February 2011

BOSTON (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – After 16-year-old Ashton Cline-McMurray was brutally murdered, his mother took some comfort in hearing that at least some of her son’s killers would never walk American streets again.

It’s the reason why Sandra Hutchinson agreed with letting the purported gang members, several of them illegal immigrants, plead guilty to lesser charges. She says the prosecutor reassured her that, after their criminal sentences were finished, those in the country illegally would be deported.

“They said that they would never set foot, basically on American soil again. In other words, they’d be like in jail until they got sent back,” Hutchinson said.

It’s no wonder Hutchinson wanted her son’s killers gone. Her son was disabled with cerebral palsy when he was attacked while walking home from a football game in Revere.

“They stabbed him. They beat him. They beat him with rungs out of stairs. They beat him with a golf club,” Hutchinson said. “They stabbed him through his heart a couple of times. And through his lung. They stabbed him in his abdomen. He didn’t have a chance, really.”

The four purported gang members who killed her son pleaded guilty to lesser charges, from manslaughter to second degree murder, meaning they didn’t serve the mandatory life sentence without parole that comes with a murder conviction.

That allowed one of the defendants, Loeun Heng, to be released by the Massachusetts Parole Board last March. The illegal immigrant was immediately taken into custody by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But instead of being deported to his native Cambodia, Heng is back on American streets.

“It’s crazy,” Hutchinson said. “They’re just letting them back out there to do it to somebody else.”

Heng is free in America thanks to a little-known Supreme Court decision from 2001, Zadvydas v. Davis, which forbids federal immigration authorities from detaining illegal immigrants who have been ordered deported for more than six months.

The Supreme Court carved out a few exceptions for terrorism and other cases, but in the vast majority of cases, illegal immigrants must be released after 180 days if they aren’t deported, often because their home countries aren’t cooperating.

“The government is releasing him because it has no choice,” said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, which generally supports tougher enforcement on immigration matters. “We can’t deport people unless their home country will take them back,” Vaughan said.

“Do you think this puts the public at risk?” asked FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.

“Oh absolutely it puts the public at risk because ICE is forced to release people that it would like to remove but it can’t and it’s no longer allowed to hold them in detention,” Vaughan replied.

Vaughan estimates that thousands of illegal immigrants have been released nationwide, and probably dozens have been let go in New England.

But ICE wouldn’t say just how many illegal immigrants had been released back onto American streets because of Zadvydas.

ICE also wouldn’t comment on Heng’s case, but said in a statement that the agency makes every effort to deport illegal immigrants within the 180-day limit imposed by the court.

“Our ability to remove individuals is dependent upon the responsiveness of foreign countries,” ICE spokesman Chuck Jackson said. “If we are unable to make a convincing argument that the removal will occur within the reasonable foreseeable future, ICE must release the alien.”

Hutchinson is thinking about her son’s other killers, and wondering if they’ll all be back on the street soon, too.

“I just want everyone in the neighborhood to know that they’re all going to be all back. And I don’t think that’s right,” she said.

Two other men convicted of the crime remain in prison. Both are believed to be illegal immigrants, so the government will attempt to deport them when they’re released.

The fourth man convicted is already free, but it appears he’s in this country legally.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office mistakenly thought ICE had the ability to detain illegal immigrants waiting to be deported indefinitely when it cut the plea deal in 2003, but the Supreme Court’s ruling came down two years before that.

A spokesman for the district attorney’s office says prosecutors could never promise someone would be deported, because that’s a decision that’s out of their hands.

The spokesman adds that it’s disappointing that Heng has not been removed from this country.

Cambodia’s embassy in Washington, DC did not respond to requests for information about Heng’s case.


Houston Chronicle: A system’s fatal flaws

Thousands of inmates admit they’re in the U.S. illegally, but even those convicted of violent crimes are often released right back onto Houston’s streets Continue Reading

By Daily Mail Reporter

Rajib Karim, 31, a former British Airways computer expert, was convicted today of conspiring with a wanted terrorist to blow up a plane

Muslim Terrorist Rajib Karim

Rajib Karim, 31, used his position at the airline to plot an attack with Anwar al-Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher associated with Al Qaida.

