Saturday, December 21, 2002

Professor Patty's Lesson of the Day

First it was the VRWC, now it's the RWH
Wingnut Senator Patty Murray (D - Outer Space) is whining about the complaints that arose over her mash note to Osama bin Laden:
Why is Osama bin Laden so popular in some parts of the world?

Perhaps, said Sen. Patty Murray, it's because he and his supporters have spent years building goodwill in poor nations by helping pay for schools, roads and other infrastructure.
"He's been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that," Murray said.

"How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?"

First, her crew trotted out someone from the always reliable leftwing Institute for Policy Studies to say "Yep, fersure!", although it was kind of weak:
"Mostly he did underwrite - and so did many Arab charities - several fundamentalist Muslim schools throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan that teach a very, very, fundamentalist, right-wing version of Islam that preaches hatred for the West," Swetnam said.
Uh Oh! Another right-wing alert!

And Murray seems blithely unaware that the US taxpayer was the largest provider of foreign aid to Afghanistan even before 9/11:
In February 2001 - seven months before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon - the U.S. Agency for International Development announced an emergency airlift of supplies into Pakistan and Afghanistan.

At the time, the agency noted the U.S. was the largest single donor of assistance to Afghanistan, contributing about $115 million that year to improve health, water, sanitation and nutrition.
As is usually the case, this does not count our subsidy of UN efforts.

Feeling a tad toasty, Murray issued a statement which explained it all as a challenging and thoughtful discussion, called Mr. Humanitarian an "evil terrorist", and whined:
While there are some on the extreme fringes of society who try to exploit fear and uncertainty for political gain, there are many more who understand that the best value of our democracy is the freedom to think and to secure a better future.
Now her spokesdroid, Todd Webster, opines:
"This is being turned into a circus by the right-wing media outlets and fed by right-wing haters."
My, my - right-wing hater. Sound's a tad scary.

Almost as scary as the charitable explanation that a US Senator is completely unaware of the extent of US foreign aid and thinks Osama's terrorist training camps are some sort of humanitarian effort. I could offer an uncharitable explanation too, but don't want to be called a "right-wing hater".

Oh, what the hell!

Sen. Murray apparently suffers from delusions that make her unfit for her office. Her statements are an insult to all victims of Osama bin Laden's terrorist thugs and to all those risking their lives to combat them. The leaders of the Democrat party should step forward and show that they are not the party of appeasement by firmly distancing the party from Murray. And Murray should resign.

Friday, December 20, 2002

What's good for the gander should be good for the goose
Murray Must Resign!
Pass it on.
Mark Steyn alert!
The laugh's on Europe:
I find it easier to be optimistic about the futures of Iraq and Pakistan than, say, Holland or Denmark. What's wrong with the Islamic world is relatively straightforward. With Europe, it's harder to foresee any happy endings. The good news is we won't have to worry about another Hitler or Mussolini because, on present reproductive trends, the Italians and Germans are going to be out of business in a couple of generations. Few people have ever been in less need of lebensraum. Instead, the European Union figures it will require another 50 million immigrants in the next few years just to maintain a big enough working population to fund the lavish social programs its vast retired army of baby boomers expects to enjoy.

The main source of European immigration is Muslim youth from North Africa and the Middle East. Whether these are the chaps to keep Hans and Pierre in the style to which they've become accustomed is a moot point: According to some Scandinavian statistics, 40 percent of those on welfare are immigrants. And, while it's not true that every immigrant on welfare is an Islamic terrorist, it's a good rule of thumb that every Islamic terrorist in Europe has been on welfare, living in radicalized ghetto cultures with nothing to do but sit around the flat plotting the jihad all day. Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammed, who recently held a pro-Osama rally in London, has demanded the imposition of Islamic law in Britain, and at one time called for the assassination of then-Prime Minister John Major. Given that it's Mr. Major's ministry, and now Tony Blair's, that has financially supported Sheikh Omar ever since he arrived 15 years ago, that seems a tad ungrateful.
Ruh oh!
Leigh Strope for the AP writes Proposed regulations would require unions to open books, report more financial detail:
The Bush administration is trying to pry open the books of labor unions to get much more detailed financial information in the annual reports they have to file with the government.

Labor Department officials said Friday they are revamping reporting requirements for the first time in more than 40 years to force the largest unions to specify how much they spend on contract negotiations and administration, organization, strike benefits, general overhead, political activities and lobbying, and to identify those expenses.

Currently, large unions can lump together much of those costs. For example, one form filed with the department said a union spent $62 million on "disbursement of grants to joint projects with state and local affiliates." Another reported $4 million spent on "sundry expenses." Such broad categories make it easy to hide possible embezzlement and mismanagement, labor officials said.
Can you say "slush fund"? I knew you could!
On Thursday, federal investigators raided the homes and offices of three former officials of the Washington Teachers Union in the nation's capital.

They were searching for hundreds of luxury items allegedly bought with more than $2 million in diverted union funds, including a $25,000 mink coat, a $13,000 flat-screen television and a $57,000 Tiffany sterling silver set with 288 pieces.

Labor Department investigations of union financial fraud result in an average of 11 criminal convictions a month, with more than 640 convictions over the past five years.
Those sundry expenses just keep piling up!

But stand by for the whining:
"It is really driven by a political agenda by the Bush administration and by groups that are virulently antiunion and want to impose huge burdens on them," said Laurence Gold, the AFL-CIO's associate general counsel.
It's a huge burden to break out your "sundry expenses"?

But the best part is:
The Labor Department began posting the reports on the Internet for the first time in June. The forms are available to the public and list expenses, revenue and salaries of all union employees. The department also has requested an additional $3.4 million in next year's budget to help strengthen enforcement and investigations of unions.
Kewl! Drop in at the DOL's web site to discover that in 2001, the NEA (warning - 10MB Adobe Acrobat download) spent $69M on "Grants to joint projects w/state and local affiliates". That's about 24% of receipts.
Full moon alert!
The AP stuns with Man Bites Into Bat Burger:
JACKSON, Tenn. - What would you like on your burger? Lettuce? Mayo? Pickles?

Perhaps some bat?

A Lexington teenager faces up to six years behind bars for placing a dead bat on a bun as a joke and giving it to a man who took a bite, thinking it was a burger, police said.

The girl, whose identity is being withheld because she is a juvenile, will be charged with violating a new law that prohibits tampering with someone's food and giving it as a gift, according to Lexington Police Investigator Donna Hetherington.
Well "tampering with someone's food and giving it as a gift" is a tad specific. Do they have a lot of that in Tennessee?

