Sunday, November 29, 2015

Planned Parenthood shooting demonstrates the severity of domestic rightwing terror


Three people are dead and several others are injured after a crazed man opened fire near a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Among the victims of Robert Lewis Dear’s act of terror was police officer Garrett Swasey and two unidentified civilians.
When news of the six-hour standoff broke, media outlets and authorities were careful to not speculate on a motive until an investigation revealed why Dear would feel the need to murder innocent people. However, soon after the shooting, Dear made remarks about his anti-abortion leanings, and authorities still refuse to accept that his motive was clearly to terrorize Planned Parenthood due to his objection to reproductive rights.
CNN’s coverage perfectly demonstrates how authorities are extremely careful against speculating when it comes to a white murder suspect:
“…the suspect accused of carrying out the shooting spree made remarks about “baby parts” to investigators after his surrender, a law enforcement official told CNN. Dear, 57, told them he has anti-abortion and anti-government views, but that doesn’t mean those opinions were his motive for allegedly shooting up the Colorado Springs clinic on Friday, the official said. It’s too early to tell, as investigators are still processing evidence.”
Speculating on a motive, whether the shooter is white, black, or Muslim, is always unacceptable in responsible journalism or policing, which is why I refused to share my opinion on the shooting until I was certain that Planned Parenthood was the target.
At this point, it’s unclear what more Dear needs to say or do to make his motive clearer. He’s a deranged lunatic who thinks Planned Parenthood is profiting off of “baby parts” because another group of deranged lunatics released fraudulent and highly edited videos to make it seem like these clinics are doing something illegal. If we keep beating around the bush, these acts of domestic terror will continue.
After the Center for Medical Progress released its defamatory and deceptive series of edited videos accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue for profit, at least three of the organization’s clinics have been vandalized. Domestic terrorists like Dear clearly have no grasp of irony, because in their quest to “protect life” they brutally murder innocent people. It’s also important to finally accept the fact that these are not isolated incidents that develop out of thin air.
As the National Abortion Federation notes, since 1977 there have been 8 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings and 186 arsons and thousands of other incidents, including vandalism. The real numbers are likely to be higher, and the NAF has made sure to only include incidents that were reported to law enforcement agencies. They rightly haven’t included cases that were ruled inconclusive.
After the Colorado Springs shooting, President Obama made the same predictable lukewarm statements that the media reported as bold.
“This is not normal. We can’t let it become normal,” Obama said, not realizing that these shooting are the new normal. “If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.”
And so we continue on with the same old routine in case after case of domestic terrorism. Rightwing organizations like the Center for Medical Progress and conservative presidential candidates like Carly Fiorina lie about Planned Parenthood, a right-winger opens fire at a clinic, the President offers up the same tough-guy rhetoric on gun control, conservatives act like this is an isolated incident, and at the end of it all nothing gets solved.
There needs to be real criminal consequences for organizations that deceive people to the point where they incite violence against abortion clinics. Domestic terrorism impacts Americans more than Islamic terrorism, yet nothing is being done about it. Last February, the Department of Homeland Security released a report warning about the threat of domestic rightwing terrorism, but the media and the government continued to shift its focus to Islamic terrorism abroad.
Turns out that rightwing fanatics have killed more people in the United States since 9/11 than Muslim extremists. Last June, the research center New America found that 26 people had been killed in jihadist violence in the U.S. since 9/11, but 48 people had been killed in attacks by rightwing groups.
According to Democracy Now, despite the intense focus by the Obama administration on Muslim communities, non-Muslims have carried out more than 19 terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, while Muslims have been responsible for seven. The number reported by Democracy Now are from last June, and don’t even include the more recent cases of domestic terror.
Back in 2011, the DHS dismantled its unit that focused on rightwing terrorism because conservatives vilified the department for pointing a finger to real threats in the U.S. When you put all the puzzle pieces together, it’s not a surprise that horrific shootings like the one in Colorado Springs happen so often. The U.S. doesn’t really take these cases seriously. After all, we need to focus all our attention on despising movements like Black Lives Matter and demonizing Muslims. Apparently there’s no time to protect lives from genuine threats in the country.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Trump almost got it right: Some people were arrested for celebrating 9/11 — but they were Israeli


