Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Grab the barf bag!
No, not because of excessive New Year's libations. It's Barbra again (Via NZPundit):
Los Angeles Magazine Reveals Plans To Honor Barbrastreisand.com As "Website Of The Month"
(updated 12-23-02)

Chris Nichols, Assistant Editor of Los Angeles Magazine, has advised the editors of BARBRASTREISAND.COM that his publication will honor this site as "WEBSITE OF THE MONTH" in that magazine's February, 2003 issue. We wish to share this honor with our visitors who have made BARBRASTREISAND.COM one of the most frequented sites offering a meeting place for the examination of social and political issues which sometimes receive meager coverage in general media outlets. Along with Ms. Streisand's music information, her Truth Alert section tries to set the often distorted record straight.
Do you ever get the feeling that whoever Babs has putting this blather together is an aggressive, but not too bright teenager? They certainly write like it. As for Los Angeles Magazine
Los Angeles Magazine is published by Emmis Communications Inc., a multi-media company, whose holdings include such distinguished titles such as, Texas Monthly, Indianapolis Monthly, Cincinnati Monthly and Atlanta Monthly, as well as a vast array of radio and telecommunication concerns in the U.S. and Europe.

Celebrating our 40th anniversary, Los Angeles Magazine remains the quintessential guidebook for the good life in L.A. As the premier monthly lifestyle publication in Southern California, the magazine exudes the glamour, complexity, excitement and enviable lifestyle associated with the entertainment capital of the world. In a city where trends are born, scandals are broken and attitudes are taken, Los Angeles is our beat. We capture the élan of the city and package it in a unique and provocative style that blends hard-hitting, award-winning journalism with fashionable lifestyle edit. Our sleek and sophisticated graphics, matched with our prestigious roster of national advertisers, give us the look of a national magazine, but with the retail "call-to-action", immediacy and intimacy of a monthly must-read city magazine.
Who's kidding whom? Their idea of the internet is probably "You've got mail!"

And while you're at Babs' place check out the Babs holiday ornament. Sony Music will sell you one for $25. Can you imagine putting that on your tree?
I was wondering the same thing
Ben Stein asks in the American Prowler, Iraq and North Korea in Cahoots?
A simple but frightening conjecture: What if Iraq and North Korea are working together?

Let's start with the obvious. Just as American plans to invade Iraq were hitting high gear, scraping together armed forces, active and reserves, to make a powerful fighting force to take Baghdad, what should happen? North Korea springs into action against the United States and the United Nations. Pyongyang defies U.N. agreements about restricting nuclear technology, brings forbidden weapons into the DMZ, threatens nuclear attack against the U.S. and our allies in the region.

This has to affect U.S. war plans. If there is even a slightly good chance that the Communist North will attack South Korea or use nuclear weapons even in a test, the U.S. will have to split up our already too-thin forces between Iraq and faraway Korea. This drastically complicates our ability to concentrate forces against Saddam.

Is this possibly a coincidence? Well, of course, possibly it is. Anything is possible. But North Korea and Iraq are already closely linked militarily. North Korea has been a major supplier of forbidden missile technology and presumably Scud missiles themselves to Iraq. That link is already established. North Korea is chronically short of money because of its insane economic policies and the costs of maintaining an army of over one million in a small country. Iraq is immensely rich from oil. It is well within the realm of possibility that Iraq simply paid North Korea to stir the pot in the Far East just as Iraq was feeling vulnerable so that Iraq might win some sort of respite from U.S. attentions.
It is the Axis of Evil after all. And it doesn't help that
As a result of the relentless cutting, year after year, by the Clinton-Gore White House, America's defense forces are now missing 709,000 regular (active duty) service personnel and 293,000 reserve troops. These include eight standing Army divisions, 20 Air Force and Navy air wings with 2,000 combat aircraft and 232 strategic bombers, 13 strategic ballistic missile submarines with 3,114 nuclear warheads, 500 ICBMs, four aircraft carriers, 121 surface combat ships and submarines, plus all the support bases, shipyards and logistical assets needed to sustain such a force.

These figures do not even include the equipment inoperable for lack of spare parts in a military drained of resources because of overdeployment and underfunding. For example, there is an entire "paper" wing (four squadrons of 18 planes each) of F-16s that is being carried as "administratively reassigned" to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. These planes are actually sitting on the side of a runway, in plain view. They have been cannibalized for spare parts.

On top of the equipment and personnel gaps, there has been a steep decline in the morale of enlisted men and women as a result of the reckless overdeployment of U.S. forces under the Clinton-Gore command. How reckless? From 1945 to 1991 -- years when the United States was in a Cold War with the Soviet Union -- U.S. armed forces were deployed exactly 10 times. In the eight years between 1992 and the present, U.S. forces have been deployed 33 times. These deployments were for "peacekeeping," humanitarian aid, nation building and other essentially nonmilitary purposes. Their cost has been underwritten by the regular military budget, depleting monies that were earmarked for maintenance, research and the development of new military technologies.
Not to mention Bubba firing off million dollar plus cruise missiles every time he got caught with his pants down and then not buying new ones.

Back to Ben Stein for the payoff:
As a nation, we have allowed our strength to ebb under the delusion that the world was a much safer place than it is. Now, let's grit our teeth and pay for the defense we need ... starting with decent pay for our armed forces. Nations do not pass from the scene because they have too much defense, and if we have to err, let us err on that side. Defense is our greatest priority. We neglected it terribly in the Clinton years. Now is the time to rebuild our strength, and it is not a moment too soon. If North Korea and Iraq can work together -- just a hunch at this point -- then so can all of our enemies, and we need to be strong enough to deal with them all. We can afford it. The only thing we can not afford is to fail to defend ourselves.
And screw the whiners.
What's all this then?
I guess I haven't been keeping up with current events - Nude gymnasts to get key to the city:
Three former Romanian gymnasts who were banned for their nude appearances in a Japanese magazine and adult movie are to be offered the key to the city in Bucharest.

Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu says he wants to show his support for the girls' gesture of having the courage to do what they want with their lives.
"The world must understand their former professional activity and the gesture they recently did are two different things. Now they are allowed to do whatever they wish with their lives."
Say what? Easy for you to say, yer honor! Obligatory picture by following the link.
New Year's list alert!
'Tis the season for New Year's lists and Tim Blair has the primo list of predictions for 2003. Where else would you see:
April 26th The FBI is again in the spotlight when it is revealed that 9-11 attacker Mohammed Atta was on the agency's Christmas card list and won two lotteries run by FBI staffers to raise funds for an office fish tank.
Over at the WaPo, Chuck Shepherd has the The Year's Weirdest News. My faves:
FUZZY ON THE CONCEPT Carol Urness, a recently retired University of Minnesota librarian, opened a used-book store in St. Anthony, Minn., consisting of about 1,000 volumes from her own collection, but told a Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter that often, after a customer selects a book to buy, she refuses to sell it because she can't stand to part with it. "The first day, a woman walked in and bought three books," she said, "and I about had a stroke." She added: "This bookstore is hard to find, and once you get here, it's almost impossible to buy anything."

