Saturday, June 28, 2003

'Do Not Call' Registry Funded by Email Address Sales
(2003-06-27) -- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced today that it will fund the new "Do Not Call" registry by selling the email addresses of registrants to Internet-based marketing companies.
It's ScrappleFace.
Ruh Oh!
Tony Paterson in the Telegraph alerts us that German crows attack joggers and pensioners:
It is a terrifying scene which could have been lifted straight from Alfred Hitchcock's horror film, The Birds: vicious carrion crows have launched a series of unprovoked attacks on joggers and pensioners in German parks.
No this isn't just wacky news. There's a point:
Wolfgang Poggendorf, the director of Hamburg's Animal Protection Society, blamed the attacks on crow overcrowding. The city's crow population is now estimated at 8,000 and rising. Officials such as Volker Dumann, a spokesman for Hamburg's Environment Office, said there was little his authority could do because EU legislation permitted the shooting of crows only under exceptional circumstances. "The EU guidelines only allow crows to be shot if they pose a serious threat to citizens' well being," he said. "For that to happen, the number of attacks would have to increase rapidly."

Hamburg's citizens have been advised to avoid nesting sites and to carry umbrellas as shields.
The EU has crow regulations! Hey, why not? They have regulations for everything.
Bubba Boosts Buttboy
James Jefferson of the AP amuses with Bubba's latest eructation - Clinton: Clark Would Make Good President:
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - While he's making no endorsements, former President Clinton says fellow Arkansan Wesley Clark would make a good president if he should decide to run.

Clinton says he has been impressed by the retired Army general's career from its inception, as a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy, where Clark finished first in his class.

"He has always exceeded in every endeavor," Clinton told The Associated Press on Friday, noting in particular Clark's major role as NATO commander, when he ran the 1999 Kosovo air war that drove Serb forces out of the embattled Serbian province.
In case you don't remember Wesley do a Google of "Wesley Clark" and "perfumed prince" like this.

One of the better items is from Col. David Hackworth:
A review of past NATO skippers shows they had four to five years in the job as opposed to Clark's less than three.

So what went wrong?

Was it Clark's apocalyptic order to use NATO forces for blocking Russia's end run at the Kosovo air base, or his threats to have NATO sea power stop Russian ships from supplying the Serb army with oil? Either act of bad judgement could well have triggered a nuclear war with Russia.

Was it because Clark and his flacks kept crowing about how NATO was destroying the Serb army, when in truth NATO barely laid a glove on its opponent?

Was it because Clark's $120,000 U.S. Army Mercedes -- with a reported highly classified radio system aboard -- was car-jacked while his wife used it as a personal vehicle to drive to the golf course?

Certainly these sins, plus his hot temper, abrasive style and demand for much of America's air assets to fight the Serbs, didn't exactly win fans in Washington. Like a little boy stamping his feet, he wanted everything NOW and showed no concern for the Pentagon's need to maintain global forces to cover threats from other fronts such as Iraq and North Korea.
The troops call his sort "Perfumed Princes," brass known for their micromanagement bias and slavish focus on "show over go" and covering their tails with fancy footwork. Unfortunately, today's senior Army ranks are filled with such managers -- and these kind of dweebs are why the U.S. Army is in trouble. The troops and young leaders are great. But too often the senior brass are politically correct dilettantes, out of touch with their soldiers more interested in chin straps on the points of chin than in battle-drill being executed correctly.
Hackworth doesn't go into the details of the Pristina (Kosovo) airport fiasco, but press reports at the time revealed that Clark insisted on a 1 day delay for NATO forces to enter Kosovo because he didn't have any US troops ready to join them and he didn't want to miss out on the PR value. The Russians moved into the airport first scoring their own PR coup. Wesley wanted British troops to attack the Russians. His order was overturned at higher levels.

But hey, he came through for Bubba by "lending" Janet Reno the armored vehicles for a housewarming in Waco.

So many wingnuts, so little time
Sky News reports Mandela to Snub Bush when he visits Africa in July. Nellie's panties are still in a knot over Iraq. Maybe we can send Jimmy Carter to commiserate?'s "electronic primary" is over and Howie Dean got the most votes with the Ohio elf coming in second. Despite the hype, this turned out to be a real snoozer, although MoveOn got to fatten their coffers and mailing list.

Kofi Annan says the 3rd world needs wireless Internet access. Guess who should pay. And while you're guessing, figure out who should advance the UN $1 billion interest free to refurbish their Manhattan digs? Hey, they're great at handling money. And they love to handle it.

