On Sunday, over 190 members of a biker gang were arrested after a bloody shootout in Waco, Texas, that left nine people dead. Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said the scene was “probably one of the most gruesome crime scenes I’ve ever seen in my 34 years of law enforcement.”
But Sandy Rios, governmental affairs director for the conservative American Family Association, sees potential in these men to put their talents to good use.
“Police have their hands full fighting our real enemies — the cartels, the Islamists — and now they’re fighting motorcycle gangs?” Rios said during her radio show on Monday. “I find myself thinking, let’s have a little retraining for motorcycle gangs and put them on our side fighting our enemies. That’s what we really need.”
It might be tough to get these gangs to start combating drug cartels, since they themselves are drug cartels. Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, according to the 2013 report from the FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center, are “highly structured criminal organizations whose members engage in criminal activities such as violent crime, weapons trafficking, and drug trafficking.”
Though OMGs comprise only 2.5 percent of U.S. gang activity, an FBI survey of law enforcement officers found that 14 percent of respondents identified OMGs as the most problematic gangs in their jurisdictions due to “solid organizational structure, criminal sophistication, and their tendency to employ violence to protect their interests.”
The conversation around the biker gang shootout has been significantly different from the reaction to urban street gangs. No pundits have inquired about white-on-white violence, the lack of positive male leadership or why these bikers would ransack their own community.
Oil tycoon Harold Hamm told a University of Oklahoma dean last year that he wanted certain scientists there dismissed who were studying links between oil and gas activity and the state’s nearly 400-fold increase in earthquakes, according to the dean’s e-mail recounting the conversation.
Hamm, the billionaire founder and chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources, is a major donor to the university, which is the home of the Oklahoma Geological Survey. He has vigorously disputed the notion that he tried to pressure the survey’s scientists. “I’m very approachable, and don’t think I’m intimidating,” Hamm was quoted as saying in an interview with EnergyWire, an industry publication, that was published on May 11. “I don’t try to push anybody around.”
Yet an e-mail obtained from the university by Bloomberg News via a public records request says Hamm used a blunt approach during a 90-minute meeting last year with the dean whose department includes the geological survey.
“Mr. Hamm is very upset at some of the earthquake reporting to the point that he would like to see select OGS staff dismissed,” wrote Larry Grillot, the dean of the university’s Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, in a July 16, 2014, e-mail to colleagues at the university. Hamm also expressed an interest in joining a search committee charged with finding a new director for the geological survey, according to Grillot’s e-mail. And, the dean wrote, Hamm indicated that he would be “visiting with Governor [Mary] Fallin on the topic of moving the OGS out of the University of Oklahoma.”
The news from Garland, Texas, last week was appalling. Two depraved young men, possibly motivated by ISIS propaganda, opened fire on people at an exhibit of cartoons and caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the vicious actions of these criminals. As rabbis, we regard this attack as utterly sinful and indefensible. We commend the law enforcement officers who subdued the assailants, and we pray that the private security guard wounded by the attackers has a speedy and full recovery, body and spirit.
At the same time, we are deeply disturbed by the actions of the organizers of this event: Pamela Geller and her associates at the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative. While we do not dispute Ms. Geller’s First Amendment right to trumpet even the most heinous of views, as Jewish religious leaders we feel compelled to speak out against her decision, in the name of free speech, to publicly insult and demean another religious tradition.
We express solidarity with the many American Muslims who feel wounded by this malicious disregard of their sacred heritage. Further, we are dismayed that a member of the American Jewish community led this incendiary effort. We can only imagine how upset we would be if a group set up a public display of cartoons mocking Jews, offering (as was the case here) a $10,000 prize for the “best” rendering.
Our long history as a persecuted and often taunted minority does not allow us to stand by in silence when such an act is perpetrated against another religious community in our society. Jewish history and teaching compel us to denounce such offensive and inflammatory behavior.
“Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would.”
“If I stop bottling water tomorrow,” said Brown, “people would buy another brand of bottled water. As the second largest bottler in the state, we’re filling a role many others aren’t filling. It’s driven by consumer demand, it’s driven by an on-the-go society that needs to hydrate.
This was the answer Nestlé Waters North America CEO Tim Brown gave when Jay Famiglietti, a hydrologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, asked him whether he would ever consider moving his company’s bottling operations out of California during an interview with AirTalk’s Larry Mantle.
