Saturday, January 18, 2003

More proof that the inmates are in charge
(Another from Tim Blair) The Telegraph (UK): Taliban who fought British troops is granted asylum here

Unfortunately, he is not being employed as a target.
(Title and link via Tim Blair) The Telegraph (UK) reveals that UN inspectors uncover proof of Saddam's nuclear bomb plans:
United Nations weapons inspectors have uncovered evidence that proves Saddam Hussein is trying to develop an arsenal of nuclear weapons, The Telegraph can reveal. The discovery was made following spot checks last week on the homes of two Iraqi nuclear physicists in Baghdad.

Acting on information provided by Western intelligence, the UN inspection teams discovered a number of documents proving that Saddam is continuing with his attempts to develop nuclear weapons, contrary to his public declarations that Iraq is no longer interested in producing weapons of mass destruction.
OK, Inspector Clouseau, here's where you should look! But as the title indicates:
Although Dr Hans Blix, the head of the UN inspections teams, was made aware of the discovery last week, he failed to mention it during talks with Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, and Jacques Chirac the French president.
That's more like it, Hans!

On the other hand, even the Guardian is backing war with Iraq (via Instapundit):
Military intervention in the Middle East holds many dangers. But if we want a lasting peace it may be the only option.
The Guardian! Where's my heart medicine?
The Useful Idiots Cotillion
In Washington, San Francisco and other points around the globe; the nabobs of organized leftism marshaled their shambling forces on behalf of their favorite dictator, Saddam Hussein, and all the the other usual causes. Attendance was light in the USA ("not all the buses have arrived"). And of course, Saddam thanked them. I wasn't able to devote more than casual attention, but some lowlights were:

Washington - carried on C-SPAM and the odious WorldLink, this was truly the Festival of the Inanities.  Some of the "speakers" to the meager crowd:

  • Some Korean wingnut got to say F*** the USA on camera

  • Queers for Peace and Justice shared their deep thinking

  • Tyne Daly (apparently on the run from Captain Ahab) and Jessica Lange represented the washed up Hollywood celeb crowd

  • Multiple Stalinists from A.N.S.W.E.R. got to spout their cant in return for organizing the hoedown. Tiananmen Square massacre anyone?  They were also passing the red collection bucket - no change, just greenbacks.

  • Some welfare rights whiner and someone upset with "gas guzzling SUV's"

  • Ambassador from Neptune, Ramsey Clark. I think he was the one who wanted to impeach President Bush.

  • Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson (looking like something smelled bad - it probably did). Jesse tried to whoop up the crowd with "louder" but the zzzz's went on.

  • Ex-US Representative Cynthia McKinney.  No sign of daddy and the J-E-W-S.

  • Representatives from various USA Muslim, Islamic, and Palestinian groups. The CAIR representative referred to CAIR as mujahadeen. Nice of him to admit it.

  • Some black activist who addressed the crowd as "Comrades" and warned of the USA starting a war in Africa.

  • Bobby Mugabe pal, Charles Barron, chimed in and so did somnolent Democrat US Rep. John Conyers who offered greetings from Michael Moore who couldn't make it. (Maybe there was a volume discount at McDonalds?)

  • Some "Free Mumia" goofball.  No lefty demonstration is complete without one.

  • On the upside there were some great counter demonstrators.  Sign of the day, "Pacifists are the Parasites of Freedom", and counter demonstrator of the day. That must have been chilly! Some of the counter demonstrators were carrying signs based on a new graphic from Registered.

San Francisco - via web sources for this one, since I was unwilling to waste more time.

The forces of global wingnuttery are promising a reprise on Feb. 15. I could use a good snooze, but maybe the nudists will actually march!

UPDATE: Anna has on-scene photos from Washington. Living in the country where we don't have this kind of thing, I missed the obvious - of course, there would be street vendors hawking food and souvenirs!
Gag reflex alert!
Paul Bedard's Washington Whispers column in US News astounds with Bill's book club:
The Clinton presidential library and museum in Little Rock doesn't even have a roof - and won't open for over a year - but operators are already planning special exhibits for this year. The most interesting idea: Bill Clinton thinks people want to know what presidents and their wives read. Thus, his library plans to hook up with other presidential libraries to create the Clinton book club, a list of books presidents are reading, have read, and plan to read. What's more, he wants to include the reading lists of his celebrity pals like, say, Barbra Streisand. Footnote: Bubba might even host book club meetings in Little Rock.
Complimentary sick sacks at the door.
There Goes the Cash
The AP reports S. Korea Faces N. Korea Payoffs Scandal:
SEOUL, South Korea - South Korea's government was embroiled Saturday in a scandal over alleged payoffs to North Korea, adding a new twist to the international nuclear standoff with the communist country.

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung is accused by opposition leaders of secretly funneling $341 million to North Korea before his historic 2000 summit with that nation's leader, Kim Jong Il.

If true, the payment could be seen as helping seal the meeting, which helped earn the South Korean president a Nobel Peace Prize that year for his overtures to the North.

The allegations were first raised last fall, then died down. They flared again Friday, when President-elect Roh Moo-hyun said prosecutors should investigate the matter. Roh, from Kim's ruling Millennium Democratic Party, takes office next month.
I bet $341 million buys a lot of cognac.
Choi later wrote. "Kim Jong Il was constantly offering me drinks, disregarding my weakness in drinks."

That's a weakness the Dear Leader never exhibited. He has an amazing capacity for alcohol and an especial weakness for cognac. For many years he favored Hennessy's VSOP, or Very Special Old Pale, but in 1992 switched to Hennessy's Paradis, a 50-year-old brandy -- the oldest commercially available -- at $630-a-pop. In 1994, Hennessy confirmed that Kim was its biggest single buyer of cognac two years running. Analysts estimate his account ran in the neighborhood of $750,000 a year.

