Saturday, November 27, 2004

Great Article From Eric Blumrich at


Last Sunday, Urkainians went to the polling booths to elect their third post-independence president. On wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner. However, Within hours, the election was declared to be riddled with irregularities, and was immediately recognized as suspect, by observers (sound familiar- hmmmn?)

Well- within 24 hours, tens of thousands took to the streets of Kiev, demanding that action be taken. The houses of government were surrounded, and the government ground to a halt. Despite the cold, thousands more camped outside of government offices, effectively shutting them down.

Every day brought new revelations- State-run TV defected from the official government line, and went over to the opposition. The military, called in by the "victor", kept its distance. A divided parliament declared the vote to by invalid, and at this hour, it looks like a new election will be held...

Now- much can be (and has been) written about this whole affair- but here's what gets me:

The Ukraine has only enjoyed nominal independence for 13 years. Before that, they had spent the better part of a century as a client agricultural state of the erstwhile Soviet Union. These folks hand't had a proper election in living memory- but, despite this, when their government is being fraudulently stolen from them- what do they do? Do they just shrug their shoulders, and give up? Do they say "well- they're all corrupt- it doesn't matter which side of the coin gets elected?" Do they just shrink back into the subservient role of the lumpenproletariat that they had become used to, during those long years of soviet domination?

No- they took to the streets, and demanded that justice be done.

Now- if a recently-independent country of 50 million cares enough to take such actions, when a power-hungry cabal tries to perpetuate their grip on government, why can't we?

Think about it- the voting irregularities that have taken place in the Ukraine are similar to, and in some circumstances, were eclipsed in severity by the voting irregularities that happened here, in this country. Washington DC went for Kerry by a margin of the neighborhood of 80%. Why wasn't the white house surroundeed? Why wasn't The Mall in DC filled to overflowing with tens of thousands, as the public squares of Kiev were?

And here's the sad fact:

The Ukrainians were willing to do this- because democracy was new to them- a dream long denied, and dreamt of, for generations. Now that they had it, the people of the Ukraine were DAMNED if they were gonna let it fall from their grasp. They arose from decades of somnolence to declare that no one- no matter how powerful, or corrupt, was going to take this hard-won prize from them. Good on them.

However, again- I must ask- why couldn't we in the United States of America- a country that styles itself the crucible of democracy- take similar action? The answer is a sad one.

We in the United States, to a great extent, have succumbed to a self-satisfied somnolence that makes such action impossible. The vast majority of our citizens turn on our TVs, and are told that everything is fine, that we're the best, the brightest, and that everything is under control. We have taken democracy for granted, for so long, that we no longer think about it, and don't bat an eye, when it is stolen from us- because, after all- if something was wrong- the viewscreen would tell us, right? Don't worry- Big Brother is there, looking after us all- the choco ration has been increased from 10 to 15 grams a week, and the war in Eurasia is within measurable distance of its end.

I wish I could draw a more hopeful conclusion from this- but there it is. At the very least, The Ukrainians have given us here, in the One-Party State of Jesusland, a lesson in what is possible, if we could only bring ourselves to treasure and value what those who came before us fought and died for.

And, the final, sad, irony of all of this, is that Bush has gotten into the act, and has said:

"There's just a lot of allegations of vote fraud that placed their election, the validity of their elections, in doubt... The international community is watching very carefully. People are paying very close attention to this, and hopefully it will be resolved in a way that brings credit and confidence to the Ukrainian government."

I could point out the absurdity of it all, but I'm too busy crying to laugh...


This is an oldie... can't believe i just now found out about it... great video.... check it out.. very interesting facts..... be sure to turn your speakers up

One Thanksgiving Later in Baghdad (Great Article by Matthew Rothschild)

