Zimmerman in handcuffs night of shooting


George Zimmerman claims his nose was broken and it’s been said that he was bloodied in a fight he had with Martin the night the latter was killed. Even if one were to believe that Zimmerman was given medical attention before going to the police station there is no evidence of that in the way of band aids or dressing for a wound, nor is there evidence Zimmerman was involved in a fight that resulted in bloodied or grass stained clothing.

Also it’s been revealed the Sanford Police wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter while the Seminole county State Attorney Norm Wolfinger refused.  Wolfinger has excused himself from any further investigation of this case while Sanford simmers.  What was it that made the Seminole county state attorney go against the investigation of the Sanford Police department and their recommendation for bringing manslaughter charges against Zimmerman?  For now that answer is not known.  However if you look at the tape below, does it look like Zimmerman was either in a struggle for his life or received medical treatment for injuries incurred during such a struggle?

 

Remember this guy? He’s baaack!!!


Dominique Strauss-Kahn is back in the news again and it’s not good news.  The NYC prosecutor was paid off to drop the charges against him because of innuendo dug up or revealed about Strauss-Kahn’s accuser in the case, Nafissatou Diallo, but ever since then it’s been nothing but bad news for DSK. 

First off after having the charges against him dropped in NYC, DSK faced similar charges by a French compatriot back in  France who claimed he attempted to rape her as well.  Well ‘the French public prosecutor said Thursday that while insufficient evidence was found to substantiate attempted rape, “acts that could be qualified as sexual aggression were established.” Unlike the attempted rape charge—which carries a statute of limitations of 10 years—sexual assault offenses can only be prosecuted three years after they were committed which means because the allegations go back to 2003, the plaintiff’s case is all but dead in the water.  However, the very finding that DSK engaged in sexually aggressive behavior mirrors the charges made by Diallo for which now she only has civil proceedings as a recourse.  But there’s more…….

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was handed preliminary charges Monday alleging he was involved in a French prostitution ring…In the northern French city of Lille on Monday, investigating judges summoned Strauss-Kahn for questioning and held him for about eight hours.

Lawyer Richard Malka told reporters afterward that Strauss-Kahn was given preliminary charges of “aggravated procurement in an organized gang.”

Strauss-Kahn was released under judicial supervision after paying €100,000 in bail, and was barred from contacting others charged in the case, a judicial official said.

Another Strauss-Kahn lawyer has acknowledged that the ex-IMF chief attended orgies but was unaware prostitutes were involved.

Under French law, preliminary charges mean authorities have reason to believe a crime was committed but allow more time for investigation.

This is the guy the New York city prosecutors let go free because they wanted to disbelieve a poor immigrant housekeeper who was violated by him.  There’s no doubt that DSK has these kinds of proclivities when it comes to women and his inability to control his libido.  What’s unfortunate is the human tragedies his indiscretions leave behind as he moves on to his next victim.  I hope someone can stop him.  We here in America evidently didn’t have the stomach to do so.

A good ruling-Hutareeites go free


In order as shown: Tina Mae Stone, Joshua Matt...

In order as shown: Tina Mae Stone, Joshua Matthew Stone, David Brian Stone Sr., David Brian Stone Jr., Thomas William Piatek, Michael David Meeks, Kristopher T. Sickles, Joshua Clough, Jacob J. Ward (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I railed against these folks in a post here where I said they were terrorists and should be charged with terrorism.  Instead the federal government charged them with “sedition” and earlier this week all but lost that case.  I agree with the ruling insofar as it apply universally to all who come before U.S. district  judge Victoria Roberts.

Let’s begin with who are the Hutaree militia and what were they charged with.  They call themselves “Christian warriors”….the equivalent of Muslim “jihadists” but without all the baggage that goes along with the term jihadists.  They were charged with seditious conspiracy against the government, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. The indictment said that the Hutaree planned to attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession for the officer or officers they planned to kill, using explosively formed penetrator improvised explosive devices (which under federal law are considered “weapons of mass destruction).  It’s important to note informants were instrumental in bringing the charges against the group…much like what has happened with so many jihadists inspired plots we’ve seen throughout the last decade.

Earlier this week, judge Roberts, a Clinton appointee to the bench by the way, ruled against the government, dismissing the sedition charges, i.e. conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the U.S. and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. Other weapons crimes tied to the alleged conspiracies also were dismissed.  Judge Roberts said, ‘statements and exercises do not evince a concrete agreement to forcibly resist the authority of the United States government,…(David Stone’s) diatribes evince nothing more than his own hatred for — perhaps even desire to fight or kill — law enforcement; this is not the same as seditious conspiracy.’  Roberts took the concept of freedom of speech to the very limits of the law and concluded that while what the defendants said was horrible, scary, frightening, absent any defined and definite action to do what they said they wanted to do, they had the right to that speech and  opinion. (You can read more about the acquittals here)  In today’s America that’s an extraordinary position to take, considering the slightest innuendo is enough to get you locked up for life, depending upon your political, religious and/or racial inclinations.  If you looked at the way the trial was conducted it follows so closely with all the other federal prosecutions of people related to terrorism offenses but with a far different outcome.  I assert the difference was this judge, Victoria Roberts got it right; that inspite of the highly inflammable accusations and statements made, free speech is what one is entitled too as long as there is no accompanying illegal action that results from that speech.  It may be a narrow line, but it seems Roberts walked across it successfully when issuing her ruling. I wish more judges had the constitutional fortitude to give such a ruling as Roberts.

