Hope this year brings
all the opportunity and
success you desire.
P.S. Don't forget about love!
Miquel McNorton, 49, of San Francisco was found guilty of misdemeanor battery on an officer and two counts of resisting arrest stemming from an Aug. 18 run-in with two officers in the Tenderloin, one of whom he bit on the wrist.
One juror said the panel was not convinced that Officer Michael Wolf had suffered a serious enough injury for the attack to be felony battery.
"We decided that (the bite) really didn't require medical attention," said Steve Duff, the lone juror who agreed to speak about the case (which is fucking nuts - these animals are crawling with disease - should be charged with biological warfare).
The officer testified that he had received inoculations and other treatment after being bitten.
McNorton has been arrested 16 times (!) since 1988 for attacking officers, eight of whom he bit, prosecutors said. He had been convicted of misdemeanors in three bite cases before Thursday's verdict.
Superior Court Judge Kevin McCarthy, who presided over the case, barred prosecutors from telling the jury about McNorton's history, calling it irrelevant.
Defense attorney Seth Meisels argued to the jury that McNorton was not guilty of a felony because Wolf had not been seriously injured.
After the verdict, Meisels said he would arrange for McNorton to receive mental health treatment upon his release. McNorton could spend four months in custody on top of the four months he has served awaiting trial (but will probably be released as soon as possible - as is the way here).
If convicted of a felony, McNorton could have been sent to state prison for as much as three years.
The case drew attention within Hall of Justice circles because Judge Bruce Chan - who in July reduced battery charges in another cop-biting incident involving McNorton from a felony to a misdemeanor - was allowed to sit on the jury.
Chan appeared shocked when prosecutors told him after the verdict about the previous case and said he did not remember it.
"His jaw dropped," said prosecutor Victor Hwang. "He said, 'You all knew that and you let me sit on this jury?' "
Chan was not asked during jury selection about his earlier decision, and McCarthy refused to let prosecutors excuse him. Then, on Thursday, McCarthy gave both the prosecution and defense the opportunity to remove the judge before deliberations, but both declined (!).
Chan left the court without commenting.
Asked what it was like to have Chan on the panel, Duff said, "He was a juror like the rest of us."
The sprawling legislation would give the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, create a new agency to oversee consumer banking transactions and shine a light into shadow financial markets that have escaped the oversight of regulators.
The vote was a party-line 223-202. No Republicans voted for the bill; 27 Democrats voted against it.
While a victory for the administration, the legislation dilutes some of President Barack Obama's recommendations, carving out exceptions to some of its toughest provisions. The burden now shifts to the Senate, which is not expected to act on its version of a regulatory overhaul until early next year.
The president praised the House action Friday, and called on Congress to act swiftly to get the bill to the White House for his signature.
"The crisis from which we are still recovering was born not only of failure on Wall Street, but also in Washington," Obama said. "We have a responsibility to learn from it and to put in place reforms that will promote sound investment, encourage real competition and innovation and prevent such a crisis from ever happening again. "
The legislation would govern the simplest payday loan and the most complicated high-finance trades. In its breadth, the measure seeks to impose restrictions on every house of finance, from two-teller neighborhood thrifts to huge interconnected conglomerates.
Democratic leaders had to fend off a last-minute attempt to kill a proposed consumer agency, a central element of the legislation and one the features pushed by the White House. The agency would take over consumer protection powers from current banking regulators, and big banks and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce vigorously opposed the idea.
Democrats said the broad legislation would help address problems that led to last year's calamitous financial crisis. Republicans argued that it overreached and would institutionalize bailouts for the financial industry.
"Let's put it to the American people: Do you prefer the Republican position of doing literally nothing to rein in these abuses or should we try to rein them in?" Rep. Barney Frank, who led the Democratic effort on the bill, asked moments before the final vote.
Republicans cast the regulatory bill as a burden to business and argued that it would continue to protect companies considered too big to fail. They offered an alternative that called for special bankruptcy proceedings to dismantle failing financial institutions. That alternative failed.
"This house has been on a spending spree, a bailout spree and a regulatory spree that I could never have imagined in any of my prior 18 years here in Congress," Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said.
Democrats accused Republicans of doing the bidding of big banks, pointing to a meeting in the Capitol Visitors' Center this week between GOP leaders and about 100 lobbyists. Even the White House took a swipe at House Republicans.
"I didn't expect them to help after a meeting with 100 lobbyists for the financial industry," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said in an interview. "I'm not surprised they are opposed to it. The lobbyists are trying to gut this."
Consumer advocates cheered the survival of the consumer protection agency but said the overall legislation fell short, especially in the regulation of complex investment instruments known as derivatives.
Bobby L. Brown Jr., 30, was to appear before Superior Court Judge Donna Little to answer for the charges, the latest of which, filed Thursday, involved a woman stabbed in the arm on an N-Judah Metro train May 12.
Brown's alleged victims now number five, including an 11-year-old boy badly wounded (nearly murdered) in a stabbing on a Muni bus Sept. 1.
However, the defense attorney's assertion about Brown's mental state puts the entire case on hold.