-- Star Tribune, March 1

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH FIGHTS BACK The $190 million, 12-story, earthquake-proof Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was dedicated in Los Angeles in September, celebrated not only for its upscale gift shop ($24.99 for house chardonnay), its ATM and its $12-a-day parking garage, but also for the private crypts underneath that begin at $50,000 and go as high as $3 million. (Said a Notre Dame theology professor, "[That's] kind of like selling sky boxes.")

-- Associated Press, Sept. 5
Dangerous Cookie Alert!
Not in your browser, in Michigan.
A Michigan woman faces charges for allegedly assaulting a cookie stand worker after she was told that a white chocolate chip cookie she requested is no longer available, according to a Local 6 News report.

Police said that Laura Smith, 25, became angry when informed that the cookie was not available while visiting the Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor.

Smith then allegedly threw a two-pound box of cookie wrappers at the clerk and broke her glasses. Smith then reportedly went behind the counter to punch the clerk.
Sheesh! Whatever happened to the good old days when men did all the fighting about silly stuff in bars?
Take this trolley to Cuba!
Man Allegedly Hijacks Tourist Trolley:
SAN DIEGO -- A man boarded a tourist trolley at a tollbooth, held a gun to the driver's head and led police on a freeway chase Sunday before he was caught, authorities said.

Police stopped the trolley, which had no passengers on board, after an hour-and-a-half by throwing spike strips in front of it. A police dog bit the suspect and police arrested him for investigation of carjacking, assault and kidnapping, said Coronado Police Sgt. Jeff Hutchins.
No word on whether products of fermentation or illicit substances were involved.
Bodacious Bovine Alert!
WOKV in Jacksonville, FL has a improved version of the old joke - "NEW" Cows & Politics. Some of my favorites:
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office that put a tax on your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money, buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous. Barbara Streisand sings for you.

You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

You have two cows. The government takes them, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours it down the drain.

You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.

You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch. Life is good.

You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

You have two cows but you don't know where they are. You then see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.
And saving the best for last:
You have fifteen million cows. You have to choose which one will be the leader of the herd, so you pick some fat cow from Arkansas.
Well, don't that beat all!
Seems like the holiday makers in Australia are busting up the resorts! Details in Australia Asylum Camp Burns as Staff Flee:
Asylum seekers occupied a detention center compound on Australia's remote Christmas Island Tuesday, setting fire to a dining hall and challenging guards in an armed stand-off, government officials said.

The protest on the Indian Ocean island came less than 24 hours after detainees staged similar action at an Outback detention center, where staff fled attacks by asylum seekers armed with metal bars and stones.

"Detainees armed with pipes and other weapons have occupied one of the compounds on Christmas Island and set the dining hall on fire," said Jenny Hoskin, spokeswoman for the Immigration Department. "It's a bit of a stand-off and is something that's still happening," added Steve Ingram, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, at 2 a.m. EST.

Hoskin said she wasn't aware of any injuries to either the center's guards or to the detainees on the island, 2,400 km (1,450 miles) west of Darwin, but just 550 km south of Jakarta. "And we're certainly not aware of any guns being used."

The blazes at the desert Woomera camp in South Australia, which continued an outbreak of trouble sweeping Australia's seven detention centers for illegal arrivals, destroyed or damaged 43 buildings before they were finally brought under control.
"Officers were pelted with stones and threatened with metal bars as they tried to extinguish the fires which were driven by strong winds, spread rapidly and eventually destroyed two compounds," the Immigration Department said in a statement.

"Detainees continued to hamper efforts to control the fires (and) staff were forced to withdraw."
The fires at Woomera followed similar blazes at two other centers in recent days, blamed on detainees awaiting deportation after their applications for asylum in Australia failed.
Let's see - illegal aliens with phony asylum applications are a bit grumpy and are busting up the resorts. What to do?
The latest violence again shone a spotlight on Australia's hard-line stance of detaining all illegal arrivals, including women and children, in guarded camps.

...policies have been sharply criticized by international human rights groups and the United Nations.
Oooh hard-line! Those coconut carving classes are really tough! Of course, the usual whiners want all illegal aliens to be free to circulate throughout the country while their "asylum" claims are processed. I'm sure they'll show up again if their claims are rejected - and I have bridge property in Brooklyn they might find interesting too.
Howard's tough stand against illegal immigration has broad public support in this island continent of 20 million people.

The government insists it works. No boatpeople have reached Australian shores in a year and the number held in detention centers has fallen to 1,200 from 2,300 a year ago.
Good for them - although paying off the whiners with the fancy facilities seems to be a waste.

I also wonder about the simultaneous "spontaneous" riots in the resorts. Could the pernicious leftists, er "human rights" groups have coordinated them?
Comrades! You will be merry!
Claudia Kolker has a special in the Houston Chronicle - In Moscow, a mandate to be merry: Mayor decrees businesses must decorate for holidays or pay a fine:
MOSCOW -- There's no doubt about it: Twinkly lights definitely dress up a hammer and sickle.

As Muscovites get ready for New Year's, the biggest holiday here, their elegant but hardly whimsical city seems giddy with seasonal cheer. At the Ukraina Hotel, holiday lights tumble over giant Soviet-era sculptures. On a neighboring high-rise, a spray of lights illuminates the streets below. And downtown, Dior boutiques and bread kiosks sparkle and glint -- or at least spell out "2003" in fuzzy green garlands.

In Moscow, such holiday cheer is the law.

Earlier this winter, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov ordered all stores and cafes in this city of 8 million to decorate for the holidays by Dec. 1. Inspectors who enforce the order say punishment for holiday dissidents is simply a fine and that no one has been penalized yet.

Many store owners, though, say they have heard that omitting the lights will get their business shut down. The idea, if not the method, is to make Moscow more Western, Muscovites say.
But there's always a gloomy Gus:
At the deserted Lora bar, not far from the Kremlin, 22-year-old Anatoly Maktinowyz grumpily rattles a cocktail shaker. A diamond-shaped ornament blinks feebly behind him on the wall.

"Why should decorating be a law?" Maktinowyz says. "It's a remnant of communism. There are a lot of people who are glad to have such a law. It reminds them of old times."

Maktinowyz, who is half German and half Russian, says his employers resent having to decorate their bar. If you look around Moscow, Maktinowyz says, a lone light in a window or a sickly fake tree reflect others' ill-will toward the mandated cheer.

"Like us at this bar, look, we just put up one decoration," Maktinowyz says. "Russians hate to be suppressed. So we put the absolute minimum decoration up. And we say, `OK -- I'm following orders.' "
What a grump! Myself, I was envious - "Outside a shoe store, a 6-foot mechanical Santa gyrates to the strains of Yellow Rose of Texas."

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Well Yee Haw! And hold the tofu.
The SF Chronicle astounds with Super-SUV makes splash in Bay Area - Gas-guzzling Hummer 2 with military amenities inspires love, hate:
San Francisco -- The Hummer 2 treats boulders like pebbles, lakes like puddles and has hood handles designed for helicopter transport. But the 3-ton wonder designed for tearing across a desert or racing up a mountain is more likely to be used by soccer moms bent on homeland shopping.
A beastly bundle of contradictions, the H2 is an unrepentant road hog, capable of making a splash at the opera or scaling mountains. General Motors is selling as many of the $50,000 H2s as it can make and touting them as the "SUV that can drop and give you twenty."
The H2, designed with input from longtime Hummer fan and owner Arnold Schwarzenegger, went on sale July 12. Designed for buyers in their 40s who earn more than $150,000, the H2 is modeled after the original made-for-the- military Hummer, now called Hummer 1. The H1 sells for more than $100,000.