Finally a dig at the Tea Party, birthers and  political conservatives.  When Janet Napolitano’s Homeland Security agency first came out with the warning of right wing extremism’s threat to the homeland, those groups who hate Obama came out to vehemently oppose even the idea that some people from their side of the spectrum could, would even do the things that were mentioned in the reports of three years or so ago.  It was simply inconceivable to them that violence and terror could come from any but the halls of Islamic extremism and treachery and any and every conviction along those lines served to underscore their belief.  They also used the birther notion that President Obama was some sort of illegal alien with an Islamic agenda to drive home the points that the Nation was under attack.  Indeed, Hutaree members had some rather strange notions along those lines as well.  The point man for the government’s case against the Hutaree was Eric Holder much maligned too for his suggestions early on that prosecutions of terror related cases should be done by the federal government in federal courts on American soil and not by military tribunes because in America that’s simply what we do.  That very suggestions was enough to also force some to question the administration’s concern for the safety of the Homeland or it’s jaundiced view , as they claim, towards federal prosecution of those who might otherwise be regular, normal American citizens.  In this atmosphere steps judge Roberts, above,  appointed to the bench by a liberal president Bill Clinton who is  almost as despised as Obama. Ms Roberts  went against an equally “liberal” administration headed by a Constitutional lawyer in Barack Obama, with a ruling that was, one could say, strictly constitutionalist.  Kudos to judge Victoria Roberts. I hope others on federal benches across America have the courage to apply the law  as she has  without giving in to fear.

Trouble follows some


Beware this man.  If you ever see him in your community, no matter what faith you are or are not, don’t call the  authorities, don’t take any action, simply ignore him. Don’t talk to him, don’t give him your phone number, don’t let him into your home.

I tweeted once earlier that black teens and Muslims cannot run away from trouble…it always seems to follow them.  This latest story is an excellent case in point.  A Muslim American is approached by someone (because we don’t the identity of the man pictured left we can only provide this photo of him) who he correctly identifies as an  agent provocateur and verifies that after finding his picture on the net and reading about his history that includes a murder charge.  In fear of his life Khalifah al-Akili calls the  FBI to report this person’s presence in the community only to find himself arrested and his reputation maligned and his name associated with the Taliban.

Khalifah Al-Akili, 34, who lives near Pittsburgh, told the Times Union in an interview Sunday that the FBI recently used Shahed Hussain — an informant who was integral in two terrorism-related cases in the upstate New York cities — in an apparent attempt to test Al-Akili’s interest in jihad and anti-American views.
Al-Akili said he was approached by Hussain, who went by the name “Mohammed,” and another man, who used the name “Shareef,” in January when they turned up in his neighborhood and repeatedly made attempts to get close to Al-Akili. But Al-Akili said he quickly figured out Hussain’s identity as an FBI informant. He said the men were “too obvious” and requested receipts even for small items they purchased like coffee and donuts.
Al-Akili said Shareef also asked Al-Akili repeatedly if he could help him purchase a gun. Al-Akili said he told the man he could not help him.
Al-Akili said his suspicions the men were informants were confirmed when he saw a photograph of Hussain on the Internet. In addition, he said, a cell phone number Hussain had given him was the same number used by Hussain during a 2009 counterterrorism investigation against four Newburgh men in the small Orange County city. Al-Akili said he found the number and its connection to that case through a simple Internet search using Google.

What happens next is standard FBI fare.

Al-Akili was arrested during an FBI raid of his home in Wilkinsburg, a Pittsburgh borough. He was charged in a federal complaint with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court said federal agents obtained an email with a 7-second video showing Al-Akili firing a .22-caliber rifle at a shooting range in 2010. Federal agents said Al-Akili was prohibited from possessing a gun because of a 2001 drug conviction.

No terrorism-related charges were filed against him. But at a detention hearing Friday, an FBI agent, Joseph M. Bieshelt, testified the search of Al-Akili’s home uncovered “jihadist literature and books on U.S. military tactics,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said. The newspaper also reported Bieshelt testified at the hearing that Al-Akili told an informant he had plans to go to Pakistan to join the Taliban, and that Al-Akili was recorded in December saying “that he was developing somebody to possibly strap a bomb on himself.” A federal magistrate judge ordered Al-Akili held without bail pending trial.

The FBI’s classic entrapment strategy failed when their operative was exposed, due in large part to the Bureau’s own incompetence, leaving them no other alternative but to charge al-Akili with a weapons charge ( they couldn’t do better than a .22 caliber rifle at a firing range) which they linked to incendiary language that got a judge to keep him in jail without bond until his court date.  And while it might be too much to hope for, the recent ruling by a federal judge that language alone is not sufficient to prove sedition or violence against the government in the absence of any concrete action to convict someone might be extended to al-Akili’s case does offer some hope for an American Muslim who says he would never do anything to hurt/harm his country.

