opinion polls placed him a definite second, and between then and the election he did nothing to justify his alleged increase in popularity, with his 'Bling Bling' approach to electioneering turning the stomachs of many French people. In addition, within a few months of his 'victory' in May 2007, Sarkozy's popularity had plummeted to around 30% as people reacted to his austere economic reforms, on which he had openly campaigned, mind you. How to explain such a sudden turnaround so soon after his victory? It was only on election day that, somehow, the diminutive son of a Hungarian immigrant and his 'princes of Paris' were gifted 5 years in the Elysee palace.
Today it's common knowledge (or it should be) that election results, even in the world's 'greatest democracies', can be easily 'flipped' by way of electronic voting machines. That such machines were introduced by Sarkozy himself (as Minister of the Interior) in 2004, for around 4% of the French electorate raised a few eyebrows, and offered a plausible explanation for Sarkozy's unexpected victory, especially since the official tally was 53.06% for Sarko and 46.94% for Royal, i.e. within the 4% 'flip' margin. It also struck me as rather strange that opinion and exit polls were so accurate (some months in advance of the election) in their prediction that Sarkozy would win 53% and Royal 47%.
Since 2007, 'Sarko the American' has evoked little more than disgust from the majority of the French public. In 2007, when it became clear that he planned to make good on his election promises to slowly destroy France's social welfare system while giving tax breaks to corporations and the rich, millions of public sector workers took to the streets in protest. Millions of public and private sector workers demonstrated again throughout September and October 2010 against the raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62. On both occasions, Sarkozy arrogantly broke with tradition (and democratic principles) by dismissing the protests as insignificant and pushed ahead with his elitist policies. In addition, Sarkozy has been implicated in several financial and criminal scandals. On a personal level, the French president's conceitedness, frequent inability to control his anger and lack of humility are seen as unfitting for an alleged statesman, and have repeatedly provoked the disdain of the majority of French citizens. Consequently, his chances of legitimate reelection in May this year lie somewhere between slim and non-existent.
Even someone like Sarkozy is not impervious to awareness of his extremely low approval rating, and a few weeks ago he appeared to be predicting his defeat ("I'd rather be a Carmelite monk than carry on in politics if I lose"). While Sarko is unlikely to end up in a monastery, he undoubtedly would love to disappear off the radar if he is booted out of the Elysee in May. You see, as President Sarkozy, he is immune from prosecution. As plain old Sarko, he is not, and there are many people (Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin to name but two) who would be only too happy to facilitate investigations into his extremely dubious business and political deals dating back over 20 years. That is in fact precisely what Manuel Valls, the campaign director for Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande has stated - that Sarkozy is terrified of losing the election because he would lose his immunity.
Few will deny that, over the course of the last decade, many of the major Western 'democracies' have implemented political and social policies that resemble those of a police state, that is, a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population. Both the rationale for and acceptance (by the population) of most of these social control mechanisms is the mythical 'al-Qaeda' and the co-called 'war on terror', which, for authoritarian follower types is a 'necessary evil', but for those with a mind of their own, a literal scam to justify imperial aggression and plunder and force the population to accept it. A particular type of president or prime minister is required to act as the public face or steward of such policies. They must be authoritarian types who can convincingly pull off the 'strong man in a crisis' routine (mainly because they believe their own lies). And crises, of course, must be created.
Sarkozy is just such a man, but after five years of his bluster and the 'war on terror' wearing very thin, the French people are more than eager to see how he looks in the robes of a Carmelite monk. On the other hand, Sarkozy's likely rival, the socialist Francois Hollande, while consistently ahead in the polls, is just not the kind of guy who can convincingly push ahead with the police state and imperial policies favored by those 'vested interests'. The first problem is that he is a socialist. The second problem is that he has to campaign on policies that are more or less the opposite to Sarkozy's, and in France, he would have to follow through on at least some of them to remain credible and avoid widespread protests. A few of Hollande's 60 election propositions include raising taxes for big corporations, banks and the wealthy, creating 60,000 teaching jobs, bringing the official retirement age back down to 60 from 62, creating subsidised jobs in areas of high unemployment for the young and pulling French troops out of Afghanistan in 2012.
