MichelleMalkin.com ^ | April 29, 2007 | Michelle Malkin
I've blogged previously about graphic novelist/illustrator Frank Miller's renegade commentary on patriotism and al Qaeda's jihad. The L.A. Times has a new profile of Miller today with news of his latest projects--and more fodder that will set the 9/10 Hollyweirdos' teeth on edge:
MUCH has been made of Miller's politics in the wake of "300." The deliriously violent and stylized sword film is based on a Spartan battle in 480 B.C., and although Miller wrote and drew the story for Dark Horse comics a decade ago, in film form it was received by many as a grotesque parody of the ancient Persians and a fetish piece for a war on Islam. Miller scoffs at those notions. "I think it's ridiculous that we set aside certain groups and say that we can't risk offending their ancestors. Please. I'd like to say, as an American, I was deeply offended by 'The Last of the Mohicans.' "
Still, Miller gets stirred up about any criticism of the war in Iraq or the hunt for terrorists, which he views as the front in a war between the civilized Western world and bloodthirsty Islamic fundamentalists.
"What people are not dealing with is the fact that we're going up against a culture that finds it acceptable to do things that the rest of the world left behind with the barbarians in the 6th century," Miller said. "I'm a little tired of people worrying about being polite. We are fighting in the face of fascists."
The director of "300," Zack Snyder, chuckled about the portrayal of Miller as a conservative on the attack or a "proto-fascist" as one pundit called him. "I don't think he really has politics, he just sees the world in moral terms. He's a guy who says what he thinks and has a sense of right and wrong. He talks tough and, after Sept. 11, I think he's mad." Snyder said Miller is a throwback and that he approaches his art with a bar-fight temperament, like a Sam Peckinpah. "His political view is: Don't mess with me."
Apparently, Miller's Batman vs. al Qaeda comic book has stalled in the face of "squeamishness by executives at DC Comics and its parent, Warner Bros. Entertainment, in sending a franchise character on a blood-quest after terrorists." No surprise there.
Miller describes the plot and assails the lack of pro-American, anti-jihad backing in his industry:
"Our hero's key quote is, 'Those clowns don't know what terror is,' " Miller said. "Then he sets out to get the guys."
With the hero as terrorism avenger, Miller is pointing to the days of comics in the 1940s, when Superman, Captain America and the Human Torch were drawn taking punches at Hitler or Hirohito.
"These terrorists are worse than any villain I can come up with, and I think it's ridiculous that people in entertainment are not showing what we are up against here…. This is pure propaganda, a throwback, there's no bones about it."
Miller also said he relishes a backlash. "I'm ready," he said, "for my fatwa."
Monday, April 30, 2007
Campus police at several Boston-area colleges are renewing calls to be allowed to carry arms in the aftermath of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech.
Brandeis University, which has rejected calls to arm its police in the past, has agreed to reconsider the idea. Framingham State officials are talking about it, and students at Suffolk University are circulating a petition calling for an armed force.
The majority of campus police departments in the nation's four year colleges, including Virginia Tech's, are already armed, but officials at some small colleges for years have staunchly opposed the idea even as their police have requested arms. The big schools in Massachusetts, including Boston University, Northeastern, MIT, Tufts, and all five campuses of the University of Massachusetts, have armed police. Most colleges in the State College system also have armed police forces.
Although Seung-Hui Cho killed himself before police could reach him, his killing of 32 students and professors raised a disturbing question for those who live or work on a campus with unarmed police: What if someone on their campus went on a shooting spree? What could campus police do?
The answer, according to law enforcement protocol, is nothing -- except to call for backup from city police. The batons and mace that unarmed police typically carry would be useful in the face of a gunman.
Brandeis, during the summer, plans to set up a committee to study the need for arms, though it previously has denied repeated requests for at least two decades from its police force for permission to carry guns."The prevailing opinion has always been that this is fundamentally a safe campus," said Brandeis spokesman Dennis Nealon. "What Brandeis is wondering now is, is it a different world, maybe? . . . This is post-9/11 and post-Virginia Tech."
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Police said a store worker shot and killed a robber in Fort Worth, NBC 5 reported.
Police said the shooting happened at about 9:20 p.m. at the Fabulous Urban and Sportswear on Mansfield Highway.
The store owner told police his nephew was working in the store when he was confronted by two armed robbers.
Police said one robber was shot and killed after he put a gun to the clerk's head.The other robber was arrested, police said.
Friday, April 27, 2007
HR 297 would require the states to turn over mountains of personal data (on people like you) to the FBI -- any information which according to the Attorney General, in his or her unilateral discretion, would be useful in ascertaining who is or is not a "prohibited person."
Liberal support for this bill points out an interesting hypocrisy in their loyalties: For six years, congressional Democrats have complained about the Bush administration's efforts to obtain personal information on suspected terrorists WITHOUT A COURT ORDER.
And yet, this bill would allow the FBI to obtain massive amounts of information -- information which dwarfs any records obtained from warrantless searches (or wiretaps) that have been conducted by the Bush Administration on known or suspected terrorists operating in the country.
In fact, HR 297 would allow the FBI to get this information on honest Americans (like you) even though the required data is much more private and personal than any information obtained thus far by the Bush administration on terrorists.
And all of these personal records would be obtained by the FBI with no warrant or judicial or Congressional oversight whatsoever!!!
Get the picture? Spying on terrorists is bad... but spying on honest gun owners is good. After all, this horrific intrusion on the private lives of all Americans is presumed to be "okay" because it's only being used to bash guns, not to go after terrorists and criminals who are trying to kill us.
Aaron Houston for The New York Times
UNION, N.J., April 26 — The letter from George Washington is pasted between poetry and party invitations, stuffed into a dusty scrapbook amid jokes and cutouts of handsome men, and all the highlights of a lucky little girl’s life.
It was written in May 1787 and addressed to Jacob Morris, grandfather of Julia Kean, the precocious 10-year-old who started the brown leather scrapbook in 1826 and put the letter under a portrait of the nation’s first president.
The letter is just 111 words long, a scant two paragraphs, but it mentions a rival of Washington, Horatio Gates, and includes enough hints of intrigue to whet the appetite of scholars. They learned of the letter’s discovery only recently, after it was found among the private papers of one of New Jersey’s most prominent families.
“The happiness of this Country depend much upon the deliberations of the federal Convention which is now sitting,” reads the second paragraph of the quill-and-ink letter. “It, however, can only lay the foundation — the community at large must raise the edifice.”
Washington was writing from Philadelphia, where the Constitutional Convention was under way. It was two years before he became president.His correspondence was wide and frequent, but discoveries of his letters, especially those in which he says something notable, are somewhat rare, scholars and archivists say. It is rarer still to find such a letter in so unusual a place as a child’s scrapbook.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Of COURSE it's from Florida.
WEWAHITCHKA, Fla. — The owner of an exotic animal farm has died after being kicked and then sat on by a 1,800-pound camel.
Cathie Ake and the 4-year-old camel were being filmed by a local television station on Sunday when the camel kicked her and sat on her during a break in filming. The station was doing a story on Mini-Akers Exotic Animals, the farm Ake owned with her husband.
Ake's husband, Donnie Ake, said he thinks Polo, the camel, was agitated by mating season.He said he would find a new home for Polo, which they bought three weeks ago, The News Herald of Panama City reported Tuesday.
LONDON — Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.
In these frenzied, media-saturated times, the lure of a simpler past is more powerful than ever.
That may explain the success of "The Dangerous Book for Boys," a deliberately retro tome that has become the publishing sensation of the year in Britain.
Exuding the brisk breeziness of Boy Scout manuals and Boy's Own annuals, "The Dangerous Book" is a childhood how-to guide that covers everything from paper airplanes to go-carts, skipping stones to skinning a rabbit.
It spent months on British best-seller lists, has sold more than half a million copies and took the book of the year prize at last month's British Book Awards.
The book will be published in the United States May 1, allowing American boys — but not their sisters — to learn how to play marbles, make invisible ink, send Morse code and build a tree fort.
