Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Friedman has the sickening audacity to compare Israel’s Jewish settlers to Hamas

From Ukraine to the Middle East, some bad actors — Hamas, Vladimir Putin and Israeli settlers to name but a few…..

That’s how Thomas Friedman introduced, “And Now for a Bit of Good News…,” an op-ed that was published in Sunday’s New York Times. At first I could not believe what I read – Friedman comparing Israel’s Jewish settlers to Hamas.

Then again, I should not have been surprised. Friedman has long ago exposed himself as a Jewish Israel-hater. He has blamed the West Bank settlements for the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. He deliberately disregards the fact that long before the first settlement was ever built, the Palestinians were determined to drive the Jews into the sea. He deliberately disregards the fact that the Palestinians are merely using the settlements as an excuse for their refusal to agree to peace with the Jewish state.

Friedman has long excoriated Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli right, blaming them for Israel’s failure to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians. He agreed with the Obama administration when it blamed the impasse on the settlements. And he applauded his friend John Kerry for pressuring Israel to make suicidal concessions to its enemies. While Friedman savages Israel’s right, he supports Israel’s dovish left which wants to grovel at the feet of Palestinians in its eagerness to avoid any conflict no matter the cost.

Friedman has praised Mahmoud Abbas as a moderate who favors a two state solution - Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace. Friedman knows very well that nothing could be further from the truth. Unless he’s been hiding under a rock, Friedman has to be aware that Abbas has long spoken with a forked tongue. When he addresses the international community in English, he declares that he wants a two state solution. But time after time, whenever he speaks in Arabic, he declares there will be only one state from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea – a Palestinian state with no Jews allowed. And Friedman knows very well that other ‘moderate’ Palestinian leaders also keep making the same vows over and over again.

Now Friedman has hit a new low. How dare this Jewish Israel-hater compare Israel’s Jewish settlers to Hamas. In doing so, he stereotypes all settlers as extremists, which most of them are not. Sure there are extremists among the settlers just as there are extremists among the left. But to broad-brush the settlers as terrorists, which is what he is doing by comparing them with Hamas, is simply outrageous and absolutely unforgivable. He might as well have compared the settlers to the Nazis.

Friedman obviously thinks the 500,000 Israeli West Bank settlers are mad-dog extremists because they are unalterably opposed to the dismantlement of their homes. Apparently he cannot understand why the settlers do not want to be uprooted like the former settlers in Gaza were. Their strong commitment to maintain their homes does not make them extremists or terrorists as Friedman seems to think.

Thomas Friedman claims to be a friend of Israel. With friends like him, Israel sure as hell does not need any enemies!

Friedman is an embarrassment to the Jewish people. Nothing could be more outrageous than for him to compare Israel’s Jewish settlers to Hamas, an internationally recognized group of terrorists. As I said, Friedman might as well have compared the settlers to the Nazis. He obviously knows no bounds when it comes to denigrating his fellow Jews. The man really disgusts me!


When JaJuane Deshawn Etheridge lied about robbing an elderly couple of their puppy Harpo, Clackamas County Circuit Judge Susie Norby came forth with some poetic justice

On Monday, Clackamas County Circuit Judge Susie Norby found JaJuane Deshawn Etheridge, 24, guilty of robbery, theft, unlawful use of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Back in October 2012, James and Patricia Steele, a retired couple of English bulldog breeders, agreed to meet Etheridge in the parking lot of Clackamas Town Center where he was supposed to purchase Harpo, one of their bred puppies. When they met Etheridge he snatched Harpo, valued at $2,000, from them at gunpoint, telling them he would not hesitate to kill them. As the dognapper fled, James Steele was able to jot down his license number. Etheridge gave Harpo to his girlfriend Elizabeth Shaw as a birthday gift for her daughter. The gun he used to rob the retired couple belonged to Shaw who had purchased it for protection.

As Shaw, her daughter and Etheridge were watching television, a TV news reporter described the dognapping. Shaw promptly called the cops and after a three-hour standoff with a SWAT unit, the asshole surrendered. The cops found Harpo stuffed in a suitcase when they searched Shaw’s apartment. They found the dognapper’s car nearby. And later, investigators found one of his fingerprints on Shaw’s gun.

In the face of such overwhelming evidence, Etheridge told Judge Norby that he had been set up. He claimed not to have been at the Town Center parking lot that day. He said he asked some friends to get him a dog that he could sell to his girlfriend. He said that when his friends told Shaw, she gave them her gun and suggested they use it to rob the Steeles of Harpo.

While he was in jail, the authorities taped a number of phone calls he made to Shaw in which he kept pressuring her to not cooperate with police, to deny knowing the dog was stolen and not to testify against him. Against the advice of his attorney, the idiot insisted that the phone calls be introduced into evidence at his trial.

Judge Susie got a bit miffed at Jajuane over his obvious lies. The Oregonian quoted the judge as follows:

"We do not have ... any reasonable alternative explanation for the many incriminating circumstances that converged against him. The inescapable conclusion from the many phone calls and the absurdity of the defendent's testimony on the witness stand is that (Etheridge) will tell any lie, to anyone, at any time, to try to get out of the consequences of his actions."

Before pronouncing Jajuane guilty, Judge Susie bestowed the following poem on the lying dognapper:

You lied and lied; I can't put that aside.
It was your car; you went too far.
You hid the pup; the jig was up.
You got rid of the gun; your game is done.

Etheridge will be sentenced on August 1. Steve Mayes of the Oregonian believes Judge Norby will deal harshly with the sorry asshole when she sentences him. Mayes penned the following poem:

The defendant should expect the worst.
That much was made clear from the first.
The judge's words were dire.
You sir, she said, are a liar.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who on Thursday used a prohibited choke hold on arrest-resisting Eric Garner while trying to subdue the 350 pound man, was stripped on Saturday of his badge and gun

When NY cops spotted Eric Garner selling untaxed cigarettes Thursday while out on bail for three prior illegal cigarette sales arrests, the man who weighs between 350 and 400 pounds told the cops he was not going to let them arrest him. As the attempted place him in custody, he resisted arrest by swinging his arms at them. Officer Daniel Pantaleo managed to get behind Garner and place him in a choke hold. As he was brought down, another officer sat down on him. Garner repeatedly said he could not breathe before passing out. He died of a heart attack on the way to a hospital.

Since Garner was black and the arresting officers were white, there was an immediate uproar in the black community with Al Sharpton leading a large but peaceful demonstration.

Bill de Blasio, New York’s Sandinista-loving mayor, got elected by promising the city’s black and Latino communities he would change the NYPD to satisfy their complaints about police mistreatment. De Blasio said he found a video of the arrest “very troubling” and even postponed a family vacation to Italy because of the incident.

It did not take long for NYPD to act on de Blasio’s reaction to the tragedy. Pantaleo, an eight-year veteran, was put on desk duty Saturday and stripped of his badge and gun in an obvious political rush to judgment.

