Freedom Flotilla II faces Shayetet13 in showdown at the naval siege of Gaza

Freedom Flotilla II - Stay HumanIt promises to be quite a showdown. Israel has repeated that it will let no ship through to Gaza, the IDF has promised “surprises” for the would-be blockade-runners, while this relief convoy is upping the ante with luminaries political and literary. The US boat is carrying novelist Alice Walker and a who’s who of peace activists, no less than Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, and Ann Wright. There will be journalists from CBS, CNN and NPR, so you’d think Israel wouldn’t dare jam their signal and superimpose its own news package like it did with the Mavi Marmara, but maybe it won’t have to.

We’ve seen water hose on Freedom Riders before, only this time the blastees will be activist-squires. You might wonder what kind of sympathy they’ll garner, that is if an audience will see it at all. Will there be an independent media vessel cruising alongside the flotilla, with footage and equipment outside the jurisdiction of an Isreali commando raid? In the past the IDF was able to confiscate every scrap of evidence which could be used against them, at least until their doctored video could shape the official narrative.

Then too, with the absence of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Palestine-champions like Ken O’Keefe, the IDF’s interdiction may meet no resistance at all. Remember the MV Rachel Corrie, surrendering themselves with nary a ripple of media coverage?

Another less provocative strategy adopted by the US boat was not to carry any aid cargo, simply letters of support from American donors. I’m not sure why, except that the IDF cannot accuse them of smuggling anything past the blockade. But what does that make the Audacity of Hope exactly? The Freedom Flotilla is what, if it’s not a relief convoy?

There’s time before the flotilla leaves from Greece, please please please put something aboard to take to Gaza. Break the siege with SOMETHING. You can’t very well assert that Israel wouldn’t otherwise grant entry to all these American activists, many of the Jewish, through the formal border crossings, with or without stacks of correspondence.

I’ll spare further critique for now and wish Team Nonviolence the best success. NotMyTribe has complied a Twitter list of who to follow on the Freedom Flotilla II. Here is an incomplete listing of the passengers on three ships, Ireland’s MV Saoirse, Canada’s Tahrir, and USA’s The Audacity of Hope.

Ireland – MV Saoirse
National Coordinator Fintan Lane, Skipper Shane Dillon, John Hearne, Pat Fitzgerald, Paul Murphy, Hugh Lewis, Rik Walton, Mags O’Brien, Gerard Barron, Jim Roche, Zoe Lawlor, John Mallon, Charlie McMenamin, Philip McCullough, Hussein Hamed, Aine Joyce, Former Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews, Senator Mark Daly, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó’ Snodaigh, Sinn Féin councilor Gerry MacLochlainn, artist Felim Egan, rugby international Trevor Hogan. Representing the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign, the Free Gaza Movement, Irish Anti-War Movement, and Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Canada – Tahrir
Rifat Audeh, Stéphan Corriveau, Karen DeVito, Bachar Elsolh, David Heap, Miles Howe, Soha Kneen, Irene MacInnes, David Milne, Marie-Eve Rancourt, Jase Tanner, Kevin Neish, Dylan Penner (Independent Jewish Voices Canada), Vivienne Porzsolt (Jews Against Occupation in Australia), Harmeet Singh Sooden, Muhammed Hamou (the London Muslim Mosque), Robert Lovelace (Former Chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and professor of Indigenous Studies at Queen’s University), Lyn Adamson (Canadian Voice of Women for Peace Co-Chair), Manon Massé (Quebec Solidaire representative), Sue Breeze, Kate Wilson, filmmaker John Greyson, Mary Hughes-Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement), Sofia Smith, Amira Haas

US Boat – The Audacity of Hope
Medea Benjamin, Hedy Epstein, Ray McGovern, Kathy Kelly, Ken Mayers, Richard Levy, Henry Norr, Gail Miller, Ridgely Fuller, Robert Naiman, Linda Durham, Brad Taylor, Nic Abramson, Alice Walker, ?Libor Kožnar?, Hagit Borer, Kit Kittredge, G. Kaleo Larson

