Friday, January 18, 2013

Islamic Militant Attack in Algeria (Update: Algeria Counterattacks, Seige Over)

In a still highly fluid situation, terrorists linked with al Qaeda remain at an Algerian/Norwegian/British gas plant in the Sahara that they attacked last Wednesday, after Algerian special forces troops counterattacked and gained control of a large portion of the sprawling complex, freeing many workers besieged there and rescuing an unknown number of hostages.  Some hostages remain under the control of the terrorists still holed up in part of the facility, but the numbers and nationalities of the hostages and the rescued remain unclear.

It was reported yesterday that the special forces troops, along with helicopters, had attacked and re-taken the plant at Ain Amenas in eastern central Algeria, about 60 miles from the Libyan border, but that turned out to be only partially true.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, 2009

The terrorist group responsible for the attack calls itself the Katibat Moulathamine (the Masked Brigade) and is led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a terrorist of some notoriety and experience in that area.  His precise nationality is in question (the territory surrounding southern Algeria has amorphous and essentially artificial borders) but Algeria claims him to the extent that he has been condemned to death in absentia for murdering 13 of its customs officers in 2008, in addition to a general sentence of 20 years for terrorism in 2004.  Belmoktar is not so much a terrorist as he is a bandit, using Islamic terrorism as a flag of convenience.  He seems to be more tied to the Tuareg tribes of the region as a primary affiliation and has developed a sustainable income through hostage-taking for ransom and cigarette smuggling – the French DGSE intelligence service (according to the French press) has dubbed him L'insaisissable (the elusive or uncatchable), adding to his allure in the media, but his less-glamorous nickname is 'Mr Marlboro'.  Yet he has established his bona fides by fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan in the 1980s where he lost his left eye in a training accident.  This incident could be evidence of an attempt by him to seize some standing within the somewhat still factionalized group.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, 2013

I have reported earlier on the increasing coordination and growth throughout the enormous region of the Sahara between declared al Qaeda affiliates such as the originally Algerian al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram in Nigeria, and al Shabaab in Somalia.  Despite the claims of the Obama administration during the last presidential campaign, al Qaeda is quite alive and well – and growing – in this region in particular (to say nothing of its resurgence in its various forms in Afghanistan as we try to accelerate our withdrawal, and in Iraq as well, competing to some extent with Iranian influence).  This was brought to embarrassing prominence, to the extent that the MSM allowed it, by the debacle of the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi by al Qaeda affiliates in Libya, and now we see a takeover of northern Mali (an area the size of Afghanistan, France, or Texas) by Islamic terrorists.  [Some may quibble over my broad use of 'al Qaeda', but I use it in its original form: some other terrorist leaders may not be card-carrying members, but they are affiliated to one degree or another with 'the network'.  Those above have openly declared their allegiance.] 

The French military is now intervening in the Malian situation, which is the purported reason for the terrorist action at Ain Amenas, one of the largest hostage-taking operations in the history of the Terror War.  The size of the terrorist group attacking the facility and the logistical factors alone involved in the extreme isolation of the target suggests that the operation was planned and even begun before the French intervention.

In addition to all else, the details of the Algerian counterattack remain unclear.  Algeria is known for a strong go-it-alone attitude in these situations which include, for example among many others, the Air France hijacking around Christmas of 1994 and the capture and beheading of seven French priests in 1998 by the GIA (Groupe Islamic Armé) and its military arm, the FIS (Front Islamique du Salut or the Islamic Salvation Front), and there have been other atrocities by Algerian terrorist factions in their various forms – all predecessors of AQIM.  Algeria has a ruthless policy for dealing with terrorists, honed by decades of fighting one of the more dedicated terrorist groups in the world that has resulted in some 200,000 deaths in a civil war extending back to 1992 and well beyond.  (I was assigned to the Polisario through a UN peacekeeping mission, in the southwest portion of Algeria around Tindouf in the mid 1990s, and dealt with the Algerian situation at the time.  I was quite aware of the vicious nature of the terrorist attacks.) 

