The ISIS Tooth Fairy

Over the weekend, Turkey announced that it had pulled off the special op of the century, retrieving some four dozen hostages from ISIS without paying a ransom or engaging in an outright attack.


One of two things happened:

- either Turkish undercover agents managed to infiltrate ISIS and hoodwinked the captors into letting the hostages go, or

- the Turks did make a deal, just one that may not be technically called a ransom.

Take your pick.

There is one other possibility - and that is some other country (read America) engaged in a rescue mission and made it possible for the hostages to escape; the Turks then took the credit. But in that case, we'll surely hear about it sooner rather than later.

Just an everyday thing . . .

An engine failure is anything but an everyday thing - but you have to admire the absolutely "yeah, we're on it, no problem" tone of the pilot in this emergency announcement after a JetBlue airliner lost its engine. Pros were definitely at the helm.

It was certainly not routine, but definitely routinely handled - no injuries reported.

Next Dreamland . . .

Here's the tentative cover for the book we're working on, due out next year:

More high-tech fun is planned . . .
Turkey's role

One of the more under-reported aspects of the ISIS crisis has been the role of Turkey in facilitating the psychos' success. Not only is Turkey allowing black market sale of oil - a huge benefit to the terrorists, but the group actively recruits in Turkish cities without apparent fear of arrest.

Turkey is a member of NATO. Lying half in Europe and half in Asia, it has striven for acceptance by the West since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. But over the past decade its responses to backward-looking radical movements in the Middle East have greatly complicated not only its position vis a  vis the West but also perceptions of it.

Turkey's way is not necessarily Europe's or even America's; it has its own future to determine. But sleeping with rabid dogs is never a good idea; they tend eventually to bite.

It wasn't a bunch of rocks

Anatomy of a missile strike - from the report on MH 17, downed over Ukraine:

Damage observed on the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft appears to indicate that there were impacts from a large number of high-energy objects from outside the plane.
The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was not consistent with the damage that would be expected from any known failure mode of the aircraft, its engines or systems.
The fact that there were many pieces of aircraft structure distributed over a large area, indicated that the aircraft broke up in the air.

That's technical speak for "a missile hit the plane," which of course we already knew. Full report (pdf) here.