Teaching religion the FBI way, the life of the hikers families, in Alzheimer’s and in health, the dollar coin, and your Minnesota moment of zen.
1) TEACHING RELIGION THE FBI WAY
As I relayed in yesterday’s 5×8, there’s certainly plenty of evidence to suggest that the people hustled off a Frontier Airlines jet in Detroit on 9/11 were mostly guilty of — as James Fallows put it — “flying while brown.”
Now there’s some evidence that’s just the way the FBI wants it.
Wired.com reports it has received training materials used by the FBI to teach counterterrorism to its agents. The data, the site’s Danger Room blog reports, was turned over by whistleblowers, and purports to show the FBI is teaching that Muslims are violent.
At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.” … Focusing on the religious behavior of American citizens instead of proven indicators of criminal activity like stockpiling guns or using shady financing makes it more likely that the FBI will miss the real warning signs of terrorism. And depicting Islam as inseparable from political violence is exactly the narrative al-Qaida spins — as is the related idea that America and Islam are necessarily in conflict. That’s why FBI whistleblowers provided Danger Room with these materials.
At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.”
Focusing on the religious behavior of American citizens instead of proven indicators of criminal activity like stockpiling guns or using shady financing makes it more likely that the FBI will miss the real warning signs of terrorism. And depicting Islam as inseparable from political violence is exactly the narrative al-Qaida spins — as is the related idea that America and Islam are necessarily in conflict. That’s why FBI whistleblowers provided Danger Room with these materials.
An FBI presentation titled “Militancy Considerations” measures the relationship between piety and violence among the texts of the three Abrahamic faiths. As time goes on, the followers of the Torah and the Bible move from “violent” to “non-violent.” Not so for devotees of the Koran, whose “moderating process has not happened.”
9/11 Followup: You may have seen the story from the Washington Post last week (it was reprinted in local papers) about the F-16 pilot who was prepared to bring down United Flight 93. What the story didn’t say, because the Post didn’t find out about it until yesterday, was that the pilot suspected her father might have been flying the airliner.
2) THE HIKERS
The human yo-yos — the two American hikers, one of whom is a Minnesota native — are waking up again in an Iranian prison, their families back home learning that what appeared to be a done deal to spring them is falling apart because of a political war among Iran’s leaders.
The two — Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal — have been held on spy charges since July 2009.
What’s it like to have your kid in a far-off prison for no good reason? The Daily Beast looks at the prison the families are in…
A few weeks later, Shane’s mother, Cindy, greets me at her farm outside Pine City, Minn. She used to have a business here as a sled-dog trainer, but she closed it down after her son was taken captive. As the seasons change, she imagines what he would say if he were there, able to smell the fresh air. “I have dreams about Shane,” Cindy says. “We’re sitting and talking. He’s sharing things with me, and I’m sharing things with him. When that happens, it’s a relief for me because it’s feels like we’re really having a conversation.”
3) IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, UNLESS IT’S ALZHEIMER’S
Pat Robertson has invoked enough goofy things over the years — suggesting the earthquake in Haiti might be “a good thing,” for example — that people might stop paying attention to him, but people can’t stop paying attention to him (see Ventura, Jesse for more about this phenomenon).
The matrimonial world is atwitter today after a caller to his show — the 700 Club — asked about “a friend” who is “stepping out” on a spouse who has Alzheimer’s.
“I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again – but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her,” Robertson said.
His co-host asked about the typical wedding vows — in sickness and in health, which, appear to be mostly ignored by most people getting married these days:
“If you respect that vow, you say ’til death do us part,'” Robertson said, adding that Alzheimer’s “is a kind of death.”
“Families typically respond the way they do to any other fatal disease,” an executive with an Alzheimer’s group said.
If your relationship doesn’t work out, maybe you need Tu Weiming, 25, who has started a service to handle the dirty part of breaking up with a lover. It was mostly a joke, but then — according to China Times, people started actually paying him to actually handle the breakups.
Among his clients, he remembers most clearly the case of a young woman. He was originally paid by her boyfriend to tell her that their relationship is over. As he delivered the news to her however, the girl threw him 500 yuan (US$78) and told him, “I am the one who wants to finish it, not him.” Thus, like an emotional version of Lee Van Cleef’s mercenary in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, he collected from both parties and broke both hearts.
4) THE DOLLAR COIN
People are never going to love a dollar coin, so why does the U.S. keep making them? Several attempts to get people to accept them over the years have failed miserably.
Inside, coin bags are piled into row after row of shelves. In addition to the presidential coins, the bank also stores Susan B. Anthony dollar coins, which the Mint is no longer producing, and also the gold-colored coins that feature Sacagawea, the Shoshone Indian who guided Lewis and Clark on their 19th-century expedition to the Pacific Northwest.
It’s cheaper to make a dollar coin than it is to make a paper dollar, and its supporters say the problem is the government isn’t promoting its use enough.
Discussion point: What would it take for you to use a dollar coin?
5) SO LONG, SUMMER
Here it is, your moment of Minnesota zen:
(h/t: Perfect Duluth Day)
As for you, autumn, welcome! I say “welcome” in a Minnesota sort of way. What I actually mean is “you should die.”
Bonus: Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez show their off-the-cuff acting chops.
This week at a Republican presidential debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer offered this hypothetical:
“A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens. All of a sudden he needs it.”
Today’s Question: Who should pay for his health care?
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Where are the green jobs?
Second hour: The Jayhawks (rebroadcast from last winter).
By the way, here’s a video from a segment of Tuesday’s night’s Jayhawks appearance with Mary Lucia at the Fitzgerald.
Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: U of M medical ethicist Dr. Steven Miles, on HPV vaccine and other medical ethics issues in the news.
Second hour: Live broadcast, Westminster Town Hall Forum, featuring Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute on “broken government.”
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: What if Greece defaults?
Second hour: Rewriting your life story, at the end of life.