Daily Archives: October 30, 2008

Hometown doesn’t recognize young man feds say plotted carnage

Daniel Cowart

“The boy you saw on TV was never the kid we saw,” said Scotty Runions, who employed Cowart at a grocery store in town. “He didn’t roam around the community like that. That’s why everybody’s so shocked.”

The Leaf Chronicle | Oct 28, 2008

By CLAY CAREY

BELLS, Tenn. — Folks around this small town who’ve met him paint a simple picture of Daniel Cowart: a quiet computer whiz, polite and shy.

But federal authorities who descended on this town last week cast the 20-year-old in an entirely different light.

Cowart and another man were arrested a week ago today, accused of plotting a hate-fueled rampage that would have claimed dozens of lives. Their alleged prized target: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The caper, which never came to fruition, and publicized images of Cowart holding a weapon were bizarre to local residents who know him.

“The boy you saw on TV was never the kid we saw,” said Scotty Runions, who employed Cowart at a grocery store in town. “He didn’t roam around the community like that. That’s why everybody’s so shocked.”

Those who’d never heard of Daniel Cowart before were surprised by the idea that the murderous plot he stands accused of spearheading could have roots in the small Crockett County town of 2,200, about a half-hour drive northwest of Jackson.

“It’s kind of shocking,” said Bells resident Stevie Johnson, 45. “You never think something like that is going to happen in a small town like this.”

“You think Jackson, Memphis, maybe Humboldt,” a town about 12 miles away. “But Bells? It’s really a peaceful place.”

Paul Schlesselman

News of Cowart’s arrest was kept quiet until Monday, when he and alleged co-conspirator Paul Schlesselman of Helena-West Helena, Ark., made their initial court appearances.

The story of their alleged plans struck a nerve in tiny Bells.

“People are scared. Nobody really wants to say anything about it,” said Johnson, an African-American in a county with a 14 percent black population, according to the most recent U.S. Census.

“I don’t have no fear myself,” Johnson said. “They got up on it in the nick of time.”

The two were arrested by Crockett County deputies last Wednesday on charges of possessing illegal guns, according to court documents.

Those arrests led to an array of federal charges including conspiracy to rob a federal firearms licensee and making threats against a major candidate for the office of president.

Cowart and Schlesselman, 18, are in federal custody in Jackson. A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Cowart’s mother and grandfather both live in Crockett County. Neither could be reached Tuesday to discuss his arrest. His attorney, Joe Byrd Jr., did not return a call for comment.

Federal authorities said the two men fostered a friendship on the Internet based on racist beliefs, and started discussing a spree that would have involved killing 88 people and decapitating 14 African-Americans.

Both numbers hold significance in the neo-Nazi world — 88 is shorthand for HH, or “Heil Hitler,” and 14 is the number of words in a slogan of the white supremacist movement.

Authorities say they planned to target an unidentified predominantly black school and, ultimately, Obama. Investigators say the pair said they wanted to wear white tuxedos and top hats as they gunned down the Democratic presidential candidate.

To execute the plan, authorities said, the two stole firearms from family members and hatched a scheme to rob a gun store to expand their arsenal.

On Oct. 20, authorities said, Cowart brought Schlesselman to Crockett County to carry out the plan. They were arrested two days later, after drawing racist symbols and words on Cowart’s car with window chalk.

“These men have some frightening weapons and some very frightening plans,” said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who studies the white supremacy movement. “But with the part about wearing top hats … it gets a bit hard to take them seriously.”

Cowart and Schlesselman were “calm as they could be” when officers took them into custody, Sheriff Troy Klyce said. The sheriff would not discuss the specifics of the arrest that triggered the federal charges.

“I’m sure there had to be some thought put behind it. … They definitely had some plans,” Bells Mayor Harold Craig said.

Klyce and Bells Police Chief Ilandis Smith said police are rarely called to investigate crimes based on race.

“I’ve been here for 15 years,” Smith said. “I’ve not had any (racist) graffiti or anything of that nature.

“This is a quiet town. We don’t have that many problems.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center said on its Web site that Cowart had belonged to a group called the Southern White Alliance, which the center said was formed earlier this year. It posted a photo of Cowart at a group’s celebration of Adolph Hitler’s birthday. The center said the president of the alliance is the son of the imperial wizard of the Kentucky-based Imperial Klans of America.