And I guess he didn't get to the Ex-Lax "chocolate chip" cookies.
Meanwhile, in the UK...
They (and the tourists) have apparently never seen limousines before. Jane Kelly of the Evening Standard investigates in Inside London's limos:
Whatever you think about the tackiness of limousines - 35ft emblems of U.S. culture - they are a pleasurable way to entertain your friends on an evening out.
When we reach sophisticated Hampstead it is obvious we are out of place. In this select area of London, it is surprising that limos like this are even allowed.
In Westminster, crowds of tourists gather to stare at us as we pause at traffic lights. We can see them, but they can't see us, of course. The front of the vehicle goes through on green, the back scrapes through on red, and we fill up whole yellow box junctions.
Togetherness is what limos are all about - originally they represented a rather dangerous, downmarket glamour.

Now, for most people, they are about friends, family, comfort and keeping the party together - a wonderful, if expensive, way to sidestep the congestion, toe-treading and transport rage that lurks outside on the litter-strewn streets of Britain today.
Follow the link for the obligatory customer stories. Something about large automobiles seems to bring out the, er, animal in the customers.
'I'd rather do a stag night any day,' the driver Pete Spiteri, 46, tells me later.

'Women always want to molest me, sticking their boobs and bums through the hatch and jiggling them at me. All I can hope is that later, after a few drinks, they'll go to sleep.'
They're everywhere!
From ESPN, George Foreman still sizzles as endorser:
While the 53-year-old Foreman is frequently left off lists of the top endorsers in the sports world, he might actually be the most effective one. For the third straight year, Foreman's signature grills are expected to remain the No. 1 selling housewares item in the United States, and more Foreman-endorsed grills will be sold this year than all brands of coffeemakers combined, said Gary Ragan, vice president of marketing for Salton, the grill's maker. In England, the company is expecting to sell two million grills this year, making it the best-selling electrical appliance in the country's history, Ragan said.

Foreman originally was to receive a percentage of grill sales from his endorsement, but astronomical sales from his "Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machines" prompted Salton to buy Foreman out. Three years ago, the company awarded Foreman with a five-year deal reportedly worth $137.5 million for the worldwide rights to his name and likeness. He made just $20,000 from endorsements during his boxing prime in the 1970s.
Things are looking really bad in Germany!
Reuters astounds with German drinkers face beer shortage. Is it Osama bin Laden, the nefarious Communist Chinese, or Ernst Blofeld? Nope, it's the ecoweenies.
The government is imposing charges on non-reusable containers because it says the percentage of recycled cans and bottles has fallen below a 72 percent minimum target set in 1997.

"We may not have enough beer available to meet the demand in January," Jan Holzweissig, spokesman for the German retailers' association, told Reuters. "A lot of stores are planning to remove beer and other drinks in disposable containers off their shelves next month because of the new rules."
He's bad, he's nationwide!
Well almost, but Steve is dancing naked in the front yard. (Permalinks are universally bloggered today so scroll down to the first entry on 12/20).
This is really exciting. The last time this happened was years ago, when I had a comic strip in development with the syndicate editor who discovered Garfield. He was a great guy, as far as I could tell, but he was just not ready for the Little Tiny mindset. He wanted For Better or for Worse or Marvin, and I felt like Hunter S. Thompson and Joseph Heller were running around in my brain setting fire to the furniture. And I was conservative. When you're conservative, even when you sit on your politics, your work gives off a certain smell which sets off the liberal flight response. This guy was part of the industry, which means "mainstream," which meant "liberal." And even though I never mentioned politics in my work or correspondence, I'm sure he smelled handguns and SDI on my breath.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
It's time to think about fishing
Prairie Dog fishing that is!
The new sport of prairie dog fishing has taken the West by firestorm. Since there is no controlling legal authority prohibiting prairie dog fishing it is a perfectly fun legal way to enjoy some quality time with family and friends. No license is required!

Ranch hands and out door enthusiasts throughout the western states have secretly enjoyed prairie dog fishing for many years. It has its roots in the old days of fur trapping. After trappers set out their traps to gather beaver and fox pelts, they passed the time by snaring prairie dogs to hone their skills.

The popularity of this sport has been growing rapidly in the past five years. Ranchers throughout the west have been hosting these events on private property and have not been advertising for fear of reprisal from animal rights groups. The secret can no longer be kept because too many people know. It is time for prairie dog fishermen to come out of the closet and be proud of their secret sport.

Prairie dogs live in colonies generally known as towns. If left unchecked these towns can extend for several thousand miles and include several million animals.

There are several species in the west. The black-tailed and the white-tailed are the most popular. The Mexican and the Utah species are labeled as a threatened species, which protects them from being hunted, shot, trapped and poisoned. Although these particular species are not legally protected from being fished, we will, in the interest of cooperating with the Endangered Species Act take a catch and release approach whenever a Mexican or Utah species is caught.

The catch and release method will be humane in its nature. Large shipping containers will be available at the tournament site. These overnight express boxes will be labeled with the home addresses of individuals involved with the various animal rights groups concerned with saving the prairie dogs. These groups include Rocky Mountain Animal Defense (RMAD) and the Prairie Dog Coalition. Curious both of these organizations share the same street address in Boulder, Colorado. There will be containers labeled for the local PETA folks too.

After they are shipped, tournament officials will be waiting outside of the recipient's home with video cameras to ensure that the friendly, flea infested, disease carrying rodents are properly cared for by those who have pledged to save and care for them.
But you'll need the right gear which includes:
  • A good strong bait casting reel and a good stiff pole.
  • A good comfortable lawn chair.
  • A small Lousiville slugger that you can wield with one hand. An alternative is a Poly-Carbonate PR-24 Police Baton.
  • A net to safely handle the rodents
  • A small pocketknife for field dressing and skinning your prize
  • Cooler filled with ice to keep your catch fresh and your beer cold.
  • A portable canopy to provide some shade because prairie dogs are found on the shadeless prairies.
  • A good pair of binoculars to see what is happening.
And don't forget the prairie dog recipes!
High blood pressure alert!
(Via Junkyard Blog) ABC News has a story that has the potential to elevate blood pressure levels significantly. You have been warned! Check out Called Off the Trail? and see what you think.
In a dramatic interview with ABCNEWS, FBI special agents and partners Robert Wright and John Vincent say they were called off criminal investigations of suspected terrorists tied to the deadly bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. U.S. officials say al Qaeda was responsible for the embassy attacks and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

"September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI's International Terrorism Unit. No doubt about that. Absolutely no doubt about that," Wright said. "You can't know the things I know and not go public."

In the mid-1990s, with growing terrorism in the Middle East, the two Chicago-based agents were assigned to track a connection to Chicago, a suspected terrorist cell that would later lead them to a link with Osama bin Laden. Wright says that when he pressed for authorization to open a criminal investigation into the money trail, his supervisor stopped him.

