Saturday, January 25, 2003

Boob Demands Tube!
Jane Ehrenfeld in Teacher Magazine warns, Hide Your Books:
"To Ms. Ehrenfeld: This morning I observed that during the morning news program, you and your students were engaged in activities other than watching television."

So began the official letter of reprimand placed in my personnel folder by the principal at the elementary school in Maryland where I was teaching 3rd grade at the time. Odd as the accusation was, it was made even odder by the fact that my students were reading when the principal caught them not watching television. She had walked in, and there they were, sitting as silently as a group of 3rd graders can, every one of them absorbed in a book.
Less gimmicks, more teaching. Thanks Jane, for trying.
For much of the year, my television had been mysteriously out of order, which neatly solved the problem of wasting 20 minutes watching the news. Then, sadly, it was fixed, and I no longer had an excuse for skipping the program. So I did the next best thing: I devoted the time to silent reading and trained the kids to ignore the screen (no small feat with TV-addicted children). This worked beautifully?until we were busted.

After delivering the letter of reprimand, the principal took to sneaking up to my classroom and standing in a spot just outside the door where she could see in but I couldn't see her. My students would whisper to me that she was there, but it didn't matter much, since I had already forced them to put down their books and watch television every morning, as directed.
She shouldn't have given up. I'm sure the TV could have been "adjusted".
No sense of style alert!
The Sunday Times (which has some gosh awful registration scheme) stuns with Bio-war suits found in London mosque:
Detectives investigating a plot by Islamic terrorists to carry out a chemical weapons attack in Britain have found chemical warfare protection suits at a mosque in north London.

The NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) suits were discovered during a raid by 150 police officers on the Finsbury Park mosque last Monday. Informed sources said the discovery confirmed growing fears by police and MI5 that a chemical attack is being planned by supporters of Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda movement in Britain.

Police announced after the raid they had seized a small arsenal of weapons including a stun gun, an imitation firearm and a CS gas canister.

But discovery of the NBC suits has been kept a closely guarded secret known only to a handful of senior officers. Ministers are acutely aware that any suggestion that the mosque may have been involved with chemical weapons could inflame racial tensions.
I don't know about racial tensions, but it sure will heighten good old fashioned regular tensions.

Wait, I know! Why not "the suits were actually the latest in stylish garb for the trendy types who hung about the mosque!" Those cops just don't recognize fancy duds when they see them.
Bobby Mugabe, Weather God
The Telegraph (UK) reveals Now Mugabe takes control of the weather:
Robert Mugabe has already clamped down on the opposition, driven white farmers off their land, bullied the independent media and banned foreign journalists. Now the Zimbabwean leader has turned his paranoiac attention to the weather.

The president's office took control of the forecasting service last week after learning that the drought-affected country is facing two more years of low rainfall.

Mr Mugabe feared that the revelation that no early end to the drought was in sight would heighten discontent at a time when nearly half the country's 13 million people are going hungry. Food riots have already erupted in Harare and Bulawayo this month.

The country's Meteorological Office has now been ordered not to reveal its long-range forecasts before clearing them first with senior presidential aides. They are expected to remove the most negative aspects before authorising their release.

"The government does not want any information on the weather to be leaked," said a Met Office official. "All our forecasts are to be sent to the president's office and only then can they be released."
Bobby has a terrible clue drought himself. If he had been paying attention at wingnut dictator school instead of partying, he would know that all he needs to do is blame it all on the air pollution from industrialized countries and demand more subsidies.
And speaking of Mr. Inspector
WXXA (TV) in Albany broadcast an interesting report - Outcome of Ritter Sting Case Unusual (items in {} are interviewee quotes):
Police say they caught him trying to meet young girls over the internet...but former U.N. Weapons inspector Scott Ritter never spent a day in jail.

Legal experts say that's unusual...most others accused of similar crimes meet a much different fate.

Jeffrey Johnson serving 7 years in prison...nabbed by police in 1997 for trying to hook up with a 12-year old girl he met on the Internet.

Robert Rodriguez facing up to 15 years behind bars...for a similar crime involving a 14 year old.

Former U.N. Weapons inspector Scott Ritter caught in 2001 for allegedly trying to meet a 16 year old girl he chatted with online.

But Ritter’s a free man...his case adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.
Hey, Scotty is a swell guy! And so concerned! Important too!
{I’ve never heard of an ACOD in a situation like this.} Former federal prosecutor Donald Kinchella says the outcome of Ritter’s case is not the norm...especially since Ritter was also nabbed 3 months before the arrest and got off with just a warning.

{People who do this just don't do it once. There's something there. No police officer or anyone else wants to see someone like this out on the streets where they can have contact with children.}
The sentences for crimes like these can differ greatly...depending on the specifics and whether the case is being prosecuted by the state or the federal government.

The feds generally dole out harsher penalties. They were never involved in Scott Ritter’s case.
Don't look now Scotty, but the AP just reported that Feds Get Sealed Case of Ritter's Arrest:
State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi signed an order Thursday requiring police and Albany County prosecutors to provide records and any evidence to the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office.

Federal authorities filed a motion earlier in the week to obtain the records to determine whether federal laws were violated, the Daily Gazette of Schenectady and the Times Union of Albany reported in Saturday editions.
Yikes! Get out the earplugs before even more whining starts!
Ritter has suggested recent news reports about the arrest were an attempt to silence him. He said the publicity has forced him to cancel a recent trip to Baghdad, where he said he would have offered an alternative to military action.

Today's Hoot
The NY Post's Page Six on Scott Ritter and the NY Times in All the News?
Readers of the New York Times, as of yesterday, still hadn't been informed of Scott Ritter's sex-sting arrest. Ritter is the former UN arms inspector who has lately been defending Saddam Hussein to become a darling of the anti-war movement. The news of his arrest nearly two years ago - allegedly for trying to lure a 16-year-old girl he contacted on the Internet for sex - broke a week ago in the Schenectady Gazette. The Post and many other newspapers carried the story after the Associated Press had it on Tuesday. But not a word in the Times. When The Post's Fred Dicker called Ritter the "Pee-wee Herman of the anti-war movement" on the Don Imus radio show yesterday, Imus said Dicker was being "unfair to Pee-wee."
Howell Raines must have been "profoundly vexed". And Imus is right - Pee Wee didn't try to recruit an audience.
A tough time for Herr Weasel
The Financial Times reports Backing for Schröder's party slides to historic low:
Support for Germany's ruling Social Democrats dropped to an historic low yesterday in a clear signal to chancellor Gerhard Schröder of popular frustration at the government's broken election promises and perceived drift.

