Tension between citizens and the police has been at an all-time high in recent months, considering the fallout from grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers who felt they were justified in killing unarmed black men. But this relationship took another tragic turn today, when two New York police officers were shot and killed while sitting in their squad car in Brooklyn. More from the AP:
An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, striking them both before running into a nearby subway station and apparently committing suicide, police said.
One law enforcement officer told the New York Post that this was an 'execution.' As for the executor, he is dead:
The suspected gunman fled to a nearby subway station at Myrtle and Willoughby avenues, where he was fatally shot. Preliminary reports were unclear on whether he was shot by police or his own hand.
It's yet unclear whether this assassination was another form of protest against 'police brutality.' But, it seems to be more than a coincidence. Whether it was rioting and looting in Ferguson, Missouri, or blocking traffic and shutting down bridges in New York City, protesters have made themselves heard. How sad, however, that things have come to this.
Some are blaming the media and the federal government for encouraging an anti-cop mentality:
The cold-blooded murder of two NYPD officers is tragically resultant of the Obama/Holder/De Blasio post-Ferguson/Garner cop-hating culture.— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) December 20, 2014
Others are wondering whether this fatal shooting will get as much media coverage as the tragic cases of Michael Brown or Eric Garner:
National journalists who have been fomenting a race war for weeks - are now strangely silent. #IStandWithNYPD— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) December 20, 2014
Michael Brown and Eric Garner should not be dead. They should certainly be remembered. But taking more lives is not the answer. Pray for the NYPD.
We all know that Rolling Stone’s UVA story is a complete disaster. Though have no fear; Rolling Stone writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely, who botched the original story, is re-reporting…on her own discredited piece.
To add to the history of shoddy journalism that surrounds this piece, the Federalist published the findings from their FOIA request regarding email exchanges between Rolling Stone and the University of Virginia last night. Most of it surrounds writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely trying to set up a one-on-one interview with university president Teresa Sullivan, which didn’t go as smoothly as Rubin had hoped. The Federalist’s Sean Davis wrote that:
Erdely bristled when told she would not be given a private, one-on-one meeting with Teresa Sullivan, the UVA president.
“I do hope that my interview with President Sullivan will be one-on-one,” she wrote, “as I don’t generally conduct interviews with PR people sitting in.”
Her complaints continued in a separate e-mail to UVA officials.
“As for the presence of other people during the interview: If that’s the only way I’ll be allowed to talk to President Sullivan, then so be it,” Erdely wrote. “But I imagine a university president is fully capable of getting through a phone conversation on her own, without help.”
Another e-mail from Erdely to UVA administrators, again whining about lack of private, one-on-one access to UVA pres. pic.twitter.com/xkAIt68V0n— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) December 19, 2014
Additionally, Mollie Hemingway, also of the Federalist, wrote that in one email exchange between UVA and Rolling Stone fact-checker, Lisa Garber-Paul; they told her that a case Erdely was referencing in her piece was “objectively false:”
Even though Garber-Paul at no time asked about any of the anecdotes in Erdely’s reporting, the University of Virginia repeatedly told Erdely and Garber-Paul that the facts of one case she was talking about were mistaken. Anthony Paul de Bruyn [University Spokesperson] wrote to Garber-Paul, “It has been brought to our attention by a few students that Sabrina has spoken to that she is referencing an incident where a male student raped three different women and received a one-year suspension. “This is in fact objectively false.”
Wow. In one e-mail, a UVA official said Erdely's characterization of a 2014 assault case was "objectively false." pic.twitter.com/WUxB5WhSDv— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) December 19, 2014
So, while this latest development isn't exactly a bombshell, over at the Washington Post, former editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Lexington-Herald Leader, Amanda Bennett wrote that Will Dana, RS’s Managing Editor, has done untold damage to everyone involved with this story and should resign for journalistic negligence. Also, she noted that a story having a strong narrative isn’t a bad thing, but without facts; it’s just bias:
Allowing the narrative to take control is what crowds do. It is what mobs do. It is what despots and tyrants do. It is what, unchecked, we all will do.
