Goodbye, Robin Williams

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Robin Williams as Mork

Robin Williams as Mork on the ‘Mork and Mindy’ show.

Like everyone else on the planet, I was stunned and saddened to read the news last night of comedian Robin Williams’ death:

Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams, who dazzled in such wide-ranging dramatic and comedic roles as alien, nanny, therapist and cartoon genie during a four-decades long career, was found dead in his northern California home in a suspected suicide Monday. He was 63.

The Marin County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that Williams was found unconscious and not breathing in his home around noon. The statement said the investigation into Williams’ death is ongoing, but the coroner “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.”

The Marin County coroner’s office said Williams was last seen alive at home at about 10 p.m. Sunday. An emergency call from his house in Tiburon was placed to the Sheriff’s Department shortly before noon Monday.

A representative for Williams said in a statement the actor had been battling “severe depression of late.”

“This is a tragic and sudden loss,” Mara Buxbaum said. “The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

Williams’ wife Susan Schneider said in a statement she is devastated and asked for privacy.

“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” she said. “I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

Williams publicly struggled with addiction during his career and most recently went to rehab in June to “fine tune” his sobriety, his rep said at the time.

Naturally, Twitter erupted, and his fellow celebrities expressed their shock, sadness, and condolences over the loss of this remarkable, unforgettable man who touched the lives of so many.

The death of someone is never easy to handle, but when you read it’s from apparent suicide, your heart just absolutely breaks, and you wonder “what could I have done that maybe would have led to a different outcome?”

If you’re in a position in your life where you think hope is lost, IT ISN’T. Reach out and talk to someone. If you want it to remain anonymous, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline.  1-800-273-TALK (8255).  You are never alone, and please always remember that people care about and love you.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Williams’ family.  It goes without saying that although he is gone, he will not be forgotten.

Romney on Iraq: “Our foreign policy is run by bumbling incompetents”

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**Posted by Phineas

Okay, okay. Mitt didn’t really say that; I was just interpreting what I take to be the subtext of this interview with NBC’s David Gregory:

Via National Review, here’s the key passage:

“This administration, from Secretary Clinton to President Obama, has repeatedly underestimated the threats faced by America, has repeatedly underestimated our adversaries,” he said on Meet the Press. “Whether that’s Russia, or Assad, or ISIS, or al-Qaeda itself, it has not taken the action necessary to prevent bad things from happening; it has not used our influence to do what is necessary to protect our interests.”

Emphasis added. I think “repeatedly underestimated” is the typically nice, Romney-esque way of saying “bumbling incompetence,” don’t you?

The foreign crises we’re facing are no laughing matter, but a small part of me can’t help but hope Mitt is feeling some vindication; time and again, after being ridiculed in the campaign for being out of touch with our Brave New World of Smart Power, he’s been shown to be right, and the Obama team (including their MSM cheerleaders) spectacularly wrong.

I probably would have found myself at odds with “President Romney” fairly often over domestic issues, had he and Paul Ryan won, but I’ve always been impressed with Mitt’s solid grasp of America’s foreign interests and the challenges facing them, ever since I read his speech in Herzliya, Israel, in 2007. In a way and to a depth that President Obama and his “team of unicorns” never will, Mitt gets it. And I feel safe in saying he would not have made the boneheaded mistakes that are the hallmark of the current mis-administration.

It’s a shame he didn’t win.

PS: I haven’t written about the crisis in Iraq, yet, because I’m still processing what’s happening there. I’ll leave the instant commentary to people desperate to show this proves what they always believed and wanted to be true, whatever that happens to be. But I will say this: in 2009, George W. Bush, in spite of whatever mistakes his administration made from 2003-2009 in Iraq, left President Obama and Iraq Prime Minister Maliki a winnable situation; all they had to do was show prudence and wisdom. All they had to do was not screw it up.

Yet they both did just that. And I have no idea how this situation can be salvaged.

PPS: Remember the “purple finger woman” of 2005? I hope she’s alright.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Obamacare Chronicles: another cancer victim loses the insurance she likes

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**Posted by Phineas

"You're welcome, America!"

“You’re welcome, America!”

We knew Edie Sundby wouldn’t be the only one. In Virginia Beach, grandmother and kidney-cancer sufferer Debra Fishericks was happy with the coverage she has, but the federal government wasn’t. Guess who won?

“We were happy,” says the business owner. “We had great insurance. We had continuing care for our employees.”

Says the owner, “Great–until owner Betsy Atkinson learned the policy would be terminated because it doesn’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.”

Great work there, Democrats. Your genius plan is not only making healthcare worse in this country, but it’s going to get people killed.

