Saturday, December 23, 2006

Nifong Roasting

There’s The Christmas Song Nat King Cole made famous:

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
The rest of the lyrics are here.

Citizen journalist and JinC Regular Locomotive Breath took those lyrics and has just produced this wonderful spoof:
A Christmas Song for Mike Nifong
With Apologies to Tradition

DA's burning in a hellish fire
Flames are licking at his toes,
Mournful chants sung by a choir,
Of tortured souls sent down below.

Everybody knows a false charge from a lyin' ho',
Will surely send you straight to hell,
Wicked fiends with their eyes all aglow,
Will make it hard to sleep too well.

They know that Nifong's gotta pay,
He's loaded lots of guilt and bad deeds on his way,
And every laxer Mom is gonna spy,
To see if Michael really knows how to cry.

And so I'm offering this simple gaze,
From now to time beyond our view,
Although it's been said many times many ways,
Immolation for you.
Message to Locomotive Breath: I don’t see how you can top this one. But I hope you try something with Auld Lang Syne for New Year’s Eve.

I hope others try too.


Four who failed

(This post is by now retired NC journalist Bob Wilson, former editorial pages editor of the Durham Herald Sun. JinC)

In "Brodhead’s Failed" JinC goes straight to the issue with Duke's President Richard Brodhead: moral cowardice. Now, who's really in the catbird seat at Methodist Flats, Brodhead or Duke's own Red Guards, the Group of 88? For Brodhead, who quoted Shakespeare as Mike Nifong trampled the civil rights of his students, we who hold Duke degrees say: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

Brodhead's failure is by no means the only example of moral cowardice
and corruption in the seediest rape hoax since the Scottsboro Boys
trials in the early 1930s. The Raleigh N&O, the Durham H-S, and, of course, Mike Nifong have all been weighed and found wanting:

-- Steve Ford, editorial pages editor at the N&O, could have moderated the great harms inflicted on the Duke players and their families over the past nine months. Yet, Ford was essentially silent until, like Brodhead, it was safe to come out following Nifong's decision to drop the rape charges.

Now with today's lead edit, the N&O is finally asking serious questions about the validity of Nifong's case, questions that the paper should have asked months ago. Stalin said silence gives consent. Was the nine months of editorial silence the N&O's consent?

-- Bob Ashley's H-S has been complicit in the hoax from the beginning.

Ashley made a fundamental mistake when he came to Durham in January 2005: He sided his newspaper with a powerful interest group, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. Coupled with Ashley's own stated pro-prosecution views, the H-S became part of the problem. It should have been part of the solution.

Now that Nifong and the hoax are going down in flames, Ashley must find a way to save his hide. Both he and his newspaper have shredded their credibility. Moral cowardice doesn't come cheap.

-- Of the four who failed, Mike Nifong alone wielded state-sanctioned power. He used it recklessly and ruthlessly to upend the lives of the players and their families. Even with the rape charges dropped, Nifong brought up his “reserves” -- charges of kidnapping and sexual assault -- to keep the case alive. This abuse of power is Nifong's lifeline, but as events of the last week revealed, his lifeline is fraying.

If there were an award for moral corruption, Nifong would rate an Oscar. For the moment, however, disbarment and disgrace will do nicely.

--Bob Wilson


Back on March 25 Duke’s President, Richard H. Brodhead, refused to meet with the parents of 46 students under investigation for multiple felonies, including gang rape. He hasn’t met with them since. He’s never said why.

On May 18 racists outside and within the Durham County Courthouse shouted threats, including death threats, at Duke sophomore Reade Seligmann.

Brodhead said nothing then and has said nothing since critical of racists threatening one of his students.

Duke News Service recently confirmed Brodhead’s silence on May 18 and since. But it said I needed to call his office to learn why he’s been silent. Calls to Brodhead’s office in which I identified myself and my purpose have not been returned.

On June 13 the Raleigh News & Observer published a letter from Duke Law School professor James Coleman in which he said Nifong had “undermined public confidence in the case” and should step aside.

For the next six months and nine days Brodhead declined to support Coleman’s request.