"I've declared a doubt about his ability to assist me," Brown's attorney, V. Roy Lefcourt, said outside court. He noted that Brown is in the jail ward of San Francisco General Hospital because he is considered a danger to himself or (clearly) others.
"I want him to see a psychiatrist, I want him to be evaluated and I want to see if he needs medication," Lefcourt said.
Brown is scheduled to appear Monday before another judge, who will arrange for a psychiatrist to evaluate whether he is able to assist in his defense and whether he understands the nature of the charges against him.
Lefcourt asserted that Brown is overwhelmed by what is happening. Brown "has had numerous problems" (bad childhood, didn't get what he wanted for Christmas, blah, blah, blah...) and has not been able to get help for his "serious psychological issues," the defense attorney said.
Brian Buckelew, spokesman for District Attorney Kamala Harris, said prosecutors were surprised that Lefcourt had not waited until after arraignment to seek a psychological evaluation. Brown has not entered pleas to any of the felony charges against him, which include four counts of attempted murder.
Criminal proceedings against a 30-year-old homeless man accused of five separate unprovoked stabbings in San Francisco this year, three of them on San Francisco Municipal Railways, were suspended indefinitely today after the man's attorney declared a doubt about his mental competency.
The suspect, Bobby Brown, is facing four counts of attempted murder, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, eight counts of battery and one count of attempted robbery for the alleged attacks.
The attacks include a 41-year-old woman stabbed in the arm on a Muni train May 12; an 11-year-old boy knifed in the stomach on a Muni bus Sept. 1; two women stabbed while walking in the Tenderloin on Nov. 14 and Nov. 26; and a 24-year-old woman stabbed twice with a corkscrew on a Muni train Nov. 30.
Police said the stabbings were all random and unprovoked: the unknown attacker said nothing and then fled. In the Nov. 14 Tenderloin stabbing, he reportedly asked the woman for money before attacking her.
All five victims survived, though the boy nearly bled to death.
Brown was arrested Dec. 1.
But the criminal cases were suspended in San Francisco Superior Court this morning when Brown's attorney V. Roy Lefcourt requested a hearing on "his ability to assist counsel" and understand the nature of the charges against him. A hearing is scheduled for Monday for the appointment of a psychiatrist or psychologist to evaluate Brown.
Brown, who is being held on $5 million bail, was dressed today in a red jail uniform and listened quietly to the proceedings, his head hung low and his eyes cast downward.
When Judge Donna Little told Brown he was going to a different courtroom for Monday's proceedings, he responded, "Alright ... alright."
Brown is being held now in a hospital ward due to his status as "a danger to himself and others," Lefcourt told reporters outside the courtroom.
Lefcourt said he and Brown have "had conversations," but he wanted to make sure Brown understands what his attorney is saying, and that he can receive the proper medication if necessary.
Lefcourt said last week that Brown told him he was not guilty.
"When you have a serious case like this, you have to be able to help your lawyer," Lefcourt said today. "I think he has some serious psychological issues," he added.
Lefcourt reiterated his stance last week that the identification of his client as the stabbing suspect in the five cases was at issue. He also said he has since spoken with members of Brown's family.
"They have been in touch with me, and they're very concerned," he said.
This morning's development, though not uncommon, took prosecutors by surprise as to the timing.
District Attorney's Office spokesman Brian Buckelew said Lefcourt's request was "unexpected."
"The people were prepared to arraign Bobby Brown today," he said, adding that prosecutors have no opinion yet on Brown's mental competency.
Buckelew said all five victims have identified Brown as their attacker through either live, photo or video lineups.
"I'm confident in all five cases," he said.
If found incompetent to assist his attorney, Brown will remain in a custodial status -- typically in a mental hospital, Buckelew said -- until competency is restored and criminal proceedings can resume.
That can take years, if ever.
If convicted, Brown would face life in prison.
A comment to the SFAppeal article said:
The answer is what does it matter? What does it matter if he knows what he has done? Does that take the knife out of that poor kids' stomach? Does that keep a woman from getting stabbed on Thanksgiving Day in front of her 3 children? Who fucking cares if he "knows right from wrong" or not???
He is clearly a danger to others, if not himself. He has proven again and again and again, that he cannot function in society without committing heinous, atrocious acts (and those are just the ones we know about).
Bobby L. Brown Jr., 30, faces four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon and seven other felony charges stemming from the unprovoked attacks, including one Monday.
District Attorney Kamala Harris said all four attacks - and two more that are being investigated as potentially involving Brown - appear to be random, targeted at vulnerable people and committed with no motive.
"We are ending tonight this defendant's reign of terror," Harris said Wednesday night. "We've got our guy, and he's off the streets." (yeah... for now...)
Harris said Brown faces 72 years to life in prison if he is convicted (by a jury and sentenced by a judge. No telling how long he'll get if he gets one of your sweet plea deals, Kamala...).
Rachel "Ty" Brown, 24, who is not related to the suspect, was stabbed on the J-Church streetcar as she slept on the way to school. Prosecutors say Bobby Brown attacked her with a corkscrew found in his pocket when he was arrested Tuesday. Authorities believe he used a knife in the three earlier incidents.
