Saturday, March 13, 2010

Second US Woman Investigated for Plotting to Kill Swedish Cartoonist

Irish authorities are investigating whether a second American woman was involved in a plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist for drawing an image of the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog.

Police say the woman was detained along with her Algerian husband and five other people Tuesday.

On the same day, the U.S. Justice Department announced the indictment of Colleen LaRose, who called herself "Jihad Jane" for plotting to kill a Swedish man, believed to be cartoonist Lars Vilks. LaRose is charged with conspiring to give material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, and other offenses.

Officials say at least some of the seven suspects arrested in Ireland had been in contact with LaRose.

Obama Announces Education Program

U.S. President Barack Obama says he is bringing Congress an ambitious overhaul of the country's education system.

In his weekly internet and radio address Saturday, Mr. Obama says his plan will help ensure all students graduate high school ready for "college and a career."

The plan will be a major overhaul to the education plan of his predecessor, George W. Bush. Mr. Bush's program, called No Child Left Behind, has been controversial because it relies heavily on standardized testing and penalizes schools that do not meet national standards.

Mr. Obama says his plan will decentralize education reform. He said the federal government will set a "high bar," but that local schools and districts will have "flexibility" in how they reach it.

He says he will present his plan to Congress on Monday.

13 People Dead in Another Suicide Bombing in Pakistan

Top military officials in a northwestern Pakistani district say a suicide bomber has killed at least 13 people, including security personnel, and wounded more than 50 others. Taliban militants have claimed responsibility for the bombing, the third deadly strike in Pakistan this week.

The latest suicide blast happened in the northwestern district of Swat, where the Pakistani military claims to have largely quelled a Taliban uprising after months of bloody clashes.

Witnesses say the powerful explosion in Saidu Sharif, the administrative center of the mountainous district, caused almost all the deaths on the spot and several people were critically wounded.

The bomber was said to be heading toward a complex of civilian and army buildings in the town. Speaking to local reporters, regional military commander Major-General Ashfaq Nadeem gave details of the incident.

He says that the bomber's age was around 22 years and arrived on board a rickshaw at the main security post. The army general says the man stepped out of the three-wheeler and detonated the device when security guards tried to search him.

On Friday, at least 55 people were killed when two-back-to back suicide blasts hit a military convoy passing through a busy part of the eastern city of Lahore. At least 10 soldiers were among those killed in the deadliest attack this year in Pakistan. Several smaller explosions were reported through out Lahore following the suicide bombings, which sparked panic but caused no deaths. On Monday, a suicide car bomb in the city killed at least 13 people and wounded more than 80 others.

The extremist Taliban group has claimed responsibility for the violence. A spokesman for the outlawed group is reported as saying that more such attacks will be carried out unless the Pakistani army stops operations against Taliban fighters in the country's tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. The military action triggered a wave of deadly suicide and other terrorist attacks late last year, killing hundreds of people across the country. But the violence had significantly declined since the beginning of the new year.


I am not sure why, but I don't think I will want to see his O ness on AMW. O man, stay away from FOX and crime shows. That's where they want you. I know John Walsh does great work, but I am not feeling you having a sit down with him. Let Eric Holder go and talk to him, you have more important things to do.

And speaking of crime, I think the following story is important. I have featured this story before, and other bloggers have blogged about it. But it's important that we keep shedding light on the curious interpretation of justice by some people here in A-merry-ca.

"Jamie and Gladys Scott
Even amidst this kind of rhetoric, it would be difficult to see the Scott sisters as dangerous or violent offenders, although the state of Mississippi went to great lengths to depict them as such. On Christmas Eve of 1993, Jamie and Gladys, then 22 and 19, were both young mothers with no criminal records. They were at the local mini-mart buying heating fuel when they ran into two young men they knew, who offered to give them a ride. Sometime later that evening, the two young men were robbed by a group of three boys, ages 14 to 18, who arrived in another car, armed with a shotgun.