"Do you know what his response was? 'I think it's just better to let sleeping dogs lie,'" said Wright. "Those dogs weren't sleeping. They were training. They were getting ready."
The suspected terrorist cell in Chicago was the basis of the investigation, yet Wright, who remains with the FBI, says he soon discovered that all the FBI intelligence division wanted him to do was to follow suspected terrorists and file reports ? but make no arrests.

"The supervisor who was there from headquarters was right straight across from me and started yelling at me: 'You will not open criminal investigations. I forbid any of you. You will not open criminal investigations against any of these intelligence subjects,'" Wright said.
Ah yes, we must definitely have reports to narrow the yawning report gap. And I've got the paper, rolls and rolls of it.
In 1998 al Qaeda terrorists bombed two American embassies in Africa. The agents say some of the money for the attacks led back to the people they had been tracking in Chicago and to a powerful Saudi Arabian businessman, Yassin al-Kadi. Al-Kadi is one of 12 Saudi businessmen suspected of funneling millions of dollars to al Qaeda and who had extensive business and financial ties in Chicago.

Yet, even after the bombings, Wright said FBI headquarters wanted no arrests.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the two agents watched the terror attacks in horror, worried that men they could have stopped years earlier may have been involved.

The White House confirmed their fears. One month after the attacks, the U.S. government officially identified al-Kadi ? the same man the FBI had ordered Wright and Vincent to leave alone years earlier ? as one of bin Laden's important financiers.
But wait, the best is yet to come!
Perhaps most astounding of the many mistakes, according to Flessner and an affidavit filed by Wright, is how an FBI agent named Gamal Abdel-Hafiz seriously damaged the investigation. Wright says Abdel-Hafiz, who is Muslim, refused to secretly record one of al-Kadi's suspected associates, who was also Muslim. Wright says Abdel-Hafiz told him, Vincent and other agents that "a Muslim doesn't record another Muslim."

"He wouldn't have any problems interviewing or recording somebody who wasn't a Muslim, but he could never record another Muslim," said Vincent.

Wright said he "was floored" by Abdel-Hafiz's refusal and immediately called the FBI headquarters. Their reaction surprised him even more: "The supervisor from headquarters says, 'Well, you have to understand where he's coming from, Bob.' I said no, no, no, no, no. I understand where I'm coming from," said Wright. "We both took the same damn oath to defend this country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and he just said no? No way in hell."
What the bloody hell? Is this some sort of goddamn joke? And what do the cretins at FBI HQ do about this agent?
Far from being reprimanded, Abdel-Hafiz was promoted to one of the FBI's most important anti-terrorism posts, the American Embassy in Saudi Arabia, to handle investigations for the FBI in that Muslim country.
And there the FBI claims he "contributed significantly". One can't help but wonder how they could tell.
Blogspot again
Today, Blogspot/Blogger has a interesting new variant of the missing archives disease. Most older individual archive pages seem to exist, but the archive index page and (at least) the most recent archive page have gone AWOL. Therefore permalinks have intermittent utility at best. I am performing various arcane rituals in the hope of restoring normality.
What a way to go!
(Via Wog Blog) AFP reports that Baklava kills man:
A TURKISH man died after eating two kilograms of sweets following a bet with a friend, Anatolia news agency reported.

Necati Ceylan, a 45-year-old father of five, died in hospital in the southern city of Gaziantep after spending three weeks in coma, the agency said.

Ceylan was hospitalised last month after eating two kilograms of baklava, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert with heavily sugared syrup.

He won the bet.
4.4 lbs. is rather a lot, but I am hard pressed to figure out why it killed him. (Unless he was a diabetic, which would clearly make him a Darwin award finalist.) In any case, skip the fruitcake, I'll take baklava!

Thursday, December 19, 2002

You've got porn!
The AP astounds with Suspected Porn Site Burglar Arrested:
GILLETTE, Wyo. -- The case of the mystery porn downloader may have been solved.

A 17-year-old Gillette, Wyo., boy has been arrested on suspicion of breaking into homes and using computers to access pornography on the Internet.
Police said one victim discovered nearly $671 worth of unauthorized charges to her checking account, all of which were for companies handling transactions for pornography Web sites.

The alleged victim told police that "she keeps her bank statements on or around the computer desk, and that her checking account information is in a Quicken software program on the computer," the arrest affidavit states.
Another victim wound up with $164 worth of long-distance charges because an autodialing program had apparently been downloaded, telling the computer to regularly call phone numbers in Africa and Germany, according to police
"These particular people had their passwords saved, so you just click on an icon and dial in," said Dave Adsit, the Police Department's technology and computer crime manager. "Then when (the suspect) was in there he would go onto pornographic sites and fill out a membership form using a stolen checking account number for payment."

In some cases, the suspect returned to a home repeatedly to use the computer.

Other victims became aware after seeing pornographic material displayed on their Internet browsers, he said.

Some sites will "change a lot of your browser settings, automatically go to the porn sites, make it a home page," Adsit said.
Yeah, that would tend to make you suspicious.
Weapons Inspector Hijinks!
The AP says:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A second known snag for U.N. weapons inspectors took place Thursday, when they were delayed getting into a military guest house north of Baghdad.

Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite television channel, said the inspectors were kept out for 30 minutes because they had not given notice they would visit.
Jay Leno says:
A minor setback today for the UN inspectors: They had to wait two hours outside a locked door. These Iraqi officials, they're very smart. They go, 'We're wrapping presents. Don't come in yet. Hang on. We'll be ready in a minute. You don't want to ruin the surprise.'
Pond scum
The Telegraph (UK) incenses with Compensation for Sept 11 sackings:
Two cleaners who were sacked after disrupting a silent tribute to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks by throwing paper planes have each been awarded £7,000 compensation.

Arshad Ali and Aqeel Khan were dismissed for gross misconduct after enraging colleagues during the two-minute tribute but took their case against their employer to an industrial tribunal, claiming unfair dismissal.

The tribunal was due to meet next year but the pair were offered, and accepted, an out-of-court settlement.

While most staff at the Land Rover plant in Solihull, West Midlands, stood in silence, Mr Ali and Mr Khan were said to have jeered, made jibes and made paper planes, which they threw around.

Their actions angered other staff so much that they had to be escorted off the site by a senior manager. They were sacked from the contract cleaner Commando shortly after.

More than we really want to know
'CAU rejects tape of reporter getting a taste of 'Fear':
Vai Sikahema can swallow almost anything, but apparently WCAU viewers can't.

That's why 'CAU news boss Chris Blackman has decided not to air a tape of Sikahema bravely nibbling horse rectum (we're not making this up) as a promotional stunt for NBC's loathsome Fear Factor.

Sikahema, along with reporters from NBC stations in St. Louis; Seattle; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Oklahoma City, Okla., sampled it while visiting the Fear set in L.A. in October.

