Monday, May 31, 2010
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is apparently not among Mosab Hassan Yousef’s admirers as it’s currently seeking to deport the 32-year-old asylum seeker, who currently resides in San Diego.
Sun, May. 30, 2010 Posted: 03:55 PM EDT
The disowned son of one of the founders of terrorist group Hamas has grown quite a fan base since he revealed who he was and made public his story of conversion from Islam to Christianity.
But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is apparently not among Mosab Hassan Yousef’s admirers as it’s currently seeking to deport the 32-year-old asylum seeker, who currently resides in San Diego.
“[A]ccording to these ‘highly trained’ civil servants, I am a threat to America’s national security and must be deported,” reported Yousef this past week.
In a lengthy account of his situation, Yousef explained in his personal weblog how he has been barred from a grant of asylum since last year “because there were reasonable grounds for believing [I] was a danger to the security of the United States and because [I] engaged in terrorist activity.”
In court documents Yousef recently received, Homeland Security senior attorney Kerri Calcador highlighted Yousef’s extensive involvement with Hamas and the support he gave to the Tier I terrorist organization.
While Yousef admits openly to the integral role he played in Hamas, he argues the account of his conversion in his recently released book, Son of Hamas, should make perfectly clear that he is now an asset, not a threat.
In the book, Yousef shares how he came to question who his enemies really were after he discovered that Hamas was torturing its own people in a relentless search for collaborators.
After a chance encounter with a British missionary in 1999, Yousef started the six-year quest that would lead to embrace of Jesus Christ and his departure from his family, friends and homeland.
During that time, Yousef served as a spy for the Israeli security agency Shin Bet, to which he passed on all the information he gathered in terrorist meetings with then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, his father and other Hamas leaders.
“I … saved the lives of many people-including many Americans,” an obviously upset Yousef emphasized.
“Maybe Homeland Security only read a few chapters of my book.”
According to Yousef, the FBI has advised Homeland Security to drop the case against him, telling them that Yousef is not a threat.
“But Homeland Security shut its eyes and stopped up its ears and told the FBI, ‘You have nothing to do with this. It is our job,’” Yousef claimed.
As a result, Yousef will stand before Immigration Judge Rico J. Bartolomei at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration Court in San Diego on June 30.
With about a month before the court date, Yousef is encouraging those in the San Diego area to attend the 8 a.m. hearing and “see for yourself Homeland Security in action.”
He is also encouraging supporters to write letters to Homeland Security senior attorney Kerri Calcador – not simply to write on his behalf but to help the department to make what he feels are imperative changes.
“I believe that God is using this situation to expose the weaknesses of Homeland Security and to put pressure on it to make changes that can save lives and preserve freedom,” said Yousef.
Notably, Yousef arrived in America on a tourist visa without any problem on Jan. 2, 2007. It wasn’t until seven months later that he personally went to the Homeland Security office to inform them of his past role in Hamas and his intent to seek political asylum.
“I told them, hey, you didn’t discover me. You didn’t catch me. I came to you and told you who I am to wake you up. I wanted them to see that they have huge gaps in their security and their understanding of terrorism and make changes before it’s too late,” he reported.
Before concluding, Yousef claimed that “Homeland Security has been embarrassed.
"They want me out. They don’t want to change," he wrote. "But there are too many lives at stake to worry about the personal sensitivities of the civil servants at Homeland Security."
Presently, Yousef is residing in San Diego, where he works as a security guard at a grocery store and attends a Baptist church that knows him by his English name – Joseph.
He was the oldest of six brothers and two sisters.
Perhaps he should have come up through the Mexican border. He would then have lots of fans for giving him citizenship rights.
House bill OK'd; Senate one advances
He has already missed his own self-imposed deadline, and President Obama's plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, suffered more setbacks last week when lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol took steps to block him.
On Friday the full House voted 282-131 to prevent Mr. Obama from transferring any of the detainees being held at Guantanamo to the United States, while the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a bill Thursday stopping Mr. Obama from buying a new prison to house the detainees.
(follow link at top to continue reading)
Posted By Bill Muehlenberg On May 31, 2010
[This article is reprinted from the National Observer .]
One of the great unresolved questions of recent history is why so many members of the Western left have become so besotted with, and apologetic for, ruthless totalitarian regimes. There have always been Western leftists who have idolised brutal regimes — be it the Soviet Union, communist Cuba or Islamist Iran —and preferred them to their own countries in the free and prosperous West.
Others have documented this phenomenon, such as Paul Hollander in various classic works, including Political Pilgrims: Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China and Cuba, 1928-78 (1981) and Anti-Americanism (1995).
Here, in his recent book United in Hate , Jamie Glazov makes an attempt at exploring and explaining the Left’s love affair with terror and tyranny.
Glazov is very well qualified to do so, and not only because he has a PhD in history, specialising in US and Russian foreign policy. His personal story contributes much to this book. His parents were Soviet dissidents who fought against communist tyranny and oppression.
They managed to escape to the US in 1972. Their initial taste of glorious freedom was soon soured when they learned that there were Western academics and intellectuals who actually hated them and the message they had to share. These Western apologists for Soviet murder and genocide wanted nothing to do with the Glazovs, and sought to denounce and demonise them in the strongest terms.
