Saturday, April 20, 2013



Members of Congress have expressed astonishment that the U.S. Army Reserve would use a training brief that slams Catholics, evangelical Christians and others and are demanding the practice come to a halt – now.
“Our nation needs to have an honest conversation about religious extremism and what we can do to avoid religious violence. However, labeling these major world religions as extremists is wrong and hurtful,” said a letter by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., that was signed by dozens of other members.
It was addressed to Army Secretary John. M . McHugh at the Pentagon.
“We call on you to rescind this briefing and set the record straight on the Army’s view on these faith groups by providing a balanced briefing on religious extremism,” the letter said.
The letter was prompted by reports that soldiers were taught that evangelical Christians are an extremist threat to America along with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, KKK, Nation of Islam, al-Qaida and Hamas.
“Men and women of faith who have served the Army faithfully for centuries shouldn’t be likened to those who have regularly threatened the peace and security of the United States,” said retired Col. Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of wrongheaded characterization. It also appears that some military entities are using definitions of ‘hate’ and ‘extreme’ from the lists of anti-Christian political organizations. That violates the apolitical stance appropriate for the military.”
See what Christian really is, in “Body of Divinity: The Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion.”
The U.S. Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training briefing, given to an Army reserve unit in Pennsylvania, was titled “Extremism and Extremist Organizations.”
The material mentions neo-Nazis, the KKK and other white supremacist organizations. Pictures are shown on various slides of people in Klan attire and Nazi flags. The significance of gang tattoos, racist acronyms and numbers was also discussed.
While the material on gangs and racist organizations is similar to what one might receive from a local police briefing on gang issues, after teaching on neo-Nazis in the military such as Timothy McVeigh, the material makes a remarkable link.
A slide titled “Religious Extremism” lists multiple organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Hamas, the Nation of Islam, the Ku Klux Klan and the Christian Identity movement as examples of extremist groups.
However, the first group on the list is evangelical Christianity. Catholicism and ultra-orthodox Judaism are also on the list of religious extremist organizations.
The letter said the members of Congress were concerned to learn of the training brief.
“This is astonishing and offensive and we urge you to immediately rescind this briefing,” said the letter.
“Religious extremism is a very serious topic, but equating these major world religions with violent extremist groups is simply not acceptable. As you know, the Army is a microcosm of our country and is filled with faithful and peace-loving Catholics, Jews, Muslims and evangelical Christians who are proudly serving our country. This briefing reveals an anti-religion bias rather than a rational approach to religious extremism.”
The signatories, along with Lamborn, were Reps. John Fleming, Robert Pittenger, Scott Garrett, Alan Nunnelee, Tim Huelskamp, Trent Franks, Walter Jones, Vicky Hartzler, Jack Kingston, Steve King, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Tim Walberg, Michele Bachmann, Bill Nuisenga, Mike Kelly, Duncan Hunter, Dan Lipinski, Lynn Jenkins, Ron DeSantis, Randy Weber, Lynn Westmoreland, Jason Chaffetz, Ander Crenshaw, Steven Palazzo, Marsha Blackburn, Bill Posey, James Lankford, Patrick McHenry, Stephen Fincher, Doug LaMalfa, Michael Burgess, Paul Broun, Frank Wolf, Michael Conaway, Jeff Duncan, Dan Benishek, Virginia Foxx, Steve Stockman, Ken Calvert and Jeff Miller.
WND reported that after the military briefing a soldier who describes himself as an evangelical told the trainer he was offended by the material and asked for a copy of it. After receiving a copy, he forwarded the material to Crews.
The material describes religious extremists as those having beliefs, attitudes, feelings or actions that are “far removed from the ordinary.” It then elaborates by saying that “every religion has some followers that believe that their beliefs, customs and traditions are the only ‘right way’ and that all others practicing their faith the ‘wrong way.’”
Crews said it is astounding that soldiers were taught that a key foundation of the Christian faith is now considered extreme and compared to those who want to implement Islamic law.
“The idea of salvation being exclusively through Christ is a key doctrine of the Christian faith,” Crews said. “It is amazing that the trainer felt they had the authority and right to list evangelical Christian, Catholics and orthodox Jews alongside groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The brief does not provide any examples of how evangelical Christians and Catholics are a danger to those serving in the military. However, it offers several examples of Muslim extremists in the military. Among them are:
  • Navy petty officer Hassan Abujihad, who emailed classified information to jihadists for possible attacks while serving on a destroyer.
  • Ali Abdul Saoud Mohammed, an Army Special Forces instructor at the Special Ops Warfare School at Fort Bragg while simultaneously being a trainer for al-Qaida and traveling overseas to fight with jihadists.
  • Sgt Hasan Akbar, who killed two of his fellow soldiers and injured 14 others at a military base in Kuwait when he threw four grenades into three tents where soldiers were sleeping. His reasoning was to prevent the killing of his fellow Muslims.
Conspicuously missing was Muslim Maj. Nidal Hasan, who opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood while allegedly shouting “Allahu Akbar.” Hasan’s rampage left 13 dead and 30 injured.
The Army has gone to great lengths to minimize the Hasan attack, going so far as to call it simply a case of workplace violence, similar to when an employee gets into a fight with a co-worker.
The Army has doubled down on its decision by issuing a report to Congress claiming that recent legislation that would label the Fort Hood shootings a terrorist act in order to help survivors and victim’s families would jeopardize Hasan’s chances of receiving a fair trial.
“Passage of this legislation could directly and indirectly influence potential court-martial panel members, witnesses, or the chain of command, all of whom exercise a critical role under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” the Army said. “Defense counsel will argue that Major Hasan cannot receive a fair trial because a branch of government has indirectly declared that Major Hasan is a terrorist – that he is criminally culpable.”
Crews said the major problem with the training brief is that it relies heavily on material provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has claimed that WND, the Family Research Council and other pro-family groups are hate groups and extremists.
“We’re concerned the use of the SPLC list is not isolated,” Crews said. “The Army should make sure its equal opportunity officers across the military do not fall prey and use this SPLC list that identifies Christian and conservative organizations as hate groups as the basis for their briefing.”




