Violets Are Blue (Alex Cross, Book 7) Violets
Are Blue (Alex Cross, Book 7)
by James Patterson

My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
Violets Are Blue picks up where Roses Are Read ends, with Alex Cross still not knowing who the Mastermind is. The major case
in this book deals with a cult of vampires who go around the country committing gruesome murders. The book puts me in mind of Anne Rice’s vampire stories,
which I’m contemplating reading. After solving the vampire case, Cross ffigures out that Kyle Craig is the Mastermind, and the rest of the book is taken
up with his pursuing and capture. He turns out to be quite an evil character. I’m rating this one five out of five stars because it was a real page turner.
The characters weren’t very memorable in my oppinion. Despite this, the story was good and it left mem looking forward to the next book in the series.

View all my reviews.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is a prime example of what constitutes one of those right-wing extremists the government was warning us about, … a little old lady who sent tea bag tabs to her elected representatives and the president.

A Beeville grandmother who sent tea bag tabs to Washington and Austin earlier this month found herself at police headquarters Monday answering questions about her intentions.

“I’m just a normal person. I’m a single grandmother raising two granddaughters,” said Faye Freeman Tuesday morning.

So imagine her reaction when Texas Ranger Andy Lopez and Beeville Police Department Staff Sgt. Richard Cantu came to her door Monday and told her they wanted her to go to the police department for questioning.

The reason? Freeman had mailed the tags from 64 tea bags to different elected representatives in Austin and Washington on April 4 to protest government spending. And one of the recipients had called the authorities to report her, saying he or she had received something suspicious in the mail from a woman in Beeville.

“If you were on the receiving end of something like that, what would you think?” Freeman said Lopez asked her.

“If I’d got something like that, I would have called the person back and said, ‘Can I help you?’” was her response.

Now now, we can’t have common sense entering into this discussion. It’s just not proper for the common folk to criticize our benevolent government. They plant fear in the hearts of our harried political overlords, and that’s just a horrible thing to do.

Freeman was doing what thousands of working taxpayers are doing this month as part of a protest against increased government spending and coming tax increases.

Instead of sending tea bags, the grandmother decided to send the tabs from the bags and use the tea herself.

When she was asked why it was that she did not include a note in the letter explaining why she was sending the tabs, she had a simple answer. “That would have been an awful lot of writing.”

Freeman sent the envelopes to everyone in Washington and Austin she thought might listen. That included President Barack Obama, her U.S. senators and a number of representatives, state senators and representatives.

“When you do something like this you want to cover the chain of command,” she said.

But she never expected lawmen to show up at her door asking her to go downtown.

“I’m really surprised it happened,” Freeman said. “You should have seen my neighbors. I’m just a normal person and when the Texas Rangers came looking for me, they said, ‘Oh my goodness, what’s going on?’”

“I was stunned to start with,” Freeman said. “I didn’t have any idea. They kept assuring me that I wouldn’t be arrested.”

Your tax dollars at work fellow citizens, sending the cops after little old ladies. Absolutely pathetic.

source, via.

Yes, that’s right folks, Homeland Insecurity wishes to inform us that the evil right-wing extremists are out to get us. After all that could be the only reason why they soould be against Father Obama’s benevolent taxation of the country’sresources into oblivion.

An intelligence assessment released to law enforcement last week claims news of recession, the election of an African American president, rumors of new gun restrictions and the inability of veterans to reintegrate create fertile ground for radicalizing and recruiting right-wing extremists.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement agencies that recent news is helping “right-wing extremist groups” recruit new members and could lead to violence, and warns about the possible recruitment and radicalization of returning veterans.

The report, issued last week, is part of an ongoing review of extremists on both ends of the political spectrum.

The latest assessment by DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis found no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but right-wing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on fears about the recession and the election of the first African American president. The office called them “unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment.”

“Right-wing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning,” the assessment reads.

“The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when right-wing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers.,” it continues.