Last Thanksgiving, George Bush made a surprise visit to the Baghdad airport, and Fox News made it seem like this was the most courageous act since Daniel went into the lion's den.
But I doubt there will be any such stunt this year.
Baghdad Airport is closed, and Baghdad is an all-out war zone.
Now U.S. soldiers are dying at a rate of more than 100 a month, and more than 1,000 a month are being wounded.
This is nothing to celebrate, nothing to give thanks for, on this Thanksgiving Day.
Our young men and women, from every state in the union, are dying or being maimed because of Bush's hubris.
Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dying or being maimed because of Bush's hubris.
And that hubris shows no sign of abating.
Bush still maintains that he is delivering God's gift of freedom to the people of Iraq.
He still maintains, as he did in his Thanksgiving address this week, that God is guiding our nation.
He still refuses to put a timeframe on how long U.S. soldiers will have to be in Iraq.
And he still keeps holding soldiers over, way past the time they were promised to come home.
On this Thanksgiving, there are more than 140,000 families missing a loved one at their supper table.
We all wish them a safe and speedy return.
But their commander in chief keeps them in harm's way.
Their commander in chief keeps offering false hope.
Deluded, he speaks of Iraq as being on a steady march toward freedom, when the unrest we see on our TV screens every night belies this rhetoric.
It's as phony as the turkey he carried around at the Baghdad airport last year.

Friday, November 26, 2004


Thank you President Bush

I just wanted to post this and I hope that Ava doesn't mind too much. Thanks to our "terror laws" here in the USA and the ones that his buddy and pal Tony Blair have put in place. I've had to ease off from talking to a really good friend of mine in England. But because of these so called Terror Laws, it has finally hit home for me how much other countries despise the US. Her family isn't happy with her chatting with an American because of the laws, most of her family is anti-American and because she is of Asian descent and probably because they are Muslim and the reaction that Muslims have received in this country, they do not approve of her speaking with me. So to Mr. Bush, thank you for helping me to realize how badly we are hated in other parts of the world.

Some Things To Do Before Inauguration

1. Get that abortion you've always wanted.
2. Drink a nice clean glass of water.
3. Cash your Social Security check.
4. See a doctor of your own choosing.
5. Spend quality time with your draft age child/grandchild.
6. Visit Syria, or any foreign country for that matter.
7. Get that gas mask you've been putting off buying.
8. Hoard gasoline.
10. Borrow books from library before banned Constitutional law books, Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter, Tropic of Cancer, etc.
11. If you have an idea for an art piece involving a crucifix - do it now.
12. Come out - then go back in - HURRY!
13. Jam in all the Alzheimer's stem cell research you can.
14. Stay out late before the curfews start.
16. Go see Bruce Springsteen before he has his "accident".
17. Go see Mount Rushmore before the Reagan addition.
18. Use the phrase - "you can't do that - this is America".
19. If you're white - marry a black person, if you're black - marry white person.
21. Take a walk in Yosemite, without being hit by a snowmobile base-jumper.
22. Enroll your kid in an accelerated art or music class.
23. Start your school day without a prayer.
24. Pass on the secrets of evolution to future generations.
26. Learn French.
28. Attend a commitment ceremony with your gay friends.
29. Take a factory tour anywhere in the US.
30. Try to take photographs of animals on the endangered species list.
31. Visit Florida before the polar ice caps melt.
32. Visit Nevada before it becomes radioactive.
33. Visit Alaska before "The Big Spill".
34. Visit Massachusetts while it is still a State.

2,000 dead in Fallujah as U.S.-led forces sweep area

US-led forces rounded up scores of suspected rebels in Iraq's "triangle of death" on Thursday as officials said the death toll from the this month's massive operation in Fallujah was more than 2,000.
Iraqi soldiers combing the remains of the devastated city of Fallujah also found a suspected chemical bomb factory, along with pamphlets on making toxic substances such as anthrax, a top Iraqi official said.
The largest Sunni party threatened to boycott the Jan. 30 vote, dealing a blow to hopes for a broad national turnout that would legitimize the new assembly.
The Iraqi Islamist Party complained the violence in Sunni areas made voting impractical.
The head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the biggest Sunni political group, joined threats of a Sunni boycott of the election, demanding the ballot should be postponed for six months. "We may withdraw," Mohsen Abdel-Hamid told Reuters.
Meanwhile, however, plans continued for the balloting.
Iraq's electoral commission extended until next Thursday the deadline for registering political parties in the insurgent-riddled provinces of Salaheddin, Anbar and Mosul.
Rebels meanwhile continued to wage deadly attacks, as a group headed by Iraq's most-wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed Wednesday's murder in Baghdad of a U.S. State Department official.
On the ground, two people were killed in car bomb attacks in Samarra, and a key oil pipeline was reportedly attacked.
With time running out to quell rebellion among Iraq's Sunni minority before the election in January, a close aide of Zarqawi was captured in the northern city of Mosul.
In a bid to wipe out insurgents ahead of January's elections, an Iraqi SWAT team, US marines and soldiers from Britain's Black Watch regiment descended on a number of targets in the "triangle of death," southwest of Baghdad, in a series of early morning swoops.
Those detained in Thursday's raids brought to 116 the number of suspected insurgents captured since Operation Plymouth Rock, which involves 5,000 troops and kicked off on Tuesday, the army said.