"I wanted to do the kind of book that we had lusted after when we were kids," said Conn Iggulden, who co-wrote the book with his younger brother, Hal.
"My dad was born in 1923 and his father was born in 1850, and we had some old books in the house with titles like 'Chemical Amusements and Experiments' and 'Fun With Gunpowder.' The thing we didn't have was a single compendium of everything we wanted to do. I remember endlessly looking through these (books), generally to find things that I could make explode or set on fire."
A big, affable, dark-haired thirtysomething who writes best-selling historical novels about the exploits of Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan, Iggulden exudes boyish enthusiasm.
He and Hal, a theater director, researched the "Dangerous Book" during six months in a garden shed, rediscovering the lost childhood arts of secret codes and water bombs and building simple batteries and pinhole projectors.
"Rule No. 1 was we either had to make it or do it — we've both read books where the author clearly hasn't made a raft or whatever, and so the instructions don't work," Iggulden said. "That meant we had to play marbles ... and skin a rabbit. A little bit grisly, that one. But then, we did make it into a stew and we did eat it.
"It was not a great stew," he admitted. "It was pretty rubbery."
Some parents may balk at encouraging their offspring to skin a rabbit — or tan a hide, another skill imparted by the Iggulden brothers.
Conn Iggulden argues that "if you spend your life going to supermarkets, you should know where the meat comes from and exactly what's gone into it for your eating pleasure. I think that's worth doing once for just about anybody."
Sales figures suggest the "Dangerous Book" has struck a strong chord among adults concerned about the increasingly sedentary, regulated lives of today's children — a society with computers in every classroom but often without climbing equipment in the playground.
Susan Watt, the book's publisher at HarperCollins, said its appeal lies in the fact that it is "a celebration as much as a how-to book."
"They're celebrating a romantic vision of their boyhood," she said.
"I also felt it has, from both the authors, a unique and genuine voice. This is nothing contrived and you can feel that. Their hearts were in everything they wrote and they enjoyed everything they wrote."
Some elements of the book have been changed for the U.S. edition. Cricket is out and stickball is in; the history of the British empire has been replaced by accounts of the Alamo and Gettysburg.
But its essence remains. There's an old-fashioned, improving tone to the book, with its chapters on famous battles and true tales of courage, its Latin phrases and rules of grammar, and "seven poems every boy should know."
"I don't think it is particularly old-fashioned," Iggulden said. "I think the reason people think it is old-fashioned is that it's optimistic, and an awful lot of modern books tend to be fairly cynical in their outlook — postmodern, tongue-in-cheek.
"I thought, I want to write it straight and I want to write it optimistically, because that's what childhood is about. You don't have any doors shut in your face. You can be absolutely anything, you can be interested in anything."
It's possible to see a less wholesome side to the book's nostalgia. Girls are discussed, in a single chapter, as something akin to another species: "They think and act rather differently to you, but without them, life would be one long football locker room. Treat them with respect."
Girls are explicitly — and, some argue, unnecessarily — excluded by the book's title.
Iggulden is unconcerned.
"It's not exactly that we are excluding girls, but we wanted to celebrate boys, because nobody has been doing it for a long while," he said.
"I think we've come through the period when we said boys and girls were exactly the same, because they're not. Boys and girls have different interests, different ways of learning, and there's no real problem in writing a book that plays to that, and says, let's celebrate it. Let's go for a book that will appeal to boys."
Already, for good or ill, the Iggulden brothers have sparked a mini-boom in gender-specific publishing. Pocket versions of the "Dangerous Book" and a desk diary are planned. Meanwhile, Penguin is issuing "The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls," billed as a book for women who "dream of making elderflower cordial and need reminding of how to play cat's cradle."Some might say the girls have drawn the short straw here.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Live from Studio 1A: Reduced to Tears
Posted: Friday, March 30, 2007 7:26 AM by Elizabeth Neumann
Categories: Live from Studio 1A
I have to take a moment to write about a video clip we played in the open of the show this morning and then re-visited at 7:17 a.m. The clip shows navy officer Bill Hawes home from a seven-month tour in Iraq, surprising his six-year-old son in his school classroom - his son jumps up, crying, and runs into his father's arms (WATCH VIDEO).
We rehearsed the open - as we always do - to make sure our video played out in sequence and the talent knew what was coming, and after that clip Meredith, Natalie and Matt all had tears in their eyes. Again when we were live at the top of the show, the clip played through and we saw glistening in Matt and Meredith's eyes as they spoke about the video. Meredith said, "For all of the negative images coming out of the Iraq war, that is an incredibly beautiful one," and Matt admitted after the segment a few minutes later, "I get teary picking my kids up from school every day, and that's after only eight hours...seven months in the life of a six-year-old is an eternity."
I am sitting in the newsroom during a commercial break and we are all talking about the footage as well. Our anchors are still talking about it as well in the studio. Natalie Morales just came down here to watch it replayed on the computer. It was just so moving, heartfelt and honest to see the boy's expression when he realized his father was standing in front of his class. Jim Wilson, our news writer, was on the phone saying to someone, "This video...brought everything home to a level where everyone can feel how heartbreaking it is...it was an extraordinary piece - it captured emotion like no piece has ever captured emotion..."
I have a feeling that that short video clip of a young boy may become somewhat iconic as far as representing the war in Iraq here at home - an amazing spontaneous moment in one family's story, but as Matt pointed out, "There are people over there making incredible sacrifices every day." A special thank you to our Seattle affiliate KING for capturing such a special and compelling glimpse into that special reunion.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Wow, Sheryl Crow is quite the entrepreneurial genius. Not.
(I'm actually embarrassed for her.)
Crow (4/19, Springfield, Tenn.): I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming. Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.
Crow (4/19): I also like the idea of not using paper napkins, which happen to be made from virgin wood and represent the height of wastefulness. I have designed a clothing line that has what's called a "dining sleeve." The sleeve is detachable and can be replaced with another "dining sleeve," after usage. The design will offer the "diner" the convenience of wiping his mouth on his sleeve rather than throwing out yet another barely used paper product. I think this idea could also translate quite well to those suffering with an annoying head cold.
Crow (4/19): This next idea I have been saving but I will share it with you if you promise not to steal it. It is my latest, very exciting idea for creating incentive for us all to minimize our own personal carbon footprints. It's a reality show. (I feel pretty certain NO ONE has thought of this yet!) Here is the premise: the contest consists of 10 people who are competing for the top spot as the person who lives the "greenest" life. This will be reflected in the contestant's home, his business, and his own personal living style. The winner of this challenging, prestigious, contest would receive what??. . . . a recording contract!!!!!
Two teenagers who wanted to experience murder told police it "felt right" to strangle a friend and bury her body in a shallow grave beneath her West Australian home.
The 17-year-old girls, who cannot be named due to their age, today faced a sentencing hearing in Perth Children's Court after pleading guilty to murdering Eliza Jane Davis in the small coal mining town of Collie on June 18, 2006.
As the girls sat stony-faced in court today, Prosecutor Simon Stone said they had confessed that after partying with Eliza on the Saturday night they decided to kill her.
"Sunday morning me and (her) woke up, and we were just talking, and for some reason we just decided to kill her," one of the girls told police in her interview.
"We just did it because we felt like it, it is hard to explain," the other girl said.
"I knew we had wanted to kill someone before.
"We knew it was wrong, but it didn't feel wrong at all, it just felt right."
The girls planned their attack and changed into old clothes.
One of them snuck up behind Eliza as she was reading, wrapped speaker wire twice around her throat and quickly tightened it as the other held her down, trying to press a chemical soaked cloth into her mouth.
"She started not being able to get her breath, and we just kept going," one of the girls told police.
"She was just yelling at us 'What the fuck, what are you doing' .. 'Oh you freaks, what's wrong with you psychos."
Mr Stone said they chose to strangle Eliza because one of them had to return to Perth that afternoon and they wanted a quick and "non-messy" killing.
"As our friend, we did not really want her to suffer," one told police.
"We didn't really expect to get away with it.
"We were willing to take the risk."
