Friday, December 26, 2008

Incoming Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett May Send the JonBenet Ramsey Murder Investigation Back to the Police

"I'll meet with all the different investigators and personnel in the D.A.'s office who've been working in the [JonBenet Ramsey] case, and talk to them, and look at what our options are. And I'll make a decision fairly promptly, and I'll try to make sure I explain to the public whatever decision I made and what the reasons are, for it."--incoming Boulder D.A. Stan Garnett

UPDATE: August 6 is the birthday of the murdered Boulder kindergartener JonBenet Ramsey. She was born on August 6, 1990. She was tortured, strangled, sexually abused, and bludgeoned to death in her basement on the anniversary of Mao's birthday, December 26, 1996.

At first, her family and their circle were suspected, but last summer the Boulder district attorney, Mary Lacy, sent a letter of apology to JonBenet's father and explained that new scientific methods had detected unknown male DNA from several places on her outer and underclothing.

JonBenet was a very sweet little girl. Her kindergarten teacher tells this story: One time, another little girl brought cupcakes to kindergarten for her birthday, but she was one short. JonBenet offered to split her cupcake with the birthday girl so that everyone would have a treat.

The diabolical Kindermord could only split JonBenet's head.

I think that the JonBenet Ramsey murder was a provocation organized by someone who was intimately familiar with the history and ideology of the American Indian Movement (AIM). The purpose of the murder was to discredit law enforcement by suggesting that the authorities were protecting a ring of powerful pedophiles.

My theory is very complicated, but if you are interested you can go to the very first post on this blog and start reading. The best thing to do is click on the February 2006 archive at the right, scroll to the bottom, and start from the beginning.

Some posts about AIM, the KGB/communist manipulation of AIM, the history of the Osage Indian murders, and KGB active measures/provocations that don't even mention JonBenet may provide background for understanding my theory of the motive for this brutal crime.

The first post on this blog is called "342 Indians." Another early post that provides background for my theory is called "The Osage Indian Murders and the Legend of Pine Ridge."

JonBenet Ramsey was probably killed in the early hours of December 26, 1996, on the anniversary of Mao's birthday. Mao's birthday may have had a symbolic significance for the AIM-inspired killer. AIM has killed on a symbolic date in the past. For example, AIM hero Leonard Peltier and others killed two FBI agents on the June 26 anniversary of the Battle of Little Bighorn/Custer's Last Stand. A recent post that attempted to briefly connect some components of my theory is here.

Charlie Brennan, of MyFox Colorado (12-26-08), reports on new developments in the JonBenet Ramsey investigation. Be sure to watch the video, too. Mr. Brennan was on the scene when they removed JonBenet's tortured body from her home. He covered the investigation of her murder while working for the Rocky Mountain News.

ORIGINAL POST:

Today is the anniversary of the brutal murder of JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, Colorado. JonBenet was probably killed in the wee-hours of December 26, 1996, in her home. The family had reportedly spent Christmas night at the home of friends and returned home late in the evening.

Heath Urie of the Daily Camera (12-26-08) reports in the first of two articles:

Twelve years after the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, the case is considered colder than ever.

To help change that, Boulder’s incoming district attorney [Stan Garnett] plans to blow the dust off the case and, possibly, send it back to the police department for the first time in six years...

But on Jan. 13, [outgoing D.A. Mary] Lacy will be replaced by Stan Garnett, who says he could make big changes in how the case is handled.

“I’ll certainly consider asking the police department for help,” Garnett said. “I’m anticipating that, within the first 30 days, I’ll make some decision about how to handle the investigation.”

The Ramsey investigation was moved to the DA’s Office in December 2002, following years of public criticism of the Boulder Police Department’s handling of the case.

Garnett said he’s still wading through the evidence and complex history of the case, and he plans to meet with investigators familiar with the homicide before deciding how to handle it.

...Garnett said the police department likely has more resources and is better equipped to handle the investigation at this point.

“I want to look very closely at the resources of the DA’s Office and make a careful decision about what resources to continue to expend on the case,” he said. “There is something seductive about this case that can cause every law-enforcement person who works on it to become fascinated with its twists and turns and thereby spend endless energy on it.”

Unlike his predecessor, Mary Lacy, who has made clear her view that an intruder killed JonBenet, Garnett said he doesn’t have any preconceived notions about the case or where any future investigation should lead.

“District attorneys have to be very thoughtful and very sober and clear-eyed,” Garnett said. “I have very high regard for Mary Lacy, and I’m not a person who second guesses other people’s decisions. But I’ve been elected by the people of Boulder County to use my own judgment.”

Mark Beckner — Boulder’s police chief and one of nine Boulder officers intimately involved in the original investigation who are still with the department — said he’d gladly accept responsibility for the case six years after giving it up...[Full text].

In a second article Heath Urie of the Daily Camera (12-26-08) writes:

Mary Lacy, Boulder’s term-limited district attorney, will turn over the office next month to a new leader — but the unsolved murder case that earned her worldwide recognition is staying behind for a new set of eyes.

Lacy, who has been in charge of the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation since it was handed over by Boulder police to the District Attorney’s Office in December 2002, says she believes that even after 12 years of chasing fruitless leads, the case will be solved.

...Lacy said she’s leaving the office certain of her decisions, her intentions and at least one other thing — that the Ramsey family “didn’t do it.”

Today marks not only the anniversary of the day the little girl’s body was found, but also six years since Lacy first received control of the investigation.

...“Out-of-control media,” [Lacy] said, “led to a situation where this family truly was presumed guilty, even though there was never evidence to file charges against them.”

Lacy has long been a proponent of the theory that an intruder — not someone known to the little girl — was responsible for the murder. Now, 12 years later, Lacy said she’s more convinced than ever that no one within the Ramsey family was involved.