As Donald Trump continues to insist that he saw “thousands” of Muslims cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center — let’s pause to remember that several Israelis were arrested and eventually deported for acting suspiciously on 9/11.
Trump has said he personally witnessed large numbers of Muslims holding “tailgate parties” in New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001, and his campaign manager suggested that “special interests” who control the media have conspired to bury video footage to back the Republican candidate’s claims.
The GOP frontrunner has dug himself in so deep defending those claims — which are not supported by law enforcement or media accounts — that he mocked a disabled reporter who questioned his recollection.
Police detained, questioned and eventually released a number of Muslims in the New York City area who were accused of behaving suspiciously following the terrorist attacks — but investigators found most of those claims to be unfounded.
A New Jersey woman, however, reported some suspicious men she saw recording video from a moving van that actually did result in arrests.
The woman, identified by police and news reports only as Maria, said she spotted three men kneeling on the roof of a white van outside her New Jersey apartment building as she watched the towers burn through binoculars.
She called police, who arrested five men — identified as Sivan Kurzberg, Paul Kurzberg, Oded Ellner, Omer Marmari and Yaron Shmuel — later that day near Giants Stadium while driving in a van registered to Urban Moving.
Although it’s never been confirmed, the company and the men are widely believed to have been part of an undercover operation set up by Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, and they have been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories about the terrorist attacks.
Their case was transferred out of the FBI’s Criminal Division and into its Foreign Counterintelligence Section shortly after the men were jailed, and they were held ostensibly for overstaying their tourist visas.
An immigration judge ordered them deported two weeks later, but ABC News reported that FBI and CIA officials put a hold on their case.
The men were held in detention for more than two months and given multiple lie detector tests, and at least one of them spent 40 days in solitary confinement.
Intelligence experts suspect the men may have been conducting surveillance on radical Islamists in the U.S., but Israeli officials have denied the men were involved at all in intelligence operations.
Investigators determined the men had no advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks, and they were eventually sent back to Israel after 71 days.
One of the men denied Maria’s claims that they had been laughing as they recorded video of the doomed World Trade Center towers.
“The fact of the matter is we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily,” the man told investigators. “Our purpose was to document the event.”
A lawyer for the men suggested at the time that Maria had exaggerated her claims because she mistook the men for Muslims.
“One of the neighbors who saw them called the police and claimed they were posing, dancing and laughing, against the background of the burning towers,” said attorney Steve Gordon. “The five denied dancing. I presume the neighbor was not near them and does not understand Hebrew. Furthermore, the neighbor complained that the cheerful gang on the roof spoke Arabic.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stephen Colbert hilariously mocks ‘NostraDonald’ Trump for ‘predicting the predictable’ about bin Laden