A jury at Woolwich Crown Court in south east London found him guilty of four counts of engaging in preparation for terrorist attacks.

Karim plotted to blow up an aircraft, shared information of use to al-Awlaki, offered to help financial or disruptive attacks on BA and gained a UK job to exploit terrorist purposes, the jurors ruled.

Karim was ‘committed to an extreme jihadist and religious cause’ and was ‘determined to seek martyrdom’, jurors were told.

The Bangladeshi national, who moved with his wife and son to Newcastle in 2006, had already admitted being involved in the production of a terrorist group’s video, fundraising and volunteering for terror abroad.

Karim, a privately-educated IT expert from a middle-class family in Dhaka, was lured into becoming an avid supporter of the extremist organisation Jammat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) by his younger brother, Tehzeeb.

But their plan to live in an Islamic state was put on hold when Karim moved to England in December 2006, fearing his son was dying of bowel cancer.

Karim, described as ‘mild-mannered, well-educated and respectful’, hid his hatred for Western ways from colleagues by joining a gym, playing football and never airing extreme views.

But at the same time he was using his access to the airline’s offices in Newcastle and at Heathrow to spread confidential information.

After gaining a post-graduate job at BA in 2007, Karim held ‘John le Carre’-style secret meetings with fellow Islamic extremists at Heathrow and, in 2009, began communicating with al-Awlaki from his home in Brunton Lane.

He also shared details of his BA contacts and communicated in code with JMB supporters in Bangladesh.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, told the jury Karim was ‘anxious’ to carry out an attack and he was determined to seek martyrdom – to die and to sacrifice himself for his cause.

‘Through a terrorist’s eyes’ it was ‘just about as good a job as could be obtained’, Mr Laidlaw added.

Karim became highly skilled in conducting secret communications and contacted his brother using elaborate encryptions on computer spreadsheets.

The sleeper cell terrorist ‘dedicated himself’ to extremism, police said.

He worked hard distributing jihadist texts, audio recordings and videos across the internet for the media arm of the terrorist group.

One project included producing a series of propaganda videos aimed at gathering support, inspiring supporters and furthering the group’s other aims.

But as Karim grew frustrated with JMB and the lack of terrorist opportunities, his brother and two others travelled from Bangladesh to Yemen in 2009 where they made contact with al-Awlaki.

The terrorist group had just been linked to the cargo terror bomb plot and there were reports that al-Awlaki had been killed in an air strike.

Karim’s brother told al-Awlaki about his work at BA and the terrorist leader handed over a voice recording to prove he was still alive, provoking an exchange of secret messages.

In January 2010, al-Awlaki contacted Karim again with questions about airport security and his role at BA.

After hearing Karim’s story, al-Awlaki emailed Karim saying: ‘Depending on what your role is and the amount of information you can get your hands on, you might be able to provide us with critical and urgent information and you may be able to play a crucial role … I pray that Allah may grant us a breakthrough through you.’

In February last year, the radical, who has never been caught and is believed to be hiding in the mountains of Yemen, wrote to Karim: ‘So the question is: with the people you have, is it possible to get a package or a person with a package on board a flight heading to the US?’

After this exchange, Karim applied for cabin crew training.

He was arrested in Newcastle on February 25.

Colin Gibbs, a counter-terrorism lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service, described Karim’s deep determination to plan an attack as ‘frightening’.

‘The most chilling element of this case is probably the fact that Karim tried to enrol as cabin crew and anyone can imagine how horrific the consequences of this could have been, had he succeeded,’ Mr Gibbs said.

In one of his encrypted communications recovered by police, Karim said: ‘From the moment I entered this country, my niyah (purpose) was to do something for the deen (for the faith), it was not to make a living here and start enjoying life.

‘I got the BA job against all odds and really felt it was help from Allah.’

Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘The fact that Karim has been found guilty of such a heinous plot shows why we will never be complacent.