“If I stop bottling water tomorrow,” said Brown, “people would buy another brand of bottled water. As the second largest bottler in the state, we’re filling a role many others aren’t filling. It’s driven by consumer demand, it’s driven by an on-the-go society that needs to hydrate. Frankly, we’re very happy [consumers] are doing it in a healthier way.”
As the Golden State wheezes its way through a historic drought, criticism for bottled water companies operating factories here has been harsh. Just over a week after a Mother Jones investigation, Starbucks announced that it would be moving bottling operations for its Ethos Water brand from California to Pennsylvania because of severe drought conditions. A day before the Mother Jones story broke, Brown wrote an op-ed in the San Bernardino Sun on why the bottled water industry isn’t contributing to the drought.
On Tuesday, Nestlé said that it is investing $7 million on technology and upgrades that would turn its Modesto milk factory into a “zero water” by extracting water from the milk production process and using it in factory operations.
“We have these cooling towers [for milk] that use water,” says Brown. “Previously, that would have been fresh water that we would’ve drawn out of the municipal supply. Now, we can use our own water that had come previously from the milk. That water, normally, would’ve gone into the waste stream. Now it can be reused or recycled.”
The arrogance and entitlement is French Revolution level.
A culinary school in Denmark was found liable for violating a Muslim student’s rights after forcing her to eat pork.
The student, whose has not been identified, was told by school officiasl that she would have to eat the food she cooked like her other classmates, the Danish newspaper Politiken reported.
Pork is considered to be a forbidden food, or “haram”, in the Islamic tradition and practitioners of the religion abstain from consuming the animal.
The student claimed during the case that she was the victim of discrimination based on religious grounds. The complaint against the school was originally filed with the Equal Treatment Board.
The native born Libyan student, who was taken to Denmark when she was still a baby, had been attending the Holstebro Culinary School when the incident occurred.
The student’s refusal to eat dishes containing pork prompted officials to insist that she at least taste the food the class had prepared.
Would they do the same thing to a Jewish student or a vegetarian? I know observant Jews who have attended culinary school and although they were required to prepare non-kosher dishes as part of the course material they were never ordered to eat it.
Do not read the comments at JPost. Do. Not. Read. The. Comments.
LANSING, MI — Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter on Wednesday unveiled a long-term plan to fund new road repairs without a major increase in the gas tax or the sales tax.
Instead, the plan would dedicate future revenue growth, re-prioritize some restricted funds, raise diesel taxes to match gas, create new fees on electric and hybrid vehicles and eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Cotter, who unveiled the plan alongside Republican colleagues at the Michigan Capitol, said it would eventually boost road funding by up to $1.05 billion a year.
“The people want a solution that fixes the roads and doesn’t do a lot of other things,” said Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, referring to last week’s voter rejection of Proposal 1.
“I heard them say fix the roads, but just fix the roads. I think we can learn from that.”
The House plan is largely dependent on projected revenue growth. [Paul Ryan’s Magical “Dynamic Scoring”!—VB] It would dedicate $350 million in new general fund money to roads in 2016 and up to $700 million by 2018. The new funding would go to state and local road agencies, bypassing the traditional formula that also includes mass transit.
While Proposal 1 would have expanded the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit to provide relief to low-wage workers, Cotter’s plan would eliminate the state version altogether for a projected savings of $117 million.
“We are (currently) taking tax dollars from some taxpayers and giving them to others, and here we are putting them into roads,” said Cotter.
“All the predictions about paving the roads with poor people if Proposal 1 failed have come true,” said state Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids.
Roughly 780,500 taxpayers received the Michigan EITC in tax year 2013, according to the state Treasury, with the largest credits going to filers who earned between $15,000 and $20,000.
Democrats are sure to oppose any attempt to scale back the EITC, which supporters champion as a hand up for the working poor.
“All the predictions about paving the roads with poor people if Proposal 1 failed have come true,” said state Rep. Brandon Dillon, D-Grand Rapids.
Dillon, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, also suggested that the plan should be referred to what he’s previously called the “committee on hocus pocus.”
“Basing a plan around projected economic growth is laughable on its face,” he said. “It’s not going to work.”
I see the Crazy People in Michigan want to try all the bullshit voodoo that has already wrecked Kansas and Wisconsin.
They think 40 YEARS OF “LIBERAL POLICIES” WRECKED DETROIT!!!! but they want to apply methods that are guaranteed to cause wreckage faster and more widespread than ever dreamed possible.
How do we stop these people? What will they try next, sell Great Lakes water to Texas?
Some people unfortunately think that the best way to respond to the intolerance of Muslim fanatics is to insult all Muslims.