A posting on a Web site for the Supreme White Alliance says Cowart had been a “probate” with the group but had been expelled.

Heidi Beirich, director of research and special projects for the Alabama-based SPLC, said there are several known neo-Nazi groups in Tennessee, including the National Socialist Movement and the Confederate Hammerskins.

The SPLC’s blog shows Cowart’s member page on the Supreme White Alliance’s Web site — a page that has been taken down. Cowart’s profile on that page said, “I’m 19 years old, from west TN. I am easy going and easy to get along with, so long as you are White!”

Those images stand in stark contrast to the Daniel Cowart described by Harold Craig and Scotty Runions.

Mayor Craig got to know Cowart when he worked at Runions’ grocery store and also knew Cowart’s grandparents. The mayor said Cowart “came from good stock.”

“He was a quiet boy over at work. … He was a nice young man,” the mayor said. “It’s a total surprise.”

Runions said he last saw Cowart about two weeks ago; his former employee helped him fix a problem with an electronic sign at another grocery store Runions owned.

“If he’s anything, he’s a little weird — a computer geek,” Runions said. But he never pictured Cowart as a dangerous man.

“That person never existed. I’ve never seen him like that. Nobody can explain it,” Runions said.

“He was a kid trying to find himself, and he went down the wrong path.”
Bob Smietana of The Tennessean, Bill Theobald of The Tennessean’s Washington bureau and Associated Press contributed.

Related


Alleged Plotter Against Obama Was Member of Supreme White Alliance
The SWA Ning site also carries a page showing “Daniel’s Friends,” belonging to Daniel Cowart, that lists as a friend Steven Edwards (posting as “Stevenfuckit08″), the current president of SWA. Edwards is the son of Ron Edwards, who is the imperial wizard, or national leader, of the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), based in Kentucky.

Imperial Klans of America
The Ku Klux Klan is a US Supreme Court recognized and protected Christian Organization in multiple Supreme Court decisions, and has received a Charter from US Congress.

Supreme White Alliance webpage


Pentagon Seeks Robots To Hunt Down Uncooperative Humans

InfoPackets | Oct 29, 2008

by Bill Lindner

The latest Orwellian request from the Pentagon reportedly involves seeking contractors to provide a “Multi-Robot Pursuit System” that will let packs of robots “search for and detect a non-cooperative human.”

Questions arise as to where that type of technology could end up. Last year, iRobot struck a deal with Taser International to mount stun guns on its military robots. How long will it be before we see packs of rogue droids hunting down pesky demonstrators with paralyzing and deadly weapons while making wrong decisions?

Steve Wright of Leeds Metropolitan University, an expert on police and military technologies told New Scientist that “what we have here are the beginnings of something designed to enable robots to hunt down humans like a pack of dogs” and “once the software is perfected we can reasonably anticipate that they will become autonomous and become armed.”

Technologies for human detection and tracking devices including sensors which detect human breath and the radio waves associated with a human heart beat have already been developed.

While it’s understandable that the military would want such equipment for war time use, concerns have arisen that it would be used against U.S. citizens irresponsibly.

With the threat of Marshall Law being instituted if the fraudulent bailout wasn’t passed, U.S. troops being deployed on U.S. soil and the Department of Homeland Security expanding its own powers to search travelers at borders — and turning vast swaths of the U.S. into “Constitution-Free Zones,” egregiously violating the civil rights of numerous Americans — the question of what the military intends to do with heavily armed robots tracking down ‘non-cooperative’ humans is a very legitimate one. (Source: countercurrents.org, and aclu.org)

It appears that America has slowly and methodically been changed from a Democracy to a fascist police state in the name of “National Security,” which may just be an oxymoron intended to keep crimes committed by the federal government covered up.

At what point does the federal government start looking out for the people they allegedly represent? At what point do people start paying attention to the dangerous acts being committed against them by their own government?

Czech eurosceptics routed in polls ahead of Lisbon Treaty vote

Eurosceptic Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek

AFP | Oct 30, 2008

PRAGUE (AFP) — The leftist Czech opposition Saturday swept senate elections, crushing the eurosceptic ruling Civic Democrats of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek before Prague takes over the EU presidency.