The idea was for the out-of-towners to run their tapes as local teasers for the Jan. 6 episode of Fear, to feature contestants eating the equine organ. For money. (We feel so much better.)

"We watched the tape and decided to go with our gut," says Blackman, a regular laugh riot. "It wasn't particularly appetizing."
Maybe this is why the broadcast numbers are down?
"They pulled out this pot of what looked like animal intestines - big, long, thick and stretching forever. I stood there, wondering what it was."
The organ "was awful. Fatty. Chewy. Tasteless. I almost gagged, but I managed to get it down. Had the camera not been rolling, I might have thrown up."
Q: What was Hans Blix doing in the pot of boiling water?
A: He thought it was a hot tub?
"Video killed the radio star..."
The Hollywood Reporter says Cable claims first TV title:
2002 was the year cable outperformed broadcast, grabbing a higher aggregate share of the audience for the first time ever.

With a few weeks left until the final numbers are calculated, Nielsen Media Research projects that ad-supported basic cable networks grabbed 48% of the viewership compared with 45% for all seven broadcasters (including Pax). Broadcast dropped from 49% in 2001.
Which reminds me of Hollywood and video/computer games:
Indeed, the video game market is big business. It racked up $9.3 billion in revenues last year, outgunning Hollywood's box office take of $8.1 billion by a cool billion dollars. According to research firm InStat/MDR, console games accounted for nearly $7.4 billion in revenue in 2001.
But they're still working out the perks.
Frankensugar alert!
The AP reports that Cuba looks to genetic engineering to help save sugar crop:
HAVANA - Can biotechnology save Cuba's sugar industry? Something has to.

Some 100,000 fewer machete-wielding cane cutter and factory workers are taking to the Cuban fields and mills this month in the saddest sugar harvest here in recent memory.

Since June, Cuba has shuttered 71 of its 156 sugar mills and ordered more than half the country's sugar fields used for other crops. The country is bracing for a historic low sugar output, and it will be more difficult than ever to sell what they produce.

World sugar prices continue to plunge to all-time lows as the cost of the petroleum needed to process Cuba's once all-important crop rises. Long gone are the days when the Soviet bloc paid Cuba above-market prices for sugar while supplying the island nation with cheap fuel.

"We have analyzed this at the highest government levels," said Nelson Labrada, vice minister of Cuba's Sugar Ministry. "We have arrived at the conclusion that we have to innovate."
Well yeehaw! The "highest levels" in the Cuban thugocracy are going to innovate. That ought to be a sight to see!
According to the ministry, last year's sugar harvest brought in US$80 million. That's US$120 million less than the year before and far from the US$1 billion annually Cuba could count on a decade ago. This year's sales could plunge by another 50 percent.
Hmm ... 1 billion to $200 million to $80 million to $40 million - that's quite a trend line! But not to worry!
That's where Havana's Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology comes in.

Gil Enriquez and other scientists at the center in a Havana suburb are tinkering with the sugar cane's genes, splicing in material from a bacterium that produces fructose.
Closer to attaining the open field is sugar cane genetically modified to make it more pest resistant. About a dozen of these plants are growing in a greenhouse behind the Havana biotech center, promising to reduce growing expenses by requiring less pesticide.

Others at the center are tinkering with sugar cane's genome to make it more resistant to weed killers and disease. Labrada also talks about using sugar cane to fuel electric generators, as a source of ethanol and even as a source for cancer-fighting drugs.
And I thought the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology was just a germ warfare facility! But there's a problem with this clever plan.
The European Union, the biggest market currently open to Cuba, has temporarily banned all new imports of genetically modified foods in the face of consumer resistance.
There's growing international concern about the health consequences of genetically modified food. No illness has ever been attributed to eating modified food - but no long-term health studies have been done either.

"They've really put a lot of scientific effort into reducing fertilizers and pesticides," said Doreen Stravlinsky of Greenpeace, which opposes most biotechnology. "But there are so many unknown impacts of genetically modified organisms."

Stravlinsky said Cuba - and other developing nations where farmers are thinking about using biotechnology - should look at other, natural ways to improve their crop yields.
The bearded rogue versus the ecoweenies. Kewl!

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Bad Publicity Alert!
Tesco (the big UK supermarket chain) has been having a run of bad luck lately. First it was the black widow spiders in the grapes and then there was the £1 Christmas bonus - if the employee spent £100 in the store. But now they have a real winner - Tesco demands baby death proof:
A supermarket chain has apologised after demanding a grieving couple prove their baby had died.

Matthew and Rachel Hartnett, whose five-month-old son Louis died of pneumonia, wanted his name removed from Tesco's Baby and Toddler Club mailing list.

But when they asked a family friend to contact the company, they were stunned to be asked for the baby's death certificate.

Mr and Mrs Hartnett, from Shepton Mallet, Somerset, were told Louis could not be removed from the list until they could prove he had died.
Tesco's slogan is "Every Little Helps".

Wingnuts coming out of the woodwork alert!
Bobby Ray Sanders says he's offended:
I'm so offended, in fact, that I think Wendy's, the nation's third-largest hamburger chain with more than 6,000 restaurants in North America, ought to pull the advertisement.
But this latest ad, with a series of vignettes of people who had chosen one sandwich over the other, goes much further than people simply debating the merits of which meat goes better with the added cholesterol: chicken or beef.
The commercial shows how the issue is dividing communities and families, and then it closes with a disturbing scene and a cutting last line that is definitely a throwback to the days of Jim Crow.

The final scene depicts a woman working in her yard when some young boys drive in front of the house and skid to a halt.

"Chicken lover!" one of them yells.

There is a closeup of the woman's surprised face as the car speeds off again.

"Chicken lover!"
Perhaps to the average viewer and hearer, this was a very clever and funny line. But I'll bet anyone who ever heard a similar phrase -- with exactly the same number of syllables, I might add -- cannot hear the commercial stinger line without hearing the familiar epithet of days gone by.

I'm sure there will be those who become incensed that I could be so riled by a stupid TV commercial, but unless you've felt the sting of racism and all the reminders of it that come in symbols and coded speech (a la Trent Lott longing for the land and the good ol' days of Dixie), then it might be difficult to imagine.

Aside from the racial implications, the idea of discriminating against anyone who is different is a repulsive notion that ought not to be reinforced in a 30- or 60-second TV spot, especially in these days of heightened insensitivity in America.
Apparently Bobby Ray has a lot of time on his hands.
Cry me a river
The AP is reporting that Sniper Suspect Complains About Jail Food:
Sniper suspect and vegetarian John Lee Malvo says he's getting sick from eating prison food.

He says he's suffering from digestive disorders from a Virginia jail's meatless loaf, which he said is served to some inmates for disciplinary reasons.

