SPLC will add Muhammad cartoonist to list of hate groups

Osama Hajjaj, Jordan

The Southern Poverty Law Center has decided to add a name to its list of purveyors of hate following the ISIS-inspired ambush of a draw Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas.

The name added will not be that of one of the two seeking an unfortunate path to martyrdom, but that of contest winner Bosch Fawstin.

Via Reuters:

The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), sponsor of the Sunday night event, gave Fawstin, a Bronx, New York-born, former Muslim, $12,500 in prize money and introduced him to the crowd as a courageous and righteous man.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which includes AFDI on its annual list of U.S. hate groups, plans to add Fawstin to its 2016 report, Heidi Beirich, director of the tracking effort, told Reuters on Monday.

She said he would have been listed previously, but the center did not know Fawstin’s location. The organization has since learned that his website is registered in New York City.

“He’s like the artist of the movement,” Beirich said. “His views, they are hate views.” She said his website is “virulently ugly” in its anti-Muslim views.

Because you’re dying (not in a literal sense, as certain people might hope) to see it, here’s Fawstin’s forbidden depiction of the prophet:

Bosch Fawstin

And here are a few others from the contest that we enjoyed:

Clyde Maxwell
Dick Kinkead
Marcus Sterzer
Jeff Harris
A.F. Branco

An interactive map that tracks botched police raids in the United States

Here’s an interesting interactive map highlighting the abundance of documented, botched paramilitary police raids that have harmed and even killed innocent Americans in recent years.

The map, a project undertaken by the Cato Institute in conjunction with civil liberties journalist Radley Balko, allows users to click over mapped icons that reveal information about a variety of raids gone wrong throughout the United States.

There are examples of raids on innocent victims, physicians and “sick people,” encounters which led to the deaths of police, innocent victims and nonviolent offenders, as well as “other examples of paramilitary police excess,” such as the 1999 community-wide series of raid in Tulia, Texas, which resulted in the arrest of “about half of the town’s adult black population.”

In an effort to make the map a vital and ongoing project, viewers can even submit their own suggestions for botched raid incidents that can be added to the list, as time passes and more raids end in bloodshed or the deprivation of innocents’ rights. Just scroll to the bottom of the page, where a series of forms offers a number of ways to submit information. Contributors must include a link to a local news report or other piece of documentation to verify the incident.

Which is doing more harm to black Americans: the distant past or the recent past?

Conservative columnist Thomas Sowell is out today with a thoughtful column that takes a hard look at racial politics — one that condemns the progressives whose careers have depended on divisive identity politics.

Sowell argues that progressives — including most in the mainstream press — have little to gain by finding common ground with anyone who doesn’t inhabit their patch of political turf. Common ground is boring and lacks the lucrative potential that comes with manipulating public opinion, he argues.

“When the recorded fatal shooting of a fleeing man in South Carolina brought instant condemnation by whites and blacks alike, and by the most conservative as well as the most liberal commentators, that moment of mutual understanding was very fleeting, as if mutual understanding were something to be avoided, as a threat to a vision of ‘us against them’ that was more popular,” Sowell writes.

That, he argues, explains why the South Carolina story has fallen out of rotation in national media reports, while less cut-and-dried cases of alleged racial violence — like Ferguson and Baltimore — drone on and on.

It also encapsulates the hypocrisy of the progressivist strategy of blaming current social problems on the nation’s deeper history, while conveniently ignoring its recent history — a history that, in many troubled cities, owes everything to progressive policies.

The “legacy of slavery” argument is not just an excuse for inexcusable behavior in the ghettos. In a larger sense, it is an evasion of responsibility for the disastrous consequences of the prevailing social vision of our times, and the political policies based on that vision, over the past half century.

Anyone who is serious about evidence need only compare black communities as they evolved in the first 100 years after slavery with black communities as they evolved in the first 50 years after the explosive growth of the welfare state, beginning in the 1960s.

… Murder rates among black males were going down — repeat, down — during the much-lamented 1950s, while it went up after the much celebrated 1960s, reaching levels more than double what they had been before. Most black children were raised in two-parent families prior to the 1960s. But today the great majority of black children are raised in one-parent families.

Read Sowell’s full column at National Review Online.

We are our own worst enemy

Commenting on DHS Secretary: Questions about Americans’ privacy are ‘beyond my competence’,
The_Christian says:
May 1, 2015

“WE are our own worst enemy”! I don’t know the origin of the quote but it is spot on. WE elected Obama; we elected the members of the most powerful branch of the government – Congress. WE take no action to hold our elected leaders accountable. WE do not invest the time and energy necessary to become an informed/intelligent voter.Our founders had a good understanding of the essentials of governance of a nation. They had lived under tyranny; rule by an elite who had no interest in the well-being of the people. A ruling elite that enslaved the people. To criticize the members of that elite group would be to risk their life and the life of their family. These founders framed a constitution that gave limited power to the government with the greater power granted to the people. GOVERNMENT WOULD SERVE THE PEOPLE! A government totally unlike any world government of the time. They also knew the weakness of this or any other form of government. If the people did not actively engage in protecting and defending the constitution it would be slowly but surely eroded by those “progressives” who wanted complete control of the life and liberty of the people. Those elites have almost succeeded in taking us as a nation BACK to the tyranny our nation was under before the revolutionary war. Our greatest enemy is not a foreign government or some external radical political or religious ideology – our greatest enemy we face as a nation and as a people is our own government.