The report also suggests that returning veterans are attractive recruits for right-wing groups looking for “combat skills and experience” so as to boost their “violent capabilities.” It adds that new restrictions on gun ownership and the difficulty of veterans to reintegrate into their communities “could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”

“Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of right-wing extremist groups … The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by right-wing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement,” the report says.

The assessment notes that right-wing recruitment grew in the 1990s but subsided after increased scrutiny by the government following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings.

It does state that in 2009 “threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups … have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts.”

“Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn-including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit-could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past,” reads a key finding in the assessment.

DHS spokeswoman Sara Kuban said the April 7 assessment is one in an ongoing series published by DHS “to facilitate a greater understanding of radicalization in the United States.”

“DHS has no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but right-wing extremists may be gaining new recruitments by playing on their fears about several emerging issues,” Kuban said.

But some critics have said the DHS is equating conservative views to right-wing terrorism, but a DHS official countered that earlier this year, the department issued a mirror intelligence assessment of left-wing extremist groups.

“This is the job of DHS, to assess what is happening in this country, with regard to homegrown terrorism, and determine whether it’s an actual threat or not, and that’s what these assessments do. This is nothing unusual. These assessments are done all the time. This is about awareness,” the official told FOX News on Monday.

FOX News has obtained a copy of the assessment, dated Jan. 26 and titled “Left-wing Extremists Likely to Increase Use of Cyberattacks Over the Coming Decade.” It concentrates largely on the technical savvy of left-wing extremists and not bloodshed.

“The perception that cyberattacks are non-violent aligns well with ideological beliefs, strategic objectives and tactics of many left-wing extremists,” the earlier report reads. “The increasing reliance of commercial business and other enterprises on cyber technologies, including interconnected networks and remote access, creates new and expanding vulnerabilities that technically savvy left-wing extremists will exploit.”

The report specifically mentions “eco-terrorist” Earth Liberation Front, which has been accused of firebombing construction sites, logging companies, car dealerships and food science labs. The report notes that left-wing extremists prefer economic damage on businesses to get the message across.

“Their no-harm doctrine includes claiming to ensure the safety of humans, animals and the environment even as they attack businesses and associated operations,” the report reads. ” Direct actions range from animal releases, property theft, vandalism and cyber attacks, all of which extremists regard as non-violent, to bombings and arson.”

The assessment says it “focuses on the more prominent leftwing groups within the animal rights, environmental, and anarchist extremist movements that promote or have conducted criminal or terrorist activities.”

This might be something that converts to other faiths might want to consider seeking, if they have an ax to grind against their former faith, that is.

LONDON (AFP) – – More than 100,000 Britons have recently downloaded “certificates of de-baptism” from the Internet to renounce their Christian faith.

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The initiative launched by a group called the National Secular Society (NSS) follows atheist campaigns here and elsewhere, including a London bus poster which triggered protests by proclaiming “There’s probably no God.”

“We now produce a certificate on parchment and we have sold 1,500 units at three pounds (4.35 dollars, 3.20 euros) a pop,” said NSS president Terry Sanderson, 58.

John Hunt, a 58-year-old from London and one of the first to try to be “de-baptised,” held that he was too young to make any decision when he was christened at five months old.

The male nurse said he approached the Church of England to ask it to remove his name. “They said they had sought legal advice and that I should place an announcement in the London Gazette,” said Hunt, referring to one of the official journals of record of the British government.

So that’s what he did — his notice of renouncement was published in the Gazette in May 2008 and other Britons have followed suit.

Michael Evans, 66, branded baptising children as “a form of child abuse” — and said that when he complained to the church where he was christened he was told to contact the European Court of Human Rights.

The Church of England said its official position was not to amend its records. “Renouncing baptism is a matter between the individual and God,” a Church spokesman told AFP.

“We are not a ‘membership’ church, and do not keep a running total of the number of baptised people in the Church of England, and such totals do not feature in the statistics that we regularly publish,” he added.

De-baptism organisers say the initiative is a response to what they see as increasing stridency from churches — the latest last week when Pope Benedict XVI stirred global controversy on a trip to AIDS-ravaged Africa by saying condom use could further spread of the disease.