...Technically, the Ramsey case is considered “cold,” Lacy said, even after new technology used in March discovered two new samples of DNA near the waist of JonBenet’s long johns, and that genetic material matched DNA recovered years ago from her underwear.

Lacy said she believes the DNA evidence was left by the killer, and there are any number of reasons why law enforcement hasn’t found a match with samples listed in a national database of convicted felons.

“The person could be in prison and not due for release soon and hasn’t taken the sample; the person might be dead; the person could have gone to another country that doesn’t collect DNA samples,” she said. “But the most likely explanation is that, for whatever reason, that person’s DNA is not in the data bank.”

Lacy is hopeful that plans by the FBI to expand the DNA database in January to include not just samples from people convicted of crimes, but of those arrested on suspicion of crimes, will “dramatically” increase the chances of finding a match in the Ramsey case.

...Lacy said the public perception of the Ramsey case has been shaped over 12 years by the media, not facts, and that does frustrate her.

“I don’t think the truth has ever really been out there for people to see because it’s an open criminal case,” she said. “The public assumes they know more based on what they see in the media, and that’s the part that’s personally difficult for me” [Full text].

The current D.A. Mary Lacy sent this letter last summer:

On December 25-26, 1996, JonBenet Ramsey was murdered in the home where she lived with her mother, father and brother. Despite a long and intensive investigation, the death of JonBenet remains unsolved.

The murder has received unprecedented publicity and has been shrouded in controversy. That publicity has led to many theories over the years in which suspicion has focused on one family member or another. However, there has been at least one persistent stumbling block to the possibility of prosecuting any Ramsey family members for the death of JonBenet – DNA.

As part of its investigation of the JonBenet Ramsey homicide, the Boulder Police identified genetic material with apparent evidentiary value. Over time, the police continued to investigate DNA, including taking advantage of advances in the science and methodology. One of the results of their efforts was that they identified genetic material and a DNA profile from drops of JonBenet's blood located in the crotch of the underwear she was wearing at the time her body was discovered. That genetic profile belongs to a male and does not belong to anyone in the Ramsey family.

The police department diligently compared that profile to a very large number of people associated with the victim, with her family, and with the investigation, and has not identified the source, innocent or otherwise, of this DNA. The Boulder Police and prosecutors assigned to this investigation in the past also worked conscientiously with laboratory analysts to obtain better results through new approaches and additional tests as they became available. Those efforts ultimately led to the discovery of sufficient genetic markers from this male profile to enter it into the national DNA data bank.

In December of 2002, the Boulder District Attorney's Office, under Mary T. Lacy, assumed responsibility for the investigation of the JonBenet Ramsey homicide. Since then, this office has worked with the Boulder Police Department to continue the investigation of this crime.

In early August of 2007, District Attorney Lacy attended a Continuing Education Program in West Virginia sponsored by the National Institute of Justice on Forensic Biology and DNA. The presenters discussed successful outcomes from a new methodology described as "touch DNA." One method for sampling for touch DNA is the "scraping method." In this process, forensic scientists scrape a surface where there is no observable stain or other indication of possible DNA in an effort to recover for analysis any genetic material that might nonetheless be present. This methodology was not well known in this country until recently and is still used infrequently.

In October of 2007, we decided to pursue the possibility of submitting additional items from the JonBenet Ramsey homicide to be examined using this methodology. We checked with a number of Colorado sources regarding which private laboratory to use for this work. Based upon multiple recommendations, including that of the Boulder Police Department, we contacted the Bode Technology Group located near Washington, D.C., and initiated discussions with the professionals at that laboratory. First Assistant District Attorney Peter Maguire and Investigator Andy Horita spent a full day with staff members at the Bode facility in early December of 2007.

The Bode Technology laboratory applied the "touch DNA" scraping method to both sides of the waist area of the long johns that JonBenet Ramsey was wearing over her underwear when her body was discovered. These sites were chosen because evidence supports the likelihood that the perpetrator removed and/or replaced the long johns, perhaps by handling them on the sides near the waist.

On March 24, 2008, Bode informed us that they had recovered and identified genetic material from both sides of the waist area of the long johns. The unknown male profile previously identified from the inside crotch area of the underwear matched the DNA recovered from the long johns at Bode.

We consulted with a DNA expert from a different laboratory, who recommended additional investigation into the remote possibility that the DNA might have come from sources at the autopsy when this clothing was removed. Additional samples were obtained and then analyzed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to assist us in this effort. We received those results on June 27th of this year and are, as a result, confidant that this DNA did not come from innocent sources at the autopsy. As mentioned above, extensive DNA testing had previously excluded people connected to the family and to the investigation as possible innocent sources.

I want to acknowledge my appreciation for the efforts of the Boulder Police Department, Bode Technology Group, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and the Denver Police Department Forensic Laboratory for the great work and assistance they have contributed to this investigation.

The unexplained third party DNA on the clothing of the victim is very significant and powerful evidence. It is very unlikely that there would be an innocent explanation for DNA found at three different locations on two separate items of clothing worn by the victim at the time of her murder. This is particularly true in this case because the matching DNA profiles were found on genetic material from inside the crotch of the victim's underwear and near the waist on both sides of her long johns, and because concerted efforts that might identify a source, and perhaps an innocent explanation, were unsuccessful.

It is therefore the position of the Boulder District Attorney's Office that this profile belongs to the perpetrator of the homicide.

DNA is very often the most reliable forensic evidence we can hope to find during a criminal investigation. We rely on it often to bring to justice those who have committed crimes. It can likewise be reliable evidence upon which to remove people from suspicion in appropriate cases.

The Boulder District Attorney's Office does not consider any member of the Ramsey family, including John, Patsy, or Burke Ramsey, as suspects in this case. We make this announcement now because we have recently obtained this new scientific evidence that adds significantly to the exculpatory value of the previous scientific evidence. We do so with full appreciation for the other evidence in this case.