Because of its classification as a medium-duty truck, it is subject to even less stringent air pollution standards than other large SUVs and is entirely exempt from the federal gas-guzzler tax.
GM sold 3,871 H2s in November -- only about 150 fewer than Nissan sold of its Pathfinders and more than Land Rover sold of all of its models combined. Hummer outsold the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade EXT, the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Excursion.

There are now Hummer dealers all over the Bay Area.

Mill Valley resident Penny Wright-Mulligan bought her first Hummer in October. She loves the macho frame and 316 horsepower V8 engine. And she doesn't seem to mind that, on average, her vehicle gets 10 miles to the gallon -- particularly when she has to shuttle four children between the ages of 11 and 16, and three dogs.

"I drive it to pick up the kids at school," said Wright-Mulligan, who previously drove a Suburban but said the Hummer is more comfortable and easier to park. "I get a lot of funny looks. People love it or hate it. It upsets some people because it's a big SUV and a gas guzzler. But it's what we need. And I just love feeling like I'm higher up. It's like driving an armored car. Every time I look at it, it makes me smile."

Sam Bernstein, a San Francisco dealer of Asian art, said he had never driven an SUV before he fell for the Hummer. He drives the Hummer to work and uses it to transport art and sculpture. On the weekends, he and his wife like to go off-road to look at birds.

"I'm a Sierra Club member," said Bernstein, who noted that he avoids such disposables as paper cups. "You can be environmentally correct and drive a Hummer."
I'd feel better about this if I didn't think Sam and the folks in Mill Valley would gladly vote for all sorts of restrictions on vehicles driven by the "little people".

And thanks, but out here, we'll stick to our pickup trucks.
This here writing stuff ain't so hard!
Bob Minzesheimer wraps a lip lock on Bubba in Clinton is eager to tell his story Says writing memoirs is a way to 'come to terms' :
Bill Clinton, who's getting nearly $12 million for his memoirs, says everyone eventually should write his or her life story.

''Everybody talks about how terrible this book-writing is. I've enjoyed it,'' the former president tells C-SPAN in an interview to be shown Sunday (6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET/ 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. PT).

''Everyone who is fortunate enough to have lived to be 50 should sit down at some point and write the story of his or her life, even if it is just for yourself, your children, your family.''

It's important, Clinton says, ''to try to come to terms with the life you lived and think about how you wish to spend whatever years are remaining.''

Clinton, who says he's working without a ghostwriter, aims to submit a ''publishable draft'' by August. That's two months after the tentative publication date for the memoir of his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. (She got $8 million.)
Hot dang! I can hardly wait. The gossip is that while Bubba did have two ghostwriters to help him get started, he is generating this load of blather by himself, although it will be refined by prominent book editor Robert Gottlieb. From the same source, it is believed highly unlikely that that sales will pay back the $12 million advance - a hopeful sign for the Republic despite a few Kool Aid drinkers who are hot to read it. In the normal course of events that means that Bubba would have to return some of the dough. We'll see if they actually get it out of him.

As for the Village Idiot,
This time, Mrs. Clinton has started out with a team approach for her book. She retained Lissa Muscatine, a former White House aide who has worked as a reporter for The Washington Post, to co-ordinate the efforts of another professional writer, Maryanne Vollers, a journalist and author whose book experience includes helping Dr. Jerri Nielsen write the best-selling memoir "Ice Bound." In addition, Ruby Shamir, another former White House aide, is working as a research assistant.

The senator's squad has worked well so far, according to people involved with the writing of the book for Simon & Schuster, a unit of Viacom. After hundreds of interviews scheduled around her Senate work, Mrs. Clinton has practically finished the research for her memoir, and Vollers has begun writing full time. Mrs. Clinton plans to pitch in further over the coming congressional recess, and Vollers expects to complete the manuscript by the end of the year.

Some booksellers, though, said they suspected that interest in the Clintons may be waning amid the country's new concerns. "Time has marched on, hasn't it?" said Roxanne J. Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn. "I think there is something about thinking about them that almost seems frivolous."
Frivolous. Well, that's one way of putting it.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

The Aliens Have Landed!
Check out the mug on the head honcho of the Raelians! That'll make you catch the next comet out of town.
Holiday advice alert!
(Via Fark) WTOP (Washington, DC) stuns with Putting Boxes Curbside an Invitation for Holiday Theft:
When new big screen TV owners or new computer owners put boxes curbside, it may be an advertisement for holiday thieves.

Most of us just take the boxes to the curb and leave them for trash pickup day. But while those boxes sit on the street, they're giving potential crooks a clue at what's inside your home.
So rather than leave the Play Station box in plain view, police suggest you break down the boxes, put them in garbage bags, then put the bags inside trash cans.
The poster on Fark suggested that it was just easier to put the boxes in front of your neighbor's house.
Fabian Alert!
No, not the singer. The British socialist society who issued a Call for ban on fizzy drink ads aimed at young:
Advertisements for sweets and fizzy drinks targeted at children should be banned as part of a strategy to combat an obesity crisis threatening the next generation, the Fabian society urged the government yesterday.

The left-of-centre thinktank said many children's lives would be shorter than their parents' unless unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise were tackled urgently.
It's for the children! And while they were at it, they had some more advice:
The pamphlet, by Howard Stoate, Labour MP for Dartford and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on primary care and public health, also said that planning permission should be given to new food stores only if they were accessible on foot.

He called for subsidies for food shops in "food poor" neighbourhoods, compulsory cookery classes in schools, and regular government advice to households, including suggested daily menus of nutritious foods.

Responsibility for school sport should be transferred from the Department for Education and Skills to the Department of Health, where it could be tailored to improving children's fitness and lifestyles.
I'm tempted to ask, "What next?", but I'm afraid of the answer.
I'm not surprised!
Fights at cricket match blamed on boredom.
Diversity Alert!
The NY Times amazes with Citing Security, New York Rejects Mexican ID Cards:
Dozens of local and state governments now recognize an embossed Mexican consular document as a valid form of identification for Mexicans who are here legally or illegally.

But New York City and New York State, with one of the fastest-growing Mexican populations in the nation, are not about to join them.

Citing security concerns, Police Department officials said they had rejected requests from the consulate to accept the new "matricula consular," or consular ID card, as proof of identity for Mexican immigrants.

The State Department of Motor Vehicles also has refused to recognize the consular card, issued since March by Mexico's 43 consulates in the United States, to its list of approved identity documents for obtaining a driver's license.

Their reluctance - and similar resistance in New Jersey, Connecticut and other Northeastern states - stands out against a trend elsewhere in the country. Thirteen states now accept the Mexican consular ID for purposes of applying for a driver's license, and hundreds of police departments recognize it as proof of identity.