‘I want to thank the police and the security service for their hard work in this complex case. We know that we face a serious threat from terrorism and national security remains this Government’s top priority.’

Karim is also believed to have been linked to Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), the terror group blamed for last October’s cargo plane bomb plot.

Powerful bombs were hidden in printer cartridges found on US-bound cargo planes at East Midlands Airport and in Dubai. But Karim was not accused of any specific involvement in that plot.

Giving her first major speech on counter-terrorism in central London last November, Mrs May said: ‘An Aqap associate was arrested here earlier this year.

‘He is alleged to have been planning a terrorist attack in this country. Threats such as these are likely to continue.’

The Home Secretary went on: ‘We know that people from this country have already gone to Somalia to fight.

‘It seems highly likely, given experience elsewhere, that if left to their own devices we would eventually see British extremists, trained and hardened on the streets of Mogadishu returning to the UK and seeking to commit mass murder on the streets of London.’

Bearded Karim stood emotionless in the dock as the foreman of the jury delivered the four verdicts.

The jury had been deliberating for 16 hours and five minutes to come to three unanimous verdicts and a majority of 11 to one over whether Karim had deliberately chosen to work in the UK for terror purposes.

Mr Justice Calvert-Smith set a sentencing date at the same court of March 18.


British Airways terrorist Rajib Karim used some of the most sophisticated methods yet seen to encrypt messages sent to his conspirators, detectives said.

The IT expert used his skills to conceal information he exchanged over the internet with other violent radicals in Yemen and Bangladesh.

Investigators said the 31-year-old used a ‘Russian doll system’ which hid his terrorist plotting behind at least eight layers of disguise and encryption.

It took experts at Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command nine months to unlock the messages hidden in around 300 files.

One source said: ‘It was like the layers of unravelling a Russian doll, taking it away piece by piece.

‘These were the most sophisticated decryption and encryption techniques ever encountered in dealing with international terrorism to date.

‘The work they did gave us a body of material exposing what Karim was up to.’

The hi-tech investigation focused on an unassuming white laptop seized at his home and a separate hard drive.

Investigators discovered a large part of the computer was locked behind a password which needed to be cracked first.

This revealed a series of folders and documents which were also password-protected and needed to be prised open.

Police computer experts alerted by some suspiciously large system files discovered Karim had renamed his most sensitive documents as technical registry items.

They found Karim prepared a ‘dirty’ message by writing a Microsoft Word file and encrypting it. He would also password-protect key facts, including the names of people and places.

The document would then be posted on an internet file-sharing website and picked up by other members of the terrorist cell overseas.

They held specially-prepared spreadsheets containing huge swathes of information that concealed the passwords to unlock the information.

The source said the computer data was key in bringing a successful prosecution against Karim.

He said: ‘Once we arrested him, we managed to get into his computer eventually, and that is where the information came to light that led to the prosecution.

‘We didn’t have anything at all before the arrest that would have secured a prosecution.’

Most rebellions end in carnage and tyranny. So why are Americans cheering on the Arab revolutionary wave?

By Niall Ferguson

Americans love a revolution. Their own great nation having been founded by a revolutionary declaration and forged by a revolutionary war, they instinctively side with revolutionaries in other lands, no matter how different their circumstances, no matter how disastrous the outcomes. This chronic reluctance to learn from history could carry a very heavy price tag if the revolutionary wave currently sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East breaks with the same shattering impact as most revolutionary waves.

Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson hailed the French Revolution. “The French have served an apprenticeship to Liberty in this country,” wrote the former, “and now … they have set up for themselves.” Jefferson even defended the Jacobins, architects of the bloody Reign of Terror. “The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest,” he wrote in 1793, “and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? … Rather than [the revolution] should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated.”

In Ten Days That Shook the World, the journalist John Reed was equally enthusiastic about the Russian Revolution of 1917, a book for which Lenin himself (“great Lenin” to Reed) wrote an enthusiastic preface. Reed’s counterpart in China’s communist revolution was Edgar Snow, whose characterization of Mao—“He had the simplicity and naturalness of the Chinese peasant, with a lively sense of humor and a love of rustic laughter”—today freezes the blood.