Local, national, and even international publicity has focused on the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Many members of the public came to believe that one or more of the Ramseys, including her mother or her father or even her brother, were responsible for this brutal homicide. Those suspicions were not based on evidence that had been tested in court; rather, they were based on evidence reported by the media.

It is the responsibility of every prosecutor to seek justice. That responsibility includes seeking justice for people whose reputations and lives can be damaged irreparably by the lingering specter of suspicion. In a highly publicized case, the detrimental impact of publicity and suspicion on people's lives can be extreme. The suspicions about the Ramseys in this case created an ongoing living hell for the Ramsey family and their friends, which added to their suffering from the unexplained and devastating loss of JonBenet.

For reasons including those discussed above, we believe that justice dictates that the Ramseys be treated only as victims of this very serious crime. We will accord them all the rights guaranteed to the victims of violent crimes under the law in Colorado and all the respect and sympathy due from one human being to another. To the extent that this office has added to the distress suffered by the Ramsey family at any time or to any degree, I offer my deepest apology.

We prefer that any tips related to this ongoing investigation be submitted in writing or via electronic mail to BoulderDA.org, but they can also be submitted to our tip line at (303) 441-1636.This office will make no further statements.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Russian Christmas Traditions

This is the Kizhi Pogost, or Kizhi Enclosure. Click on the picture to enlarge. The church was built without nails by fitting the wood together. Legend attributes the building of the church to the monk Nestor the Chronicler.

The Transfiguration Church (left) stands on an island in Lake Onega called Kizhi in the Russian republic of Karelia. In the Karelian language Kizhi means playground. The picture also shows a bell tower (center), and another church. These churches are maintained as historical monuments, and similar buildings have been brought from other towns and reassembled at the Kizhi State Open-Air Museum of History, architecture, and Ethnography. The historical complex is one of the most famous tourist sites in Russia and not too far from St. Petersburg.

This is a close up of the Transfiguation Church. Listen to the bells on Kizhi. You can listen to and watch how the bells work in Suzdal and at Kazan Cathedral.
On Christmas Eve, I like to watch the Nutcracker. Here is Larissa Lezhnina of the Kirov Ballet dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Here Prince Koklyush dances with the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Check out Mikhail Baryshnikov as the Nutcracker/Prince. [Wikipedia explains that Baryshnikov's version "omits the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Prince Koklyush, and gives their dances to Clara and the Nutcracker/Prince; so that in his version, the two do not merely sit out most of the entire second act as they do in other productions."]

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov skated this number in 1992 for Disney Christmas on Ice. Tragically, in 1995 the 28-year old Sergei died of a massive heart attack.

Here is the Trepak (Russian Dance) from the Nutcracker. Here is the March and Children's Galop.
Russian Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7, but Russian Catholics and Protestants celebrate on December 25th. There is also the secular New Year's Celebration that features Father Frost and Snow Maiden bringing presents. The Russians used to have the Kremlin clock tower on T.V. like we watch for the ball to fall in Times Square.
Under the communists, Christmas was not an official holiday, but now Christmas is officially recognised. This site describes some Russian Christmas customs and explains that their Christmas carols are called kolyadki:
Christmas in Russia is associated with a number of other practices, which represent a blend of tradition from Russia's Christian and pre-Christian past. It was once common practice, on Christmas Eve, for groups of people masquerading as manger animals to travel from house to house singing songs known as kolyadki. Some kolyadki were pastoral carols to the baby Jesus, while others were homages to the ancient solar goddess Kolyada, who brings the lengthening days of sunlight through the winter. In return for their songs, the singers were offered food and coins, which they gladly accepted before moving on to the next home.
Here is a slideshow about Russian churches made on the Orthodox Christmas. You will enjoy the bells. He's another slideshow called "Beautiful Churches" set to Beethovans' "Moonlight Sonata."
This slideshow of ancient Russian churches is accompanied by Russian heavy metal band called Black Coffee (Черный Кофе). Many of Russia's churches are basically ruins because the communist government closed the majority of churches. Some churches were maintained as museums, but most churches were locked, demolished, or taken over for clubs or other uses.
Religious art was vandalized or confiscated by government-sponsored gangs of militant atheists who pillaged and demolished many churches. The stolen art was often carelessly stored in damp basements and ruined. After 1917, it was a rare thing for a new congregation to be registered or a new church to be built. A large percentage of the legally-registered "Russian Orthodox" churches were actually Ukrainian Catholic parishes absorbed into the Russian Orthodox Church after their denomination was banned. There were probably about 6000 Orthodox congregations in Russia in the last years of communism.
Today, the post-Soviet government and Russian Orthodox Church give each other support; but Protestant and other Churches still encounter persecution, and unfortunately the Russian Orthodox Church does not defend freedom of religion. Protestantism came to Russia from German settlers who were invited to Russia during the times of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Lutheran congregations are active in lands that used to be part of Finland and in Siberia where many were sent during the Stalin years. These days, Russian Protestant churches often seek ties with Western Protestant denominations, and the the Russian Orthodox church and government sometimes try to stir up mistrust about these relationships.
Here's another slideshow by the heavy metal Russian band "Black Coffee" about Russia's churches. The film is showing old footage of the destruction of Russian churches as the band sings about the destruction of the churches, cupolas and crosses. Then they run the video backwards to "rebuild" the churches. It's too bad that the Russian Orthodox Church, which has suffered so much persecution, is not always tolerant of other Christian denominations. Historically, Russians believe that being Russian means being Orthodox. They need to work on that.
Russia Today explains some Orthodox and secular Christmas customs and shows a service in Moscow led by the Patriarch. Here is a slideshow of old Christmas cards accompanied by a Christmas carol called "Angels in Heaven."