The liberal Civic Democrats lost their single-vote majority in the upper house in the vote in which 27 out of 81 senate seats were at stake.

The opposition Social Democrats clinched 23 seats against seven they were defending. The ruling party’s rout could compromise Topolanek’s future as chief of the party, which elects a new leader in December.

The result also raises the likelihood of the Lisbon Treaty sailing through the senate before Prague takes over the rotating European Union presidency on January 1 as the opposition Social Democrats have always voiced their support.

The Czech Republic is one of only three of the 27 EU countries to still approve the treaty, designed to streamline institutions after the bloc’s recent eastward expansion and replace the failed constitution.

Prime Minister Topolanek on Saturday verbalised the uncertainty voiced by critics on his future, saying: “For me personally it means I’ll have to decide whether I’ll run for party chairman at the congress” in December.

His main rival in the party, Pavel Bem who is Prague mayor, said: “The party should consider calling an extraordinary congress before the scheduled date in December.”

And Social Democrats leader Jiri Paroubek, revelling in what he called a “glittering victory,” Saturday made a pitch for snap polls.

“The result of the elections opens the way for the cabinet to resign, and to early elections which could be held next year,” he said.

But the result of the senate polls may see the stationing of a US radar base — part of the US missile defence system — on Czech soil blocked as it is promoted by the Civic Democrats.

In the senate elections, the Civic Democrats only secured three out of nine seats they were defending. The Communists took one.

The centre-right governing coalition, comprising the Christian Democrats and the Greens as well and lacking a clear majority in the more powerful lower house, will now have 44 seats in the senate.

Last weekend, the Social Democrats also crushed the Civic Democrats in regional elections, clinching wins in 13 of the 14 Czech regions.

Berlusconi’s Would-Be Successors Jostle for Mussolini’s Mantle

Bloomberg | Oct 30, 2008

By Steve Scherer

Gianfranco Fini, head of the National Alliance party, is trying to position himself as Italy’s next prime minister by renouncing his past as a neo- fascist leader.

Fini’s three main conservative rivals as he seeks to succeed Silvio Berlusconi are taking the opposite tack.

“Fascism created important social programs,” said former health minister Francesco Storace, in an interview. His new party, The Right, holds its first national convention on Nov. 7.

Berlusconi has refused to name an heir, creating a contest between the country’s most popular and ambitious rightists. They also include Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, who on Sept. 7 said fascism as a philosophy was not an “absolute evil,” and Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa, who a day later praised Italian soldiers who fought alongside Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1945. Both are in Fini’s party.

“There’s still nostalgia among some Italians for fascism,” said Maurizio Pessato, chief executive officer of polling company SWG Srl in Trieste, Italy. “And the political class commits the flaw of never putting the past to rest.”

Storace, Alemanno and La Russa are seeking to tap into Italian memories of Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini, who — though he allied Italy with Adolf Hitler’s Germany and deported Italy’s Jews to Nazi concentration camps — also created jobs, introduced a national pension plan, built roads, drained marshes and improved railway punctuality.

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All three politicians say they are firm believers in democracy and denounce totalitarianism and racism, while embracing Mussolini-style order and social spending.

Some Italians go even farther. The road underpasses in Rome and Milan, the country’s biggest cities, are regularly spray- painted with swastikas and racist slogans by youth gangs, and the fascist salute is a common sight in Italy’s soccer stadiums. Berlusconi, 72, said yesterday he wants to make it a crime to write or draw on city walls and public buildings.

A quarter of 2,000 Italians surveyed annually since 2002 have consistently said there were “positive” elements to fascism, according to SWG polling. Two-thirds of respondents say the country should not try to ignore its fascist past, according to the surveys.

The bespectacled Fini, 56, whose popularity was second only to Berlusconi in an October poll, has taken a different path. While he has pushed tougher rules against illegal immigration, he also says he supports legal immigrants’ right to vote.