Instead, Brodhead urged us all to, like him, do nothing about Nifong’s conduct; and thus enable Nifong to bring David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann to trial in Durham where Brodhead said they would have their chance to be “proved innocent.”

Now, a week after a disgraced DNA expert admitted in court he teamed with Nifong to withhold evidence favorable to Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann, Brodhead announced he can support Coleman’s position after all.

What’s more, Brodhead is demanding Nifong “explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.” Excerpt from Duke News Service:

“The district attorney should now put this case in the hands of an independent party, who can restore confidence in the fairness of the process. Further, Mr. Nifong has an obligation to explain to all of us his conduct in this matter.”
It’s a plus for justice whenever someone goes from silence in the face of Nifong’s travesties to endorsing what Coleman and so many others have asked for.

But excepting that, I’m not cheering Brodhead’s statement. It’s too little, too late and obviously self-serving.

Brodhead’s demand that Nifong “explain to all of us his conduct in this matter” would have been very helpful last spring or even a few weeks before November’s election which Nifong won with less than 50% of the vote.

By speaking out last spring, Brodhead might very well have helped prevent a witch hunt and the massive injustices it’s spawned.

Even if Brodhead had delayed speaking out until October, he might have helped defeat Nifong at the polls. In that case, Nifong would now have just over a week left in office.

Brodhead has often said the job of president of Duke University is a very tough one. He’s right. But there are matters and events that come a Duke president’s way that are very important and not really so tough. Yet Brodhead’s managed to fail at many of them.

What was tough about condeming the "Wanted" and "Vigilante" posters that circulated on campus and in Durham last spring? But Brodhead said nothing. Those posters endangered the lacrosse players most but they also endangered the rest of us.

How tough was it back on May 18 to speak out against the racists attacking Seligmann; or to say supporting words to him and his family? And if for some reason Brodhead didn’t think May 18 was the right day to speak, why hasn’t he spoken since?

What kind of university president remains silent for seven months about events like those of May 18?

Brodhead’s failed Duke and Durham. He needs to move on. The sooner, the better.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 22, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Today I’d like to fill you in on my plans for the series during the holidays. I’ll also say a few things about series posts in 2007.

Next week’s posts will be what I’ll call “Amusing Oldies.” They’ll be posts that have appeared here before and which I hope will contribute to your enjoying the holiday season. They’ll be the sort of posts that are easily shared with family and friends.

On New Year’s Eve, I’ll have a special post on Churchill and - what else - champagne.

On Jan. 1, 2007 the “Amusing Oldies” continues until Jan. 3.

On Jan. 4, it will be “back to work” and new posts.

I’ll use some of my holiday time to plan and research new posts. I’ve promised you I’d learn more about Nazi propaganda specifically targeting Churchill. I’m planning to post on that subject in early January.

In 2007 I’ll be doing more short series similar to the ones I did this year. For instance, the one on Churchill and his brother Jack.

One of next year's short series will deal with Churchill’s automobile accident in New York in 1931, including his long and difficult recovery.

As always I’ll be keeping my eye out for the telling and/or amusing anecdotes; not such tough work when your subject is WSC.

I want to end with wishes to each of you and your families for a blessed holiday season.


To the three families

Friends of Duke University has posted a brief holiday message to the three falsely indicted young men – David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann – and their families.

FODU’s message says just what many of us want to say to the families. So I’ve copied it below and encourage you to comment with a few words; and then "sign it" with your name or, if you're Anon., with your street's name, hometown or other identifier.

All together, our signings will make something good and deserved for the three families. I don’t have or seek direct connections to the families, but many who stop by JinC do communicate with the families. So we can be sure our messages will get "delivered."


To the Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann families:

Today, we share your joy and look forward for the dismissal of the remaining two charges soon.

We are absolutely confident those charges are also false and cannot wait to see them dismissed at the soonest.

You have handled these hard times graciously and won our hearts and admiration.

We wish you a very happy holiday season.

I join FODU in its support, admiration and holiday wishes.