Here is a Russian Orthodox church choir singing Silent Night. Orthodox church choirs often attract professional singers who perform difficult musical pieces. Here is a Russian children's choir singing a contemporary Christmas song called "Christmas." This is more the style of a Protestant church.
Russian Orthodox Churches exist in diaspora, too. There are Russian Orthodox Churches in formerly-Russian Alaska whose membership includes Alaskan natives. Here are three videos about Saint Herman of Alaska. [Part 1, part 2, part 3.] This video juxtaposes pictures of both Russian and Alaskan Orthodox Christians. The commentary by the poster notes:
A contemporary setting of this vigil hymn by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev is matched with photos of ordinary Orthodox Christians in Russia and Alaska.
Here is a Russian cartoon based on Hans Christian Anderson's short story "The Fir Tree."

Here is a slideshow of Russian churches set to a famous children's song called "A Fir Tree Grows in the Forest." This song is a popular secular Christmas song like Jingle Bells that all children learn to sing.

Here is a slideshow set to the popular New Year's song "A Fir Tree Grows in the Forest," a cartoon of "A Fir Tree Grows in the Forest," and a little Russian preschooler named Sonia singing the song. Sonya's still working on her delivery, but she can trill her Russian letter "R" perfectly! That's a milestone for Russian toddlers. "Blondinka the poet's" rendition isn't bad, either.
This Karaoke version of "В лесу родилась елочка" includes the text, but there are endless variations of this popular Russian children's song. Here is a choral rendition with pictures of a Russian winter. В лесу родилась ёлочка has its own Wikipedia entry (Russian) and the text of the song.
Here is a Russian New Year's party for children. Children are visited by Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden.
The Snow Maiden, Snegorochka, is a bit like Frosty the Snowman because she melts in the story. In Moscow, Grandfather Frost and Snow Maiden have their own winter playground where young Muscovites can enjoy sledding among ice sculptures carved by artists.
Here is a Russian cartoon called "Grandfather Frost and the Grey Wolf."

Here is a Russian cartoon called "New Year's Night."

Here is a longer cartoon called "Twelve Months."
Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5. The animals will remind you of Disney characters in Bambi such as Thumper and Chip and Dale.

Here is a longer cartoon call "Snegorochka" (Snow Maiden).
Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Media Shy Spy Guy

UPDATE: "A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment about whether [the C.I.A’s No. 2 official Stephen R. Kappes] had decided to stay in his current job."--New York Times (1-6-09)

The New York Times (1-6-09) reports:

President-elect Barack Obama and his top aides called lawmakers, deployed surrogates and offered public testimonials on Tuesday as they scrambled to mend a divide in Democratic ranks over the nomination of Leon E. Panetta, a former White House chief of staff, to take over the Central Intelligence Agency...

Mr. Obama said Tuesday that Mr. Panetta and other members of the new administration would be “committed to breaking with some of the past practices” that had “tarnished the image” of the United States’ intelligence agencies...

But transition officials said Mr. Obama also intended to keep the C.I.A’s No. 2 official, Stephen R. Kappes, a highly regarded former Marine officer and agency veteran...

Mr. Kappes left the agency in 2004 after a clash with Porter J. Goss, then the C.I.A. director, but agreed to return in 2006 under a new director, Michael V. Hayden, in a move that lifted morale among clandestine officers.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment about whether Mr. Kappes had decided to stay in his current job. [Full text]

Original Post:

Mark Hosenball of Newsweek (12-19-08) reports that President-elect Obama may select "media-shy spy" CIA Deputy Director Stephen R. Kappes [See official biography] to head the CIA:

...Obama and his advisors are still fretting about a new CIA director. Intel transition team leader [John O.] Brennan [my link] was the leading candidate to assume command of his former agency until liberal bloggers complained that he had publicly defended controversial Bush Administration policies on the imprisonment and interrogation of top Al-Qaeda operatives held and roughly questioned by the CIA. Brennan then removed himself from consideration (though he stayed in charge of the transition effort). But his withdrawal raised questions as to whether anyone from CIA associated with Bush Administration policies could pass muster with Obama's political base. Democratic sources have indicated nonetheless that a leading candidate still being considered by Obama for CIA chief is the agency's current deputy director, Stephen Kappes--a veteran but media-shy spy who almost certainly was involved in the agency's handling of terrorist suspects while serving as Number Two in the Operations Directorate between 2002 and 2004. Kappes was driven out of the agency when Republican Congressman Porter Goss and a coterie of hyper-partisan Capitol Hill aides took control at Langley in 2004; he was invited back after Goss and his team were forced out by John Negroponte, then serving as Intelligence Czar. Kappes’ willingness to stand up to the Republicans may well have endeared him to Democrats who follow intelligence issues closely, and may be why Kappes' candidacy for CIA chief hasn't yet foundered on the same shoals that damaged Brennan's prospects. One person close to the transition said that Kappes' overall qualifications for CIA chief were so formidable that confronting left-wing critics over him was a fight that Obama not only ought to join but that the new president would have little difficulty winning. [Full text]

In another article, Mark Hosenball of Newsweek (Published 12-13-08/Issue 12-22-08) reports:

...Several people close to the Obama transition, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive deliberations, say the leading candidate to replace Hayden is his deputy, Stephen Kappes, who was No. 2 in the CIA's covert-ops division from 2002 to 2004, which means he was almost surely involved in interrogation policy. But Kappes's backers say he was working on counterintel issues—uncovering moles—when the CIA set up its "secret prison" network. If Kappes's star falls, other CIA candidates are said to include another former senior spy, Mary Margaret Graham, and former congressman Tim Roemer, an intel-reform advocate. [Full text]

Deputy Director Kappes also has his detractors such as Kenneth R. Timmerman, former Republican Congressman Curt Weldon, and others.