Here Come the Thugs
Fabiola Sanchez of the AP reports from Venezuela that Troops raid two bottling plants:
CARACAS, Venezuela - National Guard troops raided two privately owned bottling plants while President Hugo Chavez said he won't be forced to negotiate with a "coup-plotting" opposition.

Heavily armed troops, accompanied by consumer protection authorities, took bottled water, soda and malt beverages from two factories Friday in the central city of Valencia, located 110 kilometers (66 miles) from Caracas.

The move was part of an effort by Chavez's government to stave off shortages caused by a 47-day-old general strike.

"Taking into account that collective rights preside over personal rights, we are proceeding to distribute these products to the population," said National Guard Gen. Felipe Acosta, a close ally of Chavez.

"It's for the people," said Acosta as he grabbed a malt beverage, drank it and belched in front of television cameras.
Sounds like looting to me. 'It's for the people' sounds familiar too.

Drop by The Devil's Excrement for first hand blog reporting on the people marching for freedom in Venezuela. It makes a nice counterpoint to the useful idiots planning pro-Saddam demonstrations today.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Bobby Mugabe's Moustache Alert!
I was doing a little Internet research on Bobby's strange little 'stache. I didn't find out much more than I already knew - he's a wingnut. But I did find his homepage - check it out! (I now know he was a movie star and why he hates the West!)
"I once spent a year in Dubuque, I think it was on a Sunday"
Drudge has the latest scoop on the elite candidate, John Kerry:
"I hate going to places like Austin and Dubuque to raise large sums of money. But I have to," Kerry revealed to the BOSTON GLOBE.
Poor baby! Actually, the locals might not really care to have Lurch hanging around either.
A Kerry staffer explained the senator holds no personal dislike of Dubuque or its residents.

"He's actually very excited to be making the trip this weekend," said the insider.
Sounds like he really likes to mingle with the little people.
Who left the inmates in charge?
The Telegraph (UK) astounds with Doctors in trouble for not giving man cervical smear:
A family doctor has been summoned to a formal hearing over his refusal to put a 34-year-old male patient on the list for screening for cervical cancer.
The man, who has fathered a child, believes he is a hermaphrodite although his doctors have examined him and can find no evidence for this. However, they did agree to his request to be re-registered with a female name.

One doctor in the practice said: "We are worried that the PCT is so falling over backwards to be patient-friendly, that it has gone too far the other way. Silly things are starting to happen."
The wife of one of the GPs, told The Telegraph she had every sympathy for people who believe they had the body of the wrong gender but the decision to investigate the refusal was political correctness taken to extremes.

She said her husband, who has been a GP for 30 years and who trains young doctors would be "pleased to hear from anyone, medical or otherwise, who could teach him the correct way to carry out a cervical smear on a 34-year-old male".

She added: "The refusal of one of the doctors to put Mr X on the recall list for cervical sceening has resulted in a complaint and, as a result the doctor, practice manager and other practitioners have spent many hours, at the expense of the care of other patients, answering written inquiries.

"My suggestion would be to accede unquestioningly to the patient's demand and carry out the procedure requested. Provided of course that a representative of the primary care trust could indicate the necessary part of this gentleman's anatomy, and was able to give the learned medics a clue as to how they could access it."
Career limiting move alert!
Jordan Cracks Down Over Muhammad Story
AMMAN, Jordan -- The government closed a weekly newspaper and detained three journalists for an article that discussed the sex life of the Prophet Muhammad, an editor at the paper said Friday.

The newspaper Al-Hilal, or the Crescent, published an article Tuesday that focused on the Muhammad's sex life with his favorite wife, Aisha, an extremely sensitive subject in the Muslim world.

Officials detained the paper's editor-in-chief, Nasser Qamash, a senior assistant editor, Roman Haddad, and the writer of the article, Muhanad Mbaidhin, for 15 days late Thursday, the official Petra news agency reported Thursday night. Petra also said Al-Hilal had been closed.
Funny, the article doesn't mention why discussion of Aisha is a problem. Here's why.
Today's Hoot!
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (al-Jee'ef) - The Arab League "strongly condemned" today the launch of the NASA space shuttle Columbia with Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon on board. "This is surely but the first step towards complete and outright illegal Zionist occupation of space," said Arab League spokesman Abr Souffla.
A Contract on Saddam
No, not Uncle Vito - Think the Iraqi leader's future isn't bright? Have we got an "investment" for you:
Yes, Saddam futures -- a futures contract based on the notion that the Iraqi leader doesn't have much of one. You think Saddam Hussein will be out as his country's president by Mar. 31, you can buy a March contract. If you think he'll hang on a bit longer, you can buy the pricier June contract.

Administered by Dublin-based, the Saddam contracts are one of the latest entries in the growing market for all-or-nothing futures, in which, through the trading of contracts, participants place odds on the chances of an event happening. The only restriction is that an event's outcome be quantifiable and that there be enough interest to make a market. Will John Kerry be the Democratic nominee for President, will "Chicago" win an Oscar, will the U.S. unemployment rate rise above 7 percent by year end -- all are contracts that are being traded.
More history following the article link.

Actually, these kind of things have been around on the Internet in one form or another, real money or play money, for quite a while. They are the Delphi boards from John Brunner's Shockwave Rider made real.
Winter Wonderland Alert!
The Beaver County Times and Allegheney Times (Pennsylvania, USA) has a stunner - Frigid Lesson - Girl gets tongue stuck on pole:
CENTER TWP. - The classic holiday movie "A Christmas Story" sprang to life Thursday morning in Center Township.