There is nothing wrong with pursuing a strong story, or even with having a strong point of view. Advocacy demands it. And journalism, like science, is often at its best when pursuing a powerful thesis statement.
But a strong narrative without the underpinning of facts is bias. And bias can morph in the blink of an eye into destruction, fear and suspicion.
You, Will — as editor of a major publication with huge readership and huge credibility — had an obligation to do one thing well, and that was to find out what really happened. Everyone should do this before they make up their minds, forward a post, condemn an actor, a politician, a school, a system. For you, Will, whose publication commands so many resources and so much respect, that was your primary obligation. To temper the narrative with the truth. And it was to do so before you passed this story on to others.
Buying into a story, as your official statement says you did, based on your feelings that it is “credible” is buying into a narrative. And narrative ungirded by facts is bias. The most basic fact-checking involves reaching out to the other side. And that, you tell us, you did not require the reporter to do.
So, Will, if your temptation down the road is to seize on whatever facts your investigation uncovers to say: “See? We told you. We were right all along” — don’t. Just don’t. Instead, look at the harm that you have done by buying into the narrative and not checking the facts.
If it turns out that “Jackie” is a troubled young woman who has turned some trauma in her life into a gruesome fantasy tale, then you have committed the sin of exploitation. Deep, thorough reporting would have exposed the fault lines in the story and spared her and you. If your reporting finds that Jackie is credible and her story, despite inaccuracies in details, is largely accurate, then you have committed another sin by handing detractors of the issue the crowbars with which to pummel your — and her — account. No matter what you find, it is hard to imagine that you will ever restore the story to the credible status that you once believed it deserved.
As I’ve said previously, this isn’t about the hoax of campus rape, rape apologists, or the patriarchy. It’s about bad journalism. Jackie could have been sexually assaulted in some fashion that night. The allegations that she was forced to perform oral sex on five men could be true. Yet, because of RS’s irresponsible reporting, that possible truth is irreparably damaged.
Hundreds of people involved in two demonstrations marched onto the Manhattan Bridge on Friday night, snarling Brooklyn-bound traffic, the authorities said.
The Office of Emergency Management took to Twitter to urge drivers to use alternate routes.
Pictures and videos posted to social media show protesters on the bridge who had turned out for separate rallies, one supporting police officers and one and another protesting recent grand jury decisions not to indict officers involved in the deaths of unarmed blacks.
That so called pro-cop protest featured a paltry showing, the majority of people swarming the bridge being angry chanters.
In recent weeks, protesters of Garner's case have been ranting against 'police brutality' on our nation's infrastructure, blocking traffic and/or shutting down bridges entirely. The 11th Street Bridge in Washington, DC, and New York's Brooklyn Bridge and Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, to name a few.
I think anyone would agree that Mr. Garner did not deserve to die, and that the way he did die was tragic. But, what does blocking traffic accomplish? How does shouting at cars on the road honor the man these protesters are supposedly trying to defend? It doesn't. It just makes for a lot of frustrated commuters and a lot of concerned bystanders just trying to enjoy their Friday night.
Put down the signs, and pick up some common sense.
China's Men's National Soccer Team is not good. They've only made one World Cup (in 2002, where they didn't score a goal) and their national team is ranked below small nations with a fraction of China's population. To solve this "problem," Chinese President Xi Jinpang has taken a rather unorthodox step: make soccer mandatory for Chinese children.
From The Economist:
On November 27th it was announced that football would become a compulsory part of the national curriculum at schools. Wang Dengfeng, an education official, said improving the standard of [soccer] in China must “start with children”. By 2017 some 20,000 schools are to receive new [soccer] pitches and training facilities, with the aim of creating 100,000 new players. In 2016 [soccer] will become an option in the national university-entrance exam. This could help overcome resistance among parents to their children being distracted from their academic studies by ball-kicking.
