Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Woman who mailed pig foot shot by police in apparent jihad attempt

A Marietta grandmother who mailed a package containing a bloody pig foot to N.Y. Rep. Peter King and a Curious George doll to N.Y. State Senator Greg Ball earlier this year was killed by police on Christmas Day at her home. Her death came a few weeks after her indictment and plea of not guilty in federal court for mailing threatening communications. The federal judge had ordered her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation according to WSB TV. She was reportedly out on bond.

According to reports of the incident, Jameela Barnette, 53, a self-described “Messenger of Allah,” was killed by Cobb County police officers responding to a panic alert triggered from her apartment. Barnette allegedly attacked the officers with a gun and a knife when they responded to the alarm. The officers shot her in the course of defending themselves.

Examiner readers may remember that the Atlanta Conservative Examiner published a series of articles on the mail incident beginning on April 18, 2011. The original article appeared on my personal blog,, simultaneously with its publication on Barnette, herself a blogger who waged an internet campaign against people and websites that she perceived as anti-Muslim, read the article on Captain Kudzu and left several comments. I subsequently published some of these comments in a second Examiner article on April 19. Barnette also posted several comments on a Captain Kudzu Easter article, “In defense of miracles,” during the same time period.

I was able to obtain her email address through the comments she left and attempted to contact Barnette to learn why she sent the packages. Although she initially had no interest in telling her side of the story, she later consented to an email interview and provided me with the now-famous picture with Dustin Hoffman. The email exchanges culminated in an article simultaneously published on Examiner and on April 26.

After that article was published, she thanked me for my objectivity and “unbiased honesty” in another email. Other than occasionally receiving more of her messages “from Allah,” which were soon relegated to my spam folder, I had no other contact with her after that. Until her death made the news this week, I was not even aware that she had been indicted for her mailings. She had been confident that she would escape prosecution because she didn’t make any overt threats.

In our correspondence Jameela was always polite and respectful. It was only when she got up on her Islamist soapbox, that she spouted hatred. Her messages are some of the most vile, racist and profane missives that I have ever read. Although a former Jew, she unapologetically likened Jews to apes and pigs (Surah 5:60) and was no friendlier to Christians who worship “a bloodied, battered and partially-eaten and bled-out, rotting DEAD [emphasis hers] Jew.” She was not shy about her desire to turn the United States into a Muslim nation in which “white b-----s” [expletive deleted] name their children Mohammed and wear veils in accordance with Islamic law.

A major reason that I gave Jameela the chance to speak out in my column was that I felt that she provided a valuable insight into the minds of radical Muslims. Jameela might have been a loner in Marietta, but there are thousands of other Muslims in this country and millions around the world who share her beliefs. It was people who shared Jameela’s beliefs that carried out the 9/11 attacks. It is people who share Jameela’s beliefs that have been at war with the United States for decades, much longer than the United States has been in Iraq or Afghanistan.

While not all Muslims share Jameela’s fanatical and racist ideology, even a small percentage of them can add up to thousands of extremists in this country and millions around the world. A withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan will not change the attitudes of these radicals. For them, it was never about Iraq or Afghanistan. It is about spreading their brand of orthodox Islam around the globe and ridding the world of the Jews.

Even though I had not thought of Jameela in months, I cannot say that I was surprised to hear of her death. My initial thought was that the incident sounded like what is often called “suicide by cop,” in which someone who wants to die threatens police in order to get them to kill him. After more consideration, however, I no longer believe that to be the case.

My opinion is that Jameela launched her own terrorist attack against representatives of the United States. Lacking the knowledge and materials to build a suicide bomb vest, she summoned police with the intention of killing as many as possible and then becoming a martyr. In her twisted theology, she likely believed that the police were infidels who doing the bidding of their Jewish masters in tormenting her. In the end, she was no different from the terrorists in Iraq and Palestine who believe that sacrificing themselves to kill innocents is a worthy and noble cause that will secure their place in heaven.

To most of us, Jameela’s words and actions seem crazy. If she was crazy though, what does that make the multitudes of other radical Muslims around the world who share her beliefs and are also willing to martyr themselves?

I wish to extend my condolences to Ms. Barnette’s family, especially her grandchildren, who will now have to grow up with the shame of her actions on top of the loss that they will undoubtedly feel after her death. I also pray that God will have mercy on her poor misguided soul.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Ron Paul phenomenon

Ron Paul is beginning to frighten me.