Jamie and Gladys say that they had already left the scene to walk home when the robbery took place, and had nothing to do with it. The state insisted they were an integral part of the crime, and in fact had set up the victims to be robbed. Wherever the truth lies, trial transcripts clearly reveal a the case based on the highly questionable testimony of two of the teenaged co-defendants–who had turned state’s evidence against the Scott sisters in return for eight-year sentences—and a prosecutor who appears determined to demonize the two young women.

Jamie and Gladys Scott were not initially arrested for the crime. But ten months later, the 14-year-old co-defendant–who had been in jail on remand during that time–signed a statement implicating them. When questioned by the Scotts’ attorney, the boy confirmed that he had been “told that before you would be allowed to plead guilty” to a lesser charge, “you would have to testify against Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott.” The boy also testified that he had neither written nor read the statement before signing it. It had been written for him by someone at the county sheriff’s office, he said, and he “didn’t know what it was.” But he had been told that if he signed it “they would let me out of jail the next morning, and that if I didn’t participate with them, that they would send me to Parchman [state penitentiary] and make me out a female”—which he took to mean he would be raped. The 18-year-old co-defendant who testified against the Scott sisters also said he was testifying against the Scotts as a condition of his guilty plea to a lesser charge.

But the prosecutor succeeded in depicting Jamie and Gladys Scott not only as participants in the crime robbery, but as its masterminds—two older women who had lured three impressionable boys into the robbing the victims at gunpoint. (This despite the fact that the oldest of the co-defendants was just a year younger than Gladys, and was driving around with a shotgun in his car.) In his summation, he told the jury: They thought it up. They came up with the plan. They duped three young teenage boys into going along and doing something stupid that is going to cost them the next eight years of their lives in the penitentiary.

That probably makes me, at least, as mad about this case, simply at least as much, as the fact that two people got robbed. That three young boys were duped into doing the dirty work.
The prosecutor also reminded jurors that while Jamie and Gladys Scott admittedly did not have a weapon, the judge’s instructions “tell you that if they encourage someone else or counsel them or aid them in any way in committing this robbery they are equally guilty.”

It took the jury just 36 minutes to convict the Scott sisters. And while there was a range of possible sentences for the crime of armed robbery, the state asked for—and received—two consecutive life sentences for the Scott sisters. In contrast, Edgar Ray Killen, the man convicted in 2005 of manslaughter in the 1964 deaths of civil rights workers Schwerner, Cheney, and Goodman, received a sentence of 60 years–meted out by the same judge who presided over the trial of Jamie and Gladys Scott. A direct appeal, carried out by the same lawyers who defended them at trial, failed to overturn the Scotts’ conviction.

Because they were tried for a crime committed before October 1994, when even harsher sentencing rules were put in place in Mississippi, the Scott sisters will be eligible for parole in 2014, after they have served 20 years—though there is no guarantee they will receive it. In the meantime, Evelyn Rasco is praying for mercy, for a good lawyer—and for her daughter Jamie to live that long."
[h/t to Nancy Lockhart for this story]

Hey, if they can put someone away for-at the very least- 20 years of their life for a robbery of $11 worth of goods, maybe it's the people who make the laws in Mississippi who should be on America's Most Wanted.

"Blessed are you who are poor..."

"There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."~ Deuteronomy 15:11 ~

Since we are so close to Easter I am going to go ahead drop a religious post on you. And no, I am not going to blog about the Pope's issues. I don't want to offend my Catholic friends out there. (Not to mention a certain Catholic wife)

I come to praise religion tonight, not to trash it. Especially now that I see some religious leaders are calling for a boycott of a certain nut job who has managed to make himself relevant in the A-merry-can body politic.

"Last week, the conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck called on Christians to leave their churches if they heard any preaching about social or economic justice because, he claimed, those were slogans affiliated with Nazism and Communism.
This week, the Rev. Jim Wallis, a liberal evangelical leader in Washington, D.C., called on Christians to leave Glenn Beck.