John in Carolina

Def. Attorneys' news conference: CNN 3 PM eastern

Nifong drops rape, keeps other charges: Comments

[UPDATE at 1:41 pm, 12/22/06 --- An Anon commenter noted an error in this post: "The dropping of the rape chares doesn't let Nifong off the hook on the motion to supress the identification. The issues raised therein are just as relevant to the remaining charges."

The commenter's right. Please bear that in mind when you get to the relevent portion of the post.

I'm sorry for my mistake and thank the commenter for pointing it out.


This just in from WRAL TV:

Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong moved Friday to drop rape charges against three Duke University lacrosse players.

Nifong filed paperwork to dismiss forcible rape charges against Reade Seligmann, 20, Collin Finnerty, 20, and David Evans, 23. The players were indicted last spring after a North Carolina Central University student told police she was beaten and raped by three lacrosse players while performing as a stripper at a March 13 team party.[…]

Nifong's investigator interviewed the woman Thursday, and she told the investigator that she couldn't "testify with certainty" that she was raped.

Prosecutors said they couldn't proceed without her testimony, so they decided to dismiss the rape charges in the case.

Nifong said he plans to proceed with kidnapping and sexual assault charges against the three players.
I’ll comment in more detail later today.

For now this: While the dropping of any charge against the falsely indicted players is welcome, Nifong action is likely intended to get himself off some conflict of interest hooks, reduce the chances he and his co-conspirators will be help to account , and avoid having to face the courts all but certain dismissal of the rigged ID procedure.

Prediction: If Nifong thought his latest action would make things easier for himself and his fellow framers, he’s wrong. His action will backfire. It will only make his illegalities more searingly obvious. It will surely energize the justice seekers whose numbers grow every day.

More later. I want to get the news out now.

H-S Publishes Collins’ Letter

In this season of kindness the justice seekers who support the three young men framed by DA Mike Nifong and certain Durham Police officers will be able to say at least one nice thing about Bob Ashley’s Herald Sun. Joan Collins, who writes the outstanding Profiles in Courage series, has written a fine letter which the Durham Herald Sun published today.

The H-S has an unusual policy regarding the length of time letter remain ‘up’ at its online site, Some letters stay up only for a few days; others are there for weeks, To assure people six months down the road will have a chance to read Joan’s letter, I’m publishing it in full here.


Lacrosse case erodes trust in justice system

Recently, U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina wrote to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting the Department of Justice review Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong's actions to determine whether they constitute prosecutorial misconduct and whether the rights of Duke lacrosse players Collin Finnerty, Dave Evans and Reade Seligmann have been violated. Jones was the first congressman or senator to have the courage to do this and I commend him.

I can think of no better time for government to help three families, namely the Finnerty, Seligmann and Evans families, than right now. It does not just take a village to raise our children. It takes a nation.

What is going on in Durham is not just a North Carolina issue. It is a national issue and a national disgrace. It affects all Americans who treasure our liberties and have faith in our justice system. If we lose that, we can lose everything. What will become of our country?

In this season of peace and hope, I am praying that other political leaders will have the courage to join Jones in requesting an investigation by the Department of Justice. Our nation is watching and waiting.

Joan M. Collins
Garden City, NY
December 22, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 21, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churhcill.)

Yesterday’s post described Churchill’s arrival on Dec. 22, 1941 at Washington’s National Airport (now Reagan) where he was greeted by President Roosevelt. Churchill had just flown up from Hampton Roads, VA following a stormy Atlantic crossing aboard a British warship.

Roosevelt and Churchill, together with their staffs, would in the following days and weeks engage in intense, complicated and critical war planning. But they would also take some time for Christmas.

In the 1940s the White House Christmas tree was lighted by the President on Christmas Eve. So Churchill was there late on the afternoon of Dec. 24 as Roosevelt was getting ready to make some brief remarks to the nation and light the tree. He invited Churchill to join him on the White House’s South Portico where the ceremony would take place. Roosevelt also invited Churchill to say a few words to the American people, which Churchill readily agreed to do.

This link will take you to a photo of Roosevelt standing before the microphones with Churchill standing to his right and rear at a column base. I don’t know who the third man in the photo is but assume he’s a technician.

