I'll soon be off to Mill Pond in Burlington, MA to lead another hike for Mr. Bean. I'm glad I can today....you might have heard that scouting is dangerous business. I managed to fall down a hill on the way to Roundtable Thursday night.
Please make a note...penny loafers don't behave the same way as hiking boots.
In any case, it's been a rather busy week. I'm feeling a bit out of touch today, and in skimming the nets this morning, I've seen a few interesting things, but they've already made their way into this week of blog.
So....we'll just pick and choose.
Have you all heard about the American Gestapo that's been operating in New York City? Both the Mayor and the Police chief are claiming that the lack of an attack is due to the success of the program
. Success is relative, I guess. As long as you're not afraid of black cars in the middle of the night, it's great.
A new report has brought the New York Police Department under increasing scrutiny for a terrorism-surveillance program that critics say illegally profiles Muslims and has even extended its operations into other states.
New York Police Department monitored Muslim students all over the Northeast
The secret report, obtained by the Associated Press and released Friday, adds to longstanding concerns about the NYPD’s Demographics Unit. It shows that the unit collected huge amounts of information on the region’s Muslim-American community – ranging from conversations in Muslim-owned shops to the license-plate numbers of those attending mosque – even if there was no link to criminal activity.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly have attributed the absence of terror attacks since 2001 to the program’s success. The commissioner has also argued that the intelligence gathering is no different than what the NYPD would do for other groups.
But the scope of the intelligence gathering chronicled in the report is leading to renewed calls for a federal investigation.
“It is no longer a question that the NYPD is engaged in widespread racial profiling,” says Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “NYPD documents state that they are spying on Muslims solely because they are Muslims.”
An AP review of the report states that plainclothes police officers assigned to investigate the city’s Syrian community “photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops,” even though many of the targets were second- and third-generation US citizens and there was no threat being investigated.
The report also states that no Jews were monitored, despite the fact the area under surveillance was heavily Jewish. Coptic Christians, also prevalent in the area, were similarly excluded.
“We are deeply concerned about the broad campaign of surveillance of everything Muslim that seems to be the policy of the NYPD,” says Debbie Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). “It’s crass religious profiling and bad policing because it squanders resources and alienates communities.”
In the past, Commissioner Kelly has said that the department’s surveillance of Muslims was nothing out of the ordinary. “In fact, the police department uses many of the same methods to find and stop terrorists that we use to arrest drug dealers, human traffickers, and gang leaders,” he said during a speech at Fordham University Law School on March 3. “We develop detailed information about the nature of the crime and the people involved. We form partnerships with other government agencies, find sources, and make use of undercover officers.”
Next, it looks like Rush has some more explaining to do. By now I'm sure you heard about and hopefully even watched the newly viral video about Joseph Kony.
You may recall hearing about the Obama administration sending troops into Uganda a while back. Guess who was opposed to that?
Last October, Rush Limbaugh on his radio show defended Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, the Uganda guerilla group that is now infamous around the world thanks to a viral video from the Invisible Children organization that has exposed Kony’s cruel and murderous ways.
Why in the world would Limbaugh do that? One reason is that he was not so much promoting the LRA as questioning the Obama administration’s decision to send 100 elite US troops to the area to help quell fighting.
“Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians. They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan. And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them,” Limbaugh said last Oct. 14, according to a show transcript.
Limbaugh then went on to read from what he said were the group’s self-described objectives, which included “to remove dictatorship and stop the oppression of our people.”
“Those are the objectives of the group that we are fighting,” said Limbaugh, implying that the US had taken the wrong side in the battle.
What Limbaugh did not say was that the list of LRA objectives appeared to have come straight off Wikipedia, according to a contemporaneous New York Times account. Nor did Limbaugh mention that for years the group had been widely accused of torture, murder, looting, and wanton destruction.
Perhaps the other major reason Limbaugh made this faux pas was that he was just talking too fast about stuff of which he knew little. Today over 50 million people have seen the Invisible Children video, which documents such LRA abuses as its kidnapping of children for use as soldiers. But Limbaugh’s discussion of the group occurred long before it became so well known.
In fact, as his broadcast progressed last October, Limbaugh obviously began receiving reports from listeners of the LRA’s real nature.
Near the end of the show he said, “Is that right? The Lord’s Resistance Army is being accused of really bad stuff? ... Well, we just found out about this today. We’re gonna do, of course, our due diligence research on it. But nevertheless we got a hundred troops being sent over there to fight these guys – and they claim to be Christians.”
At the time, the broadcast created an uproar among those who knew of the LRA’s actions. The next day conservative Sen. James Inhofe ® of Oklahoma went on the Senate floor to set the record straight, noting that Joseph Kony was in no way a Christian, and that he had been disavowed by the Ugandan Catholic Church.
“I stand behind the president in his decision ... Josephy Kony and the LRA are responsible for one of the longest, most violent, and costly conflicts ever on the continent of Africa,” Senator Inhofe said.
Even Stephen Colbert took after Limbaugh for his maladroit move. On his Oct. 19 Colbert Report, the comedian picked up on the talk show host’s “due diligence” comment, saying, “Of course due diligence always comes after accusing the president of killing Christians.”
“That’s why it’s called re-search,” said Colbert, drawing out the last word. “If you do it before, it’s called pre-search.”
Finally....we have this year's winner of the Upper-Class Twit of the Year
A woman trying to retrieve her mail was run over by her own car Thursday in the suburban Boynton Beach community of Oakwood Lakes, Fla.
The car, an older model Oldsmobile Toronado was in reverse when Gilda Bartlett, 82, stepped out to fetch her mail on Thursday afternoon.
"The door was wide open and it hit her, it knocked her down," Bartlett's neighbor Bob Curcio told news channel WPTV.
According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's report, the woman was dragged backward for about 30 feet. Witnesses said Bartlett was hit several times by the car as it circled the pavement. Neighbors then dragged her to safety.
The vehicle continued in a circular motion, maintaining a speed of about 10-15 miles an hour. "It started making loops, this way, to the left, counterclockwise," Curcio told WPTV. "It just kept on going."
Firefighters and police responded, trying in vain to stop the car by flattening the tires.
"They tried the strip of nails and that didn't work," witness Tom Bilinski told WPTV.
Firefighter Jody Marlow tried to jump into the vehicle and stop it, but was thrown from the car and suffered minor injuries, the report said. The Oldsmobile was eventually stopped by a sheriff's deputy, who rammed it with his patrol car.
Bartlett is in serious but stable condition at Delray Medical Center, according to the sheriff's office.
Bartlett's granddaughter told WPTV the woman had no broken bones, but she had a big cut on the back of her head that had to be stapled.
So....I have a rarity today, an actual shift at the store later this afternoon. I may be back, but then again I may not. Everybody play nice!