Time and again, Americans have hailed revolutions, only to fall strangely silent as those same revolutions proceeded to devour not only their own children but many other people’s too. In each case the body count was in the millions.

So as you watch revolution sweeping through the Arab world (and potentially beyond), remember these three things about non-American revolutions:

  • They take years to unfold. It may have seemed like glad confident morning in 1789, 1917, and 1949. Four years later it was darkness at noon.
  • They begin by challenging an existing political order, but the more violence is needed to achieve that end, the more the initiative passes to men of violence—Robespierre, Stalin, and the supremely callous Mao himself.
  • Because neighboring countries feel challenged by the revolution, internal violence is soon followed by external violence, either because the revolution is genuinely threatened by foreigners (as in the French and Russian cases) or because it suits the revolutionaries to blame an external threat for domestic problems (as when China intervened in the Korean War).

To which an American might reply: yes, but was all this not true of our revolution too? The American Revolution was protracted: five years elapsed between the Declaration of Independence and Yorktown. It was violent. And it was, of course, resisted from abroad. Yet the scale of the violence in the American Revolution was, by the standards of the other great revolutions of history, modest. Twenty times as many Frenchmen were killed in battle between 1792 and 1815 as Americans between 1775 and 1783. And, as Maya Jasanoff points out in her brilliant new book, Liberty’s Exiles, the losers in the American Revolution were not guillotined, or purged, or starved to death. Most of them simply left the 13 rebel colonies for more stable parts of the British Empire and got on with their lives.

There were other important differences too. The people who made the American Revolution were, by 18th-century standards, exceptionally well off and well educated. People in Libya today are closer to the sans-culottes of the Paris back streets, the lumpenproletariat of the Petrograd slums, or the illiterate peasants who flocked to Mao’s standard. And that is why the likelihood of large-scale and protracted violence is so much greater in the Arab world today than it ever was in North America in the 1770s. Poor, ill-educated young men. Around 40 million of them.

Two weeks ago I criticized the Obama administration for its failure not only to foresee this crisis but also to have any kind of coherent grand strategy to cope with it—resulting in a period of hapless confusion in American foreign policy. A number of critics wondered what such a coherent strategy might have looked like. The answer is this.

For many years American administrations tried to have it both ways in the Middle East, preaching the merits of democratization while doing next to nothing to pressure the region’s despots to reform, provided their misbehavior remained within tolerable limits (no invading Israel or Kuwait, no acquiring weapons of mass destruction). The Bush administration put an end to that double-talk by practicing as well as preaching a policy of democratization—using force to establish elected governments in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Obama administration was elected by a great many Americans who regretted the costs of that policy. Yet in place of the Bush doctrine came … nothing. Obama’s obsequious 2009 speech in Cairo offered a feeble hand of friendship to the Muslim world. But to whom was it extended? To the tyrants? Or to their subject peoples? Obama apparently hoped he, too, could have it both ways, even shaking hands with the odious Muammar Gaddafi.

The correct strategy—which, incidentally, John McCain would have actively pursued had he been elected in 2008—was twofold. First, we should have tried to repeat the successes of the pre-1989 period, when we practiced what we preached in Central and Eastern Europe by actively supporting those individuals and movements who aspired to replace the communist puppet regimes with democracies.

Western support for the likes of Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Solidarity in Poland was real. And it was one of the reasons that, when the crisis of the Soviet empire came in 1989, there were genuine democrats ready and waiting to step into the vacuums created by Mikhail Gorbachev’s “Sinatra Doctrine” (whereby each Warsaw Pact country was allowed to do things “its way”).

No such effort has been made in the Arab world. On the contrary, efforts in that direction have been scaled down. The result is that we have absolutely no idea who is going to fill today’s vacuums of power. Only the hopelessly naive imagine that 30-something Google executives will emerge as the new leaders of the Arab world, aided by their social network of Facebook friends. The far more likely outcome—as in past revolutions—is that power will pass to the best organized, most radical, and most ruthless elements in the revolution, which in this case means Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood.