If blacks can criticize whites, then whites should be able to say the inner city “needs to get its act together.”
That was the bottom line of “Being White in Philly,” a controversial article written by Robert Huber and published in Philadelphia Magazine.

What followed was predictable. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said the article was a “sin” and an “incitement to extreme reaction.” The mayor called upon the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission to “rebuke” the magazine and Huber.
But not long ago, Nutter was calling for a “national conversation” about racial issues: “Black on black crime is not an isolated problem. It affects every member of every community. This is a national problem with national implications, and there needs to be a national conversation.”
Huber told WND that he assumed that when the mayor said “conversation” he meant the ordinary meaning.
“We need to learn to talk to each other honestly, without fear,” Huber said. “That would be a big step toward solving some problems.
Believing that the mayor was welcoming an actual conversation, Huber contributed his article, “Being White in Philly.”
Huber and some of the people he interviewed were critical of the crime and social disorganization in the city. Several spoke honestly about the racial aspect of crime and other social problems (See a condensed summary of their statements). On the basis of personal experience, some interviewees spoke about break-ins, assaults, robbery and other antisocial acts.
But what are the actual circumstances of crime in Philadelphia?
Over the last two decades, the city has lost 32 percent of its white population, or 263,254 people. During that time, crime was a major concern.
In the late 1990s, blacks were 43 percent of Philadelphia’s population and 76 percent of the alleged murderers (see chart below). Whites were 52 percent of the population but just 5 percent of alleged murderers.

Today, blacks are 42 percent of Philadelphia’s population and 83 percent of known murder offenders. Whites are now 37 percent of the population and 4 percent of known murder offenders.
The chart comes from a report titled “Murder Is No Mystery: An Analysis of Philadelphia Homicide, 1996-1999,” which was released in 2001 and provocatively asked:
If this went on in your own neighborhood, would you stay? Would you go out at night? Would you consider leaving the neighborhood, or even the city, if you could? Of course you would.
A quarter of a million whites did indeed leave.
As for race and crime in Philadelphia, most murders in the city were intraracial, black-on-black crimes. Of black murder victims, 95 percent were killed by other blacks. However, the report pointed to a major, noteworthy exception: “Caucasians and Asian Americans, on the other hand, were both more likely to be murdered by an individual of another race.”