Back in the Soviet Union they had risked their lives to campaign for the millions who were being tortured and killed in the Gulag slave labour camps and psychiatric hospitals simply because of their political and religious beliefs. Yet in America they were being viciously attacked by an intelligentsia that loathed America while idolising communist barbarism.
It was a shock the young Glazov never really recovered from, and here he seeks to assess and understand this most bizarre feature of Western life. And with the onset of militant Islam, he sees the whole scenario again being played out before his eyes.
The first half of this important book covers the earlier cases of Western fascination with, and blindness to, totalitarian nightmare states. The Soviet Union, Castro’s Cuba and Mao’s China were all objects of wide-eyed leftist veneration and adoration.
Glazov reminds us of the words of the US ambassador to the Soviet Union, Joseph Davies, uttered during the height of Stalin’s murder of millions. He waxed eloquent in his love of Stalin with these words: Stalin’s “brown eye is exceedingly wise and gentle. A child would like to sit on his lap and a dog would sidle up to him.”
French writer Jean-Paul Sartre could say this about another murderous thug, Fidel Castro: “Castro is at the same time the island, the men, the cattle and the earth. He is the whole island.” And Father Daniel Berrigan, another longstanding apologist for tyrants, could say this of Hanoi’s prime minister Pham Van Dong: he is an individual “in whom complexity dwells: … a face of great intelligence, and yet also of great reserves of compassion …”
Or consider the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, who after capturing power in 1979 managed to carry out 8,000 political executions in the following three years. They made the nation a place of torture, repression and dictatorship. Yet plenty of Western leftists fell at their feet in worship.
German writer Günter Grass, who was shown a “prison” which the Sandinistas wanted political pilgrims to see — not the actual prisons where inmates were beaten, starved, tortured and killed — came back with euphoric exhilaration: “The humane way in which sentences are carried out!”, he gushed, along with other sentimental mush.
Of course, the Soviets had done just the same with the Gulag decades earlier, to fool gullible Westerners who came over for a look. Western left-wingers were just as ignorant and easily deceived in the 1930s or ’50s as they were in the ’80s.
And they still are. The second half of this book looks at Islamic terrorism, and its Western apologists. There are plenty of leftists in the West who are convinced that Islamic terrorism either does not exist, or is all America’s fault.
Again, Glazov offers plenty of examples. The September 11 atrocity provides plenty of quotes. Norman Mailer called the suicide-hijackers “brilliant.” He excused the attack by saying, “Everything wrong with America led to the point where the country built that tower of Babel which consequently had to be destroyed.”
Susan Sontag assured us that the terrorist attack was the result of “specific American alliances and actions.” Film-maker Oliver Stone affirmed that 9/11 was a “revolt” and said the ensuing Palestinian celebrations were comparable to those seen in the French and Russian revolutions.
Christian leader Tony Campolo could argue that 9/11 was a legitimate response to the medieval Crusades. German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen described the 9/11 attacks as “the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos.” On and on the apologists for terror and tyranny go. And then there is the inherent anti-Semitism in so much of this as well.
For many left-wingers, Israel is always the enemy, and the Muslim and Arab populations can do no wrong. Consider the remarks of Mike Wallace concerning Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for the annihilation of Israel: “He’s an impressive fellow this guy. He really is. He’s obviously smart as hell. … You’ll find him an interesting man.”
These leftists offered more support for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein than they did for George W. Bush. Film-maker Michael Moore denounced the US while extolling the terrorists: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win.”
Glazov devotes a chapter to seeking to examine the psychological makeup of these leftists whose romance with tyranny and terror seems so hard to fathom. They are alienated from their own homelands, although seldom realise it. They espouse a secular religion, a secular utopian vision which speaks much of humanity but is happy to see individual humans crushed in the attempt to create their coercive utopia.
The West-hating Left seems to be a permanent feature of modern Western life. Now that the communist revolution has lost its momentum, other causes must be found. The Islamist cause nicely does the trick. The same enemies are there, such as America, freedom and affluence.
As this book reminds us, we really have two enemies to contend with: murderous totalitarian ideologies of every stripe, and their Western leftist support base. It is an insidious alliance of which we all must be aware. This book does a fine job of making that very clear indeed.
Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website, CultureWatch is at:www.billmuehlenberg.com .
By Robert J. Samuelson
Monday, May 31, 2010; A15
Who is poor in America? This is not an easy question to answer, and the Obama administration would make it harder. It's hard because there's no conclusive definition of poverty. Low income matters, though how low is unclear. Poverty is also a mind-set that fosters self-defeating behavior -- bad work habits, family breakdown, out-of-wedlock births and addictions. Finally, poverty results from lousy luck: accidents, job losses, disability.
Despite poverty's messiness, we've tended to measure progress against it by a single statistic, the federal poverty line. It was originally designed in the early 1960s by Mollie Orshansky, an analyst at the Social Security Administration, and became part of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. She took the Agriculture Department's estimated cost for a bare-bones -- but adequate -- diet and multiplied it by three. That figure is adjusted annually for inflation. In 2008, the poverty threshold was $21,834 for a four-member family with two children under 18.