“What he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show,” Mr. Wallis, who heads the antipoverty group Sojourners, wrote on his “God’s Politics” blog. “His show should now be in the same category as Howard Stern.”
Mr. Beck, in vilifying churches that promote “social justice,” managed to insult just about every mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, African-American, Hispanic and Asian congregation in the country — not to mention plenty of evangelical ones.

Even Mormon scholars in Mr. Beck’s own church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in interviews that Mr. Beck seemed ignorant of just how central social justice teaching was to Mormonism.
" [Story]

Oh my, what are all those god fearing wingnuts going to do? I think that old song, "torn between two lovers" would be appropriate right about now. Well, better late than never I guess. The thing is, if you let a crazy man loose on the radio and on television every day, at some point he will snap and the craziness will come out. But I worry about all his followers. (Including the ones who are regulars on this blog.) How can you follow a man who asks you to leave your church if it is about social and economic justice? Isn't that what theology is all about? Wasn't the life of a certain man who walked around with long hair and sandals back in the day about the "values of compassion mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation."? I mean doesn't damn near every religion teach about empathy for your fellow man and compassion for the lessor among us?

So what new kind of religion is this guy teaching? It looks like the religion of every man for himself to me.

“I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words."

"Code words" for what? Oh yeah, the evil bogeyman, Barack Obama's Socialist plot to take over A-merry-ca. What a loon. And the sad thing is that millions of people hang on to this guy's every word.

And before you tell me that Glenn Beck and his ilk aren't dangerous, remember what is happening in Texas right now. Trust me, that is the tip of the iceberg. There will be more of this kind of thing to come. Just remember; it's happened before.

Posted by field negro

The Nuclear Option … A Neutron Bomb Aimed at the Democratic Majority

By Dave Cribbin

It’s looking more and more likely that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will trigger the so called nuclear option to push through their health care legislation for the benefit of the American people; the very same people whom overwhelmingly have rejected it and its big government solutions to rising medical costs.

Her fanatical desire to pass this legislation has overwhelmed her ability to reason critically, as is evidenced by recent interviews in which she is quoted as saying, “Representatives are not in Washington to self perpetuate their political careers.” While Mrs. Pelosi may inhabit a very safe district, her words have probably come as quite a surprise to a number of her less safe Democratic colleagues. Hopefully she will give them enough advanced warning to begin in earnest the search for a new career.

It has become something of an urban legend among the Democrats that it was their inability to pass health care reform in the first Clinton administration that was responsible for their loss of the Majority in the House. In other words, the American people were deeply upset by the Democrats’ inability to deliver on legislation that would greatly increase their taxes and add mountains of new regulations to an already over regulated health care industry.

Continue reading.

The Slaughter Solution

ALG Editor's Note: William Warren's award-winning cartoons published at are a free service of ALG News Bureau. They may be reused and redistributed free of charge.

Denying the Truth at all Costs

By Bill Wilson

Politics and policy has become surreal. Webster’s defines the term as “bizarre or dreamlike”. No word better describes the current state of affairs.

For yet another example of the “dreamlike” suspension of reality that is everyday Washington, D.C. consider the recent announcement from union-toady, Congressman George Miller. Miller is proposing to spend $100 billion on a bailout of local governments. That is $100 billion we will have to get from China or the Federal Reserve’s printing press to allow local governments to pretend a little while longer that they can act like spoiled children without consequence.

The Miller proposal would funnel the massive sum of borrowed money to local governments so they can “save or create” jobs. Boil it all down and the Miller scam is exposed as a temporary fix for the junkies who are attempting to avoid withdrawal at all costs. But cold-turkey withdrawal is exactly what they and America need.

Continue reading.

Hanks and Spielberg return to WWII together for 'The Pacific'

HBO's Ross Greenburg Still Believes Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Will Fight

by Bryan BrennanManny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey are squaring off on HBO pay-per-view on Saturday. It’s not for just a belt or payday, but for a much bigger future opportunity.