The latest swoop was the third major such operation this month after US-led assaults on Fallujah west of Baghdad and Mosul, both Sunni strongholds.
Some 2,080 people were killed and 1,600 detained in the US-Iraqi offensive on Fallujah, the largest military operation in Iraq since last year's invasion, Daoud said.
US forces said they discovered a huge cache of weapons in a mosque.
National guardsmen also found a "chemical materials laboratory that was used to make explosives and toxic substances," Daoud told reporters, adding that there were also pamphlets showing how to make explosives and toxic substances, including anthrax.
But marine Major Jim West said Wednesday that while his troops had found chemical labs "there is no indication right now they were being used to produce chemical weapons."
The US military said the largest weapons cache in Fallujah - including grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar rounds, rockets and bomb-making materials - was found in a mosque where the alleged spiritual leader of the insurgents preached.
Humanitarian aid groups had struggled to obtain access to the city, where sporadic violence is still reported. But the Iraqi Red Crescent was able for the first time on Thursday to deliver aid to families in Fallujah.
Meanwhile, Zarqawi's group claimed on an Islamist Web site the murder of State Department official James Mollen, who was shot dead on Wednesday in Baghdad.
Deadly unrest continued elsewhere, with two people killed and 14 wounded in two car bombings, one of them a suicide attack, in Samarra, officials said.
Further north, a key pipeline was damaged in a bomb attack that cut off the oil flow to a major refinery that supplies power stations serving large swathes of northern and central Iraq, an official at the refinery said.
The national guard denied any attack had taken place.
In the far south of Iraq, police in Basra said they had arrested five foreign fighters - two Saudis, two Tunisians and a Libyan - who had escaped the fighting in Fallujah. - Agencies

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

What Might Our Constitution Look Like in 2014 if the Radical Politburo-Style Busheviks are Still in Power?

What Might Our Constitution Look Like in 2014 if the Radical Politburo-Style Busheviks are Still in Power?

The Revised Constitution of God’s United States

A Patriotic Citizens Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

(Passed by Congress and Ratified in 2009)

Preamble: We the people of God’s United States, in order to provide for the common defense, in balance with the blessings of liberty and our position as the Freest Country on Earth ™, do ordain the replacement of the Amendments of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with law, and ratified as per the original, outdated Constitution of the United States, by two thirds of both Houses of Congress, as well as the Legislatures of three fourths of the fifty states, in the year of our Lord 2009, to hereafter be known as The Patriotic Citizen’s Bill of Rights. The full force of the provisions of these Amendments are effective immediately, and the Judicial Branch of the Government of God’s United States is hereby instructed to interpret any disparity between the original Articles of the Constitution and its original Amendments, and this revised and updated Patriotic Citizen’s Constitution, in favor of the latter.

Amendment I: With the exception of the state-sanctioned religion of Christianity, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of any other religion or prohibit the private, non-subversive exercise of any religion. Nor shall Congress abridge the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances; although the President and his appointed agents may do so, in Time of War, or serious threat of war or terrorism, to protect the Country and its people, as he, in his sole discretion, deems fit in the exercise of his duty as Commander in Chief.

Amendment II: A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state of Patriotic Citizens, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, unless such people are suspected or actual abortionists, illicit drug users, subversives, terrorists, enemy sympathizers or propagandists, as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

Amendment III: No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law, as determined by the President and Commander in Chief, and administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

Amendment IV: Except during Time of War, the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. During Time of War, as defined by the President and Commander in Chief, representatives of the Department of Homeland Security may take any and all measures necessary to search the homes, effects, electronic communications or records of suspected or actual abortionists, illicit drug users, subversives, terrorists, enemy sympathizers or propagandists, and it shall be a federal crime, as prescribed in federal criminal statute 841 (d) 1, as described in Patriot Act V, to inquire about such searches, or to inform the subjects of such searches, or the public, of any actions taken under this statute by representatives of the Department of Homeland Security.

Amendment V: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in Time of War or public danger. With the exception of suspected or actual abortionists, illicit drug users, subversives, terrorists, enemy sympathizers or propagandists; no Patriotic Citizen shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation, unless deemed necessary by the President and Commander in Chief or the Department of Homeland Security.

Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions except those involving suspected or actual abortionists, illicit drug users, subversives, terrorists, enemy sympathizers or propagandists, Patriotic Citizens accused of crimes shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII: In suits at common law which do not involve the Government of God’s United States, Government officials, Party Members or Party Institutions, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII: Excessive bail shall not be required of any Patriotic Citizen, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted, with the exception of suspected or actual abortionists, illicit drug users, subversives, terrorists, enemy sympathizers or propagandists. Should abortionists, illicit drug users, subversives, terrorists, enemy sympathizers or propagandists be found guilty, by any state or federal court, of any criminal offense, then their voting privileges for any public election shall be permanently revoked.

Amendment IX: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage such rights to unborn children, from the very moment God Almighty breathes life into their eternal souls. In any and all cases, including rape, incest, and health emergencies, any persons infringing upon the life of the unborn, whether mothers, relatives, health care providers, or their co-conspirators, shall be subject to the full force of state statutes concerning homicide or attempted homicide.

Amendment X: During Time of War the President, Vice President, and all other elected officials who are members of the Nationalist Party, the only Party found by the American people to be a Patriotic Citizens Party, are exempted by federal, state and local term limit legislation, including Amendment XXII of the outdated Constitution of the United States, prescribing a two term limit to the Office of President.

In Time of War, as determined by the President and Commander in Chief, all political parties, with the exception of the Nationalist Party (“The Party”), are suspect and illegal until such Time of War has passed, and it shall be a criminal federal offense to lobby, propagandize, assemble, or vote for any political person or action that is not part of the official Party. It is henceforth the duty of all Patriotic Citizens to vote for and provide support to the Party, until such time as the President, in his sole discretion, determines that God’s United States is no longer at war.

This Patriotic Citizens Constitution expands the rights, and responsibilities of Citizens in the following manner:

All Patriotic Citizens of the United States shall enjoy the right, and responsibility, of receiving and watching Interactive TV. Such responsibilities include an obligation to watch requisite public service announcements, as determined by the President in Time of War. It shall be a federal offense, in Time of War, to tamper with or disable the security delivery or monitoring functions of any Interactive TV device.

Patriotic Citizens are also entitled to an expanded right of Pharmacological Happiness, and all providers of health insurance must fully cover the cost of providing such Pharmacological Happiness. In the event that the Department of Homeland Security establishes, in it sole discretion, that a citizen is psychologically imbalanced, then representatives of the General of Homeland Security shall have the right, in Time of War, to define Pharmacological Happiness within the context of the needs of God’s United States, and to medicate and/or genetically reform law-breaking criminals as they deem necessary.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Iraq: The Uncounted


Approximately 300,000 American men and women have served at one time or another in Iraq.

Most will return to the United States more or less intact. But some come home the hard way - on a stretcher, bloody and broken.

And, as Correspondent Bob Simon says, there are few bloodier or more broken than Chris Schneider.

Schneider says he believed in the war in Iraq, and liked wearing the uniform. "[I was] proud to wear it. I loved wearing it," says Schneider, a Kansas boy straight off the recruitment poster.

He went to college on a wrestling scholarship, started a family, and joined the Army Reserves. This past January, his unit was providing security for a supply convoy traveling through 100 miles of dangerous Iraqi desert. He was riding in a two-and-a-half ton cargo truck, armed to the teeth.

"In my vehicle there was my driver, there was my 50-cal gunner who was in a turret on top," says Schneider. "And then there was myself and another individual in back. We both had M249 machine guns."

Schneider saw another convoy coming in his direction - a line of HETS (heavy equipment transports), big rigs on steroids, hogging the road. The first HET just missed hitting his truck. The second one did not.

"It threw me up over my vehicle, over the HET and about 50 feet into the field on the left," says Schneider. "When I landed, the next HET in line had locked up their brakes to keep from rear ending the one that we hit. And when he came to rest, the first set of tires on his trailer were parked on my pelvis. And the second set had my lower leg wedged in it to the axle. I've been told a rough estimate of approximately 120,000 to 140,000 pounds."

Today, Schneider walks with a limp, on his artificial leg. But even though he was injured while on a mission in a war zone – and even though he’ll receive the same benefits as a soldier who’d been shot - he is not included in the Pentagon’s casualty count. Their official tally shows only deaths and wounded in action. It doesn't include "non-combat" injured, those whose injuries were not the result of enemy fire.

