Saturday, October 26, 2002

Some Postscripts
Newsday reports Official: Sniper duo stopped at least 5 times at roadblocks:
The car used by the two suspects in the Washington-area sniper attacks was stopped "at least five times" at roadblocks thrown up immediately by police after many of the shootings, according to a senior federal law enforcement official.

But because the officers were unaware that the car, a 1990 blue Chevrolet Caprice, was the vehicle used in the shootings and focused instead on white box trucks or vans identified by early witnesses, they did not conduct thorough searches, he said.
The missed opportunities came despite an account from a witness to police on Oct. 3, the second day of the three-week shooting spree, that he had seen a Caprice leaving the scene of the only shooting inside Washington, D.C. The other snipings were outside of the capital. But the witness had described the color of the Chevrolet as brown or burgundy.
The senior federal official said the crystallizing moment in the investigation occurred last Sunday, when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and FBI agents paid a visit to a priest in Richmond, Va., just south of where the 12th victim had been shot and seriously wounded the previous day. U.S. Marshals said they also participated in the interview.

It is unclear how the investigators knew that the priest had received a call, reportedly from the two suspects, the day before the shooting in nearby Ashland, Va.

Muhammad and Malvo had complained to the priest that the police were not taking the pair seriously in their attempts to communicate or negotiate, the official said.
More details on some of the roadblock stops by following the link.

Then the AP and KIRO-TV are reporting that ATF Officials Warned About Muhammad Last Summer:
FBI officials in Washington state referred John Allen Muhammad to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for possible investigation in July after interviewing a witness who claimed the former soldier was trying to obtain a silencer for his gun and spoke of killing police officers, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

Police said emphatically that nothing they received that day from the witness suggested Muhammad and a 17-year-old companion, John Lee Malvo, would commit a series of killings in the suburbs around the nation's capital, as they are now suspected of doing.

A Bellingham man, Harjee Singh, said he met with authorities last summer and told them Muhammad and Malvo -- whom he'd met at the local YMCA -- had talked to him about a possible plan to shoot police officers.

"I raised the red flag three months ago," Singh said. "I told them what their intention was."

Asked to elaborate, Singh said, "They told me they were likely to do a sniper attack. They told me they were going to shoot to kill."

Asked by the AP if they named targets, Singh said, "Yeah, cops."

He said the pair also mentioned possibly shooting a tanker truck.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Maybe I should adjust the quote in the header?
The Houston Chronicle confirms our suspicions with China replaces Mexico as land of cheap labor:
Edilia Perez, 42, can install circuit boards in television monitors as fast as she can, but she just can't compete against Chinese workers on the assembly line.

Chinese factory workers make about $1 worth of yuan each day, while Mexican maquiladora workers like Perez earn an average of $9 worth of pesos a day, according to a study by the Mexican Worker's University in Mexico City.

China's long list of business incentives -- including few to no taxes -- attracts investors. In contrast, Mexico's catalog of complex rules, labor laws and taxes discourage many companies from moving here.

The Pacific is no longer the trade barrier it once was. China is now a formidable competitor for attracting manufacturers.
The article then describes the decline of Mexico's industrialized border towns as manufacturing plants move to China and elsewhere.

So what, right? Well, think about our porous border:
Likewise, the loss shouldn't just worry Mexicans, he said. If Mexicans can't find jobs along the border, they go to the United States.
Such a deal!

"... a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker Chinese factory worker would consider to be prosperity ..." sounds about right.
The Law of Unintended Effects
The AP reveals that Hearings backfire on death-penalty foes with a starring role for Illinois' incompetent Republican governor, George Ryan:
For nearly two weeks, the details of Illinois' most gruesome murders have been replayed for the public in a marathon set of clemency hearings that death-penalty opponents now believe may have backfired and hurt their cause.

The hearings, which are being held for nearly every murderer on Illinois' death row, were set in motion by Republican Gov. George Ryan, who suspended all executions nearly three years ago because of flaws in the criminal-justice system.

But the procedural flaws discussed at the hearings have been overwhelmed by the litany of the killers' bloody horrors, and the governor himself has become the target of bitter attacks by the relatives of murder victims.

"The pain and passion of these families is deafening," said Larry Marshall, a Northwestern University law professor who has been a driving force in exposing problems with Illinois' death penalty. "It's so overwhelming that people are forgetting all the problems that got us here."

So overwhelming, in fact, that Chicago's two major newspapers have urged Mr. Ryan to stop the hearings. "Halt the anguish, Gov. Ryan," implored a Chicago Tribune editorial. "Ryan's hearings cruel and unusual," headlined a Chicago Sun-Times editorial.

