Toward the end of last week, the world was on edge and anticipating a conflict on the Korean peninsula, but talk of war appears to have been a product of media hype and miscommunication.
As tensions were rising, a U.S. Navy carrier strike group was believed to be moving into waters off Korea, and Pyongyang was suspected of preparing for another nuclear test. As it turns out, the carrier was sailing in the opposite direction, and North Korea was preparing for a parade and a failed ballistic missile test.
The strike group was last spotted off Indonesia, over 3,000 miles from the Korean peninsula, Defense News reported Tuesday.
Reuters, citing an unnamed U.S. official, reported on Apr. 9 that a U.S. Navy carrier strike group led by the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was moving toward the “Western Pacific Ocean near the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.” Pointing to North Korean aggression, the official said, “We feel the increased presence is necessary.”
The following day, U.S. Pacific Command confirmed the report, revealing that “Adm. Harry Harris, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, has directed the Carl Vinson Strike Group to sail north and report on station in the Western Pacific Ocean.”
“The U.S. Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific,” said Dave Benham, a spokesman for the Pacific Command. “The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.”
Sending the Carl Vinson to Korea was perceived as a continuation of President Donald Trump’s tough tactics, which were demonstrated in Syria with a strike on an airfield in the wake of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters Apr. 11 that the Carl Vinson is “on her way up there,” and Trump said the next day that “we are sending an armada.”
Reports citing unnamed government officials claimed last Tuesday that North Korea had placed a nuclear device in the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Analysts with 38 North, a research site run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, said satellite images indicated the test site was “primed and ready.”
Observers suspected that a North Korean nuclear weapons test was imminent and that the most reasonable time for such a display of power was Apr. 15 — the Day of the Sun, the 105th anniversary of the birth of revered North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.
In the midst of this madness, unverified reports began circulating that China had moved 150,000 troops to the Korean Peninsula in anticipation of a conflict. North Korea was convinced that the USS Carl Vinson was on its way and condemned the aircraft carrier’s deployment as an act of “reckless acts of aggression.”
China reportedly put its troops on alert for a contingency on the peninsula and issued warnings to North Korea.
“If Pyongyang conducts its sixth nuclear test in the near future, the possibility of US military action against it will be higher than ever,” the Global Times wrote, “Not only Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honors his promises.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in contrast with the White House and the Department of Defense, tried to downplay Carl Vinson’s movements, arguing that there was “no particular objective” and that observers should not “read to much” into the carrier strike group’s activities.
After the U.S. military dropped the so-called “mother of all bombs” on Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan last Thursday, media reports hinted that the strike was a message to North Korea. The president didn’t exactly clear things up.
“I don’t know if this sends a message. It doesn’t make any difference if it does or not,” Trump explained. “North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.”
At this point, the U.S. had already bombed two different countries, and a U.S. Navy strike group was believed to be on the way to North Korea, which was reportedly planning a sixth nuclear test.
The Trump administration had already stated that the strike on Syria demonstrated that the president will act when governments and actors “cross the line.” Observers posited that nuclear test in violation of United Nations resolutions could merit a military response. A highly-criticized NBC report citing unnamed intelligence officials claimed the U.S. would launch a preemptive strike on North Korea if signs of an imminent nuclear test were detected.
China warned Friday, the day before North Korea’s big day, that the U.S. and North Korea had “swords drawn and bows bent” and that “storm clouds” were gathering. The Chinese foreign minister said he feared that “war could break out at any moment,” and North Korea said it “will go to war” if Trump provokes it.
War never came. North Korea rolled out a few missiles in a military parade and test-fired a possible anti-ship ballistic missile, a provocation potentially in response to reports that a U.S. navy strike group was moving into the area.
There was no nuclear weapons test, and the Carl Vinson was not even in the area; however, there is still the possibility that the North will conduct a nuclear test at some point in the near future, and the Navy carrier strike group is expected to arrive in waters off the Korean Peninsula next week.
This whole process may play out again later.
This report, by Ryan Pickrell, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.
USA Today reported Tuesday that an illegal immigrant protected by Barack Obama’s amnesty was deported in February after spending an evening with his girlfriend. However, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman told The Daily Caller that this story is false because Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez did not receive amnesty and was caught climbing over a border fence when he was detained.