The first occurred on Sept. 1, when 11-year-old Hatim Mansori was repeatedly stabbed as he rode home from baseball practice.
Bobby Brown's mug shot had been in a group of photos the boy was asked to review after leaving the hospital, but he was unable to identify him. Unable to make a case against Bobby Brown, San Francisco police turned him over to San Mateo County authorities on an outstanding warrant in an indecent exposure case.
The boy's mother, Laila Elfazouzi, said Wednesday that her son had been asked to assist police in making an identification this week.
She said she was frustrated in how long it took to capture a suspect. "It takes so long, meanwhile, he hit another victim, the lady, it's very sad," she said.
The attacks escalated after Bobby Brown was released from jail in San Mateo County on Nov. 10, authorities said.
He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges and was put on probation. He was later charged with misdemeanor battery of a San Mateo sheriff's deputy while in custody.
Four days after his release, prosecutors say, on Nov. 14, Bobby Brown allegedly stabbed a 25-year-old San Francisco woman at Sutter and Jones streets at 10:40 a.m. after she refused to give him money. She was stabbed twice in the back and buttocks and was hospitalized.
On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26, he allegedly attacked a 26-year-old woman in the Tenderloin at Golden Gate and Leavenworth streets in front of her three young children, one of whom she was pushing in a stroller.
Prosecutors said Bobby Brown grabbed the victim for no apparent reason and stabbed her three times in the back. She was hospitalized for seven hours.
"I feel like there's been some closure," said the victim, who asked not to be named. "I feel utterly grateful that I am alive today. That guy could have taken my life.
"He's sick - anyone in this world who would just randomly attack a woman with three small children is sick. "
Police Commander John Loftus said police were able to link the attacks because they were all stabbings, all random, the locations were all clustered in the city's central neighborhoods and the victims' and witnesses' descriptions of the attacker all matched up.
Loftus said two other stabbings are being investigated in connection with Bobby Brown, and that anybody who knows of similar attacks should call the police department's tip line at (415) 575-4444.
Harris said she could not discuss the defendant's mental state, but that it would not prevent her office from getting a conviction in court.
Harris said an arraignment could be scheduled for as early as this morning.
Authorities said Bobby Brown has been violent before on public transit.
On Dec. 14, 2004, he was accused of punching a woman for no reason as she waited for train doors to open at the MacArthur BART Station in Oakland, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. Bobby Brown was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery, and although no charges were filed, he was sent back to state prison on a parole violation.
Bobby Brown had also been cited twice in 2003 for BART fare evasion.
The most serious crime on his record dates to July 13, 1999, when police said he shot at a Noe Valley man who confronted him for knocking on a woman's window at 11 p.m.
The man told him to leave but Bobby Brown fired at the man and fled, officials said. Bobby Brown was arrested on attempted murder charges and pleaded guilty (or plea bargained his way down) to charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
He was given a three-year suspended prison sentence (for shooting a stranger - that's S.F. for 'ya) but was later sent to prison for violating his parole.
He has told authorities in San Mateo that he lived at an O'Farrell Street SRO hotel, but a clerk there said this week he had not been staying there for several months.
Bobby Brown's father, Bobby L. Brown Sr. of Richmond, declined to comment late Wednesday.
The suspect, Bobby Brown, 30, a (most likely typically criminally insane) transient, was arrested on the street along the Metro tracks in the Sunset District this morning, police said.
He is being held on attempted murder and other charges stemming from the attack Monday on Rachel "Ty" Brown, 24, on the J-Church Metro line. The suspect and the victim are not related.
Police are trying to determine whether Bobby Brown may also have been responsible for the Sept. 1 stabbing of 11-year-old Hatim Mansori on the 49-Mission bus.
Taraval Station Officers Feliks Gasanyan and Maria Donati made the arrest at 8 a.m. at 31st and Judah streets. The officers recognized Bobby Brown on the street along the N-Judah Metro line.
"They were on the Muni streetcar routes in hopes of finding him," said Lt. Michael Connolly of the investigators bureau (I know... cops doing their job??? Who woulda thunk it...).
The victim, who is still hospitalized, said in an interview before the arrest that she was sleeping aboard the outbound J-Church train at Church and Market streets Monday morning when a man walked past her and struck her at least twice in her side.
"I saw his face," Rachel Brown said. "He startled me awake, then he ran off the train."
At first, she said, she didn't realize what had happened and didn't want to call police.
"I thought the guy just punched me, no big deal," she said. After two or three stops, she said, she realized she was bleeding, and other passengers notified the operator.
(Brown's partner Gabby) Winder said she assumed the man who stabbed Brown on Monday was mentally ill.
"I felt sorry for him," Winder said. "If you find him, help him. I feel bad. I didn't want the dude to go to jail, but he's not mentally there."
It is time for us to stop looking at the drug addicted/insane zombies who roam our streets as our stray pets.
A commenter on sfgate summed it up nicely...