And speaking of the UN, the Australian foreign minister observed that "multilateral forums such as the United Nations are 'ineffective and unfocused' and said its foreign policy will increasingly rely on 'coalitions of the willing' like the one that waged war in Iraq". Predictably there are plenty of panties in a wad over that, including Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister of Malaysia. You remember Mattie, he's one of those moderate Muslim dictators. His political party has also recently been passing out copies of "The International Jew". If you aren't familiar with his wit and wisdom, don't worry, you can soon take a 'Thoughts of Mahathir' course. I'm sure it won't be too time consuming.
That's what happens when you believe your own campaign speeches
The Washington Post amuses with Democrats Discovering Campaign Law's Cost:
The evidence is growing that Democrats shot themselves in the foot by forcing passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law restricting what had been unlimited "soft money" donations to political parties.

A report released yesterday by the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, found that, contrary to common perceptions, Republicans have a big advantage over Democrats in donations from small donors, while Democrats are king among only the biggest.

The study, analyzing donations during the 2002 campaign cycle, found that those little guys giving less than $200 to federal candidates, parties or leadership political action committees contributed 64 percent of their money to Republicans. By contrast, those fat cats giving $1 million or more contributed a lopsided 92 percent to Democrats. The only group favoring Democrats, in fact, were contributors giving more than $100,000.
Too bad for "the party of the people."

Friday, June 27, 2003

Now there's a plan!
Norberto Santana Jr. reports on the latest California budget hijinks in the San Diego Union-Tribune that County leaders reject sales-tax plan:
State Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson came to San Diego yesterday hoping the county Board of Supervisors would support a five-year, half-cent-on-the-dollar sales-tax increase to help fill a $38 billion state budget deficit.

What the Culver City Democrat got instead was a recommendation from board Chairman Greg Cox to have the state file for bankruptcy.

"I thought I had heard it all," Wesson said after Cox floated the idea.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said, "The state is bankrupt, so why not admit it? Why would taxpayers support raising taxes when there is no plan in place to fundamentally change the way the state does business?"
Good question.
We need services, lots of services
In the Old North State, Support for N.C. lottery building up:
Support for a lottery seems to be gaining momentum as support for other various ways to raise state revenue begins to wane.

The N.C. Senate attempted to raise nearly $330 million in new revenue in fiscal year 2003-04, and $326 million in 2004-05 in its latest budget proposal by increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol products. However, the House has staunchly refused to raise any more taxes this year, leaving many questioning how the state can get needed revenue.

"We've got to have some new revenue in this state – period," said N.C. Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe. "I would hate to see us start moving backwards."
Dang those selfish taxpayers!
National Do Not Call Registry
The National Do Not Call Registry is open for business, putting consumers in charge of the telemarketing calls they get at home. The Federal Government created the national registry to make it easier and more efficient for you to stop getting telemarketing sales calls you don't want. You can register online at DONOTCALL.GOV if you have an active email address. If you live in a state west of the Mississippi River (including Minnesota or Louisiana), you can call toll-free, 1-888-382-1222 (TTY 1-866-290-4236), from the number you wish to register. Phone registration will open to the entire nation on July 7. Registration is free.

The Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the states will begin enforcing the National Do Not Call Registry on Oct. 1, 2003. That's when consumers who put their numbers on the registry by August 31, 2003 will notice a downturn in the number of telemarketing calls they get. Placing your number on the National Do Not Call Registry will stop most, but not all, telemarketing calls.
The registration web site is crashing and burning under the load, but presumably it will level out over the next month.

I'm a bit dubious about the actual reduction in calls, since the exempted callers seem to provide a large number of our own telemarketing calls. But you can still use the magic words "Put us on your Do Not Call list".
Today's Hoot
Lloyd Grove in today's Reliable Source column in the Washington Post:
As sometimes happens with Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), he let his mouth race ahead of his brain Wednesday night at a gathering of Young Democrats at the Washington nightspot Acropolis. After presidential candidate Howard Dean spoke, Kennedy delivered an impassioned peroration against President Bush's tax cut. We hear that Kennedy told the crowd: "I don't need Bush's tax cut. I have never worked a [bleeping] day in my life." With that he got the audience's attention -- the dropping-jaws kind. "He droned on and on, frequently mentioning how much better the candidates would sound the more we drank," a witness told us.
No work and a lot of booze - it's a Kennedy thing. They finally managed to drag him off the stage.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Baloney avoids the meat grinder
John Wagner in the Raleigh News & Observer reveals that according to Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards: 'Meet the Press can wait':
Ever since U.S. Sen. John Edwards' May 2002 appearance on "Meet the Press," there has been no shortage of speculation in Washington as to when he might return. The North Carolina Democrat's performance, which included some vague responses, was panned by pundits, and Edwards even poked fun at the experience when he addressed the annual Gridiron dinner earlier this year.