To be totally accurate, it isn’t just Dr. Paul that frightens me, but his followers as well.  The relationship between Ron Paul and his followers seems to be almost unique in modern American politics.  Dr. Paul’s followers, often referred to as “Paulestinians” by talk show host Michael Medved (listen to Medved on Atlanta’s AM-920 WGKA), are fiercely loyal to their candidate, which explains why Paul often wins straw polls.  These contests are not normal elections, but consist of activists who often have to pay or go out of their way to take part.  Paul’s supporters, while small in number, are fully dedicated to Paul’s success.

Ron Paul is in the Republican Party, but is not of it.  He was originally sent to Congress as a Republican, but later left the party to run for president as a Libertarian in 1988.  He was re-elected to Congress as a Republican in 1996 and has run for president twice, both times as a Republican, since then.  When he failed to win the Republican nomination in 2008, Paul did not support John McCain.  Instead, he endorsed Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party candidate.

Most of his supporters do not seem to consider themselves Republicans either.  In fact, the majority of Ron Paul supporters that I have come in contact with see both major political parties as two sides of the same coin.  Recently, a Ron Paul supporter told me that it was her opinion that Obama was “Bush’s third term.”  This is not the view of a majority of the Americans regardless of their party affiliation.

Many of the other views of Paul and his disciples are not shared by other Americans.  Paul criticized President Obama for ordering the raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout and his foreign policy platform smacks of isolationism.  He has favored extending friendship to Iran, rather than threatening sanctions or attacks to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Paul claims to be for “nonintervention” rather than isolationism.  In a speech posted on Youtube, Paul explains that this means he is for trade and talk between countries, rather than for sealing the country off from other nations.  He doesn’t explain how he would protect Americans abroad (or at home for that matter) without intervening militarily against foreign threats from people who have no such compunctions about using military force against Americans.

Many Ron Paul supporters also seem to be more at home with members of the Occupy Wall Street movement than with the Tea Party.  When I visited Occupy Atlanta last October, more occupiers professed an admiration for Ron Paul than any other presidential candidate, including Barack Obama.  Paul supporters are often quick to parrot liberal criticism of the Tea Party and the Koch brothers, even though Paul is widely considered to be one of the inspirations of the Tea Party movement.

Paul’s most vocal supporters seem willing and even eager to believe the most outlandish conspiracy theories.  Ron Paul supporters have argued with me that Israelis are not really Jewish, that FEMA is secretly building concentration camps around the country, and that American soldiers are required to take an oath to kill their own families if ordered to do so.  Many are believers in the 9/11 truther and birther movements as well.  These are only a few of the many paranoid fantasies that Ron Paul supporters have supported in dialogues with me.  The only requirement seems to be that the conspiracy must be anti-American and anti-Israeli.

Even Paul himself has seemed to endorse conspiracy theories as well.  He says at a gathering recorded and posted on Youtube that the government investigation of the attacks was “a cover-up, basically.”  As late as 2007, Paul told that he believed that there was a cover-up of 9/11, even though he denied being a truther.  In an article from his newsletter posted on, Paul shared “research” that speculated that the U.S. government created the AIDS virus.

Paul also has a history of racist statements in his newsletters.  I could find no statement where Paul has renounced the racist statements in his newsletters or the anti-Semitic comments of his supporters that are common on websites dedicated to Paul.  While Paul cannot be held responsible for the behavior of his supporters, there is evidence that he authored or had direct knowledge of the contents of his newsletters.  When asked to condemn the behavior of his supporters by “American Spectator” blogger Jeffrey Lord, he failed to do so.  He is, however, on record as saying that “the philosophy of white supremacy is wrong and immoral” in an interview posted on Youtube.

Paul and his supporters both seem to agree that he is the only candidate who is worthy successor to the Founding Fathers as an upholder of the Constitution, yet they both misunderstand American history.  For instance, Paul criticizes the Federal Reserve as unconstitutional, but fails to note that Congress established a central bank, the Bank of the United States, in 1791.  This was only three years after the Constitution was ratified. 

Likewise, Paul criticizes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as unconstitutional.  He fails to note, however, that Article I Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to “punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations,” such as genocides and crimes against humanity.  Military interventions are not new.  According to “the Savage Wars of Peace,” U.S. Marines landed abroad 180 times between 1800 and 1934, with one of the first actions, the war against the Barbary pirates, occurring during Thomas Jefferson’s administration in 1801.

As disturbing as their political beliefs is the ardor with which Paul’s disciples support their man.  Their fervor approaches the point of becoming a cult of personality.  They seem to see him as a Messiah-figure.  Many unabashedly pronounce their belief that Ron Paul is the only hope for the country and the world.  The only thing that comes close in recent U.S. history is the leftist adoration of Barack Obama prior to the 2008 election. 