If it had happened suddenly, San Franciscans might have reacted more forcefully. That might not have been an entirely good thing, either... But it happened gradually, if fairly consistently, beginning sometime between the Beats and the Hippies, people came here to Be Free. Mencken noted that those arriving for the Democratic convention (1920) felt they'd escaped America. You could do things here you couldn't do even in LA, or NY, or so we've been told. But over the years the idea of Tolerance became confused with Acceptance, and it almost always ran one way, the newcomer insisting You had to accept them, but they didn't have to accept You. Clearly, You were not cool, You were wrong. They got to do what they wanted, and You had to accept it, because this was San Francisco, but what you did was simply Wrong/Not Cool. The lunatics now control the Asylum. The losers seem to think they can call the shots. The difference between Tolerance and Acceptance needs to be reset. Soon.
Here here! I for one get real sick of these leftist cultural carpetbaggers... these liberal dumbfucks from wherever who come to San Francisco, take a big, steaming ideological dump, and call themselves the "soul of San Francisco." You would think, talking to them, that San Francisco has had eight generations where everyone in every family was a transgendered body piercer or homeless art camper or multi-ethnic dildo producer. San Francisco is (or at least, was) a place where normal - and I'm sorry because I know how much liberals hate that word - normal people lived and had *gag* families and *ack* worked for a living at honest jobs and *eeew* went to church and all the other things that people who aren't fucked up in the head do. But I digress...
By that time, however, the attacker was long gone from the train.
Rachel Brown was being treated at San Francisco General Hospital for at least two wounds in the side. One wound was superficial, the other more penetrating. She may be released today, hospital officials say.
Police are trying to determine whether Bobby Brown may have been responsible for stabbing 11-year-old Hatim on the bus Sept. 1 at Mission and 19th streets. The descriptions of that attacker and the man who stabbed Rachel Brown on Monday were similar.
The boy was badly wounded in the attack but recovered. His mother said he has returned to the sixth grade at Marina Middle School.
The stabbings and other high-profile incidents, including a fight between two female passengers (one black and one asian) that was posted on YouTube, have led to public concern about whether crime on Muni is increasing (and, as you'll see, it is).
Figures compiled by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni, show that the number of crimes committed in the first three months of the fiscal year, through Sept. 30, was slightly higher than in the same period in 2008.
A total of 248 crimes on the Muni system were reported to police from July through September, up from 230 in the same three months in 2008. The number of aggravated assaults dropped, from nine in the first quarter of fiscal 2008-09 to four in the same period this year.
The number of reported robberies in each period was identical, 37. (Sooo... aggravated assaults are down... robberies are holding steady... so what crimes are increasing - I mean, besides the stabbings of course?)
The officer turned, stepped outside and recognized the most wanted man in the Pacific Northwest — the ex-con accused of gunning down four cops at a coffee shop.
Moments later, Maurice Clemmons, 37, lay dead in the street, shot by the patrolman after Clemmons made a move for a gun he had taken from one of the slain officers, police said.
Clemmons' death brought to an end two days of fear across the Seattle-Tacoma area and one of
the biggest manhunts the region has ever seen. Dozens of police officers milled around at the scene afterward, some solemnly shaking hands and patting each other on the back.
"Good thing he wasn't able to get the gun out here or we might have had a different ending to this whole thing," Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said. "The officer in Seattle did a good job of making sure he went home safe tonight."
Clemmons eluded capture thanks to family and friends who provided him with shelter, cell phones, cash and first aid for the severe belly wound he suffered when one of the dying officers in Sunday's coffee-shop rampage got off a shot, police said. Six to seven of those associates were being arrested Tuesday.
Among them, police said, was Darcus D. Allen, a convicted murderer who served in prison with Clemmons in Arkansas and allegedly drove the getaway truck after the coffee shop rampage; two men who later traveled with Clemmons as he eluded police; and Clemmons' sister, who bandaged him up and gave him a lift part way to Seattle.
It wasn't immediately known if she or Allen had attorneys; the other two have pleaded not guilty.
"Some are friends, some are acquaintances, some are partners in crime, some are relatives. Now they're all partners in crime," Troyer said.
Troyer said paramedics were stunned that Clemmons lived as long as he did with the bullet wound. It had been packed with gauze and patched with duct tape.
It was not clear exactly where Clemmons was while on the run. Police rushed from place to place, following tips that often came up empty or yielded only accomplices. They searched homes and apartments around the city and cordoned off a park after a report of blood in a restroom.
On Sunday, Clemmons briefly took refuge at a house in the city's well-to-do Leschi neighborhood, slipping away before police surrounded the home in an all-night siege that ended when SWAT officers stormed the place and realized he wasn't there.
Clemmons has a violent, erratic past, and authorities in Washington state and Arkansas — where then-Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000 commuted his 108-year prison sentence for armed robbery and other offenses — are facing tough questions about why an apparently violent and deranged man was out on the street.
On Sunday, six days after posting bail in Washington on charges of raping a child, Clemmons walked into the coffee shop in suburban Tacoma and killed four uniformed Lakewood police officers as they caught up on paperwork on their laptops, police said.