For the past two weeks, the Fairfax County jail has been serving the 17-year-old Malvo something called "the loaf" -- a hodgepodge of flour, raisins, carrots, potatoes and other ingredients baked into brown cakes.

His court-appointed guardian said the teen has health problems as a result. He's asking the sheriff to give Malvo regular vegetarian meals in accordance with his Muslim beliefs.

Malvo started getting the loaf after complaining that that prison meat wasn't prepared the proper Muslim way.
Don't tell him about the bacon grease in the toothpaste! And thank goodness he isn't French - who knows what he would be demanding?
High tech may flush toilet smuggling!
Regular readers may be aware of my inordinate interest in toilet smuggling. It has everything: bureacratic boondoggles, free market capitalism, and even a little adventure. Well, it looks like a high tech company has solved the problem of the ecotoilet - sort of.
Sanya Dunn has some unusual advice for first-time visitors to her home: Don't be afraid of the toilet.

"It's kind of loud, and it can scare them," says the 37-year-old homemaker and animal-rescue volunteer in Upland, Calif. "You can't prepare them enough."

Plumber Norm Block of Wynnewood, Pa., has clients who should have heeded those words. A few years ago, they ended up in the emergency room with a visiting elderly aunt after her first trip to the bathroom. She had reached back to flush the toilet before getting up from the stool, he says. Big mistake. "She thought the thing was exploding," Mr. Block says. "She fell off the toilet and right into the tub," breaking a kneecap.

A new type of toilet is shaking things up in bathrooms across the country. Equipped with something the industry calls "pressure-assisted flushing systems," the toilets use a burst of compressed air to force water through the bowl. Powerful and conservation-minded, they are now in more than 3.5 million homes and offices. They have just one drawback: a startlingly loud flush.
Some people think a little noise is worth the powerful flush. "It'll suck a cat down it," says Kevin Sanders, 40, of Big Lake, Alaska, 75 miles north of Anchorage. He has two of the toilets, including one outside his master bedroom. "It sounds like a turbo going off inside the bathroom," he says. "But you can't hear it outside the bathroom."

Three years ago, Ms. Dunn's husband, Andy, was at a convention in Las Vegas when he encountered his first pressure-assisted toilets at the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino. "It was like the space shuttle flew over," he says.
Ever since Congress passed a water-conservation law that required new toilets to meet a tough 1.6-gallon-per-flush standard by 1994, people have complained. Initially, many of the new toilets were simply modified versions of the older 3.5- to 5-gallon models. With less water, they just didn't work as well. They often required multiple flushes -- and keeping a plunger handy. More recently, manufacturers have improved their designs, using larger passageways and squeezing every advantage they can out of the power of swirling water.
Pressure-assisted toilets -- which start at around $200, compared with about $115 for a typical workhorse toilet -- look like regular tank toilets. When their internal chamber fills with water, it traps compressed air inside. The trapped air forces the water through the bowl at a peak rate of 70 gallons per minute, or about three times as fast as a traditional toilet and twice the rate of commercial toilets, according to Flushmate. The entire flush takes less than four seconds, compared with up to 15 seconds for a gravity toilet. And the pressure-assisted toilets use only 1.4 gallons of water, compared with 1.6 gallons for the latest gravity toilets.

When the water-conservation law first hit the books, pressure-assisted-toilet sales took off. But there were problems with some of the early models. Kohler developed a model that had a tendency to crack at the seams, sometimes sending porcelain flying. A Kohler spokeswoman says the company quickly discontinued that line and will replace toilets that have problems on a case-by-case basis. Flushmate, too, has recalled some units to avoid "damage to the toilet fixture, any collateral damage, or the possibility of personal injury," according to the company's Web site. Both companies say there have been no injuries to date.
Hot dang, an exploding toilet! If that doesn't give you constipation, nothing will! Of course the flush noise may be the cure for that.
Just the facts, ma'am
More on the rapid deflation of certain Australian historians from ABCwatch:
Good to see the attention being given to Windschuttle's book on the history of black-white relations in Tasmania.
In future, no historian or writer of any repute will be able to argue that there was either a policy of warfare, let alone genocide, practised upon the Aboriginal people of Tasmania, because Windschuttle has shown these tendentious myths of the 1960s and after are based on lousy scholarship by people with a political agenda.

You can enjoy watching how the indisputable truth of the past 30 years is abandoned without acknowledging the part that Windschuttle, demon denialist, has played. That's politics.
In fact, Henry Reynolds takes Windschuttle to task for approaching his subject like a "bare-knuckle barrister". That is, poor Henry thinks Windschuttle has looked too closely at the facts, and is a brute too. A view Manne shares, accusing Windschuttle of "an attention to detail worthy of Sherlock Holmes." as if that were an offense.

The fact is, as Manne knows, to the historians of indigenous liberation, getting the facts right is an offence. It spoils the story.

And the accompanying illustration, of an Aboriginal woman and baby being shot in the back, repeats the old slanders and extends them to Windschuttle.
I always wanted to be a historian - I like a good story.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Don your tin foil beanie alert!
The Guardian amuses with 'Look what Bush is doing. He could invade':
South Africa cannot afford drugs to fight HIV/Aids partly because it needs submarines to deter attacks from nations such as the US, its health minister said.

Manto Tshabalala-Msimang told the Guardian that budgetary priorities meant her department could not provide anti-retrovirals to the estimated 4.5m South Africans with HIV. "We don't have the money for that. Where would it come from?"

Asked if it could come from defence savings from leaving out the submarines which formed part of a £4bn arms deal, the minister said that South Africa needed to deter aggressors: "Look at what Bush is doing. He could invade."
Hey Manto, here's a clue. The only invaders you have to worry about are from Zimbabwe and they're already there.
I think he's just funning
(Via Silent Running) Rod Dreher at NRO reviews a book with a most peculiar premise:
Michael Graham, has discovered there's no point in lighting out for the North to deliver oneself from rustication. The whole damn country has done gone redneck.

So he claims in Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War, a laugh-out-loud funny rant that twits the north for its hypocrisy while mercifully steering clear of sentimentalizing the southern way of life. You might call Graham a self-hating southerner, but this is a man whose Menckenesque scorn for boobery happily knows no geographical bounds. He is appalled to have found that the worst elements of traditional southern culture - the kinds of things thoughtful Yankee liberals rightly opposed a generation ago - have been reinvented in the contemporary north as liberal virtues.
Graham takes a swipe at trendy educational theories that maintain that students learn differently because of their ethnicity, and that therefore black students have to be treated differently from whites and others. "So let's see if I've got this straight: We run a public school system where the districts are drawn based on race. We use education theory based on the idea that black and white children are inherently different and cannot be taught the same way. Black children need to be taught in separate (but equal?) schools from white children where they can learn the principles of racial loyalty. And all this is happening in public schools outside the South? Somebody owes Governor [George] Wallace an apology."