Just Cause, Wrong Cause

“One can’t compare those who fought for the just cause of equality and liberty and those who fought for the wrong cause,” Fini told his party’s youth movement in Rome on Sept. 13, five days after La Russa praised the soldiers who fought for the pro- Nazi Italian Social Republic. “He who believes in democracy is an antifascist.”

While Fini is betting that power post-Berlusconi will be shared between two dominant parties, one right and one left, his rivals are wagering that without a polarizing figure, Italian politics will revert to its previous multi-party confusion. That system helped Italy rack up 62 governments in the past 63 years.

Italy’s next general elections are scheduled for 2013, when Berlusconi or his successor will face the leader of the center- left opposition. Berlusconi and Fini have announced the merger of their two parties as part of their goal to create a leading conservative force. Until the April election, there were at least two dozen parties in parliament. Now there are eight.

“Fini is preparing himself for a post-Berlusconi world,” said Pessato, adding that he has to distance himself from his neo-fascist past to win votes outside his own party.

Bundle of Rods

Mussolini founded the National Fascist Party in 1921, using the Italian word fascio, which means a bundle of rods, to symbolize strength in unity. In a bid to tie himself to the glory of ancient Rome, Mussolini called himself Il Duce, from the Latin word Dux, the title given to the highest civil and military leader of the provinces.

Berlusconi hasn’t hesitated to use Italy’s fascist history to his benefit, claiming in 1994 when he first ran for office that he would save the country from communist totalitarianism. Alessandra Mussolini, the dictator’s granddaughter, is a parliamentary ally.

A day after Fini’s “wrong cause” statement, she wore a t- shirt in the chamber that read: “I’m on the wrong side and I’m proud of it.” She declined to comment for this article.

Berlusconi once was quoted as saying Mussolini “never killed anyone. He sent them to the border on holiday,” according to a 2003 interview with the U.K.’s Spectator magazine. Berlusconi later denied making the comment.

Great Statesman?

The year before he renounced fascism in 1995, Fini, then head of the largest self-declared neo-fascist party in Europe, called Mussolini “the greatest statesman of the 20th century.” Now president of the lower house of parliament, Fini holds Italy’s third-highest political office.

Politicians are promoting a historically false idea of fascism, said historian Emilio Gentile, author of 10 books on the topic.

“Italians haven’t ever come to terms with the real nature of fascism,” Gentile said. “Hitler always said his maestro was Mussolini.”

Of the 7,800 Italian Jews deported to German concentration camps during World War II, 837 survived, according to the Web site of Rome’s Museo Shoah, or Holocaust museum.

Italians don’t recognize that the race laws that led to the deportation of Italy’s Jews weren’t imposed by Hitler, Gentile said, but were “a free choice, made autonomously and consciously by Mussolini.”

European countries tired of ‘difficult’ Irish says Eurocrat

European countries are in no mood to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty just to accommodate the “difficult” Irish, according to the highest-ranking EU civil servant from Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph | Oct 28, 2008

Secretary General of the European Commission, Catherine Day, said Ireland’s ‘No’ vote has tarnished the country’s image and damaged its ability to influence events in the EU.

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She told a Dail committee yesterday that when Irish representatives at meetings try to voice concerns on issues other than Lisbon, the mood among other delegates is that “the Irish are being difficult” again.

This has led to the Irish having to “think twice” before raising issues, she added.

Ms Day said that the ‘No’ vote has meant that, for the time being, other member states tend to view Ireland only through the prism of the Lisbon Treaty.

“But I do not believe that Ireland’s image has been tarnished irrevocably, provided we are able to ratify in a reasonable time period.

“The mood in most of the other member states is that they want to get on with the real agenda and put an end to the institutional debate.

“Lisbon gives us the tools we need to face the challenges of the 21st century — and these challenges look even bigger today in the aftermath of the financial crisis then when the treaty was agreed.”

She said the Irish Government was not coming under any “undue pressure” to make a final decision.

She told the Committee on Ireland’s Future in the EU that she didn’t think it was politically conceivable that the EU would “throw away” eight years of work because the Irish don’t want to proceed.

“There is a sense of concern and frustration in other member states. Many years of debating went into it.”

“I think the other member states are very keen to accommodate Ireland in providing reassurances,” she said. “I don’t see any willingness to re-open the treaty.