Two boats: Louise Michel & Le Dignité-El Karameh
Julien Bayou (co-founder, Black Thursday), Olivier Besancenot (NPA), Alain Bosc (Cimade), Annick Coupé (porte-parole et déléguée générale de l’Union Syndicale Solidaires), Ismahane Chouder (Participation et Spiritualité Musulmane), Jean-François Courbe (département international de la CGT), Nabil Ennasri (président du Collectif des Musulmans de France), Raymond Fabrègues (Coalition contre Agrexco et Confédération paysanne), Patrice Finel (Parti de Gauche), Georges Gumpel (membre du bureau national de l’UJFP et représentant de l’EJJP), Nicole Kill Nielsen (députée européenne EE-LV), Claude Léostic (vice présidente de l’AFPS), Jean-Paul Lecoq (député du PCF), Catherine Lecoq (Mouvement de la Paix et le Collectif 13 Un bateau pour Gaza), Jo le Guen (navigateur), Yamin Makri (Collectif 69 de soutien au peuple palestinien), Oussama Mouftah (Collectif 59 Palestine), Marie Jo Parbot (auteur de BD), Eugène Riguidel (navigateur), Thomas Sommer (CCIPPP), Henri Stoll (Collectif Palestine 68), Omeyya Seddik

Torstein Dahle, Stine Renate Haheim, Aksel Hagen, Mina Boldermo Eriksen, Bjørn O. Bjørnsen, Tove Henny Lehre, Bard Vegar Solhjell

Gitte Seeberg
John Ekebjaerg-Jakobsen
Adam Qvist

(NOTE: This post will be updated an appended as more information becomes available.)

White Flight from football to assault rifle

Lacrosse baggataway warriorRyan dons the rest of his gear in the car. Pads, armor, helmet, even mouth guard. I adjust the rearview mirror downward until I see his small frame in the backseat. We’re only halfway to practice and he’s already biting down, breathing through his nose, focused straight ahead. It’s the same routine for football, except today he’s got a lacrosse stick across his knees. In his grip, I should say. When we pull the car to the edge of the parking lot, he jumps and literally hits the ground running. From my height he gives me the sense I’m a helicopter pilot who’s dropped soldier reinforcements to join the team on the pitch. There’s a steep hillock between Ryan and the field, but his charge never slows, he ascends like a Cavalry of One, his stick brandished like an assault rifle.

Would an M16 be held any different? The difference between football and lacrosse is that your little assault squad is armed.

In 1763 a band of Chippewa Indians seized Fort Michilimackinac by feigning a game of baggataway, the Native American origin of lacrosse. The Indians pretended that an over-spirited drive led players over the fortifications and within minutes they’d stormed the ramparts.

In a spirit of honoring American Indian tradition, like the harvest celebration of Thanksgiving, American dads are pushing a new sport unto the youth athletic season. Because the first early adopters where also the first white men to hit the New World, the sport now has a Mayflower WASP identity too.

Lacrosse has an exotic appeal in spite of its New England tradition. It’s sort of field hockey gone aerial, full court jai alai with armor, East Coast blue blood rooted with the authentic red bloods, the original old money land owners.

Is that what’s behind the lacrosse resurgence? As Ryan’s team wrapped up the other day, they passed baseball diamonds and could not hold back from chanting “lacrosse, lacrosse” toward the children playing baseball, as if to instigate a cross-sport rivalry. Lacrosse teams are still relatively scarce. On weekends they have to cross neighboring metropolitan regions to play each other.

How many sports programs do you need to round out your kids? Boys have baseball, football and basketball, among the big team sports. Neither of which are the biggest sports internationally. Soccer and handball. Curiously both those require little equipment. They are perfect for the Third World, but imperfect for consumer cultures which have wheels of commerce to drive, especially in recreational pursuits.

Which could explain why Lacrosse teams have to traverse great distances to encounter adversaries. The usual cross town rivals can’t pony up the money for this game.

Lacrosse is White Flight from football. Most schools have barely enough money to keep their athletes in football gear, let alone a completely redundant lacrosse kit. And so the only kids playing lacrosse are from families who can afford the hundreds extra for the specialized equipment. Added bonus, there are no players bringing a black athletic advantage to the game. Like the other equipment intensive sports of the northern climes, lacrosse is a venue where white boys can dominate, and give their accustomed advantage some elbow room.

