Wednesday, 16 May 2007

PEACE PARTNER UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

Here is an article from www.ynetnews.com .  It details the peaceful, tranquil life which permeates Gaza and Judea/Samaria (the west bank).  I feel events like this should be studied by all people of good will, so they can understand Israel's prospects for a successful peace partnership.

-

Hamas mistakenly kills 5 of own fighters

Hamas gunmen kill five of own fighters in ambush of Fatah jeep as Gaza seems to be sliding into an all-out civil war with 41 Palestinians killed in four days of internal fighting between the rival factions

Associated Press
Published:  05.16.07, 13:30 / Israel News

Hamas gunmen mistakenly ambushed on Wednesday a jeep carrying their own fighters, killing five of them, in the bloodiest day of Palestinian infighting since violence erupted in the Gaza Strip four days ago.

 

But according to other accounts, the five victims were members of the Fatah-affiliated Preventive Security force.

 

Gunmen from the hardline Islamist group also fired barrages of rockets at Israeli towns, an apparent attempt to draw Israel into the internal Palestinian conflict that has sent the coastal territory spiraling into chaos.

 

At midday Wednesday, policemen from the Preventive Security organization arrested five Hamas men and were driving them through Gaza City when the vehicle was ambushed by Hamas fighters, Preventive Security officials said.

 

Five of the Hamas men were killed, along with two Fatah men, they said. The exact circumstances of the incident were not immediately clear.

 

Hamas radio reported that a Hamas man was killed in another clash, and a nurse traveling in an ambulance was shot in the head after being caught in the crossfire, hospital officials said. Her family said she was brain dead and being kept alive by a respirator.

 

In four days of fighting, 41 people have been killed and dozens more have been injured. The majority of the fatalities have been from Fatah.

 

Rocket fire at Israel 

Fighting raged close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' heavily guarded compound Wednesday morning, which was also targeted by Hamas mortar fire overnight, and the bodies of two Fatah gunmen could be seen sprawled on the street nearby.

 

Abbas, a moderate from Fatah, was not present.


Chaos in Gaza (Photo: AFP)

 

Early Wednesday, Hamas gunmen fired mortars and pipe bombs at the home of Fatah security chief Rashid Abu Shbak, before storming inside and killing six bodyguards, Palestinians security and medical officials said.

 

Abu Shbak and his family were not home at the time of the attack, but the house was guarded by at least a dozen of his bodyguards. Dozens of reinforcements from the Preventive Security organization, which Abu Shbak used to head, were sent in to join the fighting.

 

Abdel Hakim Awad, a Fatah spokesman, angrily accused Hamas' leadership of the attack on Abu Shbak's house.

 

 

"All (Hamas) are killers from top to bottom, all are implicated," he said, charging that the Islamist group "wanted to turn Gaza into a new Somalia or Darfur."

 

Hamas officials said the organization's men launched eight rockets at Israel on Wednesday, following a barrage of around 20 rockets a day earlier.

 

On Wednesday morning, Israeli aircraft fired at open areas in northern Gaza in an attempt to deter Palestinian rocket squads, a military spokesman said.

-

What's wrong with Israel anyway?  How is it possible that they find it difficult to make peace with these folks?  Look at how well they get along with each other.


FRED THOMPSON ANSWERS MICHAEL MOORE

Ken Berwitz

michael moore has challenged Fred Thompson - the prolific TV and movie actor, former two time Republican senator from Tennessee and possible presidential candidate for 2008 - to debate him on health care.  moore did so after Thompson wrote a scathing criticism of moore's grandstanding obnoxious stunt for his new movie, where he brought several 9/11 survivors to Cuba to get treated at one of the atypically modern and well equipped clinics they run to fool gullible Americans.

As Thompson pointed out - and I blogged about last week, using his essay - Castro keeps a few hospitals in tip-top shape to impress useful idiots like moore and the Hollywood carbon-offset crowd, but average Cubanos have awful health care.  He pointed out that when Castro was ill last year he IMPORTED a medical team from Spain rather than use his own.

In any event, Mr. Thompson has answered  michael moore's challenge.  You can see and hear him by either clicking on the screen below or, if that doesn't work, linking to http://www.breitbart.tv/?p=611.  It is priceless.

The more I see and hear of Thompson the more I want him to run


THE DEMOCRATIC WAR AGAINST CONGRESSIONAL EARMARKS: A FAIRY TALE

Ken Berwitz

Remember that pledge to end "earmarks" - pork-barrel projects slipped in, usually under the radar, that have nothing to do with the bill itself?