All of which creates a problem for the psychopathic spin doctors and selectors of presidents and prime ministers who wish to see Sarkozy re-elected so they can continue the march towards global fascism and lock down.
As noted previously, a Sarkozy 'win' could, theoretically, be achieved via electronic voting, but that would only swing the vote by a maximum of 4%, too little to plausibly secure a victory given his long-term dire approval ratings and the fact that Hollande has consistently been placed well ahead (at least 60%-40%). So what to do? In the absence of the possibility to manipulate a large percentage of votes electronically, a little social engineering is the next best bet. But how to encourage large numbers of French people to reconsider their disdain for Sarko and turn towards him, for 'protection'?
Then on the 15th of March, the same gunman shot dead two soldiers and wounded a third outside their barracks in Montauban (30 mins north of Toulouse). Again, he escaped on a scooter.
Then on the 19th March, the same gunman arrived at a Jewish primary and secondary school in Toulouse at 8am and shot dead a Rabbi teacher, his two young sons and a four-year-old girl, the school principal's daughter. All were shot in the head at point blank range. The young girl with a .45 caliber hand gun. He again escaped on a scooter. French security services have definitively linked the shootings and concluded that the same person was responsible for all three.
The killer's choice of targets were intended to maximise outrage. Witnesses of the broad-daylight shooting in Montauban saw him calmly reload his weapon and shoot one of the unarmed soldiers from point blank range as he tried to crawl away. Clearly, the gunman had professional training. Coincidentally, (or not), the attack on the Jewish school came 9 years to the day after the beginning of the US invasion of Iraq.
Then, in the early morning of 21st March, French police surrounded an apartment in a quiet suburb of Toulouse where they believed the killer, identified as Mohammed Merah, age 24 and of Algerian origin, to be located. After several hours of sporadic 'negotiations', and a brief exchange of gunfire in which two police officers were allegedly wounded, the gunman allegedly kindly threw the .45 caliber gun out the window of his apartment (to make it easy to identify him as the killer of course) and proclaimed he would "surrender after lunch". According to official sources, he has (surprise surprise) claimed allegiance to 'al-Qaeda' and desired to take revenge for French military crimes in Afghanistan and the murder of Palestinian children. You can see where this is going. Anyone who is angry at the daily murder of Afghan and Palestinian men women and children is potentially a violent radical with murderous intentions. Dissent among the general population against the imperial warmongers will NOT be tolerated.
As of this writing, the gunman is still in the apartment and "in negotiations" with police. They expect him to surrender this evening (March 21st), however there is a fair chance of a more dramatic end. Clearly, this event is being milked for all it is worth (to Sarkozy). The public must be transfixed and held in suspense for the memory of the fear to be an enduring one and for the programming to take effect. Only in this way can public trust in the 'securocratic' policies of Sarkozy be effected and a election victory in May assured.
Like almost every other case of this type ("young 'Jihadi' involved in terror attack") the people who knew him say they are stunned that he could have done such a thing, and that he never expressed any interest in 'Jihad'.
"Mr Merah was a "normal" boy who became radicalised via the internet, according to a member of the family named only as Laela by French newspaper Le Parisien."We should remember that it is impossible to definitively identify the person who shot the soldiers and adult and children at the Jewish school because he was wearing a helmet the entire time. Eyewitnesses described the shooter as 'chubby', yet the suspect in the apartment in Toulouse, Merah, is skinny.
"A friend of Mr Merah described him as a "normal young man". "Three weeks ago he was in at a nightclub," 31-year-old Mehdi Nedder told AP. "And this morning I hear we're talking about al-Qaeda. How can you change like that in three weeks?" he said."
"Another friend of Mr Merah, named only by Kamel, remembers playing football with him as the two grew up in Toulouse. "[He] was respectful and generous," 24-year-old Kamel told AP. "We never spoke about weapons, religion or politics, but cars, bikes, girls and sports."
