Republicans had better divert some of their campaign cash toward finding a cure for Obama Derangement Syndrome. If they don’t, their nemesis will beat them in a third consecutive presidential contest — without, of course, actually being on the ballot.
GOP power brokers and potential candidates surely realize that President Obama is ineligible to run in 2016. Yet they seem unable to get over the fact that he won in 2008 and 2012. It’s as if they are more interested in vainly trying to rewrite history than attempting to lay out a vision for the future.
Obama Derangement Syndrome is characterized by feverish delirium. The Republican Party suffered an episode last week when former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani began speaking in tongues about Obama’s patriotism.
“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”
This is obviously a nonsensical thing to say about a man who was elected president twice and has served as commander in chief for more than six years. Pressed to explain himself, Giuliani ranted and raved for several days about Obama’s upbringing, made demonstrably false claims about the president’s supposed denial of American exceptionalism, insisted that “I said exactly what I wanted to say” — and then finally issued a non-retraction retraction in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“My blunt language suggesting that the president doesn’t love America notwithstanding, I didn’t intend to question President Obama’s motives or the content of his heart,” Giuliani wrote. But of course he did intend to question Obama’s motives, heart, patriotism and legitimacy, albeit in a self-destructive, laughingstock kind of way.
I speak as a sufferer from Bush Derangement Syndrome eight years ago who recovered by facing reality.
Giuliani can perhaps be dismissed; his future in presidential politics is as bleak as his past, which consists of one spectacularly unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination. But if he was speaking as the party’s id, surely Republicans who consider themselves in the mix for 2016 would play the role of superego and tamp down such baser instincts. Right?
Wrong. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — a guest at the dinner where Giuliani had his eruption — refused to repudiate the offending remarks. “The mayor can speak for himself,” he said. “I’m not going to comment on whether, what the president thinks or not. . . . I’ll tell you I love America, and I think there are plenty of people, Democrat, Republican, independent and everyone in between, who love this country.”
Patricia Arquette, winner of Best Supporting Actress, mentioned “Equal Pay” in her Oscar acceptance speech, and wingnuts on Twitter promptly lost their shit.
The headlines have been grim. Europe’s Jews face “rising anti-Semitism”; in some countries, many are leaving in “record numbers.” In separate incidents in recent months, gunmen have targeted Jews and Jewish institutions in Paris and Copenhagen. Even the Jewish dead have not been left in peace, with reports of graves being desecrated.
But the future of tolerance and multiculturalism in Europe is far from bleak. The bigotry on view has been carried out by a fringe minority, cast all the more in the shade by the huge peace marches and vigils that followed the deadly attacks. And some communities are trying to build solidarity in their home towns and cities.
One group of Muslims in Norway plans to form a “ring of peace” around a synagogue in Oslo on Saturday. On a Facebook page promoting the event, the group explained its motivations. Here’s a translated version of the invite:
Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other. Muslims want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews, and that we are there to support them. We will therefore create a human ring around the synagogue on Saturday 21 February. Encourage everyone to come!
A man in Canada on trial for plotting to derail a passenger train also wanted to make Yellowstone supervolcano erupt, a Toronto court has heard.
Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, wanted to trigger a catastrophic volcanic eruption at Yellowstone National Park but ended up dismissing the idea because it would have been too difficult, a court heard.
An undercover FBI agent told how Esseghaier, a Montreal PhD student from Tunisia,and co-accused Raed Jaser, a Palestinian dispatcher from Ontario, talked about the “death and destruction” a blast from Yellowstone would cause.
“Wouldn’t it be great if my enemies’ worst national disaster could happen?” the agent told the court Esseghaier said.
Last year, scientists at the US Geological Survey explained what would happen if Yellowstone were to produce a supereruption. Findings indicated the umbrella cloud was capable of pushing ash as far as 1,500km away.
In the long-term, the authors said there would be major climate effects and large parts of the US would be blanketed in ash, causing disruption to transport, power and farming.