But so far, reports indicate that two Americans had earlier escaped and are en route to London, and an Irish hostage is safe and is returning as well.  At least six hostages are reported to be killed, including British, Filipino and Algerian casualties, and dozens more of the multi-national group still remain unaccounted for, which includes at least one American, Britons, Norwegians, Japanese, French, Romanians, Malaysians and Algerians.

Algerian commando
The Algerians maintain several special forces units, both military (there are no strong distinctions between the Algerian services) and police, and the generic name for such troops is 'Ninjas' for the black balaclava favored by them in action.  Such units include the Saaykaa (Thunder) counter-terrorism (CT) unit, and what may still be the GIS (Groupe d'Intervention Spécial – which suffered the embarrassment of having one of its members assassinate the Algerian President in 1992), as well as several other specialized units.  They have historically favored a direct and violent response to terrorist actions, and neither seek nor typically accept any outside assistance.

The Algerians state, with arguably some degree of accuracy, that they have more experience with terrorism (on both sides of the coin, left unsaid) than any other state.  Countries such as the United States have a firm policy of not negotiating with terrorists, and their objective in these situations is to (1) rescue the hostages and (2) destroy or capture the terrorists.  Algeria takes it further: they basically consider hostages to already be collateral damage, and will wade through however many unfortunates who happen to get in the way in order to annihilate the terrorist threat, so as to convey the long-range goal of convincing their enemies that any action on their part is disastrously futile.

(To use a pop-culture illustration, admittedly ficticious, it struck me during my association with them as the same attitude as Keyser Söze.)

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, recognizes this unfortunate fact: 
The responsibility for these deaths lies squarely with the terrorists who launched these vicious and cowardly attacks. 
When you are dealing with a terrorist incident on this scale with up to 30 terrorists it is extremely difficult to respond and get this right in every respect. 
We should recognise all that the Algerians have done to work with us and to help and co-ordinate with us, and I would like to thank them for that.
Update: The siege has officially ended, with Algeria reporting that 23 hostages are dead, including one American, Frederick Buttaccio of Houston, out of the 130 foreigners and several hundred Algerian workers.  Algerian special forces are still sweeping through the huge facility, and casualty estimates "may be revised upward".  Earlier, Mark Cobb, also of Texas, successfully escaped.  All 32 terrorists, apparently including the leader of the strike force, Abdul Rahman al-Nigeri, are reported to have been killed.

Three Britons have reported to have been killed, but three more are still listed as missing, as well as a foreign British resident.  Twenty-two British survivors are already back in the UK.

Some twelve bodies lodged in the makeshift morgue at the facility are reported to be Japanese.

Update: In the latest report, the death toll for the hostages is now 38, including three Americans, and the tally for dead terrorists not rests at 29, with the Algerians claiming that three have been captured.  Five workers still remain unaccounted for.

There is no mention whether Belmokhtar is among the dead or captured.  The government confirms, however, that the leader was Amine Benchenab, an Algerian, and is confirmed dead as well.

The makeup of the terrorists is international, with Egyptians, Malians, Nigeri, Mauretanian, Tunisian, and Canadians among them.

Reports still speculate that Belmokhtar and his Masked Brigade are split off from AQIM, but I still consider the plausibility that he and his group are jockeying for power within AQIM, at least to the extent that they are still viable.  I would be surprised if Belmokhtar is among the dead at Ain Amenas, but I await further developments from this revision-a-minute unfolding after-action report.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Split Decision for Christian Rights in Britain

I have previously written on the subject of two Christian women in the United Kingdom who were forbidden to display small cross or crucifix pendants while at work.  In separate cases, both Nadia Eweida of British Airways and Shirley Chaplin of the National Health Service Trust were told that a public display of these symbols of their Christian faith was not in keeping with policy: in the case of Mrs Eweida because of a uniform policy, and for Mrs Chaplin because of a safety concern.  After they disputed the directives, both were first moved to positions with no interaction with the public, and both were subsequently fired.

