HAMMERNEWS- Michael Hammerschlag

Current Political Commentary by journalist Michael Hammerschlag; Thoughts on foreign policy, Republican outrages, liberal strategies, science by 8 year correspondent in Russia/Ukraine over 22 years and longtime commentator; Website: http://HAMMERNEWS.com

Friday, November 25, 2005


The tragic shooting of a poor bipolar passenger from Quito (changed planes in Miami to one originating in Medellin so had been through Customs and security), US citizen + Orlando resident Rigoberto Alpizar, shows the risk of hair trigger security. Although vigilance would be expected on a plane from the world's drug capital (now Kabul?), there really was no need to shoot to kill a guy on the tarmac, running away from the plane, especially after his poor wife had screamed he was mentally ill. Even if a bomb had gone off there, the only victim would've been Alpizar. According to NYT, an analysis "found that mentally ill people were four times more likely than members of the general public to be killed by the police." Yeah, people are now saying there was no mention of a bomb by Alpizar and a brutal overreaction by Marshalls: "I was on the phone with my brother. Somebody came down the aisle and put a shotgun to the back of my head and said put your hands on the seat in front of you. I got my cell phone karate chopped out of my hand." Well trained doesn't just mean ability to act with brutal precision, it means ability to discern real threats and not slaughter a harmless whacko.
FoxNews Dec9- McAlhany said he "absolutely never heard the word 'bomb' at all."
"The first time I heard the word 'bomb' was when I was interviewed by the FBI," McAlhany said. "They kept asking if I heard him say the B-word. I said no. They said, 'Are you sure?' And I am."
Added another passenger, Mary Gardner: "I did not hear him say that he had a bomb." Oh, it's worse- Freedom Forum article claims many airmarshalls failed shooting tests so they dropped marksmanship requirements and they hired people who failed police psych tests and even were refused jobs as prison guards. Only 48 pilots have been allowed to carry firearms.

FROM ANOTHER FLIGHT: "a passenger got up and began rummaging in the overhead bin. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the trouble began when a man described as “fortyish and disheveled made inappropriate comments to a female passenger a few rows behind him.” Two plainclothes air marshals jumped up and tackled the guy, shoving him first to the back of the plane and then dragging him to the first-class area.
Then the trip got interesting. One of the marshals returned to the front of the coach section, drew his Glock semiautomatic pistol, and started screaming and pointing his gun at passengers.
Philadelphia judge James Lineberger, a passenger on the flight, commented,
I assumed at that moment that there was going to be some sort of gun battle.... There were individuals looking to see what they were pointing at and [the air marshals] were yelling, “Get down, get out — get your head out of the aisle.”

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Dec 9 Federal officials from several agencies said Alpizar repeatedly made that claim and reached for a backpack, leaving the two air marshals little choice but to open fire on the jetway just outside the plane's doors.
Several of the 113 passengers who arrived in Orlando from Miami, however, said Alpizar may have been delusional and ran out of the plane only because he feared a bomb was on board.
The task of sorting out exactly what happened falls mainly to the Miami-Dade Police department, which is in charge of the homicide investigation. Miami-Dade Police Lt. Veronica Ferguson issued a statement saying early indications point to Alpizar running frantically from the airplane "with a backpack strapped to his chest, yelling that he had a bomb."
Detective Juan Del Castillo said people on the plane other than the marshals also heard the bomb threats. After running off the plane, Alpizar, 44 of Maitland, Fla., turned in the jetway, walked menacingly toward the agents and reached into his backpack, police said.

HAUNTING SCENARIO (previous link): "So here we have a fellow suffering from bipolar disorder, a condition that is notoriously difficult to properly or consistently medicate under the best of circumstances... a guy who has just spent weeks in Ecuador, where I bet it's safe to suggest such drugs are difficult, if not impossible to obtain... a guy who is under significant stress, (aka poison for this condition), for a number of reasons, not the least of which would be the fatigue and uncertainty of a long day's travel... a guy whose wife is sufficiently alarmed by his increasing agitation that she tries to calm him at the check in for the last leg of their journey, "just let's get through this. Everything will be ok. We'll soon be home." or words to that effect, according to witnesses. He's wearing his pack back to front. Strange. But maybe he's carrying a fragile artifact picked up in their travels. Or maaybe he's just being weird. People edging up into the bloom of bipolar crisis can exhibit some rather bizarre behavior. But as the video shows, he takes off his backpack, and it goes through the machines without a problem. One imagines this is, in fact, the second time his pack has been checked at customs, for he just arrived back in the States two hours earlier. In any case, they're finally on the domestic flight for the short trip home, without incident. But he's wary and increasingly anxious. He thinks a man in a Hawaiian shirt is staring at him. Again his wife tries to calm him, but he's starting to peak now. The walls of the cabin are starting to close in. He's sure the man in the Hawaiian shirt has a gun - wants to kill him. He thinks his wife may be in cahoots with him. He has to get off the plane. There's still just enough time. He jumps up and bolts toward the door. His wife runs after him, trying to stop him, but he keeps running. Realizing it's hopeless, she dashes back to get her own things. But now the Marshalls are on their feet, including the one in the Mawaiian shirt, all the catch phrases of their seven weeks training pounding between their ears. She tries to stop them, explaining that her husband is ill, but they can't be deterred. Her husband knows they're chasing him. Thinks they're chasing him. He's not sure. Reality and the madness of paranoia have merged. Then, at last, safety. He's off the plane. He's survived. He ventures a look back, perhaps just as the man in the Hawaiian shirt raises his gun to fire the first of five or more shots. It is doubtful that he'd have heard them all. "

