ISIS targets lottery winners and other notices

I had a piece in the Toronto Sun last week. My former paper is the first to ask for a column since I started writing again six months ago.

I get paid, too. And it’s nice to see my byline on newsprint again.


Last summer, I sent the following message to the public editor of the New York Times:

It seems to me that every time I see The Times — and others — quoting something someone said via Twitter it is an ad for a large, profit-making company. (A search shows Twitter shows up in the body of many stories in The Times.)

But when reporters use a quote from an email, they don’t write: He said in an email on his Microsoft Hotmail account, or she said in an email delivered by Yahoo.

Press releases are properly described as a statement.

Why is Twitter not handled in the same way?

I never received a reply.


I’ve tweeted compliments to people for their work. None replied with a message of thanks. Instead, they responded with a “like,” telling the world someone likes them.


I complimented New York Times writer Joe Nocera in an email – the Times makes it easy to contact its people – on a piece he did on Sinatra, New York, New York, and the Yankees.

He replied within five minutes, at 10:26 p.m. “Thank you. My favorite column ever.”

Nocera is 63 and has been a journalist for 40 years.


WASHINGTON (BNS) – ISIS is asking its sympathizers in the United States to buy lottery tickets and targeting winners in hopes of replenishing the coffers of the terrorist organization, Obama administration sources say.

A message posted on a jihadist website linked to ISIS called on Muslims across the U.S. to “play Powerball, have faith, and Allah will give you the winning numbers.”

It continued: “To all the brothers who want to do something righteous with wealth gained from these games of chance, invest it on the cause of jihad.”

Administration sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss state-run gambling, warned that lucky terrorists posed a new threat to national security.

“The odds of hitting the jackpot may be a million to one, but we just can’t take that chance,” said one official.

Said another: “Our national security agencies are right now working on methods of identifying impressionable people who win these lotteries and might be lured to the ISIL cause. You can be sure that we will be taking a hard look at any who attempt to transfer large sums of money overseas.”

That wasn’t enough assurance for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“I think we should be profiling everyone who buys a lottery ticket and not selling them to any men who look Middle Eastern or women who hide their faces,” Trump said during a rally in Ames, Iowa.

Asked by reporters later if he meant women wearing hijabs or niqabs, Trump said: “Look, any woman who covers her face is probably ugly – and ugly people don’t deserve to get rich.”

His primary challenger, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, suggested evangelical Christians might want to buy more lottery tickets to lessen the odds of a terrorist sympathizer winning.

“Gambling may be a sin,” he said, “but good Christian Americans can be counted on to do whatever needs to be done to combat radical Islamic terrorism.”

Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said he was not concerned with ISIS supporters winning lotteries.

“I’m more concerned,” he said, “that lotteries are a tax on the poor, a con game selling the new reality that the only path out of poverty is a Powerball ticket.”


Would the media please stop giving cartoon names to killers – Jihadi John, the Affluenza Teen.


Why don’t people listen?

Not just reporters who are fiddling with their phones when out on story, tweeting and texting, or radio hosts who are fondling their devices when interviewing someone on the phone, but everybody.

Have you noticed that when you’re talking to someone he or she doesn’t appear to be paying attention once the gist of your statement is revealed?

It’s because they’re concentrating on what to say next, often eager to top whatever you have to say:

“Did I tell you I went skydiving yesterday and …”

“Well, the last time I went skydiving my chute didn’t open and I was snagged by a California condor who gently deposited me on a mountaintop in the Sierras where I was chased by a grizzly …”


Am I the only one who thinks Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp both look like children playing adult roles? Mickey Rooney redux.


Watched the movie Reds the other day. Not as good as I remembered it. But Nicholson was sensational as Eugene O’Neill. And I think I need to read up on John Reed.


Why have I not liked a single sitcom character since Cheers?


Who teaches women in TV news and sports to talk and smile at the same time?


I dedicate this post to Sean Penn, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Sally Field and all the other courageous actors who have portrayed reporters.


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