Patterico's Pontifications


New York Paper Reports That L.A. Drug Ring Was Funneling Money to Hezbollah

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:41 pm

The New York Daily News reports on an important Los Angeles story:

WASHINGTON – A seemingly small-time drug ring busted this week in Los Angeles was actually targeted for funding the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, the Daily News has learned.

Prosecutors left out the terror tie when they announced Tuesday that federal agents and local cops had arrested a dozen people for allegedly peddling cocaine and counterfeit clothing in Bell, Calif.

But several sources familiar with the investigation said the predominantly Arab-American gang was believed to have smuggled its crime cash to the Iranian-backed terror group.

“This was a classic case of terrorism financing, and it was pretty sophisticated how they did it,” a source close to Operation Bell Bottoms told The News.

Where is the Los Angeles Times on this? Close to nowhere. The paper reported on the arrests the other day, and dropped a couple of very veiled suggestions that there could be a terrorism connection. But the hints were as opaque as they could possibly be:

The focus of the federal investigation was Ali Khalil Elreda, 32, who was detained at Los Angeles International Airport last year, accused of trying to smuggle $120,000 in money orders and cashier’s checks, hidden in a child’s toy, to Lebanon, according to an indictment and an affidavit filed in the case.

In 2005, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department official showed a Senate committee a picture of a tattooed shop owner who had been arrested the year before on charges of selling counterfeit high-fashion merchandise. The tattoo was a symbol of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed guerrillas operating in Lebanon.

. . . .

[T]wo law enforcement sources said Tuesday that the merchant was Elreda.

The article also makes veiled allusions to a five-year-old interview with Asa Hutchinson in which he mentioned investigations in progress, including a “methamphetamine ring allegedly tied to Hezbollah.” The current ring is a cocaine ring.

It’s like the paper was told about the connection, but didn’t report it for some reason. So they just hinted at it.

Or maybe the New York paper just has better sources?

Taliban vandalizes Pakistani Buddha Statue

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 6:13 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Sometime in early 2001, the Taliban cited religious reasons to justify its destruction of two pre-Islamic Buddha statues in the stone cliffs of Bamiyan Afghanistan:

“The international community is reacting with sadness and anger over the destruction of priceless pre-Islamic statues in Afghanistan. *** The Taleban, the radical Islamic movement that rules Afghanistan, regarded the statues as false idols and ordered their destruction several weeks ago.”

Now the Taliban has vandalized a Buddha statue in the Swat Valley of Pakistan and threatens to destroy it completely:

“In a re-run of the horrible vandalism that destroyed the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan, Pakistani Taliban rebels have carried out a second attack on a historic 40-metre tall Buddha statue in the Swat valley, destroying the head, shoulders and feet. The rebels have threatened a third and final attack on the statue to reduce it to rubble.”

If they could, imagine what the Taliban and their supporters would do to non-Islamic religious sites in other countries.


“Why Don’t You Shut Up!”

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 4:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This is my idea of good diplomacy when it comes to dictators like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez:

“‘Why don’t you shut up!’

The words of King Juan Carlos 1 of Spain to the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, in the closing session of the Latin American summit today.

The Spanish monarch lost his cool when Chávez called the ex Spanish Prime Minister, José María Aznar, a fascist on several occasions. King Juan Carlos then got up and walked out of the session in a gesture without precedent, …”

H/T Instapundit – the deserving winner of Weblog 2007’s Best Individual Blogger.

The New York Times on COPS

Filed under: Media Bias — DRJ @ 2:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Fox TV show Cops presents its 700th episode this evening. I like Cops even though I only see it 3-4 times a year, but I may try to watch it more often now that I’ve read today’s article in the New York Times’ Television section:

“The Saturday night viewers who remain often answer the siren call of “Cops,” watching arrest after arrest in a series that reinforces the notion that order can always be restored. This Fox series — now rerun elsewhere — brings the police blotter to life, as if video had been added to the squawking radio channel on which police dispatchers deliver their lingo in staccato bursts.
It’s a pretty shopworn device after 18 years, as catchily monotonous as the reggae echo of “Bad Boys,” the show’s theme song. And yet “Cops” consistently improves on the scripted norms of police procedurals: It displays all the ugliness and ingenuity that even classic first-responder shows like “CHiPs” and “Emergency!” lacked. Dipping into a dozen episodes can teach viewers various ways to spot a suspect, subdue the inebriated and quell mayhem before someone gets hurt.”

I did weekly police ride-alongs for a year in law school and the show seems realistic to me. As the article notes, even the mundane is fascinating:

“The officers have seen almost every permutation of sin. So it’s kind of a thrill when they say, “That’s a new one.” The focus on mundane details can be fascinating: One patrolman explains that a car cutting through rain with an open window is a sign of trouble — it may be stolen, the window smashed in. An officer in San Bernardino, Calif., says of his territory, “It’s a good place to work — a lot of activity.” He means good as in there’s a lot of bad.”

The bulk of the article is positive but the author gets in a couple of digs at the series and the police, including this particularly nasty one [emphasis mine]:

“But in spite of the palpable danger and the blood spilled on both sides of the law, the series seems more like a sanitized catalog of arrests, an infomercial for various police fraternal orders, than a collection of true-crime stories. Epithets? Racial tensions? Excessive force? The videotape either omits or never captures such presumably common extremes.”