With two important regional elections next month, the German leader had tried to use opposition to war against Iraq at a rally this week to boost his flagging support.

But his ploy, which worked so well in the German elections last September, has failed to impress a public growing impatient for structural changes to revive the economy.
Maybe he could burn down the Bundestag?
A new opinion poll showed backing for the chancellor's SPD had fallen to 25 per cent - the lowest figure in the 26 years the poll has been conducted.

By contrast the survey for ZDF television showed support for the opposition Christian Democrats and its Bavarian sister party the CSU stood at 56 per cent, while the environmentalist Greens scored 10 per cent.
With the Greens' importance rising, expect more wingnuttery.
This will rile the boys down at the bait shop!
I want one! The bass won't have a chance.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Photo ID Hijinks Alert!
Local 6 News in Florida presents another chapter in a continuing saga - Muslim Woman Sues To Get Florida ID Card:
A Muslim woman in Winter Park, Fla., who refused to remove her veil for a driver's license photograph last year is suing the state of Florida again.
Everyone needs a hobby.
Sultaana Freeman, 35, filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday after the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles refused to issue her a state identification card.
But Sultaana has been around this block before.
Freeman was originally allowed to wear her veil, which only reveals her eyes, to obtain a Florida driver's license. However, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles discovered her veiled face in a post-Sept. 11 check of its driver's licenses database.

When officials requested that Freeman take a driver's license photo without the veil, she refused. She said her religious beliefs dictated that she should not show her face to strangers or men outside her family. She also said that her constitutional rights were violated.
Freeman, who is an American-born converted Muslim, will go to trial in April for another lawsuit which seeks the reinstatement of her driver's license with a veil.
There's purportedly a picture of Sultaana with the article. But it's kind of hard to tell if it is really her. It's her old driver's license photo.
Maybe if Saddam Says "Pretty Please"?
From Gweilo Diaries:

A: "Hello, Dr. Ahmad here."

S: "Hello Doctor, this is Saddam Hussein."

A; "What do you want? I'm very busy."

S: "I just wanted to ask you if there was any way you would reconsider and meet privately with the weapons inspectors?"

A: "Dammit, you son of a dog, I told you already, no!"

S: "Pleeease."

A" "NO!"

S: "Pretty Please."
Follow the link to find out how it turns out.
And the kids feel so much better!
The BBC stuns with Red ink banned from primary books:
Teachers at a primary school have been told not to mark children's work in red ink because it encourages a "negative approach".

In future, pupils at Uplands Manor Primary School in Smethwick, West Midlands, will see their mistakes struck through with a green pen.

Critics have condemned the change as "politically correct" and "trendy".

But Penny Penn-Howard, head of school improvement for Sandwell Council, said: "The colour of the pen used for marking is not greatly significant except that the red pen has negative connotations and can be seen as a negative approach to improving pupils' work.

"Therefore, it is quite legitimate for a school to have a consistent policy that it uses a different colour."
It's great to know that was this was at the top of the list for "school improvement". One shudders at what might be lower down on the list.

Everyone's on a weasel roll!
French PM: "It's Great to Be Collaborating with Germany Again!"
Les Frogs Sont Fâché!
Hoist by Their Own Petain
A New French Flag!
New French Flag?
New Military Strategy Sites
Weasel er, badger
The Axis of Weasel
Hande Hoch Alert!
Retro-Crazed German Youths Invade Poland
WARSAW, POLAND - In the largest nostalgia-driven military assault in history, 250,000 retro-crazed German teenagers and twentysomethings invaded Poland Monday.

"The '30s were, like, the coolest decade," said 17-year-old Grete Wunsch of Dusseldorf, one of the 840 young hipsters in the 55th Panzer Division who seized control of the capital city of Warsaw and set up a provisional German government. "The clothes, the music, the rallies?that whole Third Reich thing was just the best. I was so born in the wrong decade."
"It's about finding real meaning, real truth, in your heritage, your nation and your race," said Berliner Klaus Hofbreit, 18. "This isn't just about the clothes I put on, or the music I listen to while marching across neighboring countries' borders. It's about finding strength in who you are and triumphing through sheer will. It's about my kultur, know what I'm saying? The totenkultur."

Added Hofbreit: "Deutschland über alles, baby!"
It's the Onion. Hmm, how long before it shows up in a major newspaper?
Today's Hoot!
From the NY Post:

So that's it!
James S. Robbins offers his take on Scott Ritter in Vice Squad:
In my drinking circles when the question of Scott Ritter came up it was never in the context of "Why did he change his mind?" but always, "What do the Iraqis have on him?" Of course, we are all national-security community folks in one way or another, and pretty much look at life through the realist lens. We might come across as cynical, especially after a few rounds, but more often than not we get things right. When allegations of Ritter's planned sexual encounters with under-aged girls surfaced this week, the collective response was a professionally objective, "Oh, so that was it." There was not a lot of outrage. It was hard to take Ritter seriously in recent years. His rhetoric had escalated to fringe levels, his reasoning had become somewhat eccentric, and he really had run out of anything new to say factually. He sustained public-figure status through being a fixture in the appointment books of television producers and reporters seeking interesting quotes, but one was always struck by the sense that there was no particular reason to listen to him. He had been out of the game a long time. What was the point?
Nevertheless, Ritter's access to the media was never based on his message. Harry the Hippie has the same message, and may be even more articulate, but Ritter had man-bites-dog appeal. He was an outspoken hard-line inspector who transformed suddenly into a rather forceful apologist, and thus became instant producer-bait. Lacking that context, he was just some guy with something to say. This is why it is hard to compartmentalize man from message. The alleged sex scandal does not directly challenge the substance of Ritter's views, but it does call into question his legitimacy. And not because someone who may go to chat rooms looking for liaisons with underage girls cannot have a valid political message - I guess - but because the behavior could be directly linked to why the message changed. The sex story - mostly because it is a sex story, and of a particularly unfashionable type - will keep Ritter an in-demand media property, but for the wrong reasons. And it makes him less bankable for the peace movement, since they wouldn't want to be tainted by association (that is, with someone possibly turned by the Iraqis. I am sure to them the other alleged thing falls under "lifestyle choice").
More by following the link.