The FBI got caught with their pants down; their methods were sloppy but in today’s America sufficient enough to convict others which is why they were resorted to again.  Al-Akili’s citizenship is to be applauded….in essence he was a whistle blower  pointing to the inefficient and costly workings of bureaucracy, and like most whistle blowers before, he was made to bear the brunt of a humiliated agency out for revenge.  That anyone can be locked up for shooting a.22 caliber rifle at a firing range…….there is no proof he owned the weapon, nor were any weapons found in his home, nor was he accused of buying and selling weapons( in fact he rebuffed the FBI informant’s attempt to even find him one) and the only basis for his incarceration besides such flimsy accusations is his religious identity is not only criminal, appalling but certainly unconstitutional.  It is a sign of today’s America and it must be changed and abandoned forever.  Wake up America…if today it’s al-Akili, who will it be tomorrow?

Florida’s Stand your ground


George Zimmerman’s arrest and charge with murder should be a slam dunk.  Why the authorities are taking their time until now to even charge him is an indication of how broken the criminal justice system is.  Further delay can only make matters worse for the citizens of the State.  Here’s what the law says

776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—…… a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
…. .

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

From all accounts, Zimmerman initiated the contact with Martin while he, Zimmerman, had a weapon in HIS waistband. ( The accusation by Zimmerman was he thought Martin might have had a weapon.) Martin was where he had a right to be and was going to a residence within HIS gated community at night when suddenly he was approached by a man with a weapon who is not a police officer and demands were placed upon him.  Fearing for his life, Martin used the only weapon he had at his disposal…his fists which is why a fight broke out between the two.

Police dispatch not able to ascertain whether Martin was involved in illegal activity at the time of Zimmerman’s call probably foresaw the problems with the law if Martin was where he had a right to be when confronted by a belligerent other citizen which is why they asked Zimmerman not to confront the youth. The difference is a 17 year old 140 pound youth was unable to kill a 28 year old 250 pound man with his fists.  This point of Martin being in fear of his life and resorting to the only weapons he had was made in an article on Slate, via Emily Bazelon

….you can flip the premise and see Martin, not Zimmerman, as the person who was acting in self-defense. Jeff writes: “Trayvon saw someone following him, felt threatened, retreated, was still followed, and then was approached by an armed man who had 100 lbs on him. … Because Zimmerman was acting as an aggressor, Trayvon had the right to defend himself by punching, kicking, tackling, etc. Because Zimmerman was acting as the aggressor, his actions cannot be considered self-defense: you can’t initiate and then claim self-defense. The evidence for initiation is there on the 911 tape. … Why is it that a black man cannot be afraid of a white man who follows and approaches him on a street at night?

Yes, why is that? The problem is authorities believed Zimmerman sight unseen without conducting any investigation.  They didn’t even identify Martin’s body, although he had his cell phone which could have immediately been used to identify him.  This goes to the issue of race and the fact that a white man standing over the body of a black teen is most likely going to be given the benefit of the doubt because of where we are  in America.  However, Zimmerman’s history should have precluded that presumption of innocence.  Unfortunately that history was ignored and  not given any due consideration by the authorities which only exacerbated the legal situation. The problem of racism emanates from the local police department.  Sadly the explosive atmosphere surrounding this case will only make people more entrenched in their positions and justice denied.

An American casualty to ‘endless war’


This is what happens when you drink the kool-aid, believe the lies that were made to start America down the path of endless warfare that only enriches the coffers of the military complex but sucks the life out of the people who put their lives  on the line to operate it.

Robert Bales enlisted in the US military in response to 911, answering the call of patriotism to fight an enemy that was shadowy  and  elusive.  That’s a good thing………the people who asked for his help, the politicians who made him and us feel good about that service knew it was predicated on a lie, and was designed to make sure that a way of life, not threatened, would be even more enhanced with his and countless others’ sacrifice. The Bush administration didn’t care one iota what the effect would be of countless tours it would ask its service men and women to go through; it never crossed the minds of the planners of one of the biggest bold faced lies America would embark on in some time.  What mattered was the mission be accomplished.

Sgt. Bales served three tours in Iraq and a fourth in Afghanistan, the graveyard of Russia’s military.  It was irrelevant to most in US  policy circles that  after Russia withdrew from Afghanistan it would undergo a radical political transformation…some would say because of its reckless foray into Afghanistan in just a few short months.  America somehow thought its outcomes would be different and so Sgt. Bales was sent there on a 4th tour, injured and almost surely slightly insane.  Now he has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder; nothing done in defense of his country or even of his fellow troops on the battlefield but something he initiated on his own in the dead of night at which time he murdered men, women and children in their homes while they slept.