According to CNN, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch called Pantaleo's reassignment "a completely unwarranted, kneejerk reaction for political reasons." He said the move "effectively pre-judges this case and denies the officer the very benefit of a doubt that has long been part of the social contract that allows police officers to face the risks of this difficult and complex job."

Public records show Eric Garner was out on $4,000 bond or $2,000 cash bail for three criminal cases, all involving charges of possession and sale of untaxed cigarettes, from arrests in May, March and last August. In the August case, police also charged him with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, false personation and marijuana possession.

But according to Newsday, the Rev. Lloyd Land, of the First United Christian Church, described Garner as a "gentle giant" and said, "This guy was nobody's drug dealer. He doesn't drink liquor. He doesn't do drugs. What he does is he sells cigarettes. He sells cigarettes, 50 cents apiece. That's how he makes a living."

Since NYPD banned the use of choke holds several years ago, Pantaleo is toast. He’ll not only be canned, but you can expect him to face criminal charges for Garner’s death. It doesn’t help Pantaleo that within the past two years, three men sued him in federal court, accusing him of making unlawful, racially-motivated arrests. Other officers taking part in Garner’s arrest are likely to face suspensions.

OK, so NYPD has banned choke holds. I seriously doubt Pantaleo even thought about or deliberately violated the ban, but resorted instead to the choke hold as a reflex reaction to a huge man resisting arrest. Now, will someone please ask de Blasio to say how he expects the cops to subdue a man resisting arrest who weighs between 350 and 400 pounds.

And will someone also tell the NYPD brass and the district attorney not to make Pantaleo the victim of a black community's outrage and a political rush to judgment.


Israel’s military actions are loudly protested, while European and American military actions hardly create a ripple

Brendan O’Neill, the editor of Spiked, points out the double standard held by the world against the Israeli military. He says “it is now becoming very difficult to tell where anti-Zionism ends and anti-Semitism begins. Both are about finding one thing in the world, whether it’s a wicked state or a warped people, against which the rest of us might rage and pin the blame for every political problem on Earth.”

The line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism gets thinner every day

By Brendan O’Neill

July 15, 2014

Why are Western liberals always more offended by Israeli militarism than by any other kind of militarism? It’s extraordinary. France can invade Mali and there won’t be loud, rowdy protests by peaceniks in Paris. David Cameron, backed by a whopping 557 members of parliament, can order airstrikes on Libya and British leftists won’t give over their Twitterfeeds to publishing gruesome pics of the Libyan civilians killed as a consequence. President Obama can resume his drone attacks in Pakistan, killing 13 people in one strike last month, and Washington won’t be besieged by angry anti-war folk demanding ‘Hands off Pakistan’. But the minute Israel fires a rocket into Gaza, the second Israeli politicians say they’re at war again with Hamas, radicals in all these Western nations will take to the streets, wave hyperbolic placards, fulminate on Twitter, publish pictures of dead Palestinian children, publish the names and ages of everyone ‘MURDERED BY ISRAEL’, and generally scream about Israeli ‘bloodletting’. (When the West bombs another country, it’s ‘war’; when Israel does it, it’s ‘bloodletting’.)

Anyone possessed of a critical faculty must at some point have wondered why there’s such a double standard in relation to Israeli militarism, why missiles fired by the Jewish State are apparently more worthy of condemnation than missiles fired by Washington, London, Paris, the Turks, Assad, or just about anyone else on Earth. Parisians who have generally given a Gallic shrug as French troops have basically retaken Francophone Africa, stamping their boots everywhere from the Central African Republic to Mali to Cote d’Ivoire over the past two years, turned out in their thousands at the weekend to condemn Israeli imperialism and barbarism. Americans who didn’t create much fuss last month when the Obama administration announced the resumption of its drone attacks in Pakistan gathered at the Israeli Embassy in Washington to yell about Israeli murder. (Incredibly, they did this just a day after a US drone attack, the 375th such attack in 10 years, killed at least six people in Pakistan. But hey, Obama-led militarism isn’t as bad as Israeli militarism, and dead Pakistanis, unlike dead Palestinians, don’t deserve to have their photos, names and ages published by the concerned liberals of Twitter.) Meanwhile, hundreds of very angry Brits gathered at the Israeli Embassy in London, bringing traffic to a standstill, clambering on to buses, yelling about murder and savagery, in furious, colourful scenes that were notable by their absence three years ago when Britain sent planes to pummel Libya.

Such are the double standards over Israel, so casually entrenched is the idea that Israeli militarism is more bloody and insane than any other kind of militarism, that many Western liberals now call on their own rulers to condemn or even impose sanctions against Israel. That is, they want the invaders and destroyers of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere to rap Israel’s knuckles for bombing Gaza. It’s like asking a great white shark to tell off a seal for eating a fish. America must ‘rein in Israel’, we are told. ‘The international community should intervene to restrain Israel’s army’, says a columnist for the Guardian, and by ‘international community’ he means ‘a meeting of the UN Security Council’ – the Security Council whose permanent members are the US, UK and France, who have done so much to destabilise and devastate vast swathes of the Middle East and North Africa over the past decade; Russia, whose recent military interventions in Georgia and Chechnya suggest it is hardly a devotee of world peace; and China, which might not invade other countries but is pretty adept at brutally suppressing internal dissent. On what planet could nations whose warmongering makes the current assault on Gaza look like a tea party in comparison seriously be asked to ‘rein in’ Israel? On a planet on which Israel is seen as different, as worse than all others, as more criminal and rogue-like than any other state.

The double standards were perfectly summed up last week in the response to an Israeli writer who said in the UK Independent that Israel’s attack on Gaza and its ‘genocidal rhetoric’ made her want to burn her Israeli passport. She got a virtual pat on the back from virtually every British activist and commentator who thinks of him or herself as decent. She was hailed as brave. Her article was shared online thousands of times. This was ‘common sense from one Jew’, people tweeted. No one stopped to wonder if maybe they should have burned their British passports after Yugoslavia in 1999, or Afghanistan in 2001, or Iraq in 2003, where often more civilians were killed in one day than have been killed by Israel over the past week. Why should Israel’s bombing of Gaza induce such shame in Israeli citizens (or Jews, as some prefer) that burning their passports is seen as a perfectly sensible and even laudable course of action whereas it’s perfectly okay to continue bounding about the world on a British passport despite the mayhem unleashed by our military forces over the past decade? Because Israel is different; it’s worse; it’s more criminal.

Of course, Western double standards on Israel have been around for a while now. They can be seen not only in the fact that Israeli militarism makes people get out of bed and get angry in a way that no other form of militarism does, but also in the ugly boycotting of everything Israeli, whether it’s academics or apples, in a way that the people or products of other militaristic or authoritarian regimes are never treated. But during this latest Israeli assault on Gaza, we haven’t only seen these double standards come back into play – we have also witnessed anti-Israel sentiment becoming more visceral, more emotional, more unhinged and even more prejudiced than it has ever been, to such an extent that, sadly, it is now becoming very difficult to tell where anti-Zionism ends and anti-Semitism begins.

