Saturday, August 17, 2002

Another Cheesy United Nations Ripoff
It's those wacky United Nations wingnuts again, who are bringing us the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, Aug. 26 - Sept. 4. Apparently it occurred to some genius among them that bringing 65,000 delegates to South Africa for the clambake might cause a bit of environmental damage, and not just to the local prostitutes. But not to worry, according to a UN press release; UNDP, GEF and World Bank Agree to Offset Environmental Impact On Johannesburg During Summit:
New York, 16 August - In an effort to make the World Summit on Sustainable Development more sustainable itself, the United Nations Development Programme, the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank have announced that they would offset the environmental impact caused by the travel by their delegations.
Hmm, one wonders what technology they are going to use?
The three international organizations will pay to 'neutralize' the amount of carbon dioxide based on the emissions released by travel to and from the summit as part of the Johannesburg Climate Legacy initiative. All funds generated by this initiative, which is part of the wider "Greening of the WSSD" programme, will be channeled to a Trust Fund set up through the Development Bank of South Africa.
Ah, the world's oldest technology, CASH! And deposited locally, where the local politicos can "handle" it.
South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Valli Moosa said, "It is ironic that the very staging of conferences related to sustainability actually has a negative impact on the environment through the carbon emissions from energy use and delegate travel.
It may be Christmas for Mr. Moosa, but he's clearly not the brightest bulb on the tree.
The Johannesburg Climate Legacy 2002 will change the blueprint and leave a legacy of learning and investment."

As a result, Valli Moosa invited governments to their delegations to the Summit "carbon neutral by "offset" to make through the implementation of carbon-reducing, sustainable development projects across South Africa including the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy technology. He said these interventions will be implemented in all economic environments, including domestic, commercial, industrial, education and health sectors.
Translation: He's inviting the government delegations to also pony up some cash to the South African political hack slush fund. But these are seasoned diplomats! Who would fall for this wheeze?
Two government delegations, Norway and the United Kingdom, have announced that they would go to Johannesburg "carbon neutral."
The Norwegian and British taxpayers must be flush. But wait, there's more!
It is estimated that carbon emissions generated as a result of the WSSD will total 289,619 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The aim of the Climate Legacy is to raise US$5 million by September 2002 in order to mitigate the effects of the carbon emissions of the Summit. Businesses are invited to purchase Climate Legacy Certificates representing values from $1,000 to $100,000 while individuals can take part by buying $10 certificates online at
Ah, a little corporate extortion plus a mechanism for separating naive and gullible individuals from their cash. What a nice way to round out a tidy little racket!

I must confess that I am really tempted to sign up for the $10 certificate (delivered via email)

so I can leave a little screed on the dedication page. But I rather think they would edit me.

The Hills Are Alive With ... Martha Stewart?
Check out the back cover art on the latest catalog from Plant Delights Nursery. Click for a larger view.

I have a song in my heart.....
What's Wrong With Africa?
The abysmal economic performance of Africa is well known, but the professional foreign aid crowd never seems to notice that most African governments are startlingly corrupt. Throwing money at them just feathers the governing elite's nest and leaves the bulk of the people no better off.

Matthew Parris recounts an extended anecdote in the Times (UK) about a plane flight with some members of the elite that provides insight into the problem. If you didn't know the African term, "waBenzi", for the foppish elite, it's an eye opener. If you did, well, it's old home week.
Star Chamber Alert!
FOXNews reports that old line black Democrats are at it again in Alabama:
SELMA, Ala. - In 1965, civil rights leaders marched on this Southern town to protest discrimination against black voters.

Thirty-seven years later, the "cradle of the voting rights movement" is being rocked by accusations from white voters who have been forced to testify before a legal panel of Democratic Party officials.

The hearings were launched by LaTosha Brown, who lost her bid for Alabama's District 67 State House of Representatives seat by 138 votes in a Democratic primary runoff against Yusuf Salaam.

Brown, who is African-American, held on to her base of liberal, black voters. But Salaam, who is both black and Muslim, attracted a large number of moderate to conservative white voters in the runoff.


Although Salaam is a Democrat, many of the district's Republican voters prefer his moderate views to what they consider Brown's "racially divisive" rhetoric.


Brown claims the election was unfair.

"I certainly feel that there is an effort led in the white community to sabotage the campaign," she said.

Brown and her attorneys claim as many as 600 residents who voted Republican in the June 4th Democratic primary illegally "crossed over" to the Democratic ballot in the June 25th runoff.

While Alabama's GOP allows crossover voting, Democrats do not.
Don't the poll workers check the registration?
And state law gives the parties authority to launch legal proceedings into voting impropriety.

A panel consisting of five members from Alabama's Democratic Executive Committee has been formed with full subpoena power.

Dozens of residents from predominantly white voting precincts have already been called to testify and were reportedly threatened with jail time if they failed to show up.

"There were elderly people there that were scared to death," said Selma resident Linda Harris. "'I won't ever vote again,' is what they were saying. And I told them, 'That's exactly what they want you to do.'"
My, my. The Democrat party thugs can set up their own kangaroo court! How special.
Ann Chandler, another Selma resident, claims one of Brown's attorneys threatened to have her arrested after she told the panel she hadn't voted in the runoff.

"They told me I had voted," Chandler said. "I thought there for a minute they were going to send me to jail."

According to Chandler, the panel eventually discovered she had been mistaken for a voter with a similar name on Democratic records.

A local minister claims someone tried to serve him a subpoena during church.

The scope of the inquiry has been a public relations nightmare for Alabama's Democratic Party.
Repeat after me: Count all the votes!
But Brown insists she just wants justice.

"The law was broken and it made a difference in the outcome of this race," Brown said. "There is no question in my mind that, in fact, we won the election."

Many voters have admitted to crossing parties during the runoff, but insist they had no idea it was illegal.