The US military, stretched to its limits in theaters all over the world fighting people who are not a threat to the American way of life, but called that because a politician or special interests says they are, is reassigning soldiers who are crippled (Sgt. Bates supposedly had part of his foot amputated because of injuries he received in Iraq) or suffering from debilitating emotional paralysis due to things they’ve experienced, seen or done in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These men and women simply are not getting the help they need to heal because the military has no time for their recuperation as it goes about the business of chasing ghosts.  So Bales and countless others are recycled endlessly within the military until they crack, die, retire or are replaced by others.  Bates cracked.

The American military is  desperately in need of being treated for this disease of endless war

Since the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the rate of Suicide among U.S. Army soldiers has soared, according to a new study from the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

The study, an analysis of data from the Army Behavioral Health Integrated Data Environment, shows a striking 80 percent increase in suicides among Army personnel between 2004 and 2008. The rise parallels increasing rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions in soldiers, the study said…..

“This study does not show that U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cause suicide,” said Dr. Michelle Chervak, one of the study’s authors, a senior epidemiologist at the U.S. Army Public Health Command. “This study does suggest that an Army engaged in prolonged combat operations is a population under stress, and that mental health conditions and suicide can be expected to increase under these circumstances.”

In other words we can expect more Bates in the near future…and if that’s not distressing enough, remember these men and women return to the shores of our country with the war parasite embedded into their being and if we’re lucky enough not to have them  act dishonorably, as Bates did, in Afghanistan or Iraq, that doesn’t spare us the possibility they might unleash their psychosis on us at home.

Sgt. Bales was doing what he was expected to do, not by the US military but by the people who  sent him there.  His job was to fill a slot and make it possible for US money to be funneled into it and into all the other slots occupied by American men and women who are manning military installations around the world.  The people who started this war and used as a rallying cry that it’s a war with no physical or time  boundaries are ultimately responsible for what happened the night Bates cracked and became homicidal. The truly tragic aspect to this all is, they’ve probably already replaced him with someone who is just as battered and bruised as he was.  It’s just a  matter of time before we will read about him or her.

Israeli hypocrisy


Israeli chutzpah is always amusing if not absolutely puzzling.  Take this latest Israeli reaction to what took place recently in France and France’s reaction  when European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton speaking at a conference on Palestinian refugees in Brussels on Monday, hours after the attack in Toulouse, France where 4 French Jews were killed, said this:

….The Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy, and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives.

…which apparently drove the Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu to the limits of hyperbole

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”

I guess he forgot his own history in regards to human shields.But what’s even more appalling is the inability of Netanyahu to empathize with even the children of Gazan who he has had a hand in slaughtering or imprisoning.

A new, important yet disturbing report published on Tuesday by Defence for Children International – Palestine section has found that Israel’s routine arrests, detentions, interrogations, abuses and torture of Palestinian children are in breach of various UN and international laws, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which have been ratified by Israel.

This is strangely reminiscent of America’s disregard for the conventions against torture that it signed and then reneged on during the Iraq war. Despite Netanyahu’s protestations in some ways he is correct.  There is no moral equivalence between the act of a single gunman and the wholesale slaughter of civilians by a military equipped with some of the most lethal weapons known to mankind. In fact, what the Israeli military has done in the name of wiping out terrorism is to institute terror on innocents on a scale unparalleled in modern warfare.  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel; imprisoning a population within well defined borders, not letting anything in or out except at the discretion of the Israeli government, the penalty for any transgression no matter how small or well intended being death and unleashing a military juggernaut against such a population whenever the national angst calls for it is no less than a crime against humanity…..all of humanity, which pales in comparison to the shooting deaths of four people by a madman on the streets that the victims felt comfortable traveling.  The citizens of Gaza have no such reassurance of safety on their streets.  Netanyahu is spared these images or ignores them; you shouldn’t be.But let’s just assume for the sake of argument that Netanyahu is correct and there is no comparison between what happened in France and what is happening on a regular basis in Gaza and the West Bank  (The latest Israeli strike has killed at least 23 people, some of them the children that Netanyahu scoffs at the mention of killing.) and that his cause is a noble one, ridding his country and the world of terrorists, then such logic must be extended to an insane gunman, Muhammad Merah who it is claimed acted in defense of those very Palestinian children killed by Netanyahu and ignored by the rest of the world.  Merah claims he was acting out of a sense of  justice for those innocents killed by Israel.  Acting without drones, satellite tracking or special weapons and tactics, Merah sought to bring to justice those people he felt were responsible for murdering Palestinians children in much the same way  Netanyahu slaughters people in the name of his justice.  The difference is the acceptance of the doctrine that Palestinians are terrorists and Jews are victims of their terror.  Merah’s rational, in that context, will never be acceptable to a free thinking  populace.  The fact that Netanyahu’s explanation is accepted means that in many ways we, especially those of us in the West, are NOT free to form an opinion vis-a-vis Israel’s abuse of human rights due to the lack of information and/or the slant and way it is given us…offering us no chance to form an unbiased opinion of it.  That perhaps is the biggest crime of all.