Donald Trump is a comedian’s dream — a ridiculous but famous person whose fatuous claims and haughty persona are making a mockery of the political process — and Stephen Colbert is thankful for that.
The Republican presidential frontrunner claimed last week that he saw “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11, although police and news organizations can find no evidence that such an event took place.
But Trump has spent this week defending his dubious claims, insisting that — although he could not remember where he had seen the celebration — he was certain he had witnessed it because he has, in his own words, “the world’s greatest memory.”
“That’s right,” Colbert said. “He can’t remember exactly where he saw that video, but he can remember that he has ‘the world’s greatest memory.'”
Trump can also predict the future, according to the candidate himself — who has repeatedly bragged in recent days that he had “mentioned” in a 2000 book that Osama bin Laden was a “bad guy” who was “going to do damage to our country.”
Of course, the real estate tycoon and reality TV star’s passing warning went unheeded.
Colbert pointed out that Trump’s book was published the same year bin Laden was linked to the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, two years after the al Qaeda leader was indicted for the embassy bombings that killed 224 people in Tanzania and Kenya and seven years after he was implicated in a previous bombing of the World Trade Center.
“That’s spooky,” Colbert said. “It’s like Trump has some kind of, like, fifth sense that lets him see what’s in newspapers and on TVs.”
“NostraDonald is not the only one with this power,” Colbert added, setting a candle on his desk as the studio lights were dimmed. “Tonight I will attempt to predict the predictable. I will now commune with the occult powers so I may know the known.”
Colbert predicted that next year would bring an iPhone 7, followed quickly by an iPhone 7s, and he also foresaw a frozen yogurt shop opening in your neighborhood that would close within a year.
Author James Patterson will publish a book next year that may be purchased at the airport, Colbert foretold.
He predicted the weather would soon grow colder, followed by a warming trend in the spring and a heat wave in the summer.
Colbert then picked up a newspaper and read upcoming showtimes for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2,” and he prophesied, popping open a Snapple and reading the underside of the bottlecap, that peace in the Middle East was “pretty darn unlikely.”
He began manipulating one of those origami fortune tellers and predicted that, no matter what Trump said, he would probably continue doing well in the polls.

Watch the entire segment posted online by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert:

4 arrested after "act of terrorism" against Black Lives Matter


 MINNEAPOLIS - They'd been there almost every night, protesters say, cruising in groups by the crowd protesting the shooting death of Jamar Clark, a black man, by Minneapolis police.
The car full of white men would often shoot video of the protests, organized by Black Lives Matter, the protest movement the grew from the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
On Monday night, something changed.
CBS Minnesota reporter Lorena Delacuesta said she sensed trouble just before a shooting sent five protesters to the hospital.
"These three guys come, three white men, covering their faces and they started arguing with the protesters," Delacuesta said.
At 10:41 p.m., three masked men began shouting. Wesley Martin was among those who escorted them away.
Suddenly, shots rang out.
"I heard the N word and that's when everybody started charging," he said. "And we get to 14th and Morgan [avenues], and all I heard was pow...pow, pow, pow, pow, pow."
Martin was shot in the leg, and his brother was also hit.
Police, who haven't commented on a motive for the attack on the protesters, said three people were in custody. Authorities arrested a 23-year-old white man and two more men - both white, ages 26 and 21 - turned themselves in Tuesday afternoon. A 32-year-old Hispanic man was arrested but later released. No further details were immediately available.

On Tuesday, a Black Lives Matter spokesperson said the violence directed at protesters only strengthens their resolve.
"What happened last night was a planned hate crime, an act of terrorism," the spokesperson said.
Despite his injury, Martin returned to the protest at the 4th Precinct. It was his way of saying the cause won't buckle to fear.
"It just went through muscle...I don't care if I be in a wheelchair," he said. "I'll still be out here."
At Tuesday's protest, Black Lives Matter organizers asked that no one wear masks, for safety reasons. It helped set the tone for what organizers are calling a joyful, yet sorrow-filled night.
Cameron Clark was one of the victims of the shooting. He was at the precinct protesting the shooting of his cousin, Jamar Clark
"We were just asking them what's going on," Clark said. "They didn't say anything. The guy in all black just opened fire on us."
Clark was shot in the leg and foot after escorting several masked men away from the precinct.
"I'm hurting. My community needs me," he said. "I need them and I'm not going to lay down."
Clark left the hospital Tuesday and joined hundreds of others for a memorial concert. Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and the NAACP have come together to host a day of celebration, a day of mourning and a day of community.
The shooting followed several racially disparaging comments about the protests that had been posted on social media in recent days. One video showed a white man brandishing a gun while claiming to be on his way to the protests. Police issued a warning Friday night, asking demonstrators to be vigilant and report any suspicious behavior to authorities.
"We ain't scared," Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds told a large crowd gathered for a concert at the precinct early Tuesday evening. "We can't back down. We ain't turning around, but we're here fighting for justice."
Fourteen people whom protesters believed to be white supremacists were kicked out of the area one recent night, said Mica Grimm, an organizer of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis. She said they came in with their faces covered and filmed the crowd but would not talk to people. Some made racist comments.
Grimm said protesters had been threatened by one group online and had been working with hackers to figure out the group's plans. On one night, Grimm said, online chatter included a post stating that a pie had been left at the protest site with rat poison.
"We made sure that all the pies were thrown out, and actually other food was thrown out for fear of contamination," she said.
Grimm said concerns were brought up to police, but protesters felt the threats were not being taken seriously.
Some protesters criticized the police response time and said officers arrived in full riot gear. Officers aggressively pushed back on the crowd, Wronski-Riley said, at one point using a chemical irritant to keep people back.
Police did not answer questions about their response to the shootings or about their response to prior reports of suspicious behavior.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Burning of Christian churches in Israel justified, far-Right Jewish leader says