The photo is part of a site the White House Historical Association has put together. It has many photos of Presidents and their families centered on Christmas themes. I hope you enjoy looking around the site.

Law Prof: Nifong has “conflict of interest”

In an op-ed in today’s Raleigh News & Observer UNC School of Law professor Joseph E. Kennedy explains “Why the D.A. should be off the case.”:

Whether the defendants in the Duke lacrosse case are guilty or innocent, Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong should disqualify himself, or be disqualified, from the case.

On Friday, Nifong's own witness essentially accused him of breaking the law. An actual conflict of interest now exists between Nifong's need to defend himself against possible charges of misconduct and his obligation to prosecute the case fairly and effectively.

In court Friday, the head of a lab that Nifong retained to analyze DNA samples testified that he and Nifong intentionally decided to exclude from the expert's report the fact that DNA analyzed from the clothes and body of the accuser did not belong to any of the defendants but came instead from unidentified males.

N.C. General Statute 15A-903 requires that a prosecution expert provide a report of
the results of any tests performed and that the prosecutor furnish that report to the defense. Deciding to exclude these results is deciding to violate this law.

A prosecutor also has an obligation under the U.S. Constitution and under N.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 3.8 to disclose to the defense evidence which tends to suggest the innocence of a defendant -- including evidence that calls the credibility of a state witness into question.

DNA results showing the absence of DNA material from the accused and the presence of DNA material from other men goes to the credibility of the accuser's account and therefore needs to be disclosed.

In addition to these disclosure requirements, a prosecutor has an ethical obligation not to ignore evidence which suggests the innocence of the accused.

A comment to Rule 3.8 provides that "a prosecutor should not intentionally avoid pursuit of evidence merely because he or she believes it will damage the prosecutor's case or aid the accused." It is not clear that Nifong has ever followed up on the DNA evidence described.

North Carolina law provides for the disqualification of a prosecutor from a case only in the event of an actual -- not just potential -- conflict of interest. An actual conflict of interest appears to exist in this case because Nifong must either challenge the credibility of his own DNA expert's testimony or he must admit to intentional misconduct. […]
Kennedy makes a powerful case. You can read the rest of what he says here.

Kennedy’s brief for Nifong’s disqualification will strengthen those opposing what is clearly a frame-up of three innocent young men by Nifong and certain Durham Police officers. It will also weaken whatever public standing Nifong has left.

Those are two important consequences.

But I believe Kennedy’s speaking out in the N&O will have an even more important consequence: by tomorrow morning NC attorney general Roy Cooper will most likely have read Kennedy’s op-ed; and surely most assistant attorneys general and NC State Bar leaders will have read it, too.

They’ll recognize that what Kennedy has laid out is law and fact-based, carefully reasoned and undeniable. They very likely will not act on it soon. Many of them may not want to act against Nifong at all.

But Kennedy has just very publicly stated why NC’s elected attorney general, his office and its state bar charged with protecting the public from its members’ malfeasance must act.

Our leaders charged to protect us from district attorneys like Nifong and police officers like Sgt. Gottlieb and Inv. Himan can continue to duck their responsibilities. But after today they can't hide.

Kennedy’s op-ed gets a big Hat Tip from me and I’m sure most of you.

One other big Hat Tip is due today. That’s to historian KC Johnson who as far back as June told us Nifong’s conduct raised very troubling conflict of interest questions. Here’s part of what Johnson said then:
The appearance of a conflict of interest regarding Nifong’s electoral prospects has been well-documented: there seems to be no motive other than political for his decision to seek pre-primary indictments before the second round of DNA testing was in, given that he had earlier affirmed to the court that DNA evidence would identify the guilty parties. (The results of the second round of testing, which ultimately contained no match to the two players Nifong had earlier indicted, were not due until after the primary.)

There’s also a lesser-covered apparent conflict of interest: In the primary campaign, Nifong won the backing of an influential African-American attorney, Mark Simeon, who represents the second dancer, Kim Roberts a/k/a Pittman. Roberts a/k/a Pittman first made news in the case with an email to a New York publicity agent asking for help in how to “spin” affairs to her financial advantage, and Simeon has expressed interest in representing both Roberts a/k/a Pittman and the accuser in a civil suit.