The Question to ask is….


why was George Zimmerman able to get either a license to carry a handgun, or more accurately, a concealed carry permit when he had been charged several times for offenses that would make him unable to qualify legally for the permit?!?!   It appears he got out of a conviction on the battery charge against a law enforcement officer; ‘by entering a pretrial-diversion program, something common for first-time offenders’.  He had a domestic violence charge ONE month later  leveled against him and an injunction followed but there  is no word in  the press about the disposition of that case. Despite these two brushes with the law Zimmerman was able to get a permit to carry a handgun?!  Something is wrong with that picture.  Perhaps he has a good ole boy permit taken with a wink and nod.  Check out the requirements one has to pass before they can legally carry a handgun in the state of Florida.  It’s clear that Zimmerman was a felon after his domestic violence dispute occurring one month after his resisting arrest charge.  Therefore, on the  night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman was a felon.

Conservatives always fall on the side of the right of citizens to legally own firearms.  Surprisingly, so does this progressive, who owns several of them himself.  Conservatives also say the laws we have on the books are enough and when it comes to firearm possession and crimes done with them, there’s no need for new ones and this progressive agrees with them especially regarding this case too.

So with regard to the death/murder of Martin the laws we have on the books are enough to charge Zimmerman with a capital offense, so let’s list them starting with the most severe to the least, shall we:

  1. capital murder-Zimmerman pursued Martin
  2. aggravated battery-a fight ensued which Zimmerman initiated
  3. aggravated assault-Zimmerman was carrying a firearm

There’s no need to charge him with a hate crime……there’s enough on his plate to put him away for the rest of his life.  What is troubling is the really lackadaisical police work of the Sanford Police Department that ignored evidence which pointed to Zimmerman’s guilt and exaggerated any piece of evidence which pointed to Martin’s responsibility in his own death.  There was nothing innocent about what Zimmerman did.  He preyed on and murdered Martin in cold blood, but with the complicit approval of the Sanford Police Department. It’s the latter that committed a hate crime….Zimmerman is simply a cold blooded murderer.

A tale of two faith based communities


American Atheists president David Silverman, left, wanted to erect billboards in a predominantly Muslim worshipping neighborhood and a Jewish neighborhood proclaiming his belief that there is no God and challenging the faiths of those two religions.  The response of the two faiths was dramatically different and the story is really in how they reacted.

Silverman wanted to put up a billboard written in Hebrew and English questioning Judaism in Williamsburg’s Hasidic community, a community in New York City that read, “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” but liberal New York and it’s traditionally liberal Jewish community would have none of it.  Attempts by the people who put up billboards were blocked by the owner of the building upon which the offending billboard would have been placed and that was just fine with some of the residents of the predominantly Jewish community.  Silverman a “former” Jew himself said he was surprised and shocked at the reception his plans received in the neighborhood…..but it was feigned indignation at best.  He knew, as a Jew what others in that community already know, ‘The name of god is very holy (to us and) to the whole world’ as it is with any religion.  Yet Silverman’s in your face approach to freedom of speech was denied among the residents of the area and even among some politicians.

‘(t)he content of the message is conveyed in a disrespectful manner…This does not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community,

said one NYC councilman, and he’s right, but freedom of expression is something we’ve been led to believe exists even if that speech is offensive to some.  Not so, say the residents of Williamsburg and members of the Hasidic community who’ve let others talk for them.  Ok, fine.

Silverman did put up a billboard in Paterson, NJ, a block away from the Islamic Center of Passaic County the largest place of worship for Muslims in that area.  The sign written in Arabic and English says:

but it seems to have angered more Christians than Muslims.  Even the writer of the article calls the billboard a “provocation” which is how the Christians in the community perceived it.  The fact that Silverman waited across the street from the mosque, not the nearest church,  to gauge Muslim reaction to his billboard further underscores that perception.  However, there was no noticeable outrage on the part of those who prayed at the  mosque and saw the billboard; rather their response seemed to emphasize that time honored right of freedom of expression.

“It’s a knock on the door,” Abdul Hamid, 40, said as he crouched to get his shoes after noon-time prayer at the Islamic Center of Passaic County. “If they want to come and have an open dialogue with us that’s great.”

Anes Labsiri, a 39-year-old plumber, said he was happy people can question religion in public.

“Some people might see it as a bad thing. I think it’s a good thing. I love that you have this freedom in this country,” said Labsiri…….

After prayer, the imam, Mohammad Qatanani, came outside to talk with Silverman, who was hanging around the neighborhood to watch for reactions to the sign.

The two discussed religion and tolerance; humanity and God.

“We have to accept everyone — we are all from dust and become dust,” Qatanani said. “Right?”

Silverman nodded his head, but added, “Well, yes, we’re all from raw matter.”