“The Catholic Church is so politically active at the moment that I think that is where the hostility is coming from,” said Sanderson. “In Catholic countries there is a very strong feeling of wanting to punish the church by leaving it.”

In Britain, where government figures say nearly 72 percent of the population list themselves as Christian, Sanderson feels this “hostility” is fuelling the de-baptism movement.

Theologian Paul Murray at Durham University disagrees. “That is not my experience,” he said, but concedes that change is in the air.

“We are in an interesting climate where Catholicism and other belief systems have moved into the public, pluralist arena, alongside secularists,” he said.

De-baptism movements have already sprung up in other countries.

In Spain, the high court ruled in favour of a man from Valencia, Manuel Blat, saying that under data protection laws he could have the record of his baptism erased, according to a report in the International Herald Tribune.

Similarly, the Italian Union of Rationalists and Agnostics (UAAR) won a legal battle over the right to file for de-baptism in 2002, according to media reports. The group’s website carries a “de-baptism” form to facilitate matters.

According to UAAR secretary Raffaele Carcano, more than 60,000 of these forms have been downloaded in the past four years and continue to be downloaded at a rate of about 2,000 per month. Another 1,000 were downloaded in one day when the group held its first national de-baptism day last October 25.

Elsewhere, an Argentinian secularist movement is running a “Collective Apostasy” campaign, using the slogan “Not in my name” (No en mi nombre).

Sanderson hopes rulings in other European countries will pave the way for legal action in Britain, since European Union directives require a level of parity among member states’ legislation.

“That would be a good precedent for us to say to the British Information Commissioner: Come on, what’s your excuse?” said Sanderson.

The bus-side posters that hit London in January sported the message: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

The scheme was in response to pro-Christian adverts on buses directing passers-by to a website warning those who did not accept Jesus would suffer for eternity in hell.

Comedy writer Ariane Sherine, mastermind of the British bus campaign that saw a copycat version in Barcelona and other cities, said she backs the “de-baptism” movement but insisted the two initiatives were separate.

Sanderson meanwhile remains resolute. “The fact that people are willing to pay for the parchments shows how seriously they are taking them,” he said.

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‘The Baptism of Christ’ by El Greco. More than 100,000 Britons have recently downloaded “certificates of de-baptism” from the Internet to renounce their Christian faith

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I’ve seen a few situations where people use miniature horses as service
animals, but it’s not widely done as horses are easily spooked and that can
present problems. I think they’re very cute though and would love to have
one, but definitely for the wrong reason, (because of their cuteness and not
necessarily because of their ability to serve), and so I’ll not be working
towards getting one. Thanks Proggiemuslima for sending
this in.

By BEN LEUBSDORF

Associated Press Writer

6:25 AM CDT, April 10, 2009

DEARBORN, Mich.

than Cali as they ride the rattling bus to work for the first time.

“You’re a good girl, you’re OK, you’re OK,” Ramouni says softly, stroking
Cali — a 3-year-old former show horse that stands about 2 1/2 feet tall,
weighs about 125 pounds and has trained since November to become Ramouni’s
guide.

Ramouni lost her sight to retinopathy of prematurity shortly after birth.
She relies on her family to guide her around the Detroit suburbs where she’s
lived, studied and worked for all of her 28 years.

She wants more independence, but a traditional guide dog isn’t an option.
Many Muslims consider dogs unclean, and Ramouni, an observant Sunni,
respects her Jordanian-born parents’ aversion to having a dog in the home
where she lives along with three of her six siblings.

The answer, she hopes, is Cali, short for Mexicali Rose.

“I want a horse that will be a partner for the next 30 or so years. This is
a really awesome little horse … and what I really want is to be able to
take her places and go places with her that neither of us ever would have
been able to do without each other,” Ramouni says.

While most Muslims believe dogs can violate ritual purity, horses are seen
as “regal animals,” says Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations’ Michigan chapter.