The agent said Esseghaier was “very passionate” about making Yellowstone erupt, but eventually decided to target the Canadian passenger train instead, the Star reports.
“No. We cannot do anything to make the volcano erupt. It’s very deep. I don’t have any access,” Esseghaier is alleged to have said.
But hey let’s frack Yellowstone! What could go wrong?
In 1919, in the wake of World War I, African American sharecroppers unionized in Arkansas, unleashing a wave of white vigilantism and mass murder that left 237 people dead.
The visits began in the fall of 1918, just as World War I ended. At his office in Little Rock, Arkansas, attorney Ulysses S. Bratton listened as African American sharecroppers from the Delta told stories of theft, exploitation, and endless debt. A man named Carter had tended 90 acres of cotton, only to have his landlord seize the entire crop and his possessions. From the town of Ratio, in Phillips County, Arkansas, a black farmer reported that a plantation manager refused to give sharecroppers an itemized account for their crop. Another sharecropper told of a landlord trying “to starve the people into selling the cotton at his own price. They ain’t allowing us down there room to move our feet except to go to the field.”
No one could know it at the time, but within a year these inauspicious meetings would lead to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. Initiated by whites, the violence—by any measure, a massacre—claimed the lives of 237 African Americans, according to a just released report from the Equal Justice Initiative. The death toll was unusually high, but the use of racial violence to subjugate blacks during this time was not uncommon. As the Equal Justice Initiative observes, “Racial terror lynching was a tool used to enforce Jim Crow laws and racial segregation—a tactic for maintaining racial control by victimizing the entire African American community, not merely punishment of an alleged perpetrator for a crime.” This was certainly true of the massacre in Phillips County, Arkansas.
Bratton agreed to represent the cheated sharecroppers, who also joined a new union, the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America. Its founder, a black Delta native named Robert Hill, had no prior organizing experience but plenty of ambition. “The union wants to know why it is that the laborers cannot control their just earnings which they work for,” Hill announced as he urged black sharecroppers to each recruit 25 prospective members to form a lodge. Hill was especially successful in Phillips County, where seven lodges were established in 1919.
It took a lot of courage to defy the Arkansas Delta’s white elite. Men such as E.M. “Mort” Allen controlled the local economy, government, law enforcement, and courts. Allen was a latter-day carpetbagger, a Northerner who had come to Arkansas in 1906 to make his fortune. He married well and formed a partnership with a wealthy businessman. Together they developed the town of Elaine, a hub for the thriving lumber industry. Allen and the county’s white landowners understood that their continued prosperity depended on the exploitation of black sharecroppers and laborers. In a county where more than 75 percent of the population was African American, this wasn’t a task to be taken lightly. In February 1919, the planters agreed to reduce the acreage of cotton in cultivation in anticipation of a postwar drop in demand. If they gave their tenants a fair settlement, their profits would shrink further. Allen spoke for the planters when he declared that “the old Southern methods are much the best,” and that the “Southern men can handle the negroes all right and peaceably.”
There was nothing “peaceable” about the methods used to demolish the sharecroppers’ union. Late on the night of September 30, 1919, the planters dispatched three men to break up a union meeting in a rough hewn black church at Hoop Spur, a crossroads three miles north of Elaine. Prepared for trouble, the sharecroppers had assigned six men to patrol outside the church. A verbal confrontation led to gunfire that fatally wounded one of the attackers. The union men dispersed, but not for long. Bracing for reprisals from their landlords, they rousted fellow sharecroppers from bed and formed self-defense forces.
The planters also mobilized. Sheriff Frank Kitchens deputized a massive white posse, even setting up a headquarters at the courthouse in the county seat of Helena to organize his recruits. Hundreds of white veterans, recently returned from military service in France, flocked to the courthouse. Dividing into small groups, the armed white men set out into the countryside to search for the sharecroppers. The posse believed that a black conspiracy to murder white planters had just been begun and that they must do whatever it took to put down the alleged uprising. The result was the killing of 237 African Americans.