That’s the twisted thinking behind professional Muslim baiter Pamela Geller’s ill-advised contest in Garland, Texas. Her organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, offered a $10,000 prize to a cartoonist deemed to have drawn the best mocking picture of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad.
Most Muslims quite sensibly ignored the stunt. But when you bait enough people, somebody will rise to the provocation. Two heavily armed and armored Muslim men from Phoenix arrived to shoot up the contest, authorities say, but were blocked by the Garland police force. A traffic cop fatally shot both — and Geller succeeded in making her own organization sound no less reckless than the fanatics she baited.
Oh, sure, there are some people who buy into Geller’s insistence that she is only defending free speech. But that does not excuse her from criticism for expressing reckless speech.
As you probably know, Geller’s contest is just one of the more bizarre reactions to the murderous January assault on the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo by two French Islamic extremists who were offended by the magazine’s depiction of Muhammad.
For the record, Charlie Hebdo cartoonists Jean-Baptiste Thoret and Gerard Biard declared there was “no comparison” between the “equal-opportunity offense” in their criticism of all religions and the Islamaphobic slant of Geller’s stunt.
Yet Charlie Hebdo also has been sharply criticized by many who affirm their right to print what they print but sharply dislike some of what they’re printing.
For example, after the writers’ organization PEN announced that it was giving an award to Charlie Hebdo, six writers who had earlier agreed to be “table hosts” at the gala backed out. While deploring censorship and violence, a letter signed by dissenting PEN members said in part, “(In) an unequal society, equal-opportunity offense does not have an equal effect.”
The letter echoed a criticism of Charlie Hebdo’s humor in a speech by “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau at journalism’s prestigious George Polk Awards: “Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny — it’s just mean.”
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP) — Beth Olem Cemetery is like many aging, final resting places, with assorted tombstones in varying condition, sizes and styles, encircled by a brick wall and iron gate.
Yet surrounding it on all sides is an unusual neighbor: a massive automotive plant.
The serene, green oasis is enveloped by the steel and concrete structures and grounds of General Motors Co.’s Detroit Hamtramck Plant, which makes Chevrolet Volts, Cadillacs and other cars. To maintain plant security, public access to the cemetery is limited to a couple days a year — typically Sundays nearest to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover — and some special requests. This year, the opening around Passover was postponed a month until this past Sunday, when a couple dozen people showed up.
The 2.2-acre, 1,100-grave Jewish cemetery with burials ranging from the late 1860s to the late 1940s, has survived through historical quirks. The biggest was an agreement ironed out about 35 years ago to preserve the cemetery when GM got Michigan Supreme Court approval of its contentious bid to demolish roughly 1,500 homes and businesses, several churches and a hospital so it could build a new plant.
Visitors who clear GM security and drive about a mile around the plant are welcomed by an iron arch with partly rusted letters that reads, “BETHOLEM CEMETERY.”
Given the passage of time and infrequent access, cemetery officials say visitors with no connection to the deceased outnumber descendants. Still, Sunday’s guests included Susan Brodsky, who saw for the first time the grave of her great-grandfather, Chlavno Cantor, who died in 1909. The connection was made through her daughter, Olivia Brodsky, who was working on a college genealogy project, then confirmed by an elderly male cousin.
“He said it was in the Cadillac plant,” said Susan Brodsky, standing next to the headstone that read “Cantor” in English and the rest in Yiddish. “At first, I’m sitting there going like, ‘Where? Where? What is he talking about?’ Then I started Googling ‘old Jewish cemeteries in Detroit’ and it was pretty obvious. … This was it.”
The cemetery’s existence isn’t widely known, but those searching online can find some information. Local historic and Jewish organizations as well as a weekly Jewish publication occasionally write about it, and some learned about the cemetery opening from those websites and social media.
In the early 1860s, members of what’s now called Congregation Shaarey Zedek secured the burial ground, according to a 1992 article published by the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan. Beth Olem’s bucolic setting soon gained industrial neighbors as the auto industry ascended at the turn of the 20th century. The Jewish community moved in subsequent decades, and the cemetery had fewer burials as other cemeteries opened.
Ralph Zuckman is executive director of Shaarey Zedek’s Clover Hill Park Cemetery, a suburban Detroit cemetery overseeing Beth Olem, which is also spelled Beth Olam and means “house of the universe” or “house of eternity.” He said the synagogue shared oversight with other congregations in the 1980s but assumed full responsibility when it came time to negotiate with GM.