By this measure, we haven't made much progress. Except for recessions, when the poverty rate can rise to 15 percent, it has stayed in a narrow range for decades. In 2007 -- the peak of the last business cycle -- the poverty rate was 12.5 percent; one out of eight Americans was "poor." In 1969, another business cycle peak, the poverty rate was 12.1 percent. But the apparent lack of progress is misleading for two reasons.
First, it ignores immigration, which has increased reported poverty. Many immigrants are poor and low-skilled. From 1989 to 2007, about three-quarters of the increase in the poverty population occurred among Hispanics -- mostly immigrants, their children and grandchildren. The poverty rate for blacks fell during this period, though it was still much too high (24.5 percent in 2007). Poverty "experts" don't dwell on immigration, because it implies that more restrictive policies might reduce U.S. poverty.
Second, the poor's material well-being has improved. The official poverty measure obscures this by counting only pre-tax cash income and ignoring other sources of support. These include the earned-income tax credit (a rebate to low-income workers), food stamps, health insurance (Medicaid), and housing and energy subsidies. Spending by poor households from all sources may be double their reported income, reports a study by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. Although many poor live hand-to-mouth, they've participated in rising living standards. In 2005, 91 percent had microwaves, 79 percent air conditioning and 48 percent cellphones.
The existing poverty line could be improved by adding some income sources and subtracting some expenses (example: child care). Unfortunately, the administration's proposal for a "supplemental poverty measure" in 2011 -- to complement, not replace, the existing poverty line -- goes beyond these changes. The new poverty number would compound public confusion. It also raises questions about whether the statistic is tailored to favor a political agenda.
The "supplemental measure" ties the poverty threshold to what the poorest third of Americans spend on food, housing, clothes and utilities. The actual threshold -- not yet calculated -- will almost certainly be higher than today's poverty line. Moreover, the new definition has strange consequences. Suppose that all Americans doubled their incomes tomorrow, and suppose that their spending on food, clothing, housing and utilities also doubled. That would seem to signify less poverty -- but not by the new poverty measure. It wouldn't decline, because the poverty threshold would go up as spending went up. Many Americans would find this weird: People get richer but "poverty" stays stuck.
What produces this outcome is a different view of poverty. The present concept is an absolute one: The poverty threshold reflects the amount estimated to meet basic needs. By contrast, the supplemental measure embraces a relative notion of poverty: People are automatically poor if they're a given distance from the top, even if their incomes are increasing. The idea is that they suffer psychological deprivation by being far outside the mainstream. The math of this relative definition makes it hard for people at the bottom ever to escape "poverty."
The new indicator is a "propaganda device" to promote income redistribution by showing that poverty is stubborn or increasing, says the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector. He has a point. The Census Bureau has estimated statistics similar to the administration's proposal. In 2008, the traditional poverty rate was 13.2 percent; estimates of the new statistic range up to 17 percent. The new poverty statistic exceeds the old, and the gap grows larger over time.
To paraphrase the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan: The administration is defining poverty up. It's legitimate to debate how much we should aid the poor or try to reduce economic inequality. But the debate should not be skewed by misleading statistics that not one American in 100,000 could possibly understand. Government statistics should strive for political neutrality. This one fails.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
(CNSNews.com) - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Wednesday that Dr. Donald Berwick, an advocate of health-care rationing nominated by President Barack Obama to run Medicare and Medicaid, is “absolutely the right leader at this time” to run the government’s largest health-care entitlement programs. Under the health-care reform law signed by President Obama in March, hundreds of billions of dollars will be cut from the Medicare program over the next decade. Berwick is nominated to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees Medicare.Berwick, a professor at Harvard Medical School, has repeatedly indicated his support for rationing and for the single-payer, government-run health care system of Great Britain. After President Obama signed a $787-billion stimulus law that created a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research--perceived by critics to be a first step toward creating a federal rationing system for health care--Berwick defended the program and rationing health care. “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care--the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open,” Berwick said in a June 2009 interview with Biotechnology Healthcare. At a Wednesday press conference on Capitol Hill, CNSNews.com quoted this statement by Berwick to Sebelius and asked her whether she agreed with it. Sebelius responded by saying she believed Berwick is the right man for the job and is “well-suited to help increase the quality of health care.” “I’m really pleased that the President nominated Dr. Donald Berwick,” Sebelius said. “He’s known nationally as an enormously competent physician and an enormously passionate health care provider and someone who, I think, is incredibly well suited to help increase the quality of health care delivered to the 40-plus million Americans who rely on Medicare services and also the 30-plus million on Medicaid services. “He’s written extensively, he’s taught all over the country, and I think he’s absolutely the right leader for this time.” Sebelius likened an insurance company not paying a benefit it has not contracted for to the government, in a government-run system, rationing care to citizens. “There’s no question, right now, health care is being decided by insurance companies,” said Sebelius. “Part of the Affordable Care Act is to make sure that the tools are back in the hands of health care providers and patients to make their own decisions and so I think his leadership at this time is going to be critical.” When pressed to answer the question of whether or not she agreed with Berwick’s statement about health-care rationing, Sebelius indicated she already had. “I just gave you the answer,” she said. In a talk he delivered in England in 2008 to mark the 60th birthday of Great Britain’s National Health Service, the bureaucracy that runs that country’s single-payer health care system, Berwick told the British that he loved their system. ““Cynics beware,” he said. “I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it.” He particularly drew attention to the British system for rationing health-care by using government planning to deliberately create an insufficient supply of it. “You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach,” Berwick said. “You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; you prefer slightly too little of a technology or a service to too much; then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them.”
