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PostWatch: An irregular correction to the Washington Post

Brought to you by Christopher Rake


Thursday, October 31, 2002
11:26 PM

Gender politics? Bias at the Post? Detailed examinations of Islam vs. the Nation of Islam? Gun control? Gay men and the Catholic Church? This is where I put my nose to the grindstone.

Is that where I'm getting most of my search-hits?

No. No, that would not be it.

For the last week, one Google and Yahoo search term above all others has brought more traffic to my site.

My one Oct. 25 posting on a UFO sighted up in Albany by WXXA.

Judging from Bill's Content, I could quadruple my audience by combining "UFO Albany WXXA" with "Drew Barrymore." Or just "Drew Barrymore."

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10:58 PM

It can't be true that Democrats are fundamentally worse people than Republicans. That doesn't make any sense. But everywhere I look I see shabby Democrats. One was a representative of the Minnesota DFL party on Hardball, saying with a straight face that that disgrace of a memorial service for Paul Wellstone wasn't a political rally, and I am 100% positive he was lying when Matthews finally forced him to answer whether he knew about Mondale's old polling. He danced around it, then finally said he didn't. Right.

Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign chief the last time around, was worse. Matthews had her paired with Frank Luntz, who if I recall correctly is a Republican pollster. Matthews was talking political baseball with them--what works in an ad campaign, what doesn't; how risky is it to run a negative campaign in these bizarre circumstances, etc. Brazile--infamous for talking in a Washington Post Style section story about "those white boys" the Gore campaign was contending with during his presidential run--just couldn't resist trying to turn nearly every question into a tedious Democratic campaign commercial. Luntz spoke very nearly like a normal human being without waving the Republican banner. I actually learned something from him. Guess I learned something from Brazile too.

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10:50 PM

I did not know that.... Terrific Hardball tonight. Chris Matthews said that contrary to the reluctant-candidate image of Walter Mondale, he's been "randy" to run (and that was the nicest way he put it) and polled in the state two years ago to see where he stood.

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1:20 PM

Why So Mean? I realize politics can be hardball and all, but Martha Burk isn't content with arguing the issues of whether Augusta golf club should admit a female member. She has to attack her opponents' decency.

This story is an AP dispatch in the Washington Times (though I swear I saw a shorter version in the Post this morning) quoting PGA chief Tim Finchem as saying the tour has no intention of ostracizing Augusta or removing its competition from PGA tallies. Burk:

"If I were his board, I would be asking who he works for — Augusta or the PGA Tour?" Martha Burk said yesterday. "Clearly, the position he has taken is going to be an apologist for Augusta."

This is just one medium-level example but the most recent one. It's just petty. As is this, the tale of Civil Rights Commission member Abigail Thernstrom being treated shabbily by chairwoman Mary Frances Berry:

"I was appointed just days before," she recalls. "We're all up on a platform in a line of chairs. The commissioner sitting next to me manages to turn her back on me even though it's a straight line of chairs. Then we were introducing ourselves to this Florida audience and I say, 'I'm Abigail Thernstrom. I'm a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. I'm co-author of 'America in Black and -- .' And Mary Frances Berry says, 'We're not going to announce our books.' I said, 'Can I say something? "America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible." ' She never welcomed me to the commission. She never said, 'Hello. I'm Mary Frances Berry. I look forward to working with you.' I have never walked into such a hostile scene in all my life, and I doubt I'll ever walk into such a hostile scene again."

When Berry, 64, hears that quote read to her, she smiles mischievously.

"Oh, poor baby!" she says.

Then she says it in Spanish: "Pobrecita!"

Then she bursts out laughing.

I'm embarrassed for Berry. There's something cold and dead at the center of that.

You gotta be careful. If you carry attitudes like this inside, there's no telling what might happen. You could end up disgracing the memory of a dead colleague by turning it into a brazen political rally.

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8:28 AM

Not in the Post Watch.... Fraternal Order of Police oppose ballistic fingerprinting

An "urgent message from Sarah Brady," chairwoman of the Brady Campaign, sent last week asked readers "to rush an emergency gift," to help promote such a system, and claimed that, "for years police have called for the creation of such a database."

But a document obtained by over the weekend from the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) - the nation's largest membership organization exclusively for law enforcement officers - contradicted those claims.

"The FOP does not support any federal requirement to register privately owned firearms with the federal government," the document stated. "Without federally-mandated registration of the more than 200 million firearms in the U.S. today, such a database would be no more effective than the current NIBIN [National Integrated Ballistic Information Network] maintained by ATF [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms]."...

The FOP even challenged the use of the terminology "ballistic fingerprinting" to refer to the investigative technique.

"Since ballistic imprints, unlike fingerprints and DNA, can be altered, either deliberately or simply through normal use," the group asked, "how will we ensure the validity of the findings?"

Kevin Watson is legislative director for the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA), a membership group of law enforcement officers and private citizens supportive of police. He told that legislators have to look past the latest "buzz word" from gun control advocates to find what really helps get criminals off the streets. "A lot of the people who push ideas like this say that, 'Well, even if it just catches one crook it can't hurt,'" he noted. "But if it costs $3 trillion and only catches one crook it sure does hurt, because that's money that could be spent elsewhere on things that we know do work."

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8:16 AM

Oh Canada, staunch ally, protector of the .....Syrians and Iraqis? From yesterday's Post:

Canada Cautions Some on U.S. Travel

By Tom Cohen
Associated Press Writer

TORONTO –– The Canadian government issued a travel advisory this week with a twist: It suggests citizens born in Iraq, Syria and other countries targeted by U.S. anti-terrorism policies consider avoiding travel to the United States. The advisory issued Monday focuses on a U.S. regulation adopted a year after the Sept. 11 attacks that permits American authorities to closely monitor travelers born in certain countries suspected of terrorism links.

Canada considers the system discriminatory because it targets citizens based on where they were born, said Reynald Doiron, a foreign affairs department spokesman. "It's against basic principles on both sides of the border," Doiron said Wednesday. "Canadian citizens should be exempted from that measure."...

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Wednesday, October 30, 2002
11:46 PM

Good things happen too... A recent translaton by MEMRI of Kuwaiti columnist Hamid Al-Hmoud discussing the need to change what is taught in Arab and Muslim countries. MEMRI says it appeared in a Palestinian paper:

"We must realize that our children, teenagers, men, and women, are always exposed to a [distorted] religious culture that permits hatred of others. [We must realize] that there is some connection between the Islamic culture as reflected in the educational curriculum, at home, and in the neighborhood, and the culture that breeds religious fanaticism... [This Islamic culture] offers partial information, full of unjustified hatred towards other peoples' religions and cultures, as if those peoples do not do anything but plan wars against Muslims." ...

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3:26 PM

Speaking of Augusta, here are some letters that appeared in the Post.

From Carey Armstrong:

How would people react if Augusta National tried to block the memberships of blacks, Asians or Jews? Because the discrimination is against women, it is okay?

Discrimination on any basis is wrong, especially when it is directed at more than 51 percent of the population.

I know some female golfers who -- especially since the average age of Augusta National members is over 60 -- would be great competitors at Augusta....

This letter exposes a basic disagreement between the left, which believes gender discrimination is exactly the same as race discrimination, and the right, which does not. Besides that, I wonder if Armstrong knows that women play at Augusta all the time. Or that men can't go to 60 colleges in this country because they're for women only. Forget what I just said. The left acts as if it believes all discrimination is wrong.

Speaking of which, Tim Craley:

If Sally Jenkins worries that she will be "drummed out of the gender" for saying Let Augusta Stay Men Only" [Sports, Oct. 19], I shudder to think what's in store for any man who shares her view.

That's what is so reckless about Martha Burk's dogmatic campaign to force Augusta National Golf Club to accept her demands: the assumption that anyone who disagrees isn't simply wrong but that they deserve scorn. What's worse is that Ms. Burk is using this moral coercion to try to undermine fundamental rights that we all enjoy, such as free association and privacy. My right to enjoy my men's bowling league is the same as my daughter's to attend a women's college.

I really don't know why this issue hasn't figured more prominently in the Augusta debate. I'm sure many if not all of those colleges get some federal assistance through student grants and other aid. That means I'm paying colleges to discriminate against me. I should go get a grant myself from the Scaife Foundation or something and publish a study, eh? Afterwards, I'll try to boost my study's visibility.

Patricia Meagher:

As a married, professional woman, I have no qualm about men having a club of their own, where they can enjoy the company of other men. I have enjoyed an all-female book club, a women's gym and even the occasional night in front of a Lifetime movie.

My husband feels no burning exclusion on these occasions, and, yes, I am pleased when he joins his pals for an occasional "guys' night out."

Those clamoring to make everything public or to create a unisex world need some common-sense advice: Give it a rest.

