Posts Tagged ‘Civilians’

Terrorists attack U.S. consulate in Afghanistan; three killed and 10 wounded

by Jim Kouri on Saturday, September 14th, 2013

This is article 609 of 804 in the topic Terrorism

A suicide bombing followed by gunfire from a terrorist squad struck the U.S. consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, on Friday morning, according to a counterterrorism source in the Middle East.

According to Lloyd S. Branaugh, a former American special forces member, it’s is believed that seven people died and another 16 were wounded early Friday morning when a bomb blast followed by gunfire hit the the consulate building in the provincial capital of the western Afghan province.

“Reports coming in say that there were about seven or eight attackers armed with automatic weapons and least one suicide vest who tried to storm the consulate building. They attempted to forcibly enter the diplomatic facility and take control of the building, Branaugh said.

He also said four of the alleged terrorists, two police officers, and two security guards posted at the consulate were among those killed, while a number of civilians were wounded in the incident. “The number of the casualties might go up,” he noted

The improvised explosive device contained in the suicide vest was powerful enough to not only cause damage to the diplomatic compound, but also to the nearby homes of the city’s civilian population.

While no organization is claiming responsibility for the attack, it’s believed to have been carried out by members of the Taliban.

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O’Reilly Buys Obama Propaganda on Syria

by Cliff Kincaid on Sunday, September 8th, 2013

This is article 493 of 576 in the topic Media

Bill O’Reilly objects to “bloviating,” which I think means giving opinions not based on fact. So what should we make of his claim that “I believe there is overwhelming evidence that the Syrian tyrant Assad did gas civilians, including children.” Where is the “overwhelming evidence?”

One day earlier, O’Reilly had claimed, “The evidence is strong that Assad violated the Geneva Convention by using poison gas to kill civilians.”

So in the course of one day the evidence had gone from “strong” to “overwhelming.” On what basis did this occur? O’Reilly doesn’t say.

I submit that O’Reilly is engaged in bloviating.

O’Reilly, who is about to begin celebrating his 18th year on the air as the host of the most popular Fox News program, is doing tremendous damage to the notion that he can be relied upon for “fair and balanced” coverage of the major issues of the day.

This is far more serious than an error O’Reilly made when he came under fire for falsely claiming that no Republicans were invited to the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington. “The mistake? Entirely on me,” O’Reilly said.

In the case of going to war, a far more serious matter than talking about invitations to a civil rights event, O’Reilly makes claims that parrot Obama’s talking points, but he offers no evidence to substantiate them.

On this issue, O’Reilly should rename his “Talking Points Memo” the “Obama Talking Points Memo.” He is one of the best allies that Obama has going for him as he attempts to persuade conservatives in the House to vote for war.

Let us recall that the Obama Administration, in its 4-page document that is the basis for war in Syria, claims to have “high confidence” that chemicals were used. It says the evidence “indicates” chemicals were used.

O’Reilly goes further than that, calling it “overwhelming.”

Beyond these unsubstantiated claims, there are suggestions of an intercepted communication which somehow proves that the Assad regime carried out the attack. But investigative journalist Kenneth Timmerman reports in The Daily Caller that “the original communication” shows “just the opposite” of what is being claimed—that the regime was surprised by the attack and acted to make sure its troops did not use the weapons. Not only has the Obama Administration “selectively used intelligence to justify military strikes on Syria,” but the report pointing to the Assad regime as being the source of the chemical attack has been “doctored,” said Timmerman.

Although The Daily Caller is a conservative publication and Timmerman is a conservative journalist, liberal Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, brought this report to the attention of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during the House hearing on the war resolution.

“There’s been a report in the media that the administration has mischaracterized post-attack Syrian military communications and that these communications actually express surprise about the attack,” Grayson said. “This is a very serious charge. Can you please release the original transcripts so that the American people can make their own judgment about that important issue?”

Hagel said the transcripts were “probably classified” and couldn’t be released.

Asked about these transcripts, Grayson told the left-wing Democracy Now!

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The Drums of War are Being Heard

by Alan Caruba on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

This is article 1034 of 1260 in the topic International, August 26: “Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday called Syria’s use of chemical weapons “undeniable” and said President Barack Obama will “be making an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons.”

Politico went on to report: “Setting the stage for eventual military intervention, Kerry said in a statement from the State Department that what is happening on the ground in Syria “is real and it is compelling” and requires a response from the international community. Attacks on civilians by Bashar al-Assad’s regime are, he said, “a moral obscenity” that “should shock the conscience of the world.”