The girls regretted the fuss the killing caused but neither felt remorse for their dead friend, Mr Stone said.
"If she had died another way it probably would have bothered me ... but it just did not," one girl said.
The girls reported Eliza missing after they buried her and pretended to help her family look for the dead girl.
The girls turned themselves in several days later, walking into separate police stations and directing authorities to where they buried her body.
Mr Stone told the court the girls had no remorse and were holding back on the reason behind their cold-blooded, premeditated, sadistic killing.
"It is a mystery your honour, what happened."
He said the girls had discussed killing someone else and one had prepared for homicide by killing two kittens.
"Whilst together (they) will continue to pose some risk to others in custody."
Mr Stone called for sentences of life in prison.
Outside the court, Eliza's mother told journalists the girls should get the maximum punishment.
"They should stay in jail for the rest of their lives and no one else should have to go through what we are going through. If we had the death penalty they should get the death penalty," she told ABC Radio.
The hearing continues tomorrow.AAP
Sunday, April 22, 2007
The powerful US gun lobby, far from being weakened by last week's tragic college campus shooting, actually has emerged stronger, gun advocates said, stepping up calls Sunday for a better-armed US citizenry to prevent future attacks.
Gun rights advocates said that following last week's massacre, in which 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui fatally shot 32 victims at Virginia Tech University, gun control forces will be hard pressed to make the case for tighter restrictions.
"This is a huge nail in the coffin of gun control," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League.
"They had gun control on campus and it got all those people killed, because nobody could defend themselves," he told AFP.
"You want people to be able to defend themselves -- always," he said.
Van Cleave said the tragedy could give a boost to a years-long effort in Virginia to pass legislation allowing students to carry weapons on campus -- especially since existing laws failed to prevent Cho's murderous rampage.
"Gun control failed. That student under university rules was not to have a gun," Van Cleave said.
"Come legislative season, which is in January, we're going to be fighting to get a bill put in again -- the third year in a row now and hopefully this time it will pass -- that would let students that are over 21 with a permit ... carry concealed self-defense," he said.
The bill, which would also allow any faculty member possessing a concealed carry permit to carry a concealed weapon, has a "greatly enhanced" chance of passage following the Virginia Tech shooting, Van Cleave said.
The southeastern state where the shootings took place allows anyone 21 years of age or older and holding a concealed handgun permit to carry a weapon.
That is not true, however of college campuses, where most universities have a strict prohibition against carrying guns -- much to the chagrin of the state's pro-gun activists.
Other gun rights advocates echo Van Cleave's view that had even one Virginia Tech student or faculty member been armed, last week's carnage might have been prevented.
"The only person who is responsible to defend you is you -- the police are incapable of defending each and every one of us all the time," said Mike Stollenwerk, 44, co-founder of OpenCarry.org, a Virginia-based gun-rights networking group.
"Citizens have an inherent right to be able to defend themselves," he said, speaking last week to The Washington Times newspaper.
"You can't always have a policeman on every street corner to take care of you. Whenever you have a bunch of gun-control laws that prohibit people from carrying, the ones with the guns are the criminals."
Many had expected that the Virginia Tech rampage would be a rallying cry for gun control activists, but that has not turned out to be the case.
Even the mass killings at Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999 failed to result in gun-control legislation, despite the emotional outcry over those shootings.
The reaction has been even more muted following last week's tragedy, the deadliest school shooting in US history.
US politicians have shown little inclination to introduce new gun control legislation in a country where an estimated 40 percent of US households own a gun and where for many the constitutional right to bear arms is seen as sacred.
I just loved this part: We sing about God because we believe in Him. We are not trying to offend anybody, but the evidence that we have seen of Him in our small little lives trumps your opinion about whether or not He exists.
Nashville, TN -- The CMT Music Awards have a grand history of show-stopping performances, all of them rendered by such country music superstars as Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich, to name only a few.
But it was host Jeff Foxworthy who stopped the show this year, when the generally genial comedian delivered a powerful, heartfelt and somewhat angry speech just before introducing the last song of the night, the haunting Anyway by Martina McBride.
Foxworthy had during his previous two gigs as host of CMT's annual awards presentation appeared in memorably funny musical performances. At the start of the 2005 show he was seen suspended above the stage with Billy Currington, the two of them whirling about in a spoof of the video for Shania Twain's Party for Two, in which Twain and Currington similarly twirl. Last April he opened the show dancing with Lisa Rinna, a competitor at the time on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
But this year, Foxworthy's opener was a simple pre-taped sketch inspired by his gig as host of Fox' midseason hit Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? featuring country singer and Nashville Star judge Blake Shelton playing opposite kids pretending to be Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson and other country stars. It was a charming but low-key bit that left some of us wondering if this edition of the CMT Awards would pass without a Foxworthy Moment that people would be talking about for weeks to come.
And then, with only minutes to spare, Foxworthy came through in a way nobody could have predicted. He delivered a quiet, compassionate, deadly serious commentary that was ostensibly about country music and its fans, but spoke to, about and against so much more, expressing points of view not commonly heard in entertainment programming on major television networks.
The audience didn't know how to react at first, but quickly began cheering Foxworthy along as made his points. After musing for a moment about all of the country music award shows he has hosted (including some not on CMT), Foxworthy said that as he prepared for this particular gig he began contemplating his interest in the genre. He then said the following, to periodic cheers and applause from the audience at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University:
"I started thinking about why I like country music and doing this show so much, and here's what I came up with, y'all.
"I like country music because it's about the things in life that really matter. It ain't about braggin' about how you're gonna mess somebody up, or how somebody ain't respectin' ya. It's about love, family, friends -- with a few beers, a cheap woman and a two-timin' man thrown in for spice. It doesn't take political sides, even with things as ugly as war. Instead, it celebrates the brave men and women who go to fight 'em, the price they pay to do it and the longin' we have for them to return home to the ones that they love.
"It's about kids and how there ain't nothin' like 'em. I get tired of hearin' about how bad kids are today, because there are a lot of great kids out there that just need somebody to love 'em and believe in 'em. Country folks love their kids and they will jack you up if you try to mess with 'em!
"People in country music don't forget the people that allow them to do what they do for a livin'. They sign autographs and they take pictures with the fans because they know without 'em most of us entertainers would be gettin' a lot dirtier in the course of our workday. We are thankful that people want to hear the songs and the jokes that we write. Country music doesn't have to be politically correct. We sing about God because we believe in Him. We are not trying to offend anybody, but the evidence that we have seen of Him in our small little lives trumps your opinion about whether or not He exists.
"We love country music because it touches us where we live. It's about mommas, and when they were hot, and when they are unappreciated, and when they were dyin'. It's about daddies and the difficulties they have sometimes at tellin' the people that they work so hard to protect and provide for how they feel about 'em.
"Country music is about new love and it's about old love. It's about gettin' drunk and gettin' sober. It's about leavin' and it's about comin' home. It's real music sung by real people for real people, the people that make up the backbone of this country. You can call us rednecks if you want. We're not offended, 'cause we know what we're all about. We get up and go to work, we get up and go to church, and we get up and go to war when necessary.
"All we ask for is a few songs to carry us along the way, and that's why I love this show, because it ain't some self-important Hollywood hype with the winners determined by somebody else. On this show, you decide who goes home with a trophy and you get to dance and sing along with the people that bring you the songs of your life."
What was behind Foxworthy's need to express these sentiments? In the pressroom after the show, he said he wrote it after thinking about why he likes to host the CMT Awards as much as he does. After completing it, he told us, the first person he took it to was his wife.
"I read it to her and she goes, 'I love it but they're never going to let you say it. You're supposed to be funny and it's pretty serious'," Foxworthy recalled. "When I showed up [at CMT] and we were talking about [the end of the show] -- usually at the end they have a big number, like Big & Rich, some kind of party song -- they were sayin', 'We've got kind of a serious song at the end with Martina singin' Anyway, how do you think we should tee it up?' I said, 'Well it's weird you say that. I have somethin' in my bag that I wrote five weeks ago that my wife said you wouldn't let me say.' I let them read it and they were like, 'Yeah, we love it, say it."