Still, “there would be concerns about bringing a horse into certain
establishments and areas of worship as well,” he says.

There are only a handful of the miniature animals trained as guides for the
blind in the United States. Cali’s trainer, Dolores Arste, knows of five
others.

“Taking on a horse as a guide is a huge commitment, same as a dog but with
more physical needs,” Arste, 61, says. “It is not a novelty. It is a real
working animal.”

The horses can live into their 30s, more than twice as long as most dogs,
Arste says.

Ramouni says she was a “typical horse-crazy little girl.” She heard about
guide horses as an adult and eventually connected with Arste, who earlier
helped train a guide horse.

A breeder offered Cali as a guide and the training began for both the horse
and Ramouni. Ramouni paid for the horse, $450 a month for Arste’s training
and other expenses out of her savings.

Since Ramouni had never used a dog, she had to learn how to control a guide
animal. She was partially successful at training a pet dwarf bunny named
Baylea — “she does come when I call her,” Ramouni says — and has worked
hard with Cali.

“I’ve never met a young woman with so much dedication,” Arste says.

Arste trained Cali partly in Hatfield, Ark., and partly in Saratoga Springs,
N.Y., teaching the horse how to get in and out of vehicles, guide through
crowds and stand still indoors.

Cali first came to Dearborn in December, but her three-day trip this week
was a more important test. Ramouni took on responsibility for caring for the
animal as it led her through her daily routine, including Thursday morning’s
commute on a public bus from her Dearborn home to the Lincoln Park office
where she proofreads textbooks in Braille.

Additional training may take an additional two months before Cali can join
Ramouni for good, taking up residence in a newly erected shed on Ramouni’s
lawn.
Mirrored from Customerservant.com.

By Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks
No amount of regulation will restore our sense of honor and shame.

The continuing disclosures about excessive pensions and payoffs, salaries and bonuses for people at the top stir in us feelings for the oldest of human bloodsports: the search for a scapegoat. But they ought to lead us to think more deeply about the values of our culture as a whole.

Often, these past months, I have found myself going back to one of the most painful conversations I have had. It was with one of Britain’s leading industrialists. He had led his company to consistent success for decades. When I met him he had retired and was near the end of his life.

He was not a religious man but he was a deeply moral one. He spoke of the principles that had guided him in business and of the salary he had drawn. It was not negligible, but it was modest. What pained him was that his successor had awarded himself a salary ten times that amount, while systematically destroying the company he had so carefully built.

I recall another conversation with a successful investment banker. He told me that the first thing he had to establish was his character, his reputation for trustworthiness and honesty. Without that, he would have been unable to trade. Nowadays, he said, deals no longer depend on character but on lawyers. Common to these stories is the gradual disappearance of the cluster of principles that went by the name of morality.

Whatever its source — religion, conscience, custom or code — it meant that there are certain things you don’t do because they are not done. You don’t reward yourself when customers, clients or shareholders or employees are suffering losses. You don’t pay yourself out of all proportion to what you pay others. You don’t take advantage of your position just because you can. You are guided, even if no one is watching, by a sense of what is responsible and right. Without that internalized code of honor and trust, no institution can be sustained in the long run.

Somehow, between the 1960s and 1980s the idea prevailed that we could do without the moral sense. Who needed it any more? In the 1960s we thought that the State would take care of our problems. In the 1980s we thought that the market would. Self-imposed restraints were dismissed as outmoded and killjoy. Greed was good. The guy with the most toys when he dies, wins.

The result was that we began to lose our understanding of the vital distinction between the value of things and their price. The key example — at the heart of the entire financial collapse — was housing. The value of a house is that it is a home. It’s a shelter, a haven, personal space in an impersonal world. For many, it’s where we sustain a marriage and build a family. It’s where love finds its local habitation and name. At a point in time, some began to think of houses not as homes but as capital investments. They began to borrow more and spend more. Building societies duly obliged.