Still to come, blasting some sightseeing private pilot without a radio out of sky, when he ventures to close to our capital, skyscrapers, or military bases. The last major frantic alert was issued as a little plane crossed the border of Maryland for DC. See my article on Airline Insecurity


An further examples of the moral corrosiveness of Iraq War madness, our soldiers are hiding in the bushes and blasting random cars. Think these guys may cause problems when they come back and become cops (or airmarshalls)?

From Nov 27 Hartford Courant interview of NPR's superb Anne Garrels:
"On election day there will be no traffic between provinces ... [and] there will be no traffic in the city itself. ... If you're moving around by car, it's too dangerous. I got shot at last time."
Q: Who shot at you?
Americans and Iraqis, in January. It was a joint checkpoint, except that they were hiding in the bushes and I couldn't see the checkpoint. It was the day before the elections, and traffic actually that day was allowed. This is the sort of thing we face all the time. There are supposed to be checkpoints, but there was no visible checkpoint, they were hiding in the bushes."
Q: How would you know to stop?
"You don't, until you're shot."Q: Did they shoot at every car that drove by?
"They said they had orders to shoot every car that went by. Now, we survived that episode, and I went on to the next checkpoint and there was an extremely good captain there, and I explained to him what had just happened. He got on the radio, because these were not the orders, it was just complete chaos on the streets. He was very good and actually helped me negotiate several checkpoints.
PREVIOUS POST on CHECKPOINT KILLINGS If you run a "checkpoint" that people can't see, shooting and killing innocent people without warning from cover, aren't you .. ah... a terrorist ??

PRESS MANAGEMENT: In a chilling example of how out of control this rump government has become, Bush chatted with Blair about bombing the Al-Jazera HQ in neutral Doha in 2004, hopefully in jest. Coupled with the real bombings of Al Jazera buldings in Baghdad and Kabul, and killings of their reporters, this maybe was not idle speculation. Bush was dissuaded by Fat Tony, but the Brits are prosecuting the leakers under the Official Secrets Act. I presented the MediaChannel/GlobalVision movie Weapons of Mass Deception, where a US tank sits for minutes targeted in on the Baghdad hotel housing journalists before calmly letting loose with a single shot. The video shows the impact and aftermath from the inside, as 2 Reuters camermen were killed and injured. GETTING GOOD NEWS: The Government vs. the Press in Times of War (realaudio) (windowsmedia) Mike's BROWN U. LECTURE (listing)- History of Press restrictions in Wars since WW2

Worse, overpaid Contracters are apparently using Iraqis for sport target practice as they drive around (they blast 5 cars that come within 100 yards behind them):
"A "trophy" video appearing to show Aegis security guards (Brit biggest security contractor) in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi cars has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.
The video is even set to music: "Mystery Train", by Elvis Presley. "
Mind you these people have legitimate security concerns but killing anyone who gets within 300 ft. isn't kosher. If this was widespread, it might explain the crowd frenzy at the Fallujah contractor murders/desecration. On NBC Nightly News Dec 13

In June, straight arrow Special Forces West Point instructor military ethicist Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head, victim of apparent suicide. According to his note, he was disgusted by rampant corruption of the greedy mercenary contractors, and claims that they had been shooting civilians. He was found by a contracter who also handled the pistol involved.
"'I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored. Death before being dishonored any more."
-- From a note found near Ted Westhusing’s body.
ADDENUM 2015: They were just finally convicted of murder and given long sentences.

Nexis of the administrations troubles, Ambassador Joe Wilson gave the longest speech I've ever heard Wed in a stiffling hall at Brown (security now includes keeping out oxygen), ruminating extensively about his loyal service to and declared herohood by Bush1, whom he still admires. "In that administration I was considered a hawk," he said. Now instead of the last man to deal with Saddam in the Gulf War and the diplomat who helped 150 Americans escape, he would be known as Valerie Plame's husband, he said in a very soft spoken voice. Answering every one of dozens of questions, his candid response to a 2 insolent Young Republican attacks (Didn't you make out and profit from your celebrity?) revealed some of the vicious unknown campaign against him.
-----"In the year before the controversy, I made $850,000. In the year after, I made $150,000. They set out to destroy my consulting business, and succeeded. I would have meetings with people, and they would stop them and say, 'don't deal with him, we're going to destroy him.' " (Projo-w audio) If you cross the Bush administration, "we will do to you what we just did to Joe Wilson's family," he said. "Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. That's what the message was."