By Howie Carr
Let them eat ketchup.
That in essence is what Liveshot Kerry recommends as his prescription for the little people suffering in the so-called economic “recovery.” That ketchup line, from an anonymous Internet poster yesterday, perfectly captures Kerry’s breathtaking smugness. As he intimated this week in D.C., the hoi polloi just don’t understand his greatness, nor that of his fellow national Democrats, from Barack Obama on down.
These all-time lows for Barack and the Congressional Democrats in various national polls - John Kerry knows what’s happening.
“I think there’s a comprehension gap,” he explained to a breakfast of Beltway bumkissers.
Comprehension gap. In other words, you’re not smart enough to understand how wonderful he and the rest of his Democrat pals are.
In the case of the Massachusetts electorate, he may well be correct about this comprehension gap. After all, he’s been elected five times to the U.S. Senate - how much more do you need to know about the cluelessness of the voters in this state?
Comprehension - a four-syllable word. How Liveshot is that? Is this comprehension gap anything like the media in 2008 describing Bush’s 5.5 percent unemployment rate as a precursor of the next Great Depression? But now with the unemployment rate under Obama at 9.9 percent, we are told by the exact same media that it’s the “new normal,” a lagging indicator of the alleged recovery, praise Barack.
“There’s a huge contradiction here,” Liveshot said, although he was talking about the people outside D.C., not himself and his fellow pampered Beltway pukes.
Confused? Of course you are. You didn’t go to Yale.
“We’ve come back,” Kerry said, perhaps referring to gigolos whose billionaire second wives live off the trust funds of their first husbands. Remember, this guy doesn’t only talk like Thurston Howell III, he lives like him - off other people’s money.
Did you see Kerry’s popularity numbers in the Ch. 7 poll this week? Compared to Scott Brown, he’s still the junior senator. Kerry’s favorability-unfavorability percentages are 55-38, Brown’s 57-24.
“There’s a sense of some things unraveling,” Liveshot conceded.
This weekend I’m sure Kerry will be thinking about his subjects, er, constituents, as the Flying Squirrel wings its way towards Nantucket and his second wife’s first husband’s Hurlbert Avenue mansion. From his Gulf stream, he can see the huddled masses . . . on the Woods Hole ferry. If only they could comprehend Liveshot’s greatness, at least in his own mind.
Back in 2008, when I was fulminating against multiculturalism on a more or less weekly basis, a reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to afford to be stupid.”
Two years later, we’re a lot less rich. In fact, many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. Hence last week’s column, on the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.
How did the Western world reach this point? Well, as my correspondent put it, we assumed that we were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid. In any advanced society, there will be a certain number of dysfunctional citizens either unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to support themselves and their dependents. What to do about such people? Ignore the problem? Attempt to fix it? The former nags at the liberal guilt complex, while the latter is way too much like hard work: the modern progressive has no urge to emulate those Victorian social reformers who tramped the streets of English provincial cities looking for fallen women to rescue. All he wants to do is ensure that the fallen women don’t fall anywhere near him.
So the easiest “solution” to the problem is to throw public money at it. You know how it is when you’re at the mall and someone rattles a collection box under your nose and you’re not sure where it’s going but it’s probably for Darfur or Rwanda or Hoogivsastan. Whatever. You’re dropping a buck or two in the tin for the privilege of not having to think about it. For the more ideologically committed, there’s always the awareness-raising rock concert: it’s something to do with Bono and debt forgiveness, whatever that means, but let’s face it, going to the park for eight hours of celebrity caterwauling beats having to wrap your head around Afro-Marxist economics. The modern welfare state operates on the same principle: since the Second World War, the hard-working middle classes have transferred historically unprecedented amounts of money to the unproductive sector in order not to have to think about it. But so what? We were rich enough that we could afford to be stupid.
That works for a while. In the economic expansion of the late 20th century, citizens of Western democracies paid more in taxes but lived better than their parents and grandparents. They weren’t exactly rich, but they got richer. They also got more stupid. When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the modern British welfare state in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want.” Sir William and his colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic succeeded beyond their wildest dreams: to be “poor” in the 21st-century West is not to be hungry and emaciated but to be obese, with your kids suffering from childhood diabetes. When Michelle Obama turned up to serve food at a soup kitchen, its poverty-stricken clientele snapped pictures of her with their cellphones. In one-sixth of British households, not a single family member works. They are not so much without employment as without need of it. At a certain level, your hard-working bourgeois understands that the bulk of his contribution to the treasury is entirely wasted. It’s one of the basic rules of life: if you reward bad behaviour, you get more of it. But, in good and good-ish times, who cares?
