Monthly Archives: February 2015

ISIS By the Numbers: Foreign Fighter Complete Keeps Developing

The variety of Westerners who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to battle for ISIS continues to grow, according to U.S. officials, and has now reached 3,400. But the very same officials hope that recent military successes against ISIS, and a series of initiatives by Western governments, will reverse that trend.

“European nations as well as the U.S. are much better monitoring the flow, and growing enforcement to staunch the flow,” stated 1 U.S. official. There have been current round-ups in France, Britain and the U.S.

Numerous fighters heading to the ISIS caliphate travel via Turkey, and some observers have questioned the willingness — or the capacity — of the Turkish government to intervene. There are indications, nonetheless, that Western lobbying is bearing fruit. The Turks “are applying more strain,” stated the official.

The official additional that more military successes towards ISIS would “presumably assist the most going forward.” With assist from Western airstrikes, Kurdish forces have rolled back ISIS on the northern edge of the caliphate, but the Islamic State’;s march via the Sunni heartlands of Syria and Iraq has only been slowed, not stopped.

Officials say it will take time prior to analysts can determine whether the initiatives or military action will slow the influx of fighters.

In testimony Thursday, Gen. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, informed Congress the intelligence neighborhood now estimates that 3,400 citizens from Western nations have traveled to Syria and Iraq. That is 700 far more than November’;s estimate of 2,700 — though officials say some portion of the increased headcount represents enhanced intelligence, not new recruits.

The numbers, Clapper explained, are vital to comprehending the possible for attacks in the West.

“If ISIL were to considerably boost the priority it spots on attacking the West rather than fighting to keep and increase territorial control, then the group’;s entry to radicalized Westerners who have fought in Syria and Iraq would offer a pool of operatives who potentially have access to the United States and other Western countries,” he said.

The U.S. intelligence local community has also upped its estimate of the quantity of foreign fighters from all in excess of the planet, not just the West. Clapper explained that ISIS now has twenty,000 foreign fighters, up from sixteen,000 final fall, out of a total fighting force of as several as 31,000.

Clapper’;s testimony also upped the variety of U.S. citizens who’;ve traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to fight for any of the groups battling the Assad regime. 6 months in the past, the number was estimated at 100, then a lot more lately 150. In his Thursday testimony, he place the quantity at approximately 180. He indicated that U.S. law enforcement is monitoring individuals who have returned. U.S. officials have said in the previous that the variety of fighters currently engaged in fighting for ISIS is “around a dozen.”

Officials say the Islamic State’;s appeal is broad, with at least 90 nations supplying fighters. Amongst them are massive numbers from central Asia, which includes the restive Chinese province of Xinjiang, the Caucasus, and the Balkans, particularly Bosnia. A new trend, explained a U.S. official, is an influx of females, particularly from the West.

“We do not break things down by gender,” mentioned the official, but the amount of females is “not insignificant.” ISIS has been making use of social media to encourage youthful girls to join the group. In a lot of cases, they are enticed with the guarantee of marriage to ISIS fighters.

U.S. agencies have differed on the all round dimension of the ISIS fighting force, with the intelligence neighborhood sticking with a selection of 20,000 to 31,500 whilst the Pentagon thinks the variety could be as lower as 17,000. The intelligence community’;s estimate is created on reports from other intelligence companies in the Arab world and the West. Individuals numbers often cover different reporting intervals and can be inconsistent in their specificity. France, for example, has really specific numbers. Other countries offer very general estimates.

“It truly is undeniable that there’;s been an enhance in numbers,” said the official, but additional that as with the quantity of Western fighters, it truly is not particular how a lot of the rise is due to new recruits, and how considerably is attributable to better accounting.

First published February 28 2015, 5:40 AM

Robert Windrem

Robert Windrem is an investigative reporter/producer with NBC Information. His specialty is international safety, on-camera commentary on international protection for MSNBC and writer on global safety for NBCNews.com

Winner of 45 national journalism awards, which includes an Emmy as effectively as Dupont-Columbia, Nationwide Press Club, Sigma Delta Chi, 3 Edward R. Murrow and 8 National Headliners Club awards. He has also been nominated for an Emmy 19 instances.

Windrem made the first report on U.S. television on Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda in January 1997 developed the first within appear of CIA Headquarters on U.S. television in February 1994 arranged and produced exclusive interviews with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in New York in September 2006, and in Tehran in July 2008. He also produced comprehensive reviews on “Nightly Information” concerning nuclear proliferation in Israel, South Africa, Iraq and Iran as properly as reviews on the Mexican drug wars al Qaeda US drone attacks in Pakistan, the Boston Marathon bombings, the Washington, D.C., snipers campaign finance scandals, defense procurement abuse, and intelligence technological innovation, between several other individuals.