(h/t The Weekly Standard)

RELATED: From my beloved Golden State, read how one family is having to scrimp and save every penny, because Obamacare is wreaking havoc on their finances. At least they’re not having to consider bankruptcy because of the ACA. Yet. Meanwhile, Covered CA (the state Obamacare exchange) teamed with SEIU and the California Endowment to hold a sign-up party in Sacramento, probably because not enough of the young and healthy are volunteering to be fodder for the ACA vampire. Of the roughly 1,500 people who showed up for the one-day event, ten completed applications, while less than 50 others had even started one.

Forward!

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Leading from behind will lose us Iraq

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**Posted by Phineas

This is potentially very bad:

After a week of violence in Iraq in which more than 170 Iraqis, including tribesmen, soldiers, and policemen have been killed in clashes during Sunni protests in Salahuddin province, the Awakening is preparing to take up arms against the Iraqi government. On April 24, Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the Awakening, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that “from Fallujah to Al Qaim” the tribes are coordinating and “united” to battle the government if need be.

For those who don’t recall, the “Anbar Awakening” was an alliance of mostly Sunni tribes in western Iraq, which aligned itself with the US military starting around 2006 after having had enough of the atrocities committed against them by al Qaeda in Iraq. (1) To say they were crucial to our victory during the surge would be no less than the truth.  Without the Awakening, we don’t benefit from pacified areas that allow us to concentrate against al Qaeda and the Shiite militias, and we don’t have the eyes and ears of locals who know the situation on the ground far better than we do.

In return, we acted as interlocutors between the local tribes and the new, mostly Shiite national government, mediating the frictions caused by, literally, centuries of bad blood between the two sects. In the politics of Iraq, our military was essential to keeping the peace the surge won, not just because of our military power, but because we were the only group both sides trusted. If an American officer said something would get done, it would get done — and done honestly. It is almost impossible to put a value on the worth of that trust.

But now, with the Americans gone after Obama’s half-hearted, bungling efforts to negotiate a status of forces agreement, all that is in danger of falling apart as the groups revert to old habits and the Syrian civil war draws them in:

Without military forces in country, the US has been unable to support the Iraqi government in its counterterrorism campaign against al Qaeda in Iraq, or to serve as a buffer and broker between Iraq’s ethnic groups. The US has also diplomatically abandoned the Sunni tribes in Anbar and other provinces, despite promises to remain engaged with the Awakening after the pivotal alliance that drastically improved Iraq’s security from 2006 to 2008.

(…)

Without US forces, al Qaeda in Iraq gained the time and space to regroup and rebuild, and has established a potent fighting force inside Syria as the Al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda’s affiliate there). Continued access to the tribes would have pressed the advantage against a previously decimated al Qaeda in Iraq and could have given the US a foothold to support non-Salafi jihadist rebels inside Syria as well (the tribes in western Iraq extend into Syria).

I said when we liberated Iraq that we had to be prepared to be there for 50 years, using our soldiers and our diplomacy as a shield while Iraq developed the habits of constitutional government and a healthy civil society, much like we did with South Korea. It wasn’t guaranteed to work, but I believe it had a good chance. Now we may never know, however, for if the tribes do revolt and the Syrian civil war does spread into Iraq –with inevitable Iranian involvement– then Barack Obama’s “Diffidence Doctrine” will have succeeded in taking all the blood and treasure we spent there and flushing it down a toilet.

Excuse me while I go find a wall to bang my head against.

Footnote:
(1) Such as killing their children, then hiding explosives under the bodies so the parents would be killed when they tried to recover their children’s corpses. If any group ever needed killing…

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Israel: Anniversary of a jihad mass-murder

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**Posted by Phineas

Two years ago this week, five members the Fogel family of the West Bank village of Itamar were murdered — stabbed and their throats slit by Muslims waging jihad fi sabil Allah: “war for the sake of Allah.”

Udi Fogel and his family: victims of jihad

Udi Fogel and his family: victims of jihad

Only three children survived; they’re now living with their grandparents:

…14-year-old Tamar, 10-year-old Roi and four-year-old Yishai and have been taken in by Rabbi Yehuda and Tali Ben-Yishai, the parents of Ruth Fogel. In an interview published Friday in Israel Hayom, Rabbi Ben-Yishai said of his daughter, son-in-law and three slain grandchildren, “They’re always with us.”

“What happened was so inhuman that we have gained superhuman strength,” grandmother Tali said. “We know these children will be great people. They will be all right. They will not be damaged. They’re not in trauma anymore. Some children are afraid of what happens around them, but they’re not like that. They’re not the sort who don’t want to go to school or don’t want to get out of bed and spend the day crying.”

For that, we can be glad.

Sadly, the murderers are also alive, serving their sentences in an Israeli jail. It’s a shame and a denial of justice for there to have been no death penalty for this case.

RELATED: Earlier posts on the massacre of the Fogel family.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Horrific: Cannibalism in North Korea

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**Posted by Phineas

Hope and Change?

At least he’s well-fed.