So in the latest rage against Israel, it isn’t only the Israeli state or military that have come in for some loud flak from so-called radicals – so have the Israeli people, and even the Jews. In Paris on Sunday, what started as a protest against Israel ended with violent assaults on two synagogues. In one, worshippers had to barricade themselves inside as anti-Israel activists tried to break their way in using bats and planks of wood, some of them chanting ‘Death to Jews!’. Some have tried to depict such racist behaviour as a one-off, a case of immigrants in France losing control. But on that big demo at the Israeli Embassy in London last week some attendees held placards saying ‘Zionist Media Cover Up Palestinian Holocaust’, a clear reference to the familiar anti-Semitic trope about Jews controlling the media. On an anti-Israel protest in the Netherlands some Muslim participants waved the black ISIS flag and chanted: ‘Jews, the army of Muhammad is returning.’

In the virtual world, too, the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has become blurrier during this latest Gaza conflict. When a Danish journalist published a photo of what he claimed to be a group of Israelis in Sderot eating popcorn while watching Israeli missiles rain on Gaza, it became a focal point of fury with Israelis – every newspaper published the pic and Amnesty tweeted about it – and it generated the expression of some foul views. Israelis (not Israel in this case) are ‘disgraceful’, ‘murderous, racist’, ‘inhuman scum’, ‘pigs’, etc, said angry tweeters. It wasn’t long before actual bona fide anti-Semites were getting in on this rage against Israeli people, with one racist magazine publishing the Sderot picture under the headline ‘Rat-Faced Israeli Jews Cheer and Applaud Airstrikes on Gaza Strip’. The speed with which what purported to be an anti-war sentiment aimed at Israel became a warped fury with Israeli people, and the ease with which demonstrations against Israeli militarism became slurs against or physical attacks on Jews, suggests there is something extremely unwieldy about fashionable anti-Israel sentiment, something that allows it to slip, sometimes quite thoughtlessly, from being a seemingly typical anti-war cry to being something much uglier, prejudiced and ancient in nature.

Such is the visceral nature of current anti-Israel sentiment that not only is the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism becoming harder to see – so is the line between fact and fiction. As the BBC has reported, the wildly popular hashtag #GazaUnderAttack, which has been used nearly 500,000 times over the past eight days to share shocking photographs of the impact of Israel’s assault on Gaza, is extremely unreliable. Some of the photos being tweeted (and then retweeted by thousands of other people) are actually from Gaza in 2009. Others show dead bodies from conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Yet all are posted with comments such as, ‘Look at Israel’s inhumanity’. It seems the aim here is not to get to the truth of what is happening in Gaza but simply to rage, to yell, to scream, to weep about what Israel is doing (or not doing, as the case may be), and the more publicly you weep, the better, for it allows people to see how sensitive you are to Israeli barbarism. It’s about unleashing some visceral emotion, which means such petty things as accuracy and facts count for little: the expression of the emotion is all that matters, and any old photo of a dead child from somewhere in the Middle East – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon – will suffice as a prop for one’s public emotionalism.

How has this happened? How has opposing Israeli militarism gone from being one facet of a broader anti-imperialist position, as it was in the 1980s, to being the main, and sometimes only, focus of those who claim to be anti-war? Why does being opposed to Israel so often and so casually tip over into expressions of disgust with the Israeli people and with the Jews more broadly? It’s because, today, rage with Israel is not actually a considered political position. It is not a thought-through take on a conflict zone in the Middle East and how that conflict zone might relate to realpolitik or global shifts in power. Rather, it has become an outlet for the expression of a general feeling of fury and exhaustion with everything - with Western society, modernity, nationalism, militarism, humanity. Israel has been turned into a conduit for the expression of Western self-loathing, Western colonial guilt, Western self-doubt. It has been elevated into the most explicit expression of what are now considered to be the outdated Western values of militaristic self-preservation and progressive nationhood, and it is railed against and beaten down for embodying those values. It is held responsible, not simply for repressing the Palestinian desire for statehood, but for continuing to pursue virtues that we sensible folk in the rest of the West have apparently outgrown and for consequently being the source of war and terrorism not only in the Middle East but pretty much everywhere. A poll of Europeans discovered that most now consider Israel to be the key source of global instability.

This is where we can see what the new anti-Zionism shares in common with the old anti-Semitism: both are about finding one thing in the world, whether it’s a wicked state or a warped people, against which the rest of us might rage and pin the blame for every political problem on Earth.


By Bob Walsh

PACOVILLA Corrections blog
July 21, 2014

A California appeals court has upheld the conviction of a San Francisco man who was convicted of felony reckless driving for the operation of a bicycle that resulted in the death of a pedestrian.

Craig Bucchere, 37, a soft-ware engineer, is said to have blown through three red lights on March 29 of 2012 before running down Sutchi Jui, 71, of San Bruno in a crosswalk at Castro and Market. Depending on who you ask the light was either yellow or red when Bucchere entered the intersection.

Bucchere pleaded guilty to a felony before trial. He had no previous criminal record and got three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service.

A similar case that is going through the system is a man driving a bicycle with the brakes removed who was also stinking drunk who ran down and seriously injured a pedestrian in Los Angeles.


The Unconventional Gazette
July 21, 2014

According to the Daily Mail, an unidentified man listed all the excuses on the internet that his wife gave during the month of June in turning him down for sex. Sound familiar anyone?

I’m watching the show. (Friends rerun)

I feel sweaty and gross. I need a shower (didn’t shower till next morning)

I’m exhausted.

I’m still a bit tender from yesterday.

I’m trying to watch the movie. (fell asleep 15 minutes later)

I’m too drunk.

I ate too much.

I won’t have time to get showered and ready for dinner. (we were 20 minutes early)

I just came back from the gym. I feel gross. (didn’t shower till next morning)

I have to be up early.

You’re too drunk.

I’m not feeling good.

I’m too tired.

I might be getting sick.

I still don’t feel 100 percent.

I’m watching my show. I don’t want to miss anything.

Monday, July 21, 2014


"While I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza. I condemn this atrocious action.”

So spoke U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday in Doha, Qatar. There’s no surprise here since the U.N. has long been hostile toward Israel. It’s just one more way for the U.N., as represented by Ban, to side with the Palestinians.

Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiya called the killings a massacre and told Ban that Israel must not be allowed to choose when to wage a war and when to stop. "We condemn all the atrocities perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people, the last of which was al-Shejaia massacre today," al-Attiya said. "The majority of the victims were women and children."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the Israeli offensive an "unbearable" situation and said, "The U.N. security council has failed to protect Palestinians and I call on the council to hold an emergency meeting today to protect Palestinians... what Israel did today is crime against humanity."