"It's a slap in the face. Although it was through no direct hostile action, I was on a mission that they’d given me in hostile territory. Hostile enough that we had to have a perimeter set up at the time of my accident to prevent from an ambush or an attack," says Schneider. "For those of us that were unfortunate enough to get injured. Whether it was hostile action or not, we're all paying the same price."
How many injured and ill soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines - like Chris Schneider - are left off the Pentagon’s casualty count?

Would you believe 15,000? 60 Minutes asked the Department of Defense to grant us an interview. They declined. Instead, they sent a letter, which contains a figure not included in published casualty reports: "More than 15,000 troops with so-called 'non-battle' injuries and diseases have been evacuated from Iraq."

Many of those evacuated are brought to Landstuhl in Germany. Most cases are not life-threatening. In fact, some are not serious at all. But only 20 percent return to their units in Iraq. Among the 80 percent who don’t return are GIs who suffered crushing bone fractures; scores of spinal injuries; heart problems by the hundreds; and a slew of psychiatric cases. None of these are included in the casualty count, leaving the true human cost of the war something of a mystery.

"It's difficult to estimate what the total number is," says John Pike, director of a research group called

As a military analyst, Pike has spoken out against both Republican and Democratic administrations. He’s weighed all the available casualty data and has made an informed estimate that goes well beyond what the Pentagon has released.

"You have to say that the total number of casualties due to wounds, injury, disease would have to be somewhere in the ballpark of over 20, maybe 30,000," says Pike.

His calculation, striking as it is, is based on the military's own definition of casualty – anyone "lost to the organization," in this case, for medical reasons. And Pike believes it’s no accident that the military reports a number far lower than his estimate.

"The Pentagon, I think, is afraid that they're going to lose public support for this war, the way they lost public support for Vietnam back in the 1960s," says Pike. "And minimizing the apparent cost of the war, I think, is one way that they're hoping to sustain public support here at home."

60 Minutes asked the assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs about that claim - that casualties are being underreported, for political reasons. And we got a flat denial. In a letter, he told us, "We in the Department of Defense categorically reject the notion that we are underreporting casualties from Operation Iraqi Freedom."

He pointed out that he’d already provided us with some figures - the 15,000 evacuations of non-combat injured and ill. Still, Pike says the military is trying to minimize the casualty count. It’s an effort Pike believes is misguided, because he says that even if Americans understood the full human cost of the war, public support would not weaken.

"I think that all of the public opinion polling that we're seeing suggests that the public is prepared to sustain far higher casualties than politicians give them credit for," says Pike. "I think that it's basically that the politicians and the Pentagon, don't have confidence in the American people."
The Department of Defense did not include non-battle injuries in its casualty reports in other recent wars, either. But that’s of little comfort to Joel Gomez, who was riding in the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle, looking for insurgents, when disaster struck.

"Unfortunately, the Bradley was too heavy for the road, a dirt road, and the ground gave way. And we wound up flipping down the mountain. And it landed upside-down in the Tigris River," says Gomez.

His two buddies were killed. Gomez made it out, but he's now paralyzed. "[It's] a horrific change. I can't move my legs. I can't move my arms," says Gomez. "It just totally changes your life in a manner that you could never imagine."

Even though Gomez tumbled into the Tigris while looking for insurgents, he is, by the Pentagon’s definition, “non-combat injured.”

"They blow it off and say it's just an accident," say Gomez. "I'm sure that somebody getting shot in the back would just be an accident. But that's how they see it."

The Department of Defense says the injuries and illnesses suffered by Gomez and thousands of other troops should not be taken out of context. In their letter to 60 Minutes, they said: “In order to understand rates of injuries and diseases, it is necessary to understand what the normal or usual rates of injuries and diseases might be in other situations.”

What does this mean? That there are always going to be a certain number of accidents and injuries, war or no war – though they offer no numbers for comparison.

"Soldiers and Marines are gonna get sick. They're gonna get into accidents. But there's gonna be more disease, more accidents, more psychiatric stress in Iraq than if they were back here," says Pike, who adds that hundreds of troops in Iraq have been so paralyzed by stress that they've had to be medically evacuated – though you won't see them reported in the casualty count.
Traditionally, that count has not included combat stress. It was long thought, in the military’s macho culture, that psychological trauma is best suffered in silence.