Such disparities are rarely mentioned in the national conversation about race but would tend to validate the concerns expressed in Huber’s piece.
A WND review of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Murder Analysis for 2007-2010 and Murder/Shooting Analysis 2012 reveals startling demographic data that affirm the crime trends found a decade earlier in the “Murder Is No Mystery” report.
Between 2007 and 2012, there were 1,987 murders (an average of 331 murders per year) in Philadelphia. Of those victims, 80 percent were black; 11.2 percent were Hispanic; 6.9 percent were white; and 1.7 percent were Asian.
Only 64 percent of these crimes had known offenders (1,290 of 1,987), with 81 percent of known offenders being black; 7.2 percent white; 10.2 percent Hispanic; and 1.2 percent  Asian.
Because of the “no snitchin’” culture, “defendants charged with murder, rape, robbery and serious assaults were walking free on all charges in nearly two-thirds of all cases” in the city, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In 2009, Philadelphia had the lowest felony conviction rate of all large cities in America. Soon after taking office, Nutter put in 250 video cameras across the city, in part to compensate for witnesses’ refusal to cooperate with investigations.
According to a WND review of the 2012 Philadelphia Police Murder/Shooting Analysis, of known offenders in 1,083 shootings in the city between 2011 and 2012, 88 percent were by blacks (956). Hispanics represented 102 of the shooting offenders (9 percent), while whites made up 2 percent of offenders in shootings (22) in Philadelphia during that same period.
Current trends nothing new
Historically, racial disparities in crime are not simply products of the 1960s. In 1950, Philadelphia was predominantly white, with blacks comprising roughly 20 percent of the population. Even then, disproportionate levels of criminal offending existed. “Patterns in Criminal Homicide,” written by renowned criminologist Marvin Wolfgang, was hailed as the most thorough study of homicide at the time. Wolfgang studied every homicide in Philadelphia between 1948 and 1952, and concluded that many were caused by trivial insults and petty arguments (162).
Wolfgang showed that the white murder rate in Philadelphia between 1948 and 1952 was 1.8 per 100,000 people, while the black rate was 25.6, or 14 times the white rate. By the mid-1970s, the white murder rate increased to 2.8 per 100,000. The black murder rate, meanwhile, increased to 64.2, 23 times the white rate.
Many of the voices in Huber’s piece can be seen as expressing long-standing concerns, rooted in the statistical reality of crime.
A public opinion survey offers another way of looking at Huber’s piece. A Washington Post/Kaiser/Harvard poll asked young black men between the ages of 18 and 29 what they thought was the biggest problem facing young black men. Twenty-nine percent chose “Young black men not taking their education seriously enough.”
Another 16 percent said “Not being responsible fathers,” while another 12 percent said “Becoming involved in crime.” Only 5 percent of the young black men polled said “Racial discrimination” was the biggest problem. Notably, 64 percent believe that the problems facing black men are more a result of … what black men have failed to do for themselves.”
Only 18 percent chose “What white people have done to blacks.”
If those opinions are so prominent in the black community, then perhaps it should not be controversial when whites express similar sentiments or observations, Huber’s piece proposed.
Nutter himself has had to address a subset of the black population involved in violent flash mobs. In an emotional speech, he said of those involved, “You’ve damaged yourself, you’ve damaged another person, you’ve damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you’ve damaged your own race.”
A stereotype
But in response to Huber’s article, the mayor “expressly suggested that the speech in the article was unprotected, and therefore punishable outright,” observed leading First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh.
The mayor’s official condemnation letter claimed that the article presents “negative stereotypes” of blacks. Nutter did not quote any “negative stereotypes” in the article, nor did he provide any examples of “negative stereotypes” on the part of anyone interviewed in the article.
Nutter simply said the article arose from Huber’s “misguided perception of African-Americans … as an ethnic group that, in its entirety, is lazy, shiftless, irresponsible, and largely criminal.”
The mayor didn’t quote any part of the article to support that description. On its face, the article does not appear to contain any claim by Huber that the black population “in its entirety” has any given characteristic, or words to that effect.
In fact, critics contend the mayor stereotyped the article. Philadelphia Magazine’s editor, who describes himself as “center-left,” told WND that the mayor’s description is a “gross distortion of the piece.”
The mayor described the article as a collection of perspectives from “15 white people who have used isolated negative experiences to draw perverse generalizations that the author then ascribes to the belief system of Philadelphia’s entire white population.”
However, four of those interviewed did not describe any “negative experiences” related to race. Nutter did not offer any quotations to indicate that Huber actually “ascribes” any of the supposed generalizations “to the belief system of Philadelphia’s entire white population.”
Three of those interviewed made what could arguably be defined as generalizations, but whether their remarks are each “perverse generalizations” is subject to dispute.
In one case, a Russian woman named Anna said blacks use discrimination “as an excuse,” describing blacks in her neighborhood as “not doing anything except sitting on porches smoking pot.” She complained about unwelcome compliments and cat calls.
Also, an 87-year-old named John said that Southern blacks moved north with a “chip on their shoulder.” (John used a racial epithet, which Huber denounced as “ugly.”) He also said that he had “no problems with blacks” as a group and spoke fondly about black neighbors.
Finally, an unnamed Panamanian woman said she believed there is a “moral poverty” among inner-city blacks.
But such comments recall the Bill Cosby remarks about certain segments of the black community. Cosby said that in part of the black community, “parenting is not going on,” they “can’t speak English” and are having “five or six different children – same woman, eight, 10 different husbands or whatever.”
“These people are fighting hard to be ignorant,” Cosby said. “We cannot blame white people.”
Additional reporting by Michael Thompson