Well guess who loves them.  Those nice folks who pledged to end them:  the Democratic majority.  And who loves them as dearly as anyone?  john murtha:  the unindicted co-conspirator from ABSCAM who has made his brother (and probably himself) rich by tossing defense contracts his way. 

Want proof?  Read this, from John Campbell at www.townhall.com:-

Friday, May 11, 2007

 

Murtha Supports Secret Earmarks

 

Posted by: John Campbell at 4:25 PM

 

Last night (or actually about 1:45AM this morning), the House passed a bill to fund our intelligence operations (CIA, NSA etc.). Disturbingly, several earmarks were slipped into this important national security legislation without the knowledge to most members until the very last moment. Altogether, 26 unclassified earmarks were included totaling around $97 million.

The largest beneficiary of these secret earmarks was none other than Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). One of his earmarks directs $23 million to a drug intelligence center in his hometown of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. He got this pork for his district even though both the Government Reform Committee and GAO have criticized the center for being an unnecessary use of taxpayer dollars. The centers remote location and the fact that there are 19 other operations just like it have caused these oversight panels to publicly oppose its continued operation. Even drug enforcement officials have been quoted as saying the center is basically a jobs program that Mr. Murtha wanted for his district.

Three times yesterday, motions were made to take the House into secret session so that we could discuss any such earmarks and whether they have legitimate merit or are just pork. Three times on near party-line votes, these motions were defeated. Also, an amendment was offered to strip just the Murtha earmark and use the money for more human intelligence resources. That too was defeated. Why? Did the Democrat's not want to open up their earmarks for disclosure even to the rest of us in Congress? How much money will not be spent on real intelligence efforts because of secret earmarks? I guess Rep. Murtha and the Democrat's feel bringing home the bacon is more important than prioritizing and properly using our national security funding.

It was not too long ago, just last November to be exact, that Nancy Pelosi promised to "crack down on earmarking and decried the special interest earmarks that are the ones that go in there in the dark of night that they dont want anybody to see

 
Well my friends what's worse than hypocrisy? Hypocrisy that threatens peoples safety and security.

So tell me:  How many times do Democrats have to pull this crap before mainstream media report it?  How many ways do they pull the wool over voters' eyes before they catch on?  How hypocritical can they possibly be?

As Bob Dylan said, the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.  It must be.  Because it sure as hell ain't in the mainstream press.


DEMOCRATIC DEBATES: A STACKED DECK OR NO DECK AT ALL

Ken Berwitz

Remember the first Republican debate?  It was on MSNBC and was co-hosted by chris mouthews, who hates Republicans.  Then, the lead analyst afterwards was keith olbermann, who makes mouthews look pro-Republican by comparison.

Now we have this from www.mediabistro.com:-

Debates: DNC Announces Six; Two On CNN, Two On NBC/MSNBC

The Democratic National Committee has officially announced "the dates, media sponsors and cities for the six DNC sanctioned debates."

CNN and NBC get two and ABC and CBS get one each. Fox News isn't included. Here's the list:

July 23, 2007: YouTube/Google and CNN in Charleston, SC

August 19, 2007: ABC in Des Moines, IA

September 26, 2007: NBC News/MSNBC in Hanover, NH

October 30, 2007: NBC News/MSNBC in Philadelphia, PA

November 15, 2007: CNN in Las Vegas, NV

December 10, 2007: CBS in Los Angeles, CA
-

Wow. Brit Hume and Chris Matthews must be so intimidating that Hillary, Obama, Edwards et. al. soil themselves at the thought of either one asking them questions. 

These are the people who want a job where they have to command troops and negotiate with world leaders?  They're too afraid to face newspeople who ask tough questions.

Unbelievable.

 


GUEST COMMENTARY: ED MORRISSEY

Ken Berwitz

Here is the commentary by the always-worth-reading Ed Morrissey  on what amounts to a civil war between hamas and fatah, the two entities supposedly governing Gaza and Judea/Samaria (the west bank).  How well he says it: -

After its raid on the Karni crossing yesterday, Hamas could have claimed it to be a mistake and stood down its militia. Rather than avoid a civil war in Gaza, however, Hamas expanded its attacks to include key figures of Fatah leadership, including Mahmoud Abbas, and fired rockets into Israel to create a wider war:

Hamas gunmen fatally shot six bodyguards from the rival Fatah movement and fired a barrage of rockets at southern Israel Wednesday, apparently attempting to draw Israel into the fierce Palestinian infighting as the Gaza Strip slid further into chaos. ...