Timmerman (5-31-06) writes:

Rep. Curt Weldon (R.-Pa.) believes Kappes was a disaster as head of the CIA's directorate of operations, and called him "the ringleader of an internal CIA rebellion" against Goss. "He was one of many in the CIA resistant to needed reforms."

In Countdown to Terror, Weldon says Kappes point-blank refused repeated pleas -- backed by then-CIA Director George Tenet -- to travel to Paris to meet with a potential Iranian source who claimed to have intelligence on Iran’s nuclear programs and on Iran's ties to Osama Bin Laden.

Weldon encouraged Kappes to investigate the credentials of his source, but got nowhere. "Finally, Kappes threatened me too. He warned me to stop working with [the source]… Fortunately, Kappes has now resigned from the CIA."

However, Kappes wasn't gone from the CIA for long; and when he returned, he was made Deputy Director.

Now I took a look at Rep. Weldon's book Countdown to Terror and thought it was one of the goofiest books I had ever read. Weldon seemed to think he had cultivated an important Iranian source. I think Weldon was being scammed.

Weldon is also being investigated by the Justice Department. Kim Zigfeld of Pajamas Media (6-12-08) has an article about Weldon's legal problems. Curt Weldon seems to have dragged a lot of his associates down with him, too.

Pajamas Media (6-12-08) explains:

[T]he Wall Street Journal is reporting that a former congressional aide of Weldon’s has “admitted in court proceedings that his wife received unreported payments from an arms-control group with ties to top security officials in the Russian government. Rep. Weldon had sought a federal grant for the Russian organization, known as International Exchange Group [IEG], according to the people familiar with the inquiry. Rep. Weldon’s former aide, Russell Caso, pleaded guilty in December to failing to disclose payments made to his wife, but the origin of the funds wasn’t identified.”

The WSJ concludes: “The Weldon inquiry is significant in part because it is an element of a broader U.S. Justice Department probe into what officials suspect are efforts by Russian-backed firms to gain influence or gather information in Washington.” That’s the polite way of saying that, knowingly or unknowingly, Weldon may have been spying for the Kremlin.

Maybe Congressman Weldon should have listened when Mr. Kappes advised him to stop working with foreign agents.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Weldon, because all his underlings are cooperating with government investigators.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kremlin-Sponsored Bill Threatens to Broaden the Definition of Treason

This Russian poster says, "Don't blab! Strictly protect military and government secrets!

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (12-18-08) reports:

Rights activists in Russia say proposed legislation broadening the definition of espionage and treason will return Russia to the darkest days of the Stalinist regime.

The legislation -- backed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the ruling Unified Russia party -- was submitted to the State Duma last week...

Lyudmila Alekseyeva, a veteran Russian rights campaigner with the Moscow Helsinki Group, says the new legislation would allow the authorities to interpret virtually any form of dissent as treason -- a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. She says the legislation could be used to stem public unrest at a time of mounting economic instability...

The new legislation was introduced the same day the Duma approved in the third reading other changes to the Criminal Code that would eliminate the right to jury trials for a series of crimes including terrorism and mass disturbances -- as well as espionage and treason. Suspects in such cases would instead face a panel of judges.

Russia has seen a dramatic scaling back of the civil liberties instituted following the Soviet collapse in the early 1990s. As president, Putin was seen as tightening Kremlin controls on virtually all aspects of Russia's political life and civil society. Now, with the country facing a grim economic forecast, Prime Minister Putin may be seeking to eliminate the last remaining outlets for public dissent. [Full text]

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (12-19-08) reports:

Yesterday, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Aleksandr Bortnikov presented his agency's annual report. The presentation -- at which journalists were present but not allowed to ask questions -- highlighted the agency's good work and the danger confronting Russia. In the last year, FSB agents were able to "disrupt the activity" of no less than 48 foreign intelligence agents and 101 recruits of foreign intelligence services -- 76 foreigners and 25 Russians. Those figures are up from last year, when only 22 agents and 71 recruits were found doing their evil work in Russia...

Despite this booming business, the FSB is likely to be even busier in the coming year if the Kremlin and Unified Russia get their way (they usually do). RFE/RL correspondent Daisy Sindelar reported yesterday on a Kremlin-sponsored bill that threatens to broaden the definition of treason so far that almost anyone could find themselves getting unwanted attention from the authorities.

The bill has Russia's already beleaguered human rights community up in arms. Sindelar refers to an open letter that leading activists have published warning about the bill, which would categorize as espionage any assistance to international organizations, including consultation "and other" work. Here are some excerpts from that letter:

These are very dangerous and far-reaching changes. If you express their content in the most direct terms, they mark a return to the norms of domestic justice of the 1920s to 1950s, when independent assessment of the situation in the country and in specific areas -- to say nothing of criticism of the regime or unsanctioned contact with foreigners -- was considered treason.

Modern democratic norms arose -- in large part -- only after people recognized a clear difference between serving an armed enemy of the state, on one hand, and speaking out against the current government and existing structures, on the other. Revolutionaries around the world have called themselves "patriots" and their patriotism has not been questioned even by their staunch opponents.

Only pre-modern and medieval leaders conflated the ideas of speaking against the authorities and siding with the state's enemies into one notion of treason.

The effort to transform in the eyes of the law acts of speaking out against the regime and exposing violations of rights and liberties into acts of aiding enemies marks a return to the darkest days of the totalitarian methods of combating dissent.

A few years ago, the government significantly expanded the definition of "extremism" and there followed a wave of prosecutions of dissent. At the same time, the real number of racially motivated crimes steadily increased.

Now, not only opposition activity, but merely reporting on what is going on in the country will be considered tantamount to serving enemy states.