House prices kept on rising. Their attraction as investments grew, and so the cycle fed itself: ever higher prices, ever bigger mortgages, until house prices and borrowing lost all connection with average incomes and sustainability. Those who just wanted a home had no choice but to join the game, at great expense and risk. The speculators were convinced they had become richer, but in real terms they hadn’t. The value of housing had changed not an iota, because value is not the same as price.

It was bound to collapse, and anyone who had thought it through, said so. The investor Warren Buffett called sub-prime mortgages “financial weapons of mass destruction” as long ago as 2002. In the collective madness, no one was listening.

After financial collapse many questions are being asked. Should there be more regulation? State ownership of financial institutions? Have we reached the end of the market economy? They are good questions, but they get nowhere near the heart of the matter.

The market economy has generated more real wealth, eliminated more poverty and liberated more human creativity than any other economic system. The fault is not with the market but with the idea that the market alone is all we need.

Markets don’t guarantee equity, responsibility or integrity. They can maximize short-term gain at the cost of long-term sustainability. They don’t distribute rewards fairly. They don’t guarantee honesty. When it comes to flagrant self-interest, they combine the maximum temptation with the maximum opportunity. Markets need morals, and morals are not made by markets.

They are made by schools, the media, custom, tradition, religious leaders, moral role models and the influence of people. But when religion loses its voice and the media worship success, when right and wrong become relativized and morality is condemned as “judgmental”, when people lose all sense of honor and shame and there is nothing they won’t do if they can get away with it, no regulation will save us. People will outwit the regulators, as they did by the securitization of risk so no one knew who owed what to whom.

The big question is: how do we learn to be moral again? Markets were made to serve us; we were not made to serve markets. Economics needs ethics. Markets do not survive by market forces alone. They depend on respect for the people affected by our decisions. Lose that and we lose not just money and jobs but something more significant still: freedom, trust and decency, the things that have a value, not a price.

This article originally appeared in The Times.

Mirrored from Customerservant.com.

Now this is something I can get behind. I’m wondering if there is something like this in my area.
NEW YORK (CNN) — Nearly 40 unemployed New Yorkers threw phones, smashed pinatas and played “pin the blame on the boss” Tuesday at the “Unemployment Olympics” in New York City.
Jobless participants gathered at Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan’s East Village for the event, created by recently laid-off computer software worker Nick Goddard.
“It’s just a lighthearted event for people to come out and have good time,” Goddard, 26 told CNN.
Former employees, from laid-off hedge fund workers and bankers to people who lost advertising and entertainment jobs, competed in themed events such as the “race towards unemployment.”
For those caught in the economic storm , the event offered a chance to get away from the reality of the job market and meet others in the same position. The only qualification for participation was a pink slip.
Lauren, 54, who worked for a large advertising company before she was let go, said, “I loved my job … but it was eliminated. This is proactive. It’s positive and doesn’t make you feel horrible. Misery loves company.”
Jonathan, 45, who recently lost his job in multimedia marketing said, “It’s a little bit of a break — we all have to work together to get through this.”
Onlookers cheered as competitors raced toward an unemployment
booth and also played “pin the blame … on the boss, the war, consumer spending, the Fed and the economy.”

The wining “olympians” received gift certificates from local restaurants and bars sponsoring the event. Author Patricia King handed out a signed copy of her book, “Monster Boss” to one competition winner.
Jason, a volunteer who is also unemployed, said, “Networking is the best way to commiserate and know we’re not alone. It’s nice to get people together and have a laugh.”
While some people enjoyed the lighthearted feel of the event, others were there to blow off steam.
Faith, a recently fired union worker said, “You’ve got to vent that anger somewhere. This is a fun way to get it out.”
When asked which event she looked forward to, she told CNN, “I’m really waiting for the pinata. It’s my ex-boss. His face will be all over it.”
Luis, 27, recently laid off from an advertising firm, had a different outlook. “I’m pretty optimistic,” he said, “This event celebrates unemployment. Change is always an opportunity to do something better.”
The main site for the Unemployment Olympics is here.

Mirrored from Customerservant.com.