Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blind St. Paul Man Robbed

The St. Paul Police Department is asking the public to help them find a woman, who committed a crime that's both shocking and surprising. Officials said the suspect offered help to a 74-year-old blind man, and then turned around and mugged him. Gordon Emo has been blind since birth. For the past 36 years, Emo uses his walker to make his weekly trek down Exchange Street for groceries and other items.Last Thursday, Emo said a woman named 'Yolanda' helped him cross the street during his stroll. "Then she grabbed my billfold," Emo explained. "And then she ran off. I said, ‘lady bring my stuff back!’ She started to laugh and ran." Emo said his billfold contained all the money he has for one month, a state identification card, and several medical cards. "I felt violated. I felt sick and angry," Emo said. St. Paul Police said because they have no description of the woman, they don’t have any leads or suspects.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Islamist Terrorists Target Olympics

A militant Islamic terrorist group has threatened to attack the Beijing Olympics with suicide bombers and biological weapons and has claimed responsibility for a string of fatal bombings and explosions in China over recent weeks. In a video released by IntelCenter, a terrorism monitoring group, a bearded man identified as “Commander Seyfullah” is seen reading a declaration of jihad against the Olympics and warns athletes and spectators, “especially Muslims”, to stay away.It was issued by a group calling itself the Turkestan Islamic party. The group may be allied with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – designated a terrorist organisation by the US, China and several other countries – which seeks independence for the Muslim Uighur people of China’s far west province of Xinjiang, which Uighur separatists call East Turkestan. “Commander Seyfullah” said the group was responsible for three bombs last week on buses in the city of Kunming, which killed two people, and for two bus bombings on May 21 in Shanghai, which killed three.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama Conducting Fake Interviews

Obama has a problem: What do you do when you're a lightly accomplished one-term senator, a former state legislator from Illinois, a Harvard law graduate who has no substantive record of accomplishments, and you are running against a war hero whom polls show that Americans overwhelmingly view as far more fit to be commander in chief? Pose, of course. What else can a guy like Obama do? So the man who would be president of the United States of America flies around the world in the middle of a political campaign, enlisting the U.S. military and the Berlin Wall as free campaign commercial backdrops, to lend him the emotional weight and substance -- the aura as a commander -- that he hasn't yet earned on his own. NBC's Andrea Mitchell was the one journalist with the courage to name what she was actually seeing happen: Obama faking even being interviewed by the press. "Let me say something about the message management. He didn't have reporters with him, he didn't have a press pool, he didn't do a press conference," either in Afghanistan or Iraq, noted Mitchell on the air. Instead Obama manufactured "what some would call 'fake interviews,' because they are not interviews from a journalist," Mitchell went on. Mitchell understands very well that this contrived image management is powerfully all to Obama's political advantage.He's shameless when it comes to managing his own image. "Politically it's as smart as can be," she conceded before noting the big obvious truth nobody else in the media was bothering to expose: "We've not seen a presidential candidate do this, in my recollection, ever before." The whole Obama campaign is something we've never seen before -- at least not executed to this level of perfection with a media willing to go along because, well, so many of them want it to succeed. Poor John McCain. He's so last-century. Still living in a world in which deeds matter, policies matter, what you would actually do with the power entrusted to you matters. In the op ed the New York Times refused to print (which appeared in the New York Post this week instead), McCain lays out the facts in Iraq: "Progress has been due mainly to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Sen. Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent."Obama, he points out, still claims no political progress is being made. "Perhaps he's unaware that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, 'Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress,'" McCain jabs. He jabs at an opponent who melts away from his punch. McCain's approach is all so, well, cognitive. McCain thinks that reality is something that really exists, that has to be dealt with, instead of recognizing that we live in a Brave New World where highly paid symbolic analysts construct reality by manipulating symbols. The left imagines they learned this from Ronald Reagan and the rise of the right: big strong guy, genial, looks good on camera -- bingo! Maybe you can't fool all the people all the time, but you can fool 51 percent every time, with the right branding and the right kind of images. God help us when the people who think like that actually run all three branches of our government. President Obama, if that's our future, and his team of symbolic analysts will find out soon enough there are realities out there which none of his contrivances are going to be able to help him handle.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ventura Out, Barkley In