By Robert Tait, Jerusalem

The leader of a far-Right Israeli group has risked arrest by apparently voicing support for arson attacks on Christian churches amid an official crackdown on Jewish extremism.
Benzi Gopstein, the outspoken head of Lehava - which has drawn notoriety for its violent assaults on Jewish-Arab assimilation - made the remarks at a panel discussion for Jewish yeshiva students when asked by a fellow panelist if he believed burning down churches in Israel was justified.
He later tried to evade accusations of inciting his followers to fire-raise, saying it was the government's responsibility to carry out what he presented as a religious teaching of the 12th century Jewish philosopher, Maimonides.
“Did the Rambam [Maimonides] rule to destroy [idol worship] or not? Idol worship must be destroyed. It’s simply yes – what’s the question?” Mr Gopstein told the panel.
His comment alarmed his questioner Benny Rabinovich, a journalist, who told him: "Benzi, I must say I’m really shocked by what you’re saying here. You are essentially saying we must go out and burn down churches. You’re saying something insane here.”
Told by another panelist, Moshe Klein, rabbi of Israel's Haddash medical centres, that the discussion was being filmed and that his remarks could lead to his arrest, Mr Gopstein answered: “That’s the last thing that concerns me. If this is truth, I’m prepared to sit in jail 50 years for it.”
He later retreated slightly after a recording of the exchange was posted on Kikar Shabbat, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish website. "I stressed several times I was not calling to take operative steps, but that this is the Rambam’s approach and that it’s the responsibility of the government, not of individuals," he said in a statement.
Nevertheless, the incendiary comments could not have been more provocatively timed. They came after Moshe Ya'alon, Israel's defence minister, ordered the detention without trial of Mordechai Meyer, 18, for extremist activities believed to include starting a fire that badly damaged the symbolic Church of Loaves and Fishes in Galilee in June.
He was one of three extremists detained after Benjamin Netanyahu's government was prompted to launch an unprecedented offensive against "Jewish terrorism" following an arson attack by suspected hardline settlers in the West Bank village of Duma last Friday that killed a one-year-old Palestinian toddler and gravely injured his parents and brother.
Head of a Jewish extremist group Meir Ettinger appears in court in Nazareth Illit , Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. Head of a Jewish extremist group Meir Ettinger appears in court in Nazareth Illit , Israel, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015.   Photo: AP
Head of a Jewish extremist group Meir Ettinger appears in court in Nazareth Illit (AP)

Also arrested was Meir Ettinger, grandson of the late Meir Kahane, a Jewish rabbi notorious for racist beliefs who was murdered by a Palestinian in 1990.
Mr Gopstein, Lehava's founder, is a one-time member of Mr Kahane's Kach party, which was banned because of its racist philosophy.
However, Shin Bet - Israel's domestic intelligence agency - recently concluded that there are no legal grounds for similarly outlawing Lehava, despite a request from Mr Ya'alon to consider doing so.
Two of the group's members were recently jailed for setting fire to Jerusalem's Jewish-Arab Max Rayne Hand in Hand school last November. Hebrew graffiti reading "Kahane was right" was sprayed on a wall of the school.
Mr Gopstein was arrested along with 20 other Lehava members for suspected incitement to violence last last year but has so far not been charged.
Lehava - whose name means "flame" but is also the Hebrew acronym for "prevening assimilation in the Holy Land" - regularly holds open gatherings in Jerusalem's Zion Square, where members distribute literature warning of the dangers of relationships between Jewish women and Arab men.
The group held a demonstration at which members chanted "death to the Arabs" outside a wedding between a Muslim and Jewish woman who had converted to Islam during last summer's Gaza war.
It also staged a protest against last week's gay pride march in Jerusalem, where an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man attacked six participants, leading to the death of a 16-year-old girl.