The USA Today story said that Bojorquez, 23, was apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents while he was waiting for a car ride to pick him up.
According to the article, he told the officers he left his wallet in his friend’s car and because he didn’t have his ID or proof of his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, he was deported.
“Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, becoming the first undocumented immigrant with active DACA status deported by the Trump administration’s stepped-up deportation policy,” the USA Today reporters wrote.
As it became clear late Tuesday evening that Jon Ossoff would fall just short of the 50-percent mark in the first round of voting in a suburban Atlanta special election, Democrats back in Washington started leafing through their calendars and asking: When does the winning start?
Ossoff’s moral victory — capturing 48 percent of the vote in a conservative-oriented district — was welcome, but after two successive close-but-no-cigar finishes in House special elections in Georgia and Kansas, a new worry is beginning to set in.
For all the anger, energy, and money swirling at the grassroots level, Democrats didn’t manage to pick off the first two Republican-held congressional seats they contended for in the Trump era, and the prospects aren’t markedly better in the next few House races coming up: the Montana race at the end of May, and the South Carolina contest on June 20.
Their best shot at knocking Donald Trump down a peg appears to be Ossoff’s runoff against Republican Karen Handel, also scheduled for June 20. But the Democrat will be an underdog in that contest, when there won’t be a crowded field of Republicans to splinter the vote.
Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction and just days ago was acquitted of a double murder, died after hanging himself in his prison cell early Wednesday, Massachusetts prisons officials said.
Guards found Hernandez, 27, unresponsive in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement.
The former New England Patriots tight end was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial-HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later.
Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum security state prison. He hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window, Fallon said.
Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items, Fallon said.
Fallon said he’s not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez and stressed that an investigation is ongoing. He said that officials had no concern that Hernandez was planning on taking his own life, and if there was a concern about his well-being, Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit.
Legislators in North Carolina have introduced a bill that would allow high school students to select firearms education as an elective course.
The bill, known as House Bill 612, would make the firearms course available to students in the 2017-2018 school year.
It is a “comprehensive firearm education course” that would “incorporate history, mathematics and science related to firearms and firearm safety education as recommended by law enforcement agencies or a firearms association.”
Now before anti-gun zealots fly off the handle, the course will not involve actually firing a gun – it is solely designed to teach students about safety.
Bearing Arms reports that the course “would not allow live ammunition in the classroom and would also cover the history and mechanics of firearms with a firm emphasis on the importance of gun safety.”
A qualified adult instructor would be chosen by each school’s principal.
Gun opponents and advocates alike should be all in support of such a program, as gun safety is important no matter how you feel about the Second Amendment politically.
One Charlotte resident, Allen Shaw, explained his support for the course:
I think education, first and foremost, is essential, before actually obtaining a firearm.
If they [students] have the opportunity to buy, they should have the opportunity to be educated. We’ve got too many people out there right now that are wanting to buy guns that don’t have any background with them.
Still, controversy predictably surrounds the thought of weapons education in a school setting.
“I don’t think school is the place for that to be taught,” one mother told WNCN. “I think we should focus on math and English.”
Who knew those subjects were mutually exclusive?
Cross-posted at the Mental Recession
The implication in the title is a slight simplification of a bill filed during the House’s two-week April recess to by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) that would give former presidents and vice presidents of both parties the authority to assess whether a sitting president is fit to remain in office.
In a statement quoted by The Hill, Blumenauer said:
It is hard to imagine a better group to work with the vice president to examine whether the president is able to discharge the duties of the office. When there are questions about the president’s ability to fulfill his or her constitutional responsibilities, it is in the country’s best interest to have a mechanism in place that works effectively.
The proposal, which is borne of the concern that 25th Amendment of the Constitution, aka the “crazy man clause,” is not sufficient to remove Donald Trump from office, is the latest manifestation of Trump Derangement Syndrome to emanate from the minority party in Congress. In February, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) floated legislation that would mandate the addition of a psychiatrist to the White House staff. Said Lieu at the time, “the president — any president — should have access to a mental health professional” given the enormous pressures of the job.