Eighty-two years ago the zealous leaders of Bolshevism equated their political competitors with "enemies of the people," and declared that any dissent is a severe political crime. This was the beginning of the Great Terror, which led to the deaths of millions of our fellow citizens, including the deaths of almost all the authors of the infamous Article 58 of the Criminal Code [on treason]. A few years later, a comparable law was passed in [Hitler's] Third Reich.

Now, half a century later, these horrific formulations are coming back, almost like a complete repetition of the old ones that were created to form the basis of totalitarian purges and mass repressions. The only difference is that the authors of this bill have not yet decided to consider the criminal responsibility of the relatives [of traitors]. And membership in the Council of Europe is blocking them from restoring the death penalty.

We would like to warn the current leaders of the country and deputies that in their unseemly haste to open the path to political repression, they themselves risk being caught up the millstones. Maybe their successors will consider treasonous such action as revising the constitution, purchasing foreign securities with state funds, handing out border islands to neighboring countries, covering up the consequences of ecological catastrophes, and institutionalizing corruption....

We urge deputies -- out of a sense of responsibility for the future of Russia -- to reject this bill, and we urge the president of the Russian Federation, as the guarantor of our rights and freedoms, to refuse to sign it if it is passed.

We call on all politicians and public figures, bureaucrats and citizens, intellectuals to stand together against the adoption of Stalinist-Hitlerite laws.

We insist upon our right to directly address the people of the Russian Federation with an appeal to stop this new 1937.

The open letter was signed by Lyudmila Alekseyeva, Svetlana Gannushkina, Sergei Kovalyov, Lyov Levinson, and about a score more journalists, activists, and liberal political figures. [Full text]

President Bush Honored for His Fight Against AIDS

“No world leader has done more for world health than President George Bush.”---Rev. Rick Warren

President Bush was recognized last Monday by Rev. Rick Warren and President-elect Obama for his leadership in the fight against AIDS. Rev. Warren has been invited give the invocation at President Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009.

Even President Bush's daughter Jenna has written a book to educate young people about AIDS titled Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope.

Medill (12-2-08) reports:

...President George W. Bush was recognized Monday for his international efforts to effectively fight AIDS.

“No world leader has done more for world health than President George Bush,” said the Rev. Rick Warren on the 20th anniversary of Worlds AIDS Day. “Literally millions of lives have been saved in the last five years.”

Bush was awarded the first “International Medal of PEACE” by Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif. The ceremony was part of the Saddleback Church Civil Forum on Global Health held at the Newseum in Washington and focused on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

As of Sept. 30, the initiative has provided lifesaving antiretroviral treatments for more than 2.1 million people around the world with HIV/AIDS, including 2 million in sub-Saharan Africa..

Bush credited Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former speechwriter Michael Gerson, and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul for putting the president AIDS initiative into action.

“I don’t deserve an award. The people who make this policy work deserve the award,” Bush said.

...Obama also addressed the group in a pre-recorded message.

“I salute President Bush for his leadership in crafting a plan for AIDS relief in Africa and backing it up with funding dedicated to saving lives and preventing the spread of the disease,” the president-elect said. “In my administration, we will continue this critical work to address the crisis around the world.” [Full text]

President-elect Obama's former Chicago minister, Rev. JeremiahWright, used his pulpit to promote the Soviet-era KGB lie that the U.S. government had invented AIDS as a biological weapon to kill black people.

This malicious KGB conspiracy theory was disavowed by reputable leaders of the the Soviet Academy of Scientists in 1987. Even General Yevgeni Primakov, the head of the KGB's Foreign Intelligence Service, admitted in 1992 that the KGB spread this lie, and this admission was published in Izvestia.

Primakov's admission, which was made to Russian college students who were attending a KGB recruiting speech, was carried on the pages of Izvestia (3-19-92).

General Primakov told the Russian college students:

The head of the Foreign Intelligence Service [KGB General Yevgeni Primakov] made a number of really sensational announcements. He mentioned the well-known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing the U.S. scientists’ 'crafty' plot against mankind were fabricated in KGB offices. [See the reasons for this admission here.]

In spite of the fact that the State Department has explained the origins of AIDS and publicized Primakov's frank admission, the AIDS conspiracy theory continues to circulate in the black community where the belief that the U.S. government is trying to infect blacks with AIDS has had a very bad effect on the health of young black Americans.

Anyone who knows very much about AIDS knows the history of the KGB's disgraceful anti-American canard about the U.S. spreading diseases. The KGB's attempt to discredit America endangered the health of people all over the world who believed this lie and decided that there was no point in taking responsibility for protecting their health.

The discredited Colorado ex-professor Ward Churchill also spread a conspiracy theory about disease when he mischaracterized his sources and concocted a series of increasingly elaborated undocumented claims that the U.S. Army deliberately infected the Mandan Indians with smallpox.

Putin to Head a Government Panel on the Russian Film Industry

"This week in Moscow, the Cinematographers Union held a disputed congress that [Nikita] Mikhalkov [the head of the Russian Cinematographers Union] denounced as illegitimate. The union membership is sharply divided over Mikhalkov's authoritarian style and concerned that his close relationship with Putin could result in less independence for filmmakers."

Russian artists have often enjoyed official patronage when they served the regime's agenda. Famous artists such as the composer Sergei Prokofiev, who wrote "Peter and the Wolf," were lured back to their homeland during Stalin's purges only to watch while their fellow artists were arrested and murdered by the secret police.

The chronicler of the Soviet GULag Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia when communism ended and praised ex-KGB lawyer Vladimir Putin for Russia's revival.

All countries need some nationalism and a sense of shared values, and I think Russians are searching for their identity and values after all the years of communism. After all, their faith and traditions were repressed under communism. In the Czarist era, people who embraced Orthodoxy were considered Russian, whatever their ethnicity or previous religious affiliation. Russia is not as ethnically diverse today as it was during the Soviet era, but it is still filled with religously, ethnically, and politically diverse people.