Crossover voter Carl Boline said, "If they were so concerned about it, why not put up a poster that says, 'These are the rules of the Democratic Party. If you break these rules, you're subject to prosecution by a quasi-judicial body that will come and get you in the middle of the night like the Gestapo.'"
Kinda sums it all up. One of the many virtues of the USA used to be that you could change your mind about any political issue or any political party as many times a day as you felt like. If these voters felt like Democrats on June 25, so be it. If state law prohibits voting in another party's primary without prior registration, they ought to check the registration at the polls. And the idea that the law sanctions a political witch hunt by party hacks is really scary.
I Should Have Known
The AP has all the details on swimsuits for devout Muslims (click here to jump to the picture):
Hafize Erdogan, a devout Muslim, proudly sports her new blue swimsuit ? a full-body outfit that covers her arms down to her wrists, her legs to her ankles and even much of her head.

The 30-year-old mother of two said she bought the suit so she could swim with her family while also observing religious rules about modesty.

"I used have to stand by and watch my family in the water," Erdogan said at Kilyos Beach on the outskirts of Istanbul. "I would watch my kids like a cat looks at liver ... But now I can swim, too."


"Islamic circles have traditionally understood beaches as something sinful," said Murat Cemrek, who teaches sociology at Ankara's Bilkent University. "But Islamic circles have become modernized. They've got money. They want to go to the beach and keep their Islamic values."


Erdogan's $25 bathing suit includes a headscarf, a long-armed top and full-length pants. It fits loosely so as not to show off the outlines of her body and is made of a synthetic material that dries quickly. It features a design that looks like denim dotted with yellow shooting stars.

With all that fabric, the suits still aren't perfect for swimming.

"Water gets inside and it sticks to you," Erdogan said. "But I don't have any other choice."

In the past, religious women in Turkey either didn't go to the beach or wore regular street clothing into the water. Most women at beaches in secular Turkey wear Western-style bathing suits.

The top company producing Islamic bathing suits, Hasema, says it sold 25,000 bathing suits last year and can't produce them quick enough to keep pace with demand. The company exports to Egypt, North America, England, and Australia.

Mehmet Sahin said he founded Hasema (pronounced Ha-shay-ma), because of his own problems on the beach as a university student.

Thirteen years ago, there was no company that made men's swimming trunks that extended from the bellybutton to the knees according to Islamic precepts, Sahin said.

"We used to have to cut off long pants. But we didn't find that very aesthetic," the bearded businessman said. "We developed the company according to our own needs ... but we found a place in the market."
I guess no one has to worry about competition from devout Muslims in Olympic swimming. The high dive would be hilarious though! Hey, how about synchronized swimming?

Friday, August 16, 2002

Thank You, Mr. President
Via Reuters:
President Bush will not attend the Johannesburg Earth Summit this month and will send Secretary of State Colin Powell to lead the U.S. delegation, officials said on Friday.
But the professional whiners are taking it poorly:
It's reflective ... of the fact that the United States has not been providing the kind of leadership that's essential if we are going to be trying to deal with the problems of climate degradation and environmental protection and sustainable development," said Jacob Scherr, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's international program.

"The United States is the only country that really has the technology, the organization skills ... to really deal with these problems," he said in a telephone news conference on Thursday.
Translation: The US taxpayers have not given us enough of their income.

The News24 (South Africa) version of the same story adds:
The next most senior US official planning to be at the summit is Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, who will likely attend for a longer period of time than Powell, the officials said. Powell is expected to visit at least two other African countries as part of the trip, possibly Angola and Gabon, they added.
Looks like all they're going to get out of Colin is a quickie! What a hoot!
Malaria Drug Suspected in Ft. Bragg Killings
The UPI reports:
Friends of the three Fort Bragg soldiers suspected of killing their wives this summer say the men exhibited unusual anger and incoherence after returning from Afghanistan where they were given an anti-malaria drug associated with aggression and mental problems.

One of the soldiers was "almost incoherent" and visibly shaking while describing marital problems to a neighbor. Another became unable to control his anger at his wife in public, startling those who knew him. A third puzzled his new neighbors with his strange behavior.

Soldiers at Fort Bragg said they are well aware of mental problems linked to the anti-malaria drug Lariam, which include aggression, depression, paranoia, hallucinations and suicidal thinking, even as official military spokesmen dismiss a connection between the drug and the events around Fayetteville this summer which have drawn national attention.


Spokesmen for the Army, which invented the drug and says it is safe, told UPI the Army will review scientific literature on Lariam, also called mefloquine, but believe it played no role in any of the deaths because there is evidence of domestic problems in each one.

Over the years, Lariam's label, written by manufacturer Hoffmann-La Roche and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, has included increasingly troublesome side effects, and warns about aggression, paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations and suicidal thinking. Some patients complain of severe side effects lasting years after they stopped taking the drug.


Family of soldiers said they have long known about problems with Lariam.

"I don't know why the Army would tell them that it's OK, when obviously it's doing things to people," said Sheila Harriman, the wife of Stanley Harriman, a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who was killed during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. She also said her husband did contract malaria once, and that soldiers should take something to avoid suffering from the disease.

The Army first told UPI it had no plans to consider Lariam in its own review of the facts surrounding the deaths, but on Aug. 9th sent a statement saying that review would include a search of the medical literature about Lariam.

Army officials have also said Lariam probably did not play a role in the killings because the soldiers' marriages were in trouble. "I think you are heading down the wrong road. That is just my personal opinion," said Maj. Gary Kolb, spokesman for the Army's Special Operations Command.

Experts on domestic violence said this cluster of killings particularly puzzles them because so far there is no indication that any of the soldiers had a history of domestic violence. In 80 percent of cases an escalating cycle of violence precedes a killing.
More details by following the link. Or just Google Lariam for an eyeful.
Asian Brown Cloud Over Johannesburg!
Patrick Michaels in the National Post (Canada) notes the amazing way bogus environmental "crises" and United Nations environmental clambakes go hand in hand:
Nightmarish reports ... have a way of appearing right before big UN environmental conferences -- and being proven wrong not long thereafter. In 1995, a Geneva meeting, which gave rise to the infamous Kyoto Protocol on global warming, was prefaced with a breathless pronouncement that we now had climate models that matched the real atmosphere, lending credibility to gloom-and-doom forecasts of climate change. Months later, Nature magazine was compelled to publish a paper showing that the data which the UN cited was incomplete, and when all the numbers were put in, the correspondence vanished.