In the current political climate where Democrats will do anything to overcome the feelings of impotent rage that have gripped the party since last November, it is unlikely that the Republican majority in Congress will entertain a serious proposal to unseat the president, much less idiotic fantasies like Blumenauer’s or Lieu’s.
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez was at it again, giving another speech full of profane language directed towards President Trump and the Republican leadership.
Perez’s remarks came during the first leg of the DNC’s ‘Unity Tour,’ which features Perez and Sen. Sanders (I-VT) and aims to build grassroots activism in purple and red states by holding rallies.
“Those Republican leaders and President Trump don’t give a sh*t about the people they were trying to hurt,” Perez told the crowd while speaking about Republican efforts to repeal ObamaCare.
The Wall Street Journal’s Reid Epstein was quick to point out, “Six months after Clinton ran ads saying Trump wasn’t safe for children, new DNC chairman cursing as regular stump speech applause line.”
Supporters of one long-shot bid to make California an independent nation ended their effort on Monday, while another group said it will launch a new campaign for a statewide vote next year.
The drive to make the nation’s most populous state its own country, with what would be the world’s sixth-largest economy, has drawn extra interest after last year’s election of Republican Donald Trump as president.
But the Yes California Independence Campaign faltered after its president, Louis Marinelli, revealed ties to Russia. Marinelli said in a lengthy message to supporters Monday that he is seeking permanent residence in Russia because of his “frustration, disappointment and disillusionment with the United States.”
The secretary of state’s office confirmed that Marcus Ruiz Evans, the group’s vice president, withdrew the California Nationhood ballot measure.
Evans said he was leaving the Yes California group and joining the California Freedom Coalition, which he described as a grassroots organizing effort that evolved since last year’s election.
The coalition plans to file its own ballot measure in coming weeks, without the baggage of Marinelli’s Russian ties, said Steve Gonzales, the new group’s secretary-treasurer and board member.
In tax year 2014, according to a report published by the Internal Revenue Service, the federal government hauled in a then-record $1,377,797,136,000 in individual income taxes.
Nonetheless, of the 148,606,578 individual income tax return filers that year, 52,062,499 (or 35 percent) filed what the IRS calls “nontaxable returns,” which means they paid no net individual income taxes.
Among these 52,062,499 filers who did not pay income taxes in 2014, according to Table 3.3 in the report, were 31,129,405 filers who also received $90,276,007,000 in payments from the federal government for “refundable” tax credits.
“In total, taxpayers claimed $105.6 billion in refundable tax credits,” said the IRS report. “Of this, $5.5 billion was applied against income taxes and $9.8 billion against all other taxes. The remaining $90.3 billion in refundable tax credits was refunded to taxpayers.”
“Tax credits are used to offset taxes,” the report explains. “Certain tax credits are also refundable in that if the credit exceeds the total tax owed, the excess can be refunded to the taxpayer.”
If you can’t seem to resist a scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feed during working hours, or if you feel anxious when you can’t check your smartphone or have no signal, you might need a digital intervention.
In the last few years, social media users who find it impossible to stay off their devices when they would like to resist them are seeking treatment via professionals. And they’re responding. Therapists are offering counselling, mindfulness coaches are hosting detox retreats, and corporate-wellness startups are all vying to help you get through the day without constant, compulsive scrolling.
The result is a wide array of options that social media users are willing to try to break their habit. Hour-long sessions can cost from $150 per hour, with longer detox camping-style retreats costing more than $500 for several days.
“We give people driving lessons and swimming lessons, but everyone just gets a smartphone and off they go,” says Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, a research nonprofit, in Newport Beach in California in the US. “There are skills needed to navigate any social space.”
Federal authorities have open investigations into radical Islamic terrorists in all 50 states, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which is warning that the threat of terrorism in the United States has reached an all time high with radicalized individuals in the country plotting to strike “each and every single day.”
The FBI has “open terrorist investigations in all 50 states,” according to DHS Secretary John Kelly, who disclosed on Tuesday that there have been at least 37 “ISIS-linked plots to attack our country” since 2013, a number that shows no signs of diminishing.