"The only motive that we have is he decided he was going to go kill police officers," Troyer said. Investigators also reported that Clemmons told others the night before the shooting that he was going to kill police and they should watch the news, but they wrote it off as "crazy-talk."
In a statement posted on the conservative Newsmax.com Web site, Huckabee said: "I take full responsibility for my actions of nine years ago. I acted on the facts presented to me in 2000. If I could have possibly known what Clemmons would do nine years later, I obviously would have made a different decision. But if the same file was presented to me today, I would have likely made the same decision."
The Seattle patrol officer who killed Clemmons, Benjamin L. Kelly, 39, a seven-year law enforcement veteran, will be placed on leave, which is standard procedure after a shooting.
The officer was driving in a working-class neighborhood of south Seattle at about 2:45 a.m. when he came across a stolen car, its engine running, Assistant Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel said.
As he sat in his cruiser, beginning paperwork on the car, he sensed movement, turned and saw someone approaching, Pugel said. The officer stepped out and immediately recognized the man, whose face had been all over TV and mugshot fliers memorized by every officer in the region.
The patrolman ordered Clemmons to freeze and show his hands, but he kept moving, and the officer fired several rounds, hitting the man at least twice, Pugel said.
Police said Clemmons would have died eventually of the gunshot wound he suffered in the coffee-shop rampage.
At the time of his arrest in Washington state earlier this year, investigators said Clemmons had visions that he was Jesus Christ and that the world was on the verge of the apocalypse. He also "told the officer President Obama and Lebron James are his brothers, Oprah (Winfrey) is his sister and referred to himself as 'the beast,'" according to court papers obtained by The News Tribune of Tacoma.
A psychological evaluation in October found he was a risk to public safety, but not enough of one to justify committing him, the newspaper reported.
The United Nations called Switzerland's ban on new minarets "clearly discriminatory" and deeply divisive (maybe that was the point...), and the Swiss foreign minister acknowledged Tuesday the government was very concerned about how the vote would affect the country's image.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay (formerly of that great bastion of human rights and tolerance of minorities - the African National Congress. In addition, she's also a regular contributor to - no surprise here - the Huffington Post) said Sunday's referendum to outlaw the construction of minarets in Switzerland was the product of "anti-foreigner scare-mongering."
The criticism from Pillay, whose office is based in the Swiss city of Geneva, comes after an outcry from Muslim countries, Switzerland's European neighbors and human rights watchdogs (and leftist orgs like the AP) since 57.5 percent of the Swiss population ratified the ban.
The Swiss government opposed the initiative but has sought to defend it as an action not against Islam or Muslims, but one aimed at improving integration and fighting extremism.
"These are extraordinary claims when the symbol of one religion is targeted," Pillay said in a statement. She said she was saddened to see xenophobic arguments gain such traction with Swiss voters despite their "long-standing support of fundamental human rights."
The referendum doesn't affect Switzerland's four existing minarets, or the ability of Muslims to practice their religion. It only bans the towers used to put out the Islamic call to prayer.
But wealthy Arab tourists might think twice now about spending their money in Geneva and other Swiss cities, and the neutral country's efforts to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could also suffer (presumably because they won't be seen as completely pro-Palestine).
Sweden, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency (and has its own serious problems with Muslim immigrants - including a soaring rape rate - with over 90% of them being committed by foreigners), said the United Nations should reconsider its presence in Geneva, where it employs thousands of people and holds hundreds of conferences each year.
"Questions could very well be raised within the U.N. about holding meetings and activities in Switzerland, even if the Geneva canton belonged to those which voted against the ban," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on his blog.
Bildt said the vote was a poor act of diplomacy on Switzerland's part (It was not an act of diplomacy at all - it was an act of resistance against those who would force them to change - either the Muslims directly and/or the U.N. and E.U. indirectly).
"Even if this is Switzerland, it sends a very unfortunate signal to large parts of the rest of the world about attitudes and prejudices in Europe," Bildt said. "We all have an interest in showing that this impression is false and in the long-term even dangerous."
In Athens on Tuesday, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said the government was worried about the ban.
"We are very concerned with this referendum. The reality of our societies in Europe and throughout the world (that reality being that Western countries everywhere are being invaded by hordes of hostile, non-assimilating aliens - and that the unholy cabal of cultural Marxists and cheap labor Industrial interests are deliberately destroying their own countries to facilitate it) is that each limitation on the coexistence of different cultures and religions also endangers our security," Calmy-Rey said during a meeting of foreign ministers of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"Provocation risks triggering other provocation and risks inflaming extremism," she added.
What kind of fucking logic is that - If someone is invading you, don't upset them because then they'll get angry???
Sunday's referendum, which was backed by nationalist parties (none of whom will even be named, let alone quoted), forced the government to declare illegal the building of any new minarets.
Calmy-Rey stressed that Muslims were accepted in Swiss society, and the decision would not change the foreign policy of the country, which would continue to maintain close relations with Muslim nations (presumably meaning wide-open immigration policies).
"Swiss Muslims are well integrated and will continue to attend the 200 mosques in the country," she said.