The idea of Southern exceptionalism ("It's a Southern thing, you wouldn't understand") was used back in the day as a rhetorical device to combat criticism of institutions like Jim Crow. Northerners refused to be cowed by the "that's the way we do things around here" argument, and pressed their reasoned moral case for equal justice under the law, using the force of law when necessary. Nowadays, says Graham, exceptionalism has become the philosophical basis for multiculturalism. Here he is on media hypocrisy when it comes to criticizing Islam in America:

Five toothless goobers get together in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and rant about establishing a white Christian nation and it's a full episode of 20/20, but hundreds of thousands of Muslims gather each week to discuss the proper context in which to kill the infidels, and it doesn't even make the Metro section of the New York Times. I'm not making the pathetic "The only group you're allowed to hate is the straight, white Christian male" argument. I'm glad to see the media hammer fall every time the pointy, empty head of the KKK pops up. But how did we end up with an America so attuned to divisive ideas that calls for tax cuts are denounced on the floor of Congress as racist 'code words' by Congressman Charles Rangel of New York, but a mosque full of Muslims can openly support terrorists who target Israelis and nobody notices?
And Dreher's punch line:
Take Sen. Trent Lott (R., Yoknapatawpha County), who was inadvertently making Graham's case the other day when he said that America would've been better off if it had voted for Segregationist Strom for president in 1948. Well, that did it. Now Lott is being instructed in righteousness by the Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane of black America. I refer, or course, to Jesse Jackson and his not-so-bright disciple Al Sharpton, the most notorious racialist hornswogglers north or south of the Mason-Dixon line. Few media people seem to find this objectionable, or even particularly funny, because hey y'all, we're all rednecks now.
Oh yeah, Spike Lee says Trent Lott is a "card-carrying member" of the KKK.
I thought he was leaving alert!
US News and World Report's Washington Whispers reports on Alec Baldwin's NYC curveball:
Actor and liberal activist Alec Baldwin has an idea that's either gonna guarantee him that New York House or Senate seat he covets or make him a permanent fill-in on Hollywood Squares: Put the new Yankee stadium on ground zero as a memorial to 9/11 victims. "It's the most interesting thing I have heard," he says. Baldwin and New York PR man Phil Nourie hatched the idea. Baldwin calls it "a mix of the commemorative and the practical." He says every game could begin with a moment of silence and that survivors and members of the NYPD and the FDNY could get discounted tickets.
Oh yeah - discounted tickets will really make it cool.

Actually, for Alec, Hollywood Squares is the stratosphere. I think peddling weight reducers in infomercials on late night TV is more his speed.
Hot dang! Ham and biscuits!
Steve at littletinywit provides the recipe for a real breakfast in Breakfast as a Mind-Altering Drug. My only question is how does somebody in Miami come to know about country ham and scratch-made biscuits?

Meanwhile, the After Grog Blogger is dishing that Steve is venturing into the blogging waters, not once, but twice! We may need a "Hold muh beer and watch this!" alert.

Another contender alert!
Just when the USA looked like it had a lock on the Academic Bogosity Prize, those upstart Aussies come up with a contender! Prof. Bunyip has the details.
No Kidding
Stephen Dinan reports in the Washington Times that U.S. public, 'elites' differ on immigration:
Sixty percent of Americans believe present immigration levels are a "critical threat to the vital interests of the United States," but only 14 percent of the nation's leaders think so, a new analysis finds.

And when asked whether immigration levels should be kept the same, increased or reduced, 55 percent of Americans opted for a reduction, while 18 percent of "elites" thought so, according to a report being released today from the Center for Immigration Studies.
The gap between private and elite opinion is the largest among foreign policy issues and goes a long way toward explaining United States' conflicted public policy on immigration, says report co-author Steven A. Camarota.
He and co-author Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, analyzed data from the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations' 2002 survey of opinions of the public and "elites," who were defined as members of Congress, top business and labor union executives, religious leaders, and newspaper editors and television and radio news directors.

In addition to the 60 percent of the public who view immigration as a critical threat, 31 percent deem it important, and 8 percent don't see it as a threat. By contrast, 41 percent of leaders were not concerned.

There is also a similar gap between the public and leaders on illegal immigration.

Among the public, 70 percent think that controlling and reducing illegal immigration should be an important goal of foreign policy, about the same number that ranked energy supplies and military superiority as important.

Only 22 percent of "elites" say reducing illegal immigration is an important foreign policy goal, about the same percentage that ranked trade deficits and protecting weak nations as important.

"Immigration is simply not on the radar of the elite, whereas the public seems to be quite concerned about the issue," the report said.
Work cheap, consume public services, pay union dues, vote illegally for gimme politicians. Hey, what's not to like?
Pond Scum
Hey, it's the holiday season and what's a Hollywood wingnut to do? AFP says Jane Fonda to visit Israel on peace mission:
US Hollywood star Jane Fonda will arrive in Israel on Tuesday for a three-day visit aimed at promoting peace in the region, the Bat Shalom women's organisation announced.

Fonda will travel with a delegation of the New York-based international organisation V-Day (Vagina-Day) for the protection of women, said a spokeswoman for Bat Shalom, which describes itself as a feminist organisation working for a just peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

During her stay, the 65-year-old star will also meet with representatives of the Jerusalem Center for Women, Bat Shalom's Palestinian sister organisation, created in 1994, one year after the Oslo peace accords.

This will not be the first time the aerobics queen has become involved in world affairs.
Yeah. I wonder if she'll pose with an antiaircraft gun this time? On the other hand, maybe she's just peddling souvenirs.

Monday, December 16, 2002

That's gotta hurt alert!
Ananova snickers through Plastic reindeer has "testicles" removed after complaints:
A plastic reindeer complete with Christmas tree baubles for testicles has had them removed because of shoppers' complaints.

The reindeer with the golden testicles is a prominent part of a display at a shopping centre in Claremont, Cape Town.

But following several complaints from customers, particularly parents, managers decided Rudolph's testicles had to go.
Beard of the Prophet Alert!
(Via Rand Simberg) AFP startles with Chinese mini- skirted revolution hits post-Taliban Afghan:
A mini-skirted Chinese waitress serves Tsing Tao beer to customers chowing barbecued pork to karaoke anthems -- Kabul's newest dining experience is enough to make the Taliban head for the hills.

The unassumingly named Chinese Restaurant has been a runaway success since opening its doors and firing up its woks in the Afghan capital in November. Reservations, says manager Wang Wentian, are a must.

Needless to say, most Kabul citizens would have a few reservations at visiting an eatery where, before last year's collapse of the hardline Taliban regime, staring at the staff would probably have been enough to warrant severe punishment.