Young voters really, really don’t trust the U.S. media

A new Harvard poll covering young voters’ views on a broad range of policy topics finds that no cultural institution in America today is less revered by the up-and-coming generation than the mainstream news media.

Asked whether they trust a number of politicians, government agencies and other prominent entities to “do the right thing,” fewer people responded that they trust the media than any of the other people and agencies listed.

In response to the question, “How often do you trust each of [the following] to do the right thing?” “Scientists” finished first, while “The media” finished dead last. A full 88 percent of the more than 3,200 people who responded to the poll replied that they trust the media “Sometimes/Never,” while another 12 percent responded “All/Most” of the time.

That leaves a scant two percent of respondents who trust the media to do “the right thing” in all circumstances, without question.

By contrast, “Scientists” garnered the most trust, with 56 percent indicating they trust the brainiacs “All/Most” of the time and 44 percent “Sometimes/Never.”

President Obama received unwavering trust from just one percent of all respondents; another 67 percent said they trust Obama “Sometimes/Never.”

State and Federal government, Congress and Wall Street all fared even worse in the poll – but none could match the level of distrust young people harbor for the media.

Check out the poll’s full results here.

Kochs eliminate criminal history questions for job applicants

Creating yet another problem for liberals who make them out to be greedy evil corporatists, Charles and David Koch have announced that they will no longer ask applicants for jobs at Koch Industries questions about criminal history.

Charles Koch’s nonprofit organization recently joined forces with a coalition of civil rights groups to push for a number of reforms to the nation’s judicial system. Last month, Koch Industries began backing the effort by removing criminal history inquiries for applicants and opening new job opportunities to former offenders.

Koch Industries spokesperson and general counsel Mark Holden said in a statement: “The criminal justice system should be improved to enhance public safety, honor the Bill of Rights, and treat everyone involved in the system with dignity and respect, from the accused to the victims of crime to law enforcement.”

He continued: “Removing the question about prior criminal convictions from our job application process is one way to achieve this goal. As a large United States-based manufacturing company that employs 60,000 American workers we shouldn’t be rejecting people at the very start of the hiring process who may otherwise be capable and qualified, and want an opportunity to work hard.”

While applicants with criminal histories will be able to get their foot in the door, a company spokesperson said that some positions with the company could require a background check later in the hiring process.

Koch Industries joins Walmart and several other large companies, along with 100 cities and counties throughout the nation in ending the practice of including questions about criminal history on job applications.

The National Employment Law Project says the so-called ban the box movement could help millions of formerly incarcerated Americans find work and drastically reduce criminal recidivism.

Education secretary says Feds may step in over Common Core opt-outs

The federal government will be forced to step in if parents continue opting their children out of Common Core testing, according to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Asked Tuesday whether states need to do more to reduce the number of Common Core opt outs, Duncan replied: “We think most states will do that … If states don’t do that, then we have an obligation to step in.”

The remark comes as hundreds of thousands of students throughout the nation are opting out of the testing.

Chalkbeat New York reported of the situation in its state:

[A]n “opt out” advocacy group in New York reports that more than 184,000 students statewide out of about 1.1 million eligible test takers refused to take last week’s English exams. In New York City, nearly 3,100 students out of about 420,000 test takers opted out, according to the group. (Math testing begins Wednesday.)

Last year, 49,000 students statewide did not take the English exams, while just over 1,900 New York City students sat out the tests, state officials have said. State and city officials have not yet released their own opt-out counts this year or verified those of the advocacy group, United to Counter the Core, whose unofficial tally is based on information from district superintendents, school employees, and media reports.

Duncan didn’t give too many specifics about how the feds might step in, but some education officials have suggested that schools with too many opt outs could be labeled “failing” and have federal funds restricted.

The testing is important in part, Duncan said, to track achievement gaps between student groups.

“Folks in the civil rights community, folks in the disability community, they want their kids being assessed. They want to know if they are making progress or growth,” he said.

Cartoon roundup

Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

We are emotional beings. Politicians know this well, and they use it to their advantage. They play on our emotions in order to get us invested in issues. That’s why social issues — many of which, if not all of which, government has no business regulating — remain at the center of political debates. Politicians get our attention when they tug at our heartstrings. And so it is with environmental issues, which even get their own international event: Earth Day. The politics regarding various environmental issues are far too complex for this musing. But the reasoning behind Earth Day is not: It’s meant to make you feel sad and fearful because the Earth is being destroyed, guilty and shameful for not doing enough to save the Earth and angry that others harm the Earth. Of course, the premise is that we actually can destroy the Earth by our actions. That’s doubtful, but the emotions triggered by an event like Earth Day and by politicians who bloviate about man-made climate change keep us from thinking rationally and distract us from issues that actually do matter.