Both examples became legal cases and eventually made it to the British Court of Appeals, where they lost, with a denial of an opportunity to appeal to their Supreme Court.  As a result, they instead took the cases to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Chaplin, Eweida, McFarlane

The cases reported out today but with split results.  Fox News reports in the case of Mrs Eweida that she "has won a landmark religious discrimination case" and was awarded €32,000 in restitution.  She is understandably delighted at the result, and goes on to describe the discrimination to which she was subjected:
I have colleagues that are Muslims who wear a hijab; I have colleagues who are Muslims who do not wish to wear a hijab.  So, they have a freedom of choice.  Either they wear it or they don't wear it.  Everybody has their own right and faith and makeup to be able to express their faith in their way and manner.  So, why should I be discriminated against on par with other colleagues?
But the Fox News piece neglects to mention the case of Mrs Chaplin, wherein the Strasbourg court maintained that the hospital where she had worked could "refuse permission to wear a cross on 'health and safety' grounds".

The courts of the British government fought both cases on the grounds that wearing a cross is not a "requirement" of the Christian faith.  The Strasbourg court found otherwise:
The judges accepted for the first time that wearing a cross was an important expression of Mrs Eweida’s faith which deserved protection under the European Convention on Human Rights – even though it is not an explicit tenet of Christianity. 
Rightly so.  Left unsaid in the recent articles is the fact that Mrs Eweida is a Coptic Christian, from the ancient (arguably the first) Christian community that resides in Egypt, and which has been subjected to enormous persecution from the increasing tide of the Salafist movement, one of the driving forces behind the Muslim Brotherhood that has placed Muhammad Mursi in power as the country’s president.  Mrs Eweida understands taking a stand in defense of her beliefs.

But as for Mrs Chaplin, it is unclear what safety violation she imposed by wearing the small crucifix around her neck.  She had volunteered to wear it pinned to her blouse, but that option was rejected without explanation.  There is also no explanation of how a hijab, a far larger and bulkier adornment, would not be a safety violation in the same definition.   (In my earlier article, I wrote about how the hijab is also not a religious requirement of the Muslim faith, and how it is, in fact, a rather recent affectation.)  Mrs Chaplin explains:
I feel that Christians are very marginalised in the workplace; we don't get a fair hearing.  Other faiths are allowed to manifest their beliefs through clothing or jewellery in their workplace; Christians are not. 
(It is unsure to what extent this ruling may affect the French ban on hijabs and other headcoverings, and the consideration of such a ban in other European countries.  In contrast, Obama condemned such bans in his apology speech at Cairo University at the start of his presidency.)

Also included in the judgments were Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele, both counselors who have been fired for professing to their superiors that they have a conflict with counseling same-sex couples; in other words, they did not want to be placed into situations where their actions amounted to condoning homosexuality.  Mr McFarlane in particular was dismissed for "gross misconduct for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation".

We see in these cases another excellent example of the hypocrisy of the Left: they will denounce those who maintain a traditional, grounded approach to an issue and condemn them for 'intolerance', yet when they have achieved a position of power (through whatever means), they will tolerate no opposition whatsoever, to the point that they will publicly hound their opponents and ensure that they are fired.  Toleration goes only one way with them.  This even extends to attempts to compel religious organizations to take in atheists.

Part of the opposition in their minds comes from an intolerance of Christianity in particular (I still wait for them to condemn Salafist terror and the Islamic Supremacists) but it extends further.  Mr McFarlane comments: 
[This case] is not just about me, it's not about the Christian faith, it's about folks of faith or no faith who consider that they have a conscientious view about something, their rights should be looked at and a better balance achieved. [emphasis added] 
Mike Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute which supported Miss Ladele: 
What this case shows is that Christians with traditional beliefs about marriage are at risk of being left out in the cold.  If the government steamrollers ahead with its plans to redefine marriage, then hundreds of thousands of people could be thrown out of their jobs unless they agree to endorse gay marriage.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bill Clinton: Absurd Claim about Gun Control

Polonius claims that "brevity is the soul of wit", so I will always try a pithy title.  The first that came to mind was "Bill Clinton Lied", but that falls into the rather generic category of "The sun rose in the east".

This latest variation on the theme finds Clinton at the Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas last Wednesday, where he made the astounding conclusion: 
Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country. 