Meanwhile President Obama appeared to be backing off his strong support for Israel’s actions. In a telephone call on Sunday, Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that he has serious concerns about the “increasing Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza.” That sure sounds like he’s having second thoughts about Israel’s efforts in trying to stop the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

And Secretary of State John Kerry is also upset over Palestinian casualties. Not knowing his mike was turned on while appearing Sunday on Fox’s Chris Wallace news show, Kerry sarcastically mocked Israel’s ground offensive by telling an aide in a cellphone conversation, "It’s a helluva pinpoint operation. It’s a helluva pinpoint operation." Apparently Kerry is beginning to turn a blind eye to the rocket launchers and rocket supplies that Hamas has placed in the midst of Gaza’s civilians. Either that, or Kerry is ignorant of the fact there will be civilian casualties in urban warfare.

Atrocious? I’ll tell you what’s atrocious. The firing of thousands of rockets by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza at Israeli civilians, that’s atrocious. The firing of those rockets from the grounds of Palestinian homes, schools, hospitals and Mosques, that’s atrocious. Hamas telling Palestinians to stay in place after Israel warned them to evacuate their neighborhoods, that’s atrocious. And the use of human shields by Hamas - now that is really atrocious.

What do Ban, Abbas and al-Attiya expect of Israel? It sounds as if they expect Israel to just ignore the thousands of rockets that have been raining down on Israel and falling as far north as Tel Aviv and Haifa. And would Ban, Abbas and al-Attiya have denounced the Israeli civilian casualties that would have occurred except for the success of the Iron Dome defensive missile system? You can bet your life they would not have called that atrocious.

Israel finds itself in a no-win situation. If it caves in to international pressure by prematurely ending its attacks on Gaza, not only will Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to have the capability of firing rockets at Israel, but the Muslim world will see it as a great victory for Hamas. If it continues with its Gaza campaign, the whole world will brand Israel’s military and civilian leaders as bloodthirsty war criminals and judge the Jewish state guilty of committing genocide against the Palestinian people.


A Michigan woman has been released on bail after being convicted of shooting her married lover of 15 years because she got ‘pissed off’ when he did not perform adequately during sex

Sadie Bell, 58, of Southfield, Michigan had a 15-year affair with Edward Lee, 60, her married lover. On July 28, 2013, Sadie and Ed were in the sack having sex at her apartment. Apparently Ed was petered out because he barely ejaculated. That led Sadie to believe ole Ed was cheating on her. So, a pissed off Sadie got her gun and shot poor Ed in his tummy.

Ed spent five weeks in the hospital and underwent major surgeries for damage to his pancreas, colon, liver and kidney.

According to Oakland County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Paul Walton, “She stated that she knew he was having an affair because he wasn’t producing enough ejaculate. She also said to the police some very graphic things about how she expected him to perform, she was a cheap date, she liked sex, she expected him to be able to do what he’s promised; and she said, in essence, to quote her, she was pissed off, so she shot him.”

In April, Sadie was convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and received a sentence of 20 months to 10 years, plus another two years on a gun possession charge. Her attorney informed the court that he will appeal her conviction and asked that she be released on bail. The court granted the request and Sadie was released Thursday on $10,000 bail.

Walton had opposed her release on bail. He contended that Sadie was a risk to the public because, in addition to shooting Ed, back in 1991 she also shot her then husband. No charges were brought against her in that shooting because her husband refused to testify against her.

I think this case should make the Annals of Criminal Justice. Here we have a woman who got pissed off because a 60-year old fart that was cheating on his wife cheated on her.


Cynthia Robinson sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and was awarded $16,8 million in compensatory damages plus $23.6 in punitive damages for the 1996 lung cancer death of her chain smoking husband

I just do not believe this award will hold up. If the trial judge does not drastically reduce the punitive damages award, an appellate court will surely do it. I have to agree with Reynolds’ attorney when he said,” This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness.”

By Jennifer Kay

Associated Press
July 19, 2014

MIAMI -- A Florida jury has slammed a tobacco company with $23.6 billion in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996.

The case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict. That ruling also said smokers and their families need only prove addiction and that smoking caused their illnesses or deaths.

The damages a Pensacola jury awarded Friday to Cynthia Robinson after a four-week trial come in addition to $16.8 million in compensatory damages.

Robinson individually sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 2008 on behalf of her late husband, Michael Johnson Sr. Her attorneys said the punitive damages are the largest of any individual case stemming from the original class action lawsuit.

"The jury wanted to send a statement that tobacco cannot continue to lie to the American people and the American government about the addictiveness of and the deadly chemicals in their cigarettes," said one of the woman's attorneys, Christopher Chestnut.

Reynolds' vice president and assistant general counsel, Jeffery Raborn, called the damages in Robinson's case "grossly excessive and impermissible under state and constitutional law."

"This verdict goes far beyond the realm of reasonableness and fairness, and is completely inconsistent with the evidence presented," Raborn said. "We plan to file post-trial motions with the trial court promptly, and are confident that the court will follow the law and not allow this runaway verdict to stand."

The lawsuit's goal was to stop tobacco companies from targeting children and young people with their advertising, said Willie Gary, another attorney representing Robinson.

"If we don't get a dime, that's OK, if we can make a difference and save some lives," Gary said.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away cigarette manufacturers' appeals of more than $70 million in court judgments to Florida smokers. Reynolds, Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. had wanted the court to review cases in which smokers won large damage awards without having to prove that the companies sold a defective and dangerous product or hid the risks of smoking.

Sunday, July 20, 2014




As in all cases where blacks die at the hands of the police, Al Sharpton is quick to take advantage of such publicity evoking incidents

In the blink of an eye, Rev. Al Sharpton shows up to demand justice for Eric Garner who died while resisting arrest. But can charlatan Sharpton answer this question: How do the cops subdue a man resisting arrest who weighs between 350 and 400 pounds?

Public records show Eric Garner was out on $4,000 bond or $2,000 cash bail for three criminal cases, all involving charges of possession and sale of untaxed cigarettes, from arrests in May, March and last August. In the August case, police also charged him with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, false personation and marijuana possession. But the Rev. Lloyd Land, of the First United Christian Church, described Garner as a "gentle giant" and said, "This guy was nobody's drug dealer. He doesn't drink liquor. He doesn't do drugs. What he does is he sells cigarettes. He sells cigarettes, 50 cents a piece. That's how he makes a living."

NYPD has banned the use of chokeholds. With Sandinista-loving Mayor De Blasio’s vow to change NYPD, the officer who administered the chokehold is toast. He’ll not only be canned, but you can expect him to face criminal charges in the death of Garner. The other officers taking part in the arrest are likely to face suspensions.

By Matthew Chayes

July 19, 2014

Allies of Bill de Blasio said Saturday that a man's death after an officer used a banned chokehold would show whether the mayor can deliver on campaign rhetoric to change the NYPD.

The police department is under fire after an amateur video showed officers attempting to arrest Eric Garner, 43, of Staten Island on Thursday on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.

De Blasio, who rode to electoral victory on a wave of deep dissatisfaction in black and Latino communities about their treatment by police, called the video "very troubling." It shows an officer coming from behind to put Garner in a chokehold banned years ago by the NYPD, and Garner's head being slammed to the pavement. He is heard repeatedly whimpering, "I can't breathe."

Garner was adamant that he did not want to be arrested.