His vaunted expertise was years out of date, but he was always good for a "man-bites-dog" quote. Now he's good for a quote and a whine. Dang, where's the popcorn?
Hugo Chavez is at it again
The Miami Herald reports Chávez supporters converge on Caracas:
In what was dubbed ''the great Caracas takeover,'' hundreds of thousands of people descended on Venezuela's capital Thursday to support President Hugo Chávez in the eighth week of a nationwide strike aimed at ousting him.
Masses of people waving flags and chanting ''Ooh, ahh, Chávez no se va'' -- `Oh, Chávez won't go!'' -- filled major highways and boulevards. Government officials asserted that ''millions and millions'' of people attended, most of whom were bused in from the nation's interior.
Hey, wait a minute. How did those "millions and millions" of people get there?
While the government tried to paint the rally as a spontaneous offering of support for a beloved leader, the marchers arrived on hundreds of buses from around the nation, apparently financed by the government despite a crippling strike that has sapped the country of gasoline and $4 billion.

''This march shows there is gasoline -- the government has it,'' opposition negotiator Rafael Alfonzo said. ``All Venezuelans paid for this march. It came out of our pockets.''

Asked who paid just how much for Thursday's demonstration, a presidential spokesman said, ''That's impertinent. That's not informing,'' and hung up.

José Vegas, a city administrator from Barranca, insisted that nobody received ''one cent'' from the government. The buses from his city, he said, were paid with ``personal money of the mayor and his friends.''
They must pay mayors and their friends a lot down there.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Is it Friday yet?
As far as I can tell, this is a serious press release from a very large publishing company - FEATURE/Wind-Breaking News: Penguin Young Readers Group to Publish Next Two Walter the Farting Dog Picture Books. Some excerpts:
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 23, 2003--Stephanie Owens Lurie, President and Publisher of Dutton Children's Books; a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, is pleased to announce that she has acquired the next two Walter the Farting Dog books from authors William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray and illustrator Audrey Colman.
Lurie has this to say about Dutton Children's Books' newest character: "Walter is a true original, and we welcome him with open arms (well, maybe at arm's length. . .). Seriously, the runaway success of Walter the Farting Dog proves that a picture book can make a huge impact by being fresh and kid-friendly. We look forward to working with Bill, Glenn, and Audrey to take him to new heights."

The next book, Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale is slated for publication in 2004 and will be followed by Walter the Farting Dog: Rough Weather Ahead. Puffin Books will publish these two titles in paperback at a later date.
"Fresh and kid-friendly"? I guess it depends on exactly what the trouble was at the yard sale.
Would you like fries with that?
I completely forgot to mention the dismissal of the lawsuit against McDonald's by some "avoirdupois challenged" customers. But not to worry - Steve took care of it over at Little Tiny Lies. Some highlights:
Today a U.S. District judge in Manhattan blew the minds of practicing attorneys everywhere by handing down an intelligent ruling.
In doing so, Sweet made the blatantly blimpophobic claim that people are somehow responsible for choosing the items that enter the danger zone in front of their faces and get caught in the suction.
Before you start thinking the 80-year-old Judge Sweet is in Ronald's pocket, or that he was responding to death threats from the Hamburglar, let me barf up another quote: "Chicken McNuggets are a McFrankenstein creation of various elements not utilized by the home cook." God, it must be great to be 80 and be able to say whatever you want. It must be a lot like being ME.
Shucks, Steve! We never noticed!
Pompous Buffoon Alert!
James Taranto links to an interview (Quicktime) with Scott Ritter by Darcy Wells of WRGB-TV in Albany and observes:
The revelations have done nothing to deflate Ritter's pomposity: "Nothing that transpired this week, nothing that's been spewed across the airwaves changes the fact that I am one of the top of the foremost experts on the issue of Iraq," he tells the station. "I have the moral authority and the moral responsibility to continue talking about this issue."
Moral authority? You can't make this stuff up!

And don't forget Scott's mantra:
"I must respect my legal and ethical responsibilities and not discuss issues pertaining to that case," he said, claiming falsely that because the record was sealed, he is legally obliged not to discuss it.
Watch the whole interview if you can stomach it. This guy's a legend in his own mind.
Scott the Inspector is all upset
Scott Ritter opines to the AP:
Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, a harsh critic of the Bush administration's push toward war with Iraq, suggested that recent news reports of his arrest in an Internet sex sting last year were part of an attempt to silence him.

He said the publicity forced him to cancel a trip to Baghdad, where he said he would have offered an alternative to military action.

"The timing does stink. I was supposed to be on an airplane yesterday to Baghdad," he said. "Let's not forget, we're on the verge of a major conflict in which thousands of American lives may be lost, and I was a leading voice of opposition to this."

"It's a shame that somebody would bring up this old matter, this dismissed matter, and seek to silence me at this time," he said.
It's all about Scott! Well yes, I guess it is.

There is a conspiracy to silence him! I don't think so.
At the time of the arrest, NBC station WNYT-TV of Albany reported that William Scott Ritter Jr. - Ritter's full name - was charged with trying to lure a 16-year-old girl to a restaurant. The girl turned out to be an undercover police officer.

WNYT broadcast Ritter's mug shot provided by the police but did not make the connection to his role as the chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq during most of the 1990s.

He was charged with attempted endangerment of a child, a misdemeanor that carries up to 90 days in jail, according to The Times Union of Albany. The case was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, meaning if he stayed out of trouble for six months, the charges would disappear and the file be sealed.
And according to the local police chief:
Colonie police Chief John Grebert said he did not blame any of his staff for the controversy. Though the case was sealed, he said, his detectives were not barred from talking about it, according to two lawyers he consulted. Furthermore, the case had been reported on Channel 13 in 2001 and many people were already familiar with it.

"This case is going on two years old," he said. "This case has been discussed fairly openly over the past year. A person who becomes more and more of a public figure increases the chance that anyone's going to talk."
It was just a matter of time until the news seeped out of the local area.