PALO ALTO, Calif. — In late 2013, an A.T.M. in Kiev started dispensing cash at seemingly random times of day. No one had put in a card or touched a button. Cameras showed that the piles of money had been swept up by customers who appeared lucky to be there at the right moment.
But when a Russian cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Lab, was called to Ukraine to investigate, it discovered that the errant machine was the least of the bank’s problems.
The bank’s internal computers, used by employees who process daily transfers and conduct bookkeeping, had been penetrated by malware that allowed cybercriminals to record their every move. The malicious software lurked for months, sending back video feeds and images that told a criminal group — including Russians, Chinese and Europeans — how the bank conducted its daily routines, according to the investigators.
Then the group impersonated bank officers, not only turning on various cash machines, but also transferring millions of dollars from banks in Russia, Japan, Switzerland, the United States and the Netherlands into dummy accounts set up in other countries.
In a report to be published on Monday, and provided in advance to The New York Times, Kaspersky Lab says that the scope of this attack on more than 100 banks and other financial institutions in 30 nations could make it one of the largest bank thefts ever — and one conducted without the usual signs of robbery.
The Moscow-based firm says that because of nondisclosure agreements with the banks that were hit, it cannot name them. Officials at the White House and the F.B.I. have been briefed on the findings, but say that it will take time to confirm them and assess the losses.
Kaspersky Lab says it has seen evidence of $300 million in theft through clients, and believes the total could be triple that. But that projection is impossible to verify because the thefts were limited to $10 million a transaction, though some banks were hit several times. In many cases the hauls were more modest, presumably to avoid setting off alarms.
The majority of the targets were in Russia, but many were in Japan, the United States and Europe.
No bank has come forward acknowledging the theft, a common problem that President Obama alluded to on Friday when he attended the first White House summit meeting on cybersecurity and consumer protection at Stanford University. He urged passage of a law that would require public disclosure of any breach that compromised personal or financial information.
Looks like this was a “whaling expedition” and they harpooned Moby Dick.
THE first victims of the First Crusade, inspired in 1096 by the supposedly sacred mission of retaking Jerusalem from Muslims, were European Jews. Anyone who considers it religiously and politically transgressive to compare the behavior of medieval Christian soldiers to modern Islamic terrorism might find it enlightening to read this bloody story, as told in both Hebrew and Christian chronicles.
The message from the medieval past is that religious violence seldom limits itself to one target and expands to reach the maximum number of available victims.
Just as the Crusades were integrally linked to Roman Catholicism in the Middle Ages, terrorist movements today are immersed in a particular anti-modern interpretation of Islam. This does not imply that a majority of Muslims agree with violent religious ideology. It does mean that the terrorists’ brand of belief plays a critical role in their savage assault on human rights.
Cultural ignoramuses portrayed President Obama’s references to the Crusades and the Inquisition at the recent National Prayer Breakfast as an excuse for Islamic terrorism, but the president’s allusions could and should have been used as an opportunity to reflect on the special damage inflicted in many historical contexts by warriors seeking conquest in the name of their god.
Times were hard in northern Europe when the crusaders began to gather in the spring of 1096. A disappointing harvest in 1095 had brought famine to the poor. As James Carroll observes in “Constantine’s Sword,” there is “no doubt the crusading impulse rescued many serfs, but also landowners, from desperate economic straits.”
Pope Urban II did not tell crusaders to murder Jews, but that is what happened when at least 100,000 knights, vassals and serfs, unmoored from ordinary social restraints but bearing the standard of the cross, set off to crush what they considered a perfidious Muslim enemy in a faraway land. Why not practice on that older group accused of perfidy — the Jews?
The city of Trier, on the Moselle River, was one of the early stops. The Jews were, according to a Hebrew chronicle, offered the choice of conversion, exile or death — similar to the choices offered by groups like the Islamic State and Boko Haram. After the Jews of Trier made an unsuccessful attempt, by paying off a bishop, to persuade the crusaders to bypass their community, they sought refuge in the prelate’s palace.