Graham Alstrom has been back from Iraq for over a year, but he’s still haunted by what he saw – and what he did to other people. "Some of them I shot. Some of them I blew up with grenades. Some of them were stabbed," says Alstrom.

The memories of killing invaded his mind. Soon after he returned home, Alstrom’s life began to unravel.

"The drinking started immediately. I stopped sleeping. And I started getting very angry. I didn't want to talk to my family anymore. I didn't want them to see me. I didn't want to see them. I felt like they were ashamed of me," says Alstrom. "I was partly ashamed of some of the things I had done. …I couldn't separate the killing people and killing them in combat."

He says he's frustrated that the military says his illness is not combat-related. "I know what I was like before I went to combat. I had a life beyond the Army," says Alstrom. "I talked to my family. I'd share feelings and emotions with people I cared about. I lived a very regular life."

Alstrom won’t get a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq. It was only his mind that was wounded in battle. "It doesn't matter what the paperwork says. We know what happened over there. We know what we did over there," says Alstrom. "And no piece of paperwork saying that I'm not a casualty could ever take that away. For any of us."

They’ve had so much taken away already, but both Alstrom and Schneider insist that what remains inside them is the heart of a good soldier.

"I'm very supportive of why we're there. I'm very supportive of what we did while I was there," says Schneider. "I believe wholeheartedly that not only should we have gone, but that we've done the right thing."

Now, he’d like the military to do the right thing, too.

"Every one of us went over there with the knowledge that we could die," says Schneider. "And then they tell you - you're wounded - or your sacrifice doesn't deserve to be recognized, or we don’t deserve to be on their list – it’s not right. It’s almost disgraceful."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Cross-burning worry

Two interracial families in Lake Grove were rousted from their beds early yesterday morning to find a burning cross on their lawn, Suffolk police said.

Someone rang the doorbell at the two-family home on Orienta Avenue about 3 a.m., evidence that the house had been deliberately targeted, said Det. Sgt. Robert Reeks of the Bias Crime Bureau. The FBI is also investigating, he said.

Rain quickly put out the flames, but yesterday, freshly turned earth inside a circle burned into the lawn marked the spot where the 31/2-foot tall wood cross had stood. Black smears and fingerprints marred the front door of the house. Police would not release the names of the residents, but did say an interracial couple and their children live on the first floor and an interracial couple live on the second floor.

Reeks said the two households were "disturbed" by the incident, adding that one family had lived there for about eight years. "They had not been harassed in the past," he said. "They don't know why this happened."

No one answered the door at the house yesterday afternoon; a call to a number listed at that address was not returned.

"This heinous act will not be tolerated in Suffolk County," County Executive Steve Levy said yesterday.

The incident is considered fourth-degree criminal mischief, normally a misdemeanor charge. But because of the bias element, it will be treated as a felony, Reeks said. So far, no evidence links the incident to groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and no one has claimed responsibility, he said.

Neighbors said they were surprised and upset that something like this could happen on their racially mixed street.

People here tend to work hard and mind their own business, said Bob Leili, 39, who lives next door and woke up early this morning to find police clustered around an empty gas can discarded on his lawn.

Still, he and others said that neighbors know each other by face and exchange a friendly word or wave when they see each other out doing yardwork.

Leili said he hopes the cross-burning was just a prank by misguided high school kids. He still doesn't know how to explain it to his two young daughters. "This is something from before their time," Leili said.

But on Long Island, cross-burnings are not just a bad memory from the pre-civil rights era. In 1998, a black family from Amityville returned home from church to find a cross burned on their lawn. Two years earlier, three Setauket teenagers were found guilty of burning a cross on the property of a former high school classmate whose family was Haitian-American. In 1992, a black family in Medford returned home from a Saturday night football game to find the remnants of a burned cross.

June Haag, 32, whose sons sometime play basketball with a boy who lives at the house where the cross was burned, still remembers the Ku Klux Klan's unsuccessful 1997 attempt to hold a rally at the Smith Haven Mall. "That's terrible," she said of the incident, "to make somebody uncomfortable in their own neighborhood."

Feroj Ahmad, 41, who is originally from Bangladesh, said no one has bothered him and his family since they moved to a two-family house on the street about four years ago. Now, he said, he is scared, and concerned for his children. "I want to know why it happened," Ahmad said.