He contributed to NBC Information documentaries on the war on terrorism, Hurricane Katrina and nuclear method.

Windrem co-wrote with William E. Burrows, “Essential Mass: the Harmful Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting Planet”, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994.

He has appeared far more than 300 occasions as an expert on nationwide safety concerns on MSNBC, NBC News and CNBC as nicely as CBC in Canada, BBC in the United kingdom, Channel 2 in Israel and ABC in Australia. Most just lately he served as a consultant on an Israeli Television documentary on Arnon Milchan, the Hollywood producer and arms dealer.

He is a graduate of Seton Hall University with a degree in communications arts. He also pursued a graduate degree in American Scientific studies at Seton Hall.

… Broaden Bio

ISIS By the Numbers: 20,000 Foreign Fighters and Increasing

The variety of Westerners who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to battle for ISIS continues to grow, in accordance to U.S. officials, and has now reached 3,400. But the identical officials hope that current military successes against ISIS, and a series of initiatives by Western governments, will reverse that trend.

“European nations as well as the U.S. are far better monitoring the movement, and increasing enforcement to staunch the flow,” mentioned 1 U.S. official. There have been recent round-ups in France, Britain and the U.S.

Several fighters heading to the ISIS caliphate travel through Turkey, and some observers have questioned the willingness — or the capability — of the Turkish government to intervene. There are indications, nevertheless, that Western lobbying is bearing fruit. The Turks “are applying more pressure,” mentioned the official.

The official extra that more military successes against ISIS would “presumably help the most going forward.” With help from Western airstrikes, Kurdish forces have rolled back ISIS on the northern edge of the caliphate, but the Islamic State’;s march by means of the Sunni heartlands of Syria and Iraq has only been slowed, not stopped.

Officials say it will get time prior to analysts can determine whether the initiatives or military action will slow the influx of fighters.

In testimony Thursday, Gen. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, advised Congress the intelligence community now estimates that 3,400 citizens from Western nations have traveled to Syria and Iraq. Which is 700 far more than November’;s estimate of 2,700 — though officials say some portion of the higher headcount represents improved intelligence, not new recruits.

The numbers, Clapper explained, are essential to understanding the likely for attacks in the West.

“If ISIL had been to substantially increase the priority it places on attacking the West rather than fighting to maintain and broaden territorial handle, then the group’;s access to radicalized Westerners who have fought in Syria and Iraq would supply a pool of operatives who probably have entry to the United States and other Western nations,” he mentioned.

The U.S. intelligence local community has also upped its estimate of the amount of foreign fighters from all over the globe, not just the West. Clapper said that ISIS now has twenty,000 foreign fighters, up from 16,000 last fall, out of a complete fighting force of as several as 31,000.

Clapper’;s testimony also upped the number of U.S. citizens who’;ve traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to fight for any of the groups battling the Assad regime. Six months ago, the amount was estimated at 100, then more recently 150. In his Thursday testimony, he put the amount at approximately 180. He indicated that U.S. law enforcement is monitoring these who have returned. U.S. officials have explained in the previous that the amount of fighters at the moment engaged in fighting for ISIS is “around a dozen.”

Officials say the Islamic State’;s appeal is broad, with at least 90 countries supplying fighters. Between them are huge numbers from central Asia, which includes the restive Chinese province of Xinjiang, the Caucasus, and the Balkans, especially Bosnia. A new trend, mentioned a U.S. official, is an influx of women, especially from the West.

“We will not break factors down by gender,” said the official, but the amount of women is “not insignificant.” ISIS has been using social media to encourage younger females to join the group. In a lot of cases, they’;re enticed with the guarantee of marriage to ISIS fighters.

U.S. companies have differed on the all round dimension of the ISIS fighting force, with the intelligence community sticking with a range of 20,000 to 31,500 whilst the Pentagon thinks the quantity could be as reduced as 17,000. The intelligence community’;s estimate is constructed on reviews from other intelligence agencies in the Arab planet and the West. Individuals numbers frequently cover distinct reporting periods and can be inconsistent in their specificity. France, for illustration, has quite specific numbers. Other nations offer quite common estimates.

“It truly is undeniable that there’;s been an boost in numbers,” explained the official, but extra that as with the number of Western fighters, it is not specified how considerably of the rise is due to new recruits, and how significantly is attributable to far better accounting.