That is preposterous, as would be immediately apparent to any older member of the population who wasn't a victim of modern public education.  Take, for example, an incomplete, off-the-cuff list of mass shootings that I tabulated only back to the early 1980s, and that just involves firearms.  As for the "history of the country", who could possibly tabulate the mass killings that have stained our nation's soil in the hundreds of years that we have clawed our way across a forbidding continent?

To his credit, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post takes on a critique of Clinton's remarks in the 'Fact Checker' column (which rates claims that lack veracity with up to four 'Pinocchios', sort of a political Michelin rating) to do a quick tabulation of the understandably hazy figures, and comes to a quick conclusion that the "eye-popping statistic" was "way off base" and an "exaggerated claim".  Even Clinton's own spokesman refused to comment on the source of the claim.

About the best that can be said of circumstances such as this is that Clinton often just doesn't know when to shut up, or that he has an inability to resist entertaining an audience rather than informing.  As for the former, even Obama can find his prolixity insufferable, as when Obama abandoned a joint press conference when he couldn't get a word in edgewise.  Clinton hardly noticed his departure and kept on talking as if he were in command again.

Joe Klein, who finally had to admit that he wrote Primary Colors, at first an anonymously authored roman à clef of the Clinton candidacy, tells the story of the Clinton character holding a rural audience spellbound with the story of his uncle overcoming the difficulties of his life despite having won the Medal of Honor, which the author soon discovers is a complete fabrication – from the uncle.  This "nothing gets in the way of a good story" attitude is still alive and well in Clinton's yarns, and this mass-killing stat is no less typical for the guy who Liberals Progressives can't help but fawn over.

That even extends to Kessler himself.  He can't resist the temptation to find a way to soften the blow, so he cites statistics compiled by Mother Jones which only extend back to 1982, which might grant a total of "40 percent of the mass shootings in the past 30 years have taken place since the assault weapon ban ended", then tosses in a paragraph about how the subject is "complex" and doesn't lend itself to a "single factor".  He concludes: 
Ordinarily, this might have been a Four Pinocchio claim.  Given the fuzziness of the data and questions about definitions, we are going to cut Clinton a bit of slack in the final ruling.  But such uncertainty in the data means politicians need to be very careful in making claims about gun violence. 
The result is only a three Pinocchio score, which is preposterous as well.  Clinton is clearly wrong, "over-the-top" as even Kessler's headline states, but he still can't help but waffle on Clinton's addled fabrication or soften the talking points of the anti-gun lobby.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Jaded Sense of Charity

We have passed the Christmas season now that the twelfth day of Epiphany is done, a season known generically as 'the Holidays' so as not to offend the sensibilities of those looking for offense.  Rather than 'Merry Christmas' we are encouraged to use the correspondingly bland 'Season's Greetings', as if our festive spirit is dedicated to a celebration of weather.  (Don't mistake my meaning.  Christmas is a favourite time of year for me, but for the old reasons.)

We are often reminded that it is also known as the 'Season of Giving', with a commercial fervor that would be a discouragement to even Mother Teresa.  The Christmas season actually begins with Advent but the older generation will tell you that it starts with Thanksgiving.  The younger ones, though, are programmed to have it pegged to Black Friday. 

But it isn’t only the mercantile guild who exhorts our generosity.  There is also the legion of the self-employed beggars who ply a trade that can be as diligent in its skills as any other marketing profession.  Like other professionals, they have their apprentices, journeymen, and masters, and they have their seasons as well.  Good weather draws out the intersection contingents – people in cars have to slow down and stop, allowing the beggars to engage them with their pitiful looks, their cute dogs, sometimes infants, and signs that must always, for some reason, be on brown corrugated cardboard.  Some are ambulatory, with pleas for gas money, a bus ticket, or a meal.  I recently visited Las Vegas and its Strip for the first time, which looks like Disney World if it had been designed by Caligula.  There begging is an art form, and I remember in particular one young man, fashionably petulant, with a sign that read "Too good looking to be homeless", and people were giving him money.