“Make no mistake: President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny,” Kerry said.”

I simply do not believe the White House. I regard the poison attack as a “false flag operation” designed to draw the U.S into the conflict by those who would benefit from that. Assad has no reason to use poison gas. By most reports, his forces were doing well against the rebels. However, it must also be said that usually reliable news sources confirm the Syrian use of poison gas.
Even so, I think Americans are being set up to engage in yet another fruitless Middle East conflict. Worse yet, I think the only beneficiaries of overthrowing the Assad regime will be the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. This is one reason why Russia is supporting Assad, having had to fight its own wars against Islamic terrorists. And Russia wants to retain its Mediterranean port in Syria, a strategic military asset.
I am not saying that Assad’s Syria is a nation with whom the U.S. should align itself. Indeed, Syria is already aligned with Russia, China and Iran. Do we really want to take them on if a military intervention should escalate?
It is a no-win situation and, so far as the Middle East is concerned, the U.S. has been making some very bad decisions for a very long time. In the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of having a limited objective, we ended up staying on for years.
The Saudis want Assad overthrown, but for their own reasons, and it can be argued that what the Saudis want, the U.S. often finds itself wanting as well. We still import a significant amount of the oil we consume from Saudi Arabia. The last time the Saudis imposed an embargo in the 1970s, Jimmy Carter became a one-term president.
Wars often start out small and then escalate. They are often the result of emotions rather than strategic goals. In the case of the U.S., the decisions made by the Obama administration have reduced America to a level of impotence as a former world power. We look weak because we have been weak, beginning with Obama’s Middle East apology tour.
Obama backed the Muslim Brotherhood when Hosni Mubarak, a longtime ally, was overthrown. The failure to protect our consulate in Benghazi got our Libyan ambassador and three others killed.

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Purposeful attack on civilians with car leaves 1 dead and 11 wounded

by John Lott on Friday, August 9th, 2013

This is article 268 of 340 in the topic Criminal Activity

There are otherways from for people to kill others.  From KTLA regarding an attack in Venice, California:

 One person has died after being struck by a vehicle in a Venice hit-and-run that left 11 other pedestrians injured, authorities said.

The incident occurred about 6 p.m. near the intersection of Dudley Avenue and Ocean Front Walk, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Initial reports indicated that two of the victims were critically injured and two others were in serious condition.

One of the victims died at a hospital Saturday evening, according to Lt. Andrew Neiman of the Los Angeles Police Department.

A man was detained in Santa Monica Saturday evening in connection with the incident, Neiman said.

Witnesses said the driver of the dark-colored sedan was “moving purposefully” at about 20 mph when the vehicle struck several pedestrians and tables near the boardwalk, according to LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey. . . .

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Obama comments interfere with military legal cases

by John Lott on Monday, July 15th, 2013

This is article 255 of 301 in the topic US Military
Obama has made comments on everything from the Zimmerman case to the police arrest of Henry Louis Gates in Cambridge.  Some of those comments have stirred up racial tensions and created other problems.  Now one of his comments is making it impossible to prosecute some who may have committed crimes.   From the New York Times:

When President Obama proclaimed that those who commit sexual assault in the military should be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged,” it had an effect he did not intend: muddying legal cases across the country.

In at least a dozen sexual assault cases since the president’s remarks at the White House in May, judges and defense lawyers have said that Mr. Obama’s words as commander in chief amounted to “unlawful command influence,” tainting trials as a result. Military law experts said that those cases were only the beginning and that the president’s remarks were certain to complicate almost all prosecutions for sexual assault.

“Unlawful command influence” refers to actions of commanders that could be interpreted by jurors as an attempt to influence a court-martial, in effect ordering a specific outcome. Mr. Obama, as commander in chief of the armed forces, is considered the most powerful person to wield such influence.

The president’s remarks might have seemed innocuous to civilians, but military law experts say defense lawyers will seize on the president’s call for an automatic dishonorable discharge, the most severe discharge available in a court-martial, arguing that his words will affect their cases. . . .

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by Stephen Levine on Friday, June 7th, 2013

This is article 43 of 54 in the topic Police/Fire

The more observant among you will notice that the number of cases where law enforcement harasses or intimidates civilians photographing their actions or merely watching their activities has risen dramatically. To the point where law enforcement authors routinely confiscate cameras, cell-phones or demand that civilians move off their own property using the threat of arrest as an intimidating factor. Even when confronted with bad behavior, the law enforcement family rallies around officers accused of wrong-doing – sometimes to the point of perjury and filing false police reports.