No triple-dog-dares were involved, only a 7-year-old waiting with her father and their puppy at the bus stop, next to a stop sign on an irresistible metal pole on an 8-degree morning.

Before the five-minute scene ended, it would involve two bus drivers, the Beaver County Emergency Services Center, a police officer and an ambulance crew.

"It's the first time she's ever done this," said Mark Ferrara, father of now-celeb Alicia, a second-grader at Center's Todd Lane Elementary School.
Personally, I blame it all on global warming.
High pitched whine alert!
The BBC reports that Indonesia protests at US entry rules:
Indonesia has strongly protested against new measures by the United States which force male Indonesians visiting America to register with immigration authorities and have their fingerprints taken.

The measures were introduced in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks but have drawn widespread criticism from the 25 countries affected.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, who is leaving on his first visit to the US on Saturday, called for the measures to be suspended.

"Pakistan has been at the forefront of the war against terrorism... It's unfair to bracket us with other countries," he said.

Washington put Indonesia, along with Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Bangladesh, on its list of countries affected on Thursday.
Registration and finger printing are not particularly onerous requirements for foreign visitors in these parlous times; but if their knickers are really twisted by it, I have a simple solution: Stay the hell home!

And as far as Pakistan goes - while the national government has been of assistance, they surely have noticed that Pakistan is home to a particularly high concentration of Islamofascists whom they are powerless to deal with. This is just whining for the peanut gallery.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Shop 'til ya drop!
The Telegraph (UK) astounds with Minister threatens to ban 'bargain mania' shop sales:
Germany's consumer affairs minister wants to ban bargains from the shops, arguing that low-priced products have caused a drop in quality and are confusing customers.

Renate Künast, a member of the Green party, plans to take legal action against shops that practise "price-dumping", or who lure consumers into their stores with fake discount offers. Similar sales tactics are common in Britain and America.
I've always wondered why all oriental rug stores are going out of business.
The minister's announcement amounts to a reversal on the part of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's government, which last year scrapped a 70-year-old law that prohibited shops from offering reductions of more than three per cent. They were also barred from holding sales more than twice a year.

The abolition of the law has turned Germany into a nation of frenzied bargain-hunters and has led to the introduction of "money-off" coupons and store cards with names such as Payback and Happy Digits.

A trend has sprung up of so-called Schottische Wochen or Scottish Weeks, when customers are "encouraged to be thrifty". One electronics chain is even using the slogan: "Thrifty means sexy."

A new spirit of entrepreneurship has also emerged, with one fashion shop owner in Oldenburg, northern Germany, offering customers a discount of £13 if they do a headstand on entering his shop. A total of 200 people took up his offer.
Something is the matter with my screen, it says this is happening in Germany.
But Ms Kunast, who has the backing of several consumer groups, has argued that things have gone too far. She said: "The fact is that quality and safety have their price.

"We don't want to decide on behalf of consumers what they want but the consequences of their shopping habits must be made clear to them."
Now that's more like the Fatherland! Except that it has a bunch of Green wackiness thrown in which I won't quote.
This week's Stern magazine dedicated its cover story to discount shopping.

The magazine said: "Success stories of the hunt for bargains are being relayed at parties and in the works canteen." Ingo Hamm, a consumer psychologist, said Germans were latching on to the new idea of being able to buy cheaply and of playing shops off against each other in the search for the lowest-priced goods. He added: "The thing is it's no longer about owning things, rather about having bought them as cheaply as possible and trumping your friends in the process."
How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, Renate?
Another Clue Shortage!
Ralph R. Reiland in Captalism magazine reports on McDonalds Made Me Fat!
Aside from the Democrats predictably complaining that President Bush's tax cut proposal is too pro-rich, the big economic news is that doctors are on strike and McDonald's isn't making a dime.

It probably doesn't matter much to Gregory Rhymes that the world's largest restaurant company is posting its first-ever quarterly loss. Rhymes, 15, of the Bronx, just wants his money and is taking McDonald's to court, claiming that the beleaguered burger giant made him fat.

Super-sized at 400-plus pounds and standing only 5-foot-6, Rhymes says he ate at McDonald's nearly every day, sometimes several times a day, ever since he started first grade --- about 3,300 days straight. "I normally order the Big Mac, fries, ice cream and a shake," Rhymes explained in his affidavit. "I like to Super Size my orders."
Variety is the spice of life! And where were the parents?
Gregory's mother, Ruth Rhymes, thinks it's only fair that her porky kid should now try sinking his teeth into the Golden Arches. "I had no idea that he was destroying his self," she said in papers filed in Manhattan federal court. "I had no idea."
No clue either.
No idea! Little Gregory just ran up to bed one night at a nice 90 pounds and --- SHAZAM!!! --- the next morning he came floating down the steps looking like the Goodyear blimp.
She just wasn't keeping up with current events.

But there is a solution!
Short of halting all promotions or switching to a menu of grilled vegetables, I'm not sure how McDonald's is supposed to fix things. One answer, I suppose, might be to get rid of those drive-through ordering machines and make people come inside to order. Like good bartenders, McDonald's order takers could be trained to keep a sharp eye out for people who look like they've had too much. When someone like Gregory Rhymes rolls in, or one of sizeable Bradley girls, they could be told, nicely, for their own good, "I'm sorry, but I think you've had enough."
You tell it to the 400 pound customer first, Ralph!

More hilarity by following the link.
Bereft and clueless alert!
The AP keeps a straight face as it reports Puerto Rico Gov. Wants U.S. Base to Stay:
Puerto Rico's government hopes the U.S. Navy won't close its Roosevelt Roads Naval Station on Vieques Island after it halts bombing exercises there in May, the U.S. territory's governor said.

