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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 38,206

Journal Archives

A Smuggled Girl’s Odyssey of False Promises and Fear

EL PARAÍSO, Guatemala — The smugglers advertised on the radio as spring bloomed into summer: “Do you want to live better? Come with me.”

Cecilia, a restless wisp of a girl, heard the pitch and ached to go. Her stepfather had been murdered, forcing her, her mother and four younger siblings into her aunt’s tiny home, with just three beds for 10 people. It was all they had — and all a smuggler needed. He offered them a loan of $7,000 for Cecilia’s journey, with the property as a guarantee. “I gave him the original deed,” said Jacinta, her aunt, noting that the smuggler gave them a year to repay the loan, with interest. “I did it out of love.”

The trip lasted nearly a month, devolving from a journey of want and fear into an outright abduction by smugglers in the United States. Freedom came only after an extra $1,000 payment, made at a gas station in Fort Myers, Fla., as her kidnappers flashed a gun.

Now in Miami, Cecilia, 16, is one of more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors who have come to the United States illegally from Central America in less than a year. Though the number of new arrivals has been declining, the Obama administration says it is determined to “confront the smugglers of these unaccompanied children,” and the “cartels who tax or exploit them in their passage.”


France denies U.S. media story on al Qaeda defector agent: source

PARIS (Reuters) - A French defense ministry source denied on Monday a U.S. media report that a French intelligence officer had defected to al Qaeda's branch in Syria and was being targeted for elimination by U.S. air strikes.

McClatchy DC, a Washington DC-based news web site, reported citing several European intelligence sources that the former French officer was the highest ranking defector to go over to al Qaeda and that coalition powers had failed to kill him in several air strikes.

"After checks this morning, we can assert that the information concerning supposed links between the jihadist cited by the press and French intelligence services is totally erroneous," the French defense source said.

McClatchy cited sources saying the man, described as a former member of military intelligence, special forces or the external intelligence services, had survived attacks on eight locations held by the al Qaeda-linked Nusra front in Syria.

The coalition preferred to use missile strikes rather than capture the man to avoid his identity being revealed, McClatchy cited sources as saying.


Chicago ARTCC fire suspect appears in court

Chicago (CNN) -- A contract employee accused of setting a fire at a key Chicago air traffic control center made his first court appearance on Monday. The Friday incident created flight problems that rippled across the nation.

Brian Howard, 36, appeared before a judge in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, where the charge of destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities was explained to him, said his attorney, Ron Safer. Police said Friday's blaze was set intentionally by Howard before he apparently attempted to kill himself.

The charge is a felony that could bring a 20-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000. Howard will be detained at the Metropolitan Correction Center in Chicago until his next court appearance, Safer added. Thousands of flights into and out of Chicago's two major airports have been delayed or canceled since Friday's fire.

The situation improved Monday as the volume of traffic in the area increased, the FAA said. As of noon, the traffic at O'Hare International was 80% of the normal number of flights. At Chicago Midway International Airport, the figure was 90%.

The affidavit quoted a Facebook post's of Howard's: "Take a hard look at the mirror, I have. And this is why I am about to take out... and my life... I am sorry. Leaving you with a big mess. Do your best to move on quickly from me please. Feel like I give a shit for the first time in a long time again... but not for too long (haha!) So I'm gonna smoke this blunt and move on, take care everyone."


How a Blonde Tattooed Texas Girl Became an ISIS Twitter Star

Last Monday, I had 60 followers on Twitter. Today, I have more than 4,300. Not to brag or anything, but that’s more than Benjamin Wittes; more than Bobby Chesney; more than Jack Goldsmith; more than my boss, Daniel Byman. But here’s the problem: A healthy number of them are Islamic extremists, including no small number of supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). A lot of them live in Saudi Arabia.

And some of them want to marry me.

The reason is a single tweet.

Early last week, the hashtag “#MuslimApologies” began trending on Twitter. The hashtag was a tongue-in-cheek response to those—such as right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham—who, in the wake of the beheadings of Westerners by ISIS, have questioned why Muslims have not been more vocal about denouncing terrorism carried out in the name of Islam (except that many have). Tired of constantly being asked to apologize for the acts of a few vile individuals who twist Islam to justify their barbarism, Muslims on Twitter decided to take a humorous stand—by apologizing for everything: the Twilight saga, World Wars I and II, that Pluto is no longer a planet, and, my personal favorite, that Mufasa had to die in The Lion King. Some also used the hashtag to sarcastically apologize for the important contributions Islamic culture has made to the world, from algebra to coffee to the camera obscura.