Kelly, in his first wide-ranging public address on the threat of terrorism in America since taking office, warned that America’s borders remain wide-open and that there is evidence terror-linked individuals are exploiting these national security weaknesses and entering the United States.
“We don’t know their intentions,” Kelly said during an address at George Washington University. “We don’t know why they’re here or why they’re coming. We are completely blind to what they’re capable of.”
Terrorist also continues to sprout inside American communities across the country, according to Kelly, who said that in just the past year, there have been “36 homegrown terrorist cases in 18 states.”
The New York Times opened up valuable space in its opinion section this weekend for the accused terrorist Marwan Barghouti.
Born in the Palestinian village of Kobar, Barghouti, 57, is currently serving five consecutive life sentences.
He was found guilty in 2004 for being personally responsible for a series of murders. Barghouti was also found to have organized an attempted car bombing on a crowded civilian center.
During his trial, he was also charged with being directly involved in more than 30 attacks that claimed the lives of dozens of civilians. He was exonerated of most of these charges.
None of the reasons for why Barghouti is currently in an Israeli prison are mentioned by the Times.
Rather, at the end of his rather lengthy op-ed, the U.S. paper describes the convicted murderer thusly: “Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.”
That’s one way to put it.
The op-ed published this weekend is titled, “Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons.”
California Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) endured a noisy, unproductive townhall on Monday night, as attendees shouted over him and prevented him from answering questions for more than two hours at the event in Oroville.
The townhall “bust” wasn’t about the tottering dam nearby, or at least not much. It wasn’t because of the dam that people at the townhall were worked up.
From all appearances, it was because a group of attendees was simply determined to keep LaMalfa from connecting with his constituents and getting anything done. Answer questions? They wouldn’t let him finish sentences. They just shouted slogans and rhetorical questions at him. Eventually, after trying for a couple of hours to actually give answers and engage in dialogue, LaMalfa gave up and left.
Judging by their tactics and little pre-printed signs – red signs reading “DISAGREE” and green signs reading “AGREE” – the unruly shouters were activists with the area’s “Indivisible” group, Indivisible Women.
Back in February, we at LU had some of the first reporting on Indivisible, a heavily Soros-funded network promoting anti-Trump activism – a “resistance” – through everything from “direct action” tactics to new media, social media, and public broadcast programming. Their methods haven’t changed in the two months since. What I wrote about their appearance at townhall meetings in February could have been written about the LaMalfa townhall Monday night:
It’s quite obvious that protesters who show up to hoot and screech at a Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) town hall for 80 straight minutes, preventing any real business from getting done, are not there because they have legitimate concerns. They’re there solely to be disruptive. That’s not what well-intentioned constituents do when they have concerns to convey to a congressman or senator. They may be upset, but they engage their representative. They don’t just keep shouting him down. …
They also don’t have a bunch of identical, professionally printed signs.
The local media in LaMalfa’s district either don’t know, or don’t want their readers to know, that the pre-printed identical signs being waved by the townhall attendees, and the ritual shouting, are archetypal tools of Indivisible. Whatever their reasoning, the local news didn’t even mention the signs.The signs aloft, in an earlier venue. (Image: Indivisible Women)
But the signs are there. (User Fred Spenger at YouTube has a full set of videos from the 17 April townhall, if you’re interested.) And they’re exactly the same signs Indivisible is using in images at their website, depicting a mass deployment in some venue or other. (The signs are so ubiquitous in these images, they may be from a training event. I didn’t find a description of what was going on in these photos.) The images decorate their “Events” calendar, which shows how to get to the next LaMalfa townhall, in Redding, CA on 19 April – i.e., ride the Indivisible charter bus.(Screen cap by author, 18 Apr 2017)
It’s instructive to review the Events calendar. It’s a laundry list of progressive-left activism topics, serving to confirm once again that the most visible activism on all of these topics is sponsored by a highly organized network, one that is neither grassroots nor spontaneous.
That doesn’t mean local people are not involved, of course. It does mean that they’re not a mass uprising of diverse citizens who share the same concerns. They’re a whole bunch of hard leftists plugged in with an ideologically motivated central organization.