Historically, Russia nationalism has often led to intolerance for other faith traditions than Orthodoxy and to a narrow, uncritical patriotism that totally identified with the regime's goals. In the recent years, many people who have questioned Putin's policies or who investigated official crimes and corruption were murdered or repressed.

I admire the Russian director Nikita Milhalkov, but I am disappointed to see him tempted into to hopping on the Putin bandwagon.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (12-20-08) reports:

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced that he will head a government panel on the film industry, leading many to worry about a return to communist-style state command over this crucial art form.
The new government advisory council is the result of an idea first floated at a conference on the future of cinema in St. Petersburg in October. Putin co-hosted that conference with director Nikita Mikhalkov [above], who heads the Russian Cinematographers Union.
Although many in the film community are pleased to have the government's attention, others -- like film critic Yury Bogomolov -- worry that it is ideologically driven, following the Soviet-era practice of harnessing the influential medium to boost patriotism and support for the state.
"Now it looks as if at the highest levels of government, cinema is once again becoming the most important art form, just as television is the most important means of communication,” Bogomolov said. “But television is just television, and cinema -- that is the engine for building myths, which the government sorely needs.”
Photo of Nikita Mikhalkov in one of my favorite films, Burnt by the Sun, a tragic story about the KGB persecution of a beloved Red Army general and his family.
"It seems that Prime Minister Putin has clearly recognized this – not without the help of Nikita Mikhalkov,” Bogomolov continued. “Just compare how Nazi Germany, in order to create its myths, placed its money on architecture, while the totalitarian Soviet Union was backing cinema. Now you can judge for yourself how much more successful the latter choice was."

Under the Soviet regime, cinema was entirely controlled by the state. Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin viewed film as an ideal way of indoctrinating the undereducated Soviet masses. Lenin himself famously remarked, "Cinema, for us, is the most important of the arts." Directors who produced films that promoted the Soviet system or whitewashed its shortcomings were lauded and their works were widely distributed. Others either saw their films locked away unseen in vaults or were unable to make films at all...
Putin has made no secret of his belief that state media, including film, and the schools should actively promote patriotism and national values. The new government advisory panel therefore has some industry observers concerned that the state's role will become increasingly ideological.
Producer Sergei Chliyants told RFE/RL that the council could take either of two directions. “I have said myself that we need the commitment of the senior leader or leaders in order to resolve some of the worst problems -- but these are problems outside the artistic sphere,” he said. “It will be bad if the Putin council begins to read scripts, or dictates what are the socially significant themes, or follows a path of vertical integration and forcing the consolidation of the industry under certain well-known structures.”
On the other hand, Chliyants said, “if this organization combats [intellectual] piracy, helps improve relations between cinema and television or between domestic filmmakers and foreign ones, helps get past some shortcomings in the policies of advancing and promoting our films abroad, then it is good. Because it is true that in our country you can only get something done with the support of the senior leaders."
The government decree on the formation of the advisory council offers few clues as to what direction it will take, saying only that it will "promote the activity of federal structures, cultural figures, and business in matters relating to the development of domestic filmmaking." It will "develop programs for state support for the production, distribution, and presentation of domestic films."
Putin's right-hand man in reviving Russian film over the last decade has been Nikita Mikhalkov, one of Russia's best-known directors and a former Unified Russia Duma deputy. His moody 1994 film "Burnt By The Sun" captured the grinding daily tension of the height of Stalin's purges and won the Oscar for best foreign-language film. Mikhalkov has headed the Russian Cinematographers Union since 1997.
Mikhalkov is a strong supporter of Putin. Last year, he produced a glowing television biography of Putin to mark the then-president's 55th birthday, and he provoked controversy by issuing an open letter in the name of the union urging Putin to remain as president for a third term, despite a constitutional ban on his doing so.
This week in Moscow, the Cinematographers Union held a disputed congress that Mikhalkov denounced as illegitimate. The union membership is sharply divided over Mikhalkov's authoritarian style and concerned that his close relationship with Putin could result in less independence for filmmakers. [See full text]

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Andrei Rublev's "Annunciation"

"И сказал Ей Ангел: не бойся, Мария, ибо Ты обрела благодать у Бога; и вот, зачнешь во чреве, и родишь Сына, и наречешь Ему имя: Иисус."---Евангелие от Луки Глава 1

"And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS."---The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter 1, Verses 26-38

Here is the famous Russian icon painter Andrei Rublev's painting of the "Annunciation" or "Blagoveshenie."
(Благовещение. 1405. Андрей Рублёв).

Andrei Rublev is Russia's most famous medieval icon painter. This icon can be seen in the Moscow Kremlin's Cathedral of the Annunciation, or Blagoveschensky sobor (Благовещенский собор). Here is a photo of the Cathedral of the Annunciation.

The Annunciation is when an angel told Mary that she was going to have a baby and that she should call him Jesus. The story is recounted in the Gospel according to Luke. These days, 70% of pregnancies in Russia end as abortions, and sometimes babies are wrapped in plastic bags and laid in a dumpster.

It seems that the Russians are murdering their nation even though they have never read the "gospel" according to the discredited ex-Professor Ward Churchill:

"Tell ’em you’ll put the butt out when [mothers] snuff the kid and not a moment before. Better yet, tell ’em they should snuff themselves, as well as the kid, and do the planet a real favor. Just 'kidding' (heh-heh)."

It's the Word of God that can do the planet a real favor, not the word of Ward, which belongs in the dumpster instead of our babies.

Ward Churchill admits he abused his young, Canadian-Indian wife, Leah Kelly. I can't imagine what it would be like to be the abused young wife of an academic who joked that young women should "snuff" their babies and themselves.

The Bible tells how Joseph did the planet a real favor by carrying his wife and child into Egypt so their baby wouldn't be "snuffed."