The second part of our strategy should have been to exploit the divisions within the Islamist movement. These are very deep, most obviously because Shiite Iran has an altogether different vision of an Islamicized Middle East than, say, Wahhabi Al Qaeda. As I write, the Iranians have made their most brazen move yet by sending two warships through the Suez Canal into the eastern Mediterranean. This should not worry only Israel. It should also worry Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who dreams of a revived Ottoman Empire as the dominant power in the region.

In the absence of an American strategy, the probability of a worst-case scenario creeps up every day—a scenario of the sort that ultimately arose in revolutionary France, Russia, and China. First the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East could turn much more violent, with a death toll running into tens or hundreds of thousands. Then they could spark a full-blown war, claiming millions of lives. Worst of all, out of that war could emerge an enemy as formidable as Napoleon’s France, Stalin’s Soviet Union, or Mao’s China.

Yes, Americans love revolutions. But they should stick to loving their own.

By Jed Babbin

It’s tough to tell who’s more eager to commence military action to oust Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi. It’s a close race between the American liberals who have made it their life’s work to disarm the West, and the collection of Arab despots and dictators who don’t want the current unpleasantness in Libya to spread to their nations.

But the whole matter of Gaddafi is a sideshow. What happens on Saudi Arabia’s “day of rage” on March 11 could severely disrupt our already-shaken economy. Continue Reading

During their investigation, authorities released this depiction of what the boy whose body was found in 2005 may have looked like

By Christy Gutowski–Tribune reporter

After a worried friend tipped off school officials, the 14-year-old girl began to tell secrets she had been too frightened before to share.

She revealed to a social worker at Unity Junior High School in Cicero that her stepfather had kicked her with his steel work boots and slapped and whipped her with a belt “almost every other day,” according to a state agency report.

Then the girl shared an even darker secret. She said her little brother was missing and that her grandmother told her the same man had killed him, according to state and federal records that detailed the April 2008 conversation.

The teen said her grandmother told her in 2006 that the stepfather put the boy in a bag “and dumped him,” according to a U.S. Justice Department document obtained by the Tribune. The document said the teen’s mother was also wanted for questioning in the boy’s death. Continue Reading


Related:Feds offer to help stalled police probe to find family of slain boy in Mexico

Accusations: The Massachusetts Senator is one of Obama's politician heroes and served almost 47 years before he died of brain cancer 
Check It Out at Judicial Watch

9 News

DENVER – A law that would allow people to carry concealed guns in Colorado without a permit is advancing in the Legislature.

The Durango Herald reports that House Bill 1205 passed the Judiciary Committee this week on a vote of 8-3. It would allow people who can legally possess guns to carry them concealed.

Supporters and sponsors of the bill like Representative Chris Holbert (R-Parker), say the $152.50 application and background fee for a concealed weapon permit amount to a tax.

“I just think it’s offensive that I would have to pass another background check and pay this $152.50 for such a minor distinction,” Holbert said. “Again, I can carry open in public outside of home-rule cities, but I want to put my coat over my gun and carry in a more controlled and safe manner, then I have to pay what I call a coat tax.”

Holbert is one of 39 people from the House and the Senate sponsoring the bill.

“I’m not getting rid of the permit process at all. There’s a few good reasons that it should stay in place,” Holbert said. “If you’re not sure, like I am, you qualify, I would encourage anyone interested in conceal and carry to go get that permit and part of that process is to take a class.”

Similar laws have been passed in Arizona and Alaska. Friday, the Wyoming Legislature gave final approval to it version of the law and sent it to Gov. Matt Mead, who hasn’t said whether he will sign it into law.

The bill goes to the House Floor next. Holbert said a date for that has not yet been set.

By Jeffrey Folks

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was in Houston this weekend talking with oil executives who are eager to start drilling again in the Gulf of Mexico. That may sound like progress, but after the meeting Salazar said that nothing had changed. He was not ready to approve any new drilling.