"I'm surprised that a state and city that are otherwise immigrant-friendly, or at least supposed to be, would not accept it," said Juan A. Figueroa, president of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a Hispanic advocacy group.
Frankly, I'm surprised too. You'd think the northeastern bastions of liberalism would be at the forefront of "welcoming the new neighbors". And of course, Juan's being coy, the only "immigrants" who need the "matricula consular" are illegal aliens. Legal immigrants already have usable identification.
Although intelligence officers from the New York Police Department have interviewed officials at the Mexican consulate here, they have not recommended that the department accept the consular ID. A law enforcement officer said the department's opposition was based on security concerns, but he declined to be more specific.

Mexican officials maintain that their consular ID card, based on corroborating government documents from Mexico and designed to thwart counterfeiting, is secure. It shows a current photograph, date of birth and the address of the holder.
Yeah, I'll bet the Mexcian government runs a really secure operation, fer sure!

And while we're talking diversity, how about Squalid Site of Queens Rape Unnoticed by Public Nearby:
It was late Sunday afternoon when Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, hands buried in the pockets of his topcoat, walked to the end of the deserted train platform, because he had to see this thing for himself.

He stepped carefully down the stairs to the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Queens, threading between two third rails, which carry live electricity. His polished wingtips met wet earth. He said he had not told the local station house that he was coming out to Flushing because he did not want a big scene.
On Dec. 19, the police say, a group of young homeless men surrounded a couple sitting on a bench on the walkway above, dragging the 42-year-old mother away, down two sets of stairs, between the lethal third rails, and into their dark hideout in the middle of a sporadically crowded hub of Queens. The hideout sits beside Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, adjacent to a subway and busyard, alongside a crowded commuter line, its small trees and cattails within sight of anyone walking to a Mets game at Shea Stadium or to the National Tennis Center.

The woman told the police that she was dragged into a "shack" and raped repeatedly on a mattress. Officers turned out in force, combing the area for two hours, passing by this invisible place in plain sight. It took a police dog to find her.
Five men have been charged in the attack: Carlos Rodriguez, 22, Victor Cruz, 22, Jose Hernandez, 18, Luis Carmona, 20, and Armando Juvenal, 20.
The police have said all the men are illegal immigrants; Mr. Juvenal is Ecuadorean, while the others are from Mexico. Immigration authorities are not routinely notified when an illegal immigrant is arrested, the police said.
And they had prior arrest records for a variety of crimes including rape.

Hey, I wonder if they had their matricula consulars?
Whine of the Day!
'What would Muhammad drive?':
A Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist is under fire from Muslims for his depiction of a Middle Eastern-looking man behind the steering wheel of a nuclear-bomb laden truck under the headline, "What would Muhammad drive?"

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim World League are demanding an apology from Doug Marlette's syndicator, Tribune Media Services, and from his employer, the Tallahassee Democrat.
Ah, the usual suspects have shown up.
The cartoon shows a Ryder rental truck like the one used by convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
He explained that "to a cartoonist working in the current geo-political atmosphere, it is a natural step to ask, 'What would Muhammad Drive?'"

"And I’m sorry to report," he said, "that the image in post-9/11 America that leaps to mind is the Ryder truck given to us by the terrorist Timothy McVeigh, carrying a nuclear warhead and driven, alas, not by an Irish-Catholic or a Jewish Hasidim or a Southern Baptist, but, yes, by an Islamic militant."

Muslims consider depictions of their prophet to be blasphemous, but Marlette told WND he did not have Muhammad in mind when he drew the picture of the truck driver, but rather a "generic" Arab headdress-wearing man.
In a phone interview, Marlette told WorldNetDaily he would not apologize, though he has received more than 4,500 e-mails from angry Muslims, with some threats of death and mutilation.
Ah, the religion of peace.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad complained that "it now seems to be 'open season' on Islam in certain religious and political circles."

"Defamatory attacks on Islam and on the prophet Muhammad by media outlets or religious leaders only serve to harm our nation's image worldwide and divide America along religious lines," Awad said.

Noting that Muslims object to any visual representations of their prophet, Awad also criticized a "racist and stereotypical" portrayal of Muhammad.
the cartoon prompted a "firestorm of reaction" from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which reprinted it and organized an e-mail campaign.
They think it was representation of Muhammad and they reprinted it? Doesn't that cut down on the virgin count when they make it to Paradise?

And how did they identify the driver as Muhammed if they don't have any pictures of him?

Friday, December 27, 2002

She's baaaaack!
The NY Daily News reports Jailed Yank could win Peru trial:
Lori Berenson, the Manhattan woman sentenced to 20 years in a Peruvian prison, may get a new trial as Peru's top court prepared to declare its tough anti-terror laws unconstitutional.

Berenson, 33, was sentenced in 2001 to 20 years in prison on charges she collaborated with leftist rebels in a failed plot to seize Peru's Congress in 1995.

Her parents, Mark and Rhoda Berenson of Gramercy Park, hailed today's expected ruling by Peru's Constitutional Court that strikes down four legislative decrees.

"We hope she will have a chance for justice now and that the court will say she is free," Mark Berenson said last night.
In case, you don't keep up with the gas bubbles that roil the fetid swamp of American and worldwide leftism, the story in a nutshell goes like this.

Lori was on a extended Latin America tour working for "justice for the people". After an long stay in El Salvador and Nicaragua, working for the usual suspects, she headed down to Peru, when she fell into really bad company, namely the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).

It seems that, among other things, she rented a large safe house where they were preparing an attack on the Peruvian Congress. She was convicted on various charges by a Peruvian military court in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison. That conviction was overturned and she was retried in 2001 in a civilian court and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Her annoying parents and leftists everywhere (her attorney was Ramsey Clark) are continually running campaigns to free the "innocent tyke" with copious pictures of the bespectacled waif behind bars. The only problem is that after her arrest the then fat and shrill Lori appeared on Peruvian TV to deliver a rant which did not endear her to the Peruvian public.
"There are no criminal terrorists in the MRTA. It is a revolutionary movement."
Ah yes, the best of Grammercy Park, as ugly American revolutionary.

I wonder if wearing garlic is effective against Lori and her pals?
And even more good news ... not necessarily for India though
In a previous post, I had a little fun with the rise of telemarketing of US consumers by firms in India. Well the FTC's planned national "do not call" list has thrown a spanner in the works:
MUMBAI: The US Federal Trade Commission's plan to bar telemarketers could affect the revenues of Indian call centres.
The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission said he hopes to eliminate 80% of unwanted telemarketing calls under his agency's plan to set up a national "do-not-call registry."
Telemarketing calls made by Indian call centres give steady revenue per call made and a bonus if successful enquiry or sales is generated. It is seen as a lucrative business at the low end of industry by almost all call centres in the country.
According to officials in call centre companies here, almost all the companies doing voice business here derive a substantial portion of their revenues from telemarketing. Moreover, most states have a do-not-call registry which Indian companies currently follow.

The creation of a central registry means that this list will now be centralised and more closely monitored from now on. Indian firms, which work for American companies, have to become a member of the American Teleservices Association.

They also have to register with each state in which they plan to make these calls. The ATA has been asking the FTC to remove the do-not-call list in each individual state as it raised the cost and complexity doing business as its member has to buy 50 different lists to do business in the country.
I guess they got it removed - and replaced by one big honking list. Be careful what you wish for.