Despite Sarkozy's security grandstanding and theatre, it seems that not only was the capture of this young man a rather simple affair (he had used a computer to contact his first alleged victim and he called the France24 news station on the night of March 20th and admitted responsibility), but French intelligence had him under surveillance for several years since he allegedly broke out of an Afghanistan jail in 2008 (along with 1000 other prisoners) after having been sentenced to three years in 2007 for planting bombs in Kandahar. Since then, French authorities were aware of his history and had him 'under surveillance', yet saw no evidence of any intent to launch any kind of attack. As the Guardian notes, "the French government and security forces are going to face some very tough questions". Sure, but don't expect any honest answers. Neither should you expect any serious investigation into the sudden, bizarre and unexpected bomb attack on the Indonesian Embassy in Paris on the very morning (21st) that the stand off with the 'Jihadi' in Toulouse was taking place. That was designed as an extra shock to the French public's collective nervous system, just to drive home the message of 'terrorism, fear, insecurity and the need for a strong leader'.
The brutality of these attacks, especially the last, involving young children, has shocked France, and the spotlight naturally fell on the president to address the nation and take affirmative action to find the killer. To say that these shootings were, as regards his reelection bid, a 'godsend' to Sarkozy, would be an understatement. Sarkozy has wasted no time in marshaling the full force of the police state, calling on thousands of police and intelligence operatives to aid in the hunt for the killer. He has also announced the highest level of alert ('Scarlet') on France's national security alert system which calls for "notification of a risk of major attacks, simultaneous or otherwise, using non-conventional means and causing major devastation; preparing appropriate means of rescue and response, measures that are highly disruptive to public life are authorized". That's one step away from martial law. And that's the 'strong man in a crisis' response, in case you were wondering.
Within a day of the attack on the Jewish school, media pundits were already pondering the likely impact on the Presidential elections. The general conclusion, deftly arrived at by the savvy media analysts, is that Sarkozy's quick and decisive assumption of control of the situation, rushing to the scene and speaking as the president of the republic will benefit him. The BBC notes (sarcastic comment mine):
He called for a minute's silence. He brought together Jewish and Muslim leaders. His interior minister has been on the ground at the siege in Toulouse directing operations and briefing the media. In a crisis, incumbent leaders often have the advantage (duh!)Note is also made of the fact that both Sarkozy and Hollande officially 'suspended' their campaigning. The truth, however, is that Sarkozy's campaign went into overdrive and the attacks clearly provide him with a massive boost, strong enough to catapult him back into the Elysée in May. Coincidence?
On the same day as the Jewish school attacks, Sarkozy appeared in Toulouse and addressed the public:
Apart from his blatant pandering to the virtues and strength of the French state (with him as its steward of course), (note the theatrics of his steely eyed address to the camera and assertion that the killer "WILL BE FOUND") I have to take issue with Sarko's comments at the very end of his speech. He said:
"These are images that we have seen in other countries, but that we have never seen in ours."Indeed. Images and reports of children being summarily murdered are quite common these days. In fact, over the past two weeks we have seen (or should have seen) images of many Palestinian men, women and children being blown to pieces by Israeli drone rockets. In approximately the same time frame as the three attacks in France, which resulted in the deaths of four adults and three children, the Israeli military killed 26 Palestinian civilians, including many women and children. There was, however, no presidential speech lamenting the barbarity and cruelty of those attacks. On the contrary, they were largely ignored by the entire world (except by Israel, which cheered them). Strangely enough, it took the murders at the Jewish school in Toulouse for any official mention of the regular murder and torture of Palestinians by Israeli forces to be made.
And when mention was made, the Israeli government was furious, accusing the EU foreign minister, Baroness Ashton, of comparing the murders of Jewish children in France to the murders of Palestinian children in Palestine (how DARE she!). Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's hate-filled foreign minister, even demanded that she resign for her outburst of humanity and common sense. For the Israeli government, nothing can ever be allowed to diminish, if only by comparison, the suffering of Jewish people anywhere at any time. For reference, here are the offending words of the EU foreign minister:
"We remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances - the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world - we remember young people and children who lose their lives."Shameful, isn't it?