Despite everything that energy companies have done to devise advanced containment systems, Salazar is unwilling to issue a single new permit. Systems constructed by the nonprofit Marine Well Containment Company and other entities are now able to handle a flow equal or greater than that experienced during the Deepwater Horizon accident last summer. But that’s not enough for Salazar, who stated that even the most advanced systems have “limitations on water depth and barrel-per-day containment capacity.”

Well, yes. Any system that could be devised would have limitations on depth and per-barrel capacity. But that’s not the point, as Mr. Salazar must know. The question is whether the new systems are able to handle the sorts of accident that might actually take place. Not the worst scenario that someone from the Interior Department could dream up. Combined with safely protocols now in place, the new containment equipment can do just that.

So why no permits for new drilling? It appears that the Obama administration is more interested in kowtowing to environmental donors in advance of the 2012 election than it is in controlling energy prices. Even with a federal court order to decide on new drilling in the Gulf by March 20, the Obama administration remains obdurate.

By refusing to grant a single deep-water permit in the Gulf, Obama has shut down access to one third of America’s oil supply. With Libyan oil fields now closed indefinitely and with uncertainty about future production elsewhere in the Middle East, it is a dreadful time to be shutting down America’s oil fields as well. Turmoil in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, or Iraq would drive the price of oil up above $150 a barrel, at the very least. A prudent policy would be to increase domestic production in light of uncertainty abroad.

Some Americans are already paying $4 a gallon for gas, but this is not just because of what’s happening in the Middle East. Government action on Gulf drilling permits would immediately calm the oil markets and bring down prices, even though new production would not come on line for several years. But instead of reducing prices, Obama seems is intent on driving them up.

It’s not just the Gulf of Mexico that is off limits. Obama opposes drilling anywhere offshore, including in the rich arctic region which is known to hold billions of barrels of oil reserves.

Just as bad, in his FY2012 budget Obama proposes cutting $4.4 billion of annual tax deductions for oil and gas drilling — deductions for depreciation and amortization that date back to 1913. Those tax deductions help energy companies pay for exploratory projects that then result in lower energy costs for all Americans. At a time when Obama is throwing away $100 billion on risky alternative energy boondoggles, a number of which have already gone bankrupt, he wants to end those modest tax advantages that actually result in the production of large quantities of new energy. That sort of accounting only makes sense to a politician.

Obama, in fact, is doing everything possible to curtail domestic energy production, and yet he says that “our dependence on foreign oil threatens our national security.” If reliance on foreign oil puts America at risk, why not produce more oil at home? New drilling techniques including fracking, horizontal drilling, and deep-water drilling now make it possible to do just that, but Obama opposes all of these.

If the President knows that dependence on foreign oil threatens our national security and that new drilling techniques can increase domestic supplies, why is he intent on destroying our domestic oil and gas industry?   

America is going to need new oil and gas production in a big way. In a new report, Charles T. Maxwell, the dean of U.S. energy analysts, has gone on record saying that regardless of what happens in the Middle East, oil prices are going up, way up. In a Barron’s interview Maxwell stated that oil prices will hit $300 by 2020. Maxwell arrives at this number by way of a straightforward calculation. By about 2015 global oil production will peak, but demand will continue to increase on a global basis.

That leaves Americans paying $12 a gallon for gas, which is just about what Obama has said he wants. That certainly will help to end our dependence on foreign oil. The problem is there won’t be anything to take its place.

At $12 a gallon, we won’t be driving around much in large SUVs or in small SUVs, either. Nor will we be enjoying cheap air fares or discounted cruises. The cost of transporting goods will triple, as will the cost of heating homes, schools, and offices. And those who think that solar and wind will take the place of fossil fuels are sadly mistaken.

As Maxwell points out, solar energy now supplies one tenth of one percent of America’s energy needs. Even with massive subsidies — the kind of subsidies that have already bankrupted the Spanish economy — solar and wind will never supply more than a small percentage of America’s energy needs. Since Obama, through EPA restrictions, is busy sabotaging coal and natural gas as well, and since America has no serious nuclear program underway, we are left with nothing.