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura halted his political comeback before it began Monday, using a national TV platform to announce that he won't launch a third-party bid for the U.S. Senate "at this moment." But Ventura kept the door open for a possible bid, saying things could change before the 5 p.m. Tuesday filing deadline. In an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," the former pro wrestler squelched speculation about his possible effect on an already hard-fought race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" personality.Within moments of Ventura saying he is out of the U.S. Senate race, Dean Barkley surprised local reporters by announcing he will throw his hat into the ring. Barkley served in the Senate for two months in 2002 after Ventura named him to replace the late Paul Wellstone. "This was an agonizing decision for me," Ventura said. But he said his family fears they will be attacked in the media again if he runs, "because nothing is off-limits today in the world of politics." For the past week, Minnesota's political class had waited to see if Ventura would really get back into the race - or if he was just enjoying a new chance to bask in the spotlight almost six years after he left the governor's office after a single term.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bush Backs Israel Strike Plans On Iran

The Sunday Times of London reported this weekend that "President George W. Bush has told the Israeli government that he may be prepared to approve a future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran break down." The Times report quoted a senior Pentagon official as its source. With increased resistance from the Pentagon and the November elections closing in, the White House may be choosing its next best option in dealing with Tehran: to have Israel launch strikes on Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. The paper said Bush has told Israel it has an "amber light" to proceed. “Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you’re ready,” the paper quoted a U.S. official as saying. Military experts are not sure that Israel's military forces can do the job. Iran has dispersed its nuclear program sites around the country, and some weapons facilities are said to be deep within the earth. The U.S. has special bunker-busting bombs that could destroy such underground laboratories, but Israel does not.Iran has made clear it will retaliate against Israel and the U.S. if either nation attacks it. Last week, Iran's military demonstrated its reach by firing nine long- and medium-range missiles -- including the modified Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which can easily strike Israel from western Iran. Political factors may be playing a role in strike plans for both Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Bush is in lame-duck status, and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, the front-runner to win the presidency in November, says he favors the use of diplomacy over force when dealing with Iran. Olmert is facing a political crisis as corruption charges threaten his hold on office. Some Israeli political analysts say Olmert may order an attack on Iran to bolster his political standing in Jerusalem. The Times cited one of Olmert's closest friends as quoting the prime minister: "In three months’ time it will be a different Middle East.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

Israel Hints At Readiness To Strike Iran

Israel's defense minister has hinted at readiness to attack Iran, saying his country "proved in the past that it won't hesitate to act when its vital security interests are at stake." But Ehud Barak added "the reactions of (Israel's) enemies need to be taken into consideration as well."Tensions with Iran intensified after Tehran launched war games and long-range missile tests this week, warning Tel Aviv would be "set on fire" if Israel attacks Iran over its nuclear program. Israel suspects Iran is building nuclear weapons. Iran denies that, but its president has often said Israel should be "wiped off the map." In 1981, Israel bombed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor. Israel also hit a suspected nuclear facility in Syria in September.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ex-Generals: End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Four former US generals have joined a growing call to end a policy barring homosexuals from openly serving in the military, after a study showed it was out of step with the times and harming the armed forces. The retired officers from the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps found in a year-long study that the 15-year-old policy, which allows gays to serve in the military only if they do not reveal their homosexuality, "is not working." "The military is losing critical talent and it's requiring some members to serve with a unique disadvantage in that they can't be honest with their peers," Nathaniel Franks, a senior research fellow at the Michael D. Palm research center in California, which commissioned the study, told reporters on Tuesday. The Pentagon policy -- called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- is mandated by a congressional statute passed under president Bill Clinton in 1993 and replaced a blanket ban on homosexuals serving in the military. The "Don't Ask" part of the policy means military recruits can no longer be questioned about their sexual orientation; "Don't Tell" means that, as long as they don't reveal their homosexuality, through words or actions, they may continue to serve. "Clinton framed his position in terms of 'meritocracy,' saying the nation could not afford to exclude capable citizens from helping their country even if some citizens did not like them," the generals said in the study."Those opposed to lifting the gay ban... cast the issue as one of 'national security' and 'military readiness,' arguing that such a change would put lives needlessly at risk by compromising the high standards of discipline, morale, and unit cohesion on which a strong military relies," the study said. After reviewing material from congressional hearings and interviewing military personnel, the generals concluded the policy was not working, in part because attitudes towards gays in the military have changed since 1993. Fifteen years ago around 40 percent of the public supported allowing "openly gay men and lesbian women" to serve in the military; today, between 58 and 79 percent hold that view, according to the study. "These days so much has changed in the culture, including the military, that we find in our research -- and this is reflected in the findings in the generals' report -- that commanders themselves are not fans of the policy," said Franks. "It's making it difficult for them to do their work." In calling for the repeal of the law and the axing of the policy, the generals recommend that "an across-the-board set of rules be put in place that regulate sexual activity," said Franks. These uniform standards would be "neutral with respect to sexual orientation," the study says."So there would be no scrutiny of sexual orientation. This is what has happened in Britain, Israel and Canada with great success," Franks said. Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith insisted that sexual conduct, not sexual orientation, was the criterion on which gay service members could be excluded from the military. "The law establishes the basis for separation from the armed forces as conduct, not orientation. Our policy reflects the law, ie no military member is discharged due to his or her sexual orientation," Smith said in a statement emailed to reporters. The study indicated otherwise. "According to a report prepared by the Government Accountability Office, nearly 800 people with skills deemed 'mission-critical' by the Pentagon have been dismissed" under the policy, it said. The study also found that around 1,000 men and women were discharged from the military each year as a direct result of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and that "3,000 would likely have stayed in the military if they could have served openly." Smith said the Pentagon will "follow congressional direction on homosexual conduct." More than 140 members of Congress support an act calling for the law to be repealed, which would give the Pentagon the flexibility to drop the policy, said Franks.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sacha Baron Cohen Plays Prank On Israeli Top Spy