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit by the parents of a high school football star who had sued the Sheriff’s Department for releasing from jail an illegal immigrant suspected of killing their son.
'The parents of Jamiel Shaw II, a running back who was recruited by Stanford and Rutgers universities before he was gunned down in 2008, had accused the sheriff of negligence, wrongful death and civil rights violations for letting Pedro Espinoza out onto the streets instead of turning him over to immigration authorities.
Espinoza, a 21-year-old who prosecutors say was a member of the 18th Street gang in the United States illegally, had been released from jail a day before the shooting after serving time for an earlier offense. His criminal case, in which he faces the death penalty, remains pending.
Shaw’s family alleged in their suit that because of an agreement allowing local agencies to enforce federal immigration law, the Sheriff’s Department was liable for Shaw’s death.
At the time of the suit’s filing, immigration law experts said the argument that a sheriff or warden could be held liable for releasing an illegal immigrant who goes on to commit a crime was unprecedented.
In dismissing the suit Wednesday, Judge Charles F. Palmer found that the federal-local partnership did not mean the sheriff had a “mandatory duty” to transfer illegal immigrants after they completed their sentences.
Police say an 80-year-old man shot and killed an armed man who broke into his East Garfield Park home. (Antonio Perez/Tribune)
As an 80-year-old Army veteran, his wife and great-grandson slept in their Humboldt Park home just before dawn Wednesday, a would-be burglar busted a basement window, crawled over discarded bikes and paint buckets, and made his way up winding stairs to an enclosed porch.
The intruder -- who police said wore stockings over his hands to keep from leaving prints -- wiggled the brass doorknob of the locked door that led to the first-floor apartment, but it didn't open, the family said. He then turned to the oversized glass window of the 80-year-old's bedroom, pulled out his gun and shot, police and family said.
But just as the man got off a second round, the homeowner, who had a handgun of his own, fired a single shot, killing the intruder, a police source said.
"He missed, (but) my daddy didn't," said the 80-year-old's son, Butch Gant, who lives upstairs in the two-flat in the 600 block of North Sawyer Avenue.
The shooting comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of June on Chicago's decades-old ban on possessing handguns. During oral arguments in March, the court's majority appeared almost certain to strike down the city ordinance and rule that residents have a right to a handgun at home.
Chicago police have long aggressively been trying to remove guns from the public, saying they are the principal weapons used in murders and employed by gangs to enforce turf through violence.
Handguns account for only one-third of all firearms owned in the United States but more than two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths each year, according to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. A gun in a home is four times more likely to be involved in an unintentional shooting, the council said.
But many in Chicago echoed the feelings of the victim's family that if he hadn't been armed, the frightening encounter could have ended in their deaths.
"He saved our lives," said the man's wife, 83, who had been asleep with her husband when the noise of shattered glass startled the family from its sleep about 5:20 a.m.
Police let the Korean War veteran, who walks with the aid of a cane, go without filing immediate charges because he appeared to act in self-defense, according to police sources.
The homeowner bought his handgun after being robbed just six months ago, having vowed not to be a victim again, his family said.
In an interview at the home, the wife said her first thoughts were of her 12-year-old great-grandson asleep in the next room. She rushed to wake him up and led him to the front living room, away from the gunfire.
"The only thing I could think is 'God, please save my husband, myself and my grandbaby,'" she said.
The wife's hands continued to tremble hours after the shooting.
"I was scared to death," she said. "You're in your bed asleep, and somebody shoots a gun in your home. I'm still shook up."
Neighbors and family heralded the actions of the homeowner.
"He just protected his family," Gant, 57, said. "That's the most important thing to do, protect your family."
The intruder was later identified by his family as Anthony Nelson, 29, who was on parole since December following a three-year prison sentence for a drug conviction, according to county and state records.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, his blood splattered just feet away from the couple's bedroom window.
Nelson had a 13-page rap sheet that includes a number of drug and weapons convictions dating to 1998, according to police and court records. He lived less than a mile from the home he broke into. Neighbors recognized him from his mug shot as a man they had seen at the corner liquor store who went by the name "Big Ant."
"I just don't want to believe it's true," said his mother, Lenora Nelson, who said her son earned his GED while in custody and had just signed up for an online carpentry program. "He could fix almost anything," she said. Nelson was supposed to begin a job next week for a company that cleans out homes before they're remodeled, she said.
The last time she saw her son was Tuesday night, when they had his favorite meal -- steak burritos -- for dinner, she said. When he left around 9 p.m., he didn't tell her where he was going, she said.
Since being freed on parole, Nelson began working with an organization that helps former inmates find jobs once they're released from prison, his mother said.
Police declined to identify the 80-year-old shooter, saying he was a victim of a crime and it was against department policy to name him.
The homeowner met his wife while working as a presser at a dry cleaners. His wife, a retired nurse, also worked as a monitor on a bus for disabled children. Next month they will celebrate their 60th anniversary. The couple have lived in the same house for more than 40 years, but the wife is thinking about moving.
"How much can you take?" she said.