But Scott is defiant:
Scott Ritter said he doesn't want forgiveness.
Today's Hoot!
Stop the Axis of Weasels inspired by ScrappleFace.
Lest we forget
Ordinary people are risking their lives by marching for freedom in Venezuela.

(Via Instapundit) Horror in Venezuela

Rummy stirs up the chicken coop
The AP reports the Euroweenies are all atwitter in Rumsfeld's remarks draw angry reactions in France:
PARIS - French leaders reacted angrily Thursday to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's dismissal of France and Germany as the "old Europe," saying the comments underscore America's arrogance.

Finance Minister Francis Mer said he was "profoundly vexed" by the remarks.
And that he'd have more to say after a leisurely lunch?
"If you knew what I feel like telling him, to Mr. Rumsfeld ... " said Ecology Minister Roselyne Bachelot on Europe-1 radio. She then stopped herself and said the word would be too offensive to publish.
Her vocabulary was apparently exhausted at that point.
Martine Aubry, a Socialist leader and influential former labor minister, said Rumsfeld's comments "show once again a certain arrogance of the United States."
No Martine, it shows a certain impatience with pusillanimous fools.

They're feeling itchy!
Deborah Orin reports in the NY Post that Sharpton Candidacy Giving Dems the Jitters:
On his debut day as a presidential candidate, Al Sharpton upstaged most other Democratic wannabes at the first 2004 cattle show and showed why he gives big-time agita to a lot of Dem strategists.

His rivals embraced the driving force behind the Tawana Brawley hoax as an equal aspirant to the Oval Office and even competed to curry favor with him. Both former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts claimed Sharpton had offered them the vice presidency.

In fact, most other Democratic candidates seemed a bit cowed while Sharpton and Dean - the two Democrats who are farthest to the left and the most passionate speakers - got the loudest cheers from activists at Tuesday's dinner for the pro-choice lobbying group NARAL.

"If Sharpton does well, it's going to be hard to deny him a place at the podium at the Democratic convention - in prime time," frets a party strategist already worrying about how heartland America will react.

Sharpton, after all, was found guilty of defaming a white prosecutor with false charges that the prosecutor raped Brawley. It took Sharpton three years to pay the $65,000 fine plus interest. And on Tuesday he defiantly insisted Brawley was no hoax, saying: "I believe we were right."
Free advice to the Democrat party: when you lay down with dogs, you come up with fleas.
He's Toast!
Mr. "Inspector", Scott Ritter, showed up last night on CNN News Night with Aaron Brown to give his side of the story. Some highlights:
BROWN: Well, first of all, obviously, it's not a dead issue, because it's been out there all week. So let's -- I want to go back to some of this.

Scott, we spent a fair amount of time today looking at New York law on this. There is nothing in a sealed case, zero, that prevents you from talking about it. The point of the seal is to protect you from the state, not to protect the state from you.

Now, you can -- it seems to me, you can choose not to talk about the specifics of this. That's always the right of the guest. But I'm not sure that there is -- I'm not sure what the ethical question is about talking about it. And none of our lawyers can find the legal one, OK?

So, what happened in 2001?

RITTER: Well, Aaron, What I'll say is this. What I'll say is this, Aaron, is, in 2001, I stood before a judge.

BROWN: Why? Why were you before the judge, Scott?

RITTER: Because I was arrested, Aaron.

BROWN: Why were you arrested?

RITTER: I'm not asking for your forgiveness or anybody else's forgiveness.

BROWN: I'm not...

RITTER: I am held accountable to the law. And I was held accountable to the law. And that's what everyone should remember here. I stood before a judge and the due process of law was carried forth. And now we have a situation where the media has turned this into a feeding frenzy. This is not an extrajudicial proceeding, Aaron. I do not stand before you where I have to testify to anything. The case was dismissed. The file was sealed.

BROWN: Scott, Scott...

RITTER: End of story.

BROWN: Scott, respectfully here, you're creating a straw dog in me. And I'm not playing that game. I am not the prosecutor. I am trying to give...


BROWN: Excuse me. Let me finish here.

I'm trying to give you an opportunity, if you want to take it, to explain what happened. And here's the point of that. And you know this is true. You are radioactive until this is cleared up. Until people understand what this is about, no one is going to talk to you about the things that you feel passionately about.

And as uncomfortable as it may be, I submit to you that it is in your interests to explain what happened. Otherwise, lord only knows what people will say.

RITTER: Well, Aaron, lord only knows what people are already saying. And, frankly speaking, I have no control over that.

But, again, with all due respect, Aaron -- and I totally understand your question and where you're coming from -- but the bottom line is, the rule of law must apply here and we must never lose sight of that. I think you hit on something. I was a credible voice. I am a credible voice. And I will be a credible voice in regards to issues pertaining to Iraq.

And, obviously, what you're not mentioning here is the timing of all of this. Why did this come up now?

BROWN: No, we'll get to the timing of all of this, OK?

RITTER: No, because I have already told you...

BROWN: No, no, no, honestly, believe me...

RITTER: I'm always honest here.

BROWN: We've done business together before. And I think I have a reputation in these things of being fair. And we'll get to the question of timing. But I think we have to deal, I believe -- and I guess I get to call the shot on this one -- that we have to deal with the issue itself first. Let me try it a different way and then I'm not going to spend the rest of our time beating my head against the wall.

Did you ever go into an Internet chat room looking for teenage girls to have a sexual encounter of any sort with? How about that?

RITTER: Aaron, again, have I to respectfully reply by noting that I am obligated legally not to discuss matters pertaining to a


BROWN: Can you tell me, under what provision of what law are you referring to?

RITTER: Well, Aaron, you know I'm not a lawyer. And have I sought legal counsel on this. And I'm strictly abiding by legal counsel.

BROWN: So, I can dance around this a thousand ways and you're not going to tell me why you were arrested at that Burger King on that day in June. Is that right?

RITTER: Aaron, I will respond the same way, this way, until Sunday. I was arrested in June 2001, charged with a Class B misdemeanor. I stood before a judge and the case was dismissed. The file was sealed. And I certainly wish you and everyone else would respect that.

BROWN: OK. Again, I'm not going to beat my head against the wall. If you don't want to talk about it, you don't want to talk about it.