The UN's most recent world environment confab occurred last fall in Marrakesh. Days before that one, we learned that the poor islanders of Tuvalu were being drowned by sea-level rises caused by global warming. Within days, an article appeared in Science magazine showing that sea level around Tuvalu has been falling, not rising, for most of the last 50 years.
This makes him rather suspicious of the UN report which describes the Asian Brown Cloud (ABC), and claims that it could kill millions:
Lest anyone think the UN has learned anything about its environmental misrepresentations, let's examine the Brown Cloud story.

Summarizing the UN's report, CNN said that the ABC is so awful that it has "scientists warning that it could kill millions of people in the area, and pose a global threat." Further, the cloud "could cut rainfall over northwest Pakistan, Afghanistan, western China and west Central Asia by up to 40%."

Sleazy air exiting Asia is nothing new to climatologists. Reid Bryson, the eminent scientist who many believe is the progenitor of the modern notion of human-induced climate change, wrote about it in the 1950s. Since then, climate scientists have searched and searched through Indian monsoon data to try to find any systematic changes, and there have been none.

Don't take my word for it. Look at page 144 of the 2001 compendium on climate change published by the selfsame United Nations, and you won't find any systematic changes in South Asian rainfall.

The UN's pre-Johannesburg hype prompted CNN to write that the ABC "has led to some erratic weather, including flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal, and northeastern India, [and] drought in Pakistan, and northwestern India." The fact is that there isn't a single shred of scientific evidence to back up those claims. In fact, in its 2001 report, the UN noted that there's no evidence for any systematic changes in extreme weather around the planet.


When we get near these worldwide gatherings, there isn't a piece of UN science that isn't political. That's because what these meetings are about is blaming the West for environmental degradation, and holding us up for money.
Silly me! I thought the Brown Cloud was an unfortunate byproduct of all the fancy meals the junketeers ate at prior UN gatherings. And why are we paying for the UN to do "science" in the first place?
Greenpeace Goofs
The Telegraph (UK) shocks with: Melting glacier 'false alarm'
Pictures released by Greenpeace claiming to show how man-made global warming has caused Arctic glaciers to retreat are at best misleading and only illustrate a natural phenomenon, says a leading glaciologist.

The picture series, which compared the size of a glacier on Svalbard in 1918 with its size in 2002, was published across the world alongside a Greenpeace warning that global warming caused by man-made greenhouse gases was causing Arctic glaciers to melt.

"The blame can be put squarely on human activity," Greenpeace said. "Our addiction to fossil fuels releases millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and this is what is causing temperatures to rise and our future to melt before our eyes."

But Prof Ole Humlum, a leading glaciologist in Svalbard, 500 miles north of Norway, said yesterday: "That glacier had already disappeared in the early 1920s as a result of a perfectly natural rise in temperature that had nothing to do with man-made global warming." ... He said the picture series was at best misleading. "They should have asked the specialists on Svalbard first."
Nonetheless, we'll be hearing and seeing this "honest mistake" for years.
Hoist With Her Own Petard!
The Boston Globe enlightens with RFK daughter's Md. race hinges on black votes:
It is a sweltering day as Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend descends the stairs of the ''Great Blacks in Wax Museum'' and enters the mock belly of a slave ship. ...

Surrounded by the leading African-American politicians of Maryland, and trailed by television crews, Townsend would seem to be in her element. ...

Yet, in a twist that threatens to undermine her campaign strategy, the African-American voting bloc has become hotly contested.

The likely Republican opponent, US Representative Robert Ehrlich, has picked a black man, GOP state chairman Michael Steele, as his running mate. Townsend, meanwhile, has been the subject of widespread second-guessing for her selection of a white Republican, Navy Admiral Charles Larson, as her pick for lieutenant governor. On a recent day of campaigning, Larson was not given a speaking role when Townsend addressed black leaders at the wax museum, an absence that Townsend later attributed to a lack of time.

All of this has become crucial because the Townsend campaign has calculated - and analysts agree - that she will probably lose if she fails to secure less than about 80 percent of the black vote. Normally, that would not be a problem, but the GOP strategy of putting Steele on the ticket has ensured this is not a normal election. The most recent polls show that the race is statistically tied, a sharp turnaround from just a couple of months ago, when most observers suggested she would achieve a blowout.

Now, such talk is over. A number of Townsend's top supporters, especially those in the African-American community, met privately with her in recent days to tell her bluntly that she needs a major shift in her campaign, and Townsend agreed. Her campaign chief, Alan Fleischmann, said yesterday that Townsend is searching for the ''greatest lieutenants'' available, saying, ''We are at war.''

Ehrlich, a former Princeton quarterback, clearly has thrown the Townsend team off balance by picking Steele. The strategy of the Townsend campaign has been to attack Steele as a clone of his friend, US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, another black Republican. But Steele bristles in response that Townsend too often hides behind the Kennedy name - and says that name is something he knows about.

Steele said that his father was a gardener for then-Senator John F. Kennedy in the 1950s, that his stepfather once drove a limousine in the 1960s for then-Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and that he remembers watching the funeral train of Townsend's father rumble through Washington. He mocks the notion that Townsend is ''the great white hope for African Americans,'' saying many blacks, who make up about one-fourth of the electorate, have not benefited from the state's prosperity.
An incredible antidote to the "Kennedy mystique". What a hoot! And it's an encouraging sign when blacks don't feel locked in the pocket of the Democrat party. But I wouldn't underestimate the political machines of the old time black Democrats. They may "raise the dead" on election day.
Townsend, who once considered becoming a nun, has been portrayed as a different sort of Kennedy, more cerebral but less comfortable than most family members on the political stage. With her soft voice and diminutive stature, she has labored for years to project herself verbally and physically, pumping her fists and raising her voice with regularity.