I have numerous memories of such scams.  One involves a big-hearted woman I once knew, who responded to a beggar who said he needed money because he hadn't eaten in days.  She bought him a McDonald's combo meal.  He retired to the back corner of a parking lot to consume it but then returned to the same corner (as I pointed out to her) with the same story.  I occasionally travelled around Houston with a minister who was part of a gospel mission shelter.  As he would pull to a stop in an intersection, he would motion to the beggars who would come up to his window with an expectation of money, but he would give them his card and tell them of the food, shelter and safety at the shelter.  Some would argue and try to make excuses, but he had heard them all and always had a ready answer.  He would tell me that he despaired that any would take up his offer, but he felt compelled to try, if only to embarrass the fakers.  I helped run events and programs of the Boy Scouts in the inner city and invariably had to address those who were eager to take advantage but naturally expect that we would pay for the relatively inexpensive uniforms and fees and other incidentals, despite what I saw was a readiness to spend money on other things.  I remember one woman was rather irate about it until I felt compelled to point out the $150 pair of shoes (in mid-1990s' dollars) on her son's feet, as just one example. 

Perhaps it was all those years that I spent overseas in places with true poverty, and more dread of the future than in Wards 4 and 5 of Houston, that gave me a better perspective.  I remember my host nation companions in foreign countries remarking (not that I needed to have it pointed out to me) about how the many people in the US that would line up for free federal cheese handouts – talking to reporters about how bad off they were – were all fat, and wearing t-shirts that advertised Disneyland or the Hard Rock Café. 

Then there is the Christmas contingent, an example of which I would see each year when I had an observation of an overpass in downtown Houston.  Otherwise devoid of the homeless in good weather, the site would be occupied by those who would bring their own cardboard boxes for sleeping containers and their blankets, ready for the television crews who would show up for the annual interviews and vetting of why there is such poverty in America, inviting further income for the squatters.  The news crews would be on speed-dial if the authorities attempted to move them, always for more footage for the ten o'clock news.  Such coverage goes up in times of Republican presidential administrations, as Mark Helprin pointed out in his Wall Street Journal article of 2000, with the increased coverage phenomenon from the time of the Reagan administration and predicting – rightly – a spike again in the coverage when we shifted from President Clinton to Bush: "If George W Bush becomes president, the armies of the homeless, hundreds of thousands strong, will  once again be used to illustrate the opposition's arguments about welfare, the economy, and taxation."  (All this despite an overall increase of the homeless during Clinton's time.)  And can you say that coverage of the homeless under Obama has been anywhere near the level as under Bush?  No, of course not. 

This excludes the numbers of the mentally unstable, another topic entirely, who have been ill-served by those who profess to do 'the right thing' by them.  President Reagan turned the responsibility and the budgeting over to the states and local governments with the idea that the issue could (and should) be handled closer to home, but the challenge was not taken up.  If the national taxes were lowered thereby, then local taxes could be increased (though not to the same level as the discount) in order to handle what the bureaucracies were crying was a crisis, among the many others.  ('Crisis' in this sense includes the notion that large expenditures of federal tax money must be allotted to these bureaucracies and their union employees, and quickly.)  Criticism still continues along this vein, as if only Washington has the answer.
Donald Sensing of the Sense of Events web log does admirable work by placing the question of charity as it relates to guilt-trip charlatans in proper perspective.  First, to be precise, this is the work of the Reverend Donald Sensing, who brings to his calling a background where he has had a better experience at seeing what constitutes actual desperation and on-the-edge potential for disaster, having previously served a career in the United States Army.  This dose of reality which is available to fewer of us as time goes by – fewer still with the gutting of the military underway within the Obama administration – serves him well in combination with his service of some years as a Methodist minister.  He describes in detail one such encounter with a one of what he calls the "Professional Poor", and then: 
The hopeful light in her eyes dims when she hears my reply: "We do all of our direct charitable assistance through two local agencies.  One is twenty-five miles away but the other is not even two miles down the street.  However, I have no idea whether they are still open on Christmas Eve at this hour.  I will be glad to give you directions."
The last thing the Professional Poor want to do is deal with a charity agency.  Agencies know every scam out there and even know the names of the Professional Poor who do them.  Agency workers view the Professional Poor with all the compassion of a Swiss banker.
Clara knows she's not making the sale.  She makes a final, desperate push: "Oh, we don't have enough gas to make it that far."  (So you intend to drive to Wisconsin how?) 
I say nothing because there is nothing to say.  Without a word she suddenly bags her props and walks out the door.  Like any astute business woman, she knows when to cut her losses.  On to the next client.
 Like the Rev Sensing in Tennessee, we have a similar agency clearinghouse here locally and I have seen it work.  Once such a charlatan is detected, the word is spread throughout the church community and they are fended off when they show up at their next attempt.  I saw my minister inform one such fellow that he knew of his previous try, and that was the last that we, or the community, saw of him.