Let's talk about the ramifications of it. It is my view, and, certainly I think as far as this program is concerned, and I think others, that you are, in a sense, radioactive, that these charges, I would submit, until they're responded to, will keep it that way.

But, in any case, in this moment, for the moment, nobody cares what you think about Iraq. You think that's why this stuff was leaked?

RITTER: Well, I have no way of knowing why this happened. But the effect is obvious. I was supposed to be on an airplane yesterday flying to Baghdad on a personal initiative that could have had great ramifications in regards to issues of war and peace.

I wish people would keep the eye on the ball here. It's about war and peace. It's about the potential of conflict with Iraq, many thousands of Americans dying. And whether you agreed with me or disagreed with me on the issue, there's no doubting -- and you can't rewrite history -- I was a very effective voice in the anti-war effort in the campaign to keep inspectors on the ground.


BROWN: What is stopping you from going to Baghdad?

RITTER: Well, look, what's stopping me is the reason why I'm sitting here before you, Aaron.

If I went to Baghdad and tried to talk responsibly about issues of war and peace, this issue would have come up. And it would have been a distraction and it would have actually been a disservice. There are people in Baghdad right now pursuing the initiative that I started. And I want to give them every chance of success. I don't want to provide any distractions.

BROWN: Well, one way or another, I hope all this stuff gets cleared up and you can get back to talking about the issues you care about. But, again, I'm not quite sure how that's going to happen.
A joke making the Internet rounds:
Q: So why didn't Scott Ritter go to Iraq?

A: No Internet access!
And remember, only Mr. Scott Ritter can prevent war! Zzzzz, his 15 minutes are up.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Today's Hoot!
Catch Tim Blair's latest column: UN appears to be a magnet for deviants. He covers Scud Stud Scott Ritter
Yet he can't tell the difference between a schoolgirl and a policewoman. Some chief inspector Ritter must have been. Is that a nuclear warhead or a grain silo? Maybe it's a teen hottie!
and Najat al-Hajjaji
Soon we'll be taking advice on human rights from Najat al-Hajjaji, the newly-appointed chairwoman of the UN Commission on Human Rights. Al-Hajjaji is from Libya, where all the usual human rights - the right to be tortured, the right to be killed and so on - are diligently observed.

Possibly, al-Hajjaji will soon have something to say about Iraq. She's from the UN, so Simon Crean is bound to listen. The Prime Minister is often accused of crawling to the corrupt, meddling US, but Crean does the same to the corrupt, meddling, stupid, worthless UN; he's all the way with Kofi A. "We can avoid [war] through the peaceful and diplomatic direction of the United Nations," the ALP leader said yesterday.

Sure, Simon. And really is a 16-year-old blonde.
Maybe she hangs out at Burger King, Home of the Whopper?
Hey, Hey, We're the Yankees!
(Via Tim Blair) Loretta Serrano rewrites Harry Pinter via The Monkees:
Here we come,
Rolling down the street,
We get the funniest looks from
All the French we meet.
Dang, the truffle snufflers snuck in again! More by following the link.
Hmm, smells like frog legs!
I'm running out of aphorisms for Euroweenies of the French persuasion. Check out Silence at No 10 as France welcomes Mugabe:
Tony Blair held back from attacking France last night as it prepared to invite President Mugabe of Zimbabwe to a summit in Paris.

Downing Street remained silent on the proposed visit, apparently to avoid a new row with France that could jeopardise both international consensus on war with Iraq and the renewal of European sanctions against Zimbabwe ? which include a travel ban on the country’s rulers.

EU foreign ministers will decide on Monday whether to renew the sanctions, which expire on February 18, the day before the Franco-African summit is due to start in Paris.

President Chirac wants Mr Mugabe to attend, and a formal invitation has been prepared. If the sanctions were not renewed there would be no problem, but most EU countries want them extended for another year. The price of French agreement appears to be allowing an exemption to be made for the summit.
Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, was clearly unaware of the diplomatic horse-trading when she was asked about the possible invitation. It would be disgraceful, she told MPs. But Downing Street was in no mood to match her language. "This is a live issue. There’s been no formal proposal yet from the French Government and I’m not going to pre-empt our Government’s position," Mr Blair’s spokesman said.
M Chirac’s spokesman refused to comment, but it is clear that France plans to use the summit to try to extend its influence across Africa.
Being the bosom pal of Bobby Mugabe must seem like a swell idea when you are completely clueless.
The beamish boy pipes up!
NewsChannel 13 (WNYT) tracked down Scott Ritter to ask for his side of the Internet predator reports:
Colonie police said Ritter tried to lure a 16-year-old girl he met on the Internet to a Burger King in Menands. According to police, the intent of that meeting was so that she could watch him perform sexual acts on himself.

The underage girl turned out to be an undercover police officer posing online as a minor.

The case went to court where it was later dismissed and sealed -- meaning in the eyes of the court it never happened.

"The case was dismissed. Therefore it never happened," Ritter said Wednesday.

"I stood in a court of law, before a judge and an assistant district attorney, and they dismissed it," he added.

But the court of public opinion has a different view. The story of Ritter's arrest and the subsequent dismissal of his case first broke over the weekend and dominated headlines in the days that followed.

"I am deeply saddened [by all of the media attention]. Not by anything I've done though."

Ritter refused to speak to NewsChannel 13 on camera. When offered the chance to tell his side of the story on television, he replied, "I'm saying it now."
Hmm, I wonder if he could recommend a good restaurant near Albany?

Image courtesy of Registered.
Rappin' with the Rev!
Jimmy Breslin interviews Al Sharpton about his participation in the Tawana Brawley hoax:
Yesterday, Sharpton was saying, "The next time anybody wants to know about Tawana Brawley, I'm going to ask them, 'Do you ask Teddy Kennedy about Chappaquiddick? Do you ask Hillary Clinton about her husband? Do you ask Clinton?'"
Yes Al, I do - but I'm not in the 4th estate. I wonder why you don't run into anyone from the press who does also? (Just teasing, Al! I know why.)

In related news, the Rev. burned up the boards in the first Democrat Presidential beauty contest. It got so hot, his headquarters burned down. Dig deep to help out the Rev. everyone!