The effort was clear on a recent day of campaigning, when US Representative Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, a rousing speaking with a booming baritone, introduced Townsend at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum by saying that people shouldn't pay attention to critics who don't like how she looks or talks. ''I don't care if she stutters!'' Cummings said as he ended his introduction. To which Townsend said, awkwardly: ''Amen, Elijah! Hallelujah!''
Cerebral! Sorry pal, she's dumber than a bag of hammers and demonstrates it regularly.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Happy Birthday to Bubba!
Send him a personalized card courtesy of the DNC.
The Rich Get Rich and Poor Get Poorer. Or Do They?
Virgina Postrel puts the hammer down in the NY Times (Business section):
To critics of economic liberalization and international trade, it is an article of faith that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.


Antiglobalization activists are not just making up this idea. They have taken it from seemingly authoritative sources, notably the 1999 United Nations Human Development Report.


Fortunately, this scary portrait is highly misleading.

"When I started looking at the numbers, I saw a lot of mistakes," says Xavier Sala-i-Martin, an economist at Columbia. Some were departures from standard economic procedures, like not correcting for price levels from country to country.

"Some agencies didn't adjust for the fact that Ethiopia is cheaper than the U.S.," he said. "Some of them were hiding numbers that we know exist." For instance, the report included data from only 19 of the 29 industrialized countries then in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

But the biggest problem was not so technical. It was hidden in plain sight. The United Nations report and others looked at gaps in income of the richest and poorest countries - not rich and poor individuals.

That means the formerly poor citizens of giant countries could become a lot richer and still barely show up in the data.

"Treating countries like China and Grenada as two data points with equal weight does not seem reasonable because there are about 12,000 Chinese citizens for each person living in Grenada," writes Professor Sala-i-Martin in "The World Distribution of Income (Estimated from Individual Country Distributions)." That is one of two related working papers for the National Bureau of Economic Research. (The papers are available on Professor Sala-i-Martin's Web site at

Counting by countries misses the biggest economic advance in history, completely distorting the record of the globalization period.

Over the last three decades, and especially since the 1980's, the world's two largest countries, China and India, have raced ahead economically. So have other Asian countries with relatively large populations.


"You have to look at people," says Professor Sala-i-Martin. "Because if you look at countries, we do have lots and lots of little countries that are doing very poorly, namely Africa - 35 African countries." But all Africa has only about half as many people as China.


There is, however, one large country where the poor really are getting poorer while the rich grow richer: Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa.

Nigeria's economy has actually shrunk over the last three decades, and the absolute poverty rate - the percentage of the population living on less than $1 a day in 1985 dollars - skyrocketed to 46 percent in 1998 from 9 percent in 1970.

While most Nigerians were falling further into destitution, the political and economic elite grew richer. The problem is not too much liberalization but too little, a politicized economy with widespread corruption.
More rationality by following the link. You don't think the United Nations and the socialist flies hovering around it would be trying to scam us, now would you? As for the African countries, removal of impacted tin pot dictators sounds like the only remedy. But when it comes down to it, I really don't think it's the USA's problem.

More Notes on the Cosmic Joke
Boo F'ing Hoo to Vincente Fox who canceled a trip to Texas after the state executed cop killer Javier Suarez Medina. Don't mess with Texas.

The new Palestinian terrorist strategy. Watch out for ricochets, Abdul!

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has decided to keep the contributions from Sam Waskal of Imclone fame that Hillary snagged for them. One of the most overworked ploys is "I'm returning it". Only rarely does anyone check back to see if it has really happened. My favorite was Hilary's brother Hughie who had promised to return the fees he had collected for Bubba's last minute pardon spree. When asked about it later, only "some" of it had been returned.

A Minnesota group known for producing rap music with "conservative lyrics" has hammered Sen. Paul Wellstone with a TV commercial. Everyone's knickers are in a twist. It's interesting to hear that Paulie is a millionaire. I thought he claimed to be a poor college professor? Maybe Terry McAuliffe has been giving him investment advice.

Great Britain losing its loos. "Many are now padlocked and rusting, while others have found new life as cafes, flower shops, theaters and nightclubs."

Michael Fletcher in the WaPo observes that "As more states adopt high school graduation tests, an increasing number of poor, black and Latino students are at risk of being denied diplomas because schools do a bad job of preparing them for the high-stakes exams, according to a report" by the "Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based research organization." Is being "denied diplomas" like flunking? Is a "bad job of preparing them" like failing to teach basic skills?

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

They're All Bozoes On This Bus
NewsMax ran an item today about Hillary's "Director of Economic Development" who started to shed clothes in a NYC bar after more than a few high octane quaffs. While certainly amusing, the part that piqued my curiosity was a reference to a Sunday story about Terrible Terry and DNC spokesdroid, Jennifer Palmieri.
A tipsy-sounding Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe spoke to a New York radio station Friday night while traveling aboard a Las Vegas "Party Bus" outfitted with two wet bars, wall-to-wall leather couches and mirrors on the ceiling - minutes after he treated his entourage of aides and reporters to a streetside Elvis impersonation.

"Let me just say there have been some wild things that have occurred in this bus this day," the DNC's partier-in-chief revealed to WABC Radio's John Batchelor and Paul Alexander. "We have beers and everything," McAuliffe added with a barely suppressed giggle.

"You should be here in Vegas," McAuliffe insisted. "This is as good as it gets out here. We're in [DNC spokeswoman] Jennifer Palmieri's - I don't know what you call this thing."

"Oh my God!" Palmieri could be heard gasping in the background as McAuliffe rambled on.


McAuliffe's dizzy remarks came after spokesgal Palmieri described the "Party Bus," along with her boss's Elvis stunt, to the radio duo.

"Terry was posing [as Elvis] and they both had kind of that sly, thumbs-up sign." Then she announced, "I just got on this amazing party bus that we have procured for the night to take the national press corps out."

Palmieri, who used to be Bill Clinton's personal spokeswoman, described a scene reminiscent of her former boss's Oval Office boom-boom room.