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3:14 PM

Augusta... Somewhat curious story in the Washington Times on Martha Burk, the National Council of Women's Organizations, and her sally to force Augusta golf club to admit women. I think Burk is way off base, as I've said before, and no one will be more thrilled than me if she's defeated (though some TV broadcast somewhere said Tiger Woods just predicted it'll have a female member within a year). But the main point of the story seems to be that NCWO now has a much higher public profile than it did before. Well, no kidding. And if the Washington Times is trying to portray this as uniquely vile, lotsa luck. Everybody with political or cultural goals is trying to boost their own visibility. Does quoting Daniel Pipes have anything to do with trying to boost PostWatch's visibility? Gee, let me think.

There are two items near the end that I find noteworthy:

Ms. Hartmann said that in particular the Augusta fight has given the NCWO "traction" on two key issues: Title IX and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. President Bush called a U.S. Department of Education panel to review the 30-year-old Title IX statute. Changes could come next year. The majority of women's groups vehemently oppose any revisions to Title IX. The convention, meanwhile, has developed an international bill of rights for women that the NCWO and other groups seek to have formally ratified by the United States....

Here are two bad things: Not ending the gender-quota regime imposed by current Title IX enforcement, and starting U.N. meddling in the domestic arrangements of Americans under the banner of CEDAW.

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2:09 PM

Food for thought... That is, food for thought for me. Middle East expert Daniel Pipes was kind enough to reply to a query I sent him recently about the relationship between Islam and the Nation of Islam. As regular readers know, I've been making the case that the two are scarcely the same thing, and newspapers shouldn't be describing alleged sniper John Muhammad as a convert to Islam if, in fact, he simply joined the Nation of Islam. Here's my basic question and his response:

Me: But isn't it more accurate to think of the Nation of Islam as an American black-identity movement?

Daniel Pipes:That's how it started but it has been moving steadily toward normative Islam for 40 years. I have a chapter on just this in my new book, MIRA, noted below.

MIRA is short for Militant Islam Reaches America, a book I now plan to read. I recommend everyone read anything Pipes writes.

I wrote to him after reading his recent Jewish World Review piece in which he states that Muhammad converted to Islam 17 years ago. In addition to a lack of information out there on what the Nation of Islam actually represents, this helps explain all those stories about Muhammad converting to Islam--perhaps that's what he really did, imagine that, and then later migrated to NOI. That's Pipes' impression, anyway. Most of the accounts have Muhammad joining NOI in 1997, so that scenario is possible.

However, my understanding of NOI is that parts of it were indeed migrating to traditional Islam; that one of Elijah Muhammad's sons was leading it in that direction; and that its main branch basically dissolved as that process was nearly complete. (This happened well after Malcom X left NOI and joined traditional Islam after his famous hajj to Mecca, where he observed people of all races worshiping the same God on an equal footing.) And my understanding is that while the merger with traditional Islam was taking place, Louis Farakkhan reinvigorated NOI in a return to its own, well, traditional roots that include black-identity concepts and stories about black gods creating whites, blowing up the earth, etc. In any case I certainly need to learn more about this and will commence my studies anon.

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8:40 AM

TolesWatch... The Post's cartoonist pictures Uncle Sam playing a tuba, and moron-cantelope-head President Bush playing a violin while telling the UN's Kofi Annan "You're not keeping up." Annan is drawn reverentially--really, it's a beautiful, majestic rendition of the man, who's given a grave, bearing-the-burden-of-peace expression. Given the fact that Annan is the conductor, Toles apparently agrees with the liberal notion that the president of the United States' primary obligation is to follow the lead of....the United Nations.

I've concluded that Toles is part of the tradition of artists who excel at the center of their craft and stumble endlessly when describing the politics of the world as they really are. Spike Lee, Roseanne Barr, Oliver Stone, I'll draw up a longer list sometime.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2002
9:38 PM

Eleven-Day Empire compares candidate profiles of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Bob Ehrlich.

11-day's James DiBenedetto described the story on Townsend as a "fawning puff piece" and gives half-credit to the Post for what he sees as a half-hearted effort. His comparison of the two ledes is worthy of The Onion, except it's for real:

While the Kennedy! piece opens with this sentence:

She always wanted to do what was right.

Ehrlich's bio begins with a description of the exclusive (read: elitist, plutocratic, rich, white) of the country club where Ehrlich is found hosting a campaign event:

Hounds are baying in the twilight. A chestnut mare gleams in a paddock. In a verdant valley in northern Baltimore County, a gubernatorial contender is being feted at Maryland's oldest fox hunting club, the Green Spring Valley Hounds. The sign at the end of the unpaved lane leading to this rarefied enclave is so discreet it is marked with initials -- "GSV" -- because if you have to ask how to get here, you don't belong....

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8:17 PM

I don't know what else the Russians were supposed to do with the Chechyen terrorists who took the theatre patrons hostage, other than negotiating endlessly and giving them more leverage to kill people. There will be grief many times over for the innocents who were killed by the mystery gas that almost certainly saved most of the hostages from a horrible death.

Meanwhile, this website,, according to the reliable, offers helpful hints to future terrorists:

A Guide to the Perplexed about the Permissibility of Killing Prisoners

In an article titled “A Guide to the Perplexed Regarding the Permissibility of Killing Prisoners,” which appeared in the column “Jihad News from the Land of the Caucasus(1)” the author suggests that the Islamic religious scholars present five different alternatives, drawn from the various interpretations of the Koran:
1) A polytheist prisoner must be killed. No amnesty may be granted to him, nor can he be ransomed.
2) All infidel polytheists and the People of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians) are to be killed. They may not be granted amnesty, nor can they be ransomed.
3) Amnesty and ransom are the only two ways to deal with prisoners.
4) Amnesty and ransom are possible only after the killing of a large number of prisoners.
5) The Imam, or someone acting on his behalf, can choose between killing, amnesty, ransom or enslaving the prisoner.

Killing a Prisoner for the Sins of Others is Permissible

The last position is the one preferred by the author who explained that the Prophet Muhammad had dealt with the prisoners in different ways to maximize the benefits to Muslims.

He gives examples regarding the methods that the Prophet Muhammad had chosen to kill, grant amnesty, or ransom prisoners.

The author finds it necessary to present the subject in reaction to an Islamic criticism “which had torn his heart” about the execution of nine [Russian] prisoners after the Russian Government had refused to surrender “one of Russia’s biggest criminals and crooks.”

According to the author, [the Chechens] have executed the prisoners not because of their heart’s desire, but because they have seen a benefit for the Muslims in such an act.

In reaction to the arguments made by some critics that no one should be punished for the sins of others, the author maintains that Allah permits the killing of a prisoner because he is a prisoner, and all the more so if his killing for the sins of others serves an important Islamic interest, as well as a deterrent (to the enemy)...

MEMRI descibres the site as "hostile to Russians" and "probably run by Chechens"

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1:47 PM

Osama bin Laden Alive? Here's another story, this from World Net Daily, saying he is and sourced to a supposed CIA intelligence update. reported--claimed--he was still alive last week.

World Net Daily can be a bit out there. I'm using the question of whether bin Laden remains alive to vet Debka, frankly.

Osama Bin Laden is alive, well, living in Pakistan and planning new terrorist attacks in the U.S., United Kingdom and Germany, according to WorldNetDaily intelligence sources.

Bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahri, is also in Pakistan. Both al-Qaida leaders bought their way out of Afghanistan during the U.S. siege of Tora Bora last year. Bin Laden reportedly paid $15 million to facilitate his escape...

The reports about bin Laden being alive confirm others earlier this month that the Central Intelligence Agency changed its assessment on his fate following the release of a handwritten letter addressed to supporters of the al-Qaida leader. The CIA analyzed the letter and determined the handwriting and words were those of bin Laden....

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12:13 PM

Schadenfreude... via, this New York Post story:



Ms., the feminist icon, is beset by woes far deeper than just the search for a new editor-in-chief, The Post has learned.

The magazine's fall issue that was to hit this month has been scrapped. In desperation, the new owners have turned to Anne Mulligan Smith, a former editor-in-chief of Working Woman and McCall's, to try and salvage the next issue.

And the magazine that was forced to move to Los Angeles when new owners, the Feminist Majority Foundation took over, finds itself being put together back in New York for at least one more issue....

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Monday, October 28, 2002
10:11 PM

Breathtaking Chutzpah... The following is by Jerome Sternstein (Brooklyn College/CUNY professor emeritus of history) at the History News Network, pointer via The Volokh Conspiracy. It's a response to a piece in the Nation by Jon Wiener defending Michael Bellesiles, author of Arming America. This is just one part of the Bellesiles saga, and I broke out the following sentences from the original one-long-graf to give everyone chance to absorb the massive scale of evasion constructed by Bellesiles. And to ask why anyone would even bother trying to defend that book--I mean, what's the point? Why go to bat for this guy:

...on WBEZ public radio in Chicago, Bellesiles said that all the inventories were available on microfilm, when in fact thousands of those he claimed to have read have never been microfilmed.