Gov. Sila Calderon, who had pressed for a halt to the training, said Wednesday that her government will lobby for the base to remain open. With some 4,800 employees and temporary contractors, Roosevelt Roads is one of Puerto Rico's largest employers.

"The people of Puerto Rico don't have any interest in the closing of the Roosevelt Roads base," Calderon said. "The government of Puerto Rico is interested in that base staying in Puerto Rico, for all the economic benefits."
Translation: "just send cash!"

Hey, maybe they could have professional shuffleboard tournaments?
Once the Navy leaves Vieques, all operations at Roosevelt Roads associated with Vieques will be discontinued, Navy officials have said. Adm. Robert Natter, commander of the Atlantic Fleet, went further last week, saying: "Without Vieques there is no way I need the Navy facilities at Roosevelt Roads — none."
Nope, no shuffleboard. Tough noogies, Sila. Be careful what you wish for.
Don your gas mask alert!
Over at Fox News, Amy C. Sims pulls our finger with Gas Passers Sitting Happy:
NEW YORK - Consider it the anti-whoopee cushion.

It's the GasBGon flatulence filter, and it's helping provide relief for thousands of gas passers who have cleared rooms or blamed the dog for far too long.

"People tell us, 'Thank you for giving my life back. Now I can go out in public again,'" Sharron Huza, the cushion's creator, said in an interview. "They'll bring it with them to the movie theatre, to work, in the car or on the airplane."

Huza said more than 1,000 cushions have been sold in just over a year on the market. The company has been approached by people interested in taking GasBGon products into Belgium, Britain, Asia and Canada, according to James Huza, the company president.

"Second-hand flatulence knows no borders," he said.
Cushions can take about 450 toots before they need a filter change, and come in several fashion patterns with names like "The Musical Solo" and "Silent But Deadly."
Only 1,000 sold? They need a few "second hand gas" lawsuits. Paging John Edwards!
Spending "cuts" alert!
Dennis Cauchon in USA Today shocks with State, local spending up despite downturn - 'Dire' situation fed by overambitious plans:
State and local governments are spending more money and hiring more people than last year, even as governors and mayors warn of draconian cuts in public services because of the economic slump.

The National Governors Association says states face the ''most dire fiscal situation since World War II.'' But a USA TODAY analysis shows that most of the budget cuts being studied are not declines in spending from last year. Instead, they are reductions in spending increases that were approved when the U.S. economy was booming.

For example, Minnesota legislators approved spending based on an expected 13.4% jump in tax revenue over the next two years. But tax collections are expected to rise 6.6%. The result: $4.6 billion must be cut. But those cuts would be from planned spending; actual spending is still expected to rise from present levels.
This con game is more reliable than Three Card Monte. Get set for the hysteria.

Link via Radley Balko at who also has a revealing Fox News article on Who Funds the Left?

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Airbrain Alert!
The Angry Cyclist has a new photo of Sheryl Crow showing off a "theme" t-shirt. I also liked this one from gunstreetguy on FR.

By the way, Sheryl has an official web site with a "Fan Forum" (registration required) and a few folks have stopped by to abuse the droolers that hang out there. Seems rather like shooting fish in a barrel, but hey, there's no limit.
Peoples Republic of Kalifornia Alert!
Something to remember when you see all the scare headlines about Gray Davis' huge budget "shortfall" in California. From October 2002, when Grayout won the first California Golden Fleece Award:
Over the past three years, California’s per capita general fund expenditures have jumped by more than 31 percent, while the state’s population grew only 5 percent. Keep in mind that if state spending had been held to 6.2 percent of personal income, as it was in 1998-99, there would be no budget deficit in California.

Mr. Davis also added 34,000 workers to the state payroll during his first three years in office, a greater increase than the next three largest states combined. And the state now spends $24 billion a year more than when he took office. Audaciously, the governor declared, "The problem is not spending. The problem is lack of revenue."
What a guy!
School Daze
The American Prowler amuses with Dumbed Down and Dumber Still:
What qualifies as a "teaching tool" in California's public schools? Everything from condoms to hip hop to anti-war polemics. Students no longer have to wait until after school to wallow in youth culture. They can immerse themselves in it all day long -- and their teachers will cheer them on.
In the educational enlightenment of South Los Angeles, Crenshaw High School students don't have to turn off Tupac Shakur's "Shorty Wanna Be a Thug." They can listen to it in English class. Tupac is a teacher too, says Crenshaw English teacher Patrick Camangian. "In order for students to understand anyone else's poetic language, they have to first understand their own," he explained to the Los Angeles Times.

Such Shakur lines as "Blaze up, gettin' with hos through my pager" are rich with poetic meaning, says Camangian. And apparently more and more education schools agree. The Times reports that some are "training future educators to weave rap into high school lessons."
Sounds lyrical to me, but I wonder how the "hos" feel?
Hip hop is literature, a "worthy subject of study in its own right," say Jeffrey Duncan-Andrade and Ernest Morrell, who teach an English course at an Oakland high school. Student Lisa Moore nods in agreement. "As far as Shakespeare goes, we can't relate to that. We can relate to what's going on now," she said to the Times.