France included. Yes indeed, far too often we have seen images of civilians being gunned down, blown up or otherwise attacked over the past ten years, and far too often it has been as a result of the actions of a Western 'democracy', like France, so perhaps we shouldn't be so appalled that such events have arrived at France's door.
On the morning of the 21st, just a few hours before the suspect would be apprehended, Sarkozy gave another dramatic speech to the press and the nation. Again, Sarkozy unashamedly used the murder of French citizens to call for "national unity". Clearly, what Sarkozy is encouraging here is "national unity" around him, as the strong man in a (largely manufactured) crisis, and therefore "national unity" of voting preferences, which should be directed towards the only candidate who, as a strong man in a crisis, can 'protect' the population against wild-eyed 'Jihadis' and other nebulous and ill-definied threats to the population. In short, it's the old schtick of terrorising the population into a fear-based vote for a right-wing totalitarian form of leadership and a concomitant police state infrastructure. The hypocrisy inherent in Sarkozy, who had consistently lobbied for tough immigration policies and sought to divide France along ethnic lines, using "national unity" to promote himself as the only rational choice in the upcoming elections is apparently lost on the French public.
One day after the first shooting in Toulouse (March 12th), French political analyst and director of the political magazine L'Express, Christophe Barbier, appeared on the French TV show C dans L'Air (It's in the Air) and is reported to have said the following:
"The only chance for Sarkozy to win the election is if an event outside of his campaign occurs. An international, exceptional or traumatizing event. Only a cataclysm that is capable of rallying the French people around their president can offer Sarkozy the chance of reelection."(The article containing the above quote was removed from the web the same day it was posted (20/03/12). See here for a screen shot before it was removed.)
M. Barbier appears to have been 'on the money' on two counts. Not only did a 'traumatizing event' occur, but it seems to be having the effect of rallying the French people around their strong, militant president. At the beginning of this month, polls had Sarkozy on 42% and Hollande on 58% for the second-round vote. During last week (after the first shooting on the 11th of March), polls showed Sarkozy's ratings rising towards that magic number of 47% to Hollande's 53%, yet again, right within that 4% e-voting flip margin.
In short, it seems that a replay of the 2007 election could be on the cards, with a little help from the Toulouse killer and those wonderful electronic voting machines. It also seems that, when Sarkozy is reelected few, if any, French people will wonder how their presidential election voting trends could be exactly the same 5 years apart. Or how Nicolas Sarkozy could possibly have won a second term when most French people spent those last 5 years waiting for the day when they could kick him out. Or how it came to pass that they ended up voting for Sarkozy for reasons that, only a few weeks before, were the reasons they were determined not to vote for him.
All French citizens however, would do well to recall the words of the founder of the Nazi Gestapo, Hermann Göring, interviewed in his cell in 1946:
Interview in Göring's cell (3 January 1946)UPDATE March 22nd 8.00am (CET)
Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives.
Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
It seems that the attorney for the alleged Toulouse Terrorist now says that he could not have been in jail in Afghanistan - or done all the things the French authorities are saying he did - because he was in a French jail. The news first appeared on our radar on a Polish news site. Within ten minutes or so, going back to grab it, the text had changed, although the title remained in the url. See this.
Another article in Israeli news just said that Merrah was not in prison in Afghanistan, and did not include the part about him being in French jail:
Toulouse Terrorist Wasn't Imprisoned in AfghanistanAnd something here in Polish:
Terrorist Mohammad Merrah who murdered four Jews in Toulouse was not imprisoned in Afghanistan in 2007, Merrah's lawyer and the office of the governor of the Kandahar province said on Wednesday.
Earlier, a prison administrator claimed that Merrah was arrested in Afghanistan in December of 2007 and was sentenced to three years in prison after he had planted bombs in Kandahar.
Siedzial w wiezieniu, ale francuskim, nie afganskimDigging further, we find it in English:
Polish Press Agency
Domniemany zabójca z Tuluzy Mohamed Merah nie siedzial w wiezieniu w Afganistanie od 2007 roku - oswiadczyl jego prawnik, dementujac wczesniejsze informacje.