Here’s a sampling of what Indivisible Women is planning to be there for in the coming weeks:
20 April: Earth Day rally at Sierra College
22 April: Indivisible Action Network’s “March for Science” (“environmental” demonstrations) at Lake Tahoe, and a sister “March for Science” in Sacramento
22 April: Single-payer advocacy training, described as follows:
This is training for advocating for single payer, whether it be doing presentations or lobbying or educating individuals. There will be a powerpoint presentation, education about the bill, exercises in messaging, and learning how to participate in the endorsement campaign.
23 April: Shut Down Creech (Air Force Base)! – Drone protest (sponsored by CODEPINK, among others)
27 April: Women and Men in Black Vigil for Palestine Justice
29 April: People’s Climate March (hosted by the Sierra Club)
1 May: Women’s March on California Solidarity Strike (labor and illegal migrants solidarity)
2 May: 50th Anniversary – Black Panthers Shut Down Sacramento
15 May: Immigrant Day 2017 in Sacramento
16 May: LGBT Advocacy Day
You get the picture.
The point here is not that these folks aren’t citizens who have a point of view, and a right to have it. Of course they are.
The point is that their perspective is an extreme one, and it is not shared by the majority of their neighbors or other fellow Americans. It’s not a manifestation of any upwelling of common feeling, when they take over a townhall by shouting and waving signs, and prevent anyone else from being heard – including the people’s representative in Washington. It’s a thuggish tactic.
CBS Sacramento interviewed a high school student at LaMalfa’s Oroville townhall, who had this to say:
A 16-year-old high school student offered his perspective.
“I think the immaturity is astounding,” said Greyson Reynolds.
Reynolds is an Oroville High School junior. He says he was at Monday’s meeting to thank LaMalfa for holding a similar Q & A at his high school. The atmosphere according to Reynolds was much different.
“Night and day. It’s hard to believe that these people are grown adults and those people, the people at my high school are children. You’d think it was the opposite,” said Reynolds.
It would be hard to disagree. Just keep in mind who was making all the noise at the Oroville townhall. It wasn’t Jack and Jill Average Citizen. They showed up to participate in a townhall – not to be prevented from doing so by hollering activists.
[Ed. – Everyone in local media records simply that the killer, Kori Ali Muhammad, shouted “Allahu akbar.” AP’s refusal to acknowledge that looks like the dementia of the nutty aunt in the attic — and is reminiscent of the Obama DOJ’s preemptive censorship of transcripts from the Orlando nightclub massacre in June 2016, which we wrote up here and here.]
The shooter, 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, reportedly yelled “Allahu Akbar” when he was taken into custody by law enforcement, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. Authorities also said that he hates white people. Yet, as reports came in, people on Twitter noticed something odd about the report filed by the Associated Press [emphasis mine]:
Fresno police say suspect in triple slaying told them he hates white people, shouted "God is great" before killings. https://t.co/rrSOzfEXaB
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 18, 2017
A man shot and killed three people on the streets of downtown Fresno on Tuesday, shouting “God is great” in Arabic during at least one of the slayings and later telling police that he hates white people, authorities said. …
Are you serious, AP?
[Ed. – The animals are acting weird. We had our “prepper badger” in Utah, reported a couple of weeks ago after it had been observed burying a cow carcass many times its size in the ground, apparently as a really precautionary food supply. Makes you wonder what that badger is expecting. Now we’ve got cows in Canada being herded by a beaver. Have the critters found meth or something?]
Saskatchewan rancher Adrienne Ivey may have heard of a beaver, but until now, had never seen a beaver herd — cattle, that is.
On Friday, Ivey and her husband were surprised to see 150 of their heifers crowded together in one of their pastures.
Curious about the strange behaviour, they investigated further, to find the herd of cattle following a beaver that had wandered along.
According to Ivey, heifers are more inquisitive than the average bovine, which may have led to them following the beaver. …
Ivey thought the odd event was even more notable considering the beaver is Canada’s national symbol.
[Ed. – Muhammad had been identified hours before as the suspect in the Motel 6 shooting on Thursday, 13 April, in which a security guard was killed. Muhammad reportedly advocated an “anti-white agenda” on social media. His father said he believes he is part of an ongoing war between whites and blacks.]