But the skies are not completely clear:
Calls from charities and politicians are exempt from the FTC ban, as are telemarketers conducting surveys or market research, and any firm that has an "existing business relationship" with a consumer - unless the consumer specifically requests that the company not call. These means that the captive call centres of companies like GE may not be affected in India.

The ATA is now lobbying against the central registry and is raising money from its members to file a suit against the same, according to members of the ATA here.

In the past, ATA has said a do-not-call registry would violate their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Since October, ATA has been preparing for a possible legal challenge. ATA has formed a Strategic Planning Fund to support a possible legal challenge.
Thanks pals, for protecting my right to hear about aluminum siding.

Actually, if you can restrain yourself from abusing telemarketers, you can today request that you be put on their firm's "do not call" list. It shuts them up immediately and after a while the number of calls is much smaller.
Good News from India
The Straits Times reports that US and India sign pact on world tribunal:
NEW DELHI - India and the United States signed a pact yesterday agreeing not to send each other's citizens to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The signing was a victory for Washington in its efforts to scuttle the international tribunal.

The US-India agreement states there will be 'non-extradition of nationals of either country to any international tribunal without the other country's express consent'.
Stand by for the outrage from the ranks of world wingnuttery.

And while we are on the subject UN sponsored kangaroo courts, check out Hans Nichols' report in Insight magazine on U.N. Court Makes Legal Mischief:
Few of the words that President Bill Clinton offered the world have been stenciled onto the sides of buildings. An exception is his declaration that "Arusha is the Geneva of Africa," painted on several walls of the Arusha International Conference Center in Tanzania, home to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). It is here in this safari town, in a grouping of buildings where the electricity is temperamental and the translators are few, that a new first draft of international law is being written. A court press release boasts that the ICTR is "providing a sound foundation" for the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC), which is scheduled to be up and running in February.

If that's the case, the ICC may be more of a disaster than its critics have predicted. While many of the technical snags of the Arusha tribunal's early days -- lack of translators, power failures, computer shortages -- have been remedied, its structural problems remain, according to yet another report from the International Crisis Group, an independent Belgian commission that has monitored the court from its inception.

Even the court's cheerleaders concede that justice here proceeds at a molasses pace. Seven-and-a-half years into its U.N. mandate, the ICTR has convicted a mere eight individuals, three by plea bargain. In the last three years, the court has handed down only one judgment.
But they're having fun doing it!
In fact, several judges at the ICTR don't intend to stay in Arusha and are trying to get appointments to the ICC at The Hague -- a more prestigious posting and in a more comfortable setting. And yet, according to attorneys at the ICTR, the judges -- especially because of their lack of experience and tact -- are the biggest problem. In one oft-cited example, last November judges laughed out loud as the defense attorney cross-examined a witness who repeatedly had been gang-raped over a period of weeks, as she was asked questions such as, "Did you bathe in between?"
Hey, but they have high hopes!
Yet at this conference the problems of the ICTR -- and there are many -- were not on the agenda. Instead, the participants were most excited by a call to hold "IMF [International Monetary Fund] officials criminally accountable in the ICC for giving faulty advice to African countries," as Professor Shadrack B.O. Gutto of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa suggested. "Yes! Yes!" and a few "Hear, hears" were heard. Then there would be justice, the room assented.
And yet there are US politicians that want to subject our citizens to these international court farces. They should be ashamed.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

A slogan for the New Year
I like it and thank the National Post (Canada) for coming up with it.

Saddam-free in 2003

The Old Rogue is Laid Up
The AP stuns with Fidel Castro Recovering From Infection:
Out of the public eye for more than a week, President Fidel Castro told Cubans in a letter published Wednesday that he is recovering from a serious infection caused by a bug bite to his left leg.

"I am fine, dear compatriots, and I feel more optimistic than ever about the future of the Revolution," the 76-year-old leader wrote in the letter, entitled "Chronicle of Repose" and published on the front page of the Communist Party daily Granma.
Doctors informed him that he had a staphylococcus infection and ordered more cold compresses, antibiotics and - to his dismay - bed rest.

"I didn't have any other alternative but to resign myself," wrote Castro. He begrudgingly then canceled a Friday night appearance at the anniversary celebration of the Federation of University Students and a Saturday morning session of the National Assembly.

"It was my duty to protect my beloved left leg," he wrote. "With it, I have practiced many sports, including soccer, have run in races, jumped, swam, climbed mountains. ..."

"It had never betrayed me," the Cuban leader wrote of his left leg. "I couldn't betray it now."
That's a novelty for the bearded one.

On the other hand, I'm sure his letter will firmly lay to rest any rumors that Fidel was sampling Cuba's tourist offerings and received a "gift that keeps on giving".
Dynamic Duo Alert!
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. in the Washington Dispatch on Byrd Dogging:
Both Clintons were superb last week during the Trent Horror. Hillary publicly pronounced that what Lott "did was state publicly what many of them (Republicans) have stated privately over many years in the back roads and back streets of the South." And Hillary spent a lot of time in the "back roads and back streets of the South," chasing down her errant hubby.

But Hillary, what were the monsters saying in those unlovely purlieus? You lived there for two decades, and I have not heard of your complaints about the indigenes of those back roads, not when they were voting for your husband. You and your husband did very well politically in those regions.

Last week, husband Bill was singing the same song. Said he of the foolish Sen. Trent Lott, Lott "just embarrassed them (Republicans) by saying in Washington what they (Republicans) do on the back roads every day." Back roads again -- well, we now know what our ithyphallic ex-prez is suspected of doing "on the back roads every day." Bubba should talk of back roads. He acted in the White House about the same way he acted on the back roads.
Hey, RET, Arkansas was always beneath those high class Clinton characters! According to them.
Where's the popcorn alert!
Cameron Barr in the Christian Science Monitor reports that Top Arab TV network to hit US market:
DOHA, QATAR - Coming to a screen near you: Al Jazeera in English.

The Arabic-language news network, notorious for broadcasting the statements of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda colleagues, plans to open an English-language website in early 2003 and begin distributing English-language news programming by satellite and cable late next year.

Since it began broadcasting in 1996, Al Jazeera has brought unprecedented Arabic-language journalistic scrutiny to the regimes of the Middle East. Now its executives and journalists say they want to provide English speakers in the US and elsewhere with more accurate and informed reporting about the world's most turbulent region.
Al Jazeera, says Kenton Keith, a former US ambassador to Qatar, "no more than other news organizations, has a slant. Its slant happens to be one most Americans are not comfortable with.... But the fact is that Al Jazeera has revolutionized media in the Middle East.
Kewl! There is a shortage of quality entertainment programming. Up next: Osama talks from beyond the grave.
How soon we forget
Courtesy of "backhoe" on Free Republic:

But heck, Taliban Online quotes Patty!
(Via Free Republic) The goat humpers finally noticed what a pal they had in Patty. It must be her diverse, multicutural thinking that attracts them.
Professor Patty Ponders the Ultimate Defense

So did Professor Patty get lumps of coal in her stocking?
The Columbian (who broke the original story) editorialized Tuesday that High school discussion sours when senator neglects U.S. reality:
Patty Murray had every right to say what she said last week to a group of high school students in Vancouver. No resignation is necessary.