When others fail to see the world as the Paulestinians do, they are denounced as “sheeple,” unthinking people who follow the crowd and do what they are told.  When presented with evidence contrary to their beliefs, they cite a conspiracy to cover up the “truth” (even though Paul hasn’t been silenced over his long career and the conspiracy sites are still up).  When Ron Paul suffers an electoral defeat, it is because he was ignored by the media, not because his ideas only appeal to a small, vocal minority.  (In 2008, he won less than three percent of the Republican primary votes in Georgia and less than two percent of delegates nationally.)

Admittedly, there are some casual supporters of Paul.  These are people who may have heard him in the debates and like his fiscal policies, without knowing the details of the man, his platform and his disciples.  Their existence is illustrated by Paul’s recent rise in the polls as Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich faltered.  These people have not yet been swept up into the world of paranoid fantasies that the Paulestinians inhabit.  Some will.  Others will take a closer look at the candidate and reject him as they have rejected other Republicans this primary season.

Nevertheless, if, by some miracle, Ron Paul became the Republican candidate in 2012, I would support him.  In spite of the good doctor’s foreign policy failings and questionable attitudes about race, his economic policies would make him a better president than Barack Obama…  but just barely.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Georgia Tech plays role in Climategate 2.0

Two years ago, before a UN climate conference in Copenhagen, an anonymous hacker revealed a trove of private emails in which climate scientists apparently colluded to cover up the lack of scientific evidence for global warming and discredit climate change skeptics. Several investigations of the emails in the US and the UK did not find wrongdoing on the part of the scientists. Under the Obama Administration, the scandal had little effect on federal climate policy.

Recently, just before the climate conference in Durban, South Africa, history repeated itself. A hacker calling himself “FOIA,” a reference to the Freedom of Information Act, released another bundle of more than 5,000 hacked emails. Many of the same figures from the 2009 release figure prominently in the 2011 release as well. The emails from both releases are compiled on the website in a searchable database. The emails span over ten years with the most recent dated November 10, 2009. Few media outlets in the US have picked up the story of the 2011 release.

The emails contain many examples of climate scientists making unguarded comments that are starkly different from their normal public statements. One scientist, Tommy Wils of the University of Swansea, cast doubt on the notion that climate science is settled: “Scientists talk about probabilities, not about truth or knowledge….” He continued, “What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal [sic] natural fluctuation? They'll kill us probably...” (1682).

Several scientists acknowledged the flaws in current climate models. Phil Jones, a prominent climatologist at the University of East Anglia, wrote that the “basic problem is that all models are wrong - not got enough middle and low level clouds” (email 4443). Rob Wilson of Edinburgh University wondered whether the sun might be responsible for warming. He wrote that “by weighting the solar irradiance more strongly in the models, then much of the 19th to mid 20th century warming can be explained from the sun alone” (2267). He worried that “Jeez - I sound like a sceptic [sic] - this is not my intension [sic].”

The Medieval Warm Period, a 400 year period from the 9th to the 13th century when temperatures were warm enough to allow limited agriculture in Greenland, was difficult for the climatologists to rationalize. Edward Cook of New York’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory wrote that the MWP “was more regionally extreme (mainly in terms of the frequency and duration of megadroughts [sic]) than anything we have seen in the 20th century, except perhaps for the Sahel. So in certain ways the MCA [Medieval Climatic Anomaly] period may have been more climatically extreme than in modern times.”

In another email, a Chinese scientist, Rean Guoyoo, wrote that “we did some analyses of the urban warming effect on surface air temperature trends in China, and we found the effect is pretty big…” (0044). Guoyoo went on to say, “Unfortunately, when we sent our comments [on how urban heat skews temperature readings] to the IPCC AR4 [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report], they were mostly rejected.” Guoyoo’s research seems to support anthropogenic warming locally, rather than globally.

In another email from 2004 that preceded the common usage of the term “climate change,” Asher Minns of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Bo Kjellen of the European Institute for Policy Studies discuss how “global warming freezing,” the idea that global warming might lead to a colder climate, causes public relations problems (4141). They discuss rebranding global warming as “climate change” to provide “a new story for the old news.”