Well, that's one way to do it.
While I think this whole plan is moderately hilarious, it will probably actually work to a degree. China has a population of over one billion—there's bound to be at least some untapped soccer superstar potential amongst its citizenry. Granted, I don't think the Chinese will be hosting World Cup trophy in 2022 in Doha (if it happens), but it will certainly be interesting to see if forcing roughly half a billion children to do a sport will produce results on a worldwide scale.
It's strange China is putting such an emphasis on improving a sports team when there are so many other things that the country could strive to fix.
“Unbroken” retells the incredible and deeply moving story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini, a former Olympic runner and WWII bomber who survived 47 days adrift at sea after his plane crash-landed in the South Pacific. From there, he drifted all the way to Japan, where he was eventually interned in several POW camps, and singled out for torture by a sadistic madman nicknamed “The Bird." The best-selling book, written by Laura Hillenbrand, has since been turned into a forthcoming major motion picture directed by Angelina Jolie. I recently spoke to Luke Zamperini by phone, Louie’s only and surviving son, about the best-seller, the movie in general, and his extraordinary late father.
Townhall: When did you first learn of your father's survival story? Did he talk about it often when you were younger, or was it something he preferred to keep private?
Zamperini: Well, I think I’ve always known my Dad’s survival story as long as I can remember. He talked about it quite often to a lot of people. [He] had a comic book that would tell his story which he would pass out to kids -- and I had a copy of that. These were the subjects of my bedtime stories. I’d ask him: ‘Dad, tell me about wrestling the sharks again' and he’d go into the detail about diving overboard off the raft [and] so on and so forth. I was just always aware of it.
Townhall: When I read "Unbroken" last February on a family vacation, I couldn't put it down. It was one of the most incredible stories I had ever come across. I have not, however, seen the movie. Do you think the film lives up to the book's expectations? I know you recently wrote an op-ed for us titled: “Unbroken Film Gets My Dad’s Faith Right.” But did the filmmakers get everything else right, so to speak?
Zamperini: Well, yes. These are two different mediums, and one you can go into much more detail than the other. In the film, you’ve only got X amount of time to get a story across and get people interested in the characters. [W]ith the book, I read it in two days. That was 12 hours of reading, and so you can’t make a 12 hour film. Angelina [Jolie] did a marvelous job. She of course had to leave out some scenes one would expect to be in the film. But she needed to be able to bring it in under two and a half hours -- and have it be as complete as possible. I’ve seen the film five times now and I love it.
Townhall: The trailer looks great. I can’t wait to see it.
Zamperini: Oh yeah, this thing is just beautifully shot. Rogers Deakins [the director of photography] has done an excellent job...it’s got a fantastic score that is just mesmerizing. You’re taken on this beautiful journey through this odyssey that quite frankly has some real grim aspects to it. It's terrible and beautiful at the same time.
Townhall: Laura Hillenbrand writes movingly about your father's conversion to Christianity. He was in a bad place when he returned from the war, almost succumbing to alcoholism. How did his faith change him, other than helping him quit drinking?
Zamperini: Prior to his conversion his drinking was always self-medicating. The real problem was his hatred for the Bird and former prison guards. [A]s a juvenile delinquent he was always pretty resourceful and pretty clever and he was really defiant. And that defiance kind of got him through the prison camp. Yet he ends up with what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]. It was manifesting itself in a recurring nightmare. He started having this nightmare -- almost the day he met the Bird -- which always involved Louis being attacked by the Bird, and Louis trying to kill the Bird, usually with his bare hands.
(Luke proceeded to explain that his father in November 1949, after hearing a Billy Graham sermon his wife dragged him to against his will, finally remembered a promise he made to God years earlier on the raft in his hour of need: If he beat the odds and survived his ordeal, he told God, he would honor and serve Him for the rest of his life. Of course, he survived. So it was at this moment -- when he finally remembered that binding promise inside Billy Graham's tent -- that he became a devoted Christian).