Students, according to one teacher, may even travel from Tupac to Twelfth Night and other older works. "When students see Tupac is writing about the same things that William Black wrote about, it suddenly makes the poetry of these old, dead white guys much more accessible," he says. This is ludicrous, but then teachers have to fake up some rationale for puzzled parents.
Ah yes, conning the marks. An important part of modern education. One can only hope that the tykes are studying up at Biz Wiz (via 3bruces) so that they can hold down a job in order to pay my Social Security benefits. I plan to enjoy their munificence lounging about listening to poetry:
Quincy T. Troupe became California's poet laureate after writing "Take It to the Hoop, Magic Johnson." He also penned a French rhyme about Michael Jordan. He got bounced from his position after Gray Davis aides discovered that he hadn't graduated from Grambling University, but his educational theories posed no problem. California teachers marveled at his bracing insights. One was that he didn't think California students needed to learn proper English. He wanted them to learn "American," reasoning that "We are speaking the American language. I know white people in the United States, especially the English people, are connected to the navel. A lot of people are not connected. The ones who came over from England are connected to the navel of England, the Queen and all that. I'm not connected to that."
Nifty! In California, you don't have to be literate to be poet laureate.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

More than I wanted to know!
Over at The Sound and Fury, Combustible Boy reports on the newest Europop smash - the Cheeky Girls:
Their hit "The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum)", written by their mother, is another sign of the inherent cultural superiority of Europeans. In addition to streaming copies of the song and video and illustrations of the official dance step, the Web site also features a Flash-based game where it appears the best way to win is to stick your extended middle finger in their butt cracks.
Well, that certainly sounds like a good time. And Mom must be a real party animal.

Which reminds me of the dedicated researchers trying to come up with Standardized Buttock Measurements.
One more reason to hang that greasy thug out to dry
From Dawson Speaks - Crime and No Punishment: Cleo Noel and Western Appeasement
Damn Scary!
Joshua Kaplowitz relates How I Joined Teach for America -- and Got Sued for $20 Million:
Unbelievable as it sounds, my second-graders were even wilder than my fifth-graders. Just as before, a majority of kids genuinely wanted to learn, but the antics of a few spun my entire class into chaos. This time, though, my troublemakers were even more immature and disruptive, ranging from a boy who roamed around the room punching his classmates and threatening to kill himself to a borderline-mentally retarded student, who would throw crumpled wads of paper all day. I was so busy trying to quell anarchy that I never had the chance to get to know my new students, let alone teach them anything.

Ms. Savoy had abandoned all pretense of administrative support by this point. Nearly every student I sent to the office returned within minutes.

This lack of consequences encouraged a level of violence I never could have imagined among any students, let alone second-graders. Fights broke out daily - not just during recess or bathroom breaks but also in the middle of lessons. And this wasn’t just playful shoving: we’re talking fists flying, hair yanked, heads slammed against lockers.
And then it got worse.
It's the Rev Alert!
The American Prowler and the Rev. Al in Oakland Can Wait:
Rev. Al Sharpton announced over the weekend that he and his people were setting up a presidential exploratory committee sometime in January, this despite the fact that Sharpton has been raising money and asking for donations made out to an exploratory committee that donors were led to believe already existed.
Ruh Oh!
According to some Democratic National Committee staffers, they don't know what Sharpton and his operation are up to. "And we don't want to know," says a DNC staffer. "The less we know the better off we all are. I don't think the party wants to get in too deep with the reverend's plans unless we absolutely have to."

The hesitancy of even his own party to step up and explain Sharpton's actions isn't surprising. This, after all, is a man who thrives on chaos. New York City Democratic Party officials recall a huge event Sharpton threw at a mid-town hotel several years ago to announce his plans to run for president in 2000. "It was posh, but when it was all over, the hotel didn't know where to send the bill," recalls a party official. "In the end, I think they went to the press and complained about invoices never being returned."
I'm shocked ... that anyone would let Al run a tab.
Months ago, he'd committed to attend a two-day youth seminar run by the NAACP, which had committed to paying Sharpton's way out to the West Coast. The New York minister was slated to be the keynote speaker at the Oakland, California event, but at the last minute Sharpton backed out, citing scheduling difficulties. The problem? A black publishers organization meeting in Los Angeles offered to pay Sharpton an appearance fee to make a speech in Beverly Hills over the weekend.

"Beverly Hills or the Oakland hills, what do you think he's going to take?" says a Baltimore-based NAACP official. "I guess Al figures he doesn't need the black vote this time around to make his run successful."
Stand by for the next episode of "Follow the Loot" starring the Rev.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Dereliction of Duty!
With so much good wingnuttery these days, I have been neglecting Saddam's Streakers and missed the SF Chronicle exposing A cheeky protest - Bay Area anti-war activists go nude in surge of creative vigils:
Even as U.S. troops inch toward the Persian Gulf for a possible war with Iraq, anti-war activists say it can be difficult to rally outrage or media interest back home. So a group of Marin County women has resorted to the ultimate attention grabber: getting nude.

Since November, more than 200 women -- calling themselves Unreasonable Women Baring Witness -- have used their naked bodies to spell out anti-war slogans on three sites: a Marin beach, ball field and dung-laden pasture.
They must have felt right at home!
Longtime activists say the Unreasonables are only one of a growing number of peace vigils springing up across the Bay Area. In most cases, the vigilists are performing small gestures of public devotion to a cause they see as being overlooked.

Whether it's Singing for Peace serenading BART riders or a man beaming a PowerPoint message on an Interstate 580 overpass, homegrown activists are taking their message to the streets. They are bypassing mainstream media outlets they say are ignoring their pleas for a peaceful resolution to the Iraqi crisis. They're tired of pundits accepting war as a foregone conclusion and giving little airtime to diplomatic solutions.
I wonder if they have different mainstream media outlets out there on the left coast? Besides, I thought they were all listening to Pacifica anyway.
Inspired by anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott and a group of Nigerian women -- who stared down Chevron officials there last summer by threatening to disrobe unless village conditions improved -- Sheehan and the Unreasonables will be among the tens of thousands expected to attend a large anti-war march in San Francisco this Saturday.
Yeah, ole Helen was into this a few years back, but her being naked in public has been banned by the Geneva Convention. As for the Nigerian ladies, they were a tad grumpy because all the oil loot was going to the crooks in Nigeria's capital and they managed to get Chevron to slip 'em a few bucks not to get naked. Likely not a bad investment, except it is now enshrined amongst the wingnuts.