Quite beyond the fact that Nifong’s pursuit of criminal charges seems to assist Simeon’s intended civil action, an appearance of a conflict of interest certainly exists: Roberts a/k/a Pittman told a dramatically different version of events, one favorable to Nifong’s preferred tale, shortly after the district attorney secured for her a favorable bond settlement on an unrelated arrest—and Simeon endorsed Nifong’s renomination.
In their different ways Duke President Richard Brodhead and Durham Herald Sun editor Bob Ashley continue to prop up Nifong.

Then there are people like Professors Kennedy and Johnson trying to get Nifong off the case.

Vote Kennedy/Johnson.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 20, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Actor Robert Hardy, who memorably played Churchill in The Wilderness Years and War and Remembrance, recalled:

I was filming for the historical contributions to the series for television, "War and Remembrance," and on this day we were to shoot scenes around the meeting of Franklin D. Roosevelt and WSC aboard the British warship Duke of York. That ship, like so much of our past, has long been broken up, so the mighty USS New Jersey, a battleship of the same vintage, stood in for her, loaned by the U.S. Navy to the film company.

My make-up for WSC took anything up to five hours. It was marvelously done and once finished, perfectly comfortable, though the ordeal of such a long operation, so intimately interfering with one's concentration and relaxation, is pretty taxing. But it was done, and I was carefully padded to represent WSC's rather nobler embonpoint than my own, and then dressed in an authentic reefer jacket with Trinity House buttons and cap, and given a large cigar to put into my reconstituted face. (I have seen the stills and the makeup achievement is remarkable.)

I was ready to go, and the call came, and I was escorted to the gangway of the great ship, at the top of which stood a small party of U.S. Navy people; genuine people, not actors. A lieutenant stepped forward, saluted smartly and said "Well. sir! No need to ask who you are! Welcome aboard, Mr. Roosevelt!"
It’s an interesting recollection ending with an amusing anecdote.

A word of caution: I’m fairly sure Hardy is wrong about Churchill and Roosevelt meeting aboard HMS Duke of York. In Dec. 1941, Churchill and some of his chief war planners sailed for America on board Duke of York. They arrived off Hampton Roads, Virginia on Dec. 22. Churchill then flew on to Washington’s National Airport (now Reagan) where Roosevelt met him. (See Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom. (p. 703)

Other than the Dec. 1941 crossing, I’m not aware of Churchill ever sailing on Duke of York. He returned to England in early 1942 by what in those days was called “a flying boat.”

Is WRAL mocking Brodhead?

At we see the headline:

DA's Handling of Duke Rape Case Attracts More Criticism
And we read:
A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill law professor said Monday he also believes there should be an investigation of Mike Nifong's management of the Duke lacrosse rape investigation.

"I think the best course of action, at this moment, is for Mike Nifong to remove himself from this case or for him to be removed," said University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill law professor Joe Kennedy.
That’s a powerful statement. How often has a law professor in NC said a prosecutor should step aside or be removed from a case?

Kennedy’s gone further than Duke law professor James Coleman who in June called on Nifong to step aside.

WRAL next reports:
The statement comes after Rep. Walter Jones, R-North Carolina, last week, sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for a federal investigation into possible prosecutorial misconduct and to determine whether the defendants' civil rights were violated.

Kennedy said that Jones' request seemed overblown to him until allegations later arose that Nifong and a lab director purposely withheld DNA results showing none of the charged players' DNA was found on or in the accuser's body.

He said the allegations create a serious conflict of interest.

"I think his actions with respect to nondisclosure of this DNA information needs to be investigated," Kennedy said.[…]
A congressman from the political right is requesting a Justice Department investigation of a DA's conduct and a law professor from the political left looks at that same conduct and says it “needs to be investigated.”

Those are powerful blows to Nifong and "his case," regardless of what Durham Herald Sun editor Bob Ashley and community activist Victoria Peterson might tell us.

But wait, there’s more.
According to Garry Frank, president of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys, however, other district attorneys have also expressed concerns about Nifong's conduct.