John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune
Desert ground, texture
RJ Matson
April 21, 2015
Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News


WFB skewers tax-happy liberal hypocrites

The Washington Free Beacon recently put together a video highlighting the hypocrisy of certain MSNBC talking heads who, while lecturing viewers on the patriotic merit of paying massive tax bills, don’t like to pony up to the IRS for their “fair share” of the American experience.

MSNBC’s the Rev. Al Sharpton, weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry, The Cycle co-host Touré and contributor Joy Reid all have something other than their love of high taxes in common: delinquent tax debts.

Via the Washington Free Beacon:

Rev. Al Sharpton, PoliticsNation host and civil rights activist, has more than $4.5 million in state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses, according to the New York Times. The IRS filed a $70,000 tax lien against MSNBC weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry and her husband earlier this month.

The Cycle co-host Touré and former The Reid Report host Joy Reid, still a contributor, are also in debt to the government. National Review reviewed public records and reported Touré owes more than $59,000, while Reid owes nearly $5,000. Representatives said their debts are in the process of being resolved.

Medication-free therapy rivals drugs in depression treatment

Managing depression with a regimen of focused mental conditioning appears to help depression sufferers at least as effectively as traditional drug-based treatments, according to a new British study.

According to the study’s authors, a form of drug-free cognitive treatment known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) yielded results indistinguishable from the results yielded by depression medication treatments in a two-year observation of more than 400 adult patients.

The therapy appears not only to treat acute symptoms of depression as well as prescription-based treatment; it also seems equally capable of preventing relapses.

“In the first large study to compare MBCT and antidepressants, researchers found little difference in outcomes,” Reuters observed Monday in a report on the study.

“… In this study, 424 adults with recurrent major depression who were on maintenance antidepressant drugs were randomly assigned either to come off their anti-depressants slowly and receive MBCT or to stay on their medication.

“While 212 patients continued taking their anti-depressants, the other 212 attended eight group mindfulness therapy sessions and were given daily home practice as well as an option to have four follow-up sessions over a 12-month period.”

Upon revisiting the patients’ cases following a two-year waiting period, there was only a 3 percent difference in the relapse rate between the group that had been treated with medication and the group that had used the drug-free MBCT alternative. The medicated group relapsed at a rate of 47 percent; the MBCT group experienced a 44 percent relapse rate.

The authors made no attempt to promote MBCT therapy as superior to treatment with antidepressants, but did posit the drug-free method as a viable alternative to traditional treatment.

“We found no evidence that MBCT-TS is superior to maintenance antidepressant treatment for the prevention of depressive relapse in individuals at risk for depressive relapse or recurrence,” the authors concluded.

“Both treatments were associated with enduring positive outcomes in terms of relapse or recurrence, residual depressive symptoms, and quality of life.”

Read the study’s full findings in The Lancet.

Man, those people who wanted to bring down the Scott Walker network were really, really serious

The collective will to keep Wisconsin’s labor structure from crumbling under the imposition of new laws backed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker expressed itself through police raids, lawfare, threats of sanctioned state violence, humiliation and the confiscation of private property.

That’s the upshot of a new in-depth story teased today by David French at National Review. It relates the ordeals of three conservative supporters of Wisconsin’s Act 10 bill, a law that in 2011 introduced new limits on collective bargaining among public employees — to the outrage of pro-union stalwarts.

The accounts are almost unbelievable in their portrayal of state power wielded as a blunt political instrument. They describe raids, threats to secrecy, and intimidation tactics that wouldn’t feel out of place in a gangster movie. Here’s an example:


That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.

“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”

She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”

It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.

Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television.

In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.

What kind of woman did this happen to? Who is she?

Although the story protects her anonymity, she’s described as a supporter of Act 10 “and other conservative causes in Wisconsin.”

But the story offers some insight into the kind of people who attracted such forceful attention in its retelling of another, similar ordeal. That episode involves a police “raid” (or, more properly, an invasion) at the home of Cindy Archer, “one of the lead architects” of the bill.

It involves the same stuff: a nighttime SWAT-style police intrusion, dubious search warrants, warnings that Archer not speak to an attorney, and — at the end of it all — the confiscation only of a cellphone and a computer.

Six people with ties to Walker’s administration were eventually convicted in the so-called “John Doe” investigations, a series of probes into Walker’s network of associates in search of criminal activity.

“The state’s John Doe law dates back to Wisconsin’s days as a territory and is unique to the state,” Wisconsin’s The Capital Times explained last month. “It allows a prosecutor, under supervision of a judge, to investigate whether a crime has been committed and, if so, who committed it. The prosecutor can compel people to testify and turn over documents.”

That’s a unique and state-empowering law, one that current GOP legislators in Wisconsin have tried — so far without success — to reform.

But despite the law’s crime-finding power, Archer was never charged with any crime.