Zamperini: After his conversion, he was done getting drunk. He was done fighting. He had forgiven his captors, including the Bird. And he went home that night and that was the first night in almost five years that he didn’t have that nightmare -- and he never had it the rest of his life. His PTSD was gone immediately. So instead of harboring all this hatred and this vengeance and this desire to get back and kill the Bird he was able to forgive him. This was the completion of Louis Zamperini. The turnaround started when he discovered sports, but it was completed when he discovered God.
Townhall: That was one of the most amazing parts of the book. The bird, scene after scene, torments Louie and goes after him specifically, and by the end of the narrative, Louie was able to forgive him. It’s really quite an amazing story.
Zamperini: What was so incredible about the book is that this was not a Christian book. [At] the end, you start feeling sorry for this guy who is destroying his life -- and boom -- the conversion hits you right in the face. I feel like the same thing happens in the film. You witness this terrible treatment and suffering he goes through, and in the end, you find out he forgave these people based on his faith. It’s just super powerful. I think it will be resonating with generations to come.
“Unbroken” opens in theaters everywhere on Christmas day.
Mariela Castro, Cuban president Raul Castro's daughter and a member of parliament, scoffed at the idea that Cuba would return to capitalism in the wake of the two countries' newly restored relations.
President Obama said Wednesday that Cuba should not put American businesses at a disadvantage and that increased commerce would do good for both countries. He explained that the U.S. would facilitate transactions and make it easier for America to export and sell goods to Cuba.
Castro's daughter, however, seemed skeptical of Obama's motives. From Havana on Thursday, Mariela Casto said the United States "must be dreaming" it if thinks Cuba will return to "being a servile country to the interests of the most powerful financial groups in the US."
Watch her full comment here:
Let's just say this year was exceptionally awful in terms of the garbage the left spewed to some in the media.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement that Colorado's policy has "injured Oklahoma's ability to enforce our policies against marijuana." Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning held a news conference, as the Associated Press reported:
"This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state," Bruning said at a news conference in Lincoln. "While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost."
In a policy statement last year, the U.S. Justice Department noted it doesn't have the resources to police all violations of federal marijuana law. It laid out eight federal law enforcement priorities that states need to protect if they want to authorize "marijuana-related conduct." They include keeping marijuana in-state — something Oklahoma and Nebraska says Colorado has failed to do.
That last part is important. President Obama's Department of Justice has refused to enforce federal drug laws in allowing Colorado's legalization to go forward. They've effectively said that they won't follow the laws laid out by Congress when a state effectively tries to nullify those laws.
The Colorado Attorney General declared that he thought the suit has no merit but, if the provision about keeping the drug in-state is to be taken seriously, there might be something to be concerned about. As USA Today reported:
In June, USA TODAY highlighted the flow of marijuana from Colorado into small towns across Nebraska: felony drug arrests in Chappell, Neb., just 7 miles north of the Colorado border have skyrocketed 400% in three years.
A 400% increase in drug crimes might be considered a big deal.
How would you feel about deporting one American citizen in exchange for one illegal immigrant? The idea sounds absurd, right? Well apparently not to everyone.
Campus Reform asked students roaming the George Washington University campus in Washington, D.C. to petition President Obama to "deport one American citizen, in exchange for one undocumented immigrant."
After all, the fake petition reasoned:
"Everyone must be allowed a shot at the ‘American Dream.’ Americans should not be greedy. Let us right the wrongs of our past and make another’s dreams come true."
Unbelievably, more than two-thirds of the students approached by Campus Reform signed the petition. While signing , one man even asked how his fellow Americans would be selected for the deportation process. How thoughtful.
"I think our immigration rules are crazy and I think it's important," another woman told reporter Maggie Lit.