Some people in Hampton, VA already did - they're suing Al because he failed to show up for a speech, but cashed the down payment check. Al says the check's in the mail.
Break out the finger bowls!
The BBC entrances with with the cryptically titled Europe's motor celebrates friendship treaty:
France and Germany are celebrating 40 years of their post-war reconciliation on Wednesday by staging a series of gala events and unveiling major joint political initiatives.

The anniversary of the 1963 Elysee Treaty - which cemented Franco-German ties - will culminate in a joint session of the two countries' parliaments at Versailles, outside Paris.

Over 1000 MPs - 577 from France and 603 from Germany - will take part in a series of banquets and top level meetings.
Everyone enjoys a good square dance, but top level meetings could be an excuse for mischief.
The two leaders are expected to unveil a series of radical initiatives on
Wednesday. According to officials, these are likely to include:
  • Regular joint cabinet meetings

  • Aiming to present the same policies on international bodies, including the
    United Nations' Security Council

  • Promoting plans for the EU to adopt a common security and defence policy

  • Moving towards identical French and German laws on key subjects like
    family and civil law

  • Appointing a top official in each country in charge of boosting
    co-operation between Paris and Berlin.

  • Commitment to the goal of dual nationality for French and German citizens
Sounds like they're planning on being drunk and disorderly. Oh yeah - Herr Chirac opined:
"When Berlin and Paris come to agreement, Europe can move ahead. If there is divergence, Europe treads water," Mr Chirac said.
When you get a lot of clowns together, it's still a clown show.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey Alert!
After reading about the latest hijinks of the Frenchies, head over to Patrick Ruffini's place for some appropriate apparel.

UPDATE: Uh Oh! Another empty shell via American RealPolitik.
That dang conventional wisdom!
In USA Today, Dave Moniz and Tom Squitieri reveal Front-line troops disproportionately white, not black
The American troops likeliest to fight and die in a war against Iraq are disproportionately white, not black, military statistics show ? contradicting a belief widely held since the early days of the Vietnam War.
and at, Rich Lowry has the skinny on America's overweight poor:
The problem with America's poor kids is that they're too fat. Few policy-makers are willing to say this rather obvious truth, which is why America's nutritional programs are caught in a 1930s time warp that amplifies the chief health problem facing poor children -- namely, that they're overweight.
Who'd a thunk it?

Blog Day for Venezuela on Thursday
Via Devil's Excrement - stop by there for the latest on dictator Hugo and his gangster thugs. And whoever he has killed lately.

Hot Chat Alert! (II)
The NY Post neatly summarizes the details of Scott Ritter's extracurricular activities in Inspector, Heal Thyself:
Well, here's something Scott Ritter doesn't want to talk about - his arrest in upstate New York nearly two years ago on charges he got all hot and bothered online with a 14-year-old.

Turns out he was nabbed in 2001 by police in the Albany suburb of Colonie, in a sting operation: Ritter was accused of having a sexual chat on the Internet with someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl - but who actually was an undercover cop.

He was charged with a class B misdemeanor, and the case was later adjourned in local court in contemplation of dismissal - meaning that if he stayed out of trouble for six months, the case would be sealed. The first anyone learned about the case was last Saturday, when it was first disclosed by the Schenectady Gazette.

Even the local DA knew nothing about Ritter's arrest - and he quickly fired the prosecutor who adjudicated the case without ever telling her boss about it.

Contacted by the Gazette, Ritter disingenuously insisted that "you must have the wrong person."

But at least three news organizations have confirmed that it was Saddam's new best friend who was placed under arrest.

Last night, Albany's WRGB-TV reported that this wasn't just an isolated instance. According to the station, Ritter actually went to a location after the "girl" agreed to meet him - but was let off with a warning by cops.

Only after a second incident - three months later! - was he actually arrested, according to the station.

Details are slim, because the record has been sealed and Ritter, his lawyer and Colonie town officials aren't talking.

But next time you hear Scott Ritter on one of the cable news channels fulminating about America's immoral behavior and how the leaders of this country have turned into "the bad guys," remember that this is a man whose alleged idea of morality is to engage in sex talk with underage girls - and maybe worse.

UPDATE: The Albany Times Union clarifies the timeline:
Colonie -- The Internet sex case that led to the arrest of a former U.N. weapons inspector was not his first involvement with police on that type of crime, a person familiar with the case said Monday.

Scott Ritter was under investigation for trying to set up a meeting with a girl through the Internet when town police charged him in June 2001 with using an online chat room to set up a similar rendezvous at a Menands restaurant, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Police began investigating the 41-year-old Ritter, who lives in Delmar, in April 2001 after he tried to meet someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl, the source said. Ritter drove to a Colonie business, where he instead was met by police officers, the source said.

Ritter, an outspoken critic of President Bush's plans for war against Iraq, was released without being charged while police investigated.

Two months later, the source said, Ritter was caught in the same type of Internet sex-sting operation after he tried to lure a 16-year-old girl to a Burger King in Menands. The supposed teenager actually was an undercover investigator posing online as a minor as part of the town Police Department's investigation of Internet sex crime, the source said.

Police charged Ritter with attempted endangerment of a child, a Class B misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in the county jail.

Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Preiser agreed to have the case adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, which means that charges would be dropped if Ritter stayed out of trouble for a period of time. A Colonie town justice sealed the case after the agreement between the prosecutor and defendant was reached.
Ritter declined to be interviewed when asked Monday by e-mail whether he wanted to give his side of the story.

"Thanks for your e-mail," he wrote. "I have no comment on the issue you mentioned."
A Really High Class Act
Man Charged With Cruel Con To Obtain Kiddie Porn From Victims:
A California man has been arrested on federal child pornography charges for allegedly posing as a terminally ill teen-ager to persuade sympathetic young girls to send him nude photos of themselves.
Well, it beats offering to meet them at Burger King to put on a show.

And it turns out there is another high tech impediment to those seeking a hot time online. Aftenposten (Norway) reports Rampant cordless keyboard strikes again:
Are Wormnes got a shock when his neighbor Ørjan Stokkeland rang him up and asked him if he by any chance was writing a letter to telephone company Telenor.