"The comic people don't ever expect you to be serious about somethin', but I have a serious side," Foxworthy concluded. "I have a real serious side."No argument there.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Poor, poor family. Worse for them than for the victims' families, I imagine.
That said, it is truly a beautiful and humble statement from Cho's sister. May God grant them, and everyone affected by this nightmare, a bit of peace.
BLACKSBURG, Va. - The family of Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho told The Associated Press on Friday that they feel "hopeless, helpless and lost," and "never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence." "Our family is so very sorry for my brother's unspeakable actions. It is a terrible tragedy for all of us," the family said.
The statement was issued by Cho's sister, Sun-Kyung Cho, on her behalf and that of her family. She works as a contractor for a State Department office that oversees billions of dollars in American aid for Iraq.
"We pray for their families and loved ones who are experiencing so much excruciating grief. And we pray for those who were injured and for those whose lives are changed forever because of what they witnessed and experienced," she said.
"Each of these people had so much love, talent and gifts to offer, and their lives were cut short by a horrible and senseless act."
The statement was issued during a statewide day of mourning for the victims of the worst massacre in U.S. history.
"We are humbled by this darkness. We feel hopeless, helpless and lost. This is someone that I grew up with and loved. Now I feel like I didn't know this person," she said.
"We have always been a close, peaceful and loving family. My brother was quiet and reserved, yet struggled to fit in. We never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence."
She added: "He has made the world weep. We are living a nightmare."She said her family will cooperate fully with investigators and "do whatever we can to help authorities understand why these senseless acts happened. We have many unanswered questions as well."
Venus Ramey has earned lots of fame in her 82 years.
She was Miss America 1944 and later a candidate for Cincinnati City Council and worked to save Over-the-Rhine's historic buildings. She performed on Broadway and in movies.
Now, though, she's in the news for another reason.
After confronting a man she said was stealing from her Kentucky farm, Ramey pulled out a gun and shot out a tire on his truck so he couldn't leave, allowing police to arrest him and two others.
"He was probably wetting his pants," Ramey said Thursday from her home in Waynesburg.
Ramey was on her farm feeding a horse when she saw her dog run to a nearby building where she stores old steel-shaping machines, lathes and other equipment.
"This stuff is over 100 years old," she said.
For some time, thieves had been breaking into the building to steal the machines to sell for scrap. She hadn't been able to catch anyone in the act until last week.
She drove over blocked the truck sitting there.
When she asked a man what he was doing, he replied "scrapping," and said he would leave.
"I said, 'Oh, no you won't,' and I shot their tires so they couldn't leave," Ramey said.
She had to balance on her walking stick as she pulled out .38-caliber handgun.
"I didn't even think twice. I just did it. If they'd even dared come close to me, they'd be 6 feet under by now."
Ramey then tried to flag down people driving by. When one stopped, she asked them to call 911. Eventually, three people were arrested - one at the scene and two others walking on a nearby road."They've been stealing from me for years. Those good-for-nothing slobs," she said.
Kentucky born Venus Ramey entered the pageant representing the District of Columbia, and was the first red head to win the title. She entertained in service camps, sold war bonds and toured in vaudeville. In addition to a citation from the United States Treasury Department for her work in the War Bond effort, Venus Ramsey's picture was painted on the side of fighter planes. These plans made sixty-eight raids over war torn Germany, and never lost a man. At a time when it seemed the country was losing the war, this story made the Associated Press and built a nation's morale. Miss America was seen as a political activist for the first time, as Venus worked with Senator Kaper of Kansas and Congressman Somner of Missouri in publishing their bills to gain suffrage for the District of Columbia.
What follows is horrifically graphic. Scroll past, or be warned:
Reading Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion in the partial birth abortion decision, just handed down, can be tough going even for a recovering lawyer like me....
Kennedy cites a 1992 presentation by a Dr. Martin Haskell describing the method of "intact D&E" ("dilation and evacuation"):
The surgeon then forces the scissors into the base of the skull or into the foramen magnum. Having safely entered the skull, he spreads the scissors to enlarge the opening.
The surgeon removes the scissors and introduces a suction catheter into this hole and evacuates the skull contents.
After quoting this clinical description, Justice Kennedy goes on to relate the eyewitness testimony of a nurse who witnessed the same method performed on a 26-and-a-half-week fetus:
The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp. … He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used.
(Excerpt) Read more at spectator.org ...
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Nothing new here, except for the fact that it was published in the NY Daily News (?!).
On Monday, as the news of the Virginia Tech shootings was unfolding, I went into my advanced constitutional law seminar to find one of my students upset. My student, Tara Wyllie, has a permit to carry a gun in Tennessee, but she isn't allowed to have a weapon on campus. That left her feeling unsafe. "Why couldn't we meet off campus today?" she asked.
Virginia Tech graduate student Bradford Wiles also has a permit to carry a gun, in Virginia. But on the day of the shootings, he would have been unarmed for the same reason: Like the University of Tennessee, where I teach, Virginia Tech bans guns on campus.
In The Roanoke Times last year - after another campus incident, when a dangerous escaped inmate was roaming the campus - Wiles wrote that, when his class was evacuated, "Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness. That feeling of helplessness has been difficult to reconcile because I knew I would have been safer with a proper means to defend myself."
Wiles reported that when he told a professor how he felt, the professor responded that she would have felt safer if he had had a gun, too.
What's more, she would have been safer. That's how I feel about my student (one of a few I know who have gun carry permits), as well. She's a responsible adult; I trust her not to use her gun improperly, and if something bad happened, I'd want her to be armed because I trust her to respond appropriately, making the rest of us safer.
Virginia Tech doesn't have that kind of trust in its students (or its faculty, for that matter). Neither does the University of Tennessee. Both think that by making their campuses "gun-free," they'll make people safer, when in fact they're only disarming the people who follow rules, law-abiding people who are no danger at all.
This merely ensures that the murderers have a free hand. If there were more responsible, armed people on campuses, mass murder would be harder.
In fact, some mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens. Though press accounts downplayed it, the 2002 shooting at Appalachian Law School was stopped when a student retrieved a gun from his car and confronted the shooter. Likewise, Pearl, Miss., school shooter Luke Woodham was stopped when the school's vice principal took a .45 fromhis truck and ran to the scene. In February's Utah mall shooting, it was an off-duty police officer who happened to be on the scene and carrying a gun.
Police can't be everywhere, and as incidents from Columbine to Virginia Tech demonstrate, by the time they show up at a mass shooting, it's usually too late. On the other hand, one group of people is, by definition, always on the scene: the victims. Only if they're armed, they may wind up not being victims at all.
"Gun-free zones" are premised on a fantasy: That murderers will follow rules, and that people like my student, or Bradford Wiles, are a greater danger to those around them than crazed killers like Cho Seung-hui. That's an insult. Sometimes, it's a deadly one.Reynolds is Beauchamp Brogan distinguished professor of law at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of the book "An Army of Davids" and blogs at instapundit.com.
The disturbing and cryptic video clips, photographs and manifesto the killer Cho Seung Hui sent to NBC News instantly reminded me of the taped testimonials suicide bombers leave behind to justify their crimes.
It looked so familiar -- an angry young man dressed in battle clothing preach a message full of hate in front of a drab background. I have seen many of these videos over the years in the Middle East.
The attackers always stress a desire to battle injustice and moral turpitude; they all believe they are avengers of the righteous. The videos are also replete with religious references.
Cho repeatedly mentions Christ, suffering and isolation. There appear to have also been references to the Koran.
On the package sent to NBC, Cho uses the name "A. Ishmael." He is also reported to have had the words "Ismail Ax" tattooed or written on one arm.
Ismail is the Koranic name of Abraham's first-born son. In one of the central stories of the Koran, God orders Abraham (called Ibrahim) to sacrifice Ismail as a test of faith, but then intervenes and replaces him with a sheep.
Internet speculation The Islamic Threat website said: Cho "knew exactly the significance of the name in Islam as far as blood sacrifices are concerned which leads me to think that there might have been Islamic motivation behind the madness he displayed."