The question has been renewed in the wake of last weekend's appearance by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a rival for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. In the eyes of most viewers, Dean got roughed up pretty badly by host Tim Russert. Edwards, in any case, is not likely to reappear anytime soon.
"He has an open invitation, but we have not been able to nail anything down," she said, adding that Russert has even made personal pleas to get Edwards on again. "They know of our interest."

Edwards spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said that doing the Sunday morning show simply isn't a priority at this point in the campaign.
Palmieri is an old Terry McAuliffe party pal and as Bubba Clinton's former personal spokeswoman knows a lot about avoidance.
Naked Pictures Alert!
Check out this AP photo! It's more than I wanted to know.
Gawd, it's the ecoweenies again
Allison Gatlin in the Antelope Valley Press tells us Predators may make lair at Edwards:
EDWARDS AFB - This base could become home to as many as 50 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and nearly 1,000 support personnel as the Air Force begins investigating new bases for the aircraft.
Ok, that's cool. But check the punchline:
The service is in the beginning stages of preparing an environmental assessment for basing the unmanned aircraft at Edwards or Holloman AFB, N.M.

"The Air Force wants to be able to present to the public the potential environmental impacts at either location," said Capt. Wes Ticer, spokesman for Air Combat Command. "The Air Force needs to make an informed decision."
No timeline has been established yet for the basing.

"This process is just beginning," Ticer said.

The Air Force is seeking public input in preparing the environmental assessment, tentatively scheduled for completion in the winter.

Deadline for public input is July 31.
The environmental assessment will be done this winter. Geez, you'd think there was a war on!
Today's hoot!
John Hawkins interviews Ann Coulter:
John Hawkins: If Jimmy Carter had somehow defeated Ronald Reagan in 1980, do you think the Soviet Union would still exist today?

Ann Coulter: Yes. On the bright side, Jimmy Carter would have gotten his Nobel Peace prize a lot sooner.
Much more in a similar vein by following the link.
More "compelling interest"
I don't always agree with the Washington Posts's Richard Cohen, but he seems spot on in Confused O'Connor:
To rationalize the irrational, O'Connor declared what amounts to a racial emergency. She has to do that to get around the Constitution's equal protection clause, which provides that no state shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." O'Connor takes the clause very seriously. She cites a previous Supreme Court decision (Adarand Constructors v. Peña) that says, "Government may treat people differently because of their race only for the most compelling reasons." Fortunately for her, she has found one: minority underrepresentation.

In one form or another, O'Connor uses the term repeatedly. But she never defines it. Like pornography, she knows it when she sees it. Underrepresentation would not be, say, 14.5 percent of the law school class -- the actual figure of minority students enrolled -- but it would be, say, 4 percent of the class, the predicated percentage if there were no affirmative action program. That calamity enables her to suspend the Constitution.

O'Connor recognizes what she has done. She cannot bring herself to expound some new legal principle, so in the manner of Lincoln and habeas corpus or FDR and the incarceration of Japanese, O'Connor declares an emergency that will end when underrepresentation is no more. "The court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary," she writes. Let us all pray.
Good idea, but that may be unconstitutional unless there's an emergency too.
"Compelling interest" alert!
Thomas Sowell on Saving Quotas:
There was some talk recently about upcoming vacancies on the Supreme Court because some retirements were expected. However, the High Court's decision on affirmative action suggests that there are already vacancies, even though no one has resigned.
And the punchline:
We can only hope that, when President Bush gets a chance to nominate replacements, he does not fill an existing vacancy with another vacancy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Geezer Alert!
Pill 'may raise average life expectancy by 45 years':
A pill which scientists claim could increase average life expectancy to 120 years is to be tested in Scotland.

Steve Parkinson, the Scottish-born president of US pharmaceutical giants CereMedix, revealed the drug is set to be trialled there.

Its creators say the drug will slow down the signs of ageing by repairing and restoring the body's natural defences, reports the Daily Record.
The new pill contains the protein ependymin, which is produced by the brain and stimulates the body into making its own disease-fighting antioxidants.