I remember a fencing instructor encouraging prospective young pupils at a toney gym, about a peripheral advantage to the sport. Ivy League schools offered fencing scholarships, and prospects outside the usual New England states would be at an advantage for consideration. It was the first glimpse I had of counter-insurgency strategies in America’s race war.

Lacrosse may be the arena where prosperous families can let their white boys roughhouse with supremacy, but the joke’s definitely on them. It’s a sport for social climbers, and this ladder is definitely pointed elsewhere. Is your Playstation 3 teaching options trading or first person combat? Lacrosse is real world preschool basic training.

What does lacrosse impart that Football doesn’t? The teamwork is the same, the size differentials are still key. In both games there is only one ball, but in lacrosse, regardless who has the ball, everyone has a stick. If ever there was a sport which prepared athlete soldiers, lacrosse is it.

The sport of real blue bloods was always Rugby. In England, where commoners play rugby, you can always tell the rugby veterans by their broken noses and missing teeth. In America it’s the preference of the prep schools and private colleges, where offspring of the affluent can acquire scars without fear that it will hinder their job prospects because their futures are secure.

America’s white settlers weren’t blue bloods, they were the ground troops dispatched to seize the continent. It looks to me, the same American Dreamers are being tweaked again into service of the empire. The poor bigoted middle class is turning their boys out for real war.

Colorado Springs Mack the Knife

The Gazette reported this weekend that Alexander Pring-Wilson, now of Court TV fame, has won a second reprieve against accusations of knifing an Hispanic Boston teen in 2003. Pring-Wilson’s legal team has twice successfully confused juries by defaming the victim’s poor man’s past, detracting from Pring-Wilson’s drunken, unprovoked pounce with a knife.
The Jackknife is not named after Jack the Ripper, who was never caught. Is Jackie back in town?
In the fawning article about the family’s blue blood Wood Avenue heritage, the Gazette oddly shrunk Pring-Wilson’s 4-inch-blade Spyderco military jackknife to a “penknife!” We’re informed the CC grad will be spending the holidays in Colorado. And will the ex-rugby captain be drinking?
I say, won’t somebody visit the CSPD and ask if the Colorado College campus hasn’t any unsolved closing-time stabbing deaths among its cold cases?

Maybe Pring-Wilson can stop by the Police Department and volunteer the DNA sample he refused to give them from Boston. The CSPD were alerted in 2003 about the similarity of the Boston stabbing to the fatal assault on Jocelyn Sandburg in 2002, and have yet to be given evidence to preclude him as a suspect. But Pring-Wilson’s mother was a long time Colorado Springs prosecutor and, as the Gazette article reminds us, is from a very influential family.

In Boston, Pring-Wilson was stumbling home from a Reggae bar after closing time. He came upon a car parked next to a pizza joint, with two Hispanic teens who he thought were laughing at his drunken state. Pring-Wilson approached the car, opened the passenger door and began stabbing one teen as the other ran from around the other side to pull Pring-Wilson off. The driver had not realized that the pummeling he was witnessing involved a knife. Pring-Wilson claims self-defense, prosecutors are suspicious of Pring’s having begun at the onset with his knife unpocketed, blade open.

Before Pring-Wilson moved to Harvard, he attended Colorado College. The year after graduation he still returned to Colorado Springs regularly to visit his former-teammates, parents and girlfriend. Might one of his visits have coincided with Jocelyn’s murder, a weekend night in 2002, a little after 2am?

Jocelyn and passenger were just a block from home when someone threw an object at their car. Jocelyn stepped out to address the young pedestrian, he suddenly threw what looked like a punch but oddly Jocelyn fell face forward to the pavement. She got up to chase him further into the CC campus where her body was found later with multiple stab wounds.

If you trace a direct route between the bars of Tejon Street and Pring-Wilson’s house, as a drunk might navigate, you cross Jocelyn Sandberg’s car right in the middle. It happened at an hour when Jocelyn was returning from a concert in Boulder, and when a drunk would be turned out from a bar at closing time. And what an unusual scenario for an altercation: knife-wielding pedestrian versus car.