She also had every obligation as a U.S. senator and high-level representative of this country and this state to present the United States in a far more accurate light. That she didn't is something voters can consider when she is up for re-election.
Murray's Dec. 20 statement did clear up that she thinks Osama is a bad guy. Meanwhile, she still neglects to give U.S. actions credit or context. And her office is doing damage control by flicking mud at "right-wing demagogues."

The senator should be assured that more than the "right wing" is concerned that a U.S. senator does not see the importance of representing America in a correct light to its young people.
No one is arguing her right to say any damn fool thing she wants. We are merely dismayed that a US Senator is either completely clueless or thoroughly dishonest. I rate the Columbian's response at one lump.

Over at the Tacoma News Tribune, we find the "ignorant goof" explanation in A shallow lecture from Sen. Murray:
Should Washington's U.S. Sen. Patty Murray resign her seat in disgrace for suggesting the United States could learn something from Osama bin Laden's charity work?

Of course not, despite all the hyperventilating to that effect from national conservative action groups and right-wing talk radio.

Should the senator have chosen her words more carefully last week when she addressed a group of high school students in Vancouver, Wash.? Yes, she should have. As it was, she sounded singularly shallow.
Shallow? I guess ole Patty just hasn't been paying attention to current events. Later on, they describe what they think Patty "really" meant. Rating: half a lump.

Speaking of which, the Seattle Times seemed to be sniffing Patty's famous tennis shoes in Those silly attacks on Sen. Patty Murray:
Their gasbaggery last week over U.S. Sen. Patty Murray's conversation with a Vancouver, Wash., high-school class was all spin and distortion.
Fact is, Murray's information about bin Laden is right.
I guess they don't keep up with current events over at the Times either. Don't spill the Kool Aid while you're chugging it, people! Rating: one candy cane.

Finally the Washington Post grandly weighs in with Inept but Entitled to Her Say:
Sen. Murray's (D-Wash.) crime, it seems, was to make an ill-worded and rather silly speech last week to a high school in Vancouver, Wash....

Nevertheless, there is a deeper point that Sen. Murray, with extraordinary ineptitude, seemed to be trying to make -- a point that is worth preserving: At the very least, it ought to be possible to discuss America's image in the Islamic world, and the kinds of mistakes the United States has made there.
Nice try, guys! It is possible to discuss it and it goes on all the time. It's just that it's a little tough to discuss it with Patty while she has a lip lock on Osama bin Laden. Rating: one half lump.

So to net it out: Patty got 2 lumps and a candy cane. Not a bad haul and a whole lot less than the coal train she deserved. And the blithering idiot defense may work for Patty. Since the Kumbaya school of foreign policy sounds like that to most people, she could get away with it.

"worst holiday shopping season in more than three decades"
Bloomberg has alarming news:
New York, Dec. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Toys ``R'' Us Inc., Sears Roebuck & Co. and other retailers will offer after-Christmas discounts of as much as 80 percent, trying to salvage what may be the worst holiday shopping season in more than three decades.

Best Buy Co. is offering two DVDs for $25. Casual Corner will take 50 percent off already-discounted women's clothing. Other retailers, such as department stores Macy's and J.C. Penney Co. plan to open their doors early tomorrow for bargain hunters.

The promotions are aimed at enticing shoppers who curtailed spending in the weeks before Christmas because of concerns about the economy and their jobs. Retailers also need to boost sales to clear shelves for spring merchandise, even if the discounts erode profits, analysts said.

"Consumers have been showing signs of weakening and backing off some, and that just continues,'' said James Luke, who helps manage more than $10 billion at BB&T Asset Management and owns shares of retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Sounds pretty scary, but what's the bottom-line?
Sales at stores open at least a year are forecast to rise 1.5 percent in the November-December period from a year earlier, the smallest increase since 1970, according to Bank of Tokyo- Mitsubishi Ltd., which tracks more than 80 retailers.
The average profit growth forecast for 137 retailers on Tuesday was 10.7 percent, according to a Thomson First Call survey of analysts.

That's less than the 11.5 percent average profit increase last year, and the 14.6 percent fourth-quarter forecast for Standard & Poor's 500 companies, First Call said. More analysts may revise estimates tomorrow, First Call analyst Ken Perkins said.
Only a 1.5% increase in sales from last year and the profit growth forecast is 10.7% as opposed to 11.5% last year! Stop, you're breaking my heart.

Stay tuned for the Democrat "collapsing economy" whine about this. It'll work the same way that reductions in the increase in spending on "social programs" are called "cuts in programs for people".

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Merry Christmas to All

And to all, a good night.
Some assembly required alert!
Samizdata has the scoop:
"It is now evident that by reserving a frequency in close proximity to the frequency used by code M, the Europeans have put themselves in a position to veto the effective use of GPS by America's armed forces. They believe that once they have begun transmitting on this frequency, the US will have no choice but to ask their permission before conducting any GPS supported military operations. This, in effect, means all US operations anywhere in the world. For example, in case of a North Korean attack, the US would have to ask the EU for permission before it could begin flying close air support missions against invading North Korean troops . This would give the EU enormous leverage whenever the EU wanted the US to concede something in the Middle East or elsewhere."
That's why they invented the expression "sand 'em out of orbit".
Ah, the folks in the heartland!
The AP reports Man Falling Off Ladder Is Really Dummy:
GIBBON, Neb. - A sheriff's officer and other residents have tried to save a man falling off a ladder as he hangs Christmas lights.

Please don't, said Cathy Pierce, who lives at the house where all the ruckus is about. It's a dummy she made using the old coveralls, boots and gloves of her husband, George.

"It is really neat to see so many good people wanting to do the right thing," she said. "He really does look real."

The couple have hung the dummy up every year for 10 years. He appears to be hanging from the roof with half a string of lights up and the other half trailing to the ground. A ladder looks as if it has fallen to the side.

Buffalo County Community Service Officer Clint Kirschner was on patrol in Gibbon when he saw what he thought was a man falling and ran to save him.

"I feel so bad for him," Pierce said. "We used to call the sheriff's department every year when we put him up so they would know what was happening if they got a 911 call, but we figured after 10 years, they would know."

Kirschner is by far not the only person who has tried to save the dummy. Pierce said almost two or three times a day, there is a knock on her door telling her that the man hanging lights needs help. Sometimes someone will just set the ladder back up.

Pierce said if it gets really icy they take the dummy down so no one gets hurt trying to help him.

"Some people get mad and shake their fist at the house if they've been fooled," she said. "Others sit down in the yard laughing so hard."

She said sometimes youngsters are so worried their parents stop and show them that it is not a real person.

Most neighbors enjoy the joke and start asking about the dummy at about Halloween.

"My husband says he doesn't dare fall in the yard. No one would stop to help, they'd all think it was the dummy," Pierce said with a laugh.
Now you can get sick again!
From Sand in the Gears:
No, what I used to like about the cold was that it offered me the opportunity to take the greatest cold-fighting medication known to man -- orange-flavored Alka-Seltzer Cold and Flu remedy. Plop plop fizz fizz, baby. A shot of fizzy orange tonic, and then lie down on the couch and fall asleep to the gentle sound of Jim Carrey asking, "Hey, want to hear the most annoying sound in the entire world?"