"It has leather padded couches that wrap around the whole bus and two fully stocked bars," she told WABC. "And it has mirrors galore and sparkly lights. It's truly something to behold. Right now they're passing out beers."


The DNC spokesgal said she was ruling out Las Vegas as a possible site for the 2004 Democratic convention "based on tonight's activities."

She also predicted that the "party bus" stunt would win Democrats some favorable media coverage, telling the radio duo, "Given the treatment we're giving the national political reporters right now, you shouldn't be surprised if you see a big bump-up in how the Democrats are covered in the next few days."

But she quickly regretted the remark.

"I'm going to pay so dearly for that comment the rest of the night and the rest of the week," Palmieri said, before slipping back into party mode.

"You won't see [RNC chief] Marc Racicot doing this at Republican meetings," she boasted as the interview ended.
I can't seem to find a photo of this paragon on the web. Anyone spotted one? I'm curious as to what Bubba's former personal spokeswoman looks like.
So Much to Blog, So Little Time
Blairs' marriage is weird says Greer. That's Germaine Greer, fruit basket extraordinaire:
Germaine Greer, the mother of modern feminism, yesterday accused Tony Blair of presenting a skewed example of marriage to the nation.

Speaking on the unequal nature of marriage, in which women were forced to make huge sacrifices and were "bound hand and foot by their notions of what is correct in society", Ms Greer said: "The marriage of our own prime minister is an interesting case in point. That is a very weird relationship. I want to say to him, 'Leave her alone, for Christ's sake. She's 47 years old. She doesn't practise contraception because she is a Catholic. So stay off her!'


"The sexual politics of the Labour party have always been neanderthal and always will be. At least the sexual politics of the Tories were straightforward: perverse and corrupt."
We look forward eagerly to Germaine's assessment of Bubba and Hillary.

And then for the Ecoweenie market, GM unveils photos of `skateboard' fuel cell vehicle:
The car has no engine, transmission, brake or gas peddles and is controlled by a box that looks like it belongs in the hands of video game jockey.

The sweeping windshield on the four-door sedan body reaches down close to the bumpers and there's room to spare inside because there are no mechanical components.

The body is connected to a skateboard-like chassis that contains most of the vehicle's working parts.

General Motors Corp. revealing the first pictures Wednesday of the fuel cell powered vehicle, called the Hy-wire.

It's the first drivable version of a concept the automaker unveiled during January's North American International Auto Show in Detroit under the name Autonomy as its attempt to reinvent the automobile.

The new name ''conveys the message we're above the crowd, we're willing to take risks and we're capable of doing some things with this technology that one would not normally expect,'' Larry Burns, GM vice president research and development and planning, told reporters at a recent briefing here.
This article didn't have the photos, but they're right here. I'm afraid it doesn't have room for my gun rack.

Fisked in Detail
Nicholas Stix drags the feckless media over the coals in: A High-Tech Lynching: ABC News, The FBI, And The Greendale School Myth. A teaser:
Are the FBI and the elite media interested in catching the right guy, or the right-wing white guy? In the case of the terrorist who last fall murdered five people and made 13 others ill via anthrax-contaminated letters, the feds and Big Media have decided that it would be expedient to railroad scientist Steven J. Hatfill, and have engaged in collusion towards achieving that end. The only problem is, that no one has produced one iota of evidence tying Hatfill to the crime. And so, the media and law enforcement have subjected Hatfill to the death of a thousand cuts, via incredible leaks, innuendoes, irrelevancies, and even outright fabrications.
And while I'm on the subject of the anthrax letters, Reuters reported that New Jersey Mailbox Tests Positive for Anthrax:
U.S. postal inspectors investigating the anthrax mailings linked to five deaths have discovered a mailbox that tested positive for traces of the bacteria, a postal official said on Monday.

The mailbox was found on Thursday night in Princeton, New Jersey, and has been sent to a U.S. Army facility in Aberdeen, Maryland, for forensic analysis, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Dan Mihalko told Reuters.

He said the mailbox was discovered as investigators checked hundreds of boxes from which mail is funneled to a postal sorting center in Trenton, New Jersey, where four anthrax-laced letters were postmarked last year.

"We've been looking at all the mailboxes that feed into the Trenton facility," Mihalko said. "One of them did test positive."

The mailbox was sent to the army laboratory for more conclusive tests, he said, adding, "We've seen in the past, field tests that turn up false positives."
Ahem! Thursday night? I know they've been busy, but isn't that a tad late?

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Who Says Rocket Scientists are in Short Supply?
HIGH POINT, N.C. -- If you're going to watch an X-rated movie, you might want to do it in private.

Police in North Carolina have busted four men who were watching porn on a video system in a Lincoln Navigator SUV. They're now facing felony obscenity charges.

One of the men, Chris Edwards, doesn't know what all the fuss is about. He says the porn they were watching "wasn't nothing freaky." He says it just showed a "little bit of getting it on."
What a Hoot!
In the continuing saga of sanctimonious Joe: Lieberman stumps for 'pro-business' Wellstone
Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., told a group of business leaders that the perception that Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., is anti-business is false.
Unfortunately his nose grew so long that he became unsteady and he had to finish the speech from the floor.
The Old Rogue's Playpen
A former Cuban Ambassador to the UN, Alcibiades Hidalgo, has defected to United States. He held a news conference and provided some inside details on the "socialist paradise":
A former Cuban ambassador to the United Nations who recently defected said Monday that widespread economic problems on the island could produce an uprising against President Fidel Castro and his system.

Alcibiades Hidalgo, who arrived in South Florida on July 29, said many aspects of daily life in Cuba could produce a "social explosion" at any time.

"There is lot of concern among the elite that this could occur," said Hidalgo, who also served as chief of staff to Defense Minister Raul Castro, brother of the Cuban leader.


Hidalgo is one of the most important Cuban defectors whose escape has been publicly reported since Gen. Rafael del Pino fled the island in May 1987. Del Pino was instrumental in the defeat of the U.S.-sponsored invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Hidalgo said his defection has not yet been reported in Cuba's state-controlled press.