1st published February 28 2015, 5:40 AM

Robert Windrem

Robert Windrem is an investigative reporter/producer with NBC News. His specialty is global security, on-camera commentary on international protection for MSNBC and writer on international security for NBCNews.com

Winner of 45 nationwide journalism awards, like an Emmy as properly as Dupont-Columbia, Nationwide Press Club, Sigma Delta Chi, 3 Edward R. Murrow and 8 National Headliners Club awards. He has also been nominated for an Emmy 19 times.

Windrem created the first report on U.S. tv on Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda in January 1997 created the first inside seem of CIA Headquarters on U.S. television in February 1994 organized and developed unique interviews with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in New York in September 2006, and in Tehran in July 2008. He also made in depth reports on “Nightly Information” concerning nuclear proliferation in Israel, South Africa, Iraq and Iran as properly as reviews on the Mexican drug wars al Qaeda US drone attacks in Pakistan, the Boston Marathon bombings, the Washington, D.C., snipers campaign finance scandals, defense procurement abuse, and intelligence engineering, amongst a lot of other folks.

He contributed to NBC News documentaries on the war on terrorism, Hurricane Katrina and nuclear strategy.

Windrem co-wrote with William E. Burrows, “Vital Mass: the Hazardous Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting Planet”, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994.

He has appeared far more than 300 instances as an specialist on nationwide safety concerns on MSNBC, NBC Information and CNBC as nicely as CBC in Canada, BBC in the United kingdom, Channel 2 in Israel and ABC in Australia. Most recently he served as a advisor on an Israeli Television documentary on Arnon Milchan, the Hollywood producer and arms dealer.

He is a graduate of Seton Hall University with a degree in communications arts. He also pursued a graduate degree in American Research at Seton Hall.

… Expand Bio

What do you know, they found these Lois Lerner emails the IRS commish stated no longer existed

**Written by Doug Powers

This story failed the smell check prior to Obama ever even dismissed it as a “phony scandal.” The nausea issue has not created it unattainable to dig into further with no a thick application of Mentholatum under the nose.

By the way, “criminal investigation” is Obama admin legalese for “not a smidgen of corruption”:

The IRS’s inspector standard confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois G. Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only 2 weeks for investigators to uncover hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had informed Congress were irretrievably destroyed.

Investigators have previously scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 exclusive emails, but just 2 weeks ago they located an added 424 tapes that could include even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector Basic Timothy P. Camus informed the Property Oversight Committee in a unusual late-night hearing meant to appear into the status of the investigation.

“There is possible criminal exercise,” Mr. Camus mentioned.

Bear in mind when the IRS commissioner, the smug John Koskinen, testified that IRS backup tapes for emails in question from around the time Lois Lerner was undertaking her factor did not exist? He was lying or doesn’t have a firm grip on how his agency operates:

But under questioning from Mr. Chaffetz, Mr. Camus said it took him only 2 weeks to track down the backup tapes, and when he asked the IRS depository for them, the employees there explained they’d never been contacted by the agency itself.

Republicans stated that was spectacular since IRS Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly assured Congress the emails have been irretrievably lost.

Here’s one of Lerner’s emails:

That sort of astute observation and apparently far more “team player” efforts earned Lerner almost $ 130,000 just in bonuses in a 3-12 months period from 2010 to 2013.

But keep in mind, it was just some “folks” in Cincinnati who made “boneheaded decisions” for no certain reason:

[embedded material]

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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Ohio Residence Passes Bill Safeguarding Experienced Volunteers from Liability

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The Ohio House has passed a bill that offers legal safety to particular volunteers who supply service and experience during emergencies.

The measure gives architects, engineers, surveyors and tradespersons immunity from civil liability for errors or omissions that may take place while doing solutions throughout times of declared emergency. Ohio law does not at present offer protection towards civil lawsuits for such staff.

Immunity for individuals volunteers would extend throughout a time period of declared emergency and for 90 days soon after.

Republican state Reps. Bill Blessing and Al Landis sponsored the bill, which will following head to the Ohio Senate.

Landis said in a statement that the bill permits skilled volunteers to get involved during emergencies without having fearing reprisal.

Copyright 2015 Linked Press. All rights reserved. This material may possibly not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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South Carolina Court Orders J&J to Pay out $136M in Risperdal Situation

South Carolina’s Supreme Court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a penalty of $ 136 million, upholding a jury’s finding that the drugmaker’s Janssen unit had improperly marketed its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal and concealed its dangers.