Of course, I wanted to get in on the fun. After tweeting my sarcastic apology for the terrible ending of the television show LOST, I decided to tweet something a little more serious: a 140-character summary of my conversion story:

Jennifer Williams @jenn_ruth
Sorry I read the Quran to learn abt terrorist beliefs but ended up converting to Islam b/c of what it said. #MuslimApologies #sorrynotsorry

12:00 AM - 24 Sep 2014

11,540 Retweets 7,153 favorites


Kennett (PA) Democrats Facebook page hacked

KENNETT SQUARE >> With just weeks until the general election, the Facebook page of the Kennett Area Democrats was hacked and deleted, and some Democratic leaders say the timing of the crime is more than a coincidence.

Wayne Braffman, who lives on South Street in Kennett Square, is one of four administrators of the Kennett Area Democrats Facebook page. Last Friday afternoon, he did some work on the page, which has 3,252 fans. He took a short nap, and when he awoke, he found the account was still there, but he could not control it.

So he contacted the other three administrators, and all replied promptly they did not delete him as an administrator. At dinner with his wife, he told her he was thankful that the perpetrators did not delete the entire account.

His optimism was short lived. When he returned to his computer after dinner, the entire Kennett Area Democrats Facebook page was eradicated.

“Somebody was in there for several hours and I think they were playing with us,” Braffman said. “If their goal was to just take down the page, they could have done that the first time. It’s almost as if they wanted us to know. They took the administrators out first, then a couple of hours later, they took down the entire page.”


Politico: Is Obama’s assassination is the only thing that can save the Secret Service?

A controversial column in Politico claims that the Secret Service is being grossly mismanaged and that ultimately President Barack Obama is to blame.

The piece, titled “Something is Rotten in the Secret Service,” was published Tuesday. Author and former Washington Post reporter Ronald Kessler speculated that with the detail charged with protecting the president is such a state of disarray, “Five terrorists could come into the White House with grenades and wipe him out.”

“Agents tell me it’s a miracle an assassination has not already occurred,” Kessler wrote. “Sadly, given Obama’s colossal lack of management judgment, that calamity may be the only catalyst that will reform the Secret Service.”

Kessler — who has written books about the Secret Service, the FBI and a 2004 book praising Pres. George W. Bush called A Matter of Character — lays the blame for recent Secret Service mishaps and oversights squarely at the feet of the agency’s first woman director, Julia Pierson.

Pierson’s leadership, he argued, has rendered the agency “arrogant” and reckless. She punishes competence, he said, and rewards her lackeys for not contradicting her narrative.


I'll take "Shameless Profiting off of Racial Stereotypes" for $400, Alex

Meet the White People Behind 'Thug Kitchen'

For over a year, the anonymous authors behind the blog Thug Kitchen entertained their audience with a mixture of healthy recipes and profane ejaculations with a borderline cringey "thug" affectation. Reddit loves it. Gwyneth Paltrow thinks it's hilarious and good. Now, the faces behind Thug Kitchen have been revealed: and they're a couple of white people in California.

If you watch their brand new cookbook's preview, you can catch them making a cameo at about 1:26.

An intrepid writer for recipe giant Epicurious tracked down Matt Holloway and Michelle Davis in their Hollywood apartment, where they were preparing roasted beer and lime cauliflower tacos (a recipe they'd later post on their blog). Here's how Holloway talks in real life:

"There were these paragraphs where the writer would wax poetic about recipes," says Holloway. "The lifestyle, the food—we couldnt identify with anything that was out there."

The idea behind Thug Kitchen, I guess, is that it gives its readers instructions on how to make healthy vegan food using simple recipes and fresh ingredients, plus a lot of "motherfucker" and "aw yeah, bitch." There's also invocation of the word "thug," a word recently most frequently associated with white people denigrating the black victims of violent crime. Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, famously christened a "thug" by some commentators after yelling about football during a post-game interview, famously said that "thug" is a new way to call somebody the n-word.

And now Thug Kitchen by Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway is a book.


Thug Kitchen: A Recipe in Blackface

hen I first clicked through the recipes at Thug Kitchen, a tongue-in-cheek, vegan cooking blog served up with a heaping side of expletives, I imagined a calorie-conscious, gangly young black man who’s particularly vehement about clean eating, insistently tapping recipes into his blog while Dead Prez reverberates in the background. He has a good eye, too, as he complements such recipes as “Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Quinoa and Motherf--king Cranberries” with Pinterest-worthy pics and the tagline, “Eat like you give a f--k.”

With African Americans especially plagued with obesity and the accompanying stressors and diseases, it was a refreshing idea that a young black man would be the purveyor of not just healthy eating but vegan cuisine at that, a leap that some health-conscious folks might find it difficult to make, given the restrictions on eggs and dairy in addition to meats.