As for the big hoedown this weekend, I'm sure it will prove to be a target-rich environment. Can you say "goose bumps"?
Margo Alert!
"Someone's been plundering the Self Help section down at Barnes & Noble."
Dang! It's our fault again!
The National Science Foundation once again shows that it can spend tax dollars with élan in Researchers Tie Worldwide Biodiversity Threats To Growth In Households:
ARLINGTON, Virginia - Scientists from Michigan State (MSU) and Stanford universities, in a fresh look at world population dynamics, have revealed evidence that increased numbers of households, even where populations are declining, are having a vast impact on the world's biodiversity and environment.

Reduction in household size has led to a rapid rise in household numbers around the world and has posed serious challenges to biodiversity conservation, write Jianguo (Jack) Liu of MSU and Stanford colleagues Gretchen C. Daily, Paul R. Ehrlich and Gary W. Luck in the Jan. 12 advance online publication of the journal Nature. Biodiversity is threatened severely not only by increased numbers of households, but also by less efficient per capita consumption of natural resources, the researchers say. They cite examples that larger numbers of households require more use of natural resources for construction, and that smaller numbers of people per household use on average more energy and goods per person.
The "population bomb" having been a dud, Paul and his pals have a new gig. Not as cool, but it gets them where they want to go.
"Personal freedom and social choice may come at a huge environmental cost," says Liu, lead author for the Nature article.
I get the message, even without subtitles.
Additional support for the Liu team findings authored in the Nature paper came from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (part of the National Institutes of Health).
Another government organization with more funding than it needs.

See ya all down at the public housing high rise! Maybe it'll be Bauhaus!
Today's Hoot!
Oregon Magazine entrances with the pure unadulterated goodness of Oregon Voters To Receive IQ Test:
Well, it happens this month, folks.

All through December you were treated to marching children demanding more funding for their schools. And, you’ve seen "educators" who explained that the number of school days must be cut, sports must be eliminated, school busses must be exchanged for half-ton pickups towing open trailers, indoor toilets will be replaced by outhouses in the now unusable football field, furnaces will be shut down, school lunches will be turnip soup and a thousand children will have to share each textbook.

And, that’s just for starters.

If you don’t vote higher taxes on yourself, there won’t be a policeman in the state, the roads will all shrink to one lane with potholes, bridges will collapse as you drive over them, streetlights will not be lit at night, the jails will be shut down and all the prisoners turned loose (the governor of California, Gray Davis, actually said that in public last week!), the elderly will have to eat dog food, the health care system will disappear, Portland will slide into the Willamette (not a bad idea), Martians will land in Eugene and eat people raw in the streets, Mt. Hood will erupt like Krakatoa, setting every building in Oregon afire, all of which will burn to the ground because there won’t be a single fire department that has enough gasoline to run a fire truck more than ten feet, and nobody to drive it anyway since they’ve all been laid off.

Yessir, it’s a statewide IQ test.
Because the funny thing is that the state actually has more money to work with over the next two years than it did over the prior two years.
The giant shortfall doesn't exist.

Except, of course, in the minds of those who wanted to spend a lot more instead of a little more.
Ah yes, a familiar refrain.
Hmmm, that sounds familiar!
Drudge is trumpeting the resignation of Walter Isaacson as chairman and CEO of CNN. So where's Wally going? Quoting his letter of resignation:
I wish to tell you that I will be leaving CNN at the end of the spring to become the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, the leadership and research organization based in Washington that for the past fifty years has played a critical role in shaping national strategies and providing a forum for ideas.
Oh, that Aspen Institute:
April 25, 2000

Today, Elian Gonzalez and his family have been relocated to the Aspen Institute while awaiting the outcome of the Court of Appeals decision. The Aspen Institute provides a private, retreat setting conducive to reflection. Aspen Institute campuses offer retreat environments, away from the disruptions of the outside world. We receive confidential requests from time to time for the use of our facilities where the need for such a setting is paramount. As a matter of policy we do not comment on such requests.
Stop by their web site to catch up with lots of our old pals like Mary Robinson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Moyers, and Madeleine Albright.

Looks like Wally is just moving from one branch of the Democrat party to another!
I usually pack several of these!
The AP reports that Mousetrap Sparks Fla. Airport Evacuation:
A section of the Tampa airport was evacuated Monday after baggage screeners spotted a "very, very suspicious" object on an X-ray monitor. It turned out to be a mousetrap inside a coffee can.
You never know when there will be a shortage. A couple of live chickens are good too.
Marketing Alert!
Paul Thurrott sparks the imagination with his report on the Consumer Electronics Show:
Being the Butterfly Isn't Better
A host of Microsoft people dressed as MSN butterflies plied the show floor with giveaway CD-ROMs and MSN gear. This year, they weren't wearing roller blades, which was probably for the best, but you have to feel bad for the people who had to dress up in those skin-tight costumes.
Microsoft's press release on the subject:
Media Alert: It's a Bird; It's a Plane; It's a Human Butterfly?

MSN 8 Human Butterflies Swarm the Streets of Las Vegas to Make Things Better For CES Attendees, City Visitors and Residents

What: They've been seen on television, as well as fluttering around New York, Seattle and even Superior, Wis. Now the MSN® 8 human butterfly squad is infiltrating Las Vegas, visiting heavily trafficked areas to make things better for attendees at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Celebrating the MSN 8 brand and theme, "it's better with the butterfly," the colorful MSN 8 butterflies will distribute MSN 8 gear, offer free shuttle bus passes and hand out gift certificates for free back massages to weary show attendees.
When the revolution comes, the marketeers will be first against the wall.