In defense of Ralph Routon

Ralf RoutonRalph Routon’s recent diatribe in the Indy about the impending departure of Michael DeMarsche was lame. But you have to understand. Having Ralph write about the arts is akin to having John Waters write about the Superbowl. You can only imagine how funny that would be. To us. But not to sports fans. You might as well call Jesus a homo or spit on an Indian before you sully such sacred land.

People. Look at the picture of Ralph. Then consider that no one chooses their worst picture to present to the world.  This is likely as good as it gets.  Which means that he is a beer-swilling bratwurst-gobbling sports-worshiping manly man.  He spits.  He scratches.  He has issues with dingleberries.  But he LOVES sports.  And by sports, I don’t mean fencing or horse racing or curling.  Sport involves a BALL of some sort.  And a distinctively American connection (which rules out rugby and soccer, although rugby is the ultimate masculine sport…even basketball doesn’t totally qualify for reasons I can’t quite figure out, but I think it’s because there are so few good white players).

One of the most memorable arguments that Dave and I ever had involved music.  We were in our late twenties; we lived in downtown Denver and we were cool.  He was a surgical resident at the U and I was a financial guru for a hip software company.  As such, we were invited to many events. When these invitations came in through medical channels everything was great.  Orthopedic surgeons are always jocks who were inspired to become surgeons while recovering from their own sports-related injuries.  But when the invitations came from my side of the channel, things were unpredictable.

We were invited to Josephina’s on Larimer, to drink wine and listen to some groovy jazz with fellow yuppies, a term Dave hated.  We got there.  We drank Coors Light while they drank "whine."  They listened to the "music."  In a very unfortunate turn of events, the girl that Dave took to junior prom, Alison, the fantastic skier, the one that paid only friendly attention to him due to family connections, walked in with her new husband, Clark.  Clark was an attorney who was, tragically, wearing a knee-length fur coat.  Dave was wearing Levis, tennis shoes and a yellow t-shirt (with red letters, like a hot dog) that said "NO LIGHTS AT WRIGLEY FIELD!" (which is now framed in the basement, I kid you not).  Things went rapidly downhill from there.  ‘When’s the music gonna start?  I could probably fix that pinkie for a fee.  Let’s go to the sym-PHONY next week."

Dave is the guy who slept through the birth of most of his children.  Our 10-year-old had the lead role in Oliver! at the FAC and I had to beg Dave to watch a single performance.  Brendan was in Colorado Christmas at the Broadmoor, performing for 1,000 people every night and Dave came to watch only once and rolled his eyes at all the "religious" bullshit (he doesn’t know any Christmas carols).  Brendan was hand-picked by Debbie Allen to be in Pepito’s Story at the Pikes Peak Center and Dave was sort of embarrassed and wondered if Brendan might be gay.

This same guy sobbed like an 8-year-old girl when Brent Musburger retired from sportscasting.  I’ve been to two Broncos Superbowls, Northwestern’s first Rose Bowl in 80 years, several Olympic games, the Citrus Bowl when Peyton Manning was senior quarterback and headed for greatness.  Weeping and gnashing of teeth all around.  My children paint, and play music, and sing, and dance.  None of it matters.  But Dave is elated for days if 6-year-old Devon, the only girl on the team, makes a double play to win the game.  Booyah!  Fuck yeah!

My point in all this is that Ralph Routon DOES NOT and CAN NOT care about the arts.  We will have to leave it to the psychiatrists to figure out why. Ralph Routon does not care who or what is playing at the Black Sheep, Theaterworks, the BAC.  He won’t attend Pridefest, nor the Diversity Fair.  Not even Springspree.  But he will agonize over the legal troubles of Michael Vick and any injury sustained by LaDanian Tomlinson.  He did, after all, draft them to his fantasy football team and he’s got 50 bucks hanging in the balance.

John Weiss, not exactly a manly man and therefore less than qualified to diagnose the problem, better figure it out soon and bring in some new blood.  Or the Indy will become the Indy 500 and he’ll have to find a whole new group of advertisers and readers.  Of course I’m kidding.  Car racing is most definitely not a SPORT.  Duh.