In the West Side neighborhood where the home invasion occurred, longtime homeowners have created a relatively stable community on their street -- an oasis from shootings. Neighbors said their stretch of North Sawyer Avenue had been a good place for families to raise their children a generation ago, but as the aging population dies, new residents move in and a heightened sense of danger grows.
Some residents choose different forms of protection. Audrey Williams, 75, said she keeps five dogs on her property to guard her home, but "this is the first time that we've had an incident like this, on this street, and I've lived here for 43 years," she said.
"They did the right thing. If anyone tried to come in on me, I'd do the same thing," said Williams, who has described the family as "sweet people who don't bother anyone."
One neighbor used to help the couple carry in groceries because they both walk with canes.
"Everyone around here looks around for each other and watches each other's homes," said Jose Perez, who has lived in the area about five years.
Throughout the day Wednesday, a family friend worked to board up the two broken windows. The son said the shooting demonstrates why Chicago's handgun must be repealed.
"How are we going to protect our homes without guns?" the son said. "That gun law should be abolished. You don't need guns on the street, but you need them in the home for protection."
Annie Sweeney, Jeremy Gorner and Kristen Mack contributed to this report.
"In all my travels the city I have come to love most is al-Quds, Jerusalem, where three great faiths come together," Brennan said at an event co-spons
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan speaks to reporters in the White House
The president's top counterterrorism adviser on Wednesday called jihad a "legitimate tenet of Islam," arguing that the term "jihadists" should not be used to describe America's enemies.
During a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, John Brennan described violent extremists as victims of "political, economic and social forces," but said that those plotting attacks on the United States should not be described in "religious terms."
He repeated the administration argument that the enemy is not "terrorism," because terrorism is a "tactic," and not terror, because terror is a "state of mind" -- though Brennan's title, deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security, includes the word "terrorism" in it. But then Brennan said that the word "jihad" should not be applied either.
"Nor do we describe our enemy as 'jihadists' or 'Islamists' because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam, meaning to purify oneself or one's community, and there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children," Brennan said.
The technical, broadest definition of jihad is a "struggle" in the name of Islam and the term does not connote "holy war" for all Muslims. However, jihad frequently connotes images of military combat or warfare, and some of the world's most wanted terrorists including Usama bin Laden commonly use the word to call for war against the West.
Brennan defined the enemy as members of bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and "its terrorist affiliates."
But Brennan argued that it would be "counterproductive" for the United States to use the term, as it would "play into the false perception" that the "murderers" leading war against the West are doing so in the name of a "holy cause."
"Moreover, describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism -- that the United States is somehow at war against Islam," he said.
The comment comes after Brennan, in a February speech in which he described his respect for the tolerance and devotion of Middle Eastern nations, referred to Jerusalem on first reference by its Arabic name, Al-Quds.
"In all my travels the city I have come to love most is al-Quds, Jerusalem, where three great faiths come together," Brennan said at an event co-sponsored by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Islamic Center at New York University and the Islamic Law Students Association at NYU.
By: Mark HemingwayCommentary Staff Writer05/26/10 3:48 PM EDT
Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had a little dust-up with teacher Rita Wilson. Upset over Christie’s education budget, Wilson complained that she wasn’t paid enough and got sharp rebuke from the governor:
But borough teacher Rita Wilson, a Kearny resident, argued that if she were paid $3 an hour for the 30 children in her class, she’d be earning $83,000, and she makes nothing near that.
“You’re getting more than that if you include the cost of your benefits,” Christie interrupted.
When Wilson, who has a master’s degree, said she was not being compensated for her education and experience, Christie said:
“Well, you know then that you don’t have to do it.” Some in the audience applauded.
Christie said he would not have had to impose cuts to education if the teachers union had agreed to his call for a one-year salary freeze and a 1.5 percent increase in employee benefit contributions.
“Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state,” Christie said. “That’s why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that.”
Surrounded by reporters after she spoke, Wilson said she was shaking from the encounter, and worried she might get in trouble for speaking out.
Hmm. Well, based on this PDF from the Rutherford, New Jersey Board of Education — it looks like Ms. Wilson makes a salary of $86,389.
Tongue firmly in cheek, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on Tuesday afternoon called on reporters to demand to see the birth certificate of new Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii). As Djou (pictured here) was being sworn into office, Frank walked the hallway of the Speaker's Lobby off the House floor calling on the media to "do your job" and review Djou's papers.
It was a small bit of payback for the enormous amount of attention some conservatives (and the media) paid to the is-the-president-really-from-America controversy. But, unlike the commander-in-chief, as Frank knows, being born outside the U.S. does not preclude you from becoming a member of Congress.
Still No Word on Troops to Texas-Mexico Border
Perry's request goes ignored for more than a year
New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is reportedly pitching a plan for an increased "millionaire's tax" aimed at 75-85 thousand New Yorkers making $1 million or more a year.
Political columnist Fred Dicker , who appeared on Wednesday's Good Day New York, says Silver secretly proposed a $1 billion tax hike on the highest income earners to Gov. Paterson.
The plan would jack up a current millionaires tax another 11-percent. The current "millionaire's tax" actually starts affecting people who have incomes over $200,000. High income tax earners would pay more than 13-percent of their salary in local taxes.