On the other hand, I really need some pictures of the "skin tight" costumes to judge this properly. And it beats the old decal scheme.
Class Warfare Alert!
From RealClear Politics:
CLASS WARFARE: "When the rich take from the poor, it's called an economic plan. When the poor take from the rich, it's called class warfare." This line is from Richard Cohen's recent attack in the Washington Post on the President's proposed economic plan. I would like Mr. Cohen and the rest of the closet socialists to explain to me exactly how "the rich take from the poor."
The problem in the burgeoning debate over Bush's economic plan are the folks on the left who ratchet the debate up another notch by accusing the rich of stealing from the poor. These folks are socialists. Only a socialist could rationally accuse the Bush tax cut of two years ago and the current proposal as programs that permit "the rich to take from the poor." For in their heart, these people don't feel individuals have a right to 100% of their property and assets, if they did they wouldn't make stupid assertions that the rich are stealing from the poor. They honestly believe the state is "entitled" to a portion of anyone's income, wealth or property.
Class warfare rhetoric is designed to play on the natural human emotion of envy and is a powerful ally of the socialist movement, but to really get someone to hate you have to make them think the other guy is screwing with you. If you're poor, it is one thing to be envious of the rich guy in the big house, it's quite another to think that the rich guy got that house by stealing from you and your poor comrades.
And don't forget - if you cut the rate of spending increase on any "social program", you are cutting programs for people.
You can't make this stuff up!
Andrew Sullivan:
WHY D.C. IS STILL HELL: What do you do with a man who has successfully evaded paying child support to kids from two different relationships? Make him head of D.C.'s child-support enforcement agency!

Sunday, January 12, 2003

We may not have Bobby to kick around anymore!
A number of news outlets are reporting that Bobby Mugabe is thinking of taking it on the lam, if he is guaranteed immunity from prosecution. It will be interesting to see how well thuggery pays.
Who cares what he drives?
Offered without comment from the Twilight Zone
The Telegraph (UK) reports Don't bother about burglary, police told:
Police have been ordered not to bother investigating crimes such as burglary, vandalism and assaults unless evidence pointing to the culprits is easily available, The Telegraph can reveal.

Under new guidelines, officers have been informed that only "serious" crimes, such as murder, rape or so-called hate crimes, should be investigated as a matter of course.

In all other cases, unless there is immediate and compelling evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA material, the crime will be listed for no further action.
Oliver Letwin, the shadow home secretary, said last night: "This news will be regarded as the final nail in the coffin of this Government's policy on crime. Instead of zero tolerance it seems we are to be faced with total tolerance."
Kangaroo Court Alert!
Ken Parish has a nice summary of the antics of the Denmark's Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (UVVU in Danish or DCSD in English) in regard to Bjorn Lomborg.
As others have pointed out, the DCSD undertook no research or analysis of its own. It simply adopted in toto the criticisms of 4 environmental activist scientists published in Scientific American last year. They included Dr Stephen Schneider who, as John Daly observes, is "noted for his remark in Discover Magazine in 1989 - "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest."
And they completely ignored Lomborg's rebuttal of the SciAm whine. Uh oh, sounds like some people have their heads up their UVVU's! And who are these paragons?
The DCSD Working Group on Lomborg consisted of Dr Nils Axelsen, MD, an orthopedic surgeon; Professor Finn Collin, a philosopher; Professor Jørgen Dalberg-Larsen, a legal academic; Professor Arne Helweg, an agronomist; and Professor Margareta Järvinen, a political scientist. No wonder they simply uncritically accepted the criticisms of Schneider and his mates in Scientific American: - not one of them appears to have any relevant expertise that would have allowed them to draw independent conclusions of their own.
And what's the big deal with Scientific American? Despite their pretensions, it's no scholarly journal - it's a popular science magazine for the masses that brags about its newsstand sales. On that basis, we might as well ask these people.
Whatever one might think of Lomborg and his book, no person of integrity could regard the DCSD's "finding", or the processes leading to it, as anything more than a shameful travesty of justice.
We're talking ecoweenies here - nothing new.
It's All Michele's Fault!
Over at A Small Victory, Michele has started comicblogging! Click the "thumbnail" to see my effort to appear au courant by jumping on the bandwagon:
Let's chill with the ecoweenies!
Assembled via stripcreator.
Wholly Appropriate!
Scrappleface scoops everyone with Bin Laden Unveils Plans for Patty Murray Hospital
If global warming has you shivering...
Fidel can help according to Nelson Acosta at Reuters - Cuba Opens Up Virgin Keys to Lure Foreign Tourists:
CAYO COCO, Cuba (Reuters) - Watch out Cancun and Jamaica. When European charter airlines begin direct flights to this sandy key in the coming weeks, Cuba will be taking another step to recover its position as a premier tourist destination in the Caribbean.

Flamingos, iguanas and alligators on a nature reserve are an added attraction for tourists looking to lie on sun-soaked snowy-white beaches and sip daiquiris.

Last month, Cuba's communist authorities opened an international airport able to receive wide-bodied jets on Cayo Coco, the largest of a string of hundreds of keys along Cuba's north shore known as Jardines del Rey.

Cuba has already built 11 high-end hotels on Cayo Coco and neighboring Cayo Guillermo to draw vacationers from Canada, Britain, Germany and Spain.
And what about the Yankee imperialists?
Havana is also banking on the lifting of a U.S. travel ban some time soon -- a move that would bring Americans to the Cuban keys, which are 250 miles south of Nassau in the Bahamas.