Three people are dead in a shooting spree in downtown Fresno on Tuesday, and the suspect was wanted in connection to the Motel 6 killing last week, the Fresno Police Department said.
Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, shouted “Allahu Akbar” as police tackled him to the ground after the shootings which were spread over four locations, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
The victims appeared to be random, Dyer said.
Shot Spotter detected the first gunshots around 10:45 a.m. Muhammad shot into a Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) vehicle killing the passenger. The driver sped away and drove to Fresno Police headquarters. …
Muhammad continued walking and opened fire at a resident but missed. Shortly after, he encountered another resident and shot and killed that person, police said.
He then continued to the area of Catholic Charities where he shot and killed a person in the parking lot, police said.
Predictably, when President Trump came out in March with a budget proposal that would eliminate federal funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, defenders of the CPB manned the barricades for Big Bird, the beloved Sesame Street character.
Sesame Street, of course, is one of the longest-running shows on PBS, a subsidiary of the CPB. Whenever defunding the CPB comes up for discussion, Big Bird is rolled out and depicted as being on the chopping block. Politico noted in March that the same thing happened in 2012, when Mitt Romney spoke publicly of eliminating funds for the CPB.
Politico was pretty complacent about Big Bird’s future, however:
Wealthy metropolitan areas would likely be able to continue to support their public stations, while poorer rural areas — places that lack access to quality news programming to begin with — would lose out. That could give pause to a number of Republican representatives.
The universality of public broadcasting that supporters argue make it so crucial also make it tougher to eliminate for purely political reasons. There are many federal programs with far fewer fans — and far smaller budgets — whose elimination would be more politically palatable.
Big Bird can likely rest easy — he survived Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush. He will probably endure Trump, too.
Maybe so. I think Big Bird would probably survive a withdrawal of public funding just fine, for what that’s worth.
But I’m ready to axe Big Bird and the horse he rode in on, after seeing another offering of PBS, available through its LearningMedia enterprise. (A LearningMedia sample hosted by the University of North Carolina is here.)
The offering in question is a lesson plan for teachers in grades 9 through 12. Its subject: “Dying to Be a Martyr.” (H/t Creeping Sharia, below.)
The lesson plan presents suicide bombing attempts by sympathetic young perpetrators who happen to be Palestinian Arabs, and high school students are invited to discuss why the bombers would or would not go through with their plans. As Justin Haskins demonstrates at Creeping Sharia, what’s simplest and most informative is just to quote from the lesson plan.
The stated “objectives” for the lesson plan, which is designed for use by students in grades nine through 12, include analyzing “why the Middle East conflict began and continues today,” discussing “how religions can unite or divide people” and explaining “why individuals and groups sometimes turn to tactics of terrorism, and evaluate how terrorism affects the world we live in.”
Explaining why individuals and groups turn to tactics of terrorism? Why do we need to go to the Middle East for that?
According to the late Obama administration, the way to see this is that we’re not at war with a religion. So don’t even go there. The real problem is “violent extremism,” and we’ve got plenty of that right here at home, what with the “anarchists, sovereign citizens, white-supremacists, and others.” Granted, we’re still waiting for those groups to make with the suicide bombings, per se. Or with much of anything else, for that matter. But surely those groups need discussion and explaining too – and they’re much closer to home.
At any rate, Haskins continues:
It’s in “Part 3” the lesson plan takes a disturbing turn. First, students watch a video of 18-year-old Mohanned Abu Tayyoun, a Palestinian terrorist “who entered Israel carrying a bag of explosives with the intention of carrying out a suicide bombing.” Mohanned “wavered, however, and returned home without carrying out the mission.”
In the video, which is called by the lesson plan the “Martyrdom” video, Mohanned is interviewed from a jail cell in Israel, where he is asked why he wanted to be a suicide bomber.
Mohanned responds, “It was my decision. Martyrdom leads us to God. I don’t want this life. When you become a martyr, your prize for carrying out the operation is going to heaven. … We Palestinians prefer to die, just kill ourselves, rather than live this worthless life. Our lives are worthless. We are hollow bodies living a pointless life.”