The Arab New Service website said: "The Chicago Tribune reports that Virginia Tech University massacre perpetrator, Cho Seung-Hui, died with the words "Ismail Ax" in red ink on one of his arms.
Hmmm . . . Ismail -- the Arabic name for Ishmael -- considered the father of all Arabs and a very important figure in Islam. I'm sure it's just a coincidence, right?
(Excerpt) Read more at worldblog.msnbc.msn.com ...
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
How, pundits asked, can a moronic sword’n’sandals romp such as 300 make $400 million at the box office, while a smart cine-literate action parody such as Grindhouse completely dies? The New York Times suggested that this wasn’t the end for the Weinsteins, just a bump in the road. But Business Week announced that it should be a lesson for Hollywood, and that dumb audience-friendly movies such as 300 and Ghost Rider were the way of the future.
So 300 was "moronic" and "dumb"? Mmmm'okay. Tards.
SOP for the ROP.
RIYADH – An Egyptian living in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to death for desecrating the Koran and renouncing Islam, Saudi newspapers and a rights activist said on Wednesday.
Okaz and al-Hayat newspapers said worshippers at a mosque in the desert town of Arar in north Saudi Arabia lodged a complaint with police saying the man, a pharmacist, had left copies of the Muslim holy book in the mosque washrooms.
They said a court found the man guilty on Tuesday of no longer being a Muslim because of his acts and 'violating the boundaries set by God'. They said the man, whom they identified only as an Arab national, pleaded guilty.
Saudi Arabia executes murderers, rapists and drug traffickers to death by public beheading, according to an austere version of Sunni Islam. Anyone found guilty of apostasy can also face death.
Ali al-Ahmed, a prominent Saudi rights activist who has followed the case, said the verdict raised questions about Saudi Arabia's justice system, which rights groups have criticised over a lack of legal representation and codified laws.
'The man is Muslim and an Egyptian. I believe he was set up by extremists zealots,' said Ahmed, a critic of the Saudi government who is based at the Gulf Institute in Washington.
Saudi Arabia often responds to rights groups saying Islamic law specifies clear rights and obligations for Muslims and non-Muslim residents, who must abide by its laws and customs.Four Sri Lankans were publicly beheaded then displayed on wooden crosses in February for armed robbery after what U.S.-based Human Rights Watch called a sham trial.
I love how she sticks with the lie re: the numbers that showed up for her retarded march. They never made it a million, but now she says it was two mil. Egads!
Posted by Justin McCarthy on April 18, 2007 - 17:39.
Gun control advocate and controversial "View" co-host Rosie O’Donnell has given up trying to push for anti-gun legislation.
Despite a series of news events that ought to have, in her view, persuaded Americans to come around to her views on guns, O'Donnell said Tuesday that she believed "there will never be gun control in America" and fighting for it was a "futile attempt." Co-host Joy Behar asked if Rosie "throw(s) up" her "hand." Rosie replied sadly "I sort of do."
ROSIE O’DONNELL: Well, and you know, since 1999, Columbine, what happened? All the mothers got together in America, we formed the "Million Mom March." We marched on Washington, estimates of almost two million mothers there. We protested. We picketed against the NRA, and for the government to make sensible gun legislation. And what has happened since then? Nothing. Nothing. I'm shocked that I'm numb about it. I'm shocked that, you know, Columbine, which took me out at the knees, literally where I thought I would never recover and went on anti-depressants, I thought– I don’t know how— I had a child like you do, I was your age with a baby, and the concept of sending them away to school from the nest of the dangers that lurk out there. But somehow this one, I'm almost numb to it. I think well, here we go again.
JOY BEHAR: Do you feel that it's worthless, it’s useless to protest or to make, raise your voice against gun control, for gun control?
O’DONNELL: I think there will never be gun control in America. And I think having tried to fight it for five years of my life it was a futile attempt.
BEHAR: You throw up your hands hun?
O’DONNELL: I sort of do.
O'Donnell reiterated her views on Wednesday's show, expressing dismay that highly publicized school shootings have not enabled her anti-gun agenda:
It was really hard, you know, the Million Mom March after the 1999 Columbine, I mean, everyone thought that would work. What else would it take besides pulling high school kids bloody out of a second floor window. What else would it take to get sensible gun legislation? No one want to take away hunter's rights to hunt. We just want to sort of have sensible gun laws. You know, a teddy bear, has more regulations on it than a gun in terms of safety. Right, but I do feel defeated. I have to tell you. When that happened yesterday, it felt like, well here we go again. You know, it’s like "The Truman Show" or "Groundhog Day." We just wake up, and it just continues, and continues.
O'Donnell's comments came in response to her ostensibly "objective" co-host, ABC News reporter Barbara Walters, remarking that she was "sad" that the anti-gun O'Donnell was "giving up."
The former solo daytime host has been a long-time opponent of gun-rights, famously losing her reputation as the "Queen of Nice" after blowing up at actor Tom Selleck over his support of the National Rifle Association.
NBC video here.
From "Ismail". Again. Wow.
Click above link for pix and excerpts of the "manifesto".
A Virginia court found that Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho was "mentally ill" and dangerous. Then it let him go.
Back in 2005, the District Court in Christiansburg said that Cho was a danger to himself but not others. He was ordered to undergo outpatient care.
The ruling came after Cho was taken to a nearby psychiatric hospital for evaluation in December 2005, after two female schoolmates said they received threatening messages from him and police and school officials became concerned that he might be suicidal.
That information came to light two days after Cho, a Virginia Tech senior, killed 32 people and then himself in a shooting rampage on the university's campus.
Police obtained the order from a local magistrate after it was determined by a state certified employee that Cho met legal criteria for temporary detention that includes being a threat to others and being unable to care for himself.
Under Virginia law, "A magistrate has the authority to issue a detention order upon a finding that a person is mentally ill and in need of hospitalization or treatment.
"The magistrate also must find that the person is an imminent danger to himself or others," says the guideline from Virginia's state court system.
Wendell Flinchum, the chief of the Virginia Tech police department, said that it's common for police to work with mental health facilities
"We normally go through access [appealing to the state's legal system for help] because they have the power to commit people if they need to be committed," said Wendell Flinchum, chief of the Virginia Tech police department.
(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Posted at The Smoking Gun. Horrible stuff.
AOL News has obtained two plays a classmate says were written by Cho Seung-Hui. Ian MacFarlane, the former classmate and current AOL employee, provided us with the plays. A note from Mr. MacFarlane and links to the works appear below.
What happened yesterday:
When I first heard about the multiple shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday, my first thought was about my friends, and my second thought was “I bet it was Seung Cho.”
Cho was in my playwriting class last fall, and nobody seemed to think much of him at first. He would sit by himself whenever possible, and didn’t like talking to anyone. I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard his voice before. He was just so quiet and kept to himself. Looking back, he fit the exact stereotype of what one would typically think of as a “school shooter” – a loner, obsessed with violence, and serious personal problems. Some of us in class tried to talk to him to be nice and get him out of his shell, but he refused talking to anyone. It was like he didn’t want to be friends with anybody. One friend of mine tried to offer him some Halloween candy that she still had, but he slowly shook his head, refusing it. He just came to class every day and submitted his work on time, as I understand it.
A major part of the playwriting class was peer reviews. We would write one-act plays and submit them to an online repository called Blackboard for everyone in the class to read and comment about in class the next day. Typically, the students give their opinions about the plays and suggest ways to make it better, the professor gives his insights, then asks the author to comment about the play in class.
When we read Cho’s plays, it was like something out of a nightmare. The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn’t have even thought of. Before Cho got to class that day, we students were talking to each other with serious worry about whether he could be a school shooter. I was even thinking of scenarios of what I would do in case he did come in with a gun, I was that freaked out about him. When the students gave reviews of his play in class, we were very careful with our words in case he decided to snap. Even the professor didn’t pressure him to give closing comments.