The minister said if an appeal against the referendum is lodged at the European Court of Human Rights, it would be up to the court to decide on its legality.
He was carrying tennis shoes hanging from his neck.
The Swiss justice minister also said the European Court of Human Rights could strike down the Sunday vote, which incurred swift condemnation at home and abroad for banning the towers used to put out the Islamic call to prayer.
The 47-nation Council of Europe said that banning "new minarets in Switzerland raises concerns as to whether fundamental rights of individuals, protected by international treaties, should be subject to popular votes." Switzerland presides over the council, which is associated with the European Court of Human Rights. The court rules on breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the ban would come into force immediately, but indicated that it could be overturned.
"The ban contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights," Zurich daily Blick cited Widmer-Schlumpf as saying.
The referendum backed by nationalist parties was approved by 57.5 percent of the population Sunday, forcing the government to declare illegal the building of any new minarets in Switzerland. It doesn't affect the country's four existing minarets.
France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he was "a bit scandalized" by the vote, which amounts to "oppressing a religion."
"I hope that the Swiss will go back on this decision rather quickly," Kouchner said on France's RTL radio. "It is an expression of intolerance, and I detest intolerance."
The U.N.'s special investigator on religious freedom, Asma Jahangir, said the ban on new minarets constitutes "a clear discrimination against members of the Muslim community in Switzerland."
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, called the ban an "example of growing anti-Islamic incitement in Europe by the extremist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic, racist, scare-mongering ultra-right politicians who reign over common sense, wisdom and universal values (like truck bombings and beheadings)."
Wealthy Arab tourists might think twice now about spending their money in Geneva and other Swiss cities popular with visitors from the Gulf, and the neutral country's efforts to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could also suffer, said Daniel Warner, a Swiss-American political scientist at the Graduate Institute in Geneva.
Arriving at a meeting of European Union justice ministers, Widmer-Schlumpf argued the vote was not "a referendum against Islam ... but a vote directed against fundamentalist developments."
She defended the referendum as being "about minarets and not, of course, about the Islamic community," she said. "We are interested in a multi-religious society in Switzerland."
Supporters of the ban said the number of Muslims in Switzerland had grown sharply from 50,000 in 1980, but it is still only 4 percent of the 7.5 million population, many of whom don't practice. Western Europe has an estimated 14 million Muslims.
Voting figures showed a rural-urban split in the Swiss vote, with only 38.6 percent of people in major cities backing the ban compared with about two-thirds of the population in smaller towns and villages, officials said.
Anne-Marie Birnstiel, in the wealthy Alpine town of Gstaad told AP Television News she was disappointed by the vote and afraid of the consequences for Switzerland.
But, fellow town resident Anton Seil told APTN that "we are in Switzerland, and if I go to another country I also can't build up my church or represent my faith. So, they have to adapt to us in Switzerland too (God... what a racist!!!)."
Switzerland isn't alone in expressing fears about a growing Muslim population (and that is a bit of an understatement), though it is the only country where voters can easily enact constitutional amendments through referendums.
France, too, has enacted (sensible) laws that Muslims claim are directed at them, including a ban on the wearing of religious symbols, such as headscarves, in schools.
Overnight, opponents of the minaret ban lit candles in front of the Swiss parliament in Bern and hung up banners saying "This is not my Switzerland (Oh you don't know how true that is...)."
In Zurich, unknown people smashed a glass door of the offices of the nationalist Swiss People's Party — which had backed the ban — cantonal (state) police said.
Almost everyone has heard of the charismatic cult leader Jim Jones, and the 1978 mass suicide to which he led his followers in the South American nation of Guyana. Far less well known is that Jones was an early proponent of the anti-white, racial diversity thinking that is now so widespread.
Jim Jones was born in Indiana in 1931. He began preaching in his 20s, even though he had no formal religious training, and mixed religion and politics while still a young man. His views were radically politically correct, even by today’s standards, let alone those of the 1950s. His religious style was charismatic, and included faith healing.
Jones’s belief in “equality and justice” led him to start his own racially integrated church in Indianapolis, which he first named Community Unity and later The Peoples Temple. In 1958, Jones started what he called his Rainbow Family by adopting three Korean children and a black boy. His one biological child was named Stephen Gandhi Jones.
Jones impressed the authorities in Indianapolis with his multi-racial efforts. In 1960, the mayor named him president of the Indianapolis Commission on Human Rights, with a salary of $7,000 a year, but he decided to move his church to California.
Again, Jones won favor with the authorities. He was elected president of the Grand Jury of Mendocino County, and after moving to San Francisco, the church grew to over 7,500 members. In 1975 he mobilized 800 members to work full-time for the successful mayoral campaign of George Moscone.
In 1976, he bused in hundreds of followers to a campaign meeting with Rosalynn Carter, wife of the future president. His photo appeared with Mrs. Carter in the papers the next day, and the President-elect invited him to Washington for the inauguration. Then-California State Assemblyman Willie Brown said, “San Francisco needs 10 more Jim Jones,” and helped to have him appointed by Mayor Moscone to the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.