NYT Editorial Board Calls Out Trump's 'Racist Lies'


Among the lies the board pointed to was when Trump said this weekend that he saw "thousands and thousands" of people in New Jersey cheering on 9/11 and when Trump said that the United States was accepting 250,000 Syrian refugees. The board wrote that Trump can be counted on to say lies "too vile to utter aloud" to gain the attention they afford him.
The board wrote the tactic is "nothing new" in politics, comparing Trump's words to comments Joseph McCarthy made as he ran for Senate and George Wallace made after being elected governor of Alabama.
The Times noted that Trump often wages his attacks on social media—a form of communication that doesn't require any proof, unlike an exchange with a reporter should—and that attention garnered online in turn earns him TV spots. On his hyperactive Twitter account, Trump has attacked politicians, retweeted an image of a swastika, and most recently shared an inaccurate statistic about the murder rate among African-Americans.
The board wrote that it doesn't want to limit Trump's free speech, but urged reporters to continue to challenge him. As the newspaper put it, "His right to spew nonsense is protected by the Constitution, but the public doesn’t need to swallow it."
Read the full piece here.

Scientists: Ted Cruz knows less about climate science than the average kindergartner


Climate change is perhaps the most daunting global problem facing humanity. But when it comes to climate science, at least one candidate to lead the world’s most powerful nation is only as informed as the average kindergartner.
A group of climate and biological scientists graded statements made about the environment by candidates. Some, like Democrat Hillary Clinton, performed well. Others — mostly Republicans flunked. But no one performed worse than GOP candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz, according to the Associated Press.
None of the scientists knew which candidate said what. The contenders for president were identified only by numbers and their comments were graded anonymously.
“This individual understands less about science [and climate change] than the average kindergartner,” wrote Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor. “That sort of ignorance would be dangerous in a doorman, let alone a president.”
The scientists point to statements that are plainly false. In August, for example, Cruz said, “If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero warming. … The satellite says it ain’t happening.”
The opposite is true.
Florida State University’s James Elsner pointed out that data shows every decade has been warmer than the last since the mid-1900s, the AP reports. Satellite data shows “continued warming over the past several decades,” and 2015 is set to be the warmest year on record.
Also earning the ire of scientists was Donald Trump, who said in September, “It could be warming and it’s going to start to cool at some point. And you know in the 1920s people talked about global cooling. I don’t know if you know that or not. They thought the Earth was cooling. Now it’s global warming. Actually, we’ve had times where the weather wasn’t working out so they changed it to extreme weather and they have all different names, you know, so that it fits the bill.”
Harvard’s Jim McCarthy called that “nonsense.”

Monday, November 23, 2015

Trump must apologize to Muslim Americans, Jersey City | Editorial

By Jersey Journal Editorial 

Donald Trump must apologize to Muslim Americans and to Jersey City for his untrue, divisive and reprehensible comments perpetuating an old rumor we thought had rightly died.
By repeating – and indeed embellishing – this hateful rumor, Trump once again ratchets up the ugliness in the current political climate.
Thousands and thousands of people in Jersey City did not cheer the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Period. End of story. There is no need to continue to "fact check'' his words.
The truth is that Trump's statements are factually, ethically and morally wrong. Those of us who were really there that day and in the days that followed know that Jersey City suffered tremendous loss, mourned and stepped up to help.
Trump should step up now and do the right thing: apologize.