A number of the emails refer to Georgia Tech. A Tech student, Jun Jian, requested and received climate data from East Anglia’s Phil Jones (1320). The email containing the data was also sent to Dr. Peter Webster, a professor at Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Dr. Webster apparently told Canadian mathematician and climate change skeptic Stephen McIntyre about the data. At the time, McIntyre was performing a statistical analysis of the famous “hockey stick graph.”

When McIntyre asked Jones for a copy of the data supplied to Georgia Tech, Jones apparently refused to supply it. According to one email (125676554), McIntyre then submitted a request for the data under the Freedom of Information Act and was again refused. When Jones refused requests for the data citing confidentiality agreements, readers of McIntyre’s blog,, submitted requests for the agreements and only a few were found to exist. Neither Webster nor McIntyre were immediately available for comment.

This is not necessarily conclusive proof that global warming is not real. As the Atlanta Creationism Examiner wrote in a recent article, there is still strong evidence that the human activity is warming the earth. However, the comments in many of the emails do show that the data is not as convincing as many would have it appear.

Some hardliners evidently took pains to hide this doubt. Phil Jones himself wrote that “one way to cover yourself… would be to delete all emails” (2440). Jones also said, “I've been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts.” Further, Jones wrote that “Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get - and has to be well hidden” (1577). Duke University’s Thomas Crowley assured Jones that “there will be no dirty laundry in the open” (2733). Crowley continued in another email (4693) that “truth” may not always be “worth reaching if it is at the cost of damaged personal relationships.” This attitude of secrecy and hiding data is at odds with the scientific ideal of objectively making predictions that can be verified and tested in the future.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Parental Advisory: Xbox Kinect game contains bestiality

gunstringerThere have been numerous debates about sex and violence in such popular video games as “Grand Theft Auto,” but many parents would probably be surprised to learn that a popular game being sold in a bundle with a sensor for Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect video game system contains scenes of graphic bestiality.

On a recent visit to an Atlanta-area Best Buy electronics store, the game was playing on the in-store Kinect demonstrator. The game, “The Gunstringer,” featured a skeletal cowboy who fights a surly lumberjack in a flashback. In the course of the fight, the lumberjack falls from a high platform and lands atop a large alligator. In a long scene, the lumberjack writhes atop the alligator in an unmistakably sexual manner.

The scene cuts away from the two to a movie audience, most of who look appalled with eyes wide and mouths agape. In one instance, a man watches laughing and the woman next to him angrily hits him. As the scene shifts to the next level of the game, the narrator speaks about the “terrible union” and the cowboy, now back in present day, must fight the offspring of the lumberjack and alligator.

The Gunstringer” is made by Twisted Pixel Games and is rated “T for Teen.” According to the company’s website, the game is about a “skeleton cowboy marionette” out to get revenge on members of his former posse who left him for dead. The website says that the Gunstringer witnessed the conception of the “gatorjack,” who is now one of the hero’s archenemies.

The manager of the Best Buy said that he was unaware of the content of the video game demo and stated that he would look into the situation. He agreed that the content was not appropriate for an open store floor where children of all ages could see and play the game.

Best Buy’s central customer service had a similar response in an email. A company spokesman wrote, “I wouldn’t want to pick up a demo to play and see that” (emphasis in the original) and promised to forward the information to “corporate offices and store upper management so this doesn’t happen in any store.” The email ended with an apology. On a subsequent visit to the same store, the Kinect demo was not playing at all.

A representative from Microsoft’s Xbox support team pointed out that the Xbox Kinect allows users to limit the type of content viewed on the game system based on the rating level of the game. This includes online and offline content such as video games, movies, and television shows. He apologized for the inappropriate content of the game and said that the Xbox Development Team would investigate “the Gunstringer” to determine whether the “T for Teen” rating is appropriate for the game.

Video games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). This is not a government agency, but a self-regulating trade group. According to the group’s description of the ratings on its website, “T for Teen” games may include “violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.” “Suggestive themes” are defined as “mild provocative references or materials.” “Crude humor” is “depictions or dialogue involving vulgar antics, including ‘bathroom’ humor.” ESRB content ratings for “the Gunstringer” also note that it contains “sexual themes.”

The response from Twisted Pixel Games was lukewarm and brief. Company spokesman Jay Stuckwisch said in an email, “Thanks for your concern and sorry you were offended by the game. We appreciate your feedback and understand why you would not be interested in purchasing the game.”

The problems with “the Gunstringer” illustrate the difficulties facing parents in protecting their children from inappropriate and offensive material. Dr. Phil recommends that, in addition to reviewing ratings for video games, movies and television shows, parents check company websites and talk to other parents to find out the details about what their children are being exposed to.


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