work, and that wherever markets produce imperfect outcomes, government is the answer.

They, as many political parties have in the past, misinterpreted the outcome as a mandate to do what they perceived to be the desire of the people – expand the size, scope and cost of government – and set out on their merry way to do exactly that.

As it turns out, they were dead wrong. In fact, the term “dead wrong” doesn’t even begin to describe how wrong they were. Not only did the financial crises not support their interpretation, but – as with the “science” of AGW – nothing about the debate concerning the size, scope and cost of government was settled by their election. That’s not at all what the election was about – yet their own hubris wouldn’t allow them to see that. They decided to interpret it the way they found served their ideological best interest.

And they’ve blown it.

Recognizing that has to give one some hope. Americans are mostly rejecting big government and government solutions. Government is not “cool” again. And while the Democrats haven’t yet realized that, the GOP seems to be waking up to it – somewhat. They’re not there yet, and a certain number of them are as clueless as the Democrats, but I think the public is gearing up to smack many of those who are popularly known as “RINOs” around a bit in November as well (especially if they favor more government).

I think it is interesting though to consider this explanation as to why Democrats don’t seem to be able to get out of their own way and why they seem unable to change course and address that which the electorate really wants. All of that goes directly against the interpretation they gave the election of 2008 and they can’t yet admit to themselves, much less anyone else, that they were wrong.

UPDATE: If you don’t believe me, consider the commencement speech President Obama just delivered at the University of Michigan today:

President Obama on Saturday urged graduates at the University of Michigan to participate in public life as the president forcefully defended an activist role for government in dealing with society’s problems.

Don’t expect he or the Democrats to figure it out anytime soon.

~McQ

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