These are found in fruit and vegetables, and researchers claim the new pill has the equivalent effect of eating 30lbs of fruit and vegetables every day.
Hopefully not 30 lbs of prunes.
Makes sense to me!
Over at Little Tiny Lies, Steve 'splains the Supreme Court Affirmative Action decisions:
If you want a Reader's Digest version of the two cases read in pari materia, it goes like this:
  1. Diversity is important. We're not sure why, but a bunch of bearded liberal nuts who run a university said so, and that's good enough for us.
  2. Each minority group must be represented by a "critical mass" of students, although this does not imply that when you bring them together, they start to emit neutrons.
  3. If we find out you have a quota or other rational system for determining what a critical mass is, we will beat you like we own you. Shhh, don't tell us. We mean it.
  4. Asians and Jews are not minorities, except when one tries to marry your daughter.
Much more by following the link.
Is that a kiwi in your pocket?
From New Zealand - Cheers, tears as prostitution bill passes:
Parliament erupted in cheers last night, as a landmark law to decriminalise prostitution passed by a single vote.

Christchurch MP Tim Barnett's Prostitution Reform Act will become law next Monday and soliciting for sex and brothelkeeping will no longer be illegal in New Zealand from that day.
"I hope there are sex workers out there celebrating tonight as I know they all can," Ms Healy said.
The Safe Sheep Act.
More NY Times Hijinks
Richard Johnson's Page Six column in the NY Post reports Unburied Hatchets at Times:
THE back-stabbing at the New York Times didn't end with the firing of plagiarizing reporter Jayson Blair and the "resignations" of executive editor Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd.
The latest dirty trick is an anonymous letter to PAGE SIX which claims a petition is being circulated "to remind [publisher] Arthur Sulzberger Jr. that several editors who remain on West 43rd Street were enthusiastic henchmen of the Raines era and would be unacceptable in a new editing team."

The only "enthusiastic henchman" named, however, is Andrew Rosenthal, the assistant managing editor and son of former Times executive editor Abe Rosenthal. The supposed petition urges Sulzberger to "either demote or preferably dismiss Andy, who is as responsible as Howell and Gerald for our current plight."

"Arthur, if Andy remains in place, you will never be rid of the poison in the atmosphere here," it continues. "For many of us, Andy was the poison, since Howell and Gerald mostly hid themselves away from the newsroom staff and Andy was their public face. Andy treats colleagues with contempt. His editing is both capricious and dishonest . . . He was Howell's lapdog."

A Times spokeswoman told us: "We have neither seen nor heard of a petition and would be shocked if it were true, because Andy Rosenthal is a talented journalist with a bright future at the New York Times."
Yeah, right.
Rosenthal made a name for himself covering the 1992 election with a front-page story asserting that President Bush (the elder) was so out of touch with the everyday world that he'd never seen a supermarket bar-code scanner. In fact, the president had examined a state-of-the-art prototype on display at a National Grocers Assn. convention.
The White House demanded a correction. It didn't get one, but it did get an apology from Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Sr., who admitted Rosenthal's story was "just a teeny-weeny bit naughty."
The little pissant is getting much less than he deserves.
Today's Hoot!
Now revealed - the movie trailer for the upcoming Harry Potter and the New York Bitch. Hooeee, that villain casts a mean spell!

It's an anticlimax
Well, I got my super-duper electronic primary ballot from the hypemeisters at Since none of the candidates offered me any of the proper incentives, I just selected the wingnut of my choice. Interestingly, despite the disclaimer that
THIS IS A SECRET BALLOT VOTE. We will not make public your vote or any of your personal information.
they require your address and phone number, ostensibly for possible "verification" purposes. This wouldn't be a scam to provide MoveOn with a nicely saleable mailing list would it? In any case, I hope the girls at the California "escort service," whose particulars I used, will treat them appropriately. Stay tuned for the big "results" on Friday.
Who knew?
Tim Blair discovers that "To achieve peace in the Middle East, George W. Bush must first solve the issue of Sammy Sosa’s bat".

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Affirmative Action Alert!
Dick Gephardt, Howard Dean, John Kerry and even the troll-like guy from Ohio all voiced enthusiastic support for the idea of Affirmative Action in the name of diversity and fairness, but they roundly refused to follow Jackson's advice and "spot" fellow candidates Rev. Al Sharpton and Senator Carol Mosley Braun primary votes to even out the field.
It's Ridiculopathy.
"I don't know art, but I know what I like" alert!
Custodian Trashes Library Art Exhibit:
BOULDER, Colo. - It's art to some, yes, but apparently not to the custodian who threw away the newest exhibit at the Boulder Public Library.