In the space of a week, the public heard once again about:
- A couple who fatally shot a woman, cut her nearly full-term baby from her womb, and killed two of her other children.
- Two brothers who beat a sleeping couple to death with baseball bats.
- A father who tortured his mute, severely retarded stepdaughter for five years until she died.
- A man who killed a couple after telling them to have their last kiss.
- A man who took eight women to remote locations and stripped, bound and murdered them.
"I can't imagine the public has heard such a parade of horrors combined into such a short time period in American history," said John Gorman, a spokesman for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
"I do think that this is one of those occasions where there are some important pressing arguments about due process, fairness," said Jane Bohman, executive director of the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty. "But it's hard to put that in the forefront in the face of what these families are saying."
What did the "foes" expect the hearings would be like? Getting a room on death row in most US states these days requires extra special achievement. If there is some indication the convict is innocent, it's one thing to have a hearing. But a legal bun fight over misfiled papers or something similar? Someone tell them to find the nearest clue phone.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

It's Tough Being PC
From David Horowitz's weblog:
Received this email from Michael Fumento:

1. Both black. Can't say that.
2. One Muslim. (Religion of peace.) Can't say that.
3. One is an alien. Can't say that.

Apparently we can only refer to "gun-crazy males."
The media spin on this is already beginning. How long before John Allen Muhammad morphs into plain old John Williams? Does anyone still remember the names Abdullah al-Muhajir or Abdel Rahim? And I'm sure we'll also hear more pontificating about an "army trained killer".

But my congratulations to all the various police forces involved (including Chief Moose), and my thanks to the average citizens who helped bring these thugs in.

Stay tuned tuned for the next act - it features lawyers.
Ah, Paris in the Spring!
In City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple astounds with The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris:
But there is another growing, and much less reassuring, side to France. I go to Paris about four times a year and thus have a sense of the evolving preoccupations of the French middle classes. A few years ago it was schools: the much vaunted French educational system was falling apart; illiteracy was rising; children were leaving school as ignorant as they entered, and much worse-behaved. For the last couple of years, though, it has been crime: l?insécurité, les violences urbaines, les incivilités. Everyone has a tale to tell, and no dinner party is complete without a horrifying story. Every crime, one senses, means a vote for Le Pen or whoever replaces him.
Where does the increase in crime come from? The geographical answer: from the public housing projects that encircle and increasingly besiege every French city or town of any size, Paris especially. In these housing projects lives an immigrant population numbering several million, from North and West Africa mostly, along with their French-born descendants and a smattering of the least successful members of the French working class. From these projects, the excellence of the French public transport system ensures that the most fashionable arrondissements are within easy reach of the most inveterate thief and vandal.
But what is the problem to which these housing projects, known as cités, are the solution, conceived by serene and lucid minds like Le Corbusier?s? It is the problem of providing an Habitation de Loyer Modéré?a House at Moderate Rent, shortened to HLM?for the workers, largely immigrant, whom the factories needed during France?s great industrial expansion from the 1950s to the 1970s, when the unemployment rate was 2 percent and cheap labor was much in demand. By the late eighties, however, the demand had evaporated, but the people whose labor had satisfied it had not; and together with their descendants and a constant influx of new hopefuls, they made the provision of cheap housing more necessary than ever.
How long before there are cattle grazing in the Place Vendôme?

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Cross Cultural Experience Alert!
Wired News astounds with Say Hello to Sanjeep, Er, Sam:
Some were told that comprehending Sylvester Stallone was the final frontier in understanding American diction. Others were asked to watch Titanic and Ally McBeal, so they could mimic an acceptable American accent.

But no amount of training prepared them for what was to come.

More than 30,000 employees at Indian call centers, among whom Radhika becomes Ruth and Satish becomes Steve, are told to adopt American names and say they are calling from a U.S. city in order to put their American customers at ease.

Their training includes a smattering of U.S. history and geography, along with speech therapy so that they will sound "American." Some call centers are adorned with American flags to give a cultural feel to the place.

Along the way, these employees are exposed to a way of life that can come into direct conflict with their conservative values and, sometimes, their sanity.

Partho Banerjee, a 24-year-old employee at a call center in Mumbai for TransWorks, a computer outsourcing company, blushes when he recalls a sales pitch that he made to a 45-year-old American woman.

"She asked me to marry her," he said.

On another occasion, Partho let his accent slip and had to confess after being pointedly questioned that he was, in fact, an Indian sitting next to a telephone in Mumbai.

"The man told me, 'You guys blew up the WTC,'" he said. "I tried to explain India had nothing to do with it, but he just banged the phone down."

Another employee at the TransWorks call center named Maulik Bhansali, 22, spoke to a man who kissed him over the phone many times before apologizing, "Sorry, if you are not gay. Is there anybody else in your company who is?"