The chronicle recounts that “the bishop’s military officer and ministers entered the palace and said to them: ‘Thus said our lord the bishop: Convert or leave this place. I do not wish to preserve you any longer.’ ” It goes on: ” ‘You cannot be saved — your God does not wish to save you now as he did in earlier days.’ “
Denmark - From Joy to Terror: Participants at Copenhagen Bat Mitzvah Describe Event as Shooting Unfolds
Denmark - What should have been the happiest moments of Chana Bentov’s life turned into a nightmare of epic proportions as the 12 year old’s bat mitzvah celebration was punctuated by the sounds of gunshots in the night.
Journalist Eva Blum fled to the basement of The Copenhagen Synagogue with her 15 year old son during the terror attack, which took the life of Dan Uzan, as previously reported on VIN News. Blum spoke with Israeli news site Maariv (goo.gl ) and described what happened inside the synagogue as terror reigned in the streets of Copenhagen.
“We were more than 50 children and adults together,” said Blum. “We were at the bat mitzvah and we were dancing and suddenly the security guard came and screamed ‘turn off the music and go down to the basement.’ We raced downstairs quickly, not even taking our telephones or our bags.”
While the group originally congregated in the basement, they were told to move into a more secure area, deeper inside the basement.
“We knew then that something bad had happened,” said Blum. “We were there for close to two hours. It was very hot and the children were frightened. The father of the bat mitzvah girl overheard the police and the security guards talking and he told just us, the adults, that one of the security people had been shot. We hid this from the children. We just told them that that there had been an attack and that we were being guarded.”
As students at Copenhagen’s Jewish school, the children at the party had all participated in drills to prepare them for a potential security breach.
“They know what the word means,” said Blum. “They are prepared. But this time it was real. This time what we planned for and have always feared actually happened.”
The scariest moments, according to Blum, came when dozens of armed police officers came to evacuate them from the building.
“Each one of the adults took a child, or several children in hand,” recalled Blum. “Imagine what it is like to run with a shoeless child, through roads full of armed policemen. It is frightening.”
The children, many of whom were unaccompanied by their own parents, held up admirably according to Blum.
“We couldn’t call their parents,” said Blum. “We had no phones. The children were scared but they were ready for something like this.”
MS Lawmaker Opposes Education Funding Because It Would Go to ‘Blacks’ Who Get ‘Welfare Crazy Checks’
A Mississippi state lawmaker said he opposed putting more money into elementary schools because he came from a town where “all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work.”
In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger regarding education funding, state Rep. Gene Alday (R) stated his opposition to a push to increase funding to improve elementary school reading scores. Alday implied that increasing education funding for children in black families would be pointless.
Alday continued, saying that when he was mayor of Walls, MS, that the times he’d gone to the emergency room had taken a long time. “I laid in there for hours because they (blacks) were in there being treated for gunshots,” he told the newspaper.
At issue is something called Mississippi’s “third grade reading gate,” a measure passed in 2013, which won’t allow students to advance to fourth grade if they can’t read proficiently. A survey of Mississippi’s school superintendents estimated that about 28 percent of the state’s third graders would have to repeat a grade because they couldn’t pass the reading proficiency exams.
The idea for the policy came from Florida, where the state invested about $1 billion into schools to pay for reading coaches, teachers and increased attention to students who struggled with reading.
The Mississippi legislature recently advanced a bill that would provide exceptions to the reading policy for students with learning disabilities. The bill is opposed by Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who supports the third grade gate policy.
What else can you expect Jake, it’s Mississippi!
One person has been shot in the head and two policemen injured at a synagogue in Denmark, hours after a separate deadly attack two miles away sparked a manhunt.
The shooting in capital Copenhagen comes after one man was killed and three police officers injured when a gunman opened fire at a cafe where a meeting on free speech was taking place.
Danish television station TV2 are reporting a large metro and train station near the scene of the second attack, Norreport, was being evacuated.
The earlier attack took place at a cafe hosting a debate on freedom of speech attended by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has been threatened with death for his cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
One man died in that attack, and police said a suspect was still at large.
Police say it is too early to say if the attacks are linked.