But I have known people dying of cancer, and their families; young widows; four young sisters and their mother recently widowed by suicide, and others in different tragic circumstances, yet they never thought to beg – never.
I also refuse to give to the annual state-sponsored charity campaigns that drive through my facility.  That is just one more layer of bureaucracy to support, with a list of politically correct agencies, that I will not waste my time on.  I already give to charities, such as the Boy Scouts of America or the Wounded Warriors Project for example, that are not included, and I do not care to support GLAAD.  The claim that you can designate a specific charity for your donation, such as the American Cancer Society (which I already support), is disingenuous.  That agency's share of the take has already been assigned, with the idea that the total of specific and targeted donations is not going to surpass the percentage already designated.  The entire idea that is foisted on the public is that larger professional organizations, or the government, is a better place for your donation that what you as an individual chooses.

And I mentioned Las Vegas before.  The city has an enormous amount of the destitute if one goes by the numbers.  For while we talk of 'food stamps', they have practically ceased to exist as an accounting measure.  Instead, in order to shield the poor from uncomfortably flashing the stamps in public, most states have instituted debit cards, with money deposited into their accounts.  When agencies have tracked their use, such as a recent investigation out of California, many have turned up in the oddest charitable institutions, like casinos, liquor stores, and cruise ships in places like the aforementioned Las Vegas, Hawaii, and Miami.  The New York Post has included another investigation with similar results.

The observation of Christ in Matthew 25:40 concerning the "least of these" does not have you resting on the effort of the Combined Federal Campaign.  It should not be conflated with "render unto Caesar".

Friday, January 4, 2013

Mass Shooting Averted, and Related Stories

I recently traveled to my home culture of Texas, specifically San Antonio, for a well-anticipated enjoyable time other than to see the presence of Texas University (they love it when you say it that way) when Oregon State committed the football version of suicide.

While there, I found a news story apparently unreported by any element of the MSM and contained generally within the environs of the metropolitan area: a potential mass shooting involving a theatre occurred in the southwest portion of the city, in which an irate 19-year-old male entered a Chinese restaurant where he had worked and began shooting.  His fellow employee and former girlfriend, with whom he had just broken up, reported that he had called her and left a message to the effect that he would go to the restaurant and "shoot somebody".  By the time that she checked the message and called the restaurant to warn them, the gunman had already arrived and begun shooting the defenseless victims.

[Note: a major element of these stories is the massive publicity generated by the media about the shooter, which tends to be a principle motivator for these mental health-deficient murderers – and their copycats – who want to "go out in a blaze of glory".  I will not therefore glorify the shooter by using his name.]

The staff and diners (one of them wounded) naturally fled the restaurant, and the shooter pursued staff members fleeing out the back door.  He focused on one employee in particular, "apparently because he was the easiest target" according to a police spokesman (or perhaps he was the main target, I would have to ask).  The pursuit opened onto a back parking lot where the shooter kept firing rounds in the air, at his target, and into parked cars.  He encountered an SAPD officer responding to the scene upon hearing gunshots.  The officer shined his patrol light at the shooter and the shooter responded by shooting out the windshield of the police car.  This corresponds to the dictum that the police only show up after a crime is committed, and interestingly enough, this is the last we hear of the active police officer on the scene.