Pelosi: Tougher gun controls 'inevitable'

By Mike Lillis - 04/18/13 01:27 PM ET
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said passage of tougher gun controls is "inevitable," projecting optimism less than 24 hours after the Senate voted down legislation central to President Obama's strategy to reduce gun violence.
"It's a matter of time," Pelosi said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol. "It might be inconceivable to the NRA that this might happen; it's inevitable to us." Pelosi did not put a timeline on her prediction but suggested public outrage over the failed Senate effort will eventually force the opponents of tougher gun laws to reconsider.
"Something must be done, because that's what the American people expect and what they deserve," she said. "We're just not taking no for an answer."
Pelosi has a tough road ahead.
Pressured by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Senate on Wednesday defeated a series of bipartisan bills designed to prevent gun violence, including a measure sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to expand mandatory background checks for gun sales. The gun lobby and other conservatives argued that the measure would erode the constitutional rights of gun owners.
The proposal — central to one of Obama's second-term priorities  — was supported by 55 senators, five short of the number needed to defeat a GOP filibuster.

More from The Hill
• Reid tables gun control bill after defeat on background checks
• Post-mortem on gun control: Supporters less threatening at polls than opponents
• FBI releases images of suspects in Boston Marathon bombings

Pelosi accused the opponents — who included Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) — of putting their own political careers above public safety. She lodged the same charge at House GOP leaders, who have refused to commit to a vote on tougher gun laws in the wake of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 26 people, including 20 first-graders, were killed in December.
"It always makes me wonder at a time like this how important we each think we are, that any one of us thinks our survival politically is more important than the safety of our children, that we can't have the courage to take a vote," she said. "You're afraid of the gun lobby? How about the fear of the children who had to face that violence in the classroom?"
In the lower chamber, Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.) are pushing their version of the Manchin-Toomey bill, which would expand background checks to cover all firearm sales at gun shows and on the Internet. The bill is an extension of current law, which requires such screenings only for sales conducted by federally licensed gun dealers.
Both the House and Senate proposal would exempt transactions between family members and friends.
With polls showing that more than 90 percent of voters support universal background checks, Thompson on Thursday said the failure of the Manchin-Toomey bill is "unexplainable." 
"If you're confused by the vote, like I'm sure the 93 percent of the American people who believe we should have background checks are confused, you're not alone," Thompson, the head of the House Democrats' gun-violence-prevention task force, said. "Because this is just unexplainable." 
Pelosi said the Democrats' strategy will now be to seek additional co-sponsors for the Thompson-King bill while pressuring Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders to bring it to the floor for a vote.
Thompson said the vice chairmen of his task force met Thursday morning with gun control advocates and staffers from the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
"It's not going to slow us or deter our work," Thompson said of Wednesday's Senate vote. "When we see what happens with the other two Senate amendments [Thursday], then we'll recalculate ... and get our bearing."
The NRA was not always opposed to an expansion of background checks. In 1999, roughly a month after the shooting massacre at Columbine High School outside Denver, Wayne LaPierre, then the group's executive vice president, told members of the House Judiciary Committee that an extension of screenings to cover all gun show purchases is a "reasonable" policy for preventing violent people from obtaining guns. 
"We think it 's reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show," LaPierre, now the NRA's CEO, testified at the time. "No loopholes anywhere for anyone."
The NRA did not respond this week to questions about why background checks for licensed dealers are an appropriate public safety step, but expanding those same screenings to private sales at gun shows and online would infringe on Second Amendment rights.
Pelosi, for her part, said the Senate's failure to pass tougher gun laws this week will only galvanize gun control supporters. 
"It's disappointing, but it's going to energize the effort," she said.
"We have to shorten the distance in time between the inconceivable to some and the inevitable to us."

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