Here is a site with the Bible in Russian. You can listen to the story of the Annunciation by clicking on Luke, Chapter 1. This is in the Russian language, not the Church Slavonic.

Here is the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26-38 according to the King James Bible and followed by the Russian version:

And in the sixth month [of Elizabeth's pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. [A Russian version is here.]

Here is a Russian version of Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26-38:

26
В шестой же месяц послан был Ангел Гавриил от Бога в город Галилейский, называемый Назарет,

27

к Деве, обрученной мужу, именем Иосифу, из дома Давидова; имя же Деве: Мария.

28

Ангел, войдя к Ней, сказал: радуйся, Благодатная! Господь с Тобою; благословенна Ты между женами.

29

Она же, увидев его, смутилась от слов его и размышляла, что бы это было за приветствие.

30

И сказал Ей Ангел: не бойся, Мария, ибо Ты обрела благодать у Бога;

31

и вот, зачнешь во чреве, и родишь Сына, и наречешь Ему имя: Иисус.

32

Он будет велик и наречется Сыном Всевышнего, и даст Ему Господь Бог престол Давида, отца Его;

33

и будет царствовать над домом Иакова во веки, и Царству Его не будет конца.

34

Мария же сказала Ангелу: как будет это, когда Я мужа не знаю?

35

Ангел сказал Ей в ответ: Дух Святый найдет на Тебя, и сила Всевышнего осенит Тебя; посему и рождаемое Святое наречется Сыном Божиим.

36

Вот и Елисавета, родственница Твоя, называемая неплодною, и она зачала сына в старости своей, и ей уже шестой месяц,

37

ибо у Бога не останется бессильным никакое слово.

38

Тогда Мария сказала: се, Раба Господня; да будет Мне по слову твоему. И отошел от Нее Ангел.

Anti-Semitism in the Wake of the Madoff Scandal

The title of this anti-Semitic caricature in the Nazi publication Der Stermer is "The Economy and Jewry"

This November 1937 issue (#47) of the Nazi publication Der Sturmer "accuses Jews of every manner of economic misdeed. The cartoon is titled "Demon Money." A Jewish monster, engraved with the Star of David and the symbols for the American dollar and British pound has its claws on the planet." [See the German Propaganda Archive]

This is one of a series of anti-Semitic Der Sturmer caricatures in the German Propaganda Archive.

The Anti-Defamation League (12-19-08) reports:

Mainstream Web Sites Flooded with Anti-Semitic Comments in Wake of Madoff Scandal

New York, NY, December 19, 2008 … The arrest of a Jewish businessman whose alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme drained the finances of private investors, philanthropic foundations and banks has prompted an outpouring of anti-Semitic comments on mainstream and extremist Web sites.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that the public comment sections of highly trafficked news sites, blogs, and financial message boards that have featured material on the scandal surrounding Bernard Madoff and his investment firm are filled with anti-Semitic comments, mostly from anonymous users.

Site users have posted comments ranging from deeply offensive stereotypical statements about Jews and money -- with some suggesting that only Jews could perpetrate a fraud on such a scale -- to conspiracy theories about Jews stealing money to benefit Israel. These and other anti-Jewish tropes have appeared on popular blogs devoted to finance, in comment sections of mainstream news outlets and in banter among users of Internet discussion groups.

"Jews are always a convenient scapegoat in times of crisis, but the Madoff scandal and the fact that so many of the defrauded investors are Jewish has created a perfect storm for the anti-Semites," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Nowadays, the first place Jew-haters will go is to the Internet, where they can give voice to their hateful ideas without fear of repercussions."

The League has posted on its Web site examples of the anti-Semitic postings appearing on mainstream news sites. ADL is also featuring selected anti-Jewish comments posted to white supremacist and extremist Web sites relating to the Madoff scandal.

"Blogging and social media sites are changing the way people communicate their reactions to events in the news and interact with each other," said Mr. Foxman. "More people are online than ever before, and many more Web sites offer users the ability to comment immediately and anonymously. Those who harbor anti-Semitic beliefs feel most comfortable expressing themselves in cyberspace, where they can provoke a reaction from others or find like-minded individuals to affirm their beliefs."

Popular news sites in New York and Florida – the two epicenters of the Madoff story – have seen their share of anti-Semitic posts since the scandal broke. At one point the comment section of The Palm Beach Post featured numerous anti-Jewish posts (subsequently removed by the site's administrators); other high-traffic sites with anti-Semitic posts have included the comment-enabled sections of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Forbes, New York Magazine, the New York Post, and Israeli web sites of Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. [Full text]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Was Ann Dunham "Punished with a Baby"?

President-elect Obama has said that he doesn't want his young daughters "punished with a baby" if they make a mistake.

I wonder if President-elect Obama's white mother Ann Dunham felt she was "punished with a baby" when she got pregnant with her only son? She married Barack's Kenyan father on 2-2-61, and her son was born on 8-4-61. They divorced in 1964. It must have been couageous for a young white woman to raise a black child in those years. Ann Dunham must have felt some discrimination; but she didn't get an illegal abortion, and her parents supported their daughter and doted on their grandson.

I would hope that if a daughter of President elect Obama gets pregnant "by mistake" that she will also feel free to make the choice to raise her child and that her parents will support her choice.

In 1961, Ann Dunham had the support of her family just like Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol has the support of her family.

I feel sorry for Obama's little girls if their dad thinks an unplanned pregnancy is a "punishment." People say that women should have a choice, but I wonder if an Obama daughter would feel like she has a choice to have her baby if her dad has that kind of an attitude? I can't think of anything worse than feeling like you have no choice but to kill your baby.

I don't think that Ann Dunham looks like she is being "punished with a baby" in this picture. If her life was sometimes difficult because she was the young mother of a black baby, we should all consider that if she had aborted her son he would have never been elected President.