And months earlier, when confronted by the fact no probate microfilms were in the federal archives in Georgia, Bellesiles revised his story completely and said he read most of the probate inventories in the original in about 30 different state and local depositories scattered across the country. Then, he added that he read hundreds of inventories in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and that he read the San Francisco ones, averaging about 10 pages in length, at the Superior Courthouse in that city.

Then when he was told they were destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, he changed his story again and said he was unable now to recall where they were located.

Then in an article that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education he changed his story once more, claiming he had found the San Francisco inventories and was having them sent to him.

Then, when Emory University asked for them, he changed his story yet again and was forced to admit that he really had no idea where they could be found, a stance he repeated in an article in the Nov. 2001 Organization of American Historian's Newsletter.

Then, in Jan. 2002, he invented a new story: he claimed he had tracked them down in the California History Center in Martinez, CA. There is no such center housing general California records, but there is a Contra Costa History Center, which does not contain San Francisco inventories but only case files of the probate court of Contra Costa County, and only a couple of dozen of them at that in his sample period, not the hundreds of San Francisco probates Bellesiles said he read....

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9:48 PM

This would be really, really bad in so many different ways:

Civil Rights Chief Warns White House of Al-Qaeda-U.S. Muslim Threat

It's from Newsmax.

The head of one of the nation's most prominent civil rights organizations has warned the White House that the rise of radical Islam within America's black community could provide a breeding ground for the perpetrators of the next wave of terror attacks against the U.S.

In a letter sent to the Bush administration on Friday, Congress of Racial Equality Chairman Roy Innis requested a meeting with Homeland Security czar Tom Ridge, Attorney General John Ashcroft and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to discuss what he sees as the "clear and present danger" posed to U.S. race relations by the rising tide of "non-spiritual" Muslim conversions.

Innis fears that the trend has left too many sympathetic to al-Qaeda and its anti-American agenda, providing a waiting pool of potential terrorist recruits.

"Even before the Beltway sniper attacks," Innis told NewsMax in an exclusive interview, "I anticipated a real problem for our country and for black Americans in particular. And that is, the large number of non-spiritually-based conversions to Islam - both inside and outside of jail.

"It's not going to take long for al-Qaeda to begin capitalizing on this, if they haven't already," the CORE chief warned...

ViaInsta, if I recall correctly.

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5:47 PM

Not that great a shot.... a John McCarthy from Florida Today writes to's letters section:

Bad sniper speculations didn't end with the capture of the two suspects. Nearly every lead I read mentioned Muhammad's marksmanship badge and military service as a Gulf War vet. I can only guess they put this info in the lead because they deemed it an important part of the story.

In reality, though, the marksmanship badge is a very low-level award given to recruits who perform well in basic marksmanship training, which every recruit takes during Basic Military Training. To refer to him as a "sharpshooter," as the Washington Post did repeatedly, is a stretch. Did the Army teach him to shoot a rifle and shoot it well? Absolutely. But it doesn't appear he had any more than the same basic marksmanship training millions of other veterans had. And since Muhammad was a combat engineer, it is very unlikely he saw any combat in the Gulf. As a matter of fact, he probably didn't handle a weapon very often after Basic, other than for annual qualifying.

Gotta say the Post hasn't struck me as misleading on this issue, unless I missed one big story where they hyped it. There have been a few references to Muhammad as a "sharpshooter," but this seemed pretty generic to me and not hyping his abilities--which some other outlets definitely have been guilty of. This Post story even gives some room to downplay his abilities:

He was a mediocre soldier who was once convicted of striking a sergeant in the head, and he wasn't "anything special" as a marksman, according to a former platoon leader.

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8:06 AM

I guess this is the way some people think... Relax! Post reader William Murphy writes the paper to explain that Iraq is months away from posessing nuclear weapons.

I find it curious that the report the White House now claims the president's original statement was based on was released Sept. 9, two days after President Bush made his statement. Even more curious, just like the original source that has been disavowed, the new source that the White House cites as the basis for the president's statement does not say that Iraq was six months away from developing a nuclear weapon.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies Web site:

"Iraq does not possess facilities to produce fissile material in sufficient amounts for nuclear weapons. It would require several years and extensive foreign assistance to build such fissile material production facilities. It could, however, assemble nuclear weapons within months if fissile material from foreign sources were obtained. It could divert domestic civil-use radioisotopes or seek to obtain foreign material for a crude radiological device."

My bold. Evidently if a city gets blown up by fissile material obtained from foreign sources, it's not that bad a day.

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Sunday, October 27, 2002
10:31 PM

Now this I could believe... From Natalie Solent

Watch your back. The world's attention has been on Moscow and Washington, where two flares of the wordwide explosion of Islamofascist terror have been put out of action for now, but that doesn't mean that their spiritual allies elsewhere cease their work. Joseph A Norland of "Dawson Speaks" alerted me to similarities between Egyptian behaviour now and Egyptian behaviour in 1967. Strange troop movements. Demonization of the "Zionist enemy" by every lie available - this time round Egyptian TV is broadcasting a series based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Refusal to act against "spontaneous" acts of terrorism. It's starting to look like a pattern.

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10:15 PM

I'd be remiss if I didn't note this item at John Hawkins' Right Wing News:

***: The plot just thickened. We now have an interesting twist involving the Nation of Islam. RWN reader DANEgerus points out this article about the 10th victim of the sniper in the New York times...

"In the 1980's, Mr. Bridges helped start a program with an agenda similar to that of [self-help business development project-pw] Matah, called Power, or People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth. Mr. Wellington said the program ran into trouble after he and Mr. Bridges had a disagreement with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, over the extent to which the two groups should be linked. Mr. Bridges distanced himself from Power, Mr. Wellington said, and helped found Matah about 10 years later."

Out of all the "random" victims the sniper picked out doesn't it seem odd that this guy was one of the people who was murdered? Is this simply pure coincidence or is there something more at work here? Either way, this certainly deserves to be investigated further.

I don't believe for a second that Bridges' disagreement led to his murder by a sniper avenging Farakkhan. Disappointment over that mild a business relationship doesn't rise to the level of murder, and it would take a heck of a lot of intelligence to locate Bridges at a gas station in Fredicksburg, Va. far from his Philadelphia home, at a particular time with an appropriate escape route.... forget it, doesn't make sense. You'd have to accept the idea that the other murders were intended as cover for Bridges'. Sounds nuts, is nuts, and one poster at Right Wing News has already suggested it. No.

Incidentally, considering all my posts on the Nation of Islam, I should have already called attention to the fact that Farakkhan has condemned the killings and expressed dismay that John Muhammad had been enrolled as a NOI member.

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7:54 PM

Loose Ends Dept.... About that license plate number that snagged John Muhammad and his accomplice...The news media has been congratulating itself on the side, if you know where to look, for helping to apprehend them, and they're right. But it looks like just dumb luck. Take a look at the timeline. CNN released the plate number & car make & model around ten p.m. that evening. The trucker phoned in the ID around 1 a.m. (and someone else may have beat him to the punch; there are conflicting stories). That means there was maybe a three-hour window during which the information was getting out there. Well, Muhammad & Malvo were asleep when seized by police. they were either asleep or just not listening to the radio during that the crucial period. This could have easily turned out otherwise: they hear about the license plate, dump the car and disappear.

Now, just as it was with the Tarot card incident, it appears that CNN and other news outlets confirmed the information and were not told to suppress it. If nothing else, it looks like people inside the investigation were at odds with Chief Moose, who clearly could have been more forthcoming with the media than he was. But nabbing these guys was a very close thing, and it's not at all clear to me that CNN and the rest of them did the right thing at the time.

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6:18 PM

Bellesiles Coverage.. in mainstream media is scant. InstaGlenn notes this Associated Press rendition that appears in the New York Times. At least it's longer than this minuscule "wire service" brief on page A11 in the Washington Post, which is so brief I can run all of it without consuming more than a handful of electrons:

Professor Resigns at Emory After Panel Questions His Book on Guns

ATLANTA -- An Emory University professor resigned after an academic panel skewered the research for his controversial book, "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture," about the history of guns in the United States.

Michael Bellesiles, a history professor, said in a statement that he "cannot continue to teach in what I feel is a hostile environment."

The 40-page report concluded that Bellesiles was "guilty of unprofessional and misleading work" in his research. It was written by scholars from Harvard, Princeton and the University of Chicago, and was released on Friday. The report said Bellesiles's failure to cite sources for crucial data "does move into the realm of 'falsification.' " Bellesiles denied fabricating evidence or evading scholarly responsibility.

His book contends that early Americans did not own or use firearms in great numbers.

That's it. Apply the "if tables were turned" test as an amusing thought experiment. Rinse and repeat.

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12:15 PM

Broken Record Dept.... This story says John Muhammad and his wife converted to Islam. This story cites Louis Farrakhan as confirming that Muhammad joined the Nation of Islam in 1997. Two different things.

I see that InstaMan noticed Newsday saying there may be a link to the 5% Nation of Islam, yet another different thing. Insta rightly notes that the 5% Nation is not Islam.

Islam, Nation of Islam, 5% Nation of Islam, what does it all mean? First of all, true Islam is a grand monotheistic religion that teaches the equality of man before Allah regardless of race. This is so despite its current convulsions on the fringes (let us pray it's on the fringes). The Nation of Islam is primarily an American black-identity movement originating in the 1930s that speaks of Allah and other Islamic beliefs but is radically non-Islamic in teachings that include the creation of the white race by a black god and the earthly appearance of Allah in the form of founder Wallace Fard, who by the way disappeared in the mid-1930s and was never heard from again. Fard's successor was Elijah Muhammad. Teachings that date back to Elijah Muhammad include the primacy of the black race and a tradition of anti-semitism. In practice, the Nation of Islam has also functioned as a black self-help movement, including attempts to launch black business enterprises, fight drug abuse, and reduce crime.

Islam and The Nation of Islam have starkly different histories and missions. But the Nation of Islam shares an anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Semitic outlook with many true Muslims. I don't know how precisely to generalize about this, because look--there are plenty of Muslims who hate the West and hate Jews but wouldn't go blowing up buildings. And the same is true of the Nation of Islam's followers. But the point is that radical Muslims may be very content to take advantage of the anti-Western outlook of an NOI follower, regardless of what he'd regard as the NOI's false teaching.

This is a very long way of saying that I agree with speculation that it's possible John Muhammad got help from one of the many anti-Western, radical Islamist groups. There are varying stories about Muhammad's history, which includes lots of jet travel on the one hand and living out of a car on the other. I've also read much lately about black Americans being the single largest source of American converts to Islam. It's clear that some alienated black Americans are attracted to Islam partly because it can be taught as an Anti-American creed.

Now, to what extent is Islam really taught that way in the U.S.? I think it's a pretty darn big extent, partly because of the dominance of the extreme Wahabbist strain of Islam promoted here by Saudi Arabia. Regardless of race, color or creed, you should worry about this if you care about the equality of sexes, civil liberties, the rule of law and the ability of the West to defeat the nightmare of terrorism.

If you don't care about that, go back to sleep.

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Saturday, October 26, 2002
11:35 AM

Exhibit A... Here's a link from International Answer, the nice people behind the anti-war protest in Washington today. It's their take on the U.S. assault on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan:

QUESTION: Isn't the U.S. trying to stabilize the region by eliminating a "network of terrorists"?

ANSWER: This is the most dangerous myth of all. More war, bombing and assassinations will only create more violence, death and economic crisis. The only way to stop terrorism is to stop the oppression that the U.S. has been largely responsible for in the region.

This is why Christopher Hitchens has separted from The Nation and its fellow-travelers. The Left of the New Millenium cannot support the Western-led destruction of a regime that banned education for women and executed gays for the offense of being gay.

It's really very simple: This is a left that hates the West and the United States more than it loves liberty, the rule of law, and civil rights.

Hitch on Iraq:

Now, however, the same people are all frenzied about an American-led "attack on the Muslim world." Are the Kurds not Muslims? Is the new Afghan government not Muslim? Will not the next Iraqi government be Muslim also? This meaningless demagogy among the peaceniks can only be explained by a masochistic refusal to admit that our own civil society has any merit, or by a nostalgia for Stalinism that I can sometimes actually taste as well as smell.

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11:14 AM

So where am I going with this "non-Muslim" blogging? More to come. But hey, it's Saturday, cut me some slack.

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Friday, October 25, 2002
10:46 PM

The Not-White Not-Muslim Sniper...

Ombudsgod notes that MediaMinded wonders whether accused sniper John Muhammad is a member of the "5% Nation of Islam," an offshoot of the Nation of Islam (so that's an offshoot of an offshoot. Basically, they're Protestants).

The 5% Nation has some pretty wild ideas about black men being gods. But so does The Nation of Islam. It's one reason I'm awestruck by when big outlets like the Washington Post describe this Muhammad guy as having converted to Islam. Well. If he converted to being a member of the Nation of Islam, here are some things he may believe:

*The NOI teaches that a giant spaceship--the Mother Plane--will carry out Allah's judgment. Black scientists will use the same bombs that brought up the "mountains out of the earth" to destroy the white race (Elijah Muhammad, The Fall of America, 236, as reprinted in The Final Call, July 16, 1996, 19). They claim this judgment will not only destroy the white race but also Christianity...

*Louis Farrakhan claims that he was taken aboard the Mother Plane in a vision. While in the giant UFO, he spoke to Elijah Muhammad who had been dead for several years (see Washington Post, September 18, 1995, D3)...

*Farrakhan also asserts that this giant spaceship follows him when he travels (Tape of Farrakhan, July 13, 1986, Chicago, Ill.)...

*The NOI teaches that blacks are gods and whites are demons.

*They teach that 66 trillion years ago, he [one of the black god/scientists] decided to destroy the earth. He drilled a shaft into the earth, filled it with high explosives, and then set it off. He failed to totally destroy the earth but he did blow it into two parts. The smaller part became what we now call the moon (Tape of Louis Farrakhan, Dec. 9, 1990, Compton, Calif.).

*According to the NOI, a black scientist named Yakub created the white race about 6,000 years ago. They claim that whites are a race of devils (Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman, 51)....

Now, the above is from a Christian evangelical site North American Mission Board, but it's well sourced and tracks with what I've read elsewhere, including in the Autobiography of Malcom X--which of course goes back awhile. I've edited it and broken out bullet points, but it's all there. (There is one obvious typo where they say the founding was around 1978)

Most of the above, excluding Minister Farrakhan's spaceship, was being taught for many years in the Nation of Islam. For a time, NOI was migrating towards Muslim belief and actually dissolved when the two groups--one billion people here, a few thousand there--held basically identical views. But Farrakhan resurrected the Nation of Islam in all its white-devil/black-god glory.

Of course I am not inside the Nation myself, so my understanding is limited. And under Farrakhan, the Nation's beliefs seem to evolve. But Louis Farrakhan has taught the following: a black scientist drilled a hole in the earth, tried to blow it up and thereby created the moon.

Is that Islam? Not exactly.

So why does the media keep calling John Muhhamad a "convert to Islam?" Because Farrakhan borrows the word "Allah?"

Because he doesn't explain that the Nation of Islam teaches that founder Wallace Fard was Allah?


North American Mission Board:

The NOI teaches that Fard was Allah in physical form (Elijah Muhammad, The Fall of America, 236, as reprinted in "The Mother Plane," The Final Call 15, no. 25, [July 16, 1996]: 19

The Final Call is the Nation of Islam's newspaper.

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3:44 PM

Bellesiles resigns from Emory via The Corner

Here is the main announcement.

Here is Emory's report [pdf], "without supporting documents."

Here is Bellesiles's statement [pdf] where he actually defends his actions

Emory says they consider this case closed now. That is so funny.

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10:41 AM

Well, this certainly complicates my rants about the media releasing too much information. CNN leaked the license plate number, and the floodgates opened.

CNN reported at 10:02 p.m. Wednesday that a 1990 Caprice with New Jersey plates was being sought, that police officials were debating whether to release the men's names and that, as reporter Kelli Arena, put it, "we have been cautioned not to refer to these individuals as suspects." MSNBC's Pete Williams said a minute later that "we have been asked not to pass these specific names on."...

Before CNN disclosed the car and license plate, said spokeswoman Christa Robinson, the network checked with police and officials and "we were not advised that the release might be harmful." Fox's Moody said he simply confirmed with reporter Cosby that the information was "coming from reliable sources."...

Similar to the Tarot card incident, where Chief Moose was angry about the info getting out--he'd be angry about any info getting out, including his name--but WUSA TV said when they'd confirmed the info, the police they spoke to did not ask them to withhold it.

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8:35 AM


From this morning's Post:

Muhammad, born John Allen Williams, changed his name after converting to Islam. In court papers, his ex-wife Mildred said that the couple, who married in 1988, were members of the Nation of Islam and attended a mosque in Seattle.

Nope, they didn't repeat after me.

Here's a very quick rundown on some differences at a USC site. For starters, Nation of Islam followers believe in:

one God (Allah) and that Allah (God) appeared in the Person of Master W.Fard Muhammad, July, 1930; the long awaited 'Messiah' of the Christians and the 'Mahdi' of the Muslims...

Nation of Islam = Louis Farrakhan and a whole kettle of fish I won't go into right now.

Update--I've deleted a Malcolm X quote I had here earlier; out of context for what I'm trying to say.

Update: OmbudsGod comments and provides a link with more information on this subject.

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12:08 AM

And now for something completely different... Via The Buck Stops Here

A UFO over Albany...from WXXA TV, Albany--



Sorry about the all-caps.

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Thursday, October 24, 2002
11:16 PM

Way Cool... Eleven Day Empire has relocated to with a new, edgy design sure to snag more of those 18-24 male viewers the WB is after this, wait, wrong context. But he has a new setup, check it out, tell him you like it.

I was going to blog about James's 11-day tonight because I see other bloggers getting a lot of InstaJuice for going after Richard Cohen's latest train wreck of a column. But 11-Day toils relentlessly on what, in this part of the neighborhood, we'd call CohenWatch.

This week, before me, before the Brothers Judd, before Charles Austin, and unfortunately off the InstaScope, 11-Day pursued Mr. Cohen at length. for example, quoting Cohen:

"At the same time, administration officials and their key allies outside of government have continued to claim that a meeting took place in Prague between Mohamed Atta, the supposed leader of the Sept. 11 terrorists, and an Iraqi intelligence official. But no evidence of that meeting exists -- not that the White House acknowledges that. Maybe it's been too preoccupied with withholding news about the North Korean nuclear program."

11-Day comments:

We discussed Richard's lies and distortions about North Korea on Tuesday, so no need to rehash that here. As for Atta-in-Prague, up until this week, the Czechs were swearing that the meeting happened, so it's entirely reasonable for the White House to discuss it.

The column really is a doozy, which is why so many are going after it (which is why I hate to see 11-day unrecognized, since he almost always tries to do it even when it isn't like shooting fish in a barrel).

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8:39 PM

Okay, sometimes I flip those pages too fast...Missed this letter from Ari Fleishcher to the Post today:

The Oct. 22 front-page story "For Bush, Facts Are Malleable" was both substantively flawed and a distortion of what the president has said....

True, the president stated that the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iraq could possess nuclear weapons in as few as six months. It was in fact the International Institute for Strategic Studies that issued the report concluding that Iraq could develop nuclear weapons in as few as six months. The source may be different, but the underlying fact remains the same, despite the story's declaration of the president's argument, once again, as "dubious, if not wrong."...

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6:18 PM

It's like renting a video for these guys.... Another story exposing U.S. military preparations for a war against Iraq, this from the New York Times:

U.S. Refines Plan for War in Cities

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 — The American military is training furiously and polishing a plan for attacking Baghdad that calls for isolating the city and then taking control of it by seizing or destroying Saddam Hussein's pillars of power — but avoiding house-to-house combat in its hostile streets.

The new strategy is a significant change in Pentagon doctrine. In World War II, the American military dealt with the difficult question of urban combat by using heavy artillery, intense fire-bombing and, twice over Japan, even atomic weapons. Since the war, the strategy had been to isolate urban areas, then move on to other targets.

Today, commanders still say they would rather avoid fighting in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities, which could result in thousands of American casualties and even more civilian deaths. But now, with Republican Guard units digging in around Baghdad, they may have no choice should Mr. Hussein and his die-hard adherents choose to make a last stand....

Jet and helicopter pilots simulating attacks to support ground troops are rehearsing new angles of attack, having discovered that plate glass windows in office buildings can deflect the lasers used to identify their targets. When four infantrymen move with a single M1-A1 tank, others can keep watch over rooftops and other enemy outposts while the tanks provide devastating firepower that no foot soldier can match.....

Why. Why. Why.

I discovered this ViaInsta Via Sgt. Stryker, who points to this Gabriel Ledeen column at NRO:

The New York Times once again displayed disregard for American servicemen with an article coauthored on Tuesday by Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker entitled "U.S. Refines Plan for War in Cities," an in-depth analysis of our military's preparations and plans for the rapidly approaching war with Iraq....

The entire piece, by its very existence and by the nature of the subject matter, seeks to undermine the approaching military campaign, and to exert political pressure on those making the high-level decisions for those who are to be in harm's way. The Times's theme is summed up nicely by the authors: "Even if Baghdad fell, a bloody urban battle with a high civilian toll could be seen as a political failure for the Bush administration — at home and throughout the Middle East." This sarcastic cynicism is almost as sickening as the sense one gets that this is indeed what the authors desire. To make matters worse, Times releases information about how we are preparing to face the enemy, what methods we plan on using, what weapons we could use, what factors work against us, what our targets would be, and where our weaknesses are....

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2:14 PM

What about the white vans?...

From CNN

A source also told CNN that the car -- a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice -- had been modified with a hole bored in the trunk, which could allow someone to shoot from inside the vehicle. The rifle was found behind a seat.

You could say the white-van reports were wrong all along--people heard a shot, looked around and saw some of the thousands of white vans here.

Or you could say that he had help, that the white vans were decoys, which means other accomplices are still out there.

And of course, the killer--if this is the right man--could have used both his car and a van or two.

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1:49 PM

And about that pathological liar.. best semi-takedown of that Dana Milbank story I've seen is from a correspondent to Andrew Sullivan:

His main thrust, that knowingly false statements were proffered, center on three statements concerning RPVs, Iraqi nuclear capabilities, and union obstructionism over homeland security: "And all three statements were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States; there was no such report by the IAEA; and the customs dispute over the detectors was resolved long ago." [that's a direct quote from Milbank]

Sullivan's correspondent continues:

Only an idiot would think an RPV had the range to hit the US mainland--obviously the President referred to US assets in the Persian Gulf region (or terrorist applications assuming other transport); Milbank later quotes the "no such" report by the IAEA--which states that Iraq was 6-24 months away from nukes at the start of the Gulf War (and Bush mangled less than Milbank did); and the union's silly dispute over radiation detectors was in fact indicative of why the proposed department of homeland security could do without union. Milbank's statements are, if anything, more dubious than the President's..

And speaking of Iraqi nuclear capability, what about this report I blogged last month:

LONDON, Sept. 9--Iraq could produce a nuclear weapon "in a matter of months" if supplied fissile materials from an outside source, according to a report released here today. Saddam Hussein's government also has an extensive biological weapons capability, a smaller chemical weapons stockpile and a small supply of missiles to deliver them, the report concluded.

The report called Iraq's development of weapons of mass destruction "the core objective of the regime," and said it had pursued this goal relentlessly for the past 11 years--in defiance of its own commitments made in agreeing to a cease-fire and an end to the 1991 Gulf War. But the report, issued by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a prominent military and security think tank, stopped short of endorsing a military campaign against Iraq along the lines suggested by the Bush administration and its British allies.

This was a Post story by Glenn Frankel. In his column, Cohen says:

Bush also has said that Iraq was "six months away from developing" a nuclear weapon. This is news to every expert I've talked to or read about. It is just not the case -- or, if it is, the administration has not supplied the intelligence to support its claim. At the moment, Iraq is believed to be as many as five years away from developing a bomb.

Say, that's news to every expert I've talked to or read about.

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12:38 PM

Life Inside the Cocoon... From Richard Cohen, attacking President Bush:

In speaking about Hussein last week, Bush said, "This is a man who we know has had connections with al Qaeda. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army."

Maybe in his judgment -- but not really in anyone else's.

UPDATE: ViaInsta, the Brothers Judd take on Cohen:

Mr. Cohen is, oddly enough, lying even as he decries lying. There may not in fact be close ties and co-operation between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, but no objective observer can deny that there are many credible reports that Saddam has made repeated efforts to turn al Qaeda into his forward army. The report that one sees most often, and which is detailed enough to make one believe there's some fire below the smoke, is that after Bill Clinton's desultory cruise missile attack on al Qaeda's Afghan encampments in 1998, Saddam sent Faruq al-Hijazi to Kandahar to renew an offer of asylum and assistance to Osama, specifically including the option for al Qaeda to relocate to Iraq. (It may be argued that such stories are manufactured, but why make up a series of stories that show there are no ties between Saddam and al Qaeda?) That Osama may have resisted these blandishments, because Saddam is not sufficiently an Islamicist, does not in any way diminish Saddam's desire to use al Qaeda for his own purposes.

One dislikes imputing motives to another, but it is certainly noteworthy that Mr. Cohen's column meshes nicely with Dana Millbank's story earlier this week that portrayed Mr. Bush as nearly a pathological liar...

That, plus the GOP-Campaigns-For-Republicans scoop, plus a couple other things; I'm beginning to sense a pattern....

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12:24 PM

Sources: Bush, GOP Trying To Win Elections...

Or, as the Post puts it, Bush Enlists Government in GOP Campaign

Cabinet Members, Memos to Workers, Photo Ops Employed to Push for Midterm Success

By Mike Allen
President Bush has harnessed the broad resources of the federal government to promote Republicans in next month's elections. From housing grants in South Dakota and research contracts in Florida to Air Force One rides and photos in the White House driveway, Bush has made Republican success on Nov. 5 a government-wide project.

More than 330 administration appointees, some of whom were told by White House officials that they needed to show their Republican credentials, have taken vacation time and are being flown by the party to House and Senate campaigns in states where control of Congress will be decided. The appointees will organize volunteers, work the phones and go door to door....

Slow news day or what? The story argues that Bush & co. are pulling out the stops to a degree unusual for mid-term elections, and implies there's somethign unseemly about it.

But hey, it's not like Mike Allen doesn't put it in context:

Election-year politicking has been honed through many presidencies.

Say, I wonder what past president we could choose to illustrate this point?

In 1992, top aides to Bush's father held "funnel meetings" to dispatch federal largess to states with upcoming primaries

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7:22 AM

Sniper update... If you haven't turned on the radio or TV yet...Authorities apprehended two people at a rest stop outside of Frederick, Md....From the Post:

Shortly before midnight, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose announced that police wanted to question John Allen Muhammad, a former Army soldier once known as John Allen Williams. Moose said Muhammad had been linked to the case in a telephone communication last week from a man who police believe is the sniper, but he emphasized that Muhammad may not be directly involved in the shootings.

Hours later, Muhammad and a teenager were found sleeping at a rest stop off Interstate 70 in Frederick County, about 10 miles west of the city of Frederick and 60 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., a source said.

The teenager is said to be his son or stepson.

Police are saying publicly not to assume Muhammad is the sniper.

WTOP radio has reported that the Associated Press says a law-enforcement source says "we're confident these are the people" (paraphrased)

WTOP also said WUSA channel 9 says a rifle was found in Muhammad's car, but no official confirmation.

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7:00 AM

Some Jewish leaders are very leery of surging Christian support for Israel, particularly from Evangelicals who are looking for Armageddon, Jewish conversions, etc. Catholic blogger Mark Shea does not see this as a big problem:

I don't worry when a Muslim thinks I'm going to hell. I worry when a Muslim wishes to kill me. The ADL spends waaaaay too much time hyperventilating over Christians who think Jews need to be Christian (duh!) and should really focus its energies on Muslims who think Jews need to be dead.

Mark links to a (Jewish) Dennis Prager column:

Evangelical Christians, almost alone, affirm that America has a divine mission, that this country has better values than Europe, that the United Nations is a moral wasteland, that God's law is higher than international laws devised in New York or The Hague, that secularism is wonderful for government but fatal for society, that Israel must be protected against those who wish to exterminate it, that the Jews have a divinely chosen role in history, and that America must remain a Judeo-Christian country.

If the only way a Christian can hold these precious beliefs is to maintain that faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation, here is one Jew who says: More power to you. Keep your faith strong.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2002
10:55 PM

Sniper Update: This ABC News story dated July 25 describes the site in Marion, Ala., Camp Ground Zero, as an alleged site for your basic jihad training.

Fox News TV talking heads are calling it a "militia" training site, e.g. bent-out-of-shape white guys.

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10:11 PM

Guardroom linked to this Tacoma News Tribune short:

Tacoma search possibly linked to Maryland sniper

Kathleen Merryman; The News Tribune

Federal agents are searching the backyard of a home in Tacoma's Oakland neighborhood. Law enforcement officers have indicated the search may be connected to the case of the sniper who has shot 12 people, killing nine of them, in Maryland and Virginia around Washington, D.C.

Wednesday morning, FBI agents closed the area around the 3300 block of South Proctor Street. They cordoned off a duplex, then, using crime tape and surveying flags, created a grid pattern in the back yard.

They used the pattern to guide a search they conducted with a backhoe and metal detectors. Searchers hauled out at least one large object in a plastic bag.

Neighbors report that the investigation does not involve the current residents of the duplex.

There may be a press conference tonight back east.

UPDATE: A much longer story at courtesy of Instaman.

The GlenMeister adds: THIS IS SOUNDING LIKE A TERRORISM INVESTIGATION. And on FoxNews TV they're saying that there will be more searches in multiple locations around the country, while members of "immigrant" communities are promised amnesty if they come forward with information. I guess this could still be an investigation into the work of a lone nut, but. . . .

and he adds this update:

UPDATE: John Bono writes that the FBI is searching locations in Washington state and Alabama where Al Qaeda training camps were already known to have existed

John Bono's blog is called Big S Blog and here's what he says:

While the sniper thing was going on, I initially thought it was a terrorist attack, then I thought it was a lone nut.

I take that all back. I just heard saw on fox news that they are searching a property in Tacoma, and they are looking for suspects in Washington State and Alabama. I am now convinced that it is definitely, and I mean definitely al Qaeda. Here is why. Some of this you have heard before, and some you haven't.

The victims share nothing in common, except for being American.

The attacks were concentrated in Washington, which has a very high concentration of national media, political figures, and the like, guaranteeing national media coverage.

All the attacks have occurred from locations of good cover, indicating some reconnoitering has taken place, and the attackers have been able to escape quickly, indicating more than a bit of planning.

The demand for money--not the act of the average lone nut.

The area where the FBI is now searching with metal detectors in Tacoma, Washington. Earnest James Ujaama, a protege of Al Qaeda recruiter Abu Hamza Al-Masri, tried to set up a ranch as a training camp in Tacoma.

The FBI has also obtained a search warrant for some location in Alabama. In Marion, Alabama, a camp known as Ground Zero, USA was used for weapons training. On the grounds were shot up police vehicles and school buses.

This is no coincidence. I guarantee that by this time tomorrow, the Al Qaeda link will be firmly established.

He provides a couple of links while making his case.

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8:33 PM

Sniper news...

A guest on Fox News named Brian Terby--that's a phonetic spelling--just finished an interview about the search being conducted right now in Tacoma, Washington (8:30 p.m. east coast time--it may be linked to our problem out here). He made the following observations:

1. Why on earth is this search being publicized?
2. Why have the police informed the media that they're getting ready to serve search warrants in other places nationwide? "Particularly in unfriendly places," Terby said, since if there are other connections out there "you're sending up a flare" and evidence is being destroyed.
3. Things are going on--including the above two things--that no homicide detective would countenance. "No one on the task force has homicide experience." I'm not sure what he means by that--surely Chief Moose has homicide experience--but Terby adds that the investigation is "really' being run by the FBI, and the FBI guys in charge don't have homicide experience. I don't know about this, but there has been on occasion a Keystone Cops quality that unfortunately is not hard to find in the FBI that Louis Freeh created.

Point number one is probably the shakiest, since the local media would have probably picked up on it and after that ball starts rolling it may be impossible to keep a lid on it.

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6:39 PM

Augusta report from the Washington Times...

Martha Burk redefines the English language:

"Is the Augusta National issue at the top of our priority list? Of course not," said Mrs. Burk, who says she would accept an invitation to join the club even though she is not a golfer. "If they invited a woman, then I would be able to go back to the situation in Afghanistan, the women's human rights treaty and some of the other issues that consume most of our days.

So when her lower-priority Augusta campaign is over, she can return to her higher-priority Afghanistan campaign.

I love this one too:

As for [the Independent Women's Forum] Christine Stolba, I would ask her to find something to do. The IWF doesn't do anything. They only criticize what we are doing. So if we didn't exist, neither would they, because they don't have any program."

Burk was responding to this:

Christine Stolba of the Independent Women's Forum (IWF) considers Mrs. Burk's tactics "a strange form of extortion" and questions her motives. "Not only is Augusta National a private organization which has the right to make its own determination about members, but this is not an issue of particular interest to the vast majority of American women," Miss Stolba said. "This is a frivolous issue which Martha Burk is using as a platform of self-promotion."

I've seeing arguments out there about how Martha Burk is doing this only for self-promotion. While I understand the charge and it may well be true, that's one part of this episode that doesn't strongly move me. A lot of folks--political leaders, IWF members, bloggers--do what they do partly out of self-promotion.

But Burk's statement that IWF "doesn't do anything" is just ignorant. IWF actively promotes a new concept of feminism that sees men as strong and admirable allies rather than enemies, probably one of the main reasons they drive the Martha Burks of the world crazy. IWF feminists are self-reliant, actively engaged in the world, and dismiss victimization theory. They hold seminars, investigate old-line feminist hoaxes, and distribute a variety of publications to help educate a confused world.

In short, they use their powers for good, not for evil.

Which is why I link to them.

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5:08 PM

Editor: Axing Coulter Didn't Cost Me My Job

By Dave Astor

NEW YORK -- Did "firing" Ann Coulter lead to the departure of the editor who axed her?

"I don't think that had anything to do with it," said Bob Unger, who -- in what he described as a "mutual" decision -- stepped down Monday as executive editor of the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.

Early last month, Unger dropped Coulter from the newspaper's column lineup, arguing that her syndicated commentary was "mean." This decision infuriated many fans of the conservative Coulter, though Unger said "80 to 85%" of the more than 5,000 e-mails he ultimately received supported his decision. "I know that doesn't represent the general population, but it represented the people who wrote me," he told E&P Online.

So why did Unger and the Centre Daily Times part ways? Unger, who was reached at home, said there was "a difference in style and objective" between him and Henry Haitz, who became publisher of the paper several months ago. Unger declined to give specifics, noting that he was not allowed to do so under his separation agreement....

This from Editor & Publisher.

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12:18 PM

Rita Cosby, a Fox News reporter, has been drawing heat for appealing to Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz's alleged Christian sensibilities in an attempt to gain his insights, if that's the word, on the DC Sniper.

"Your personal story and spiritual growth inspired me to write to you," Cosby told Berkowitz in a letter. Sometimes, she wrote, "the Lord calls on individuals at various times to serve him and serve his people. . . . I believe as a Christian your help is a great service. . . .

"You have a testimony that must be heard. . . . Our world is crying and you can help."

Crooowblog strikes again with this link to, which has copies of letters from a number of Info-Celebrities doing pretty much the same thing while attempting to score an interview with the Unabomber. Crooowblog muses that it's "surely a coincidence" that Cosby's action is the one being highlighted by the Fox-hating media machine. I don't know about that, but these letters are a riot, in a twisted kind of way. Go to Smoking Gun to read them; here's that site's apt summary of the contents:

Good Morning America gets "completely honest." (1 page)

60 Minutes II disses 60 Minutes. (2 pages)

Katie Couric: Also writes perky. (1 page)

20/20: Address those "misconceptions." (1 page)

CNN's Greta Van Susteren: "You are an extremely smart man." (1 page)

Larry King Live: Hey, let's do the impossible. (2 pages)

The New Yorker gets cerebral. (2 pages)

The Roseanne Show: Rosie's also a "non-conformist." (1 page)

Wired: Are you getting that free subscription? (2 pages)

USA Network: Do our job for us. (1 page)

The Oregonian: On Walden and "solitude interrupted." (2 pages)

The Denver Post: My uncle had a one-room cabin. (2 pages)

UPDATE: From Katie Couric's letter:

"...I wanted to let you know personally that I would obviously be very interested in also sitting down with you for an interview. It would give you a chance to explain your experiences to our huge audience and also the opportunity to share your views and concerns, which I know you've long wanted to do.

As an aside, you must be very happy with the recent decision by the federal appeals court to hear your request to withdraw your guilty plea...

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8:26 AM

Trust me, I'm the prosecutor... Former prosecutor James Orenstein promotes ballistic fingerprinting in an Op-Ed today:

Would the proposed law have kept the Beltway sniper from beginning his rampage? Of course not; no law could. But it might easily have stopped him in his tracks after he murdered his first victims. If police could use the same technology that has already helped them link the various shootings to help them identify the killer, is there any doubt they would have a much better chance of catching him?

Yes. Guns get stolen. Quick, send him a memo.

Technological fingerprinting works; it can protect people, and its intrusion into our lives is virtually unnoticeable.

Intrusions on privacy that are unnoticeable are worse for civil liberties, not better, since they put us all to sleep. I think the man knows this.

Just as the benefits of the proposed law are much greater than the administration seems willing to acknowledge, the burden on law-abiding gun owners is much less. Yes, in theory, all new guns could be identified through the system the new law would help create. But nobody is going to use a national database to trace the bullets hunters use to shoot deer. Cops will bother to trace only the bullets that criminals use to shoot people.

Oh my. This just ignores the history of gun control, which is relentless. A fingerprinting system for new guns will lead to pressure to fingerprint all guns, which will lead to easier access to the database, which will lead to flimsier grounds for confiscation, which will lead to Australia and the U.K. Enjoy.

I am trying to think of a gun control initiative that, once passed, silenced its proponents who finally said enough is enough. Get back to you on that one.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2002
11:08 PM

Latest speculation.. Not so late, actually; it's been out there for a cycle or two:

French marksman missing in U.S. from USA Today:

PARIS (AP) — France has alerted Interpol about a French army deserter who is known as a marksman and is missing in North America. A Defense Ministry spokesman said there was speculation of a link to the investigation into the Washington-area sniper.

The 25-year-old second lieutenant, who was not identified, did not return to class in September at the elite military school, Saint-Cyr Coetquidan in Brittany, in western France, after going on vacation in August, officials said...

Who Knows Dept., but the communications from the sniper are said to be in "broken English."

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11:03 PM

Priceless... This from Crooowblog; it's a transcript of an exchange between Fox News's Tony Snow and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle:

SNOW: I want to ask you about the quote we played for Secretary of State Colin Powell, or actually put up on the screen. I want to read it again and I want to try to parse it, because you were harshly critical the other day at the Bush administration's foreign policy. Once again you said, "I don't know if we've ever seen a more precipitous drop in international stature and public opinion with regard to this country as we have in the last two years."

Typically, people cite several things with regard to this. One was the Kyoto protocol, correct?

DASCHLE: Correct.

SNOW: You voted against that.


SNOW: OK. The International Criminal Court, you voted against that.

DASCHLE: That's correct.

SNOW: And Iraq, where you voted with the president.

Croowblog concludes: "Nearly as good as Russert."

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6:27 PM

Let's not get used to this, the lastest bombing murders in Israel. From the Jerusalem Post

'People were burned alive inside my bus'


For the staff of Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera, Monday night's scene was ominously familiar. As most of the victims of the bombing on the Wadi Ara road were rushed in, teams of doctors and nurses dealt with the wounded, while worried families and friends clamored for information.

"Unfortunately, the hospital is used to dealing with such incidents, and we were ready for both the wounded and trauma victims," said Anat Baram, the hospital's spokeswoman....

The Washington Post has covered this too. Here's their latest, about Israel contemplating retaliation.

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6:18 PM

From MediaNews.Org

Centre Daily Times editor who "fired" Coulter steps down

A Centre Daily Times local brief says executive editor Robert V. Unger has "stepped down" and the Knight Ridder paper is conducting a nationwide search for his replacement. Unger got national attention last month when he penned a column that began, "Dear Ann Coulter, You're fired." Unger, who dropped Coulter's weekly column, wrote: "We don't welcome haters, Ann, and that's what you are."

The Centre Daily Times is a decent paper in State College, Pa., across the street from Penn State.

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2:49 PM

Reporter Dana Milbank faults President Bush for, let's see, lying.

For Bush, Facts Are Malleable

I haven't had time to analyze it. Andrew Sullivan thinks Milbank scores some points. It does seem to me that the Post is eager to club Republicans these days, what with the scary story about the GOP hoping to take the House and the Senate and now this. At ParanoiaWatch, I note that today's story about "malleable facts" opens with President Bush and leads to Ronald Reagan just before the jump, after which we are finally treated to Bill Clinton somewhere on the inside pages. And yet I have to admit President Reagan's acquaintance with the facts of a particular issue was sometimes.....casual.

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2:40 PM

I've been following sniper updates at and Unqualified Offerings, so I won't try to pretend to keep up with them.

Guardoom is doing a very good job of continuous coverage, bulletin-style. Latest developments include:

Update on the note left on Saturday: As reported earlier, the note is believed to be lengthy, The LA Times cites an unnamed LE source as saying that the note was poorly worded, in seemingly broken English.

The Baltimore Sun reports the note was lengthy and hostile in tone. The AP confirms that the shooter wants money. The Richmond Times Dispatch has reported that the note contains a threat against schools, apparently prompting school closings in the Richmond area for Monday.

He has links.

Unqualified Offerings notes this Post story on communicating with serial killers and adds that many reporters know about the contents of the snipers' message, but have not run stories to avoid causing panic. UO's source of this is "a reporter in a position to know" who spoke to him.

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2:17 PM
Note to OmbudsGod... Sent you an email but it got kicked back to me. Tried another spelling and we'll see if it gets there; in any case you can attribute.

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8:32 AM

Police Investigate Shooting in Montgomery County

A man has been shot in the chest in Montgomery County this morning, but law enforcement authorities said it was too early to tell if the shooting was connected to the serial sniper who has killed nine people and injured three others this month.

Police are investigating the scene in Aspen Hill, Md., where traffic is shut down on Connecticut Ave. Police have also closed the Capitol Beltway in both directions at the American Legion Bridge, causing severe traffic delays across the region.

The man was shot when he was standing on the entrance to a bus, local reports just said.

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Monday, October 21, 2002
10:06 PM

I see posts hither and yon about what a calamity it is for the Vatican to reject the U.S. Bishops' "zero tolerance" plan to deal with sexual abuse allegations. But all of this was foreseen months ago when canon lawyers and a variety of Catholic bloggers said it clashed with canon law, not to mention common sense, on a number of fronts including due process. Previously, the American bishops wouldn't discipline a priest no matter how vile and well-founded was the charge of (usually gay) sex abuse. Now, the American bishops would scarcely bother to evaluate the facts of the matter no matter how thin and speculative. In both cases they're abdicating their responsibility, in both cases they are earning about the level of respect they deserve, though thank God there are individual exceptions. But if the Andrew Sullivans of the world had acknowledged, identified and named the damaged little subculture of boy abuse that exists in the gay universe instead of pretending otherwise, it's possible we could have avoided all this in the first place. We also could have avoided nonsensical ideas like emptying the Catholic orders, and I do mean emptying them, of all gay priests. There's nothing scriptural and I suspect very little in Tradition to support that. But again, we have people like Mr. Sullivan, who is a treasure of contemporary journalism, crusading against the one impolitic thought: Today, It Really Is A Gay Problem. Only men of his stature could have led that charge.

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6:34 PM

Debka.note... I like linking to, as you can tell from my permalinks, even though one of my trusted friends describes its dispatches as "fanciful," and another, "[expletive deleted]." So let's use this as a test case: Debka says Osama bin Laden is alive and has returned to Saudi Arabia. I find it very, very hard to believe that bin Laden wouldn't have crowed about his survival a long time ago, but he also was an unusually patient man before we bombed him out of Afghanistan. So let's see.

Bin Laden Is Back in Saudi Arabia

Is Working Closely with Baghdad

Based on summary of latest DEBKA-Net-Weekly Revelations

19 October: DEBKAfile reveals that the long-lost al Qaeda leader, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, is alive and inSaudi Arabia. He is believed to have landed secretly at the end of September, shortly before the latest upsurge of international terrorist attacks against the French oil tankerLimburg, the shooting of American Marines in Kuwait, the Bali bomb disaster. This exclusive information reached DEBKA-Net-Weekly (October 18, Issue 81) from its most credible intelligence and counter-intelligence sources. His re-appearance in Saudi Arabia, which withdrew his citizenship and sent him into exile, brings to a close the debate and speculation rife since the Tora Bora battle in Afghanistan 11 months ago over Bin Laden’s fate and whereabouts.Two sightings of the elusive terrorist chief have now been reported – both in the wildest, most inhospitable regions of Saudi Arabia, the Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula, and Najran on the Yemen frontier....

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6:11 PM

Synchronicity: Discriminations, the unusual father-daughter blog, takes a deeper look at this Post alarm that Republicans are planning for an all-GOP Capitol Hill; asks why the New York Times doesn't understand there are real Americans behind the NRA; and urges readers to examine the thoughts of Carol Swain after her appearance in the Washington Times. Discriminations' John Rosenberg also found other Swain interviews, and links.

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5:46 PM

It's official; the federal government hates white people. The Transportation Security Administration, which hires all those airport screeners, proudly details its pattern of discrimination:

...This screening force is not only prepared to deliver world class customer service and world-class security, but is highly diverse and representative of the face of America.

As of Oct. 9, some 22 percent of TSA's screeners are African-American, a number twice that of the current civilian work force population. While 8 percent of the American work force is Hispanic, TSA's work force is already 11 percent Hispanic. Our numbers for hiring Native Americans reflect the labor force. Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders account for 4 percent of our screeners, compared with 2.8 percent of the civilian workforce. Although whites make up 77.9 percent of the workforce nationally, only 58 percent of TSA's work force is white.

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5:42 PM

Real Job Hampers Blogging... I hate it when that happens. But the twists and turns of today's sniper stories are summed up in Police Chief Urges Caller to Phone Again

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose this afternoon sought to establish a dialogue with someone who is sending the police messages about the sniper shootings in the Washington area, but while acknowledging that he had received an audio message, he asked that it be repeated because the original was not understood.

"The person you called could not hear everything you said," Moose said in a televised briefing in Rockville. "The audio was unclear and we want to get it right. Call us back so that we can clearly understand."...

Meanwhile, two guys arrested turn out to be unrelated to the murderer, and a police official said the casing found in the truck out by Dulles was a .223 but unrelated as well.

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Sunday, October 20, 2002
10:37 PM

Maybe they mean it as a warning... Very curious headline and story:

Republicans Planning for Full Control Of Congress

White House officials and Republicans on Capitol Hill are so optimistic about winning control of both chambers of Congress in next month's elections that they have begun mapping how they would use their new power, including the possibility of speeding up tax cuts that were to take effect gradually....

With the elections 16 days away and polls showing many crucial races too close to call, Republicans are drawing up plans that would aid a broad array of industries, after hammering business during the corporate responsibility debate touched off by this year's accounting scandals.

Business lobbyists said their wish lists include substantial nationwide limits on the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases, plus a major overhaul of the tax code to reduce the burden on corporations. Both measures have been part of President Bush's agenda and would have a better chance of becoming law if the GOP retook control of the Senate and kept a House majority in the Nov. 5 elections...

I believe the Post thinks this is a bad thing.

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10:24 PM

I can't help wondering if the shooting in Ashland took place after the Washington Post, Washington Times, CNN and everybody's brother broadcast the RC-7 reconnaissance plane plans.

The latest development, of course is Sniper Message Prompts Police Plea

Authorities believe that the sniper who has killed nine people in the region over the past 19 days left a message at Saturday night's shooting at an Ashland restaurant, sources said today, and police made an appeal tonight asking that he call them.

News of the message came from Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose, who made a surprise appearance before reporters tonight in Rockville.

"To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa [Saturday] night, you gave us a telephone number," Moose said. "We do want to talk to you. Call us at the number you provided."

Although Moose didn't elaborate on who left the message, several sources said the chief's statement came in response to a message left by the sniper.

Moose took no questions.

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4:25 PM

Blogger kept me off the air starting last night--I didn't realize my posting on the Ashland shooting didn't make it until this morning. No big loss.

Best thing in the Post today is Christopher Hitchens' Op-Ed, So Long, Fellow Travelers

George Bush made a mistake when he referred to the Saddam Hussein regime as "evil." Every liberal and leftist knows how to titter at such black-and-white moral absolutism. What the president should have done, in the unlikely event that he wanted the support of America's peace-mongers, was to describe a confrontation with Saddam as the "lesser evil."

This is a term the Left can appreciate. Indeed, "lesser evil" is part of the essential tactical rhetoric of today's Left, and has been deployed to excuse or overlook the sins of liberal Democrats, from President Clinton's bombing of Sudan to Madeleine Albright's veto of an international rescue for Rwanda when she was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Among those longing for nuance, moral relativism -- the willingness to use the term evil, when combined with a willingness to make accommodations with it -- is the smart thing: so much more sophisticated than "cowboy" language....

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12:06 PM

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Saturday, October 19, 2002
11:51 PM

Man Shot Near Richmond; I-95 Blocked

From the Post:

A 37-year-old man was shot tonight in a parking area near Interstate 95, north of Richmond, in an attack that appeared similar to the sniper shootings that have spread fear through the Washington region. Like 11 attacks attributed to the elusive gunman since Oct. 2, last night's shooting drew a massive police response.

The man was shot once about 8:30 p.m. outside a restaurant in Ashland, about 75 miles south of Washington, authorities said. He was taken to the Virginia Commonwealth University's Medical College of Virginia Hospital, where, according to initial reports, he was undergoing surgery and was in stable condition.

A Virginia State Police dispatcher said officers were looking for a white van with a ladder rack. Similar alerts were issued after several of the sniper shootings, and it was not clear last night whether the lookout was prompted by a new sighting.

An employee at a nearby fast food restaurant said in a telephone interview last night that she was outside on a break and heard a shot. She ran to the parking lot and saw the man on the pavement behind the Ponderosa restaurant. Bystanders were trying to stop bleeding from his abdomen.

If the shooting was carried out by the sniper, who has killed nine people and wounded two, it would be the first on a weekend and break a five-day lull in shootings attributed to the gunman.

Can Hanover County or the Ashland police take over the investigation? Their chief and their spokesman, who just finished a live briefing, were crisp, clear, responsive when possible, professional when they could not answer a question.

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