Pacquiao already had a gargantuan payday in his sights when a little squabble over needles crashed the party. The top pound-for-pound fighter eventually moved on and is slated to fight Clottey at the brand-new Cowboys Stadium in Texas.

Sadly, no matter how good this fight might be, no one cares. All thoughts are still on a potential showdown between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

We caught up with HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg a few weeks ago. Greenburg was in Boston promoting a Larry Bird and Magic Johnson documentary, but he was more than happy to chat a little boxing and didn’t shy away from expressing his disappointment that the superfight never came together.

"Again, we find ourselves in the scenario where we have to have a little bit of luck and both those fighters have to win," said Greenburg, who’s been at HBO since 1978.

This past winter, he was front and center for the collapse of what could have been the biggest fight in boxing. It was a present the television veteran wasn’t expecting.

"It ruined my Christmas vacation, to be honest with you." Greenburg said. "I was on the phone probably four or five hours a day trying to make it happen.

"The fact is that one camp, Pacquiao, wanted 24 days of blood [testing] before the fight, and the other camp wanted 14, and they could never come to a resolution."

Greenburg, like most fight fans, knows HBO’s upcoming boxing schedule isn’t quite as good as it could have been.

"We do have two competitive fights, Pacquiao-Clottey and Mayweather-Shane Mosley, coming up … but now we’re running the risk that one of them gets beat, and that becomes very tricky." Greenburg admitted.

The thought of one of the two headliners being dealt a loss is not completely implausible. Clottey is a big sturdy guy who won’t back down from Pacquiao, and Mosley is a fast, powerful veteran who definitely has the tools to test Mayweather on May 1.

Of course, with every con, there is a pro. Clottey, although sturdy, also is somewhat basic, and as good as Mosley is, he’s also 38 and hasn’t fought since beating Antonio Margarito in January 2009.

So as Greenburg stated, these fights are "competitive," but don’t quite live up to the expectation we had built up in our collective heads.

"It’s like Roger Goodell saying we’ll have championship games, but we’ll forgo the Super Bowl," Greenburg explained.

Greenburg has a vested interest in a possible Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown, and the president of HBO Sports remains hopeful that we will see a bout for the ages.

"Pacquiao and Mayweather need to fight at some point," said Greenburg. "… I know the two fighters, I know they want to fight, and someday, they will."

The question is: Will the fervor be the same when they finally meet? I suppose that all depends on the other two guys.

"Shane Mosley sure as heck thinks on May 1 he’s gonna beat Mayweather," Greenburg added. "Joshua Clottey probably thinks he’ll beat Pacquiao, and he’ll have a huge moment against the winner of Mayweather-Mosley. Now, it’s up to the fighters.”

I will be watching the Pacquiao-Clottey fight, and I will be enjoying it. But we all know it’s a backup plan. I have great respect for Joshua Clottey, and Pacquiao always puts on a good show, but this fight is not going to push boxing forward.

A showdown between the two biggest fighters in the world would help bring a hurting sport back to the mainstream. Greenburg feels quite strongly about what needs to be done.

"We have to find a way as a group, managers, promoters, the fighters themselves, to make that deal happen," Greenburg concluded. "It’s just a must for boxing fans, and the sport itself."

Admittedly, Mayweather-Mosley is a fight I have wanted to see for years, and I am glad that it finally came together, but until Pacquio-Mayweather happens, the pound-for-pound showdown will always be the elephant in the room.

Pacquiao-Clottey prediction
Manny Pacquiao has seemed like the Incredible Hulk lately, but I see that coming to an end on Saturday night. Pacquiao will be more like the flash against Joshua Clottey. That is to say, I don’t think Pacquiao will continue his streak of manhandling and knocking out opponents.