Silverman wants to be contrary and incendiary, no doubt, but he was not able to get the kind of reaction from Muslims that everyone has come to expect.  Perhaps maybe the reason is because it is a manufactured reaction that has no basis in reality, at least as far as the Muslim community in America is concerned.  In fact, Silverman’s billboards got the kind of reaction we’ve come to expect from Muslims from Jews and Christians whose outrage at his disrespect for their religious beliefs bordered on censorship and fury.  There has been no call yet, on the part of Muslim leaders, to stop Silverman from putting up his billboard, even  in his in-your-face confrontational manner in Muslim communities unlike other religious groups who  have actively opposed Silverman’s billboards. Is this an example of Muslims practicing good citizenship?  No doubt.  Is it an example of Christians and Jews practicing good citizenship?  No doubt. Two different responses to the same provocation.  Which one do you find admirable?

 

Iran and corporate media’s jaundice eye/ An UPDATE


There are forces at work that really want to see a war with Iran and  many of those forces are being encouraged by the duplicitous way main stream media has reported on the story of Iran and its perceived nuclear program. Dave Lindorff talked about that in his most recent pieceGoebbels Would Stand in Awe: The US Corporate News Media are Rank Propagandists on Iran.  Media never tires from war even though the rest of the country most likely has, so it appears they want to wake us from our war stupor to fight another

The sorry state of American journalism is on full display in the coverage by the corporate media of the ongoing crisis surrounding Iran’s nuclear fuel program.

The leaders of both Israel and the U.S. have publicly threatened to attack Iran — Israel saying it could do so within weeks, President Obama warning that he would consider attacking Iran militarily if he were convinced that that nation was building an atomic bomb.

Not once, in reporting on these threats of aggressive war by Israel and/or the United States, has any major U.S. news organization, in print or on the air, included any reference to the U.N. Charter or to the fact that what is being contemplated is an invasion by Israel or the United States of a country that has not even been shown to be producing or planning to produce a nuclear weapon, much less to be in possession of one. Not once, in any of these daily reports on the Iran “crisis,” has any report by these news organizations — including National Public Radio — interviewed a source who could point out that what is being discussed is the most serious of all war crimes: the crime against peace (the same crime that led to the hanging, after World War II, of several military leaders in Japan and Germany).

The law itself is crystal clear. Under the UN Charter it is the ultimate war crime for a nation to initiate an aggressive war against another country that has not attacked it or that does not pose an “imminent threat” of attack. And given that even Israeli and US intelligence officials concede that Iran is not at this time making a bomb, and thus cannot hope to have a working one even a year from now were they to begin a crash program, there is simply no imminent threat.

Even when a perfect opportunity arrived for making this point — a public statement Feb. 27 by Brazil’s Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, at the United Nations, reminding UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that an attack by Israel or the US on Iran would be “contrary to international law,” and urging Ban to address the issue — this trenchant and news-worthy warning was totally blacked out by the U.S. corporate news media.

There was no news report on Patriota’s warning in the Washington Post, the New York Times or other major newspapers. There was no mention of it on CNN or other major news stations either.

As far as most Americans go, the statement by the foreign minister of one of the world’s biggest nations, and a leader among the developing nations of the world, never happened.

Instead, the American news media have been running article after article, often on page one above the fold, or as the lead item on the hour, debating when Israel might attack Iran, whether the U.S. would come to Israel’s aid if it did attack, or if after it attacked, Iran retaliated by firing missiles at Israel, the US would join Israel. Even worse, the media have been running and airing stories quoting Pentagon sources and retired military personnel (often still on the Pentagon payroll) describing how an Israeli or a US attack on Iran would likely be conducted. All this without mentioning the criminality of it all.

It’s as though we were siting in Germany in 1938, reading articles in the local newspapers speculating about how Germany’s future attack on Poland would be conducted, or when and how the Blitzkrieg against the Low Countries would play out.

What we are getting is not news. It is propaganda. The Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, had he not killed himself to avoid capture and execution for war crimes by the Allies at the end of the war, would surely marvel at how his methods are being aped and refined by the media in one of his leading democratic enemies some seven decades after he put the German media in service to the Third Reich.

At least the Los Angeles Times belatedly, on March 5, ran an op-ed article by Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman making the point that a US attack on Iran would be both a war crime and a violation of US law. As he explains, since the US is a signatory of the UN Charter–a treaty ratified by the Senate — its provisions banning aggressive wars have become, under Article II of the US Constitution, an integral part of US law.

Ackerman notes that in 1981, when Israel unilaterally bombed and destroyed the Osirik nuclear reactor in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the US voted for a unanimous UN Security Council Resolution condemning that attack, and he quoted then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose country also voted for the resolution, as saying, “Armed attack in such circumstances cannot be justified. It represents a grave breach of international law.”

But why is such information as Ackerman’s only appearing on the L.A. Times opinion page?

Ackerman is an authority on international law at one of the pre-eminent law schools in the country. He should be getting quoted as an authority in news articles where attacking Iran is being discussed. What he says about the U.N. Charter and about a war of aggression being flat-out illegal is not an opinion. It is a fact. He and this important fact belong on the news pages.

Bad enough that he is being relegated by the editors of the Los Angeles Times to the opinion page ghetto, but he is being totally ignored by the editors of other major news organizations. He is too dangerous even for their opinion pages.