“Israelis enjoy their life,” Mohanned continued. “They go out at night. They have cafes and nightclubs. They travel all over the world. They go to America and Britain. We can’t even leave Palestine.”
Teachers are then instructed, “Check for understanding by asking students to respond to the focus question. (Mohanned feels he would rather die and b[e] a martyr than live his life, sees his life as hollow—in contrast he sees Israelis as happy, going out, having fun, traveling.) Ask your students why Mohanned may feel that way (Answers may include: Palestinians have less land, fewer privileges, cannot come and go as they please.)”
We aren’t told what the teacher is to do if answers include “Mohanned is influenced by radical Islam and that’s why he wants to blow up Jews.” Some cheeky student is bound to come up with that response, even though the lesson plan carefully steers the kids away from it, and toward a one-sided statement of the situation in Israel.
A student might also have the tactical acumen to notice that, as unable as Mohanned reportedly is to come and go as he pleases, he nevertheless managed to get into Israel with a bag of explosives. Intellectual fair-mindedness would put that up for discussion too, and perhaps seek to explore the perspective of young Israelis on it.
But intellectual fair-mindedness is clearly not what this lesson plan is about. In his case, Mohanned ultimately decides not to detonate his bomb. He concludes, on reflection, that not all Jews are his enemies, and God wants him to live.
But the theme has been established: Mohanned has sympathetic reasons for wanting to attack Jews. Those are explicitly the “answers” the lesson plan is looking for.(Screen cap by author 18 Apr 2017)
Don’t worry; the students also hear from someone who assisted in preparing a successful suicide bombing in 2003, in which 17 people were killed in Haifa, and 50 injured. The lesson plan’s perspective remains one-sided throughout, and never bothers to clarify how the immobilized Palestinian Arabs got into Israel with explosives and set off bombs there. (It certainly doesn’t illuminate how the security fence between Israel and the West Bank – still under construction in 2003 – has served to reduce the number of terrorist bombing attacks in Israel by as much as 90%.)
There are other troubling aspects of the lesson plan, which I recommend reading in-depth. Its treatment of the “three monotheistic religions,” and how they come into play in the Islamic world’s conflict with Israel, is misleadingly superficial in key ways. Optimism for this topic appears unwarranted, in light of Justin Haskins’ point that the LearningMedia website also has six “lengthy” lesson plans on Islam, the religion, but doesn’t have even one on Judaism or Christianity.
But back on the suicide-bombing lesson plan. Consider that there would be an alternative – and very obvious – way of engaging students on the politics of the Israeli-Arab situation. That would be to discuss the politics, without making the focus of the discussion be suicide bombings. It would be entirely possible to present the Palestinian Arabs’ concerns sympathetically, as political aspirations in their own right, with no hint that those aspirations justify the urge to blow people up.
But that’s not how your tax dollars are being spent. American taxes are being spent on a school lesson plan that seems to justify the sentiments behind suicide bombing – at least when the situation involves Muslims in the West Bank, and the target is Israel.
No, as a matter of fact, I don’t want to keep funding that. I’m ready to throw out every single thing the CPB and PBS do, including Big Bird, if that’s what it takes to stop funding the “Dying to Be a Martyr” lesson plan. (To hear Islamist extremists tell it, incidentally, they’re certainly not fans of Big Bird and his milieu. LU’s own Howard Portnoy reported back in 2013 that songs from Sesame Street were used as instruments of torture for jihadi detainees in Gitmo and other detention facilities. So if you were worried about that, it doesn’t sound like the violent extremists will miss the Bird and his soundtrack.)
Bottom line: nothing produced by public broadcasting is so valuable that an insidious moral atrocity should get to ride for free in its wake.
If you’ve forgotten how differently Obama’s progressive cultists see the world, here’s a reminder.
For starters, the Obamas were on David Geffen’s yacht near Tahiti at the start of Easter weekend, along with pals Bruce Springsteen, Oprah Winfrey, and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Whoop-de-do, right? Conservatives might wonder what that’s costing us in Secret Service protection, but progressive liberals just swoon over the glamour of it all.