After hearing about the mass shootings, I sent one of my friends a Facebook message asking him if he knew anything about Seung Cho and if he could have been involved. He replied: “dude that’s EXACTLY what I was thinking! No, I haven’t heard anything, but seriously, that was the first thing I thought when I heard he was Asian.”
While I “knew” Cho, I always wished there was something I could do for him, but I couldn’t think of anything. As far as notifying authorities, there isn’t (to my knowledge) any system set up that lets people say “Hey! This guy has some issues! Maybe you should look into this guy!” If there were, I definitely would have tried to get the kid some help. I think that could have had a good chance of averting yesterday’s tragedy more than anything.
While I was hesitant at first to release these plays (because I didn’t know if there are laws against it), I had to put myself in the shoes of the average person researching this situation. I’d want to know everything I could about the killer to figure out what could drive a person to do something like this and hopefully prevent it in the future. Also, I hope this might help people start caring about others more no matter how weird they might seem, because if this was some kind of cry for attention, then he should have gotten it a long time ago.
As far as the victims go, as I was heading to bed last night, I heard that my good friend Stack (Ryan Clark) was one of the first confirmed dead. I didn’t want to believe that I’d never get to talk to him again, and all I could think about was how much I could tell him how much his friendship meant to me. During my junior year, Ryan, another friend and I used to get breakfast on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Shultz Dining Hall, one of the cafeterias on campus, and it was always the highlight of my day. He could talk forever it seemed and always made us laugh. He was a good friend, not just to me, but to a lot of people, and I’ll miss him a lot.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Two Montreal men have been arrested and charged with arson in connection to a series of firebombings, including attacks on a Jewish school and community centre.
Omar Bulphred, 24, and Azim Ibragimov, 22, were arrested and charged Friday in Montreal.
The pair are also charged with uttering threats and possession of arson materials.
They're scheduled to return to court next week for a bail hearing.
A homemade bomb was thrown at the Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre in Cote-des-Neiges earlier this month during Passover.
Last September a similar device was thrown through the front window of a Jewish boys school and a couple of weeks later a car was bombed.
No one was injured in any of the incidents.
Police said the two men could also face charges in an alleged kidnapping plot.
The Quebec Region of the Canadian Jewish Congress expressed relief that arrests have been made in connection to the incidents.
"We are relieved that it appears that they acted as individuals and not as members of an organized group," Jeffrey Boro, president, said in a statement.
Boro said the crimes were hate-motivated, violent and racist, and applauded police for their investigation."We cannot concede even the smallest degree of success to the destructive ambitions of those who seek to promote hatred and contempt for others," he said.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Students staged a sit-in Tuesday outside the office of USC's president, hoping the university would take measures to ensure that USC-themed apparel isn't manufactured in sweatshops.Thirteen students, who came prepared with food to last three days and pillows, ended their protest after about six hours when the university threatened to suspend them and, in a move that even surprised former 1960s student activist Tom Hayden, called their parents.
At least, when watching the end of Western civilization, there's good company to be had.
I recently had a dream that British marines fought back, like their forefathers of old, against criminals and pirates. When taken captive, they proved defiant in their silence. When released, they talked to the tabloids with restraint and dignity, and accepted no recompense.
I dreamed that a kindred German government, which best knew the wages of appeasement, cut-off all trade credits to the outlaw Iranian mullahs — even as the European Union joined the Americans in refusing commerce with this Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic, and thuggish regime.
NATO countries would then warn Iran that their next unprovoked attack on a vessel of a member nation would incite the entire alliance against them in a response that truly would be of a “disproportionate” nature.
In this apparition of mine, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in Syria at the time, would lecture the Assad regime that there would be consequences to its serial murdering of democratic reformers in Lebanon, to fomenting war with Israel by means of its surrogates, and to sending terrorists to destroy the nascent constitutional government in Iraq.
She would add that the United States could never be friends with an illegitimate dictatorship that does its best to destroy the only three democracies in the region. And then our speaker would explain to Iran that a U.S. Congresswoman would never detour to Tehran to dialogue with a renegade government that had utterly ignored U.N. non-proliferation mandates and daily had the blood of Americans on its hands.
Fellow Democrats like John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Harry Reid would add that, as defenders of the liberal tradition of the West, they were not about to call a retreat before extremist killers who behead and kidnap, who blow up children and threaten female reformers and religious minorities, and who have begun using poison gas, all in an effort to annihilate voices of tolerance in Iraq.
These Democrats would reiterate that they had not authorized a war to remove the psychopathic Saddam Hussein only to allow the hopeful country to be hijacked by equally vicious killers. And they would warn the world that their differences with the Bush administration, whatever they might be, pale in comparison to the shared American opposition to the efforts of al Qaeda, the Taliban, Syria, and Iran to kill any who would advocate freedom of the individual.
Those in Congress would not deny that Congress itself had voted for a war against Saddam on 23 counts — the vast majority of which had to do with weapons of mass destruction and remain as valid today as when they were approved in 2002.
Congressional Democrats would make clear that, while in the interests of peace they might wish to talk to Iran, they had no idea how to approach a regime that subsidizes Holocaust denial, threatens to wipe out Israel, defies the world in seeking nuclear weapons, trains terrorists to kill Americans in Iraq, engages in piracy and hostage taking, and butchers or incarcerates any of its own who question the regime.
In this dream, I heard our ex-presidents add to this chorus of war-time solidarity. Jimmy Carter reminded Americans that radical Islam had started in earnest on his watch, out of an endemic hatred of all things Western. I imagined him explaining that America began being called the “Great Satan” during the presidential tenure of a liberal pacifist, not a Texan conservative.
Bill Clinton would likewise add that he bombed Iraq, and Afghanistan, and East Africa without congressional or U.N. approval because of the need for unilateral action against serial terrorism and the efforts of radicals to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
George Bush Sr. would in turn lecture the media that it was once as furious at him for not removing Saddam as it is now furious at his son for doing so; that it was once as critical of him for sending too many troops to the Middle East as it is now critical of his son for sending too few; that it was once as hostile to the dictates of his excessively large coalition as it is now disparaging of his son’s intolerably small alliance; that it was once as dismissive of his old concern about Iranian influence in Iraq as it is now aghast at his son’s naiveté about Tehran’s interest in absorbing southern Iraq; and that it was once as repulsed by his own cynical realism as it is now repulsed by his son’s blinkered idealism.
I also dreamed that the British government only laughed at calls to curtail studies of the Holocaust in deference to radical Muslims, and instead repeatedly aired a documentary on its sole Victoria Cross winner in Iraq. The British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish foreign ministers would collectively warn the radical Islamic world that there would be no more concessions to the pre-rational primeval mind, no more backpeddling and equivocating on rioting and threats over cartoons or operas or papal statements. There would be no more apologies about how the West need make amends for a hallowed tradition that started 2,500 years ago with classical Athens, led to the Italian Republics of the Renaissance, and inspired the liberal democracies that defeated fascism, Japanese militarism, Nazism, and Communist totalitarianism, and now are likewise poised to end radical Islamic fascism.
Europeans would advise their own Muslim immigrants, from London to Berlin, that the West, founded on principles of the Hellenic and European Enlightenments, and enriched by the Sermon on the Mount, had nothing to apologize for, now or in the future. Newcomers would either accept this revered culture of tolerance, assimilation, and equality of religions and the sexes — or return home to live under its antithesis of seventh-century Sharia law.
Media critics of the ongoing war might deplore our tactics, take issue with the strategy, and lament the failure to articulate our goals and values. But they would not stoop to the lies of “no blood for oil” — not when Iraqi petroleum is now at last under transparent auspices and bid on by non-American companies, even as the price skyrockets and American ships protect the vulnerable sea-lanes, ensuring life-saving commerce for all importing nations.
I also dreamed that no columnist, no talking head, no pundit would level the charge of “We took our eye off bin Laden in Afghanistan” when they themselves had no answer on how to reach al Qaedists inside nuclear Pakistan, a country ruled by a triangulating dictator and just one bullet away from an Islamic theocracy.
And then I woke up, remembering that the West of old lives only in dreams. Yes, the new religion of the post-Westerner is neither the Enlightenment nor Christianity, but the gospel of the Path of Least Resistance — one that must lead inevitably to gratification rather than sacrifice.
