Letter to WSJ on media bias

Dear Editor,

Does anyone else find it interesting that Russia Today is marked as biased (Oct. 8 WSJ) while George Floyd’s death is called a “killing” in most American media when he had three times the lethal dose of Fentanyl in his blood and his alleged killer’s trial is pending? There is no unbiased news source.

Fritz Groszkruger


We got more fire starter in the mail today. Seems kinda expensive, though. The most important election in history is upon us. Can you feel the hate? At least there is some distraction from “covid related death counts.”I’m not a terribly public person religiously. But I just thought it worth a mention that the new nominee to the Supreme Court’s most important flaw is that she is religious. Now, I’ve looked at religion as a cult sometimes myself. That places a value judgement on it, likening it to Jonestown. I think that’s wrong. A cult could simply be a group of like-minded people. It’s good to seek out diverse acquaintances, but familiar faces also make us happy and productive. Human sacrifice violates human rights. Religion that advocates that … bad. I don’t see where Amy Barrett’s religious views violate rights, just the opposite..

DHS is the enemy

Dear Editor,

So Homeland Security is distributing millions of dollars to combat far-right extremists and white supremacists, eh? I recently met a real nice guy who called himself a “moderate.” In further discussion he revealed himself to be fanatically redistributionist, which in objective reflection, would mean a communist.

Far-right extremists, as compared to today’s “moderates,” are simply people who work hard and like to keep what they earn for the good of their families. The extremely sparse far-right violent acts, in contrast to well organized widespread leftist violence deserves less attention than Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

Homeland Security is proving to be a threat to our security.

This is a response to this WSJ article:

Homeland Security to Grant Millions to Groups to Combat White Supremacists and Other Extremists

Far-right violence is target of the program even as President Trump focuses on leftist groups

A woman kneeled in front of crosses at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting allegedly by a white nationalist in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019.PHOTO: JOHN LOCHER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

By Rachael Levy and Dan FroschOct. 3, 2020 8:00 am ET

  • SAVE
  • TEXT
  • 114

Listen to this article8 minutes00:00 / 07:31

The Department of Homeland Security, through a little-known program, intends to distribute millions of dollars to groups focused largely on combating white supremacists and other far-right extremists, even as President Trump has sought to play down their threat.

Homeland Security’s new Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention program announced $10 million in grants in recent weeks to several organizations dedicated to stopping white supremacist and far-right violence, and identifying extremists of all kinds.

The new initiative is a revamped version of an Obama administration program that focused more on countering homegrown Islamic terrorism. That effort was criticized for being overly broad and ineffective.

A Homeland Security spokesman said the department will implement its grant funding to help prevent “violent white supremacy alongside a number of recognized and emergent forms of terrorism and targeted violence.” The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The organizations receiving money include a nonprofit staffed by former neo-Nazis, university researchers studying how to combat disinformation circulated online by white supremacists, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which runs a program to rehabilitate people who have committed hate crimes, among other things. The McCain Institute, named after the late Republican Sen. John McCain, is creating a network of specialists nationwide to accept referrals of people feared at risk of committing violence. The institute said it expects to primarily handle far-right threats, including white supremacists.

The projects are largely in early stages of planning, according to those involved.

Homeland Security has faced criticism from counterterrorism experts for not doing enough to combat white supremacist groups during the Trump administration, despite a series of high profile acts of violence targeting minorities.

A member of the Proud Boys guarded the stage at a rally by the far-right group in Portland, Ore., late last month.PHOTO: STANTON SHARPE/ZUMA PRESS

Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers the primary perpetrators of lethal violence in 2018 and 2019 were racially and ethnically motivated; most are white supremacists. Homeland Security’s acting head also recently told lawmakers white supremacists represent “the most persistent and lethal threat when we talk about domestic violent extremists.”

Mr. Trump has said he doesn’t agree with those assessments, even as critics have accused him of churning up divisions that lead to violence. In a presidential debate this week, he said the far-right Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by” and “almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.”

During the debate, Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden said, “This is a president who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division.”

The Proud Boys celebrated Mr. Trump’s comment. Two days after the debate, Mr. Trump condemned the group.

The government grants cover two years, and could be doubled if Congress passes Mr. Trump’s 2021 fiscal year budget, according to people familiar with the grant planning.


What should be our top priority in fighting white supremacist terrorism in the U.S.? Join the conversation below.

One of the largest grants, nearly $750,000, went to Life After Hate, which was founded by former white supremacists and neo-Nazis and works with people trying to leave violent far-right movements. The group was first awarded funding under the Obama-era program but had its grant rescinded soon after Mr. Trump took office.

The cancellation came after the group’s co-founder tweeted comments critical of Mr. Trump. Life After Hate said it was told by Homeland Security officials at the time that the decision was made after the department reviewed all the grants awarded under the initial program.