Speaking in Spanish, Hidalgo said Castro, who turns 76 on Tuesday, has differences with his brother Raul, 71, who is defense minister and the second ranking official in the Council of State and the Council of Ministers.

Although Raul is the heir apparent, Hidalgo said he drinks too much, has health problems and doesn't sleep much. Fidel, in contrast, takes care of himself, he said.


Hidalgo got to know Raul Castro well during the 1980s when he served as his chief of staff. The Cuban military, under Raul's direction, has become an economic powerhouse through its involvement in tourism and other dollar-generating activities, he said.


Cuba has endured a series of economic blows over the past year. Like other Caribbean islands, Cuba suffered a severe drop in tourism after Sept. 11 and is still recovering from a devastating hurricane that struck Nov. 8.


Hidalgo shares the Bush administration's view that congressional attempts to end curbs on Americans' travel to Cuba, if approved, would be an economic windfall for Cuba and a "gift for Fidel."

The U.S. economic embargo against Cuba aggravates the island's problems, he said, but he believes Castro's socialist policies are principally to blame, something he did not say when he was ambassador to the United Nations in 1992-93. Then he followed the party line by identifying the embargo as the culprit.

"The truth," he said Monday, "is otherwise."

Hidalgo disagreed with Cuba's policy of using its U.N. mission as an espionage hub. He estimated that 90 percent of the 50-60 personnel working there were spies, but he was not told details of their activities.
I wonder if it galls Fidel that Cuba's principal industry is tourism? Apparently not, since in addition to wanting food on credit (i.e. free) from the USA, he wants hordes of imperialist lackeys to visit and spend their dollars. I can see the commercials now:

Brutal dictator and thug
We'll keep the light on for ya!
Not Just Another Pretty Face!
President Mohammad Khatami, paying the first visit to Afghanistan by an Iranian head of state in 40 years, accused the United States on Tuesday of pursuing an "angry approach" to foreign policy since the attacks of Sept. 11. Too bad Iran doesn't have a space program.

Monday, August 12, 2002

UN officials call for participation by youth in sustainable development policies

12 August - Marking International Youth Day, United Nations officials today called for young people to be fully engaged in sustainable development policies in order to foster a world free of poverty, disease and war for future generations.

In his message on the Day, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the involvement of young people "crucial" to the success of the World Summit for Sustainable Development, which opens in Johannesburg at the end of this month.

Mr. Annan noted that although governments were responsible for ensuring that international commitments on the issue were translated into action, they must rely on young generations to participate in this effort.

"I call on all of us to make the best possible use of young people's imagination, energy and indomitable spirit, in the cause of sustaining the future for succeeding generations," he said.

Echoing this view, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said that the cause of sustainable development, a key-concern among young generations, could be reinvigorated by their attendance at the Johannesburg Summit.

Mrs. Robinson added that youth should continue to campaign for peace and the respect of human rights while demanding action on poverty, education, food, adequate housing and a safe environment.

"I would like to encourage young people to continue their inspirational efforts," she said. "To campaign now for human rights and equality for all is to lay the groundwork for sustainable development for all, development that will not compromise the needs, dreams and possibilities of future generations."

International Youth Day has been commemorated worldwide every 12 August since 1999, after the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution designating the date to promote a better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond.
Why is it that United Nations press releases sound like old Soviet Union press releases with the words updated? I think it's the stilted language coupled with organizations and activities that no one in his right mind could possibly care about. "World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond" - what a snoozer. The UN would be just some silly, tasteless freak show except that the US taxpayers are paying for it.

Airbrain Alerts!
From the Media Research Center:
Anna Nicole, seemingly first hearing about violence in Israel: "Who's killing the Jews?"

Nicole's lawyer, Howard K. Stern: "People are going like with bombs on their bodies into Israel and they're blowing themselves up in like coffee shops and like ball rooms."

Anna: "Whoa! Why would they do that? Don't they think it's kind of painful? It's just so not right."
Then Leonardo DiCaprio opened his pie hole to emit:
Leonardo DiCaprio, calling the United States the world's biggest polluter, urged President Bush to make a statement in favor of the environment by attending the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, later this month.

"Mr. Bush, we're asking for your support, to be the president that looks towards the future," DiCaprio told a Monday rally organized by Global Green USA, an affiliate of Green Cross International.
Actually Leo, if he doesn't show up at this bureaucratic clam bake, he will prove he does look towards the future.
Getcher Illegal Alien ID Card Here!
I mentioned the "matricular counsular" yesterday, but clicking past the the Raleigh (NC) News and Observer web site this morning I spotted a picture of illegal alliens lined up to get one. It's the teaser for a feature with the title, ID Cards Open Doors: Matricula consular helps new residents prove identity, obtain services. Hmm ... new residents lack identity and services, must find out more.

Since it is the Snooze and Deceiver, I didn't need to read the subtitle to know that it isn't going to be too forthcoming about how a Mexican government document has been conjured up to allow illegals to hop on the US gravy train, but let's see what David Olson, Staff Writer, has to say:
Illegal Aliens
RALEIGH - Gilberto Cerron, like dozens who line up at the Mexican Consulate each weekday, came to buy a red-hot item: the matricula consular, a card that makes it easier for Mexican nationals to open bank accounts, get driver's licenses and seek social services.
"Mexican nationals" in this context are illegal aliens who aren't supposed to be here, much less entitled to these "social services". Legal aliens and immigrants already have documentation. And thanks to Bubba's Motor Voter law, I wonder how many illegals forget that they aren't supposed to vote?
"I had heard of it before, but I didn't know how important it was," said Cerron, 34, a Mexican immigrant who lives in Reidsville.

Word has spread among Mexican immigrants of how useful the card can be.

In the first six months of this year, the Raleigh consulate issued 7,813 matriculas, nearly four times as many as during the first six months of 2001. About three-quarters of the people who crowd the consulate each weekday are there to get the card. Nationally, Mexican consulates issued nearly 500,000 in the first half of this year.
Paging the INS! Target rich environment outside all Mexican Consulates!