Once one understands this new creed, then all the surreal present at last makes sense: life in the contemporary West is so good, so free, so undemanding, that we will pay, say, and suffer almost anything to enjoy its uninterrupted continuance — and accordingly avoid almost any principled act that might endanger it.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Oh, darn... looks like poor atheists will finally have to give up on Einstein as a patron saint like all their other little lies and hoaxes. Yes, like Piltdown man, archaeopteryx, Haeckel's embryonic drawings, the magically growing horse, the peppered moth, and the bogus computer eye-formation computer model that never existed.
I mean, if Time, the proverbial blind pig, can find this stuff...
Hey, at least they still have Stalin.
Einstein did, however, retain from his childhood religious phase a profound faith in, and reverence for, the harmony and beauty of what he called the mind of God as it was expressed in the creation of the universe and its laws. Around the time he turned 50, he began to articulate more clearly--in various essays, interviews and letters--his deepening appreciation of his belief in God, although a rather impersonal version of one. One particular evening in 1929, the year he turned 50, captures Einstein's middle-age deistic faith. He and his wife were at a dinner party in Berlin when a guest expressed a belief in astrology. Einstein ridiculed the notion as pure superstition. Another guest stepped in and similarly disparaged religion. Belief in God, he insisted, was likewise a superstition.
At this point the host tried to silence him by invoking the fact that even Einstein harbored religious beliefs. "It isn't possible!" the skeptical guest said, turning to Einstein to ask if he was, in fact, religious. "Yes, you can call it that," Einstein replied calmly. "Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent I am, in fact, religious."
Shortly after his 50th birthday, Einstein also gave a remarkable interview in which he was more revealing than he had ever been about his religious sensibility. It was with George Sylvester Viereck, who had been born in Germany, moved to America as a child and then spent his life writing gaudily erotic poetry, interviewing great men and expressing his complex love for his fatherland. Einstein assumed Viereck was Jewish. In fact, Viereck proudly traced his lineage to the family of the Kaiser, and he would later become a Nazi sympathizer who was jailed in America during World War II for being a German propagandist.
Viereck began by asking Einstein whether he considered himself a German or a Jew. "It's possible to be both," replied Einstein. "Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind."
Should Jews try to assimilate? "We Jews have been too eager to sacrifice our idiosyncrasies in order to conform."
To what extent are you influenced by Christianity? "As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene."
You accept the historical existence of Jesus? "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."
Do you believe in God? "I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws."
Is this a Jewish concept of God? "I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will. Jews believe in free will. They believe that man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew."
Is this Spinoza's God? "I am fascinated by Spinoza's pantheism, but I admire even more his contribution to modern thought because he is the first philosopher to deal with the soul and body as one, and not two separate things."
Do you believe in immortality? "No. And one life is enough for me."
Einstein tried to express these feelings clearly, both for himself and all of those who wanted a simple answer from him about his faith. So in the summer of 1930, amid his sailing and ruminations in Caputh, he composed a credo, "What I Believe," that he recorded for a human-rights group and later published. It concluded with an explanation of what he meant when he called himself religious: "The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man."
People found the piece evocative, and it was reprinted repeatedly in a variety of translations. But not surprisingly, it did not satisfy those who wanted a simple answer to the question of whether or not he believed in God. "The outcome of this doubt and befogged speculation about time and space is a cloak beneath which hides the ghastly apparition of atheism," Boston's Cardinal William Henry O'Connell said. This public blast from a Cardinal prompted the noted Orthodox Jewish leader in New York, Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein, to send a very direct telegram: "Do you believe in God? Stop. Answer paid. 50 words." Einstein used only about half his allotted number of words. It became the most famous version of an answer he gave often: "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind."
Some religious Jews reacted by pointing out that Spinoza had been excommunicated from Amsterdam's Jewish community for holding these beliefs, and that he had also been condemned by the Catholic Church. "Cardinal O'Connell would have done well had he not attacked the Einstein theory," said one Bronx rabbi. "Einstein would have done better had he not proclaimed his nonbelief in a God who is concerned with fates and actions of individuals. Both have handed down dicta outside their jurisdiction."
But throughout his life, Einstein was consistent in rejecting the charge that he was an atheist. "There are people who say there is no God," he told a friend. "But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views." And unlike Sigmund Freud or Bertrand Russell or George Bernard Shaw, Einstein never felt the urge to denigrate those who believed in God; instead, he tended to denigrate atheists. "What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos," he explained.
In fact, Einstein tended to be more critical of debunkers, who seemed to lack humility or a sense of awe, than of the faithful. "The fanatical atheists," he wrote in a letter, "are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who--in their grudge against traditional religion as the 'opium of the masses'-- cannot hear the music of the spheres."
Einstein later explained his view of the relationship between science and religion at a conference at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. The realm of science, he said, was to ascertain what was the case, but not evaluate human thoughts and actions about what should be the case. Religion had the reverse mandate. Yet the endeavors worked together at times. "Science can be created only by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding," he said. "This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion." The talk got front-page news coverage, and his pithy conclusion became famous. "The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
But there was one religious concept, Einstein went on to say, that science could not accept: a deity who could meddle at whim in the events of his creation. "The main source of the present-day conflicts between the spheres of religion and of science lies in this concept of a personal God," he argued. Scientists aim to uncover the immutable laws that govern reality, and in doing so they must reject the notion that divine will, or for that matter human will, plays a role that would violate this cosmic causality.
His belief in causal determinism was incompatible with the concept of human free will. Jewish as well as Christian theologians have generally believed that people are responsible for their actions. They are even free to choose, as happens in the Bible, to disobey God's commandments, despite the fact that this seems to conflict with a belief that God is all knowing and all powerful.
Einstein, on the other hand, believed--as did Spinoza--that a person's actions were just as determined as that of a billiard ball, planet or star. "Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions," Einstein declared in a statement to a Spinoza Society in 1932. It was a concept he drew also from his reading of Schopenhauer. "Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity," he wrote in his famous credo. "Schopenhauer's saying, 'A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills,' has been a real inspiration to me since my youth; it has been a continual consolation in the face of life's hardships, my own and others', and an unfailing wellspring of tolerance."
This determinism appalled some friends such as Max Born, who thought it completely undermined the foundations of human morality. "I cannot understand how you can combine an entirely mechanistic universe with the freedom of the ethical individual," he wrote Einstein. "To me a deterministic world is quite abhorrent. Maybe you are right, and the world is that way, as you say. But at the moment it does not really look like it in physics--and even less so in the rest of the world."
For Born, quantum uncertainty provided an escape from this dilemma. Like some philosophers of the time, he latched onto the indeterminacy that was inherent in quantum mechanics to resolve "the discrepancy between ethical freedom and strict natural laws."
Born explained the issue to his wife Hedwig, who was always eager to debate Einstein. She told Einstein that, like him, she was "unable to believe in a 'dice-playing' God." In other words, unlike her husband, she rejected quantum mechanics' view that the universe was based on uncertainties and probabilities. But, she added, "nor am I able to imagine that you believe--as Max has told me--that your 'complete rule of law' means that everything is predetermined, for example whether I am going to have my child inoculated." It would mean, she pointed out, the end of all moral behavior.
But Einstein's answer was to look upon free will as something that was useful, indeed necessary, for a civilized society, because it caused people to take responsibility for their own actions. "I am compelled to act as if free will existed," he explained, "because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly." He could even hold people responsible for their good or evil, since that was both a pragmatic and sensible approach to life, while still believing intellectually that everyone's actions were predetermined. "I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime," he said, "but I prefer not to take tea with him."
The foundation of morality, he believed, was rising above the "merely personal" to live in a way that benefited humanity. He dedicated himself to the cause of world peace and, after encouraging the U.S. to build the atom bomb to defeat Hitler, worked diligently to find ways to control such weapons. He raised money to help fellow refugees, spoke out for racial justice and publicly stood up for those who were victims of McCarthyism. And he tried to live with a humor, humility, simplicity and geniality even as he became one of the most famous faces on the planet.