A former Mossad official says he was the target of the latest undercover operation by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Israeli analyst Yossi Alpher said he was invited to be interviewed for what was supposed to be a documentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Alpher says he was led down a winding staircase and through long corridors to the interview site in Jerusalem. He realized something was amiss when he saw the interviewer - a man claiming to be a German rock star dressed in leather and studs. Alpher said he learned only later that the interviewer was Cohen's latest character: Bruno. Cohen's other characters include aspiring rapper Ali G and the anti-Semitic Kazakh journalist Borat. Baron Cohen has fooled many prominent people with his gag interviews. At one point the questioner compared the Mideast conflict to the spat between actor Brad Pitt's former and current wives. After Alpher and his Palestinian partner found themselves answering other idiotic questions, they started to suspect the sophisticated team of several assistants and three cameras.In one, the interviewees had to explain the difference between Hamas - an Islamic group ruling Gaza - and hummus - a chickpea paste eaten throughout the Mideast. "One of us mentioned Hamas, and the exchange that ensued went something like this: 'Vait, vait. Vat's zee connection between a political movement and food. Vy hummus?' We exchanged astonished glances," Alpher recounted in a letter that originally appeared in the New York Jewish weekly, the Forward. After a dumbed-down explanation of the difference, the interviewer asked "'Ya, but vy hummus? Yesterday I had to throw away my pita bread because it vas dripping hummus. Unt it's too high in carbohydrates,"' he said, according to Alpher. But it was too late to pull out, Alpher wrote, because the two had signed release forms and received payment for the interview.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Space Monster Attack To Upstage Worldly Woes At G8?

A science-fiction movie targeting the Group of Eight summit next week in Toyako, Hokkaido, will debut in the prefecture's theaters Saturday, allowing a beast from outer space to wreak havoc on world leaders. The movie, "Girara no Gyakushu" ("Girara Strikes Back"), is a remake of the 1967 movie "Girara" but with a contemporary parody touch. In the plot, Girara attacks Sapporo while the G8 leaders meet in Toyako. The summit then changes its agenda to contemplate steps to stop Girara, according to the movie's official Web site. The movie also includes a scene where the Japanese prime minister, Sanzo Ibe, takes sick leave from the summit after suffering from a bowel problem.Then the G8 chair is taken over by Ibe's predecessor, Junzaburo Oizumi. Another scene involves an attempt by a "dictatorial state in the north" to fire a Potedong-55 nuclear missile at the monster. Director Minoru Kawasaki said he initially conceived the attack taking place in Tokyo but later chose Toyako after it became the G8 venue. Following the early release in Hokkaido, the movie will show nationwide starting from July 26.