But, says Wang, the restaurant stands at the vanguard of a bold new wave of Chinese investors poised to help themselves to a highly lucrative market -- even if the raised hemlines of his staff have raised a few eyebrows.
Dang, where's the obligatory picture? But there's more than meets the eye:
China's influence is increasingly noticeable in Kabul. Cheap Chinese electronic goods are knocking Japanese and Pakistani rivals off the shelves, while Shanghai-made cycles ply the streets of the capital.

In a gesture aimed at building bridges between the two countries and clearing the slate for increased trade, China in November agreed to scrap several million dollars of debts owed by Afghanistan dating back to the 1960s.

Earlier this year it also launched an offensive to win over hearts in Kabul by donating an animal aid package to the city's dilapidated zoo: a menagerie which included lions, bears, wolves and pigs.

According to a spokesman for the newly refurbished Chinese embassy in Kabul, Beijing is actively encouraging its citizens to head for Afghanistan at a time when many nations are still advising theirs to stay away.
Hmmm, I wonder why?
Time for a holiday Down Under!
David Penberthy in the Daily Telegraph (Oz) reveals that ILLEGALS LIVE IN FIVE-STAR STYLE:
CONDEMNED by their critics as concentration camps, Australia's detention centres are providing asylum seekers with everything from DVDs and pay-TV to classes in yoga, flower-arranging and driver education.

For the first time, The Daily Telegraph can today reveal full details of the services, amenities and recreational facilities provided at the nation's seven detention centres.
At a total cost to taxpayers of $110 a day for each detainee, the 1326 people currently in detention have an ever-increasing range of services and programs.
Ah, yes! Must have services, not to mention programs.

Woomera might be nice, but I'll pick Christmas Island.
Standard at all seven centres:
* Pool and snooker tables, television (24-hour Foxtel for cable TV in common areas), DVDs and VCRs, a minimum of 25 different movies each week, including films in English and other languages and desktop computers.
* Sony Playstations, Nintendos, musical instruments, large stereos and portable mini hi-fis. Personal stereos at some centres.
* Sewing machines and knitting/needlework equipment.
* Soccer, Australian football, rugby league, volleyball, basketball and touch football facilities; badminton and table tennis sets; gymnasium equipment including rowing machines, complete weight sets and bench presses, walking machines and exercise bikes.
* Education services including onsite teachers and subjects including English as a Second Language, business, mathematics, science, computing, life skills, religious awareness and vocational training.
* Medical services including onsite general practicioners and nurses, and inhouse or visiting psychiatrists, dentists and optometrists.
* Local newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph and The Adelaide Advertiser but also local ethnic community newspapers including Arab World, Chinese Herald, Russian Daily, Asian Weekend and Ho Jong Korean News.
* Library books, and access to mobile lending libraries.

Special facilities at Woomera, SA:
* Daily Tae Bo "box-ercise" classes and excursions to local BMX track, Woomera Area School, local shops and supermarket.
* Vegetable garden with children given seeds for their personal gardens, arts and craft classes including mural making, flower potting, painting and life drawing, beading and sewing.
* Life skill classes for life in Australia including sun awareness , parenting skills and child behaviour management, budgeting and diet awareness.
* Bingo nights, driver education training, yoga and meditation classes
* Pet cat for the 12 people detained at the residential housing project. Individualised ESL (English) classes for adults.

Special facilities at Christmas Island:
* Coconut carving.
* Snorkeling.
* Bushwalking
They ought to publish a brochure! With pictures of the pet cat.
Who's Got Sex?
(Via Hit & Run) Michael Wolff detects that Emperor AOL is garment challenged:
You've Got Sex
Or rather, dear America Online, you had it. But as the suits at Time Warner prudishly looked away, you squandered your lead as the nation's leading purveyor of dirty chat.

The theatrical effort to revive America Online is not just a business soap opera but one of those great, almost poignant instances of the culture going one way and a heroic, albeit oddly out-of-it, ragtag group thinking it can hold fast against the tide.

Here's the real rub: AOL's fundamental business -- which has always been a level or two down from the family-oriented opening screen -- is dirty talk. But now there are better places to talk dirty.

The big attraction of AOL through all of its growth years has been not just ease but easy prurience. Its real selling point was that you could buy something perfectly respectable and get something very dirty -- it was the ultimate brown paper bag. In fact, the more respectable it got -- building up a critical mass of American families (women too!) -- the dirtier, and more compelling, it became.
Meanwhile, the AOL guys were refining their story. A great American brand could not appear to be in the sex business. So what AOL focused on was getting the dirty-talk audience to buy things. From sex to commerce was the conversion it was attempting (this is the conversion that cable television managed with infomercials in the mid-eighties). Certainly, Time Warner believed in conversion (the people at AOL used the word community as a euphemism, but the people at Time Warner used the word for real -- as though imagining little shops and churches and schools).
In contrast to the new, slick, and easy-to-use hookup sites, AOL has started to look like a bus station.
Aside from the "training wheels for the Internet" aspect, I always thought this was AOL's big attraction. Wolff smudges the picture a little bit by hauling in for comparison what seem to be fairly legitimate dating sites, but the punchline remains:
What's more, the matchmaking business is growing in a way, and producing profits of a sort, not seen since the advent of eBay (among the largest dating businesses is Barry Diller's
Everybody with any speed is locating and targeting and qualifying possible mates with great ease in well-designed, mall-like settings, while back at AOL, it's still a creepy, anonymous, low-class world.
Hey, it's got to be a powerful trend if even the Taliban is doing it.

I must be getting old - the big event for meeting "eligibles" used to be the weekend square dance.
Another chart topper!
Clinton, Loren make recording:
Former U.S. president Bill Clinton joined actress Sophia Loren this weekend to narrate a recording by a Swiss orchestra, newspapers said today.

The weekly newspaper said the recording project of the European company PentaTone was "top secret," but that Clinton and Loren read different passages as Kent Nagano conducted the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

It appears to have been connected with a project announced in October by the Russian National Orchestra, which said Nagano would make a record of Tchaikovsky's Peter and the Wolf for PentaTone with Clinton, Loren and Mikhail Gorbachev as narrators.
"Hey Sophia, how about you, me, and Mr. Cigar make some bootiful music? Oh! Is my mike on?"
English Clergy Alert!
UK prelates seemed to be infected with a peculiar variety of "hoof in mouth" disease:
A Church of England bishop has attacked "sentimental" Christmas card portrayals of the Nativity, saying that Jesus's family were asylum seekers and the three Wise Men were part of an assassination plot.

The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Keith Sutton, said the shepherds were not the lovable characters depicted in Nativity plays but were on "the fringes of society"...
We won't have Prince Al to kick around anymore!
Former vice president Al Gore, who won the popular vote but lost the presidency in 2000, announced last night that he will not seek the White House in 2004, saying that another race against President Bush would not be "the right thing for me to do."