Prawnik Meraha we Francji Christian Etelin ujawnil, ze jego klient siedzial we francuskim wiezieniu od grudnia 2007 do wrzesnia 2009, skazany za napad rabunkowy, wiec nie mógl byc w tym czasie w Afganistanie.
According to his lawyer, Christian Etelin, Mohamed Merah was in French prison from December 2007 to September 2009 for a robbery, so he could not be in Afghanistan at that time.
French shooting suspect not jailed in AfghanistanFinally, we find the French version:
Kandahar, Afghanistan - French school shooting suspect Mohamed Merah was not jailed in Afghanistan in 2007, his lawyer and an Afghan provincial official said on Wednesday.
Earlier, Kandahar prison chief Ghulam Faruq had told Reuters that Afghan security forces detained Merah on Dec. 19, 2007, and that he was sentenced to three years in jail for planting bombs in the southern province of Kandahar, the Taliban's birthplace.
But the Kandahar governor's office said that account was "baseless", citing judicial records. "Security forces in Kandahar have never detained a French citizen named Mohamed Merah," the governor's spokesman, Ahmad Jawed Faisal, said.
Merah's lawyer in France, Christian Etelin, said his client was in prison in France from December 2007 until September 2009, serving a sentence for robbery with violence, and therefore could not have been in Afghanistan at the time.
Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin, is suspected of killing seven people in the name of the al-Qaida militant network, including three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse in southwestern France.
French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said Merah had been to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and had carried out his killings in revenge for French military involvement abroad.
In Pakistan, an intelligence official who declined to be identified said Merah had never been arrested there. "We have no information about him," the Pakistani official said.
Mohamed Merah n'aurait pas été détenu en AfghanistanNeedless to say, SOTT is archiving screen shots.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Le gouverneur de la province afghane de Kandahar a démenti mercredi les propos du directeur des prisons qui avait affirmé que le suspect des tueries de Toulouse et Montauban avait été arrêté en 2007 en Afghanistan et s'était évadé quelques mois plus tard.
S'appuyant sur des documents pénitentiaires, Ghulam Faruq, directeur des prisons de Kandahar, avait déclaré à Reuters que Mohamed Merah avait été arrêté le 19 décembre 2007 et condamné à trois ans de prison, avant de s'enfuir à la faveur d'une opération commando menée en juin 2008 par des taliban.
Un haut responsable des services de renseignement de Kandahar avait également confirmé ces informations, mais elles ont été démenties peu après par le bureau du gouverneur de Kandahar, qui juge "sans fondement" cette version des faits, s'appuyant notamment sur des rapports judiciaires.
"Les forces de sécurité de Kandahar n'ont jamais détenu un citoyen français qui répond au nom de Mohamed Merah", a déclaré Ahmad Jawed Faisal, porte-parole du gouverneur.
L'avocat français de Merah, Christian Etelin, a déclaré que son client avait été emprisonné en France de décembre 2007 à septembre 2009 après une condamnation pour vol avec violences. Il ne pouvait donc pas, selon lui, se trouver à la prison de Kandahar pendant ce laps de temps.
Cette prison de haute sécurité située dans un faubourg du sud de Kandahar est le principal établissement pénitentiaire du sud de l'Afghanistan. Les détenus dits "politiques" y sont séparés des détenus de droit commun.
A l'époque, le gouvernement afghan avait réclamé davantage d'aide internationale, faisant état de l'arrivée de plus de 4.000 combattants étrangers venus de Tchétchénie, d'Afrique du Nord ou du Pakistan pour épauler l'insurrection des taliban.
De nombreux djihadistes étrangers ont quitté l'Afghanistan au moment de l'envoi de renforts par l'Otan, en 2009.
Selon les autorités françaises, Mohamed Merah, Français d'origine algérienne, s'est rendu au Pakistan et en Afghanistan.
Au Pakistan, un responsable des services de renseignement a déclaré que Mohamed Merah n'avait jamais été arrêté dans le pays. "Nous n'avons aucune information le concernant", a-t-il dit, en requérant l'anonymat.