Wormnes can be thankful for a considerate neighbor - everything he was typing on his computer could have been read.
"Hey baby, want to see my weapon of mass destruction?" - nope, it was just the phone company.
Now we're talking something really serious!
It's bad enough that the Euroweenies think they can restrict press freedom, but now they are going after kid's swings:
A village had to get rid of its playground swings because Euro rules say they are too TALL.

The three swings were erected more than 25 years ago.

Kids playing on them have suffered nothing worse than a grazed knee ever since.

But now Brussels bureaucrats have introduced a new maximum height order for swings throughout the UK.

The EU edict, European Standard BS EN 11 76, states the height of children’s swings must be no more than three metres (9ft 10ins).

The set at the park in Great Somerford, Wilts, are 60cm (2ft) over the limit.
Geez, don't tell 'em about tire swings. Say they are "kinetic sculptures".

Monday, January 20, 2003

From inside enemy lines
Over at Right-Thinking, Lee has an up-close and personal view (with pictures) of the weekend's San Francisco Leftist Polka Party:
It was an interesting day, actually seeing these people in action. One of the city supervisors, Tom Ammiano, got up on the loudspeaker to speak. He gave the usual platitudes about the demonstraters being patriots, then stated that San Francisco was undergoing a budget crunch, and requested that protesters not tip over any police cars. A strange thing to hear from an elected official. I suppose if San Francisco was flush with cash then tipping over a police car would be quite acceptable. Apparently there is nothing wrong with tipping over a police car, only with the city paying to fix it.
It's those Frenchies again....
(Via Misanthropyst) The Straits Times manages not to snigger at France may fund mosques to thwart militants:
PARIS - France has decided to reconsider one of its most fundamental principles on the separation of the church and state, forced by the threat of Islamic terrorism, the government has said.

The Telegraph of London reported yesterday that it was considering a proposal to allow the state to build mosques, as part of a bold scheme to create a French version of Islam.
In further news, the French government plans to build a long line of fortifications on the German border.
Hot Chat Alert!
The NY Daily News reports UN's Ritter faced sex rap:
ALBANY - Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was secretly prosecuted in Albany County in 2001 after he was snared in an Internet sex sting operation, law enforcement sources told the Daily News.

Ritter, who lives in the Albany suburb of Delmar, is now a high-profile critic of President Bush's war preparations.

He was arrested by Colonie Police in June 2001 on a misdemeanor charge after he allegedly had a sexual discussion on the Internet with an undercover investigator he thought was an underage girl, law enforcement sources disclosed on condition of anonymity.

The case was sealed, and Colonie officials declined to release the arrest records, explaining the matter was adjourned in local court in contemplation of dismissal.
Sounds Greek to me. Elucidation via NewsChannel 13 in Albany which has Ritter's attorney confirms arrest:
Now more information is coming to light about Ritter's past and a disturbing arrest. His attorney confirms he was arrested in 2001, but neither she nor police will discuss the details.

Colonie police cannot comment on whether or not they actually arrested Ritter on charges he solicited an underage girl over the Internet. They say this is because if an arrest was made, it was sealed during court proceedings.

"Well generally speaking, if during the course of a court proceeding the defense asks for a sealing order based on a plea to a very lesser charge, a court can issue that under the CPL 160-50, which basically seals the entire record from the point of its start to the point of its finish," Deputy Police Chief Steve Heider explained.
Both reports say that Ritter later struck a deal with Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Preiser that allowed the case to be dismissed and the records sealed. The reports also say Preiser was fired on Friday for failing to inform Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne of the case.

However, NewsChannel 13 reported in June 2001 about an arrest of a 39-year-old William Ritter of Delmar on charges he tried to lure a 16-year-old girl he met on the Internet to a Burger King in Menands. According to police, the intent of that meeting was so that she could watch him perform sexual acts on himself.

At that time police said William Ritter was arrested before doing anything, but was facing multiple misdemeanor charges for trying to solicit an underage girl for sexual reasons.

Ritter's attorney, Norah Murphy, confirmed that he was arrested in the town of Colonie in June 2001.
Scott's legal name is William Scott Ritter Jr and gosh, the mugshot in the article sure looks like his photo over at Common Dreams.

Over on Free Republic they're having a contest on what sex chat screen name Scott used. There are lots of good entries, but I liked "FreeInspections" and "TheLoveSCUD".

UPDATE: News 10 in Albany is reporting:
Sources tell NEWS10 that Ritter contacted what he thought was a teenage girl on the internet for the purpose of a sexual interlude not once, but twice within a three month period back in 2001. Ritter also underwent court-ordered sex offender counseling from an Albany psychologist.
and NewsChannel 13 (WNYT) apparently has video tape of the Burger King bust. No Whopper jokes!

UPDATE II: The NY Post weighs in - see above.
Saddam's Streakers Subsitute Alert!
Over at Little Tiny Lies, Steve was apparently disappointed that the Unreasonable Women Baring Witness (aka the Cattle Drive) failed to strip off at the San Francisco Wankfest this weekend. So disappointed, that he created his own barnyard fantasies (1, 2, 3) and a contest. Since the prize is only a "slightly damp cigar", the competition is mostly for the honor of winning.

Juan Gato also ran into the Cattle Drive in an unlikely spot and reports:
By the way, be very, very glad these photos are not close-up or all that clear. Very glad.
Moo indeed.
Today's Hoot!
(Via Jane Galt) Augusten Burroughs in Salon:
What an absolutely hideous commercial! If one insists on featuring a child in a spot, I would think that one would first and foremost insist upon a child who could act. And who did not have -- as this child appears to have -- a curious facial rash. I won't even address the $7 spent on wardrobe. Let's move straight to the graphic, powerful scenes of war. Here, juxtaposed with the shots of the sweet, innocent "little girl," this war footage is supposed to fill us with terror. "If a bomb like that explodes here … that precious little girl could die!" Instead, these scenes of destruction and firepower have the opposite, thrilling effect. The poor quality of the video footage reminds us that it's been a long time since we've had a really good war.
I believe it is the moral responsibility of the creatives who conceived of this commercial to kill themselves. And take the little girl with them.
Don't hold back, Augusten.
Room temperature IQ alert!
The NY Daily New's Daily Dish reports Clooney isn't joining Dubya's gang:
George Clooney says President Bush would fit in just fine with New Jersey's favorite crime family.