When this kind of thing happens, it is clear that what passes for mainstream journalism in the US is not really journalism at all. It is propaganda–in this case pro-Israel, pro-war propaganda. That’s why we see calls in the US media for Iran to submit to UN inspection of its entire nuclear program, while no similar demand is made of Israel, which has some 300 nuclear weapons, and which has never allowed in any inspectors.

There is no difference between the war-mongering coverage by the mainstream media with respect to Iran today and the war-mongering coverage we experienced in 1982-1983 in the run-up to another criminal war of aggression, the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq — another country that posed no imminent threat to the United States.

Fortunately Americans willing to make the effort do have other sources of news. They could read the alternative US media, like this publication or perhaps look abroad, say at the Irish News Beacon online, where Patriota’s statement was reported properly as significant news. Unfortunately, most Americans are content to passively receive their “news” as it is vetted, twisted and spoon-fed to them from the corporate propaganda machine, though. This may explain why polls show more than 50 percent of Americans to be in support of a campaign to bomb Iran, while only 19 percent of Israelis, who still have real newspapers and real journalists at least, want to do the same thing.

Here’s more reasoning that you won’t read in corporate media about Iran and the supposed nuclear threat

The assumption that a short war of limited strikes will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is flawed. Damage to Iran’s nuclear program from such a strike would be modest, likely requiring more strikes in another few years or a longer-term presence on the ground.

James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, said an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would set back its nuclear program by one to two years. U.S. military action every few years is an unmanageable strategy.

Worse, attempts to stop Iran’s program militarily will bolster its resolve to pursue a nuclear deterrent. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the military solution will make Iranians “absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons.” He continued, “… they will just go deeper and more covert.”

but what such a strike WILL do is plunge the area into further turmoil for another decade while depleting US military manpower, America’s financial coffers and her reputation throughout the world because of our inability to say no to a recalcitrant ally bent on the destruction of all those who say “no” to her.

 

A Personal Musing


A country’s greatness is not measured by how much liberty it offers people, how well it enforces its laws or exports successfully its ideology; rather a great society or country is measured by how well it preserves human life for its citizens as well as for the rest of human kind. This preservation is not limited to any one group of people, or boundary, but rather for all.  That said, I recently heard about a close personal friend’s spouse whose entire body at a relatively young age……somewhere in their late fifties is ravaged with the scourge of cancer.

The very word “cancer” is an attention getter for me.  It plagued my mother to her own untimely death….as if death at any time is timely, although I think for her after the torment it put her through she certainly welcomed it, and it causes me a certain amount of angst, uneasiness because of how it completely wrecks the body and the soul as it runs its course through our veins.  It is a disease  like no other…it attacks, it seems at random anyone.  Sure there are some cancers that can be prevented or at least diminished because of how we choose to live…..lung cancer comes to mind.  Cigarette smoking is usually seen as a major risk factor for that kind of cancer and it’s said some manifestations of cervical cancer can be prevented by avoiding sexual contact with an HPV infected partner, but the other cancers that strike at random, pancreatic the cancer that killed Steve Jobs and the gender related cancers of breast and prostate have taken an enormous toll on humanity, the geniuses among us as well as our loved ones and we seem to be mere spectators in the game.

I for one am angry at “leaders” who seem all to inclined to wage war with humanity, one group or race or ethnicity or nationality against the other and not wage war against a far more common enemy like cancer.  If we look at all the hue and cry about HIV, which was deserved by the way, and how far human kind has come in prolonging the lives of those who are infected with the AIDS virus, offering them an excellent quality of life, indeed life almost in the way they knew before being infected, we should take pause and pat ourselves and those institutions responsible for this success on the back.  Perhaps you know of someone who died because they were HIV positive….my personal hero, Arthur Ashe was one of those and I wish he was around to see and benefit from what human kind has accomplished.  That is an example of what we can do….all of us in beating a disease, by finding the cure, treating the disease and offering a good quality of life while afflicted with it, and by changing those factors and lifestyles that are risk factors for the disease.

So where are our leaders who are challenging all of us, the entire international community, to do the same with cancer?  Why are they talking about infringing on the rights and the bodies of people and not talking about how we must cure sick bodies?!  Why is there such preoccupation with what people can’t do with their bodies and not an equally ardent desire to see that their bodies remain healthy and disease free, even if that means at the government’s expense?  Before man reached the moon, we were challenged by John Kennedy and given parameters toward that goal.  Thereafter ensued a competition between America and Russia…conducted without the bloodshed of territorial expansionism that exists between nation states for a common good…and it doesn’t matter who won.  Later on as we’ve seen, other countries joined in to expand space discovery and to cooperate in it.  That took courage and a national determination or will to see it to completion along with leadership that set forth the challenge and provided the environment for the country to respond.  Where is that leadership today?