“The goodwill does not go so far as to changing the treaty.”

Deafness new scourge for British troops in Afghanistan

Soldiers cover their ears while firing illumination rounds in Afghanistan

The Times | Oct 30, 2008

By Michael Evans

Hundreds of soldiers are returning from Afghanistan suffering from severe and permanent damage to their hearing because of the overwhelming noise of intense combat.

Nearly one in ten soldiers serving with one regiment have hearing defects that could bar them from further frontline service and affect their civilian job prospects, The Times has learnt.

The number of hearing injuries is one of the untold stories of Britain’s military campaigns, evoking comparisons with the thunder of battle in the two world wars and the Korean War.

Many of the soldiers involved in the most violent clashes with Shia militias in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 also returned with permanent hearing impairment. But in Afghanistan roadside bombs, ferocious close-combat clashes with the Taleban and 500lb bombs dropped by coalition aircraft have burst eardrums, caused tinnitus and, in some cases, resulted in total deafness.

The Royal British Legion said that in the past three years it had dealt with 1,195 hearing loss claims against the Ministry of Defence.

Through a series of freedom of information requests The Times has unearthed the gravity of the situation.

Of 411 soldiers in the Grenadier Guards – which should have 580 but is suffering chronic manpower shortages – 37 have severe hearing problems. Nearly 240 of 691 soldiers in the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglians, which returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan last October, suffered hearing difficulties; 35 were categorised as either undeployable or with limited deployment potential.

The 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), which also returned last October, has 34 of 555 soldiers with hearing problems. Two Royal Marine commando units have reported hearing defects.

The MoD said that noise-induced hearing loss was a serious risk, but that earplugs and ear defenders were issued to all troops. However, unlike the US Army, ear protection is not rigidly enforced except in helicopters. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People has launched a campaign to improve ear protection for the Armed Forces. Angela King, a senior audiology specialist at the institute, said: “Repeated exposure to gunfire, even if it doesn’t do traumatic mechanical damage, could lead to permanent hearing loss because of damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear.”

The MoD said that compensation ranged from £5,250 for a blast injury with minimal or no sensorial hearing loss to £46,000 for total deafness. These figures are due to increase to £5,775 and £92,000 respectively.

Unusually cold weather ‘is set to get worse’ in Northern Ireland

DESPITE fears over global warming, cold winter weather has left the impression of unusually low temperatures, even for this time of year.

News Letter | Oct 28, 2008

According to experts, the impression is accurate – and conditions are set to get worse.

A spokesman for MeteoGroup said this is the result of chilly winds coming in from the Arctic and warned the cold would intensify during the day.

“There are quite a few showers about, which are the result of instability in the atmosphere, created by cold air meeting sea surfaces which are still relatively warm,” the spokesman said.

Showers were expected overnight last night and patches of frost in sheltered spots.

The weather shows no sign of getting any warmer.

The spokesman said there was a greater risk of snow for inland parts of the Province and higher ground – and more rain for the coast.

This, he said, was “quite unusual” for this time of year.

But the good news is that the elements are not expected to cause too much disruption – or not at this stage anyway.

“There’s still a bit of warmth in the sun at this time of year, so snow will be reluctant to settle,” said the spokesman.

“There may be light dustings, but it shouldn’t cause too many problems today.”

According to weather forecasts, Belfast is set for a chilly autumn day today with temperatures reaching just six degrees celsius, with wind speeds of 20 miles per hour.

Temperatures are set to drop further – Thursday evening will take us below freezing point.

According to the BBC weather centre, Friday is set to be the sunniest day of the week, even though nine degrees is the predicted maximum temperature, dropping to just one degree that night.

Around the north Antrim coast, gusts of up to 22 miles per hour will hit Ballycastle today.

Coolest temperatures are expected overnight on Friday, when they will drop to two degrees.

Inland towards Omagh, rain is expected this week, with freezing temperatures on Thursday and Friday night.

Meanwhile, in the Portadown and Birches area on Monday, a sudden outburst of heavy hail signalled winter weather was bedding in.

Police were also appealing to motorists to drive with care following initial reports yesterday of snow on the M1, city-bound, close to the Birches roundabout at Junction 12.