This bill is so poorly conceived and written as to endanger every New York resident that meets with the disapproval of a rogue, disgruntled, or angry police officer. Perhaps, the legislation should be extended so that any police officer who falsely claims harassment or writes a false police report should be fined and jailed, punishable up to four years in prison?

Senate Passes Bill Making the Harassment of a Police Officer a Crime

The New York State Senate today passed a bill that creates the crime of aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer. The bill  (S.2402), sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) would make it a felony to harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.

“Our system of laws is established to protect the foundations of our society,” Senator Griffo said. “Police officers who risk their lives every day in our cities and on our highways deserve every possible protection, and those who treat them with disrespect, harass them and create situations that can lead to injuries deserve to pay a price for their actions.”
The bill establishes this crime as a Class E Felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“At a time when shocking incidents of disrespect and outright confrontation are at an all-time high, the men and women who patrol the streets of our cities deserve every possible protection we can offer them,” Senator Griffo stated. “My bill would make it a crime to take any type of physical action to try to intimidate a police officer. This is a necessary action because we can see from the rise in incidents that too many people in our society have lost the respect they need to have for a police officer. We need to make it very clear that when a police officer is performing his duty, every citizen needs to comply and that refusal to comply carries a penalty.”

“Professionally, I am grateful to see this bill pass through the Senate. Our police officers have a very dangerous job and need the support of our government leaders to help make them safe,” said Utica Police Department Chief Mark Williams.

“All too often persons are physically challenging police officers in the line of duty. Currently in those instances where an officer is physically attack (short of sustaining a physical injury) the lawful charge is only a violation. The consequences are way too low for the offender and it sends the wrong message to the public.

Police officers are the public’s first line of defense to restore order in dangerous/chaotic situations. Citizens do not have the legal right to physically challenge the authority of an officer lawfully performing their duties.

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U.S. development and use of robotic weapons troubles U.N.

by Jim Kouri on Thursday, May 30th, 2013

This is article 245 of 301 in the topic US Military

In a report released on Tuesday by a non-governmental agency (NGO) that monitors human rights, the United Nations is urging the United States to cease its development and use of what the U.N. special rapporteur terms “fully autonomous robotic weapons” by the military and law enforcement agencies.

“These weapons, once activated, can select and engage targets without further intervention by a human,” according to the NGO, Human Rights Watch.

Beginning on May 29 in Geneva, nations attending the United Nations Human Rights Council will debate the challenges posed by fully autonomous weapons, sometimes called “killer robots.”

“The U.N. report makes it abundantly clear that we need to put the brakes on fully autonomous weapons, or civilians will pay the price in the future,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “The US and every other country should endorse and carry out the U.N. call to stop any plans for killer robots in their tracks.”

The UN special rapporteur, Professor Christof Heyns, prepared a 22-page report on robotic weapons to be disclosed at the second session of the Human Rights Council on May 29. The U.N. council will then consider how to act on the report’s recommendations, including its call on nations “to institute an immediate moratorium on these weapons and work for an international agreement that addresses the many concerns identified in the report.”

According to Human Rights Watch, President Barack Obama and his Defense Department have acknowledged the problems regarding use of fully autonomous weapons. As a result, almost unnoticed, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a directive on Nov. 21, 2012, which mandates that “a human being to be in-the-loop” when decisions are made about using lethal force.

For about a decade, Directive Number 3000.09 has allowed the Defense Department to develop or use only fully autonomous systems that deliver non-lethal force, unless department officials waive the policy at a high level. In effect, the directive constitutes the world’s first moratorium on lethal fully autonomous weapons, claims HRW.

“While a positive step, the directive is not a comprehensive or permanent solution to the potential problems posed by fully autonomous systems,” Human Rights Watch said. “The policy of self-restraint it embraces may also be hard to sustain if other nations begin to deploy fully autonomous weapons systems.”

“Over the past decade, the expanded use of unmanned armed vehicles or drones has dramatically changed warfare, bringing new humanitarian and legal challenges,” Human Rights Watch officials said. The UN report acknowledges that “robots with full lethal autonomy have not yet been deployed” despite the lack of transparency on their research and development.”

These future weapons, sometimes called “killer robots,” would be able to choose and fire on targets without human intervention, according to HRW.

In a 50-page report released last year, “Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots,” outlines concerns about these fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law’s power to deter future violations.

“Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take technology too far,” said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch.

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by Daniel Greenfield on Monday, November 19th, 2012

This is article 850 of 1260 in the topic International

Once upon a time it was the objective of the military to win wars. Now the objective of the military is to avoid incidents.

An incident happens when civilians are killed, prisoners mistreated or some other event that is photographed, videotaped and then flashed around the world. This results in an Incident, capital I, that triggers much artificial soul-searching by the media which spends the next two years beating the incident to death and flogging its corpse across television programs, newspaper articles, books, documentaries and finally, if it’s a big enough incident, a real life movie version that is based on the book, which was based on the article, where the idealistic reporter/lawyer/activist who uncovered the truth about the incident will be played by Matt Damon or George Clooney.

The main objective of the military in most civilized countries is to prevent this chain of articles, programs, books, documentaries, dramatized plays and Matt Damon movies from coming about by making sure that no Incident can ever happen. And the best way to do that is by not fighting. And if the enemy insists on fighting, then he must be fought with razor sharp precision so that no collateral damage takes place. And if someone must die, it had better be our own soldiers, rather than anyone on the other side whose death might be used as an Incident.

Incidentism isn’t derived from a fear of Matt Damon movies, but from the perception that wars are not won on the battlefield, but in the minds of men. And that perception has a good deal to do with the kind of wars we choose to fight.

The military, whether in the United States or Israel, does not exist to win wars. It exists to win over the people who don’t want it to win a war.

The guiding principle in such conflicts is to use the military to push back the insurgency long enough to win over the local population with a nation building exercise. This program has never worked out for the United States, but that doesn’t mean that generations of military leaders don’t insist on going through the motions of applying it anyway.

In Israel, the last time the military was sent to win a war, was 1973. Since then the military has been used as a police force and to battle militias in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. In the Territories, the ideal Israeli soldier was supposed to be able to dodge rocks thrown by teenagers hired by Time correspondents looking to score a great photo. Today the ideal Israeli soldier is capable of visiting an American college campus to dodge the overpriced textbooks hurled at him by the local branch of Students for Justice in Palestine or the International Socialist Organization, while explaining why the IDF is the most moral army in the world except for the Salvation Army.

The ideal Israeli soldier, like his American, British and Canadian, but not Russian or Chinese, counterparts, is supposed to avoid Incidents. That means operating under Rules of Engagement which make firing at an assailant almost as dangerous as not firing at an assailant.

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New op-ed at National Review Online: ‘Military-Style Weapons’: Function, not cosmetics, should govern gun policy

by John Lott on Saturday, July 28th, 2012

This is article 204 of 603 in the topic Gun Rights

My newest piece starts this way:

‘AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not on the streets of our cities,” President Obama told the National Urban League on Wednesday. After the deadly attack in Colorado last Friday, the president’s concern is understandable. However, even — or perhaps especially — at such a time, distinctions need to be made. The police in Aurora, Colo., reported that the killer used a Smith & Wesson M&P 15. This weapon bears a cosmetic resemblance to the M-16, which has been used by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. The call has frequently been made that there is “no reason” for such “military-style weapons” to be available to civilians. Yes, the M&P 15 and the AK-47 are “military-style weapons.” But the key word is “style” — they are similar to military guns in their aesthetics, not in the way they actually operate. The guns covered by the federal assault-weapons ban (which was enacted in 1994 and expired ten year later) were not the fully automatic machine guns used by the military but semi-automatic versions of those guns. . . .

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Probably the weirdest interview that I have ever had

by John Lott on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

This is article 199 of 603 in the topic Gun Rights

I have been interviewed by Howard Stern, and I thought that was pretty strange.  This interview was even more bizarre.  Mediaite has the entire 16 minute video available here.  How does Mediaite describe the interview:

Morgan kept grilling Lott over his premise that gun control will not help stem violence, and that having more guns out there will lead to less crime. Lott tried to rebut the points Dershowitz and Morgan were making, but Morgan repeatedly interrupted him to get Lott to answer his questions and telling Lott that he was spouting “nonsense.”
Lott tried to explain the difference between semi-automatic and automatic weapons to Morgan, while Morgan and Dershowitz argued that civilians should not be allowed access to guns with that speed and ammo capacity. Another point Lott tried to make during the interview was that while England has less gun deaths per year than the United States, they had much less before they implemented gun control. . . .

You can see what Piers’ own viewers thought of the interview right here.  Their discussion of the interview is quite interesting.

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