Fighting raged close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' heavily guarded compound, which also was targeted by Hamas mortar fire overnight. Abbas, a moderate from Fatah, was not present.

Early Wednesday, Hamas gunmen fired mortars and pipe bombs at the home of Fatah security chief Rashid Abu Shbak, before storming inside and killing six bodyguards, Palestinians security and medical officials said.

There can be no more pretense of working with Hamas on any solutions for peace. Even Fatah has figured that much out. Fatah's spokesman called all Hamas members "killers, from top to bottom," and told the press that they want to turn Gaza into "a new Somalia or Darfur." While the Gaza fighting lacks the ethnic tensions of either place, Hamas seems determined to make them just as chaotic and violent as both.

Fatah has a tough choice. While Hamas fires rockets into Israel, it can expect the Israelis to attack the rocket-launching positions. If it joins the attack on Hamas, then Fatah will look like collaborators. If they join Hamas, they will have to knuckle under to Hamas leadership, which is now trying to kill off their own leadership. If they do nothing, they will just make themselves easy targets for Hamas. Fatah is stuck in the middle.

The Gaza experiment has failed in one way, and succeeded in another. Ariel Sharon gave Gaza away without any strings and gave the Palestinians an opportunity to show they could govern themselves. They have failed spectacularly to do so, and instead have turned it into a terrorist haven for launching attacks against Israel and each other. It succeeded in showing what a joke "land for peace" always has been and the futility of granting statehood to a bunch of terrorist lunatics.

Oslo failed. Wye River failed. The road map failed. All of these failed because the Palestinians want the peace of annihilation rather than the peace of coexistence. They elected Hamas to power, and they are reaping the fruits of their choice. Quit enabling these terrorists with diplomatic initiatives and aid of any kind at all until they tire of the taste of blood and come to us for peace.-


IF YOU CAN'T PLAY BY THE RULES.....CHANGE 'EM

Ken Berwitz

From today's Drudge Report:-

After losing a string of embarrassing votes on the House floor because of procedural maneuvering, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has decided to change the current House Rules to completely shut down the floor to the minority.

The Democratic Leadership is threatening to change the current House Rules regarding the Republican right to the Motion to Recommit or the test of germaneness on the motion to recommit. This would be the first change to the germaneness rule since 1822.

In protest, the House Republicans are going to call procedural motions every half hour.
-

There you have it, folks.  Nancy Pelosi Ricardo at her finest.  Incapable of getting anything done, she now will end-around her incompetence by changing the rules so it won't be as much of a factor.  Keep in mind that every other speaker of the house was able to navigate these rules for the past 185 years.

Too bad she wasn't asked to screw over hourly workers for StarKist again, the way she did earlier this year.  StarKist headquarters are in her congressional district. 

And too bad she wasn't asked to earmark more millions of dollars for the waterfront development project near her husband's real estate holdings the way she did before, so he and she could become even richer than they already are.

THOSE things she seems to get done just fine.


 


THE IRREVERSIBILITY OF THE DEATH PENALTY

Ken Berwitz

The title of this post is also the reason I am almost always against the death penalty.  Simply stated, there is no way to do anything about a conviction that turns out to be wrong. 

 

Here, from today's New York Times, is an excellent example of what I am talking about: -

 

DNA in Murders Frees Inmate After 19 Years

Pool photo by Mike Derer

Tears flowed from Byron Halsey Tuesday after he was exonerated of a murder conviction in Elizabeth, N.J. Vanessa Potkin, one of his lawyers, offered support.

 

By TINA KELLEY

 

Published: May 16, 2007
 
 

ELIZABETH, N.J., May 15 A man who served 19 years in prison for the sadistic murders of his companions two children walked out of the Union County Courthouse flanked by his family members after a judge vacated his convictions on Tuesday.

 

Prosecutors contended that DNA evidence in the case would probably change the mind of the jury that convicted the man, Byron Halsey, 46. They also said that the DNA evidence pointed instead to Cliff Hall, a neighbor who testified against Mr. Halsey at his 1988 trial and who is currently in prison for three sexual assaults.
 

Mr. Halsey, who was handcuffed, sat crying silently during the brief proceeding in Union County Superior Court before Judge Stuart L. Peim.

 

As he left the courthouse, Mr. Halsey said, I thank my Lord and savior Jesus for keeping me.

 

Asked about his emotional state, he smiled and said, I dont want to get in more trouble. He added, What was done to me was criminal at best.