"It's premature to comment while the court is still contemplating," Frank said. "I think the conference will address this at some point."

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday that a Nifong probe is possible but declined to comment any further on the matter.
Could it get any worse for a DA?

Then we read:
On Monday, Duke University President Richard Brodhead said that the case "will be on trial just as much" as the defendants.

In a statement released by the university, Brodhead said the defendants should be presumed innocent as the case pushes toward a possible spring trial date.
Yawn! Of course the defendants should be presumed innocent. We all learned that by sixth grade.

Maybe there’s a little bit of news value in Brodhead’s statement since he’s been so harsh on the players. But surely his statement is little more than a soggy noodle dropped amidst sharpened axes.

Yet WRAL goes on and characterizes Brodhead’s statement thus:
It was the latest blow to Nifong's case against Reade Seligmann, 20, Collin Finnerty, 20, and David Evans, 23.[...]
The latest blow?

Is WRAL mocking Brodhead or was "the latest blow" unintentional?

Ashley didn’t learn

Readers Note: Here’s another post by now retired NC journalist Bob Wilson. Bob was editorial pages editor of The Durham Herald Sun in the pre-Paxton/Ashley days when the H-S was a respected community newspaper.

Thank you for all the welcoming comments that followed Bob’s first post.


When I was a student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in the late 60s, the Sam Sheppard case was still raw enough for plenty of back-and-forth in the classroom. I wonder today how many journalism students know the difference between
Sam Shepard, the playwright, and Sam Sheppard, the Cleveland osteopath accused of killing his wife in 1954.

What the now defucnt Cleveland Press and other newspapers did to destroy Sam Sheppard’s chance for a fair trial before an impartial jury marked one of the low points of American journalism. It was screaming headlines, biased news reporting, inflammatory editorials, and facts be damned. In such circumstances, Sheppard was tried. It's little wonder he was found guilty.

But in 1966, after Sheppard had served more than a decade in prison, the U.S. Supreme Court, citing the hideous newspaper coverage, overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial at which he was acquited. To see just how reckless the Cleveland
newspapers were visit here.

For America's newspapers, the Court’s decision was a stinging lesson ending with the
admonition to “go and sin no more.”

Now fast forward to The Herald-Sun and its editor, Bob Ashley.

Reading the defense motion for change of venue in the Duke lacrosse
debacle reminded me that not every editor and newspaper learned “the Sheppard lesson.”

In pages filled with vivid examples of biased coverage and
editorializing, the defense motion lays out The Herald Sun’s willfully distorted
portrayal of David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann as rich, privileged white-boy miscreants who deserve a good thumping at the hands of District Attorney Mike Nifong.

KC Johnson’s outstanding “Change of Venue” post includes specific examples from the motion of The Herald Sun’s Cleveland Press style Hoax coverage. Here are a few of them:

“In its first significant editorial on these cases, the Herald-Sun stated that not only had a crime occurred, but that those present during the crime were guilty of an additional ‘outrage’ by not confessing to the crime.”
--Repeated claims “that the District Attorney must have compelling evidence that has not yet been revealed, evidence that justifies its positions.”
--A pattern of having “consistently and openly mocked any claim of innocence made by the Defendants and repeatedly claimed they are privileged persons with expensive lawyers.’
--Editorial suggestions that “it is up to the Defendants to prove their innocence.”
But the players don't have to prove their innocence. That burden rests on the prosecution, which, as most people in this part of the galaxy know, is running on fumes.

As for Ashley and some others at The Herald Sun, if Scotty beams them back to 1954 and Cleveland, they’ll feel right at home.

Bulge Remembrance – 12-20-06

Readers’ Note: This continues an occasional series meant to recall the Battle of the Bulge and honor American and other Allied forces and the local citizens who helped them. The first series post included this quote from Hugh Cole’s The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge:

The mettle of the American soldier was tested in the fires of adversity and the quality of his response earned for him the right to stand shoulder to shoulder with his forebears of Valley Forge, Fredericksburg, and the Marne.

Here’s a very useful site: --- The Battle of the Bulge
The Ardennes Offensive: Dec. 16, 1944 - Jan. 25, 1945.