A trial court had earlier ordered J&J to pay $ 327 million, but the Supreme Court a lot more than halved that penalty, citing a provision in South Carolina law that no action can be taken in this kind of circumstances after 3 many years of the discovery of unlawful perform. South Carolina filed its complaint in April 2007.

“Janssen’s wish for marketplace share and enhanced product sales knew no bounds, leading to its egregious violation of South Carolina law,” Justice John Kittredge wrote in the ruling on Wednesday.

“Yet, the absence of considerable real harm resulting from Janssen’s deceptive carry out prospects us to conclude the trial court erred in element in its penalty evaluation.”

J&J spokeswoman Pamela Van Houten did not right away react to a request for comment.

The state had sought civil penalties on 2 claims.

The 1st arose from the articles of the written material of Risperdal prescriptions given that 1994. The second declare centered on alleged false info contained in a November 2003 letter Janssen sent to South Carolina’s prescribing doctors.

The South Carolina ruling conflicts with selections by 2 other states’ higher courts last 12 months.

J&J won a reversal of a $ 1.2 billion judgment by the Arkansas Supreme Court and won an appeal in Louisiana on a $ 258 million penalty.

Risperdal, launched in 1994, is employed to deal with circumstances which includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability in people with autism.

The drug and other anti-psychotic treatment options have also been linked to side results such as strokes, diabetes and bodyweight acquire.

The case is State of South Carolina v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc, No. 2012-206987. (Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bengaluru Editng by Ted Kerr)

Ariel Re Launches Ariel Specialty Insurance Managers

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Ariel Specialty will begin underwriting E&S house company on March 1st, 2015, with business becoming written by way of wholesale brokers only on a constrained appointment basis and on behalf of Ariel’s Lloyd’s Syndicate 1910. The new E&S home underwriting unit underwriting will be headquartered in Atlanta with regional underwriting capability in Kansas City, Mo., Dallas, and Orlando, Fla.

Ariel Specialty will offer up to $ 20 million in limits for all risk, named storm and wind/hail house coverage on company with total insured values (TIV) in the selection of $ 5 million to $ 250 million and with a focus on home in coastal regions of Florida and the broader South East Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the USA.

The company will operate with a group of underwriters reporting to Colin Mayo, EVP and chief underwriting officer.

In accordance to Tom Hulst, CEO of Ariel Re Bda, “Ariel Specialty will additional equip the Ariel group and its Lloyd’s Syndicate 1910 to efficiently navigate the marketplace and capitalize on growth possibilities as they present themselves.”

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State Farm to Spend $352.5M to Settle Long-Running Texas Overcharge Situation

A settlement has been reached in a long-working dispute in between the nation’s biggest property owners insurer and the state of Texas more than premium overcharges.

The Texas Office of Public Insurance coverage Counsel (OPIC) announced Feb. 27 that a settlement had been reached requiring State Farm subsidiary, State Farm Lloyds, to refund $ 352.5 million in premium overcharges and interest to its Texas policyholders.

State Farm Lloyds, with nearly 27 % of the marketplace, is the biggest homeowners insurer in Texas.

The settlement applies to residential policies that were issued or renewed amongst Sept. 6, 3003, by means of July 31, 2008, and the amount is a far cry from the virtually $ 1 billion in overcharges and curiosity that OPIC alleged the business owed in a court filing in 2009. The existing settlement volume is significantly less, nevertheless, than the $ 310 million the organization was ordered to pay in 2009 by then-Texas Insurance coverage Commissioner Mike Geeslin.

Texas regulators have long held that the firm had overcharged customers starting in 2003.

The dispute has its origins in Senate Bill 14, which the state Legislature passed in 2003. That bill needed house owners to file their costs with the Texas Division of Insurance coverage. TDI then had a mandate to undertake rate critiques of all homeowners insurance coverage in Texas at that time to figure out if current prices complied with rating specifications. These fee testimonials were finished in September 2003 regulators concluded that property owners charges had been excessive for 29 of the 61 insurers reviewed and ordered reductions. Of the 29 companies ordered to reduce rates twelve firms appealed, such as State Farm, which had been ordered to minimize its property owners rates by 12 percent.

Right up until the recent settlement, State Farm was the final carrier fighting the price cuts and refunds. In August 2004, Allstate Texas Lloyds, an affiliate of the Allstate Corp. and the state’s third greatest house owners carrier, agreed to issue refunds of 775 % of the premium paid by its Texas home insurance coverage clients for policies with powerful dates from Sept. 6, 2003, through Sept. 6, 2004.