This is the end-state of totalitarianism, if it doesn’t reform like China or collapse on itself like East Germany and the USSR — parents eating their children:

A starving man in North Korea has been executed after murdering his two children for food, reports from inside the secretive state claim.

A ‘hidden famine’ in the farming provinces of North and South Hwanghae is believed to have killed up to 10,000 people and there are fears that incidents of cannibalism have risen.

The grim story is just one to emerge as residents battle starvation after a drought hit farms and shortages were compounded by party officials confiscating food.

Undercover reporters from Asia Press told the Sunday Times that one man dug up his grandchild’s corpse and ate it. Another, boiled his own child for food.

Despite reports of the widespread famine, Kim Jong Un, 30, has spent vast sums of money on two rocket launches in recent months.

There are fears he is planning a nuclear test in protest at a UN Security Council punishment for the recent rocket launches and to counter what it sees as US hostility.

One informant was quoted as saying: ‘In my village in May a man who killed his own two children and tried to eat them was executed by a firing squad.’

The government had apparently been requisitioning stealing food from the countryside to make sure those allowed to live in the capital (and thus most likely to be seen by foreigners) had plenty to eat. Then a drought hit, crops failed, and the last shreds of humanity fell away.

Meanwhile, Boy-Emperor Kim Jong Un and his disgusting toadies throw a banquet to celebrate their latest toys.

I’ve often described North Korea as “the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation.” Scratch that. It’s the world’s largest abattoir.

Republican insiders "help" Paul Ryan

North Korean country home cooking

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Afghanistan: US soldier murders 16 Afghan civilians?

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**Posted by Phineas

Horrifying news.

An American soldier apparently went nuts in Afghanistan and gunned down 16 civilians in a village. From the BBC via Threat Matrix:

The soldier has not been named, but is thought to be a staff sergeant.

He is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 local time (22:30 GMT Saturday) and headed to nearby villages, moving methodically from house to house.

“Eleven members of my family are dead. They are all dead,” Haji Samad, an elder from Najeeban village, told the AFP news agency.

Haji Sayed Jan, from Alkozai village, was quoted by the AFP as saying: “My home was attacked and I lost four family members”.

A delegation from the provincial governor’s office has arrived in the village to determine exactly what happened, a spokesman said.

The soldier – who had reportedly suffered a breakdown before the attacks – is said to have handed himself over to the US military authorities after carrying out the killings.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said in a statement that US officials in Afghanistan would work with their Afghan counterparts to investigate what happened.

These are first reports and we can expect some part of them to turn out wrong, of course, but one has to wonder why a soldier who had “suffered a breakdown” was still in Afghanistan or even allowed a weapon.

Regardless, while doing all it can to quell the almost-inevitable furor, the Administration should resist any demands to turn him over to Afghan authorities for “justice.” He should be tried and, if found guilty, punished as dictated by Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This will almost surely make the riots after the Qur’an burning incident look like Sunday in the park; the Taliban are already exploiting this for all it’s worth. In a tribal shame-and-honor culture, revenge killings are the norm. Let’s hope any precautions taken are enough to prevent other American and Coalition soldiers from suffering for this man’s crime.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Nightmare in Norway: at least 92 dead, and the question of religion

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**Posted by Phineas

How awful for them:

Norwegian police said Saturday that the death toll from Friday’s attacks has risen to 92 and confirmed that they have arrested a suspect whom they described as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist.

In a news conference Saturday morning in Oslo, police confirmed that they had arrested Anders Behring Breivik, 32, on suspicion of orchestrating both the Oslo bombing and the youth-camp shooting rampage and had begun searching two apartments that he owns.

Breivik reportedly owns four properties including a farm on the outskirts of Oslo, allegedly to enable him to store legally a large amount of fertilizer.

Police would not comment on whether he acted alone but said no other arrests have been made. They said Breivik had no criminal record.

They would not speculate on his motives, but said, based own his own Twitter and Facebook accounts, he appeared to be a right-wing Christian fundamentalist.

Police say he was arrested by security forces at the Labor Party youth camp on the island of Utoya after the shootings. They said 84 people were killed on the island. At least seven were killed in the Oslo bombing.

Police Chief Oystein Maeland told reporters that they could not confirm the number of victims would stop at 92, adding that the attack had reached “catastrophic dimensions.”

He said officers were still “looking in the water around the island for more victims.”

It appears Breivik stalked the island for an hour-and-a-half, shooting the teens wherever he found them. The survivor accounts in the rest of the article are just horrifying. And there’s something dreadfully wrong with Norwegian law if the worst he can face is only 21 years in prison.

The issue of “why” remains unresolved and it likely won’t be settled for weeks, though it bears resemblances to both the attack on the Murragh Building in Oklahoma City for its anti-government angle and the massacre of children that occurred at Columbine and Dunblane.