Only a president who is extraordinarily stupid would fail to see this. Conclusion: Obama is either extraordinarily stupid, or he is willing to trade America’s national security for the support of environmentalist donors who are key to his re-election. Whichever it is, we’re in trouble.

Frank Buckles in the Army at age 16

Frank Buckles in the Army, age 16 

Frank Buckles at his home in West Virginia
Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110

Washington (CNN) — Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. World War I veteran, has died, a spokesman for his family said Sunday. He was 110.

Buckles “died peacefully in his home of natural causes” early Sunday morning, the family said in a statement sent to CNN late Sunday by spokesman David DeJonge.

Buckles marked his 110th birthday on February 1, but his family had earlier told CNN he had slowed considerably since last fall, according his daughter Susannah Buckles Flanagan, who lives at the family home near Charles Town, West Virginia.

Buckles, who served as a U.S. Army ambulance driver in Europe during what became known as the “Great War,” rose to the rank of corporal before the war ended. He came to prominence in recent years, in part because of the work of DeJonge, a Michigan portrait photographer who had undertaken a project to document the last surviving veterans of that war.

As the years continued, all but Buckles had passed away, leaving him the “last man standing” among U.S. troops who were called “The Doughboys.”

DeJonge found himself the spokesman and advocate for Buckles in his mission to see to it that his comrades were honored with a monument on the National Mall, alongside memorials for veterans of World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

Buckles made history when he was asked to testify in Congress on the matter before a House committee on December 3, 2009.

“I have to,” he told CNN when he came to Washington, as part of what he considered his responsibility to honor the memory of fellow-veterans.

Buckles, after World War I ended, took up a career as a ship’s officer on merchant vessels. He was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II and held prisoner of war for more than three years before he was freed by U.S. troops.

Never saying much about his POW experience, Buckles instead wanted attention drawn to the plight of the D.C. War Memorial. During a visit to the run-down, neglected site a few years ago, he went past the nearby World War II memorial without stopping, even as younger veterans stopped and saluted the old soldier in his wheelchair as he went by.

Renovations to the structure began last fall, but Buckles, with his health already failing, could not make a trip to Washington to review the improvements. The National Park Service is overseeing efforts that include replacing a neglected walkway and dressing up a deteriorated dome and marble columns.

Details for services and arrangements will be announced in the days ahead, the family statement said.

Flanagan, his daughter, said preliminary plans began weeks ago, with the Military District of Washington expressing its support for an honors burial at Arlington, including an escort platoon, a horse-drawn casket arrival, a band and a firing party.

“It has long been my father’s wish to be buried in Arlington, in the same cemetery that holds his beloved General Pershing,” Flanagan wrote as she began to prepare for the inevitable in a letter she sent to home-state U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.

“I feel confident that the right thing will come to pass,” she said.

In addition to graveside ceremonies, a proposal from U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, calls for a memorial in the U.S. Capitol, where Buckles’ casket would be displayed with honors.

Buckles in 2008 attended Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington at the grave of Gen. John Pershing, the commander of U.S. troops during World War I.

He also had met with then-President George W. Bush at the White House, and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.

“The First World War is not well understood or remembered in the United States,” Gates said at the time. “There is no big memorial on the National Mall. Hollywood has not turned its gaze in this direction for decades. Yet few events have so markedly shaped the world we live in.”

Buckles’ family asks that donations be made to the National World War I Legacy Project to honor Frank Buckles and the 4,734,991 Americans that he served with during World War I. Details can be found at: Frank Buckles.org

By Robert Tracinski

The Democratic lawmakers who have gone on the lam in Wisconsin and Indiana-and who knows where else next-are exhibiting a literal fight-or-flight response, the reaction of an animal facing a threat to its very existence.

Why? Because it is a threat to their existence. The battle of Wisconsin is about the viability of the Democratic Party, and more: it is about the viability of the basic social ideal of the left.

It is a matter of survival for Democrats in an immediate, practical sense. As Michael Barone explains, the government employees’ unions are a mechanism for siphoning taxpayer dollars into the campaigns of Democratic politicians.