Clottey is a solid fighter with very good skills and a concrete chin, but he also is on a different level than Pacquiao, who is now in the conversation as one of the all-time great fighters. Clottey will always be considered a very tough fighter who beat some great guys. However, he always seems to fall short when he steps up in competition. He hurt his hands against Margarito and just stopped fighting against Miguel Cotto. This time, Clottey will fall short against the reigning pound-for-pound champion.

Pacquiao will use his speed and different angles to keep Clottey off balance on his way to a wide unanimous decision victory.

Monroe leads Hoyas into Big East title game

Greg Monroe had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and No. 22 Georgetown finally got the better of Marquette in a 80-57 victory Friday night that sent the Hoyas to the Big East tournament title game for the third time in four years.

Chris Wright followed his 27-point performance against top-seeded Syracuse in the quarterfinals with 15 points for Georgetown (23-9), which put the game away with a 14-1 run with under 10 minutes to go. The Hoyas will play Notre Dame or West Virginia on Saturday night, looking to extend their record to eight tournament championships.

Jason Clark also had 15 points for Georgetown, while Austin Freeman had 12 points and eight rebounds in his fourth game since being diagnosed with diabetes last week.

Jimmy Butler scored 17 points to lead Marquette (22-11), which had won three straight against Georgetown, including their only meeting during the regular season. The Golden Eagles had not lost a game by more than nine points all season.

They still have won only one league tournament title, when they were a member of Conference USA in 1997. They also lost to Pittsburgh in the 2008 Big East semifinals.

It looked for a while as though they might finally reach Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, closing to 56-51 on Maurice Acker's basket with 10:48 to go, but the Hoyas always seemed to have an answer. Wright made two free throws to begin their big run, Monroe added a basket and 3-pointer moments later, and the lead swelled to 70-53.

The run was reminiscent of a 22-4 spurt in the second half that carried Georgetown past third-ranked Syracuse. By the time Dwight Buycks made a free throw with about 4 minutes left, the Georgetown student section seated near the bench was chanting "Let's go Hoyas!"

Acker wound up with 16 points for Marquette, and Lazar Hayward had 15.

Both teams had played two games to reach the semifinals, and early on it look as though the Hoyas were the only ones with any legs left. They made their first six field goals and had built a 15-4 lead by the first media timeout.

Acker started shooting Marquette back into it, though, and Hayward hit a 3-pointer later in the half to cap a 15-5 run that tied the game at 29-all.

The Golden Eagles just couldn't keep it up against the bigger Hoyas in the second half. Monroe took a seat with about 12 minutes to go and returned refreshed, and the 6-foot-6 Hayward struggled to contain the 6-11 Georgetown star. Hayward eventually fouled out with 3:47 remaining and the outcome no longer in doubt.

Marquette shot 42.9 percent from the field in the first half but cooled off after the break. While the Hoyas were going on their big run, the Golden Eagles went more than 7 minutes without a field goal, shooting only 30.8 percent in the second half.

Internet fraud losses doubled last year

— The cost of Internet fraud doubled in 2009 to about $560 million, the FBI said Friday. The most common type of frauds reported were scams from people falsely claiming to be from the FBI.

Individual complaints of Internet scams grew more than 20 percent last year, according to a report issued by the FBI in partnership with a private fraud-fighting group, the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The amounts taken by individual frauds ranged from less than $30 to more than $100,000, officials said.

The most frequently reported scams were those that falsely used the FBI's name, accounting for 16 percent of the more than 300,000 complaints received last year. Some of those frauds have even featured e-mails purporting to be from FBI Director Robert Mueller, though the e-mail addresses of the senders often betray the con, authorities said.

Peter Trahon, head of the FBI's cyber division, said people should evaluate the e-mail pitches they receive "with a healthy skepticism — if something seems to good to be true, it likely is."

For example, one popular scam last year involved a phone pitch made by someone who sounded a lot like President Barack Obama.