For some people, miracles serve as evidence of God's existence. For Einstein it was the absence of miracles that reflected divine providence. The fact that the world was comprehensible, that it followed laws, was worthy of awe.
An excerpt, whole thing here.
While Hamas has sought to strike a moderate tone in order to renew international funding since the Mecca Agreement with Fatah, it continues the calls for genocide of Jews.
In a recent sermon on PA TV, Hamas spokesman Dr. Ismail Radwan reiterated Hamas’s classic ideology that:
* The Hour – the Islamic resurrection and end of days – is dependent on the killing of Jews by Muslims.
* The remaining Jews will unsuccessfully attempt to hide, but the rocks and trees will expose them, calling out "there is a Jew behind me, kill him!"
* "Palestine… will be liberated through the rifle," meaning that Israel will be destroyed through violence.
The Hamas spokesman ended his sermon with a prayer to Allah to "take" Israel and the USA.
Click here to view the video
The following is the full text of the Hamas spokesman's call for genocide of Jews, translated by Palestinian Media Watch:
Hamas spokesman, Dr. Ismail Radwan (PA TV, March 30, 2007): “The Hour [Resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, and the rock and the tree will say: ‘Oh, Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, kill him!’
“We must remind our Arab and Muslim nation, its leaders and people, its scholars and students, remind them that Palestine and the Al Aqsa mosque will not be liberated through summits nor by international resolutions, but it will be liberated through the rifle. It will not be liberated through negotiations, but through the rifle, since this occupation knows no language but the language of force…
“O Allah, strengthen Islam and Muslims, and bring victory to your Jihad-fighting worshipers, in Palestine and everywhere… Allah take the oppressor Jews and Americans and their supporters!”
Cultural clashes involving Islam have recently made headlines in Minnesota. At the airport, some Muslim taxi drivers refuse to transport passengers carrying alcohol; at Target stores, some Muslim cashiers won't scan pork products. Now there's a new point of friction: Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
Its officials say the college, a public institution, has a strict policy of not promoting religion or favoring one religion over another. "The Constitution prevents us from doing this in any form," says Dianna Cusick, director of legal affairs.
But that seems to depend on your religion.
Where Christianity is concerned, the college goes to great lengths to avoid any hint of what the courts call "entanglement" or support of the church. Yet the college is planning to install facilities for Muslims to use in preparing for daily prayers, an apparent first at a public institution in Minnesota.
Separation of church and state is clearest at the college during the Christmas season. A memo from Cusick and President Phil Davis, dated Nov. 28, 2006, exhorted supervisors to banish any public display of holiday cheer: "As we head into the holiday season ... "all public offices and areas should refrain from displays that may represent to our students, employees or the public that the college is promoting any particular religion." Departments considering sending out holiday cards, the memo added, should avoid cards "that appear to promote any particular religious holiday."
Last year, college authorities caught one rule-breaker red-handed. A coffee cart that sells drinks and snacks played holiday music "tied to Christmas," and "complaints and concerns" were raised, according to a faculty e-mail. College authorities quickly quashed the practice.
They appear to take a very different attitude toward Islam. Welcome and accommodation are the order of the day for the college's more than 500 Muslim students. The college has worked with local Muslim leaders to ensure that these students' prayer needs and concerns are adequately addressed, Davis told me.
Muslim prayer is an increasingly controversial issue. Many Muslim students use restroom sinks to wash their feet before prayer. Other students have complained, and one Muslim student fell and injured herself while lifting her foot out of a sink.
Some local Muslim leaders have advised the college staff that washing is not a required practice for students under the circumstances, according to Davis. Nevertheless, he says, he wants to facilitate it for interested students. "It's like when someone comes to your home, you want to be hospitable," Davis told me. "We have new members in our community coming here; we want to be hospitable."
So the college is making plans to use taxpayer funds to install facilities for ritual foot-washing. Staff members are researching options, and a school official will visit a community college in Illinois to view such facilities while attending a conference nearby. College facilities staff members are expected to present a proposal this spring.
In Davis' view, the foot-washing plan does not constitute promotion or support of religion. "The foot-washing facilities are not about religion, they are about customer service and public safety," he says. He sees no significant difference between using public funds to construct prayer-related facilities for Muslim students and the cafeteria's provision of a fish option for Christian students during Lent.
College officials claim that the restrictions on Christmas displays apply to employees who are state agents, and so are subject to more restrictions, while students are free to express their religious beliefs.
But where the Muslim prayer facilities are concerned, college authorities themselves are consulting with religious leaders, researching other schools, and using taxpayer money to make improvements to facilitate one group's prayer.
Issues surrounding the intersection of church and state and religious accommodation are complex. But the college's treatment of Christianity and Islam seems to reflect a double standard.
It's hard to imagine the college researching and paying for special modifications to the college to facilitate Christian rituals. And the "safety" justification? Imagine if a particularly strict group of Christian students found it necessary to sometimes baptize others in the restroom sinks. Would the school build them a baptism basin because a student hit his head on a sink?
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- High-ranking officials said the arrest of a Columbus terror suspect won't be the last in Ohio's capital city, NewsChannel 4's Elenora Andrews reported.
The FBI and Ohio's terrorism task force say they are still tracking terror in the city. A key federal official told NewsChannel 4, "There is more to come" in Columbus, Andrews reported.
Ohio's top law enforcement officials said the arrest of Nuradin Abdi, 32, who was accused of planning to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall, should serve as a wake-up call.
"Understand that we are at war with terrorism, we are at war with an enemy that has no flag, and we are at war with an enemy that has no uniform," said Ohio State Highway Patrol Col. Paul McClellan said.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Islamabad, April 11 (IANS) Pakistan Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar has defied the country's Islamic clergy which issued a decree against her for hugging a male coach after para-jumping, by saying she did it for a 'good cause'.
Bakhtiar told a TV channel that she had 'jumped' to collect funds for the victims of the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and would do it again for a good cause.
'We don't need to be intimidated by these people,' Bakhtiar said.
The chief cleric of Islamabad's Lal Masjid last week issued a 'fatwa', or religious edict, calling on the government to sack Bakhtiar after a newspaper published a photo of her, attired in a bright jumpsuit, hugging her instructor after para-jumping in France.
'I have no regrets. I would do it again happily if it helps the people of Pakistan,' she was quoted as saying by the Daily Times.
In Karachi, female athletes taking part in the 30th National Games are receiving threatening letters.
'If women are found taking part in any sports event of the national games, they will be given punishment on the spot according to Islamic laws,' a letter to the editor in the newspaper said. 'Thus, all women and the government are warned to take heed. If they do not, then government properties and the stadium will be set on fire... and acid will be thrown on the faces of the women taking part in the games.'
I'm sure you've heard the rumors that it's a religion of peace.
Monday, April 09, 2007
How and when I want to go... at 76, doing what I love.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hart... you'll be missed.
Cartoonist Johnny Hart, who won awards and acclaim for creating the BC comic strip, has died at the age of 76.
BC, which depicts a world populated by cavemen and dinosaurs, first appeared in 1958 and eventually reached more than 100 million people.
Mr Hart also co-created The Wizard of Id, the story of a run-down kingdom ruled by a tyrannical monarch.
Mr Hart's wife, Bobby, said he died of a stroke on Saturday while working at his New York home.
"He died at his storyboard," she told the Associated Press.
Richard Newcombe, the founder and president of Creators Syndicate, which syndicates both BC and The Wizard of Id, said both cartoons would continue.
Family members have been helping produce the strips for years, and they have an extensive computer archive of drawings to work with, he told AP.
Mr Hart won numerous awards for his work, including the National Cartoonist Society's prestigious Reuben Award twice for Cartoonist of the Year.
In his later year, Mr Hart's Christianity began to play a more prominent role in his cartoons, courting some controversy.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
30 posted on 04/07/2007 6:53:02 PM CDT by dynachrome
Kipling nailed it.
IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:—
“We invaded you last night—we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”
And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!
It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:—
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:—
“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”