"Twenty years from now these keys could be the premier resort in the Caribbean," said Philip Agee, director of the Havana-based online travel agency

"These islands go on and on for hundreds of miles and offer a fabulous combination of beach, scenery and wildlife. There is a huge market out there for almost virgin islands like these," said Agee, a former CIA agent.
I wondered where this wingnut ended up!

Which reminds me of an article from last September by Humberto Fontova - Yankee Doodle Castro:
Havana's Karl Marx Theater rocked and rolled last month. Cuba's Communist Party put on a rollicking Fourth of July party. "In honor of the noble American people on the anniversary of their independence," proclaimed Cuba's Communist Party newspaper "Granma."

Ted Turner's "Helluva guy!" was there, Fidel himself, declaring: "The cultural, spiritual and moral legacy of the American people is also the heritage of Cuba and of the Cuban people!" And a choral group sang "Old Man River."

Wow. What happened to the U.S. as "a vulture preying on humanity!" circa 1960? What about the U.S. as "the cancer of humanity!" circa 1968? And let's not forget: "Worse than Hitler's Germany!" a Castroite staple for 40 years.

"Come on, Humberto," you say. "That's Cold War stuff. Knock it off. He's mellowed recently."

Oh? Then how about his "We will bring America to her knees!" That was last year in Teheran.

What a difference one year - and going bankrupt - make.

What a difference the end of that nasty ol' Cold War - and running out of creditors to stiff - make.

What a difference a fresh and enlightened view of the brotherhood of nations - and getting a credit rating below Somalia by Moody's and below Haiti by Dun & Bradstreet - make.

What a difference a genuine longing to lessen international tension by engaging in dialogue - and having your ships impounded in foreign ports by furious creditors - make.

If you need flannel sheets, it must be global warming
The Telegraph (UK) notices that the emperor is sans duds in Predictions fall foul of reality:
Commuters shivering in last week's bitterly cold weather could be forgiven for wondering whatever happened to global warming. The whole northern hemisphere, from Florida to Finland, Germany to Japan, was in the grip of a cold snap that seemed more in line with a new Ice Age.

Aid agencies in Bangladesh handed out blankets to stem the toll of cold-related deaths, which has already topped 100. In Vietnam, baffled villagers came out to study the inch-thick layer of odd, cold white stuff that was blanketing the countryside. In China, a 700-mile stretch of the Yellow River turned to ice.

Advocates of global warming last week insisted that the recent cold weather is just a blip that says nothing about long-term climate change. Instead, they pointed to the recent announcement that on a global scale 2002 was the second-hottest year ever recorded.

Yet in recent weeks information has emerged that is sending an icy blast through the climate research establishment. It shows that the Earth is refusing to follow the script climatologists have written for it.
Funny how that works out.

Details by following the link, but here's a sample:
Last month a team led by Professor Igor Polyakov, of the University of Alaska, published its study of recently released weather records kept by Russian scientists based in the Arctic from the 1870s onwards. The results flatly contradict the computer models. They show that - far from warming up faster than the rest of the Earth - the Arctic has actually been cooling since the 1920s. Put simply, say the researchers, "The air temperature and ice data do not support the proposed polar amplification of global warming."

In a report of their findings in the leading climate research journal Eos, they conclude: "The Arctic poses severe challenges to generating credible model-based projections of climate change."

Project Sapphire (enough for 24 or more Hiroshima type bombs)
(Via Free Republic) In a little noticed series of articles over the holidays, Chris Flores of the Lynchburg (Va.) News & Advance, tells the tale of Project Sapphire - how a large load of fissionable material from the former USSR was discovered in Kazakhstan and brought to the USA to be made harmless. The story has everything: crumbling Soviet communism, secret nuclear laboratories, Iraqi and Iranian spies, clandestine missions, dangerous nuclear materials, bureaucratic bungling, and ecoweenie complaints. Some highlights:
In the summer of 1993 Andy Webber's vehicle needed work.

Webber, a Department of Defense employee, was attached to the U.S. embassy in the newly formed republic of Kazakhstan.

But he and his mechanic talked about more than cars when he visited an auto-repair shop in the city of Almaty. The mechanic told Webber about something he'd heard, rumors really, about the once-secret nuclear city in the northern corner of the country. At Ulba, there was a stockpile of nuclear material. Webber passed the rumor on to U.S. Ambassador William Courtney.

It would prove a crucial slice of a puzzle that, when pieced together, became the genesis of Project Sapphire, a secret mission that spirited more than half a ton of nuclear material from Kazakhstan to the United States and eventually to the BWXT plant near Lynchburg.

This was highly enriched uranium, weapons grade. Enough for two dozen or more Hiroshima-type atomic bombs.
Ulba was where many of those minerals were processed. Under the Soviet system, it was a closed city with security perimeters and restricted travel in and out.

Andy Webber was with the first Americans to see the "vault" area of the Ulba plant where the Sapphire material was stored.

The vault was a brick warehouse with dirt floors in a fairly segregated part of the Ulba complex. The six doors to the warehouse were wooden and only secured by padlocks.

"Chills went up and down our spines when we heard it was protected by a padlock in what some called a 'vault,' " said Starr.

The guard manning the entrance in the fence when the Americans went to the warehouse for the first time was an older woman, a "babushka."

"Babushka" is Russian for grandmother. It wasn't clear if she was armed.
If you can navigate the annoying Flash interface, it is well worth the long read. And kudos to the people who pulled this off despite all the impediments.
"Project Sapphire is one where the good guys won."
That they did, but
But the most controversial and lingering problem was the loss of enough highly enriched uranium to arm two nuclear weapons. Whether this was an accounting problem or theft probably will never be known.
There's a home on the web for everything!
Including Actually, I'll have to take their word for it, since this is about the only one I recognize.