The highest one percent of income earners account for about 36 percent of all state taxes.
The state is trying to close a $9.2 billion deficit.
Governor Paterson approved a plan that would furlough 100,000 state workers one day a week for eight weeks, which would save $30 million a week for the state. A judge blocked that temporarily blocked that plan at a union's request. A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to review Paterson's plan.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By Spencer S. HsuWashington Post
Arizona's new crackdown on illegal immigration will increase crime in U.S. cities, not reduce it, by driving a wedge between police and immigrant communities, police chiefs from several of the state's and the nation's largest cities said Tuesday.
The new Arizona law will intimidate crime victims and witnesses who are illegal immigrants and divert police from investigating more serious crimes, chiefs from Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia said. They will join their counterparts from Montgomery County and a half-dozen other U.S. cities in meeting Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday morning to discuss the measure.
"This is not a law that increases public safety. This is a bill that makes it much harder for us to do our jobs," Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said. "Crime will go up if this becomes law in Arizona or in any other state."
The delegation was organized by the Police Executive Research Forum, a membership organization of police chiefs that functions as an independent think tankin Washington. The group's meeting with Holder comes as 15 states are considering their own versions of the Arizona law, which defines illegal immigration as criminal trespassing and requires police to request documents of anyone they stop and have a "reasonable suspicion" is in the country illegally.
Several recent public opinion polls indicate that as many as 70 percent of Americans surveyed support such a police requirement.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other civil rights groups have filed lawsuits to block the Arizona law, arguing that the Constitution preempts states from enforcing federal law and that the measure will lead to racial profiling.
The U.S. Justice Department, which Holder heads, is also weighing whether to file suit or intervene.
Although the ranks of chiefs appealing to Holder included Jack Harris of Phoenix, Roberto Villaseñor of Tucson and John W. Harris of Sahuarita, Ariz., president of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, law enforcement opinion in the state is deeply split.
One of the new law's most prominent backers is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. His suburban Phoenix county has caught 120,000 illegal immigrants under a separate federal program that deputizes state and local law enforcement agents to catch illegal immigrants under limited circumstances, mostly after they have been booked into local jails.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, head of the Arizona Sheriff's Association, is another backer.
Babeu called the police chiefs' argument "flawed from the beginning." Cooperation from illegal immigrants, particularly those coming from Mexico, is already low, he said, because they are in the United States illegally and because of law enforcement corruption in their native countries.
"Somehow when they appear in the U.S., magically their perception of law enforcement improves overnight?" Babeu said.
"The people of Arizona believe the overall majority of Americans are not only supportive of this law, but that our measure of generosity has been crossed, a line has been crossed," Babeu added.
Unlike most police chiefs, almost all sheriffs are elected officials. However, only about 60 of the nation's 3,000-plus elected sheriffs have chosen to participate in the federal program championed by Arpaio. Meanwhile, the nation's leading police chiefs have voiced caution about such initiatives.
In 2006, the Major Cities Chiefs Association -- which represents 56 U.S. cities -- unanimously warned that putting "local police in the crosshairs" of the national immigration debate would undo the success of community policing efforts in recent decades, said San Jose Police Chief Robert L. "Rob" Davis, association president and part of the group meeting Holder.
Requiring the Los Angeles Police Department to prioritize the arrest of 400,000 illegal immigrants among the city's 4.1 million residents would "cripple us and make it impossible for us to do our jobs," Beck said.
Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said directing officers to spend hours investigating the immigration status of every person stopped with a suspect identification card would mean less time to catch violent criminals.
"We want to focus resources on people who are committing crimes in our communities," Manger said. "If you got somebody who is gangbanging and committing armed robberies, we'll work with [federal immigration authorities] all day long to find that individual."
Harris of Phoenix said he feared the Arizona measure will become a political fad at the state level, leading federal officials to neglect a national solution to core issues of illegal immigration.
"We understand and agree: Federal immigration law, the whole system, is broken, and that people are very, very frustrated all across this country," Harris said. "But this state law doesn't solve the immigration problems for the country. The solution is here in Washington, D.C., and Congress must step forward and come up with a comprehensive immigration reform that will really solve the problem."
Says she wasn't guilty but all the evidence shows otherwise. Married a rebel, wonder why could they share the same views?
Peru frees US 'rebel' Lori Berenson after 15 years
Ms Berenson's affiliation with the MRTA has been disputed by her parents
Lori Berenson, an American citizen who has served 15 years in a Peruvian prison for aiding leftist rebels, has been freed on parole.
Ms Berenson, 40, was arrested in 1995 for her alleged role in a plot to attack the Peruvian Congress.
A military court found her guilty of collaborating with the left-wing Tupac Amaru rebel group and sentenced her to life imprisonment, later reduced to 20 years in prison.
She has always denied the charges.
The judge ordered her to stay in Peru for five years in order to serve out the remaining years of her sentence on conditional release.
The daughter of university professors, Ms Berenson broke off her studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston to travel to Central and South America. 'Kidnap plot'
During her travels, she is believed to have made contact with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, a Marxist rebel group active in Peru in the 1980s and 1990s.