The role of religion as motive is obviously going to play a role, however. Yesterday I hypothesized that this might have been an act of jihad — inspired by Islam. I wasn’t alone in my speculation, as the pattern of the attack fit previous jihadist operations: near-simultaneous attacks aimed at mass casualties (Bali, London, Madrid), the focus on children (Beslan), and a history of Islamic terror threats against Norway, including threats to kill government officials. Violent jihad is central to Islam. And lest anyone say that, even if this were an act of jihad, Islam wouldn’t permit the killing of innocent children, let me point out that Muhammad himself defined “innocent child” differently than we.

Now it appears that a narrative is building that this sociopath acted out of “Christian fundamentalism,” whatever that is. If that takes hold, and I say this as a thoroughly secular person, it would be grossly unfair and a slander against religious Christians because, unlike Islam, their faith forbids just this kind of action and makes it a mortal sin. The Fifth Commandment is, “You shall not murder.”

In other words, for Breivik to do what he did here or, more locally, for a Christian to gun down an abortionist, he necessarily acts against his religion. Not so with the jihadist, and I can see another false equivalence being created that needs to be pushed back against for the sake of moral and intellectual clarity and truth.

And the core truth at this time is that Breivik, regardless of whatever reason he did this, is an immensely evil human being, and that our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and the Norwegian nation in this awful time.

LINKS: More from Power Line and Hot Air, and ST. Also The Anchoress.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Jihadist murderers of the Fogel family captured

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**Posted by Phineas

Udi Fogel and his family: victims of jihad

Most of the Fogel family was slaughtered a little over a month ago by Muslims waging jihad fi sabil Allah — “war for the sake of Allah.” Each person in the photo above was killed their home as the family prepared to go to bed: Udi (36), his wife Ruth (35), their children Yoav (11, bottom center), Elad (4, bottom left), and and Hadas (3 months). Ruth and Udi were surprised, fought back, but were killed in their bedroom. Hadas —the infant!— had his throat slit so deep he was almost decapitated. Three children survived: one, a toddler, was found next to his parents’ corpses, trying to make them “wake up.”

Now, weeks later, there’s been a break in the case: Israeli authorities tracked down and arrested the killers, two teenaged members of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine:

Two Palestinian youths from the village of Awarta were arrested in recent days for the brutal slaying of five members of the Fogel family in their Itamar home last month, the IDF and Shin Bet said on Sunday following the lifting of a media ban on the investigation.

The suspects have been named as Hakim Maazan Niad Awad, an 18-year-old high school student, and Amjad Mahmud Fauzi Awad, 19, both from the West Bank village of Awarta, located 2 kilometers south of the settlement of Itamar.

The suspects have confessed to the stabbings and re-enacted the murders, security forces said on Sunday. According to Army Radio, they did not express remorse for their crimes.

Both men are affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) terror group and received significant assistance from family members and friends after the attack, security forces added.

The article also points out that these two went back to kill the baby, after they heard it start crying.

Nothing will ever return the Fogels to life, nor undo the horror the surviving children must live with for the rest of their lives. At least they’ll receive some small measure of justice, but it can never be enough.

PS: It’s a damned shame Israel abolished the death penalty, for if anyone ever deserved to hang by the neck and have their corpses left for the vultures, it’s Hakim and Amjad Awad. But, you know what? The worst they’ll likely get is life, and, given the sick, twisted nature of Palestinian society, they’ll be celebrated as heroes.

via Legal Insurrection

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

What people value: compare and contrast

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** Posted by Phineas

Some of the most profound lessons are taught through irony, that striking contrast between what we would expect to happen in a sequence of events and what really does happen. Last week, the Fogel family was nearly wiped out, parents and children —an infant!— slaughtered as they laid down for the evening by Muslim jihadists of the Palestinian Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

Then, yesterday, a Palestinian woman rushes to the gates of the village where the Fogels’ relatives were sitting shiva and begged for help to save her baby. Did the Israelis, still in mourning for the dead and still angry over the atrocity, do the predictable thing and turn her away?

No, in fact:

Just as IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz arrived in Neve Tzuf to offer his condolences, a Palestinian cab raced towards the community’s entrance. In it, soldiers and paramedics discovered a Palestinian woman in her 20s in advanced stages of labor and facing a life-threatening situation: The umbilical cord was wrapped around the young baby girl’s neck, endangering both her and her mother.

The quick action of settler paramedics and IDF troops deployed in the area saved the mother’s and baby’s life, prompting great excitement and emotions at the site where residents are still mourning the brutal death of five local family members.

And so a people whose culture values life —“l’chaim!” “To life!”— rush to save the life of a mother and child, even though they come from their enemies and even though they themselves are still reeling from what happened.

Meanwhile, a people whose culture values death over life pass out sweets to celebrate the successful murder of a mother and her children.

Quite a contrast.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)