"Let me tell you. This is going to be a real test to see where policies are in the city now, and whether the change that we feel has occurred, has occurred," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who led rallies Saturday at his Harlem headquarters and on Staten Island.

Said Public Advocate Letitia James: "This case will test our mettle as a city -- and as progressives."

De Blasio, who postponed his family vacation to Italy one day to deal with the uproar, spoke by telephone with Garner's widow, Esaw Garner, and mother, Gwen Carr, Saturday, said mayoral spokeswoman Marti Adams.

"He reassured the family that the city is doing everything possible to ensure a full and thorough investigation," Adams said.

"The issue is not whether one was selling cigarettes," Sharpton said. "The issue was how an unarmed man was subjected to a chokehold and the result is he is no longer with us."

As Sharpton spoke, Esaw Garner's knees buckled and Sharpton helped support her. She and Carr, also visibly distraught, had to be led away.

Garner's funeral is to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bethel Baptist Church, on Bergen Street, in Brooklyn.

De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said that a final determination of any breaking of the law would be made after an investigation by the Staten Island district attorney. But Saturday, Sharpton suggested that undue influence by the police union could undermine an investigation. "I have very serious questions," Sharpton said.

Douglas Auer, a spokesman sent a statement from Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan: "My office is working along with the NYPD to do a complete and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Garner's death."

The NYPD Saturday identified Daniel Pantaleo as the officer who put Garner in the chokehold and said he had been placed on desk duty. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association blasted the move as "a completely unwarranted, knee-jerk reaction for political reasons and nothing more."


Civil libertarians argue that DPS does not have the right to fingerprint everyone who comes in to renew their driver’s licenses or applies for a new one. Alarmists argue that thieves could steal fingerprint records and use them to access credit and bank accounts, medical records and other personal information.

By Jon Cassidy

July 19, 2014

Last month, the Texas Department of Public Safety started collecting full sets of fingerprints from every Texan who comes into their offices for a new driver's license or a renewal.

But the regulation that DPS adopted for this new policy didn't take effect until July 6. The department may have jumped the gun, but that's the least of the legal trouble it may get into with this policy, which includes uploading the prints to a criminal history database.

The department's lawyers insist the new rule is authorized by existing law. That law, however, was passed almost 10 years ago and has never been interpreted like this.

Scott Henson, who covered the debate 10 years ago for his widely read criminal justice blog, Grits for Breakfast, says Texas lawmakers had no such intention. In fact, when the idea was put to a vote during the 78th Legislature, it was rejected by the state House, 111-26.

"I remember when that law passed and thought we [privacy advocates] won," he wrote in an email Thursday. "Can't believe they're pretending that was permission to do this. [Jon] Cassidy's depiction of the original intent — thumbprint OR index finger — is definitely how I remember it ending."

The Department of Public Safety is using a stray reference to "fingerprints" in the legislation as proof that they're allowed to collect sets of fingerprints. As I pointed out Wednesday, the reference to fingerprints, plural, exists because of a requirement that driver's license applications "include: 1) the thumbprints of the applicant or, if thumbprints cannot be taken, the index fingerprints of the applicant."

For those who shrug their shoulders, figuring they're not criminals so the intrusion is unlikely to affect them, Henson points to a "grave risk" in biometric recordkeeping that's easy to overlook.

"If biometrics become a standard form of ID that can unlock things like access to bank accounts, public benefits, or even the ballot box, they become just another piece of valuable data waiting for a thief to steal," he writes. "If my credit card number is stolen, I can get it changed with some trouble. But if someone figures out how to fake my fingerprint or my iris scan to access my credit, my bank account, medical data, or other personal information, how can anyone ever return what's been taken from me?"


It did not take long for the conspiracy theorists to crawl out of the woodworks with their take on the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Here are some of the theories put forth:

Obama did it: President Obama intended to kill Putin, but the missile shot by the U.S. hit another plane that was near the flight path of the Russian leader’s plane.

The CIA did it: No explanation is necessary since the CIA always does it.

The Illuminati did it: The secret society shot down the plane as part of their plot to establish a new world order. The Illuminati chose Flight MH17 because of its links to the number seven. It was a Boing 777 that made its maiden flight on July 17, 1997, exactly 17 years ago to the day. July is the seventh month of 2014 and by adding up 2+0+1+4 you get seven.

Christine Lagarde did it: The managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) used the occult to down the plane. She gave a speech on numerology to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. last January in which she emphasized the number seven. More of that Illuminati numerology crap.

This Malaysian Airlines plane was actually the same one that disappeared over the Indian Ocean last March: The theorists do not explain how this could happen.

The Jews did it to start World War III: No explanation is necessary since the Jews are always blamed.

The Rothschilds did it: More of those damn Jews. The theorists believe the Rosthschilds downed the plane over something to do with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Development Bank and the end of the U.S. dollar.

The Zionists did it: The Zionists, more of those damn Jews, had the plane shot down as part of their plot to control the world. The Arabs must love this theory.

The Israelis did it to draw attention away from their slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza: Still more of those damn Jews. The Israeli’s shot the plane down shortly after they killed four little Palestinian boys playing on a Gaza beach and a day before their ground forces invaded Gaza.

The passports of victims pictured in the news were planted at the crash scene: The pictured passports were in such ‘pristine’ conditions that there is no way they could have been on the plane when it crashed.

CNN did it to increase its ratings: CNN increased its ratings with extensive coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370’s disappearance over the Indian Ocean. CNN had Flight MH7 shot down so that extensive coverage of this tragedy would further increase the network’s ratings.

As far as I'm concerned, the last one cannot be topped!

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Regardless of who fired the missile, if it was a missile that downed Flight MH17, the 298 passengers and crew aboard were victims of a power struggle between the U.S. and Russia

The Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR lasted from 1945 to 1980. It was ‘fought’ for the domination of international affairs. That power struggle led to, among other ‘battles’, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, Hungary and the Berlin Wall. In the end, the Soviet Union disintegrated, leaving the U.S. a clear winner (despite our defeat in Vietnam).

The cold war between the U.S. and Russia was revived in 2008 with the Russian invasion of U.S. backed Georgia. It proceeded on with Russia backing Iran and Syria against U.S. opposition. It is currently in the throes of an internal Ukrainian war resulting from the U.S. backed overthrow of a legally elected pro-Russian president. That led to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and a militant takeover of Eastern Ukraine by Russian-supported rebels.

The role of Western Europe in both cold wars can be described as that of a puppy sitting by its master’s (the U.S.) heels. Thus, if Flight MH17 was downed by a missile, the 298 passengers and crew that died were collateral damage of a revived power struggle between the U.S. and Russia.

If it was a missile that downed Flight MH17, it was probably fired by Russians, either within the Ukraine or even from within Russia. While they can down low-flying planes and helicopters with shoulder-held missile launchers, the pro-Russian rebels simply do not have the wherewithal to operate the sophisticated missile systems needed to down a plane flying at an altitude of 30,000 feet. Of course, there is also the chance that the missile was fired by the Ukrainian armed forces. It is hard to believe anyone because all sides are lying.