"The government itself is running exactly like the Sopranos," he tells Charlie Rose tonight in a full-bore assault on Dubya's foreign policy.

A step in the right direction
Police in the UK raided the North London Central Mosque in Finsbury Park and arrested 7. No word on whether the odious jihadist Captain Hook was among them.
An American Icon
In sad news, the NY Times reports Douglas Herrick, 82, Father of the Jackalope, Is Dead:
Douglas Herrick, who gets both the credit and the blame for perhaps the tackiest totem of the American West, the jackalope - half bunny, half antelope and 100 percent tourist trap - died on Jan. 6 in Casper, Wyo. He was 82.
Douglas Herrick lived in Casper, but it was in his hometown, Douglas, Wyo., that luck changed his life.

In 1932 (other accounts say 1934, 1939 and 1940, but Ralph Herrick swears it was 1932), the Herrick brothers had returned from hunting. "We just throwed the dead jack rabbit in the shop when we come in and it slid on the floor right up against a pair of deer horns we had in there," Ralph said. "It looked like that rabbit had horns on it."

His brother's eyes brightened with inspiration.

"Let's mount that thing!" he said.
One can't help but wonder whether consumption of spirituous liquors was involved.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Happy Holidays for Bobby Mugabe and Pals
Apparently no ghosts of Christmas past, present, or future troubled Bobby Mugabe as The Independent (South Africa) reveals in Mugabe goes on a Singapore shopping blitz:
When it comes to lavish Christmas spending, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe is king.

Mugabe has outdone his big-spending spin doctor Jonathan Moyo by flying to Singapore to indulge in a huge shopping spree of his own, while back home millions of his countrymen face starvation, partly because of Mugabe's failed policies.

Information Minister Moyo's two week spending spree in Johannesburg received extensive news coverage this week, but Mugabe went to even greater lengths to stock up on expensive goods for himself and beat the shortages caused by the Zimbabwean economy's state of near paralysis.

Singapore is south-east Asia's premier shopping destination, with thousands of shops selling the best the world's manufacturers have to offer, and Mugabe stocked up with 15 trolley loads, including high-tech electronic goods.
It seems that Singapore is the favorite shopping spot for Mugabe and family since he is banned from the UK and USA. I wonder if he picked up a moustache trimmer?

And if you haven't been following the Moyo saga, here's a teaser:
Jonathan Moyo, the Zimbabwean information minister who this week described South Africans as "filthy and recklessly uncouth", is at the centre of a diplomatic row that has sent relations between the two countries into a nosedive.

It has also caused the government of President Robert Mugabe to distance itself from the remarks of its chief spin doctor.

Moyo's outburst, after an expose in the Sunday Times last weekend of his recent spending spree in Johannesburg while his compatriots starved, led to the South African foreign ministry delivering a formal demarche to the Zimbabwean government on Tuesday, demanding a full explanation of the minister's tirade.
Moyo, a former critic of the Zimbabwean government, has risen to the post of information minister and President Robert Mugabe's closest adviser in the space of 18 months. A former university professor who spent a year on sabbatical at Wits university, he has had a meteoric rise to one of the most influential positions in Zimbabwe.

But his rise has come at a price. Moyo has offended all sides in Zimbabwe and is known among his critics as "the most hated man in Zimbabwe".
More hated than Bobby? That's quite an achievement!
Some Demonstrations You Won't Hear About
As the press covered the get together yesterday of accumulated leftist wingnuttery, 50,000 people filled Miami's Little Havana to protest El Thuggo, Hugo Chavez, and 40,000 people turned out in Seoul to support the U.S. military presence in South Korea and condemn North Korea.

These demonstrations were easily larger than the Washington angstfest, but I must have missed the live coverage on CSPAM.
Saddam's Streakers Wimped Out!
The SF Chronicle's coverage of yesterday's leftist mixer has this blurb:
The usual snapshot of a San Francisco-style protest includes naked marchers, dreadlocks and a whiff of marijuana in the air. But in this family-heavy crowd, even a group called Unreasonable Women Baring Witness who promised to shed their clothes suited up in garbage bags instead.
Garbage bags - how apt! I hope they were Hefty bags.

And yes, the "black bloc" was there:
Police said the demonstration was largely peaceful until the very end, when a group of as many as 225 demonstrators stormed through the Financial District, painting graffiti on some buildings, smashing the windows of a Starbucks and kicking over newspaper racks to block traffic.
Real street fighting men, fer sure.
Mr. Grecian Formula and the Euroweenies Alert!
The BBC reports that UK newspaper defies German ban:
A UK newspaper, the Mail on Sunday, has defied attempts by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to ban it from repeating allegations about his private life.

Days after Mr Schroeder obtained an injunction from a German court against its owners, the newspaper published for a second time claims about the chancellor's alleged relationship with a German television presenter.

The newspaper said the injunction only applied if it repeated the story in Germany, adding that "for now, at least, we can ignore this blustering and these threats".
In a spirited rejection of the court order, the Mail on Sunday said it would not be bound by the ruling.

"Because of our different tradition and our robust democracy, we can publish this sort of material and believe we have every right to do so," it said.

The paper's editor, Peter Wright, said he did not accept that Chancellor Schroeder could use a German court to tell it what it could and could not report.

"Mr Schroeder is an important European leader and we believe it is right that our readers should be fully informed about matters that affect his chancellorship," Mr Wright said in a statement.

"We do not intend to start taking lessons from German chancellors or German courts about the freedom of the press," he said.
Hey Gerhard we've got your EU right here!

And it wouldn't be the first time ole Mr. Grecian Formula ran into trouble on the home front from sleeping around. Take, for instance, how he tied the knot with his current (fourth) wife:
After a spell in New York she returning (sic) to work for Focus magazine in Munich, where she met the rising political star, Gerhard Schroeder.

They wed after their affair became public, bringing an acrimonious end to Mr Schroeder's third marriage to Hiltrud Hampel - a committed vegetarian and animal rights campaigner and a very different character to the coiffed Doris.
Trophy wife alert!

Paging Bubba! One of your bosom chums needs some spin advice!

UPDATE: Gerhard's third wife kicked him out for fooling around with his future fourth wife. Gerry later claimed "chronic inflexibility" since number 3 wouldn't cook his schnitzel. You really can't make this stuff up.