From the Publisher: The Changing Face of Terrorism

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Arnold G. York

The face of terrorism is changing. I used to think of terrorists as disgruntled, impoverished loners looking to make a statement about their futureless lives. Then we have Sri Lanka and Poway and a vet from Reseda and it looks as though, apparently, some terrorists aren’t sure who they want to kill or why. All they know is they want to, and we don’t know who we should be afraid of. There is no question in my mind that with the growth of this nationalist movement in many places there are the usual targets: Jews, Christians living in Muslim areas, Muslims living in Christian areas, pretty much any outsiders living in a majority culture. In tense times, typically the only thing that keeps it from exploding is a government that tries to tamp it all down. But today, there are a number of leaders who rose to power on playing the nationalist card and they have no intention of stopping it.

The shooters in Sri Lanka were all well-educated, well-traveled people from affluent, successful families who were committed suicide bombers. They even blew up their own families and children rather than be captured. The Poway shooter was a 19-year-old kid, who had been a 4.0+ student in high school and was enrolled in a nursing course with a bright future, who apparently had a hidden dark side—not the profile you would expect of a lone shooter. The 26-year-old army vet from Reseda considered blowing up a synagogue, or Christians, or the Santa Monica Pier and finally settled on a right-wing rally in Long Beach.

I think our law is falling behind what’s going on in our world. Social media has changed it all. Normally, if someone says, “I’m going to kill you,” well, that’s just speech. But if someone is standing in front of you, holding an automatic rifle and says it, well, that’s entirely different. I’m beginning to think that if someone goes onto social media and threatens groups, and displays a picture of themselves holding weapons, that action of putting themselves online is enough to say a crime has been committed. Prosecutors may have second thoughts about proceeding but I don’t think juries will have any problems convicting. In our world, where everyone is a broadcaster, words are frequently actions and we may have to re-examine what is and what isn’t protected speech.

 

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This Sunday, we held the Woolsey Fire heroes event at the Malibu Farmers Market and gave them their certificates, their Dolphin pins, other goodies and sent them off to enjoy lunch or whatever at the market. The feelings people shared, the torments they have been through and stories of their uprooted lives were wonderfully candid. It made you realize that in many ways Malibu is just a small town made up of neighbors sharing with neighbors. Still, some were not happy with us. We were rewarding people for staying behind, protecting their homes and their neighbors’ homes and perhaps endangering themselves or others. In Malibu, many of us are veterans of previous fires and we know from hard experience the best protection for your home is you. It would be naive to think that it’s not without risk, but I am certain that if there is a next time, people will hesitate to evacuate. That dictates that we have something like neighborhood fire auxiliaries and we must train people for it. PS: We also had armed security for the event, which is a must these days.

Check the list in this week’s paper on page A8; if there are omissions or misspellings, please let us know ASAP. If you are a Woolsey Fire hero but weren’t able to attend the event, stop by our office for your pin and certificate.

 

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Today, the New York Times had a story about corporations—that we think of as American corporations—that paid no income tax for this past year. The reality is that these large enterprises are now all international players, owned by people all over the world, staffed by employees from all over the world, and owe their loyalties not to the USA but only to the Dollar, the Euro, the Peso, the Ruble or the Shekel. The U.S. Tax Act reduced corporate taxes from 35 percent to 21 percent, plus a bunch of other things. It’s the “bunch of other things” where they get you. I would have been delighted if they paid 21 percent on their income. Amazon, with revenue of $10.8 billion, would have paid $2+ billion in taxes. What they actually paid was zero; in fact, they got a refund of $129 million. Delta had $5 billion in revenue and also paid zero. Chevron, struggling along at $4 billion, paid zero also. Ditto for General Motors, John Deere, Prudential Financial and about 30-60 others. I think we should treat them as they really are. They’re international nation states and, like any other foreign state, they should be forbidden from interfering in our elections, or at least made to comply with all the rules covering foreign governments. The sad reality is that if Apple doesn’t pay that $2 billion in U.S. taxes, guess who gets to pay instead. Right, you and I. I know that some will say I’m espousing left wing socialist palaver. Not so. I believe in capitalism. But I also believe that not allowing yourself to be ripped off is not some kind of left-wing conspiracy. It’s just good solid capitalist common sense.