Despite these honors, there was an investigation of the church for tax evasion, and Jones moved the church again, this time to a commune in Guyana. Jonestown, founded in the summer of 1976 along with about 1,000 followers, did not last long. In November 1978, a congressman named Leo Ryan flew to Guyana, and spent three days investigating complaints in Jonestown. Fourteen of Jones’s followers, unhappy with life in Jonestown, asked to fly back to the United States with Ryan. At the airstrip, just as the congressman’s party was about to leave, a truckload of Jonestown security guards arrived and started shooting, killing Congressman Ryan and four others.
Jones then decided on mass “revolutionary suicide,” a phrase he borrowed from Black Panther leader Huey Newton. On Jones’s instructions, all members of the cult were to drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid (a Kool-Aid knock-off). Children were poisoned first, then adults. Some were shot trying to leave. In all 914 died, including 276 children.
Jones eventually became a kind of communist in his politics, but much of what he and his followers stood for is very close to the politically correct mainstream. The goal of Jonestown was to build an agricultural paradise free of sexism and racism. As part of this program, Jones promoted mixed-race marriage and adoption of bi-racial children. He also taught that all inequality was caused by white male oppression.
In Jones’s view, white men were the enemy. He believed the world might be destroyed either by nuclear war or by genocide against people of color. Church members went through radical loyalty tests called “white nights,” so named because of Jones’s belief that white men were trying to ruin his project. One church member wrote a final testament praising Jonestown because there were “no more racist tears from whites and others who thought they were better.” Jones even claimed that the final suicide decision was necessary because some of his white followers had defected and wanted to escape with Congressman Ryan. About 80 percent of his followers were black, but Jones made intelligent but gullible white women his chief assistants and main sex partners.
A Temple member named Edith Roller wrote in her diary about a boxing match between a young man accused of sexism, and a young woman. The woman knocked out the man, to the delight of the crowd.
Jones was dictator of Jonestown. He insisted that some couples divorce and remarry partners of his own choosing, and he had the right to have sex with anyone he liked. Armed guards patrolled the perimeter, and there were public beatings of disobedient children. Members who failed to meet work targets or who criticized Jones’s management could have their heads shaved, or be forced to wear a yellow hat or a special badge of dishonor. His followers did not address him by some fancy title; they called him “Dad.”
Although Jones was a preacher, and claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus, Akhenaten, Buddha, Lenin, and Father Divine, it is not clear how religious he really was. He once said, “If there were no rich, no poor, if everyone were equal, religion would soon disappear.” One Jonestown survivor, asked if Jones was mainly interested in socialism or Christianity, answered, “Jim was a socialist first and an atheist second.”
In a larger sense, there are two main conclusions to be drawn from the Jim Jones story. The first is that politically correct liberals ought to be embarrassed by Jonestown but are not. A pioneer of racial diversity and feminism led a large movement to a grisly end of murder and mass suicide. If a conservative or nationalist had done this we would never be allowed to forget it.
The other is that many political moderns feel divorced from the world as it is constituted, and Jones took this feeling to a radical conclusion. Not only did he try to reconstitute society as a utopian commune, he drove his followers to suicide as a final act of renunciation.
“We were too good for this world” said Jim Jones as his followers prepared to die. One devotee left behind a note addressed to Jim Jones, in which he wrote, “Dad, I can see no way out, I agree with your decision . . . I am more than tired of this wretched, merciless planet and the hell it holds for so many masses of beautiful people.”
“It is living which is treacherous” was one of Jones’s last pronouncements before he, too, committed what he called “revolutionary suicide” by putting a bullet through his head.
Mr. Richardson is a secondary school teacher from Melbourne, Australia, and publishes the Oz Conservative (ozconservative.blogspot.com).
Here’s my unsolicited, heartfelt advice to you.
For your own good, don’t have a panic attack whenever a Treason Lobbyist appears on cable news television to insist that an immigration revamping is moving smartly along and that we can expect to see new legislation pass by [insert here any date that is four months away from the present one].
I’m referring to the angst generated among our friends when Homeland Defense Secretary Janet Napolitano recently urged Congress to "overhaul" immigration by early next year. [Immigrant Bill Is Back on Table, by Melanie Trottman, Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2009]
None of this all-too-familiar garbage changes by one iota the facts on the ground.
To reiterate what I have written more times than I can count: it doesn’t matter a fig what Napolitano, Axelrod or any of their kindred spirits say or do.
Napolitano can give the same canned speech on every American street corner from today until the cows come home. Axelrod can be interviewed on television 24-hours a day, seven days a week from now until eternity.
After all, do you expect them to speak the truth, i.e., that all their well-laid Comprehensive Immigration Reform plans are down the drain?
Neither Napolitano, Axelrod nor all the ethnic identity lobbyists who will inevitably spout off the same tedious propaganda over the coming months can change three inescapable facts:
Congress does not have the votes to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. If you don’t believe me, then maybe you will trust Rahm Emanuel who said this summer that: "...if the votes were there...you could go to a roll call."
