Off the wall counter-terrorism
The attacker who killed two people on the London Bridge last week was subdued by good people armed with: fire extinguishers, a long seafaring pole and, reportedly, a narwhal tusk. Sadly, the attacker was able to kill two people before he was subdued and later killed by police. But the location he chose for his attack proved to be his undoing.
At the foot of London Bridge is Fishmongers’ Hall, a building dating back to 1310. Its walls contain relics from the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers. The attacker, armed with knives and a vest designed to look like a bomb, tried to enter the building, prompting people inside to grab whatever they could off the walls to keep him at bay. The pole and narwhal tusk, according to the BBC, came in particularly handy.
One of the heroes of the day was a Polish national, identified only as Lukasz, who suffered multiple knife wounds as he used the pole to fend off the attacker. The double irony of his heroism is that Britain is in the midst of a grueling Brexit debate that, if successful, would close the doors to European immigrants and force people like Lukasz to leave.
The attacker, Usman Khan, was British-born and raised. Why he was allowed out of prison a year ago after being convicted for a 2012 terrorist attack will no doubt be the subject of much debate in the weeks ahead.
The price of blood
The National Rifle Association is not only hurting America with its entrenched opposition to rational gun-safety measures, it’s also ripping off its own dues-paying members. Already facing questions about lavish spending by its officials, the NRA has now boosted executive pay while cutting funding for key programs, according to a new tax filing.
The filing shows the gun-lobbying organization boosted compensation for its top officials by more than 40% last year, including a 57% pay hike for chief executive Wayne LaPierre, putting his compensation at $2.15 million.
The filing also indicates, without detail, that the organization spent money on perks like first-class travel and health-club dues.
But the organization saw its spending on mission-critical safety training, hunter services and field services drop significantly. Because, hey, someone has to pay for those higher salaries, first-class travel and health-club dues for the folks who keep the blood flowing on America’s streets.
Fun with the Conways
The national political soap opera that is the marriage of George and Kellyanne Conway entered a significant new phase this week. George, a prominent Republican attorney and well-known never-Trumper, decided he was no longer content to just savage his wife’s boss on social media. So he pushed back directly against her propaganda for the first time.
President Donald Trump, of course, is facing possible impeachment because he withheld military aid to Ukraine while pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation that would help Trump’s 2020 campaign.
Ms. Conway, a top Trump adviser, almost seemed to confirm the quid pro quo when she took to Twitter last week to jab at Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the target of the investigation Trump sought.
“Sleepy Joe is Creepy Joe,” Ms. Conway tweeted. “We need Ukraine’s help to defeat THIS guy?”
To which her husband responded: “Your boss apparently thought so.”
Ouch. Imagine the kitchen-table conversation that night.
No more Ms. Nice Guy
Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page has declared, “I’m done being quiet” about President Donald Trump’s personal attacks on her for privately criticizing him during the early days of the Russia investigation. America needs this reminder that it’s fundamentally unacceptable for a president to use the world’s most powerful bully pulpit to go after individual Americans.
Page and FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who were having an affair, traded text messages in 2016 criticizing Trump — not exactly a proud disclosure from a professional standpoint, but far from the smoking gun that Trumpists claim when they falsely allege an anti-Trump FBI conspiracy.
Trump, as is his habit, has been attacking them both personally, especially Page. At a rally in October, Trump called out Page’s name while acting out an orgasm. That prompted Page to finally break her silence.
“The president of the United States is calling me names to the entire world. He’s demeaning me and my career,” she said in an interview with The Daily Beast. “It’s sickening.”
When is enough enough?
George Zimmerman never seems quite satisfied with all the grief he has brought to the family of Trayvon Martin, the teenager he stalked and killed in 2012. Zimmerman, asserting his role as a neighborhood-watch volunteer in Florida, followed Martin and engaged him in a fight even after a police dispatcher told Zimmerman to let police respond to his suspicious-person call. Zimmerman wound up shooting and killing Martin but was acquitted the following year on murder charges.
Now Zimmerman is suing Martin’s family, seeking more than $100,000 in damages. His lawyer asserts that the prosecutor allowed a fake witness to take the stand in place of Martin’s girlfriend, who was talking to him on a cellphone in the final moments of Martin’s life as Zimmerman was stalking him.
Martin’s family denies any witness substitution occurred. But the family of the victim doesn’t call witnesses to testify — the prosecutor does. And the prosecutor bears sole responsibility for verifying the integrity of the witness in any case. Zimmerman needs to leave the family alone and do today what he should have done in 2012: Walk away.