The pursuit then entered the Mayan 14 movie theatre with the shooter still firing, striking one victim in the back.  Fortunately, Sergeant Lisa Castellano, an off-duty Bexar County Sheriff's Deputy, was moonlighting as a security guard for the theatre and moved to the sound of the shooting.  She encountered the gunman at a restroom and shot him four times, ending his shooting spree.  She was then assisted by Armando Olguin, a movie patron that night and also an off-duty policeman, who helped cuff the wounded perpetrator.  (Neither the shooter nor his two victims have died as a result of their wounds.)   He has been charged with attempted capital murder of a police officer (presumably the one in the police car who, for all we know from the reports, could still be sitting there) and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

This story brings to mind a similar incident in Aurora – not the one of the theatre shooting that has become so famous, but of a shooting at a church last April wherein a gunman shot and killed a grandmother before another off-duty policeman and congregant shot and killed him.  Another incident at about the same time of the San Antonio shooting occurred at a Birmingham hospital, and had officers responding to a report of a gunman on the fifth floor.  As they exited the elevator, the shooter began firing, wounding one officer and two members of the hospital staff.  Another officer returned fire, killing the gunman. That officer is now under a required investigation due to state law.  In contrast, the Texas deputy has received a Medal of Valor.

Another interesting note is that Officer Olguin, who assisted Sgt Castellano, is not a member of the SAPD but instead is with the San Antonio Independent School District.  Gun control advocates argue against protecting our school children with armed teachers or volunteers (like in Israel, where there have been no incidents of school shootings) because that would involve guns, as if they would go off spontaneously, or add to stray rounds fired during an incident.  No one in the press seems to question that this would mean that their 'better' idea would be to leave the children completely unprotected, as happened at Sandy Hook.  The San Antonio ISD has the right idea of hiring their own police. 
Israeli teachers on duty
One can be forgiven if this particular case and the two others are unknown to the public at large; they don't follow the meme of the MSM and their bent about gun control.  These stories don't even begin to address the large number of times that guns are used to prevent tragedies, particularly the ones where a mere brandishing is sufficient to deter an attacker.

As an added observation, Snopes has an article which verifies the story but with an added fillip of their own opinion.  Snopes is not an organization but is a husband-and-wife team in California who researches the validity of stories that present themselves in the public domain, and have come under criticism for the personal slant that they apply to some of their conclusions.  For example here, the final two paragraphs read: 
Some of the details in the example at the head of this article appear to be inaccurate: . . . it isn't yet clear whether he was deliberately intending to shoot innocent victims at the theater (as the gunman did in the July 2012 Aurora, Colorado, theater shootings) or whether he was firing aimlessly in a fit of rage.
In general, the San Antonio theater shooting received little coverage outside of local news media, primarily because it didn't include any of the factors that typically propel such stories from local to national news: it was not an especially horrific crime (or part of a larger crime), it did not involve any deaths or the wounding of large numbers of people, and it featured no prominent persons: it was a shooting incident in which a single person was injured.  The possibility that an armed off-duty law enforcement official may have prevented additional casualties by shooting the gunman might have made the incident more newsworthy than usual, but that aspect of the story is speculative, and as others have observed, the news media tend to highlight negative events rather than positive ones: "reporters don't report buildings that don't burn." 
Beyond the glaring error that three people were shot (including the gunman, an error that Snopes would normally leap upon were it someone else), their arguments are specious.  It doesn't matter what the intent of the shooter in the theatre was.  The fact of the matter is that he was shooting multiple rounds and shot one person in the back, after wounding another in the restaurant, while attempting to shoot the man he was pursuing.  At that point, it is immaterial what his intent is; what matters is that he must be stopped immediately, and the best way is to shoot him.  Snopes' argument is a difference without a distinction. 

Snopes further argues that the press should be let off the hook because it was a relatively minor incident, then ends up arguing that it didn't happen at all ("reporters don't report buildings that don't burn").  No, it was a potential catastrophe, similar to other mass shooting incidents, that was stopped by the judicial use of responding gunfire – it's not just "speculative".  To use their analogy, there actually was a fire in a building but was put out in time with only a few casualties. 

While it is true that such a story does not rise to the level of horror sufficient to draw the attention of the media or general public lustful for such stories, it does provide a cultural counter-point to the gun control lobby that now demands a return to a gun control standard enacted under Bill Clinton that was an absolute failure.

Update:  As of 1100, 4 January 2013, Fox News has posted a video commentary on the shooting and the recognition of Sgt Castellano.