But then they took it off the market. Seems it was giving too many people coronaries. I have been very bitter about this. I mean, so do jogging shoes, but you don't see any overweaning government agency yanking them off the market, now do you? So the Feds deprived me of my meds. Overnight, the cold became less inviting.
"Look honey," says the wife, gesturing to a commercial running across our television screen, "they've brought back your Alka-Seltzer." She pats me on the shoulder. "Now you can get sick again."

"No," I reply with a surly voice, "it's not the same. They've reformulated it. I need the stuff that can give me a heart attack."
Christmas News - II
James Taranto's Best of the Web has a worldwide Christmas news roundup. Most exhilarating was the word from North Korea that:
Not all communist countries celebrate Christmas. But even North Koreans are on holiday of sorts. "The winter recreation of agricultural working people has begun in [North] Korea," reports the official "news" agency KCNA. "According to Hong Sung Dok, deputy director of the Bureau of Recreation of the Ministry of Labor, a large number of peasants are enjoying themselves at the expense of the state at recreation centers situated in nearly twenty scenic spots. . . . During the 15-day holidays, they visit revolutionary sites and scenic spots, have art performances and enjoy folk plays, amusements, sports games, etc."

"Holidaymakers from different farms" also get to visit "the Korean Revolution Museum" and can experience "appreciation of art performances in theatres in Pyongyang and such amusements as yut and chess." Enjoy it while you can, comrades. The Guardian reports that the North Korean government is threatening to "destroy the earth."
Nothing like a hot game of yut!
Christmas News
In Columbia, Tennessee they sang Christmas songs to beat traffic tickets while the National Geographic tells us more than we wish to know about whether Rudolph is female.
Two children's books written in the early 1800s are credited with introducing the reindeer aspect to the Santa legend.

The first, The Children's Friend, published in 1821, contains an illustration depicting an elfin-sized Santa dressed in red in a tiny sleigh pulled by one reindeer. The scene shows him delivering books and toys to good children, and a birch rod to those that have been naughty ...
Speaking of naughty, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has used a Christmas message to attack Washington. Spare the birch rod and spoil the child.
Time for some holiday cheer!
A musical video.
Gasbag Alert!
(Via Whacking Day) Stay away from open flames while reading the latest from Paul "I love Kool Aid" Routledge in the UK wingnut paper of record:

AS citizens, we have little power to prevent our leaders going to war against Iraq.
But we are also consumers, and in the run-up to war a Boycott America campaign has been suggested. These principles could provide some guidance:

- DO not go to the United States as a tourist. Stay at home and see what a much finer country ours is.

- DO not buy or drink American wine, beer or spirits. Give me Tetley's any day.

- DO not eat American food. Stay away from McDonald's and all the other fast-food outlets.

- DO not pay to watch American films. They are full of noise, foul language and violence.

- DO not buy American newspapers or magazines.

- DO not use Americanisms. Instead of "Hi!" let's go back to saying "Good morning." No more "Yeah!" A "yes" will suffice.

- DO not wear American clothes. Throw the baseball cap in the dustbin (not, emphatically not, the trash can).

- DO not fly American airlines anywhere. It's probably safer not to.

- DO not smoke American cigarettes. They are bigger killers than al-Qaeda.

- DO not, above all, believe the lies that will spew out of the Anglo-American spin machine once the conflict gets under way.

- IF we try to live by these simple precepts, perhaps one day the United States will be forced to mend its violent, imperial ways.
Zounds! Not saying "hi", not wearing baseball caps, not eating fast food - this guy really knows how to hurt!

And don't tell the USA's liberal media establishment about the the newspaper and magazine boycott!
It's for the children
Little Green Footballs always has a generous measure of the good stuff. Yesterday in addition to the "Christian riot", they had Hanoi Jane getting heckled, the US ambassador to the UK having a tea party for terrorists, and Palestinian thugs dressed up as Santa. But I really like the item from Sunday, Whitewashing Jihad:
Reader davesax forwarded this NY Daily News Special Report on New York’s public school textbooks, in which kids are encouraged to ask, "Why do they hate us?"

At least three schools have bought copies of "The American Vision," a 2003 high school history textbook, published by Glencoe McGraw-Hill, that was one of the first to write about the terror attacks. In a seven-page lesson on the massacre of 3,000 innocents, students are asked:

"What are the three main reasons certain Muslims became angry with the United States?"

"Why does American foreign policy anger Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East?"

"The events of 9/11 were unjustified and inexcusable, but they didn't take place in a historical vacuum," said April Hattori, a McGraw-Hill spokeswoman. "It's important to explain what caused Muslim extremists to want to attack America."
Even worse, one textbook promotes a false, whitewashed definition of jihad stripped of any menacing qualities and reduced to a sort of PC version of the Young Achievers Club.
Well if the tykes won't drink this Kool Aid, they can always bring in Professor Patty Murray to set them straight.

Some of the other propaganda, er, reading matter was rather odd too. From the Daily News article:
On the shelves of school libraries is a biography for young readers of the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is said to hail from the "long tradition of activist ministers like Martin Luther King Jr."

But the book might offend some with its own stereotypes, like this line in a chapter on Crown Heights: "Poor blacks in the cities often found themselves at the mercy of Jewish shopkeepers and landlords, who decided when and when not to advance credit to their customers."

There is also a whitewash of Louis Farrakhan, described as a "black American of achievement" who bears a "message no American can ignore." The Nation of Islam leader also shows a "willingness to forgive," the book claims.
No word on whether they covered Rev. Al and Tawanna Brawley or Farrakhan's UFO.
Rowdy Christians Alert!
At Little Green Footballs:
Following the broadcast of a BBC documentary suggesting that Jesus may have been conceived as the result of an illicit affair or of Mary's rape by a Roman soldier, enraged British Catholics poured out of churches after evening mass, smashing store windows, overturning cars, and attacking anyone of Middle Eastern appearance. Electronics stores were particularly hard hit, as rampaging mobs vented their anger on the television sets and radios that broadcast the hated words of the BBC. Witnesses reported hearing a group of priests and nuns chanting, "The BBC must die! Down with their confused and unfounded guesswork!" as they decapitated a Pakistani BBC stringer with a rusty crucifix.

British police used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue the rioters, arresting thousands of Catholics and a few opportunistic soccer hooligans. Local Christian leaders, however, are calling for the deaths of all BBC reporters involved in the documentary, and the Bishop of Portsmouth has promised that unless their demands are met, "This is going to be a red Christmas." The producers have gone into hiding, reportedly in Canada.
And in Australia (via Tim Blair), Peter Howson: Christians, rise up and defend realm:
For too long bishops and archbishops in Australia have been preaching against Western triumphalism and Christian arrogance. Yet today one would be surprised to find triumphalism and arrogance within the church. Bin Laden and Bashir have thrown down their challenge. We must fight across all fronts ? religious, cultural and economic. But, regrettable as it may seem to some in the church, the exercise of military power is also essential. This battle will not be quickly or easily won. But if we are to win it, the Christian church must join in the militant defence of our common Christian heritage.