Life After Hate said it will use the funding for its ExitUSA initiative, which helps people who have left hate groups try to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society. The group said the funding would also go to beefing up ExitUSA’s staff, which includes former members of far-right hate groups themselves, and toward expanding an online forum where people and their families can reach out for help.

This type of work “has never been more important,” said Sammy Rangel, executive director of Life After Hate, in a statement. “This project follows years of innovation in a space that was largely uncharted.”

Life After Hate said it has helped more than 500 people and families since August 2017. Last year, the group said it opened 200 new cases.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Trump traded barbs over how each of them has dealt with issues of race. The president was asked if he was willing to condemn white supremacist and militia groups and call for them to not incite violence. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Associated Press

The School of Communication at American University was awarded nearly $570,000 to develop a strategy to undermine disinformation circulated by white supremacists online.

Kurt Braddock, a professor at the university who is working on the project, highlighted the program’s urgency. “We’re seeing more and more use of this kind of disinformation from right-wing extremists that hope to bring people to their ideology,” Mr. Braddock said. “By any observable metric, right-wing violent extremism is the biggest threat to domestic security in the U.S.”

Some of the federal money is going to organizations focusing on broader threats.

The Begun Center for Violence Prevention at Case Western Reserve University is teaming up with the Northeast Ohio Regional Fusion Center to provide training to first responders and will focus on identifying and reporting potentially violent extremism in rural areas in the state. Its scope addresses extremism across the ideological spectrum, according to those involved. The program, which was awarded about $185,000, will develop training protocols for police officers and other first responders.

The Counter Extremism Project was awarded $277,755 to collaborate with another organization, Parallel Networks, to work with inmates at a California correctional facility in San Diego County who adhere both to white supremacist or jihadi ideology—or are involved with prison gangs or groups that espouse extremist ideas.

The organizations will develop a curriculum—one for white supremacists, and the other for jihadis—aimed at providing alternative narratives to extremist ideology that will be administered both in person and through email correspondence.

Jesse Morton’s group will work to help pull inmates away from extremist mindsets and give them the tools to reintegrate into society.PHOTO: AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Jesse Morton, a former recruiter for al Qaeda in New York who now heads Parallel Networks, said the goal is to help pull these inmates away from an extremist mindset and give them the tools to reintegrate into society after leaving prison.

Mr. Morton said his group was focused especially on people with known affiliations with white supremacist or jihadi movements because they posed the greatest threat for violence. Parallel Networks is also planning to expand its work to reach fringe elements of far-left movements who embraced violence during the protests that have swept cities like Portland, Ore., he said.

He noted that there was “a big distinction between a jihadi or far-right extremist, and an antifa adherent who will throw a brick,” and those nuances needed to be considered. But all three are willing to use violence to achieve similar outcomes—upending societal norms—and they depend on each other to help craft their own identities, he said.

“There is a mutual symbiotic relationship between the far right and the far left,” he said. “Without the other side, they wouldn’t have the ability to talk about threats to the degree that they do, and thereby legitimize violence.”

Write to Rachael Levy at rachael.levy@wsj.com and Dan Frosch at dan.frosch@wsj.com

Testing Nightmare

Beat Covid Without a Vaccine

Home testing and ‘digital passports’ could stop outbreaks.

By Laurence Kotlikoff and Michael MinaOct. 1, 2020 7:21 pm ET

  • SAVE
  • TEXT
  • 110
Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., prepares supplies for students on Move In Day, August 2020.PHOTO: JASON KOSKI/CORNELL UNIVERSITY/REUTERS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’ll be mid-2021 before a Covid-19 vaccine is available in quantities sufficient to “get back to our regular life.” Does that mean nine more months of lockdown? Not necessarily. There’s an alternative: repeated, frequent, rapid at-home testing. At least one such test, Abbott Labs ’ BinaxNOW, is already being produced for the government. Others are in development.

Details vary, but each is simple enough to be self-administered. With the BinaxNow test, you swab the front of your nose, insert the swab into one side of a small card, add saline to the other side, close the card, and see if the reader on the front lights up green or red. A phone app records a negative result for use as a digital passport.

Asking those presumed to be infectious to stay home would cut transmission chains, ending Covid outbreaks within weeks. Each transmission stopped may prevent hundreds more. This isn’t herd immunity, but it has the same effect. Like vaccines, the tests don’t have to be perfect. It’s enough to drop the virus’s reproductive number (the average number of people each infected person infects) below 1.

Cornell University’s quick defeat of its Covid cluster shows the power of frequent testing. Cornell tests all undergraduates twice a week and quarantines those who are positive. After an unauthorized party, Cornell had 60 positive cases a week before starting surveillance testing. It now has about three a week.