Every day that passes is another day closer to Election, 2010, thereby reducing to almost zero the already slim prospects for amnesty. [The 2010 Agenda Shifts, The Hill, November 17, 2009]
Whether the Democrats win or lose on Obamacare, Congress will have no appetite to enter into another ferocious debate over the even more contentious immigration battle. Consider the stir that health care legislation created, even though most Americans are said to favor it. Imagine then the Congressional chaos if amnesty, something most Americans oppose, reached the floor.
I also know that the White House isn’t pushing for enforcement, just as it has not (save for the waning Michael Chertoff days) since Dwight David Eisenhower left office in 1961.
Still, a plea to my friends: let’s dwell on the positive, especially since there is so much of it!
By my calculations, there’s at least a 75 percent chance we could by November 2010 be rid of Harry Reid, a resolute amnesty champion since he took over the Senate as majority leader.
Axelrod and Napolitano are nobodies.
Reid, on the other hand, occupies a position of enormous power and influence. And he’s teetering on the brink.
Here are the challenges that Reid faces as he begins his bid to represent Nevada until 2016.
Nevada is an economic disaster.
The state’s unemployment rate is 13.3 percent, second highest in the nation behind Michigan. In 2009, Nevada foreclosures exceeded new home construction for the second consecutive year.
Because of the nationwide recession, Nevada’s gaming-based economy is at a historic low. Since Nevada relies heavily (60 percent of its income) on gambling and sales tax revenues, the two year decline in tourism with further fall offs projected, has gutted services statewide.
The consequences of less tourism have rippled through Nevada’s gambling-dependent economy. Construction of houses, casinos, shops, restaurants and offices has come to a standstill.
A common solution to closing budget gaps, $3 billion in Nevada’s case, is to raise taxes.
That’s not an option for Nevada, however, because unlike most states, it has written some of its tax laws into the state constitution. So increasing the sales tax or adding an income tax would be nearly impossible given today’s economy because it would require voters to amend the constitution against their best interests. [Pew Center for The States, Nevada]
Massive immigration-driven population growth
Nevada’s population mushroomed 30 percent between 2000 and 2008, compared with 8 percent growth nationwide.
The most adversely affected by rampant growth are the Nevada schools, now ranked as America’s next to last in quality of education.
In 1960, Nevada spent $430 per pupil—roughly $2,800 in 2005 dollars. By 2008 the state’s per pupil outlay reflected an inflation-adjusted increase of 153 percent. When one includes capital outlays and school debt per pupil, spending has more than tripled since 1960. [Why Nevada’s Education System Is Failing, by Patrick Gibbons, Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 9, 2009]
Nevada’s Hispanic population is nearly 25 percent. Many are non-English speakers whose children require special attention that includes costly English as a second language instruction.
As grim as Nevada’s education system is, the awful reality is that the children in school are the lucky ones.
The number of homeless children in the Las Vegas school district rose 42 percent between June 2008 and June 2009 to 4,700 displaced students.
Nevada leads the nation in numbers of uninsured children. Food bank demand went up 68 percent during the last two years. State officials predict that over the next two years, 43,000 more residents will be added to Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care for low-income people. How will Nevada pay for it?
New Republican faces on the Nevada political scene
If "change" is the buzzword in Obama’s world, that spells trouble for Reid, a fixture in Nevada politics for four decades.
Since 1970, Reid has served as Lt. Governor, Chairman of the Gaming Commission, two terms in the House of Representatives and, since 1987, U.S. Senator.
In 1975, Reid was defeated in his bid for Las Vegas mayor. He won his 1992 Senate seat by less than 500 votes.
The Nevada Republican 2010 primary is set for June. Whoever emerges will give Reid all kinds of headaches.
The leading GOP candidates are Sue Lawden, Republican party chair, a former State Senator, one time Miss New Jersey, a runner-up Miss America and who in her earlier life was teacher holding a Master’s Degree in education.
Also in the hunt is Danny Tarkanian, listed as a real estate executive but better known for being the son of famous (infamous?) former University of Nevada at Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian.
More than half of Nevadans view Reid unfavorably as opposed to 38 percent who approve. Current polling projects Lowden a 49 to 38 percent winner over Reid. Tarkanian’s projected margin of victory is five percent.
Added bonus for the anti-Reid faction: his son Rory is running a distant third among three Democratic gubernatorial candidates.
For Lawden or Tarkanian, their platform should be short and sweet.
Hammer Reid on his vote for the stimulus package, his consistent support of non-immigrant work visas and his endorsement of amnesty.
Lowden and Tarkanian have spoken out against illegal immigration.
Reid’s positions on those three—stimulus, foreign-born workers, and low wage earning immigrants—have all put a big time hurt on Nevadans.
You’ll also be hearing about Reid’s $25 million war chest. As one analyst suggested, it’s a shame the Nevada economy isn’t doing as well as Reid’s fund raising efforts. [Reid’s Huge War Chest May Deter Foes, by Molly Ball, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 15, 2009]
Boiled down to the bare bones, although many Nevadans will support Reid out of force of bad habit, most will be hard pressed to vote for him given the abominable conditions in their state. Why reward failure?
Play it often and mellow out.
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.