But I'll hold my horses. We haven't yet heard from the politicians in search of "clients".
The card's profile is also rising as more local governments, police departments and banks accept it as an official ID. Carrboro aldermen unanimously voted to do so in June, joining cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Houston.

The card helps undocumented immigrants in particular because they are unlikely to have another photo ID with a U.S. address, Carrboro Alderman John Herrera said.
Obviously a rocket scientist. Actually with all the ID fraud, they probably have more photo ID's than I do.
Carrboro's resolution will make it easier for Mexicans living in Carrboro to get residents' discounts for parks programs and will help police verify the identity of Mexicans who report crimes or are suspects, he said.
I wouldn't want any illegal aliens to miss out on parks programs.
In June, state Sen. Daniel Clodfelter, a Charlotte Democrat, introduced a bill that would encourage law enforcement and other government agencies in North Carolina to accept the matricula as identification and would allocate $25,000 to educate agencies about the card. The bill is in committee.

"It doesn't grant legal residency. It doesn't confer rights or benefits," Clodfelter said. "It's just a good, useful identification document."
Sorta like a passport and visa, eh Clod?

Uh Oh! Time for the obligatory negative quote:
But not everyone thinks the card is a good idea.

The Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates greater restrictions on immigration, criticizes the Mexican government for issuing the card and local governments and banks in the United States for accepting them.

"Really, the whole purpose of this card is to circumvent U.S. immigration law," said Steven Camarota, the center's research director.

"It sort of institutionalizes illegality and conveys that we are just not serious about our laws."
No kidding, but corporate whores smell money.
Some major banks don't agree.

Durham-based Central Carolina Bank began accepting the matricula at all of its 263 branches in the Carolinas in May, and Charlotte-based Bank of America began taking it nationwide in June.

"This is a way for an underbanked, underserved population to access our services and to learn to trust us," said Gillian Breidenbach, a Bank of America spokeswoman. Many immigrants have never had a bank account and keep their money at home, she said.
Underbanked and underserved - the horror! I wonder how they discuss this in their annual report - "Your Company is pursuing a new growth market, scofflaws!" ?
"I've heard of people who have been assaulted after leaving work with a lot of money," said Cerron, who tried to open a bank account four months ago but didn't have a North Carolina ID. "It's less risky having money in a bank."
A problem that would be obviated if you and your employer weren't breaking the law.
Cerron, who works in a clothing factory, also wants to use his matricula to get a driver's license and car insurance.
I just know he took a cab to the consulate.
The state Division of Motor Vehicles likes the card because it proves the holder lives in North Carolina, said Wayne Hurder, DMV's director of driver's license certification. And, because foreign nationals must pass a driving test, making it easier for Mexicans to get a license makes the state's roads safer, he said.
Safer than none of them being here and on the road?

But wait! This is a high tech document which is only awarded after rigorous scrutiny by the crack office staff at the consulates!
The matricula is white and gray and looks something like a driver's license. It includes the person's photo, local address and date and place of birth. Later this month, the Raleigh consulate will begin issuing Mexico's new, green version that is more difficult to forge.

The Mexican government requires matricula applicants to provide an original birth certificate and a copy, a Mexican or U.S. photo ID and a document -- such as a utility bill --with a local address.
Proving that no nonsensical idea goes unrewarded, the closer is:
Other Latin American governments have noticed the card's popularity among Mexicans. Guatemala approved a similar ID in June and plans to begin issuing it at its consulates Thursday, said Ana Villacorta, spokeswoman for the Guatemalan Embassy. The closest Guatemalan Consulate to Raleigh is in Washington.

Honduras and El Salvador also are considering issuing similar cards, officials with those two countries' embassies said.

El Salvador began looking into the idea two years ago, said Rene Leon, the country's ambassador in Washington. But it put off plans for the card after the U.S. government made most Salvadorans in the United States eligible for "temporary protected status" -- allowing them to stay in the United States -- after their homeland was devastated by earthquakes in 2001. The status was recently extended until September 2003.

And, Leon said, because many of those who would benefit from a matricula are undocumented, and about 95 percent of Salvadorans in the United States are here legally, the need to issue a Salvadoran version is not as urgent.
A rainbow of documentation for illegal aliens from every grease spot on the map - that ought to simplify things.
Elbonian philospher and pleased to meet you, I am! Here my Elbonian consular card is! Where are services?
I'm surprised the UN hasn't got in on this racket.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm? - Iran Style
Tim Judah has a backgrounder in the Telegraph (UK) on The baby boomers who want to rock Teheran:
Garage rock is big in Teheran. In earlier times and different circumstance, garages, heavily padded for sound, might have been used for secret printing presses to churn out samizdat papers or revolutionary literature, but not in Teheran today. If heavy rock is your thing, find a garage.

Here, in the Islamic republic, heavy rock is officially considered moral pollution. So it goes underground. Blasting at their drums and electric guitars, the heavily sweating crew from Sokoote-e Shargh, which means Oriental Silence, meet three times a week to practise in a sound proofed room inside an underground garage.

They are not alone. There are scores of other underground bands of all types across Teheran. Technically, playing in an underground garage, provided there are no unmarried girls and boys dancing together or drinking, may not be illegal.

But no one is really sure what is legal or not in Iran any more. The band once got permission to play a small concert at an arts college, but they would never be allowed to sing in English or legally distribute a CD.


Indeed a social revolution is taking place. In the wake of the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the attack on Iran by Saddam Hussein in 1980, the mullahs urged women to produce a new generation of Islamic martyrs. But their project has gone horribly wrong.

Today two thirds of Iran's 70 million people are under 30 and, like Oriental Silence, chafing at the restrictions imposed by the state.

Satellite television, including broadcasts from several Iranian exile stations in America, has opened a new world to young Iranians. Satellite dishes are illegal, but the rule is flouted.

Today 1.75 million Iranians also have access to the internet, but in five years that figure is expected to grow to five million. Wherever there are computers you can see girls wearing the officially prescribed Islamic dress.