In the power struggle between the U.S. and Russia, our government is going to contend the Russians, or the rebels they support, knew it was a passenger plane and deliberately shot it down … and our propaganda apparatus will milk that for all it’s worth.

I am sure that if Flight MH17 was downed by a missile, whoever fired it did not intend to hit a passenger plane. Somebody really fucked up! Putin is no dummy. He would never subject himself to worldwide scorn by letting his troops intentionally commit such an unspeakable act. But that is no consolation to the 298 victims and their loved ones.


The term ‘lopsided losses’ and the pictures of dead Palestinian children are designed to demonize Israel in its war with Hamas

Whether it’s the national network TV news anchors or the printed press, you hear and see the term ‘lopsided losses’ used daily to describe the Palestinian casualties in Israel’s war with Hamas. Some media outlets refer to the ‘ongoing slaughter in Gaza’ as if Israel was deliberately targeting civilians. And then there are those daily pictures of Palestinian dead and wounded babies and children. There is no doubt that the media is intentionally demonizing Israel for the way it is defending itself against a daily salvo of rocket attacks against Jewish civilians.

By Charles Krauthammer

The Washington Post
July 17, 2014

Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.

The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.

This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago.

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.

Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. (Just Thursday, the U.N. announced that it found 20 rockets in a Gaza school.) And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Why? The rockets can’t even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: “What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?”

It makes no sense. Unless you understand, as Tuesday’s Post editorial explained, that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire.

This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.

To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world’s treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.’s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel’s legitimacy and right to self-defense.

In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, the depravity of Hamas begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera — both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity’s worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years that nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.

It’s to the Israelis’ credit that amid all this madness they haven’t lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.


3-year-old Shannon Long’s family members emptied their bank accounts to pay the vet bills for saving Ezio the Yorkie’s life

The family does not have the money for surgery that might restore little Ezio’s ability to walk again and are asking for donations from the public. You would think that in view of what this little heroic dog did in saving a child’s life, the veterinarian would perform the surgery for free.

by Drew Karedes

KHOU 11 News
July 18, 2014

DICKINSON, Texas -- An 11-pound dog is paralyzed and in a tremendous amount of pain after protecting a child from another dog.

Ezio the Yorkie is suffering from a broken neck, spinal cord and a crushed trachea.

It happened back on Friday in Dickinson.

Shannon Long says her neighbor’s dog broke through a plywood fence and aggressively approached her 3-year-old grandson in their backyard.

Ezio had seen enough and charged toward the much larger dog.

“The dog was 10 times the size of Ezio. This big giant dog, if it stands up, is as tall as me,” explained grandmother Shannon Long. “The dog is ferocious.”

Long says Ezio ended up in the dog’s mouth as her grandson ran inside the house.

“So he picks Ezio by his neck and lifts him and shakes and shakes and shakes and throws him down,” said Long.

Ezio was rushed to a veterinarian’s office where it cost $5,000 to keep him alive.

“We don’t have a lot of money. We have three kids and two grandkids,” said Long. “My daughter emptied her bank account. My husband and I emptied our bank account.

The family refuses to give up on their little brave dog.

However, they are being told it will cost at least another $10,000 to give Ezio a shot at walking again.

“The doctor said, well, you’ll have to put him down,” cried Long. “I just can’t do that. He saved Gavin’s life, and I can’t give up on his.”

Long’s grandson says Ezio is his best friend.

He is hopeful they will be able to play again soon.

“Ezio was trying to get that big dog,” said 3-year-old Gavin Clark. “He saved my life.”

Long’s landlord has installed a brand new fence to prevent the neighbor’s dogs from breaking through again.

According to Long, this has been a recurring problem since she began renting the home a year ago.

She says an animal control officer told her that he couldn’t take action unless the dog harmed her grandson or killed Ezio.

Long’s next door neighbor was not available for comment on Thursday.


$60,000 worth of damage done to kill one little spider

In West Seattle on Tuesday, a yet to be identified man used a can of spray paint and a lighter to make a makeshift blowtorch which he used to kill a spider in the laundry room, but in the process he started a blaze that did $60,000 worth of damage to the house he was renting. He tried to douse the flames with water but the fire spread quickly to the attic of his home. He and his mother barely escaped with their lives.

Kyle Moore, a spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department, told the Associated Press that “There are safer, more effective ways to kill a spider than using fire. Fire is not the method to use to kill a spider.” No shit!

Fire officials do not believe the spider survived since the wall it was on was engulfed in flames.

What we seem to have here is a renter who is either a very stupid human or a very brilliant ape. Or just maybe we have a man who tried to kill a spider while enjoying his legal (in Washington) recreational marijuana.

Friday, July 18, 2014


In his third successful lawsuit against NYPD, a jury awards a crook $510,000 because his ankle was broken during an arrest for shoplifting

Who says crime does not pay?

Kevin Jarman, 50, is a crook, but he is also a successful serial lawsuit filer. In 2005, the city settled for $15,000 after Jarman had sued NYPD for false arrest on drug sales, the charges against him having been dropped. Last month the city settled with him for $20,000 in another false arrest lawsuit he filed last year for a drug sales bust after the charges were likewise dropped. On Wednesday, Jarman hit the mother lode when a Brooklyn jury awarded him $510,000 because his ankle was broken when he was arrested for shoplifting at a Queens supermarket.

Jarman claimed that when he was arrested for shoplifting at a Pathmark supermarket in May 2011, one of the arresting officers, Sgt. Samuel Morales, yanked him by the handcuffs while deliberately standing on his foot. Because the officer was standing on his foot, Jarman could not balance himself. He tripped breaking his ankle in the process. Jarman spent nine days in a hospital. The jury deliberated only a few hours before awarding the crook more than half-a-million bucks.

A law enforcement official called the verdict nuts. The city will appeal, hoping all that glitters for Jarman is not gold!


U.S District Judge Cormac J. Carney ruled Wednesday in effect that California’s death penalty is unconstitutional because the condemned linger on death row for decades, thereby subjecting them to cruel and unusual punishment

Judge Carney, based in Orange County, acted on the petition of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who has been on death since 1995 after having been convicted of the rape and murder of his girlfriend’s mother. The rape and murder occurred only 10 months after Jones was paroled on a previous rape conviction.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Carney said the state’s death penalty has created long delays and uncertainty for inmates, most of whom will never be executed.

He noted that more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed.

“For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution,” Carney wrote.

Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, said the delays have created a “system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed,” Carney said.

In overturning Jones’ death sentence, Carney noted that the inmate faced “complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether” he will be

The “random few” who will be executed “will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary,” Carney said.

“No rational person,” Carney wrote, “can question that the execution of an individual carries with it the solemn obligation of the government to ensure that the punishment is not arbitrarily imposed and that it furthers the interests of society.”

Bob Walsh says the judge ruled the California death penalty unconstitutional because we never actually kill anybody.