“We realized we had an interest in that cemetery and wanted to make sure it remained,” he said. “In Hebrew, going onto a cemetery property is like walking into a synagogue. You’re walking on holy ground.”
While the arrangement is unconventional, Zuckman described the relationship between the automaker and cemetery officials as “very good.” Some landscaping work and headstone repairs are needed, but the grounds and graves are in generally good shape given their age. Clover Hill Park is responsible and pays for upkeep, though GM has access in case of emergency.
I used to work at GM back in the ‘90’s and frequently performed tech support at the Hamtramck facility. My g-g-grandfather’s obituary in the Detroit News in 1910 said that he was carried to “Beth Olem” on Chene Street so a co-worker and I were allowed into the cemetery.
Here is where the story gets really freaky.
When my youngest (6th) son was born in 1985, we had completely run out of family names. We went over booklets of Baby Names and finally, a week after he was born, we decided on a Hebrew name.
We knew my g-g-grandfather’s name was Louis but we thought his Hebrew name was Isaac since his nickname was “Ike”
But it turned out that his name was Aryeh Leib, the same name we gave our son. (Although now he goes by “Bob”)
The Fourth of July celebration has all the hallmarks of a scene from “Gone with the Wind,” or a county fair in the most unreconstructed corners of Mississippi or Alabama. The men, dressed in Confederate gray shell jackets, yellow-trimmed frock coats, kepis and plumed black slouch hats, cross the dance floor to select their partners, elegant young women in colorful hoop-skirted ball gowns. Arm in arm, they step to the rhythms of ancient dances, as the fiddle and banjo strike up the old-time strains of “Dixie’s Land,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “The Virginia Reel” and “Cumberland Gap.”
Meanwhile, families gather around banquet tables loaded down with dishes that are the products of centuries-old Southern family recipes. Along the sidelines, vendors hawk rebel battle flags, Confederate campaign caps, and T-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers emblazoned with slogans like “Hell no, we won’t forget!”
Nearby stands a small stucco-walled chapel. An old cemetery, shaded by Alabama pines and bougainvillea, contains over 500 graves with stones bearing such venerable Southern names as MacKnight, Miller and Baird, Steagall, Oliver, and Norris, Owens, Carlton and Cobb.
The setting is, in fact, in the South - very far south, in Brazil.
The Festa Confederada is held as often as four times a year in Campo, an area carved out of the sugar cane fields outside Americana, a modern city of some 200,000 residents in the state of São Paulo. All the participants are “Confederados” - fifth-generation descendants of Southerners who immigrated here in the days following the Civil War. The entire scene - the dress, the music, food, even the conversation - is a carefully rendered homage to those disaffected rebels who elected to leave their conquered nation and make a new home in a foreign land.
By 1866, the future for countless Southerners appeared bleak. Not only had their bid for nationhood been destroyed; in many instances, so had their homes, their communities and their livelihood. The prospect of living under the harsh fist of the conquering North was more than many were willing to bear. As one Confederado descendant wrote, “Helpless under military occupation and burdened by the psychology of defeat, a sense of guilt, and the economic devastation wrought by the war, many felt they had no choice but to leave.”
There were other reasons. For some, the prospect of laboring alongside former slaves was unacceptable. And then there were those adventurers who hoped to find gold or silver in what was being widely touted as a tropical paradise. Whatever their impetus, for tens of thousands of Southerners, the promise of a new beginning in a new land was irresistible, and Latin America beckoned.
The Southerners’ knowledge of agriculture made them an attractive asset, and a number of countries, including Mexico, Honduras and Venezuela, competed to colonize the disaffected Americans. The most favorable offer, however, came from Brazil’s Emperor Dom Pedro II. Desperate to expand the cultivation of cotton in his country, he put together a proposal offering an impressive list of amenities, including the building of a new road and rail infrastructure for conveying crops to market. Brazil had been a strong ally to the Confederacy throughout the war, harboring and supplying rebel ships. And although Brazil had closed its ports to the African slave trade in 1850, it would not abolish slavery for another 38 years. Of all the Latin American nations, Brazil was the one with which the Southerners felt the strongest bond.
Glenn Greenwald would feel right at home with these paleo-secessionists.
It’s funny I have read a lot of fiction about nazi colonies in South America, but almost nothing about the Confederates.
Why would they celebrate the Fourth of July? Isn’t that, like, a Yankee festival? Wouldn’t they celebrate Ft. Sumter Day (April 1861?)