The site's by an "amateur." (they often do the best work) It's almost entirely commercial free, and offers many links to unit histories and other battle information sources.

You’ll also find a reliable, compact explanation of the battle illustrated with a few maps that are among the most informative ones I’ve seen on the web.

I hope you spend some time at the site. You’ll be well-rewarded.

Hat Tip to GPrestonian for sharing some WW II and family history involving an uncle who served with the 3rd Armored Division in Normandy and the Breakout until critically wounded during a fierce tank fight.

We must never forget; and we must teach the young.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 19, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Scotland Yard’s Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, Churchill’s principal bodyguard throughout WW II, described Churchill’s reactions to the news first, of Mussolini’s death, and then, Hitler’s:

Winston had just arrived at Chequers for the weekend, and as he entered the Great Hall he was informed of Mussolini’s death. He was elated and with much emphasis he said: “Ah, the bloody beast is dead.”

Three days later he received the news of Hitler’s death, but on this occasion he went to a window and looked our, remaining there for some time without any remark. …

In view of some doubt existing in people’s minds as to whether or not Hitler was dead, I asked him if he thought Hitler had committed suicide. Quietly he replied: “That is the way I should have expected him to have died. That is what I should have done under the same circumstances.”
Tom Hickman, Churchill’s Bodyguard: The Authorized Biography of Walter H. Thompson. (p. 232)

Prof “Engineers” Op-Ed Removal

Yesterday I posted “In Ashley’s H-S venue.” On Nov. 14 The Durham Herald Sun ran a column questioning the innocence of the three young men falsely indicted in the Duke Hoax case. On Dec. 1 the H-S published a letter from the columnist retracting his column because of its many errors.

But as defense attorneys noted in their change of venue motion last Friday, the H-S had continued to run the column online and without informing readers the columnist has retracted it.

Yesterday, after calls from many of us, the H-S was STILL running the column online and without notice of retraction

Well, the problem is now “fixed” but it seems it took an engineer to do it.

Michael Gustafson, a professor at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, just sent along a copy of an email he’s received from the H-S:

"To Michael Gustafson:

Professor Crowley's article has now been removed from our Web site.

Thank you for your interest.

Ron Landfried
Editorial page editor"
Michael, a good friend of this blog, has been a voice for reason and justice within Duke and at his Blog of Convenience.

Message to Michael: Nice “engineering,” Professor. The JinC Regulars can’t wait to celebrate with you the completion of another “engineering project:” Mike Nifong’s disbarment.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Churchill Series – Dec. 18, 2006

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

The following passage is found on page 2 of the Encyclopaedia Britannica Online’s Churchill biographical entry:

A self-assurance redeemed from arrogance only by a kind of boyish charm made Churchill from the first a notable House of Commons figure, but a speech defect, which he never wholly lost, combined with a certain psychological inhibition to prevent him from immediately becoming a master of debate. He excelled in the set speech, on which he always spent enormous pains, rather than in the impromptu; Lord Balfour, the Conservative leader, said of him that he carried “heavy but not very mobile guns.”
Balfour’s metaphor is wonderful, isn’t it?

The entire Britannica Online entry is here.

In Ashley's H-S venue

Last Friday’s change of venue motion filed by defense attorneys cited as one reason they were asking a trial be moved out of Durham The Herald Sun’s coverage of the case which the attorneys noted has been grossly biased against the lacrosse players.

As one example of the H-S’s bias, the attorneys noted that the author of a November 19 op-ed critical of the players had on December 1 written a letter to the Herald Sun retracting his column because it had significant errors.

On page 24 of the change of venue motion the attorneys also said that the op-ed writer’s retraction letter had been removed from the H-S’s online site but that his op-ed was still online with no mention to readers that the author had retracted it.

Unbelievable I thought, even for the grossly biased Bob Ashley’s H-S. So I called the paper and asked when the op-ed would be taken down or readers informed the author had retracted it.

“We’ll look at that right now,” someone told me Friday afternoon.

This morning at 8 A.M. the op-ed is still at the H-S's online site.

And yes, you guessed it, there’s no notice to readers the author has retracted the op-ed.