“OPIC is extremely pleased to settle this lengthy-standing charge dispute with significant refunds to policyholders. We are particularly glad that OPIC’s legal arguments resulted in the inclusion of policyholders from September 2006 by means of July 2008 in the settlement. These policyholders will obtain $ 119.one million in refunds that they would not have otherwise obtained,” Texas Public Counsel Deeia Beck explained in a statement launched by the agency.

Beck acknowledged the smaller settlement volume but said that “at the finish of the day it comes down to what is ideal for policyholders. We could have continued the litigation for many years resulting in bigger refunds, no refunds, or some thing in in between. Provided all of the considerations and risks concerned, we concluded that a settlement at this time on our agreed terms was in the very best interests of policyholders.”

Texas Division of Insurance Commissioner David Mattax said he was relieved that the a lot more than decade-extended dispute with State Farm Lloyds was lastly above.

“I am pleased to lastly resolve this matter and commence returning funds owed to State Farm Lloyds policyholders who were charged too considerably for their home owners insurance in between September 2003 and July 2008,” Mattax explained in a departmental release.

Patti Kelly, a spokesperson for State Farm, stated the although the organization believes “State Farm Lloyds’ rates are, and constantly have been, lawful and financially sound,” it also believes the “settlement permits us to concentrate on serving our customers and move forward without having extra expense and distraction of continued litigation.”

The business expects the refunds to go out to policyholders more than an 18-month time period, but that they won’t begin right away.

“It will get a handful of months to determine the refund quantity for every single impacted policyholder,” Kelly said.

The organization estimates the very first eligible policyholders commence will receiving refund checks later on this year and that the process would probably lengthen by means of August 2016.

Policy refunds will fluctuate among 2.6 % and 6.2 % of premium paid by person clients, depending on the successful date of their policies, according to TDI. Interest prices will either be 5.25 percent or 9.25 % depending on policy successful date.

TDI posted a copy of the settlement and a companion “frequently asked questions” document on its web site.

Louisiana Alleges Insurance Company Owner Pocketed Premiums

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An East Baton Rouge Parish insurance company proprietor not too long ago was served by Louisiana Division of Insurance coverage Fraud Division investigators with a summary suspension and a cease and desist purchase for alleged misappropriation of insurance coverage premium money.

Weldon Jerome Campbell, a property/casualty producer and proprietor of Alpha Insurance coverage Agency of Louisiana Inc. in the City of Baker is alleged to have misappropriated much more than $ 1400 in insurance premium.

According to investigators, Campbell accepted premium payments from a client but failed to remit the premium, resulting in cancellation of the client’s insurance coverage coverage. Campbell faces revocation of his insurance producer license as nicely as a attainable fine imposed by the Commissioner of Insurance coverage.

Campbell has 30 days from the time of support to request an administrative appeal or the above actions will turn out to be ultimate.

Source: Louisiana Division of Insurance

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Mattax Confirmed as Texas Insurance coverage Commissioner

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The appointment of David Mattax as Texas Insurance coverage Commissioner has been confirmed by the Texas Senate, the insurance coverage division reported.


David Mattax

David Mattax

Mattax was appointed to the job by Gov. Greg Abbott on Jan. 21. He was appointed earlier in January by then-Gov. Rick Perry to exchange Julia Rathgeber who resigned to become deputy chief of staff for Gov. Abbot.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve Mattax as the state’s leading insurance regulator.

Mattax oversees the Texas Division of Insurance coverage, which regulates the insurance coverage sector and supplies information and help to insurance coverage customers.

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LIU Adds Underwriters to Threat Engineering Staff

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Liberty International Underwriters has extra 5 threat engineers to its U.S. and Latin America chance engineering crew to emphasis on vitality-relevant options and civil development tasks in response to the resurgence in America’s energy industry and continued vitality development anticipated in Latin America.

The extra threat engineering team members are:

  • Miami-based Leonardo Garzon and Jose Segnini for Latin America
  • New York-primarily based Rickey Johnson for the U.S.
  • Houston-primarily based Paul Hampshire, the 2 for the U.S. and Latin America Civil Development
  • Houston-based mostly Scott Kelley for the U.S.

According to Timothy Kania, senior vice president of LIU Vitality and Construction, LIU desired to make adjustments to provide brokers with 1 crew that handles all first party property hazards.

The vitality-building danger engineer team joins LIU’s existing vitality and building operations in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York, which provide cross-class response by means of merchandise, policy cover, and companies.

LIU, element of the Global Specialty lines division of Liberty Mutual Insurance, distributes exclusively by way of the independent broker ne2rk in its thirty worldwide offices.

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