More Auntie Fee than Chef G. Garvin, the blog would likely discourage trading recipes word for word with your mom. Still, I was inspired. To me, Thug Kitchen could have helped whip up a healthy eating movement akin to those of the natural-hair purists or, say, Black Girls Run— which are all uplifting healthwise for black folks and enforce a positive message for us. Would Chef G. Garvin or Chef Roblé feature the up-and-comer? Might he be cooking with the Neelys one day?

With more than 51,000 followers on Twitter, a couple of endorsements from Gwyneth Paltrow and a new cookbook released to much fanfare, the mystery blogger behind the well-trafficked site was poised and ready to emerge from the shadows and join fellow next-level black entrepreneurs.

An Epicurious profile revealed one astonishing caveat, however: The Thug Kitchen creator isn’t exactly a black entrepreneur—or black at all.

In the spirit of Thug Kitchen language, what the f--k?

The blog is actually the brainchild of a white man and white woman who started it in August 2012 on Tumblr.

“Months later, after a bit of detective work and a fair amount of sweet-talking, I found myself driving through East Hollywood on the way to sample some dairy-free ice cream from Scoops, blasting Gucci ‘Lemonade’ with the windows down. I was rolling with Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway, both 29, aka the pair behind Thug Kitchen,” reads Matt Duckor’s profile of the duo, which revealed the pair’s identity for the first time.

Le sigh.

It would be the same if one discovered that Suri’s Burn Book was actually ghostwritten by Suge Knight. Or if the Rev. Jesse Jackson was secretly the one behind those abhorrent People magazine tweets from last week.

Is it really any coincidence that the Thug Kitchen bloggers waited this long to reveal their true identity? They had to know that it would be incongruous and wouldn’t fly if they told readers from the beginning that they were white.

Their recently released commercial is full of white people, young and old, touting the benefits of eating healthy thanks to the cookbook. One woman says that she is no longer lazy about the food she gives her family: “Now that I have the Thug Kitchen cookbook, I don’t play that s--t anymore.”


It’s deceptive and feels a lot like the latest iteration of nouveau blackface. It stirs up the same anomalous feelings one has when one sees a tweet from an Iggy Azalea fan account dubbing her and Macklemore the queen and king of rap.


A boy was accused of taking a backpack. The courts took the next three years of his life.

In the early hours of Saturday, May 15, 2010, ten days before his seventeenth birthday, Kalief Browder and a friend were returning home from a party in the Belmont section of the Bronx. They walked along Arthur Avenue, the main street of Little Italy, past bakeries and cafés with their metal shutters pulled down for the night. As they passed East 186th Street, Browder saw a police car driving toward them. More squad cars arrived, and soon Browder and his friend found themselves squinting in the glare of a police spotlight. An officer said that a man had just reported that they had robbed him. “I didn’t rob anybody,” Browder replied. “You can check my pockets.”

The officers searched him and his friend but found nothing. As Browder recalls, one of the officers walked back to his car, where the alleged victim was, and returned with a new story: the man said that they had robbed him not that night but two weeks earlier. The police handcuffed the teens and pressed them into the back of a squad car. “What am I being charged for?” Browder asked. “I didn’t do anything!” He remembers an officer telling them, “We’re just going to take you to the precinct. Most likely you can go home.” Browder whispered to his friend, “Are you sure you didn’t do anything?” His friend insisted that he hadn’t.

At the Forty-eighth Precinct, the pair were fingerprinted and locked in a holding cell. A few hours later, when an officer opened the door, Browder jumped up: “I can leave now?” Instead, the teens were taken to Central Booking at the Bronx County Criminal Court.

Browder had already had a few run-ins with the police, including an incident eight months earlier, when an officer reported seeing him take a delivery truck for a joyride and crash into a parked car. Browder was charged with grand larceny. He told me that his friends drove the truck and that he had only watched, but he figured that he had no defense, and so he pleaded guilty. The judge gave him probation and “youthful offender” status, which insured that he wouldn’t have a criminal record.

Late on Saturday, seventeen hours after the police picked Browder up, an officer and a prosecutor interrogated him, and he again maintained his innocence. The next day, he was led into a courtroom, where he learned that he had been charged with robbery, grand larceny, and assault. The judge released his friend, permitting him to remain free while the case moved through the courts. But, because Browder was still on probation, the judge ordered him to be held and set bail at three thousand dollars. The amount was out of reach for his family, and soon Browder found himself aboard a Department of Correction bus. He fought back panic, he told me later. Staring through the grating on the bus window, he watched the Bronx disappear. Soon, there was water on either side as the bus made its way across a long, narrow bridge to Rikers Island.