 

Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, the Manhattan legal clinic that revived the case, said: Its a miracle that Byron is here with us, because if ever there was a case where there was a risk of executing an innocent man, it was this case. Because the facts of the case were so horrible.

 

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Mr. Halsey in the 1985 killings. The crimes were particularly chilling Tina Urquhart, 7, was raped and strangled, and her brother, Tyrone Urquhart, 8, died after four nails were hammered into his skull with a brick. The childrens bodies were found in the basement of a rooming house in Plainfield where Mr. Halsey lived with their mother.

 

Mr. Halsey, a factory worker, was convicted in 1988 of two counts of felony murder and other charges, and sentenced to two life terms and 20 years. He was not eligible for the death penalty because he was not found guilty of purposeful and knowing murder, a capital offense, one of his lawyers said.

 

His release comes at a crucial time in the states debate over abolishing the death penalty, which has not been carried out since 1963. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the most serious crimes. A similar bill was introduced in the Assembly last November. There are nine men now on death row in New Jersey.

 

Mr. Halsey was released on $55,000 bail. In a statement, the Union County prosecutors office said he was still facing charges of aggravated sexual assault, two counts of aggravated manslaughter, two counts of felony murder, child abuse and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He was scheduled to appear in court again on July 9.

 

The office would not comment on whether or not it intended to pursue those charges in a new trial. But Mr. Scheck said he had not heard anything from prosecutors to indicate that they would not move to dismiss the charges in July.

 

Mr. Halsey will live in Newark in a supervised setting where he can get job training, Mr. Scheck said. He will be required to wear an electronic ankle monitor for the next 45 days.

 

It was a minor miracle that he was not sentenced to death, Mr. Scheck added. At the trial, a few of the jurors just didnt believe in capital punishment.

 

Mr. Halsey contacted the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, after exhausting his appeals. Advanced DNA techniques that were not available at the time of the trial showed that the evidence had no link to Mr. Halsey. It did, however, show a match with Mr. Hall, whose DNA samples were already in the states database because of his convictions in sex crimes that occurred after the Urquhart children were killed.

 

The prosecutors office said Tuesday night that it was looking into bringing charges against Mr. Hall.

 

Mr. Scheck noted that in about a quarter of the 201 wrongful convictions that have been overturned with the use of DNA evidence, people had confessed or admitted to crimes they did not commit. Mr. Halsey signed a confession after 30 hours of interrogation, Mr. Scheck said. Mr. Halseys lawyers said he had a sixth-grade education and severe learning disabilities.

 

Dolores Mann, one of his original lawyers, said Mr. Halsey had maintained his innocence from the beginning.

 

Im hoping the case sheds light when the bill goes to the Assembly, so the death penalty will be taken off the books, she said.

 

Margaret Urquhart, the victims mother, said in a statement: I knew Byron loved Tyrone and Tina. It didnt make sense to me that he could have done this. I always had my doubts, but I didnt know what to do about them. I am thankful that the DNA testing has identified who really did this to my children and that Byron is being released today. I want justice done in this case.

 

Another lawyer for Mr. Halsey, Raymond Brown, said his client was looking forward to one thing in particular after being released.

 

He said something about taking a bath, Mr. Brown said. He hasnt taken one in 20 years. -

 

I know that there is nothing anyone can do to retrieve the 19 years Byron Halsey lost.  But he can be given back the REST of his years.  

 

By contrast, if Mr. Halsey had been executed, this would be impossible.  Moreover, no one would have pursued justice any further because he was executed.  There would not have been a DNA revelation that Mr. Halsey was innocent all along, thus no way to point the finger at the man who actually committed these horrific crimes.  Byron Halsey would always be remembered as a cold-blooded rapist and killer of children.

 

 

I can't vouch for the statistics Barry Scheck provides (201 convictions overturned based on DNA evidence), but I have no doubt there are a great many....and a great many more to come.  It is impossible to be 100% accurate when meting out justice, and mistakes are therefore certain to occur.

 

This is not to say I am always against the death penalty.  If someone commits a capital crime, confesses to it -- and there is absolutely incontrovertible evidence, such as for example DNA (which can as easily prove guilt as innocence), credible eyewitnesses, maybe even a video record of the event from a surveillance camera or privately owned equipment, then I have no problem with the death penalty.  But those criteria exist in very, very few cases.  And this wasn't one of them.

 

I hope Mr. Halsey can overcome the feelings that, I would assume, course through him when he thinks about half of his life lost, and use the rest of it as well as possible.  Let's all be thankful that, in the absence of his being executed, there IS a rest of it to use.

 

If it could happen to him, it could happen to any of us.


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