Monday, December 23, 2002

White Christmas Alert!
Well, there's a big snowstorm in the midwest, but out in Utah they have a different problem - White stuff might not be snow:
OGDEN - After five years and innumerable unsuccessful attempts at controlling the pigeons and their accompanying waste products on the 2nd District Courthouse, building operations manager George Berkley posted the following sign on the front door:

"Holiday tip #37 - In Ogden, never try to catch snowflakes with your tongue. The pigeons don't go south for the winter."
Peace Prize Shocker!
Aftenposten (Norway) stuns with Willie Nelson robbed while in Oslo:
A 20-year-old man broke into the hotel room of American country music legend Willie Nelson when Nelson was in Oslo this month to sing at the annual Nobel Peace Prize concert. Nelson's family lost passports, cash and a bottle of red wine.

The robbery was kept under wraps for more than a week, but newspaper VG found out about it and broke the story, much to the embarrassment of the Radisson SAS Plaza Hotel.

Nelson and his family were staying in a large suite at the hotel and were reportedly sleeping when the bold 20-year-old made his way in the night before the December 11 concert.

The thief may have been bold, but he wasn't necessarily smart. After emptying a bottle of red wine, he sprayed a so-called "tag" on a sign outside the suite. Police called in their tagging experts at the Stovner police station, who quickly recognized the tag as that of a 20-year-old man from Romsaas, on Oslo's north side.

The culprit was soon caught, driving a used car he'd bought with the cash he stole from Nelson's suite and later converted to several thousand Norwegian kroner.
Well, he did better than he would have in Jimmy's room. Follow the link for a picture of "Jimmy and Willie".
Useful Idiots Alert!
The SF Chronicle reports Activists planning mass civil disobedience if U.S. attacks Iraq:
While the Pentagon has spent the past year training troops, building facilities and stockpiling weapons to launch a war against Iraq, the peace movement has been using the buildup time to coordinate "emergency response plans" to disrupt domestic military activity, tie up commerce and get out their anti-war message.

Rally meeting places are posted, march routes set, protest signs painted, acts of nonviolent civil disobedience choreographed.

Activists in more than a dozen cities have announced where and when to meet on the first day of war -- what they call "The Day Of." In Dallas, they plan speeches at City Hall; in San Francisco, they plan to block traffic in the business district; in St. Louis they will hold a candlelight vigil downtown; in Seattle they plan to march at the federal building. In New York City, organizers hope to crowd Times Square with protesters.
I'm so surprised. I recall news footage from the first Gulf War of male protestors roughing up a female secretary coming out of an office building in San Francisco. Better order extra doses of rabies vaccine.
More on Professor Patty Murray
WorldNetDaily has the latest:
Meanwhile, teachers from around Washington state have informed a Seattle talk radio host that Murray had made the same comments about bin Laden to their students. But despite comparisons by many of her constituents to Sen. Trent Lott's recent controversial remarks, Murray's statements appear to be generating minimal response from her Senate colleagues.
And here's is CNN's coverage of Murray's ravings. No left wing bias here, nosiree!
Complaint Department Alert!
Arabs threaten to bomb plane over in-flight food
You can't make this stuff up
The Telegraph (UK) has the latest in the Tony Martin case:
The burglar injured by Tony Martin after he broke into the farmer's home is suing him for £15,000 compensation for loss of earnings.

Brendon Fearon, 32, wants the compensation because he has supposedly been unable to find a job since suffering the gunshot injuries in the raid on Martin's Norfolk home, according to the Daily Mail.
I wonder how he is going to document his earnings history for the court? "Yer honor, my average take of swag, minus expenses, for the 3 years prior to the shooting ...".

Oh and here are more details on his "claim":
The writ gives a number of reasons for Fearon's claim, including his leg injuries, which prevent him finding work, concern about his "long-term sexual functioning" and becoming "very tearful" when watching a film in which someone dies.
Cry me a river.

And how about an inordinate fear of breaking into other people's houses?

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Let no voice be unheard
In the Chicago Sun-Times, Frank Main and Carlos Sadovi enlighten with Candidates lean on gang members to get out the vote:
Come Election Day, gang members across the city will likely trade their baseball caps and street colors for white shirts and ties.

On Feb. 25, they'll take a holiday from the round-the-clock drug dealing that fuels Chicago's billion-dollar narcotics trade. Instead, they'll be selling candidates.

Fanning out into the neighborhoods, they'll hand out palm cards, shuttle elderly voters to the polls, tally the votes and--on the less admirable side--tear down opponents' signs, intimidate opponents' supporters and maybe pick a few fights.

And then, when their candidates win, the gang-bangers will step up and ask, "Where's mine?" In at least 10 of Chicago's 50 wards, a Sun-Times investigation has found, gang members are expected to work in next February's elections as political foot soldiers, a practice loaded with dangerous ethical conflicts for the candidates.
Thuggery in Chicago elections? I'm shocked!
On Nov. 5 in Humboldt Park, a gang leader halted drug sales and ordered gang members to get out the vote for the Democrats, said a police investigator who asked not to be identified.

"These guys passed out palm cards for $5 an hour when they could have made $40 an hour selling dope," he said.

Some candidates say they are simply reluctant to turn away enthusiastic volunteers, gang members or not. Other candidates openly court gang members.

"I try to use them in every election," said Ald. Shirley Coleman (16th), who estimated a fourth of her workers in the November election were gang members. She paid 40 to 50 gang members $25 each to get out the vote, she said, and plans to recruit gang members for the Feb. 25 aldermanic election.
It's great of the boyz to take a one day paycut.

To be fair, some of the politicos say they're against it, including Mayor Junior Daley. But it's hard to figure out how seriously to take it.
The electoral clout of Chicago street gangs peaked in the early 1990s with 21st Century V.O.T.E., a political action committee tied to the Gangster Disciples. The group launched voter registration drives and unsuccessfully ran two candidates for alderman. One, Wallace "Gator" Bradley, a former enforcer for the GDs, was photographed in the White House with President Bill Clinton and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.
Wooeee! It wouldn't be much of a challenge to pick out a perp in that line-up!
It's Patty Murray Time
The always enjoyable American Prowler selects the obvious candidate for Enemy of the Week. But first an appetizer:
Billy Clinton, the little great one, or great little one, whichever you prefer, continued his newest comeback by pronouncing the Republican Party fundamentally racist. There he went again, projecting like someone still deeply troubled for going ahead with the execution of a lobotomized black prisoner on the eve of a critical Democratic presidential primary in early 1992. In happier news, Clinton is back to competing with Jimmy Carter overseas, writing for the International Herald-Tribune that America must not "dominate" but rather focus on supporting such institutions of "global community" as the United Nations. Well, at least the Clinton-Carter competition isn't over a woman.
Ah, Bubba and Jimmy, there's a dynamic duo! But they don't quite have what it takes this week:
In more normal times we'd do our hiding behind the skirts of a maternal figure like Sen. Patty Murray, famous for winning her Senate seat as a "mom in tennis shoes." What we didn't know is that instead of letting the family dog chew on those shoes she decided to do so herself, and now their rubber and plastic residue has entered her brainstream, leading to hallucinatory pronouncements about all that the popular Osama bin Laden has done to build roads, health-care facilities and day-care centers around the world. Could she be confusing Osama with Jimmy Carter and his many good works? Or is Jimmy not violent enough for the little mom? Not since Squeaky Fromme and Patty Hearst have we heard such an eruption from a seething cauldron of suburban angst.
Spoiler alert - Patty wins it in a walk. Must be those darn right-wing haters again!

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!