Of the eight million people living in New York City, some eleven thousand are confined in the city’s jails on any given day, most of them on Rikers, a four-hundred-acre island in the East River, between Queens and the Bronx. New Yorkers who have never visited often think of Rikers as a single, terrifying building, but the island has ten jails—eight for men, one for women, and one so decrepit that it hasn’t housed anyone since 2000.

Male adolescents are confined in the Robert N. Davoren Center—known as R.N.D.C. When Browder arrived, the jail held some six hundred boys, aged sixteen to eighteen. Conditions there are notoriously grim. In August of this year, a report by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York described R.N.D.C. as a place with a “deep-seated culture of violence,” where attacks by officers and among inmates are rampant. The report featured a list of inmate injuries: “broken jaws, broken orbital bones, broken noses, long bone fractures, and lacerations requiring stitches.”

Browder’s family could not afford to hire an attorney, so the judge appointed a lawyer named Brendan O’Meara to represent him. Browder told O’Meara that he was innocent and assumed that his case would conclude quickly. Even the assistant district attorney handling the prosecution later acknowledged in court papers that it was a “relatively straightforward case.” There weren’t hours of wiretaps or piles of complicated evidence to sift through; there was just the memory of one alleged victim. But Browder had entered the legal system through the Bronx criminal courts, which are chronically overwhelmed. Last year, the Times, in an extended exposé, described them as “crippled” and among the most backlogged in the country. One reason is budgetary. There are not nearly enough judges and court staff to handle the workload; in 2010, Browder’s case was one of five thousand six hundred and ninety-five felonies that the Bronx District Attorney’s office prosecuted. The problem is compounded by defense attorneys who drag out cases to improve their odds of winning, judges who permit endless adjournments, prosecutors who are perpetually unprepared. Although the Sixth Amendment guarantees “the right to a speedy and public trial,” in the Bronx the concept of speedy justice barely exists.


Putin considers plan to unplug Russia from the internet 'in an emergency'

The Kremlin is considering radical plans to unplug Russia from the global internet in the event of a serious military confrontation or big anti-government protests at home, Russian officials hinted on Friday.

President Vladimir Putin will convene a meeting of his security council on Monday. It will discuss what steps Moscow might take to disconnect Russian citizens from the web "in an emergency", the Vedomosti newspaper reported. The goal would be to strengthen Russia's sovereignty in cyberspace. The proposals could also bring the domain .ru under state control, it suggested.

Russian TV and most of the country's newspapers are under the Kremlin's thumb. But unlike in China, the Russian internet has so far remained a comparatively open place for discussion, albeit one contested by state-sponsored bloggers and Putin fans.

The move comes at a time when Russia has been bitterly critical of the western media, which Moscow says has adopted a biased attitude towards events in Ukraine. Russian channels have portrayed the conflict in Ukraine as a heroic fight against "fascists" in Kiev. They have disputed western reports that Russian soldiers and heavy weapons are involved. A BBC team that went to investigate reports of Russian servicemen killed in Ukraine was beaten up this week.

According to Vedomosti, Russia plans to introduce the new measures early next year. The Kremlin has been wrestling for some time with how to reduce Russia's dependency on American technology and digital infrastructure, amid fears that its communications are vulnerable to US spying. It has mooted building a "national internet", which would in effect be a domestic intranet. These proposals go further, expanding the government's control over ordinary Russian internet users and their digital habits.


This is the part where I make my obligatory snide one-liner about Snowden, but since it's Friday I'll skip it...

Pass the Brewski? Pabst Sold to Russian Company

Attention, hipsters. Pabst Brewing Company — and its signature Pabst Blue Ribbon, the ironic, iconic favorite of the young and the cool — has sold to a Russian beverage firm after a century and a half of American ownership, an investing firm announced Thursday. Oasis Beverages, the largest independent brewer in Russia, bought Pabst, which also produces Colt .45, Old Milwaukee and Lone Star beers, according to a statement by the American investment firm TSG Consumer Partners, which will hold a minority stake.

Oasis Board Chairman Eugene Kashper said, “Pabst Blue Ribbon is the quintessential American brand — it represents individualism, egalitarianism and freedom of expression — all the things that make this country great." PBC's headquarters will remain in Los Angeles, according to the statement, but the terms of the sale were not disclosed. Pabst was established in 1844 in Milwaukee, according to the brewer's website. PBC was bought by investor Dean Metropoulos in 2010, and since then, he has managed the company with his two sons, Evan and Darren. "We are very supportive of the new ownership group and their exciting plans for the future," Metropoulos said.

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