Tupac Amaru guerrillas became notorious for taking more than 70 people hostage in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima in 1996 and holding them for 126 days.
1996: Military trial, jailed for life
2000: Conviction overturned, civil retrial ordered
2001: Convicted and sentenced to 20 years
2002 Supreme Court upholds sentence
2010: Freed on parole
Ms Berenson was arrested after she gained access to the Peruvian Congress on false journalist credentials alongside the wife of MRTA leader Nestor Cerpa.
Military prosecutors accused her of gathering information for a rebel plot to kidnap members of Congress and exchange them for imprisoned rebel leaders.
Her original life sentence was reviewed by a civil court in 2001.
She was convicted on the lesser charges of terrorist collaboration and her sentence reduced to 20 years.
In 2003, Ms Berenson married fellow prisoner Anibal Apari, who was serving 13 years for his affiliation to the same rebel group. She gave birth to their son a year ago. Mr Apari is also her lawyer.
Her parents have been fighting for her release since her arrest and have always maintained her innocence.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Obama may personally greet each graduate: Kalamazoo Central seniors to fill out paperwork for Secret Service
By Julie Mack Kalamazoo Gazette
May 17, 2010, 7:18AMView full sizeAP Photo/Haraz N. GhanbariPresident Barack Obama chats with students before departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 30, 2010.Update: Kalamazoo Central seniors aren't the only ones asked the 'Citizen status' question View full sizeCourtesy of Anthony Dugal.Kalamazoo Central High School Principal Von Washington, Jr., informs Seniors and parents of the venue for 2010 Commencement. The Seniors attended the Senior Breakfast, hosted by parents, on Friday May 14, 2010. Washington also explained the information cards which must be submitted by all students, for Secret Service security screening, as the graduates will be honored with President Obama at their June 7 Commencement, to be held at WMU University Arena.View full sizeCourtesy of Anthony Dugal.Kalamazoo Central High School Principal Von Washington, Jr., informs Seniors and parents of the venue for 2010 Commencement. The Seniors attended the Senior Breakfast, hosted by parents, on Friday May 14, 2010.View full sizeCourtesy of Anthony Dugal.Kalamazoo Central High School Principal Von Washington, Jr., informs Seniors and parents of the venue for 2010 Commencement. The Seniors attended the Senior Breakfast, hosted by parents, on Friday May 14, 2010.
KALAMAZOO — The White House appears to be laying the groundwork for President Barack Obama to shake the hand of each senior at Kalamazoo Central High School’s commencement ceremony next month.Seniors are being asked to provide their birthdates, Social Security numbers and citizen status to the Secret Service so background checks could be performed. Such a check is required for anyone who gets within an arm’s length of the president, students were told at their senior breakfast Friday.Of the fact that the White House is requesting information on all the graduating seniors, K-Central Principal Von Washingon Jr. told the students, “I’ll let you figure out what that means,” said senior Simon Boehme, who was at the breakfast.“Everyone is excited that we might have the opportunity to shake the president’s hand,” Boehme said.K-Central found out May 4 that the school won a national competition, for which the school submitted a video, that will bring Obama to its commencement as graduation speaker. The ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. June 7 at Western Michigan University’s basketball arena.K-Central seniors also were told Friday that graduation tickets will come from the White House, and the tickets will have bar codes to heighten accountability and prevent them from being sold. “Any irregularities can be traced back to the student who was given the ticket,” Boehme said.Kalamazoo Public Schools spokesman Alex Lee said Sunday that creating a ticket system is a top priority for district officials and the White House right now. “But I’m not sure what that will look like,” Lee said.He pointed out that tickets can’t be issued until the White House and district officials determine how many seats will be available. University Arena can hold up to 5,000 people for a basketball game, but the setup for graduation may reduce that number.Each graduate will get eight tickets for guests, an amount that drew cheers from students at Friday’s breakfast, Boehme said.“People were elated hearing we’d get eight tickets each. Most students were assuming it would be five,” he said. “Some people are still unhappy, but the general consensus is that eight is enough for most people.”Boehme also said that most students are happy that the graduation is being held at University Arena versus WMU’s Waldo Stadium, another venue under consideration. While the stadium could hold up to 30,000 people, Boehme said many seniors were apprehensive about the potential of having an audience comprised mainly of people interested in seeing the president. The smaller audience will mean the focus will stay on graduation, Boehme said.
Check MLive.com/Kalamazoo to watch live video of his speech June 7 at 7 p.m.
“Students are feeling reassured that not a lot of things are going to change ... outside of having the big man there,” Boehme said. He said it appears the president’s speech will not preclude the traditional elements of graduation, including performances of the high school band and choir, student speeches and a slide show of pictures of the graduates over the years.Boehme, who is student government president and class salutorian, expects to be on stage with class valedictorian Cindy Lee, both of whom will give speeches.“I’m more than excited. I’m honored” to speak at the same event as the president, Boehme said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”There will be no tickets available to the general public for the ceremony. Graduating seniors at Loy Norrix and Phoenix, the district’s other two high schools, will be allowed to attend, and there also will be a lottery for Central students in grades 9-11 who would like a ticket.