But there is something deeper here than just favor-selling and vote-buying. There is something that almost amounts to a twisted idealism in the Democrats’ crusade. They are fighting, not just to preserve their special privileges, but to preserve a social ideal. Or rather, they are fighting to maintain the illusion that their ideal system is benevolent and sustainable.

Unionized public-sector employment is the distilled essence of the left’s moral ideal. No one has to worry about making a profit. Generous health-care and retirement benefits are provided to everyone by the government. Comfortable pay is mandated by legislative fiat. The work rules are militantly egalitarian: pay, promotion, and job security are almost totally independent of actual job performance. And because everyone works for the government, they never have to worry that their employer will go out of business.

In short, public employment is an idealized socialist economy in miniature, including its political aspect: the grateful recipients of government largesse provide money and organizational support to re-elect the politicians who shower them with all of these benefits.

Put it all together, and you have the Democrats’ version of utopia. In the larger American culture of Tea Parties, bond vigilantes, and rugged individualists, Democrats feel they are constantly on the defensive. But within the little subculture of unionized government employees, all is right with the world, and everything seems to work the way it is supposed to.

This cozy little world has been described as a system that grants special privileges to a few, which is particularly rankling in the current stagnant economy, when private sector workers acutely feel the difference. But I think this misses the point. The point is that this is how the left thinks everyone should live and work. It is their version of a model society.

Every political movement needs models. It needs a real-world example to demonstrate how its ideal works and that it works.

And there’s the rub. The left is running low on utopias.

The failure of Communism-and the spectacular success of capitalism, particularly in bringing wealth to what used to be called the “Third World”-deprived the left of one utopia. So they fell back on the European welfare state, smugly assuring Americans that we would be so much better off if we were more like our cousins across the Atlantic. But the Great Recession has triggered a sovereign debt crisis across Europe. It turned out that the continent’s welfare states were borrowing money to paper over the fact that they have committed themselves to benefits more generous than they can ever hope to pay for.

In America, the ideological crisis of the left is taking a slightly different form. Here, the left has set up its utopias by carving out, within a wider capitalist culture, little islands where its ideals hold sway. Old age is one of those islands, where everyone has been promised the socialist dreams of a guaranteed income and unlimited free health care. Public employment is another.

Now the left is panicking as these experiments in American socialism implode.

On the national level, it has become clear that the old-age welfare state of Social Security and Medicare is driving the federal government into permanent trillion-dollar deficits and a ruinous debt load. Even President Obama acknowledged, in his State of the Union address, that these programs are the real drivers of runaway debt-just before he refused to consider any changes to them. You see how hard it is for the Democrats to give up on their utopias.

On the state level, public employment promises the full socialist ideal to a small minority-paid for with tax money looted from a larger, productive private economy. But the socialist utopia of public employment has crossed the Thatcher Line: the point at which, as the Iron Lady used to warn, you run out of other people’s money.

The current crisis exposes more than just the financial unsustainability of these programs. It exposes their moral unsustainability. It exposes the fact that the generosity of these welfare-state enclaves can only be sustained by forcing everyone else to perform forced labor to pay for the benefits of a privileged few.

This is why the left is treating any attempt to fundamentally reform the public workers’ paradise as an existential crisis. This is why they are reacting with the most extreme measures short of outright insurrection. When Democratic lawmakers flee the state in order to deprive their legislatures of the quorum necessary to vote, they are declaring that they would rather have no legislature than allow voting on any bill that would break the power of the unions.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty describes these legislative walk-outs as “small-scale, temporary secessions.” The analogy is exact. One hundred and fifty years ago, Southern slaveholders realized that the political balance of the nation had tipped against them, that they could no longer hope to win the political argument for their system. Faced with a federal government in which they were out-voted, they decided that they would rather have no federal government at all. The Democrats’ current cause may not be as repugnant-holding human beings as chattel is a unique evil-but it has something of the same character of irrational, belligerent denial. More than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the left is still trying to pretend that socialism is plausible as an economic system.

The Democrats are fleeing from a lot more than their jobs as state legislators. They are fleeing from the cold, hard reality of the financial and moral unsustainability of their ideal.

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