No, really: they do. CNN has this to say:
The Obamas were vacationing with Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey and spent two hours aboard music mogul David Geffen’s luxury yacht, the Rising Sun, before leaving Tahiti. They had been staying in French Polynesia for nearly a month.
So far, Obama’s post-presidency life has been more glamorous than you can imagine.
But the real story was (almost) Michelle Obama’s hair, which apparently she’s wearing au naturel now. Hey, more power to her. I’m sure it looks great. The point is that Michelle’s hair was the excuse for the Yahoo Beauty writer to weigh in:
The magic happened when Michelle and Barack hopped onto the deck to take pictures, because even the president had to capture the moment when they stepped onto a super-yacht. Michelle let her usually perfectly placed hair fall around her shoulders, all bouncy and beautiful. She wore a pair of white shorts and a flowy black tank top, and carried a brown leather bucket bag.
The couple posed for a photo, and then Barack, in an off-duty chic ensemble of a mint green shirt, white pants, and white sneakers, lovingly took photos of his gorgeous wife, and the crowd — and by that we mean social media — went wild.
And at this point, the cat is out of the bag. The real story is the picture Barack took of Michelle, which has the Obama groupies in a collective swoon. It’s not just the ensembles they’re in love with. It’s the photo-taking moment itself. Barack Obama has now been christened an “Instagram husband.”
Maggie Parker, at Yahoo Beauty, brings it home for us:
The Internet cannot get over how adoring and doting he is, and how normal they are for capturing these moments.
Barack Obama is an Instagram Husband pic.twitter.com/OouLr7bjT2
— Madeline Hill (@mad_hill) April 16, 2017
Barack and Michelle Obama are your parents taking vacation photos https://t.co/vk186whEmi
— Carolina Gil (@orugil) April 17, 2017
— maddie (@offlinemoon) April 17, 2017
— Alyssa Onofreo ✨ (@omgchomp) April 17, 2017
The slurpage is audible from here. There’s something too worship-y about the prog-left’s attitude toward political leaders, at least for most conservatives’ taste. A lot of conservatives think highly of George and Laura Bush, but don’t mistake their fame and public polish for glamour. Have we really had a glamorous presidential couple since the Kennedys, and maybe the Reagans? And, seriously: who cares?
Not all the responses on Twitter were slurpy.
@orugil Why is it the champions of the poor always live so lavishly?
— Brooks S (@Brooks8314) April 17, 2017
— DISABLED VETERANS (@DisabledVetsCPX) April 17, 2017
But we’ll give Jamie Feldman at Huffington Post the last word from the groupie side.
Barack Obama has been enjoying a relatively responsibility-free life since leaving the White House in January. But some commitments are forever, like always taking a photo of your wife on vacation.
The star-studded sail marks yet another envy-inducing aspect of Barack and Michelle Obama’s lives over the past month. Since January, they both hung out in Palm Springs and joined Richard Branson in the British Virgin Islands; he then holed up in an exclusive private island once owned by Marlon Brando, and she eventually joined him for some tropical paddleboarding.
And all that cost the taxpayers how much in security protection, for an ex-president who’s now been vacationing with palm trees for three months?
How upset is Whoopi Goldberg that Donald Trump is the president? So much that she can’t bring herself to say his name. On Monday’s episode of ABC’s “The View,” Goldberg aired her contempt for “the new guy” (as she calls him) for, among other things, neglecting to place his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem.
Goldberg received cheers and a round of enthusiastic applause from the studio audience when she said, “I’m glad she knew enough to poke his ass to put his hand over his heart” — a reference to a widely circulated that shows First Lady Melania Trump nudging her husband.
The subtle nudge from Melania reminding Trump to put his hand over his heart for the National Anthem pic.twitter.com/iswL9YMVWv
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) April 17, 2017
But Goldberg really brought down the house when she added, “I don’t know any adult” who isn’t aware of proper protocol during the performance of the national anthem. The claim comes at around 1:02 in the video that follows:
Goldberg is forgetting that she once occupied a stage with another adult who either ignored or bucked protocol by keeping his hands folded in front of him while the anthem was being played. Here’s a visual reminder:The U.S. President refuses to place his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem.