Picture of Michael Brown (on right), the black who was shot in Ferguson, Missouri
He certainly displays attitude in the pic. He appears to have attacked police and you can see that he is a big guy. Police may have had no choice but to shoot him in self defense. If there were shots in the back, however, the police story falls apart
Truth is First Casualty When Hamas Intimidates Media
In the ongoing Israeli/Hamas hostilities, a dark and unsavory feature of reportage has clearly emerged — journalists reporting the war from Gaza have often been in no position to tell the true or full story. The evidence that truth has been thus the first casualty is already abundant.
For example, Hamas maintains a major military headquarters in a basement beneath the Shifa hospital in Gaza City. Yet, during this conflict, we saw no footage of Hamas occupying the hospital.
We also saw hardly any footage of Hamas terrorists firing rockets or operating in residential areas of Gaza, though this is occurring literally every day. Not one of 37 images from three slideshows published by The New York Times during July showed even a single Hamas gunman.
Why? Intimidation of journalists. Consider the following cases:
French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagga wrote that he was forcibly blocked from leaving Gaza, detained and then interrogated by members of Hamas at a room in Shifa hospital next to the emergency room. He wrote an account of his treatment in the French newspaper Liberation — before asking the paper to take it down.
Italian reporter Gabriele Barbati disclosed that Israeli was telling the truth and Hamas was lying when he confirmed that the deaths of 10 people at the Al-Shati refugee camp on July 28 was not the result of Israeli fire, as had been widely reported (and, in the case of NBC, never corrected), but of a misfired Hamas missile. But when did Barbati disclose this? — only when he was out of Gaza, beyond the reach of Hamas retaliation.
Israeli filmmaker Michael Grynszpan recounted on Facebook the reply of a Spanish journalist who had just left Gaza to his question regarding the absence of footage of Hamas in action: “It’s very simple. We did see Hamas people there, launching rockets. They were close to our hotel, but if ever we dared pointing our camera on them, they would simply shoot at us and kill us.”
After Australian Channel Nine News reporter Peter Stefanovic tweeted that he had seen rockets fired into Israel from near his hotel, a pro-Hamas tweeter issued a scarcely veiled threat: “in WWII, spies got shot.”
The conclusion is obvious: When journalists operate in a terror haven under the close scrutiny of pitiless murderers, we cannot simply rely on terrorist-compliant reports. All too often, the reports we have seen or heard of Israeli strikes on schools or of killing large numbers of Palestinian civilians have proved to have been fabricated by Hamas.
Thus, on Aug. 3, media reports claimed that Israel had targeted and hit a UN school in Rafah, resulting in 10 deaths. Israel was widely condemned. Yet, only a few publications, such as The Wall Street Journal disclosed that the Israelis had in fact targeted three Islamic Jihad terrorists on a motorbike outside the UN facility, which is where the missile struck, as the Israelis said all along.
In fact, of three UN schools that Israel was reported to have hit in the last two weeks — and for which it received strong international condemnation — the evidence now shows that the civilian deaths in one case was probably the result of a misfired Hamas rocket, a second was hit by Israel fire while Palestinian terrorists were firing from within it and a third was simply never struck directly by Israel at all.
The media also shows a propensity to accept Hamas casualty figures and report them as coming from something seemingly respectable, like “the Palestinian Ministry of Health” or the United Nations. The trouble is that the Palestinian Ministry of Health is part of Hamas, which is not only an internationally recognized terrorist organization but has a vested interest in inflating Palestinian casualty figures. It also turns out that the UN normally has made no precise estimates of its own. It generally repeats the figures Hamas gives it, which are then often reported as being “UN figures.”
One example of Hamas inflating figures: as of July 29, the Meir Amit Intelligence Center, staffed by seasoned former Israeli military and intelligence officers, estimated that Israel had killed 335 terrorist operatives, 347 civilians and 440 as yet unidentified Palestinians. In contrast, Hamas’ claim that 852 civilians had been killed was being regularly reported that day.
More than doubling the figures of Gazan civilian fatalities, has a clear political purpose: it enables Hamas to claim that something like 70 percent of Gazan casualties are civilians, thus helping to paint Israel as a reckless bully rather than the most careful army in the world.
The combination of fear, intimidation and willingness on the part of journalists and NGOs to retail Hamas propaganda distorts vital truths about this war. Israel has not developed incisive methods for dealing with this. As Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”
Study: 'Cash for Clunkers' an even bigger lemon than thought
The government’s "Cash for Clunkers" program – pitched as a plan to jump-start U.S. auto sales and clean up the environment by getting gas-guzzling vehicles off the road -- may have been a clunker itself, according to a new economic study.
Researchers at Texas A&M, in a recently released report, measured the impact of Cash for Clunkers on sales and found the program actually decreased industry revenue by $3 billion over a nine-to-11-month period. Meanwhile, the "stimulus" also cost taxpayers $3 billion.
The Car Allowance Rebate System, commonly called Cash for Clunkers, was part of a 2009 economic stimulus program that was sold as a lifeline from the federal government to a sinking U.S. auto industry.
The program let people turn in their old cars for up to $4,500 in cash to be used toward the purchase of a more fuel-efficient alternative. Nearly 700,000 vehicles were traded in through the program.
But the Texas A&M University study, for the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows the program may have actually created a drag on the economy. While the program’s fuel-efficiency restrictions led to the purchase of more fuel-efficient cars, Americans ended up buying cheaper cars than they otherwise would have, the study found.
"Strikingly, we find that Cash for Clunkers actually reduced overall spending on new vehicles," the researchers reported, noting households "tended to purchase less expensive and smaller vehicles such as the Toyota Corolla, which was the most popular new vehicle purchased under the program."
They found buyers who participated "spent an average of $4,600 less on a new vehicle than they otherwise would have."
During the two months of the program, the frequency of purchasing a new vehicle was around 50 percent higher for those who qualified for the program compared with those who did not. But after the program ended, the researchers found, car-buying habits returned to normal.
Congress originally appropriated $1 billion to the program but was forced to add another $2 billion when the program ran out of money a month after it started and two months sooner than the government expected.
More bureaucracy we don't need -- in Maine!
The Portland (Maine) Press Herald had a fun slice-of-life feature on their hands. They found a woman, Reilly Harvey, who takes a small boat out into the state's waters full of delicious homemade pies and entire lobster dinners to sell to boaters. Here's a quick, mouth-watering description:
The desserts were just the beginning. Harvey's boat, Mainstay, is rigged with a three-burner propane stove set in the stern, and three pots sat waiting for lobster, clams and butter, all of which Harvey had aboard. There were tubs of cauliflower-curry tofu salads with yogurt-lime-cilantro dressing and homemade biscuits that had come out of the oven less than an hour ago. Very deliberately, Harvey tries to make Mainstay look like a boat you'd see on a Venetian canal, loaded down with beautifully arranged wares. She'd succeeded. The vase full of flowers tipped the whole thing over the top. Her new customers couldn't stop gushing. "This is like a Fellini movie," said Peter Polshek, as the dog made a valiant attempt to board.
By now his wife, Nina Hofer, was perched on the gunwale of the Adeline, smiling like the Cheshire cat, her hands clapped together in glee. "Who are you and where are you coming from?" she asked Harvey.
I want one to show up here right now, even though I'm about eight miles from the Pacific Ocean, very, very far away from Harvey. She started her business in 2012, looking for a way to build a stable life for herself in the area. The Press Herald thoroughly profiles her background and tags along as she serves happy boaters thrilled at the opportunity to buy fresh food without having to leave the water.
The day after the story appeared in the newspaper it was over. The state shut her down. There are rules, man! Where are her sinks? She has to have running water! From the Press Herald's follow-up coverage:
"It makes me feel sick to my stomach and sad," said Reilly Harvey, who runs Mainstay Provisions out of an old boat she keeps on Andrews Island. Harvey said she was contacted by a state health inspector and told she must pass health inspection standards for mobile vendors – think food trucks – and get her vintage 22-foot wooden launch, the Mainstay, fitted with sinks and hot and cold running water if she is going to continue to serve hot food.
That licensing would happen through the Division of Environmental Health's inspection program. If she wants to continue to serve desserts, she must pass an additional inspection by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
There are only 3½ weeks left in her season. Unless she is able to comply with the regulations, it is unlikely she'll be able to operate Mainstay Provisions as usual in 2014.
The state requires her to add to her little boat a three-bay sink and a separate hand sink, and must have hot and cold running water and follow the same rules as food trucks. They also complained about her being barefoot in the boat. They've offered to "expedite" her application as soon as she gets one in, though it's unclear in the story how her small boat could meet these requirements. It sounds like she may be done, at least for this summer season.
UPDATE: Ira Stoll has alerted me that Harvey has been granted a reprieve, requiring her to have a wash basin, five gallons of water, a food thermometer and a bucket to drain hot water. The permission-based society is so kind!
The big lie of Gaza
As a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is hammered out, much talk is heard about aid packages for Gaza, as though none previously existed. The refrain is heard that Gazans are living in a teeming, open-air prison. Repeated endlessly by those under obligation to know the facts, the myth has it that Gaza is, according to:
Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent: “the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world.”
Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency: “one of the most densely populated parts of this planet.”
Amjad Attlah and Daniel Levy of the New American Foundation: “the world’s most densely populated territory.”
James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute: “one of the most densely populated places on earth.”
Yes, Gaza is heavily populated. But its urban density is neither extreme nor the source of its woes.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Statistical Abstract, Gaza had in 2010 11,542 people per square mile. That is about as densely populated as Gibraltar (11,506).
Gaza is considerably less densely populated than Hong Kong (17,422) or Singapore (17,723). It is far less densely populated than Monaco (39,609). And Macau (52,163) is over four times more densely populated than Gaza.
No one has called Hong Kong, Singapore, Monaco or Macau teeming, open-air prisons –– with reason.
Hong Kong has the world’s third largest financial center. Singapore has the third highest per capita income in the world, the fourth biggest financial center and the fifth busiest port. Monaco has the world’s highest GDP per capita. Macau is one of the world’s richest cities –– testimony enough to what hard work, solid industries and responsible government can achieve in small, resource-poor territories.
The idea of Gaza being the most densely populated place in the world is a propaganda fabrication with a very clear underlying logic. Meshing that claim with scenes of poverty easily conjures up the idea that Palestinians lack land and resources.
Once you believe that, it is a small jump to the conclusion that Israel should be giving them both.
In fact, Gaza has been in Arab control since Israel evacuated it in 2005, withdrawing every living and dead Israeli from its soil. Israel left behind an expensive infrastructure of greenhouses and empty synagogues, all of which were swiftly destroyed in an orgy of hate. Hamas ejected Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah from Gaza in 2007 and has exponentially increased rocket assaults on Israel –– over 9,000 since that date.
Gaza could be home to a large, prosperous population, providing that it was industrious, prudentially managed, well-governed and –– above all –– peaceful. It could be the Singapore of the Middle East. But it isn’t –– it’s governed by Hamas, whose Charter calling for war with the Jews until their obliteration is well-known to those who elected it. (Unsurprisingly, Gazans are more supportive of Hamas and of anti-Israel terror attacks than West Bankers).
Gaza, along with the West Bank, has been the recipient of the highest levels of per capita aid in the world. Investment not siphoned off by Hamas has produced results: Gaza boasts shopping malls, five theme parks and 12 tourist resorts.
Compare that to dismally poor Niger, with high infant mortality, life expectancy of a mere 52 years and only one doctor for every 33,000 people. But as Niger is not dispatching terrorists to murder its neighbors, few know and fewer care –– and Niger gets little aid.
In the last two years, Hamas has spent an estimated $1.5 billion, not on schools, hospitals or businesses, but on an underground infrastructure of terror tunnels deep into Israel for the purpose of mounting Mumbai-like mass-casualty terror assaults. Hamas’s leaders see jihadist terror as a paramount objective, while death and destruction in Gaza is not their concern.
“Their time had come, and they were martyred,” spoke a Hamas TV host of the Gaza dead during the current fighting, “They have gained [Paradise] … Don’t be disturbed by these images … He who is Martyred doesn’t feel … His soul has ascended to Allah.” More succinctly, Hamas ‘prime minister’ Ismail Haniyeh has said, “We love death like our enemies love life! We love Martyrdom.”
The woes of Gaza are not the creation of population density, but of hate and jihad density. The answer lies not in more territory, resources or aid, but in its population and leadership prioritizing life and peace over death and war. As yet, there is no sign of this on the horizon. Irrespective of the eventual ceasefire, we can expect further wars in Gaza.
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