Ivy Leaguer accosts car stabs driver 2am

My attention was grabbed by a recent headline, IVY LEAGUER STABS BOSTON TEEN.
But let me tell you another story. In Colorado Springs, April 26, 2002, a friend of mine was driving back from a Thursday night concert in Boulder. Her girlfriend was half asleep, half intoxicated in the passenger seat. It was around 2am as they were driving through the Colorado College campus within a block of their home. Slowly rounding a quiet street corner, the girlfriend remembers something struck out at the car, perhaps a rock.
Lest I betray how this tale ends, I must point out that the subsequent events are entirely the recollection of the tired, inebriated passenger. The driver, Jocelyn Sandberg, 41, community activist, KRCC radio station manager and beloved on-air personality, did not survive the encounter.

Suddenly the car window was down and Jocelyn was having a shouted exchange with a youngish man on the street. Before the girlfriend could refrain her, the door was open and Jocelyn was getting out to confront the man. Jocelyn was very confident physically. Stocky, not butch, Jocelyn was back-on-her-heels jocular, the kind of girl it wouldn’t occur to you to offer to see safely to her car after dark. In fact Jocelyn usually worked a second job as a baker, walking there and back in the middle of the night.

The girlfriend remembers yelling for Jocelyn to return to the car. She watched as Jocelyn confronted the man at the curb. The man was in his mid-twenties or thirties. He struck Jocelyn, she fell to the ground face forward and he ran off. The girlfriend got out and ran to Jocelyn, but before she could get to her, Jocelyn had risen and taken after the man, north into the campus. Yelling after Jocelyn, she saw her disappear behind an administration building. Disgusted at Jocelyn’s typical stubbornness, the girlfriend returned to the car, climbed into the driver’s seat, and drove the last block home. While waiting for Jocelyn inside the house, she fell asleep.

When the girlfriend awoke an hour later, Jocelyn had not returned, so she called the police. By the time the officers arrived, Colorado College maintenance and security personnel had already discovered Jocelyn’s body. Jocelyn had bled to death on the SW side of Armstrong Hall, two hundred yards from where her car had been stopped. She suffered stab wounds in the face, neck and chest. The first cut may have been struck at the initial altercation at the curb.

Except for the girlfriend’s foggy description of the man, there were no witnesses. This was neither a robbery nor a premeditated assault. As for leads, Colorado College is a fairly insulated campus, buffeted by upscale neighborhoods, with very tight security. It’s not on the migratory route to anywhere, and the campus grounds present an inhospitable and unlikely hangout for transient males.

The girlfriend was of course considered the main suspect because it seemed improbable that a man could accost a moving car at 2AM in the morning. However other Colorado Springs residents can recall having snowballs thrown at their cars, in that same general area, by Colorado College students who would then dash off, leaving drivers unable to reciprocate their frustration.

When the police failed to produce any leads, the most persistent rumor was that the knife-wielding man had been a Colorado College student who was then perhaps whisked off campus by well-heeled, politically-connected parents. This could also explain the lack of concern shown by the college administrators. There was plenty of DNA evidence at the scene to test against the student population but such tests were not done.

A year later a stabbing in Boston revived that rumor. On April 12, 2003, a Saturday night around closing time, a Colorado College grad, Alexander Pring-Wilson, now studying at Harvard, was stumbling home drunk. On the way home he accosted a stationary car and stabbed the driver. Immediately after the event, still drunk, Pring-Wilson left this message on a friend’s answering machine:

“Hey, Jen. How’s it going? I just, um, I got attacked. I just got attacked by a group. I fended them off. I stabbed him a couple times and, don’t repeat this to police, um, but yeah, I’ve got a fucking killer headache. I just walked a couple of miles home. I think I’ve got a concussion. Anyway, I had a swell time tonight. I hope you guys made it home. Okay, bye-bye.”

Colorado Springs police were alerted to the stabbing death of Michael Colono and noted the similarities of the MO. Colorado Springs Detective David Edmondson inquired about obtaining DNS evidence from Pring-Wilson to test against the Jocelyn Sandberg stabbing case, Pring-Wilson’s lawyers refused.