Judge Carney has got it all wrong. Instead of declaring the death penalty unconstitutional, he should have sanctioned the attorneys who are responsible for the never-ending appeals filed by the opponents of capital punishment in the face of overwhelming evidence showing their clients guilty as charged. And Judge Carney should also have sanctioned the judges who keep ruling in
favor of those frivolous appeals.

One can only hope that Carney’s decision will be overturned, that is if Attorney General Kamala D. Harris even bothers to appeal.


By Bob Walsh

PACOVILLA Corrections blog
July 17, 2014

In this case over there is Europe, specifically the Ukraine. A Malaysian 777 jet liner with 295 souls on board was shot down, apparently with a missile. Ukrainian “separatists” claimed they had shot down another Ukrainian cargo jet immediately after it happened, leading to speculation that somebody screwed the pooch and they accidentally hit the wrong plane, or had an issue with target identification.

I wonder how much red ink Obama and John Kerry will splash around trying to impress somebody (anybody) into thinking that we actually have a handle on what is going on or any actual ability to influence events. Some people just don’t give a shit about empty threats and hash-tag twitter assaults. I strongly suspect Vladimir Putin is one of those people.

NOTE: President Obama spoke briefly on this matter at 1100. He stated that this “might be” a terrible tragedy. I guess the degree of tragedy will depend on how many American citizens were aboard the downed airliner.


By George Friedman

Stratfor Global Intelligence
July 17, 2014

We ate breakfast to the news that an airliner had crashed in Ukraine. We had lunch to the news that Israel had invaded Gaza. An airliner crashing is perhaps more impactful than an invasion. We have all wondered, when we hear of a crash, or even in quiet moments on board an aircraft ourselves, what living our final moments in a plane plunging to earth, knowing that we will die, would be like. An invasion is harder for some of us to empathize with. Most of us have never invaded a country nor been in a country while it was invaded. But it shares this much with a plane crash: Your life is in danger, and your fate is out of your hands.

We don't even know for certain what happened to the plane or how far the invasion will go. But no reasonable person looking at today could argue that we are the masters of our fates. At one point in the afternoon, it was announced that the White House had been placed on lockdown, which meant that a significant security threat had been found. It turned out someone's lost backpack caused the whole episode.

Our job is to find order in the apparent disorder, even if meaning is fleeting. There are two things we can point to. First -- tragedy aside for the moment -- the plane crash had to do with the struggle for Ukraine, between the right of Russia to be secure from the West, the right of the Ukrainians to determine their own fate, either as one country or two, and the right of Western powers to involve themselves in these affairs. Gaza is about the right of Israel to have a nation, the right of the Palestinians to have a nation and the right of Western countries to involve themselves in the matter.

Both issues are matters of competing national rights, not dissimilar from one and other. The Russians have historically experienced multiple invasions from the west, all of them devastating, some of them through Ukraine. Ukraine means "nation on the edge," or what we could call a borderland. Usually under Russian domination, it is now independent. But for Russia, it is the buffer between the kind of armies that invaded Russia in 1941 when the Nazis came. The names of many of the cities that are spoken of now are the names of the cities in which the Soviet army fought. For the Russians, this is the borderland that can't be given up. Yes, no one is planning to invade Russia now. But the Russians know how fast intentions and capabilities change, and they wonder why the Americans and others are so concerned with having a pro-Western government in Kiev.

For the Ukrainians, who have rarely experienced sovereignty, this is their opportunity to chart their own course. For them, the Russians' need for a buffer is another way of saying Russian oppression of Ukraine. Of course, not all living in Ukraine see this as oppressive. They see the Ukrainian government as oppressing them, by tearing them away from their Russian roots. For western Ukrainians, these Russophiles are thugs trying to destroy the country. For the Russophiles, it is hypocrisy that Ukraine demands that its right to self-determination be honored, but it has no honor for the right to self-determination of the Russophiles.

It is a question of national self-determination, which is one of the foundations of modern Euro-American civilization and always becomes complex when competing nations all claim that right. Does Russia have the right to assure that it will never again have to live through an invasion? Does it have the right to do that at the expense of Ukrainian self-determination? To the extent that the West has involved itself, can it be said that Ukraine is truly free to determine its future?

And so an airliner was shot down and some 300 people died. It is hard to draw the connection between the abstract discussion of national rights and the debris and lives strewn around, but there is a connection. The plane would not have crashed if the question of national interest and national self-determination was not so important to so many people.

The same issue caused four children to be killed on a Gaza beach and a man to be blown apart by a mortar round in Israel. The Israeli Jews claimed a homeland in today's Israel. They were occupiers, but there is not a single country in the world that wasn't, in some way, founded by occupiers. Almost everywhere, there was someone there who was displaced or absorbed to make way for the current occupants. Every nation that exists was born out of some injustice. Consider the United States and Native Americans and slavery. Both were fundamental to America's birth, but the right of the United States to remain intact is not questioned. Look at Europe and the way it was reshaped by armies. Perhaps that happened centuries ago, but is there an expiration date on injustice?
\At the same time, there was someone there before Israel. They were not annihilated as in the case of some nations that disappeared with the arrival of newcomers. They are still there, in Israel, in the West Bank and certainly in Gaza. This is the borderland between Israel and the Arab world, and it is filled, particularly in Gaza, by people who are claiming their right to a state. Some who want the creation of that state to include the annihilation, expulsion or absorption of Israel.

There are others who want a two-state solution. They are not really as thoughtful and reasonable as they would like to believe. A state divided in half by Israel would be peculiar to say the least. Could Gaza, a small place packed with people, and a distant West Bank ever become economically viable? And could the Israelis ever trust the Palestinians not to open fire on Tel Aviv from the few miles that would separate it from a Palestinian state? The Arab state would be an economic impossibility. The Israeli state would be at risk. Westerners are filled with excellent advice as to what the Palestinians should do and what the Israelis should do. But as with Ukraine, the Westerners are playing with peripheral issues, things that don't affect them personally and existentially. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is attempting to do good. But if he fails, his children won't live with the consequences.

And therefore, an endless and pointless debate rages as to who is right and who started the war in an infinite regression that goes back to times before any living Jew or Palestinian. This is the same as in Ukraine. Ukraine's history had been shaped by its relation to Russia. A debate can be held as to whether this was just. It really doesn't matter. Russia is there and needs things, Ukraine is there and needs different things, and the West is there providing advice, which if it fails won't directly affect it.

What ties Ukraine, Russia, Israel and Gaza together is that they are all fighting for their lives, or interests that are so fundamentally important to them that they cannot live without them. They are fighting for their nation and for that nation's safety in a world where unspeakable things happen and where the only ones who will defend you are your family, friends and countrymen, and where all the well-wishers and advice-givers will quietly take their leave if dangers arise. There is nothing easier and cheaper than advising others to get along. These conflicts are rooted in fear, and fear is always a legitimate emotion.