Opinion: Morning Editorial Report

All the day’s Opinion headlines.PREVIEWSUBSCRIBE

Frequent at-home rapid testing could help keep outbreaks at bay and restore the economy. Health departments would ensure that hot-zone populations get priority access. Digital passports would be required, like masks, to go to work, attend school, make reservations, enter stores, etc. Private-sector requirements would strongly encourage collective compliance

Current rapid tests, including Abbott’s, generate 2% false positives, too high for at-home use. Each pack of tests must come with a confirmatory test that detects a different part of the virus. Both would need to turn red to deem a person positive. This plus repeat use 24 hours later could drive the false-positive rate well below 0.1%. Rapid tests are most accurate on subjects who have high viral loads and are contagious, making them ideal for public-health use.

Our models show outbreaks can be driven down in weeks even if only half a community uses rapid tests every four days. Fifteen million tests a day could stop outbreaks across the U.S. Based on data from symptomatic Covid patients, the Food and Drug Administration has approved BinaxNOW for use in a doctor’s office or clinic. This will help, but such “point of care” tests are too cumbersome to use on the scale needed to reopen the economy.

Rapid tests need to be tested with asymptomatic infected patients. If they work as well, particularly on those with high viral load, the FDA will be closer to approving them for home use. The agency is highly focused on bringing safe and effective Covid testing into the home.

Ford Motor Co. produced an average of one B-24 bomber every 63 minutes in World War II. We can print tens of millions of paper-strip tests a day—enough to end Covid world-wide. The administration should organize a Manhattan Project, run by the Defense Department, to produce and provide free at-home rapid tests to all Americans, starting in hot spots.

Transmission is likely to increase this fall. Pending the rollout of rapid home tests, the country should hunker down and cancel potential superspreader events—including in-person classes in public schools, colleges and universities—when outbreaks arise. Covid-19 is ravaging the land, but there’s a clear way to fight back quickly and safely.

Mr. Kotlikoff is a professor of economics at Boston University. Dr. Mina is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He was a paid panelist at an Abbott Labs Covid conference in May.

Here is my comment on the WSJ site:

“Stanley Kubrick would make a big hit out of this idea. The enforcement mechanism, Ah! the beauty of it. Maybe the Covid swat teams could have shape shifting stealth costumes and their victims could simply be vaporized. This kind of thing is how covid will destroy civilization. Every human, a pariah!
Real people, not sheeple, will mimic the founding fathers fighting the common cold police state.”  

More Important Than the “Debate”

Tuesday night when I tucked Dawn in for the night my first words were, “I’m sorry.” I was sorry she had to suffer through the least funny comedy routine ever produced.

I hadn’t watched a campaign debate since Al Gore “debated” Dick Cheney as vice presidential candidates. I just prefer to read. The important issues are passed over in favor of childish name calling that is an insult to the intelligence of the audience.

Donald Trump interrupting and carrying on was like he was trying so hard not to swear, he forgot the subject. Joe Biden was a perfect example of ineptness yet greatness at forgetting the subject. Chris Wallace; did he get paid for that?

It’s an accidental conspiracy, getting lost in the conversation so that the important issues are glossed over and forgotten.

Forgotten is the Tenth Amendment and Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution, obliterated by tantrums of large children.

Take the gas car ban in California. Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered that no new gas or diesel powered cars can be sold in California beginning in 2035.

– It is correct to question mandating what people can buy and produce.

– It is correct to question how power will be supplied to all these cars when California can’t keep up with demand for electricity with only 6% of their cars now being electric.

– It is okay to question whether a state with a legislature of elected representatives should tolerate an executive branch that acts like a monarchy.

All these things are legitimate concerns. But buried in the story is the speculation about the nomination of a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If it makes the Supreme Court solidly conservative, they say, then Trump’s EPA will prevail in overriding California’s emissions rules.

Let’s get something straight. On the so-called conservative side we constantly hear about the Constitution. We hear the nominee to the court should be a “constructionist” or an “originalist.” Why would an originalist uphold an EPA override of the rules of a state? Is it that the Bush legacy of an oil based economy prevails and would be hurt by a mass exodus to electric cars? As California goes, so goes the nation. Or are they posing as trying to save us from a threat to a logical supply and demand economy?

The problems with Newsom’s order are so obvious and numerous that it would seem unnecessary for the federal government to intervene. All the problems that anyone cites across these once united, yet independent states, are rooted in a transfer of power from the states to the central government. The risks and bad policy are more likely to occur because the central government is always there to steal from the careful and give to the careless.

The Electoral College along with the parts of the Constitution mentioned above should allow states to make mistakes without dragging down the rest of us. With the President taking responsibility for California’s seemingly crazy affairs, he’s involving the less crazy among us. But nobody pays attention because of all the noise from the trivial schoolyard banter.

Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis said it best in 1932:

“ It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

Kings are not elected. They are chosen. The fog of the chatter hides this fact. There must be some explanation for the inconsistencies.