Much was now made of the fact that Jocelyn’s witness described their assailant as weighing perhaps 150 pounds, not 200. And being 5′ 8″ instead of 6′ tall. But there was enough doubt. In a woman’s world, couldn’t 150 pounds denote a heavier person? And Jocelyn’s passenger was not making her observations from a sober perspective. Otherwise the age, hair and clean-cut description did fit.

When asked to present evidence of Pring-Wilson’s whereabouts on the 2002 date, lawyer Jeffrey Denner produced emails and credit card charges as proof that the suspect had been in Boston. Pring-Wilson had “accessed a Boston server” to send his mom an email. Likewise his credit card was charged on the next day. Naturally Colorado Springs police regarded this evidence as inconclusive.

But circumstantial evidence drawing Pring-Wilson to Colorado Springs grew. Pring-Wilson maintained a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend in Colorado Springs. And friends recall seeing him regularly at his alma mater. A fellow CC rugby forward estimates seeing Pring-Wilson back on campus “maybe 10” times in the two years following their graduation in 2000.
On a map showing the locations of Colorado Spring’s downtown bars, including Jose Muldoons which featured a Raggae band that night, and Pring-Wilson’s residence, the most likely route between the two points intersects with the corner where Jocelyn Sandberg’s car was accosted.
It should be an easy thing to prove or disprove: flight schedules, cell phone statements, Colorado College alumni events or no. Certainly his girlfriend Janice or his parents should be able to say either way.
  Walking off a drunk

Pring-Wilson’s family and friends are petitioning the governor of Massachusetts to reduce his sentence for the Boston stabbing. By their descriptions Pring-Wilson seems like a nice enough guy: accomplished, dedicated, compassionate, gentle -when sober, no doubt. No mention of his drinking. And according to everyone he was unassailably non-violent, notwithstanding having been captain of the Rugby team, playing forward, the offensive position. And how many gentle souls carry around four-inch Spyderco knives? Pring-Wilson’s drinking companions in Boston recall seeing the knife in the bar that evening. Seeing the knife in the bar?! Not everyone is agreed obviously that it’s such a common thing to carry around.

Could it be we’re talking about a sweet guy -with a drinking problem? Friends who haven’t signed the Pring-Wilson petition do attest that he was an obnoxious drunk. So we’re talking about an obnoxious drunk with maybe a chip on his shoulder and certainly a knife in his pocket. Maybe we’re talking about a 200 pound drunkard who cannot be dissuaded to do anything but whatever he wants. A person who parties hard, then wants to walk home, to walk it off, a couple of miles whatever, alone.

In October 2004 Pring-Wilson was convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of American-Puerto-Rican teenager Michael Colono and sentenced to six to eight years. The killing was found not to have been in self defense because the evidence indicated that Pring-Wilson had fisted his knife before the altercation began. Also, if he was jumped by the two teenagers as he claimed, Pring-Wilson came out of it relatively unhurt. Most damning, the knife blows were struck straight into Colono from a position above, not from wild slashing from a defensive position beneath, as Pring-Wilson claimed.

In their petition to Massachusetts Governor Romney urging him to remand their son to home-custody, the Pring-Wilsons threaten: “You must know that if any harm should come to Mr. Pring Wilson during the duration of his sentence you will be held accountable along with the Commonwealth of Mass.”

Strong words from understandably desperate parents, but who then shall be held responsible for the death of the Puerto-Rican teenager? Jose Cuervo? Spyderco knives?

Why do the parents not suggest, at the very least, that their son promise to disavow heavy drinking and knife-wielding? Nothing against gentle 200 pound rugby forward Alexander Pring-Wilson, it’s his knife-carrying drunken alter-ego that might be a danger. (Knives, drinking, middle of the night personas? A combination not unknown to the annals of crime or western literature.)

How often exactly did Pring-Wilson drink and insist on walking home alone, after his friends had taken cabs? Once a year? Spring break? One less aggressive drunk guy on the street with a deadly knife on Saturday nights would be a good thing for everyone.

There are also hundreds of Jocelyn’s friends in Colorado Springs who would like to hold somebody accountable for her death. Maybe Pring-Wilson could step up to the plate so that we could eliminate the possibility it was him. The sooner we can identify the aggressive man who stabbed Jocelyn Sandberg, the sooner we can prevent him from picking a fight with someone else’s car.