Even in its Television section, the NY Times never fails to disappoint.


The Afghanistan Opium Trade

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 12:14 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The British plan to pay Afghanistan poppy growers not to plant or harvest crops:

“Gordon Brown is planning a radical scheme to subsidise farmers in Afghanistan to persuade them to stop producing heroin, as part of a wide-ranging drive to re-energise policy in the conflict the prime minister now regards as the front line in the fight against terrorism.

The Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown has admitted that the rise in opium production in the country means Britain “cannot just muddle along in the middle” and must come up with more imaginative ideas on opium eradication.

Ministers are looking at what Lord Malloch-Brown describes as a system of payments loosely along the lines of the common agricultural policy to woo the Afghan farmers off opium production. The government is conducting joint research on suitable economic incentives with the World Bank.”

The British will also target middlemen and distributors through economic and other punitive methods, while hoping to win the voluntary support of producer-farmers through subsidy payments:

“Lord Malloch-Brown recently returned from Afghanistan to tell peers: “The Department of International Development is looking at whether we can put on a more formal and structured long-term basis what one would controversially describe as an Afghan equivalent of a CAP, with subsidised purchase of legal crops to make returns more like those from poppy.”

But he added: “We have to do a much better job of not targeting the farmers, the producers whose hearts and minds we are trying to win in the counter-insurgency effort. We have to target the industry above that – the financiers, the shippers, the drug big men who are benefiting from the production. We know who they are and the government of Afghanistan know who they are. A system banning them from travel, listing them and freezing their bank accounts, hitting at the industry’s infrastructure, strikes me as an area in which more can be done.”

He pointedly added that only the US favoured aerial spraying of opium crops.”

I grew up in a cotton-producing area where it was common for fields to lie fallow because of US government payments to induce farmers not to plant. It was quite popular with the cotton producers, and it’s worth a try to see if Afghani farmers will respond to similar economic incentives. It’s certainly a long overdue experiment.

In addition, I wouldn’t rule out spraying. Together they constitute a “carrot and stick” method that strikes me as a traditional Western approach to changing undesirable behavior.


Death Penalty Widow Withdraws Lawsuit (Updated)

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 10:45 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The lawsuit filed by the wife of Michael Richard, the Texas inmate executed in September, was abruptly and without explanation withdrawn by the plaintiff’s attorney the day after it was filed:

“The lawsuit filed with great fanfare this week by an executed killer’s wife against a judge for blocking the inmate’s last-minute appeal has been dropped — at least for now.

Civil rights lawyer Randall Kallinen said Friday that the dismissal is part of his strategy and that Wednesday’s news conference at the Houston federal courthouse was not a publicity stunt.

“I really cannot divulge my strategy right now, but I’m sure it will become evident in the near future,” Kallinen said.”

Legal experts speculated on the reasons for the voluntary dismissal:

“Legal experts said the lawyer’s strategy could range from second thoughts about his legal theory to displeasure with the assigned judge.

“One reason might be that he realized that it was a frivolous suit and at some point you’ll be sanctioned if you persist in a frivolous suit. He might have decided he got the publicity he wanted and why not dismiss it now?” University of Houston law professor Peter Hoffman said.

It would have been less costly to amend the original claim than pay another $350 civil filing fee, Hoffman added.

“It may be that he’s going to reformulate his theory and he’s going to try again, but I think it will be difficult for him to come up with a viable theory.”

South Texas College of Law professor James Paulsen said Kallinen could be judge shopping or perhaps the case contained an error. “It may be that what he’s doing is taking a free shot at another judge,” Paulsen said, adding that it may backfire if the court gives him the same jurist. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon and was scheduled for an initial conference in March before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy.

Another option involves making public statements about an active lawsuit, instead of slinging accusations. “Sometimes you are more protected when you are speaking about something that is a matter of public record,” Paulsen said.”

Who says law is boring? There’s something new every day.

There is an earlier post on this subject here.

Update Saturday, 11/10/2007: It looks like plaintiff and her counsel might have been judge-shopping because the case “has been withdrawn from one court and moved to another.”

See what I mean about something new every day?


Galveston Blogger Mom Update

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Education — DRJ @ 10:37 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Superintendent of Galveston (Texas) ISD released a statement late Friday recommending that the district cease legal action against the blogging Mom:

“It appeared late Friday that the district was backing down from its threat to sue a parent for defamation. In a statement issued late Friday afternoon, Superintendent Lynne Cleveland recommended that the district drop all legal action against a Web site it has accused of defamation.

Cleveland said she’s recommending backing off the legal action because she did not want to pull the focus away from the education of children any longer.

“I think I’ve made it very, very clear the reason I’m here is for the students,” she said. “The students have already suffered enough because of other issues out there that don’t pertain to their education, and I’m not going to let that happen to them anymore.”
Cleveland said Buzbee’s letter did not bring about her decision to drop legal action. She said she drafted her statement on Wednesday but waited two days to release it.”

Apparently the Superintendent’s statement was issued independent of the School board:

“Board President David O’Neal said he was not aware of Cleveland’s recommendation late Friday. He said the board would make the final decision.”

An earlier post on this topic is here.


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