Mandakini Pradhan, 21, once dialed an American home in an attempt to sell a caller ID system. The man told her, "Aren't you the girl who lives next door? Can you see me? I am naked."
I wonder how many of these goofballs are just having fun with telemarketers? Probably not enough.

I'll save up consideration of the apparent shortage of homegrown telemarketers for another day.
Cooking Oil Road Warriors!
First the Welsh were doing it, now we find out that the Americans have been making a business out of it, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports in Fill 'er up, but hold the fries:
To Charles Anderson, success often smells like fried food.

A year ago, he launched his company, Greasel, hoping to sell a kit he developed that allows car owners to convert their diesel engines to run on used vegetable oil. With political uncertainties in the Middle East threatening to interfere with fossil fuel supplies, he is confident his business will continue to grow.

"It's better for your engine and the environment," said Anderson, of Drury, Mo., about 200 miles southwest of St. Louis. "And you can run your car on free fuel."

The last selling point has persuaded many customers to order and install his product.

"I last filled up at a Chinese restaurant," said Perry Pillard, a software engineer in Dallas who discovered Anderson's kit through an online search. Pillard regularly fills giant barrels with gallons of used vegetable oil for no charge from fast-food restaurants, which otherwise would have to pay for the removal and disposal by a professional service.
Gack! At least the Welsh were using new cooking oil. More than you likely want to know about the technical details by following the link.

It's Another UN Conference Alert!
Hold onto your personal organizers everyone, the United Nations bureaucrats are organizing another hoedown!
Weather catastrophes around the world show there is little doubt the Earth's climate is changing, the outgoing head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change warned Wednesday.

The Earth is facing a "worrisome situation, with catastrophes occurring daily, causing enormous damage and making climate change an undeniable reality," said Mohamed Elyazghi of Morocco.
Hmm... gods angry! Do we get to throw a virgin in the volcano?

I'm afraid it's much more mundane.
The 10-day U.N. Climate Change Convention is to focus on preparing governments and civilians, especially in developing countries, for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which comes into effect early next year.

Government leaders and environmental scientists from around the world were gathering to discuss implementation of the landmark accord, which calls for cuts in carbon emissions.
U.N. organizers said the convention would be attended by more than 3,000 delegates from the United Nations' 185 member states.
Sounds like a nice boondoggle. But why do the developing countries need to get together? They don't have to do anything except collect money from the developed countries.
The convention in New Delhi was to focus on financing for projects to help developing countries adopt climate-friendly technologies for reducing carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.
Ah, they're having a bun fight over how to spend the loot. Now kids, don't forget the UN handling fee!
All the Usual Suspects
James Taranto weighs in with MSNBC Smears Charles Johnson: has a feature called Weblog Central, apparently written by someone named Will Femia. On Friday Femia cited LGF in his "Best of Blogs" feature. But then on Sunday, Femia posted an update, saying he'd heard from LGF critics who object, in Femia's words, to "the fact that LGF has, over time, increased its focus on militant Islam and terrorism." Femia updated his original description of LGF to say the following:
This site is the focus of considerable controversy for its focus (and particularly the focus of the constituents in its comments section) on Islamic culture and dogma as the source of Islamic terror. As a popular, active, and well presented site, it is worth checking out, but some may find its content hateful or even racist.
This is an outrageous smear. The accusation of "racism" doesn't even make sense; is anyone stupid enough to think Islam is a race? And while there's plenty of hate on LGF, Charles Johnson isn't the source of it. He is simply documenting the murderously hateful ideology of radical Islam. It makes no more sense to call Johnson "hateful" than it would make to call the Anti-Defamation League anti-Semitic.
The apologists have their knickers tightly knotted over the fact that Little Green Footballs exposes the frothing rants of the radical Islamofascists to a little daylight, so they cry racism.

Sounds familiar.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Extortion Alert!
WMTW-TV titillates with Maine gardeners make nude calendar to raise money:
PORTLAND (AP) -- Some Maine gardening enthusiasts are the latest people to discover that posing in the buff for calendars seems to be the ticket to serious fund-raising.

The McLaughlin Foundation hopes to raise $150,000 to pay off the mortgage of the foundation's historic gardens and homestead in Paris.

The calendar features members in poses with strategically placed wheelbarrows, shovels and other gardening implements.

An extraordinary number of ordinary people are shedding their clothes and posing for calendars to raise money for medical research, elderly programs and other causes. Thousands of the calendars have been published in the past couple of years, raising more than $1.5 million. Many of the subjects were inspired by the British women whose Ladies of Rylstone 2000 calendar featured the women performing household chores in the nude.
OK, here's two sawbucks, now please keep your duds on!
You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

Mooncalf and Wingnut

Maybe they should pick out curtains together.