This is not a political rant, however, it’s a personal one.  Leadership cannot help my friend’s spouse now….they lay dying in their home while their partner spends thousands of dollars each month for something that for now doesn’t exist, and my question is why doesn’t it?  A country like ours which has everything materially at its disposal cannot find a cure for a disease that plagues us on the microscopic level?  I laugh at the notion. Certainly it can, but it will take courage and leadership and a recognition that finding this cure is urgent and of paramount importance.  It may mean reducing war inspired rhetoric and forays into foreign lands, or at least removing such talk from the national discourse.  That seems like such an easy thing to do, but ask one of the presidential candidates if he is willing to do that and see how quickly he squirms.  Even medical cures are political footballs that get tossed around in an effort to avoid being dealt with.

I know we are better than this…..this country of immigrants which has gone on to do such great things for humanity, can find the cure for cancers if we make it a priority and that we must.  If we don’t and we allow thousands to die every year then we are losing our humanity, valuable human resource potential and will only descend further into the oblivion, a nation that had potential and greatness but lost it because we were too busy fighting one another and dreaming up ghosts to fight.  America is not being threatened, nor is its way of life at risk to any one ideology or group of people, but we are risking our humanity by plunging ourselves deeper into self annihilation with any talk other than what can benefit human health and potential.  Perhaps we should declare a moratorium on all political rhetoric but human health issues, with cancer being the first priority among them.  Meanwhile I hope your loved one can escape cancer; I pray for my friend’s spouse and for all others who are now battling this disease. One victory against  cancer is a victory for all of us.  I  hope we are around to celebrate that victory.

Stay healthy.

Passing away and a sign of the times


Media personality Andrew Breitbart gives a spe...

Image via Wikipedia

This post is not just about the death of Andrew Breitbart but it begins there.  No matter how he might be described someone will always take exception to what is written about him, such is the polarization that has taken place in 21st century America.  Rather this post is about just that polarity and how it has descended into an abyss that’s liable to destroy this country aided by those other foreign or enemies.

Breitbart made a name for himself touting Republican conservative causes in a way that has become typical of today’s GOP; mean spirited, slanderous, character assassination, guttural proclamations that neither reveal nor make clear but rather obfuscate and exacerbate.  He joined the chorus of those who want to pit one group of Americans against another for a political gain that benefited special interests but not the entire American fabric.  He took great delight in today’s in-your-face style of political confrontation when he was the one who confronted, but not very happy with that style of discourse when he was confronted.

When I heard of his passing, I thought about all these characteristics that made the man and despite them still could not take pleasure or “gloat” as it were in his death.  I reserve that only for those who commit atrocities on the order of mass murder live long lives and publicly relish their desecration of humanity until the second they die.  As far as I know Breitbart, albeit a grandstanding demagogue,  didn’t fit that mold so he escaped my condemnation, and I tweeted as much upon hearing the news of his death.

Juan Cole’s, Informed Comment, a suitable title for this particular story on Breitbart put things in perspective here where he neither deifies nor vilifies Breitbart but does accurately describe what it is he did in his relatively short life on the public stage.  I knew those things about him, that he was a con man a huckster, a liar and a cheat, but didn’t want to speak ill of him.  It is an American tradition not to speak badly about those who are dead.  One blogger, The Erstwhile Conservative  that I read regularly remarked he didn’t want to ‘become what it is he doesn’t like’,  and I understand that sentiment and agree.  However, I was smacked back down to reality when I read this article that Cole linked to in his post above where Breitbart remarked upon the death of Ted Kennedy that Kennedy was a villain, a duplicitous bastard, a prick mixed with other choice words for the Senator.  So much for speaking ill about the dead; such language was the trademark of Breitbart, it marked his tenor and in fact the modus operandi of people from the “Right”.

There is a ray of hope however in the news of Breitbart’s death and that comes from one of his victims, Shirley Sherrod, who was falsely maligned by Breitbart, the Obama Administration and many in America because of our habit of  pitting one group of people against another…..black vs. white, Jew vs. Gentile (and particularly Muslim Gentile), male vs female.  Sherrod, an African-American Department of Agriculture employee was featured in a video segment highlighted by Breitbart and  portrayed as a insensitive government bureaucrat who refused to do her job and help a white farmer.  The problem was that perception fueled by Breitbart’s edited video wasn’t even close to reality but it was only after Sherrod had been fired from her job and her reputation  in the national community maliciously sullied that the truth was known.  In today’s America, we shoot first and ask questions later, or we ‘kill them all and let God sort it out’…..we cliche ourselves into oblivion and in the process ruin lives of noble, decent people like Sherrod.  It was this victim of the deceased Breitbart’s way of doing things that restored my faith in humanity with two simple sentences about his death

The news of Mr. Breitbart’s death came as a surprise to me when I was informed of it this morning. My prayers go out to Mr. Breitbart’s family as they cope during this very difficult time.

Maybe it’s me, but that seems, coming from a real victim to be almost Christ like….Christian.  Sure, many have said the same thing, but very few if any of them were at the receiving end of Breitbart’s spear in the gut, his malicious assassination (character) that happened to Sherrod, yet while in the throes of her torment (she’s still pursuing a law suit against Breitbart) she was able to make a plea on behalf of his family and NOT speak ill of the dead father/husband/son.  That’s the American spirit we are sorely missing in today’s discourse.  Notice who’s leading the way in bringing it back America………..

 

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