The recorded message told people to visit a Web site to get government stimulus money. When victims who visited the site entered personal information and paid $28 in fees, they were promised a big stimulus check, but got nothing.

Woods responders concerned about domestic violence

ORLANDO, Fla. — The ambulance crew that responded after golfer Tiger Woods crashed his SUV would not allow his wife to ride with him to the hospital because they thought it was a case of domestic violence, documents released Friday by the Florida Highway Patrol show.

But a police officer who responded said he didn't know where the crew got that information because he never heard it from anyone at the scene.

The reports also show that Woods' wife, Elin, turned over two bottles of pain pills to troopers after the Nov. 27 crash outside the couple's suburban Orlando home.

Tiger Woods crashed his sport utility vehicle into a fire hydrant at 2:30 a.m., and officers found him lying in the street. The SUV had a broken window and the couple told investigators Elin Woods had broken it with a golf club so she could unlock a door and pull him out.

Tiger Woods has strenuously denied his wife ever hit him. The crash led to disclosures that he had affairs with several women.

Woods was charged with careless driving and fined $164.

He has not played competitive golf since. He made a televised apology to his wife, family and fans last month.

The report shows that Health Central Hospital, which treated Woods after the crash, refused to release blood test results to investigators without a warrant. The state attorney's office in Orlando refused to request one, saying there wasn't enough probable cause that a crime had been committed.

Cpl. Thomas R. Dewitt, one of the highway patrol investigators, also wrote in his report that he asked for videotape from a security camera at the Woods' home. But the golfer's lawyer, Mark NeJame, told him the couple didn't know if the camera worked and couldn't figure out how to remove the tape.

NeJame told Dewitt he had looked at monitors inside the home and they were blank. There is no indication in Dewitt's report that officers got video despite several requests.

Obama prepares education overhaul

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday promised to rewrite the nation's sweeping and controversial education law known as No Child Left Behind with a plan to prepare students for life after high school and to place better teachers at the blackboards.

Obama said he would send Congress his proposed overhaul of the 2001 education law that focused on accountability in the classroom but has fallen short of its original goals. The announcement's timing suggests Obama is looking beyond the health care proposal that still lingers in Congress, has delayed the president's international trip next week and threatens his party's electoral prospects in November.

Education — unlike proposed financial regulatory reform or environmental laws also on Congress' radar — is a kitchen-table issue certain to resonate with voters looking at Republicans seeking to retake both chambers of Congress in the midterm elections. Local classrooms trump vague regulations, and few oppose the principle of improving education.

"Under these guidelines, schools that achieve excellence or show real progress will be rewarded, and local districts will be encouraged to commit to change in schools that are clearly letting their students down," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.

"For the majority of schools that fall in between — schools that do well but could do better — we will encourage continuous improvement to help keep our young people on track for a bright future, prepared for the jobs of the 21st century."

Although Obama's weekly address was short on specifics, the president has been clear he is eyeing sweeping change. He has already been using federal money as leverage to push schools to raise standards and prepare more children for college or work.

He included $3.5 billion in last year's economic stimulus bill to help low-performing schools and has proposed $900 million for states and school districts that agree to drastically change or even shutter their worst-performing schools.

The administration also proposed setting aside $50 million for dropout prevention programs, including personalized and individual instruction and support to keep students engaged in learning, and using data to identify students at risk of failure and help them with the transition to high school and college.

Only about 70 percent of entering high school freshmen go on to graduate. The problem affects blacks and Latinos at particularly high rates.

Obama sought to assuage critics of the law who complain the current design is heavy-handed and too reliant on Washington. He said states and local schools — not Washington — would lead the way to change No Child Left Behind.

"What this plan recognizes is that while the federal government can play a leading role in encouraging the reforms and high standards we need, the impetus for that change will come from states and from local schools and school districts," Obama said. "So, yes, we set a high bar. But we also provide educators the flexibility to reach it."

That rhetoric is popular in local districts, where parents like their children's teachers but remain dubious of Washington.