Well, there it is: another example of The Durham Herald Sun’s kind of journalism.

A real editor for Durham

Two years ago this time the locally owned Durham Herald Sun was one of the most respected community newspapers in the South, if not the nation.

It was then purchased by the privately held Paducah, Kentucky based Paxton Media Group which immediately dismissed dozens of dedicated, talented H-S journalists and other staffers.

Paxton sent Bob Ashley (Duke ’70) to Durham to run the newspaper. “Just wait until you see what I’ll do with the paper,” Ashley told the community.

Today, anyone in Durham with at least a room temperature IQ can see what
Ashley’s done with a once fine newspaper: TRAIN WRECK!

So much for bad news.

Now the good news.

James Robert (Bob) Wilson has agreed to start posting here.

If you know Bob Wilson, I’ll bet you’re smiling already unless you’re someone who says:

“No, really, it’s all just because Mike believes in her. I’ll even tell the Feds that.”
Bob Wilson’s one of North Carolina’s most respected journalists. From 1991 until Paxton/Ashley took over, Bob was the H-S’s editorial pages editor. Like so many others, Bob was let go.

But Bob was just a few months shy of retirement; and he and his wife Betty had been savers. So they now enjoy a nice retirement here in Durham and down on North Carolina’s coast.

For the last two years, I’ve been nudging Bob to “go public.” But he’s been reluctant to get back into the tangled web of “doings in Durham.” Who can blame him?

But with the collapse of the H-S as a serious newspaper, and the silence of Duke and Durham’s leaders in the face of DA Nifong’s travesties, Bob’s no longer willing to remain silent.

He and I haven’t worked out how often he’ll post at JinC or how we’ll distinguish his posts from mine but…

[Please, John, stop talking. You and Bob can work all that out later. What we want now is to hear from Bob.]

OK, folks, sorry to hold things up.

Here’s Bob:

John said, “Just start right in.” I’ll do that and hope you stay with me.

The Durham Herald-Sun, where I served as editor of the editorial pages, is trashing the canons of responsible journalism.

Under editor Bob Ashley, The Herald Sun has become not only a shill for District Attorney Mike Nifong, but also a harsh voice for the Red Guards’-style “justice” preached by Duke University’s faculty Group of 88.

The Herald-Sun has conveniently disregarded, even disparaged, the bedrock principles and rights of English and American common law, including the principle that any one of us accused by the state is innocent until proved guilty.

In The Herald-Sun's twisted interpretation of the legal principles and individual rights most Americans still hold dear, three young men – David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann -- indicted following a sham investigation, must now prove their innocence in court.

How did The Herald Sun get such important principles and rights so wrong?

Under America’s laws those three young men don't have to prove anything. The burden of proof is on the prosecution.

But the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that the players committed rape during a team party in March is of no consequence to Nifong, Ashley and their enablers.

Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann are being persecuted -- I use that word deliberately -- not for anything they've done, but for who they are.

That’s a chilling turn of events, one that should concern every resident of Durham and anyone else who cares about justice.

What’s being done to those three young men is so chilling and so perverted that I’ll no longer be a silent witness to Mike Nifong's malicious, possibly criminal, disregard of justice and The Herald-Sun's cheerleading for him.

I appreciate you’re reading what I’ve said. I look forward to reading your comments.

Bob Wilson

Welcome back, Bob.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"A Song for Durham"

Jon Ham at Right Angles has given us “A Song for Durham.”

Jon explains:

Watching the Duke lacrosse story play out reminded me of a song from the musical Hair, “Easy to Be Hard.” I took the liberty of rewriting it for Durham.
Here’s part of Jon’s “A Song for Durham:”
Especially claiming
You care about strangers
You care about evil
And social injustice
But do you only
Care about minorities?
What about lacrosse team guys?
Or don’t they count?
The Nifong Enablers’ Quartet ( Duke’s President Brodhead, Durham’s Mayor Bell, Community Activist Victoria Peterson, and Herald Sun Editor Ashley) won’t be singing "A Song for Durham" at any of their holiday concerts, but you can copy the lyrics here and sing it with friends.

Thanks, Jon