But every Iranian has a public and a private face. Peer at what they are doing on the internet and it is as if they are the inhabitants of a parallel nation.

With headphones clamped over their headscarves and chadors they are bobbing about while happily downloading music by the rapper Eminem or internet chatting with their boyfriends across town.
The imperialist forces infilitrate yet another peaceful Islamic republic. But don't worry, the mullahs are on the case:
In the past two months the hardliners have been flexing their muscles. Several papers have been shut down and a fleet of new Land Cruisers with aggressive morality enforcing policemen inside have made their presence felt.

Also, in mosques across the Teheran and the rest of the country, young men from the Basij, a militia loyal to Mr Khamenei, swear they will defend the Islamic revolution until death.

If reforms stay stalled then one day they may yet be called upon to do so.
Hmmm ... sounds familiar.

The Burqa Patrol Strikes Again
Th AP lets us know that Miss World Entrants Warned:
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - Nigeria, host of this year's Miss World pageant, has warned the contest's beauty queens to avoid parts of the country where Shariah, or Islamic law, is enforced, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Culture and Tourism Minister Boma Bromillow-Jack said organizers were warned to stay away from the dozen Nigerian states that have adopted Shariah after Muslim groups threatened to disrupt the pageant.

"We have told the people (organizers) not to allow the ladies to go to Zamfara and other Shariah states because of the risks involved," the minister told reporters Friday, according to the Vanguard newspaper.


Muslim groups in Nigeria have denounced the pageant as immoral and said they will prevent it from taking place, but have not threatened any specific action. They are particularly incensed by the swimsuit competition.
Islamic law prescribes harsh punishments such as flogging for Muslim women who expose too much flesh in public, amputations for theft and death sentences for adultery


Nigeria applied to host the pageant after a Nigerian, Agbani Darego, was crowned Miss World last year.

The U.S. State Department renewed its warning to U.S. citizens against traveling to Nigeria last week citing violent crime and ongoing ethnic and religious conflicts - some triggered by the introduction of Shariah.

Thousands have died in bloody conflicts across the country since President Olusegun Obasanjo was elected in 1999, ending 16 years of military rule.
Sounds like a slow-motion riot and yet another fine member state of the United Nations. Good choice by the "Miss World" organizers.


Cindy Gonzalez at the Omaha World-Herald raises eyebrows with Man gets jail instead of jackpot :
COUNCIL BLUFFS - Jose Cruz Mena thought it was his lucky day when the slot machine he was playing burst into jackpot bells.

But instead of handing over $3,000 in winnings, Harrah's casino handed Mena over to law enforcement authorities.

For the past month, the 32-year-old has been sitting in the Pottawattamie County Jail awaiting deportation.
Jose Cuevas, the local head of the Mexican government effort to aid and abet illegal immigration, er, Mexican Consul, explains:
Cuevas, a Mexican government representative whose Omaha office serves Iowa, Nebraska and North and South Dakota, said it is his understanding that Mena presented the casino with a matricula consular card - an official photo ID that carries his government's stamp of authenticity. The card was rejected when Mena tried to claim his jackpot, Cuevas was told.

The arrest came after Mena then showed his visa as identification and officials saw that he had overstayed his time in the United States. He had been living and working in Omaha.

"If they're going to start that policy," Cuevas said, "they might as well start placing immigration officers at the entrance of every casino to see if you're a U.S. citizen or legal resident of this country."
Good idea Jose! Even better placement would be outside every Mexican consulate where the illegal aliens line up to get a matricula consular. But Harrah's isn't really taking a stand:
Tess Barry, a spokeswoman for Harrah's, said Friday she could not comment on whether Mena presented the consular identification card.

She said that as a general rule, Harrah's considers the card an acceptable form of ID to claim a prize. Identification is needed, for tax purposes, to collect anything more than $1,200.

Barry said the riverboat would be "more than happy" to pay Mena his jackpot if he returns with the consular identification card.
The last is a nice touch. Hey, maybe the bus back to Mexico can stop at the casino on the way! And where is the INS in all this?
Alonzo Martinez, an INS official for Iowa and Nebraska, said Mena is awaiting formal deportation. Agency files, he said, show no criminal record for Mena.

The INS takes a tougher stance with immigrants who overstay their visas, Martinez said, than with someone who sneaks across the border with no documentation.
Ah! I can sleep better knowing the nation is in good hands.
"Earth" Summit Update
The Sunday Times (South Africa) reports on the scramble for foreign guests' cash.
Much of the SA interest in the World Summit on Sustainable Development is less about idealism than about the material spinoffs for local business.

The expectation of 65 000 free-spending delegates has inspired all sorts of South Africans to gear up for a windfall. From house owners fixing up their homes in expectation of renting out rooms at R1 000 a night to arts and crafts vendors, sex workers and restaurateurs - the hopes are for rich pickings.
But there's always a Gloomy Gus:
Société Générale chief economist Nico Czypionka is less sanguine...

"It is an illusion that there will be enormous spending, and what spending there is to a degree will simply displace other spending. They take hotel rooms that others would have taken and spend money that others would have spent but will go elsewhere during the summit," says Czypionka.


"People will undoubtedly be frustrated at being chased off the streets by the motorcades of some tinpot dictators," adds Czypionka.
It's sure to be a laugh riot. Be there or be square!

It's the UNLotto!
Reuters astonishes with Finnish Leader Says Global Lottery Could Fund UN:
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Plans for a global lottery to help fill United Nations coffers have taken a step forwards and could become reality within 18 months, according to a former Finnish leader promoting the idea.

Martti Ahtisaari, a former president and U.N. peace broker, said on Saturday the United Nations had recently agreed a cooperation project with the World Lottery Association (WLA), and if it got the go-ahead, it could be running by late 2003.

"We will know at the end of the year how lottery support can be put into practice," he told STT news agency in an interview.
Ah! A tax on the poor and innumerate to benefit well-to-do bureacrats. How very UN of the UN!