Other gems: "The road to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem, not Baghdad", and "people can't be happy we are borrowing the equivalent of the whole defense budget from the Chinese." He was sent to Niger, because he evidently brokered a cease fire in a civil war there so was trusted and respected by many people in the government. He had also been an high powered all-purpose diplomatic fixer and peacemaker in Bosnia-Serbia and elsewhere.

We chatted with him after as he signed books in the 3 hour event. The 12 year deadly sanctions that may have killed 700,000, "were disgraceful. They turned everyone in the Middle East against us." In GB2' s Iraq War, "They even let the Tuwaitha nuclear plant be looted."

With the conviction of far-right alleged Top Gun movie hero Rep. Randy ("Duke") Cunningham for taking $2.4 million of bribes from defense contracters, the Dick Cheney must be hearing footsteps, since his corruption is 3 or 4 orders of magnitude greater. " The San Diegan Duke-Stir (name of boat bribe) wasn't helped by the fact that he is something of an intemperate asshole: Referring to President Clinton’s anti-war activities during the Vietnam War, Cunningham once said Clinton “would be tried as a traitor and even shot” if he lived in another nation. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/9/1998, pp. B-1,8] Cunningham, who sobbed a tearful apology, was flayed on The Daily Shows.

Pretty boy Delay aid Indian huckster Michael Scamlon pleaded guilty to multiple million fraud and theft charges, and may implicate "Representative No. 1," Ohio's Repub. Rep. Bob Ney ("nay, nave, say it shan't be") and bring the sleazy election-tampering, Coingate-befouled, Ohio Repub. government crashing down. Still to come, his playmate, non-Lincolnish Jack Abramoff ("I cannot not tell a lie"), who may have been involved with a mob murder of the owner of Sun-Cruz gambling ships, after he and his buying partner Adam Kidan ripped off the Greek immigrant with a forged $23 million wire transfer from a closed account, after he had been forced to sell out by FL officials.

The Dick's corporate energy task force was also discussing carving up the Iraq oil pie ("foreign Iraq oil suiters") 2 years before the invasion. No wonder he had to keep minutes secret at all costs- they might have scuttled the long-planned invasion. Here we see the vast penalty of the undemocratic pathological secrecy that a Repub judiciary allowed.

Banana bitch (and other election thief) Katherine Harris's FL Senatorial bid is getting little traction, with reliable sources reporting that Repubs are desperate to field a less radioactive candidate (who won't remind them GB2 lost by 540K votes).

And Cockroach Tommy's toussle in Texas, despite his prodigious levels of corruption and criminality, is sizing up to be an even bet, because of his superduper lawyer, technicality problems, and Texan's tolerance for turpitude. After a furious game of musical judges- Repubs successfully argued first judge's Dem contributions made him suspect, got a Repub judge, Dems successfully argued same thing, then 3 more in a day- they wound up with a Dem Judge appointed by Repub Chief of Supreme Court. Whew. Just got one conspiracyt count thrown out, and will delay this with endless motions. Cockroach Tommy, who basically operated a cash operated turnstile at the gates of his office and was legitimately accused of racketeering by our own Patrick Kennedy, should be kept naked in a cage on Capitol Hill, for citizens to throw rotten fruit at.


Sony's admission that it has loaded 60 something DVD movie titles with a pernicious form of spyware that installs on the basic command files at the absolute bottom level of your computer, is deeply troubling. Reading a computer experts step by step investigation of how hard it was to discover and identify this entirely new category of spyware, it's obvious even the biggest companies feel empowered to conduct criminal spying and transmission of damaging software. This is stuff is very hard to detect, identify, and remove- Nortons is useless, but what really is bad is that it opens your computer to further infection- virus terrorists have already started to exploit the vulnerability. Unless you are a full blown computer expert now, you really can't guarantee the security of your computer and private info. Don't buy anything from Sony for a year. No Sony Baloney.

Another DVD I played in my computer tried to play it on an included InterActual Player, which I prevented, but it installed it anyway, and it supposedly has spyware. Just don't play DVD movies on your computer unless it never connects to the Internet or has no secure info.

As expected, gas prices just barely dropped below $2 to appease government windfall profits threats, and now are climbing again- back up to $3/gallon or so, because of winter demand for electricity, heating oil, and gas; and of course- OilCos rampant obscene greed. $30 billion of profits in recent 3 months (something like 6-7 times previous year). Don't like prices here? Try Iraq, where gasoline is 5 cents a gallon.


Don't believe this business of $200 laptops- every computer with impossible prices forced a year subscription to the clunky AOL costing $180 to $250. Even that was a scam, since the lower priced plan allowed nothing but using their website, if you already have an internet connection. Tried to get one of these insanely limited (15) units in the subzero wind chill at 4:30am, but they'd been given out by vouchers to people who'd been waiting since 9pm. The cheapo build-your-own laptops, which had better deals in Sept.($400 Sempron upgardable to Turion for $50), now include an outrageous $70 shipping charge. Deceptive and misleading ads were de rigueur this year- the way to deal with them is buy the thing, then threaten to sue the store for false advertising and make them pay for the AOL. Rather than risk a class action judgment, they might be quick to settle.


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