"I've decided that I will not be a candidate," Gore said in an interview on the CBS News program "60 Minutes." "I personally have the energy and the drive and the ambition to make another campaign." But he added that a rematch against Bush "would inevitably involve a focus on the past that would in some measure distract from the focus on the future that I think all campaigns have to be about."
Say what?

But of course, we will have Albert to kick around, because you know he's not going to retire to chinchilla ranching and snogging with Tipper. Standby for the even more annoying sequel to Jimmy Carter.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Today's Hoot
North Korea's maximum leader (and class clown of the Axis of Evil), Kim Jong-il, has his knickers in a twist over the latest James Bond film. So he sent the toadies out to complain:
North Korea has urged the United States to stop showing the new James Bond film, branding it "dirty" and "insulting" to its people.

In a terse statement, officials claimed the film was culturally offensive and launched an attack on American values.

The Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland called the 20th Bond film a "dirty and cursed burlesque aimed to slander (North Korea) and insult the Korean nation..."

It said Die Another Day, starring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry, "clearly proves" the United States is "the root cause of all disasters and misfortune of the Korean nation" and is "an empire of evil".
"The United States should stop at once the show," the North Korean statement said.

It said the Bond feature offensively describes "the DPRK as part of an 'axis of evil', inciting inter-Korean confrontation, groundlessly despising and insulting the Korean nation and malignantly desecrating even religion".
The statement said the US is "the headquarters that spreads abnormality, degeneration, violence and fin de siecle corrupt sex culture".
Whooee - fin de siècle! I wonder how you say that in Korean? But of course, the Kim family much prefers Disneyland.
The Bent One is Back Alert!
The Australian titillates with Demi 'dating' Bill Clinton:
JUST when a reconciliation seemed to be on the cards for Bruce Willis and ex-wife Demi Moore, it seems another man has suddenly swept in and stolen the lady's heart.

Bruce is seething because Demi has been secretly dating ex-president Bill Clinton.

The actress is said to be captivated by Bill's "mature" sex appeal, witty one liners and charming chat-up lines.
Like "Put some ice on it"?
Whispers from Clinton's camp suggest that he intends to separate from his long-suffering wife in the New Year. But bitter Bruce is determined that the former politician will get nowhere with Demi.

"Bruce has done his research," an aide says. "He would have made an excellent private detective. He likes to find out about people, and what he's found out about Bill Clinton was sufficient in his eyes to warrant contacting Demi. He told me: 'Clinton's an even bigger womaniser than JFK ever was'."
Bruce has a job waiting with the space program.
But Demi, stunning at 40 after a $US700,000 ($1.2 million) makeover, is in no mood to listen to his pleas, and is said to be smitten with the man Bruce has branded "the Silver Fox".
Sounds like Demi is high maintenance. As for Bubba, there are lots of names for him. "Silver Fox" isn't one of them.
Hey Blix!
The After Grog Blogger has found what Hans Blix missed.
Scandal Newz
Mark Steyn says Lott's sin is giving Dems ammo--so he must go:
C'mon over, baby, a whole shakin' o' Lott goin' on. On the face of it, it seems incredible that a mere month after Bush's election triumph, the Beltway should be immersed in a discussion of where the 2002 Republican Party leadership stands on segregation. For this, we have Trent Lott to thank. The incoming Senate majority leader couldn't even wait till he'd come in to start screwing up. Insofar as he has any conservative defenders, the defense is this: Hey, relax, Trent isn't racist, just stupid.

You're telling me. If he were still majority leader in 2004, the NAACP would be running ads with video of Lott's remarks--we're proud of voting for Strom, and, if everybody else had followed our lead in 1948, ''we wouldn't have had all these problems''--followed by footage of black bodies hanging from trees, gallant Southern gentlemen standing around having a whale of a time, Billie Holiday's ''Strange Fruit'' on the soundtrack, etc: ''Trent Lott says, if we'd kept segregation and lynching, we wouldn't have all the uppity Negroes we have today.''

Now maybe that's not what he meant. He was speaking, after all, at some old coot's 100th birthday party. Most 100th birthday parties take place in nursing homes and, if you drop in, you generally find a lot of people standing around the old boy with inane grins, talking very loudly and very slowly and agreeing with everything he says. Maybe that's all Lott was doing, given the unique circumstances of a guy entering his second century as a sitting senator.

But there were cameras present; there was a microphone. Successful politicians are supposed to have a built-in blocking mechanism in such circumstances: The borderline racist gag about the Filipino poolboy rises in your gullet, is within sight of your tongue, but at the last nanosecond your political radar detector spots the C-SPAN crew and sends it back down deep into your bowels. Wild'n'crazy gonzo pols--like John McCain, who regaled a Washington fund-raiser with a Chelsea Clinton/Janet Reno gag dependent for its effect on implied lesbianism and transsexuality--lack these antennae, and that's why they're not ambassador to China.
For a century and a half, race is one issue the Republicans have been right on--or, at the very minimum, less wrong. We've grown used to the Democrats' strange black-is-white world, where Al Gore apparently genuinely believes his father was a civil rights crusader rather than a civil rights obstacle. Segregation is the Democrats' history, and for Trent Lott to give them an excuse to dump it on the GOP doorstep is all the reason Republicans needed to be done with him once and for all.
Actually the Lott scandal is getting boring and repetitive. To spice it up, I suggest that Trent get a personal lifestyle consultant who is an ex-topless "model". Of course, Cherie could always expound on the joys of growing up with Golly dolls too.
Big bang alert!
In the Washington Post, Vernon Loeb provides a history of "smart weapons" in Bursts of Brilliance: How a string of discoveries by unheralded engineers and airmen helped bring America to the pinnacle of modern military power.
Big hearted Aussies alert!
The Australian shocks with 14,000 illegals slip through net:
Almost 14,000 failed asylum-seekers are on the run in Australia after having their refugee claims rejected, immigration authorities say.
Bovination has the details.

Well, they have a ways to go to match the USA. Here the "Immigration and Naturalization Service" (sic) can't even manage to deport the really verminous ones as they leave prison:
Miguel Angel Gordoba is a pedophile. He is also an illegal immigrant.

So last year, after he finished serving a four-year sentence for molesting a 2-year-old girl in rural Alma, Ga., everyone assumed that he would be deported to his native Mexico, as required by federal law.

Everyone was wrong.

Gordoba left prison and disappeared into the community because the Immigration and Naturalization Service never deported him.

A computer analysis by Cox Newspapers shows that in Georgia alone, hundreds of felons, including child molesters, drug dealers and robbers, were never picked up by the INS after they finished their sentences. Nationally, federal investigators say thousands of immigrant felons have not been deported, although no one knows precisely how many.
Details on the situation in Cobb County, Georgia here.