Le suspect était en France sous surveillance de la Direction centrale du renseignement intérieur (DCRI) depuis longtemps pour appartenance à un mouvement salafiste sans qu'il y ait eu toutefois d'élément permettant de penser qu'il était sur le point de passer à un acte criminel, a précisé le ministre français de l'Intérieur, Claude Guéant.
Ahmad Nadem, Jack Kimball et Rob Taylor, Henri-Pierre André, Jean-Stéphane Brosse et Hélène Duvigneau pour le service français
UPDATE March 22nd 11.17am (CET)
The first opinion poll since a clearly trained assassin shot dead four people at a Jewish school on Monday and four soldiers the previous week, showed President Nicolas Sarkozy would narrowly beat his Socialist challenger in the first round of a presidential election next month.
Are we beginning to understand the point of all this yet? Maybe an image would help...
UPDATE March 22nd 11.42am (CET)
Reports coming in that, after 5 minutes of heavy gunfire from the French police, Merah has been killed. That's the end of it then. The entire debacle has been cloaked in darkness and mystery, and no one will get to hear Merah actually admit to anything. Through the French media, he has been tried, found guilty and sentenced to death by the actual instigators of these disgusting crimes. In short, the real professional hit man (or men) has gotten away with murder, with the connivance of Sarkozy and the French state. Other than the innocent victims sacrificed for Sarkozy's election campaign, the biggest casualty here is the Truth.
UPDATE March 22nd 1.19pm (CET)
Something very strange is going on with the reports of the end of the 'siege'. The first reports (about an hour ago) were that police had stormed the apartment and Merah was "found dead in his apartment".
All in all, it sounds like a pack of lies, with the story being made up as they go along.
UPDATE March 22nd 4.00pm (CET)
Sarkozy has declared his intention to criminalize 'ideological indoctrination' and announced that visiting 'hate and terror websites' is to become a criminal offense, specifying that anyone regularly visiting websites "justifying terrorism" or "preaching hatred and violence" would be prosecuted. There is to be a renewed tightening of internet surveillance (and life in general) under the tired old excuse of the 'war on terror'. And Sarkozy looks set to win five more years President of France as he takes a clear lead from his nearest rival Francois Hollande.
UPDATE: 22 March, 10:00 PM
Now, ABC news (SOTT has already caught them lying and publishing propaganda) sez:
French School Shooter Was on US No Fly List
A senior US official has confirmed to ABC News that Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old suspect in three French terror attacks, was on the FBI's "no-fly" list, and said that French authorities would be aware that the US had placed Merah on the list as a terror risk.Next, more "emerging' information:
Suspect in French Jewish school shooting visited Israel
Hours after the death of Mohamed Merah, the man suspected of the shootings in Toulouse and Montauban, new details emerged which seemed to contradict previous reports regarding his identity.And if that isn't dizzying enough:
According to a report published in Le Monde on Thursday, Merah was not a member of any well-known Islamic terrorist organization, but did undergo a process of radicalization. Merah also reportedly had entry stamps to Israel and other countries in the region in his passport.
Meanwhile, a little-known extremist group on Thursday claimed responsibility for a series of deadly shootings in France, saying they were in response to what it called "Israel's crimes" against the Palestinians.SOTT has the strong impression that France is not going to come out of this smelling like a rose - nor is Sarkozy.
UPDATE: 22 March 10:30 PM Here is the winner of the prize for the three most preposterous paragraphs in journalism history:
France siege suspect Merah dead
At the moment when a video probe was sent into the bathroom, the killer came out of the bathroom, firing with extreme violence" Mr Guéant said.Read Part 2 Here.
Mr Guéant said Merah was firing several guns at once. "In the end, Mohamed Merah jumped from the window with his gun in his hand, continuing to fire. He was found dead on the ground," he told reporters at the scene. Two police commandos were wounded," he said.
He was firing frantically at police from a Colt 45 pistol as he climbed through his apartment window onto a verandah and toppled to the ground some 5 feet (1.5 metres) below, according to prosecutors and police.
Merah died from a gunshot wound to the head.