Others would have approached today by saying that the Russians are evil or the Ukrainians really the oppressors, the Israelis killers or the Gazans monsters. We are sure we will hear from many condemning our moral equivalency, by which they will claim that the only truly moral position is theirs. But this is not a moral equivalency that argues that Ukrainians and Russians, Israelis and Palestinians should therefore sit down and recognize that they really haven't got anything to fight over. This is a moral equivalency that says these people have a great deal to fight over, but that it is their fight, and that -- as when the Romans began wiping out Europe's Celts -- it will be settled by steel and not by kindly advice or understanding. The problem between these people is not that they don't understand each other. The problem is that they do.

And therefore an airline crashed and reportedly some 23 Americans, my countrymen, died. And yes, these are our countrymen and we grieve for them before others, much as Russians, Ukrainians, Israelis and Palestinians grieve for their own. We are no better. But we live in a stronger and safer country for which we are grateful. It allows us to give advice and means we don't have to experience our misjudgments, even on a long sad day.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


After looking at a TV reporter’s D.C. driver’s license this past weekend, the Orlando International Airport TSA agent determined that the District of Columbia was a foreign nation

Justin Gray, a reporter for Washington’s WUSA9, was at the Orlando International Airport TSA security checkpoint preparing to board an airliner for a flight back home when a TSA agent asked to see his ID. Gray pulled out his District of Columbia driver’s license. After looking at the license, the agent demanded to see Gray’s passport. Gray told the agent that he did not bring it along and asked why the agent needed to see his passport. The agent told Gray that he did not recognize the license and so the District of Columbia must be a foreign nation. Gray was eventually allowed to board the flight for his return home.

WUSA9 has learned this was the second incident of its kind at OIA, but airline passengers with D.C. licenses have been asked for their passports at other airports throughout the country.

Douglas Kidd, with the National Association of Airline Passengers, said, "They [the TSA] simply have not been either applying or maintaining standards for good personnel."

This incident is not just a reflection of poor TSA personnel hiring practices, but it is also a reflection of today’s sorry state of public education. But wait a minute, maybe I spoke to soon. Come to think of it, that agent was not mistaken. The way things are going on in the nation’s capital, it is easy to see why one might think the District of Columbia is a foreign nation.


An Illinois jail inmate charged with two brutal murders files a 15-count complaint about his accommodations

Adam Landerman, 21, the son of a Joliet police officer, is in the Will County jail charged with the 2013 brutal murders of Terrance Rankins and Eric Glover, both 22.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Landerman, Joshua Miner, 26, Bethany McKee, 20, and Alisa Massaro, 20, lured the victims to Massaro’s home in Joliet where they were robbed and strangled to death. After murdering the two men, the quartet started to party. McKee left early and called her father to tell him what happened. He called the police. When the cops showed up, they found the two bodies and Landerman, Miner and Massaro still partying.

Landerman and Miner did the strangling and, together with McKee, are charged with murder. Massaro pled guilty to robbery and concealing a homicide, and has agreed to testify against the other three in exchange for a 10-year sentence.

Landerman is unhappy with his jail accommodations. Last week, he filed a 15-count complaint asking a Will County judge to remedy the conditions he complains about. According to the Tribune, here are some of his complaints:

The towels are too small, the temperature is not properly controlled, the menu is not diverse, barber services are not available, items in the commissary are overpriced, rules provided to inmates are vague and that inmates are “routinely penalized for rule violations which are completely taken out of context.” The jail does not provide shaving cream for inmates who are indigent and cannot afford to buy it from the commissary. The jail does not provide breakfast after 6:30 a.m. and that lunch is served too early.

Will County Chief Deputy Sheriff Ken Kaupas responded to Landerman’s complaints by telling the Tribune that “We’re not a hotel, we’re a jail. We treat all of our in-custodies in a fair way.”


Reports of the training have been kept quiet out of concern for sensitivities in Mexico about appearing dependent on American help

USA Today reports the Pentagon said the U.S. military participated in 150 "engagements" with Mexican troops on both sides of the border, "sharing training opportunities with more than 3,000 Mexican soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines."

By Jim Michaels

USA Today
July 15, 2014

WASHINGTON — The United States is quietly expanding its training of Mexico's armed forces, helping to reverse decades of mistrust that made Mexico's military reluctant to cooperate with its northern neighbor.

The amount the Pentagon spent on training Mexico's armed forces, though small, increased to more than $15 million last year, up from about $3 million in 2009, according to U.S. Northern Command, which oversees U.S. military contacts with Mexico.

The training comes as Mexico's armed forces have been drawn deeper into the country's war on drugs and organized crime.

"For decades, Mexico's military tried to remain autonomous from the U.S. military," said David Shirk, a fellow at the Wilson Center.

U.S. military officials are reluctant to discuss the relationship openly because of sensitivities in Mexico about appearing dependent on American help. In a statement, the Pentagon said the U.S. military participated in 150 "engagements" with Mexican troops on both sides of the border, "sharing training opportunities with more than 3,000 Mexican soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines."

The statement said the Pentagon's "interactions" with Mexico's military have expanded over the past three years. Mexican government officials declined to speak on the record about the training.

The Mexican navy and marine corps have been particularly receptive, allowing the United States to expand its training with Mexico's armed forces and build trust.

"Our security agencies have focused heavily on cooperation with the navy and marines," said George Grayson, a professor at William and Mary who has written a book about Mexican drug cartels.

By contrast, the army is a more "insular" institution less willing to cooperate with foreign military forces, Shirk said.

"The navy has earned a tremendous amount of trust from American authorities," Shirk said.

The army is more susceptible to corruption, since its soldiers have been deployed throughout the country in fixed locations, where there are more opportunities to be bribed. They have direct contact with drugs through eradication efforts.

The Mexican marines are used only for targeted raids and are more insulated from bribes or intimidation, Shirk said.

Grayson said the navy and marines were used for one of the first times when they launched a raid in 2009 that killed Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the leader of a major cartel in Cuernavaca.

The forces used in the raid received extensive training from the United States, according to a classified U.S. Embassy message that was released by WikiLeaks.

The U.S. government initially provided intelligence to the army on the whereabouts of Beltrán Leyva but was reluctant to act, the message said.

"Its success puts the Army … in the difficult position of explaining why it has been reluctant to act on good intelligence and conduct operations against high-level targets," the embassy cable said, according to WikiLeaks.

The success of that raid led to a heavier reliance on the Mexican navy and marines. Of 22 raids on top-level traffickers from 2006 through 2012, seven were conducted by the navy and marines, according to Grayson.

The army was responsible for eight raids during that time, even though it is a much larger force. The federal police conducted eight raids.

Grayson said Mexico's navy is more willing to use modern intelligence methods, such as surveillance drones, to target kingpins. It is learning many of the techniques from Americans.

The U.S. military has provided a range of training for Mexican forces, ranging from small-unit tactics to helicopter maintenance.

The military training is part of a larger program to support Mexico's war on drugs. The cornerstone of that is the Merida initiative, a $2.1 billion program started in 2007. The program has provided equipment and training for Mexico's judiciary and law enforcement agencies.

That program has opened the door to military contacts, Shirk said. "That really was a watershed moment," he said.