After being pulled out of the garbage, "My Favorite Place to Walk in Boulder: Or Found Trash Objects" officially opened Friday at the downtown library. The display features common trash found by University of Colorado art students in otherwise scenic spots citywide.

"This is a slightly different kind of art," said Karen Ripley, director of cultural programs. "It's not meant to be beautiful.

"One of the comments our maintenance guy made was that it smells," said Ripley, who saved the artwork.

She said the odor could have been coming from a soggy brown leather clog found in a drinking fountain.
Too bad they didn't include some doggie landmines.
Someone call OSHA!
A large sign on a local Al Aqsa Brigade building now reads: "Our employees have gone '0' days without a work-related accident. Remember, safety is everyone's job."
It's ScrappleFace.
She's back!

For a political pundit, I am a pretty loud singer!

Babs has been thinking again and it hurt:
BARBRA Streisand is back on her soapbox. The diva is urging "blacks and Jews" to unite in order to defeat President Bush. "I have reflected a great deal over the years about the need for dialogue and unity among various minority and progressive communities," Streisand writes on her Web site.
Why are the lefties always pining for dialogue? Is it some secret code for a keg party?
"With a shared history of oppression and slavery, as well as a common ingrained culture of social justice, Blacks and Jews, over the years and still today, have been natural allies"
"Over the years and still today," Babs continues to write like a not too bright high school kid.
"Now is the time in history when Blacks and Jews, along with Latinos, Asians, Women, Gays and all 'others' have the potential to work together."
They didn't have the potential before?

But for the rich nutty goodness of the full statement, you have to go to Bab's web site:
Afterall (sic), why should wealthy people such as myself receive a tax cut? I will be the first to admit that I don’t need it.
All together now! Babs, send it back!

Monday, June 23, 2003

I'm so excited!
Dear MoveOn member,

Just a quick reminder: Voting begins in the MoveOn Presidential Primary on June 24. Keep an eye on your inbox for your special email ballot. Please get others involved -- forward this message to your friends. If they are not already on the MoveOn mailing list, they will have to register to vote in the primary here:
I see that some of the scamps over at Free Republic have signed up with multiple email addresses. Not wanting to be mistaken for a Democrat, I have abjured such hijinks. But I'm still undecided - which wingnut should get my vote, er, hear my voice?

UPDATE: It occurs to me I'm going about this all wrong. If I would get off my high horse, I could make some crimp cut green leaf on this deal! I mean this is a Democrat "primary" after all. So, what am I bid for my vote? No typical ward heeler rewards like a pack of smokes (even at Mayor Bloomberg prices) - I want significant sums. And if the price is right, my voice could be heard numerous times! Howie, Richard, Al, even the guy from the Munsters - how about it?
It's campaign quotes!
The Democrat candidates dropped by Chicago over the weekend to swap a little spit with Jesse Jackson. It was the usual bluster and blather, but here are some memorable quotes:
"When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day," Gephardt said.
A true student of the Constitution! He ought to get together with Gen. Wesley Clark who thinks "this country was founded on a principle of progressive taxation".

But leave it to the Rev. Al to come up with the best line:
"Clarence Thomas is my color, but he's not my kind."
The nation is profoundly grateful for that every day.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

News of Sport Alert!
Gillian Harris in the NY Post reveals TOURNEY SKINNY:
She's being called the "Slovakian Skeleton" and officials fear for the health of Daniela Hantuchova as the Wimbledon tennis tournament starts in London tomorrow.

The waif-like 20-year- old is the ninth seed, but she may be one of the most-watched players amid widespread speculation she is suffering from anorexia.

The official tour biography of the 5-foot-11 Slovakian lists her as 123 pounds - but she is thought to be considerably lighter after a recent dramatic weight loss.
Follow the link for a picture. She does look a tad sparse, but what's most striking is that she seems to be playing tennis in her underwear.
Today's hoot!
The Toronto Sun amuses with Wanted: Pantless senator wearing 'cuffs:
OTTAWA -- The Red Chamber is blushing again with the revelation on its Web site that a senator may have recently lost a pair of pants and the key to a set of handcuffs. The Senate Web site has raised eyebrows with its listing of a number of items found around the place earlier this year.

Senator Lowell Murray warned his colleagues last week that this type of revelation is the last thing the chamber needs.

"Do we have to excite the lurid imagination of our enemies by making this raw data so readily available? Mark my words: The media will get ahold of this," Murray was quoted as saying yesterday.
I guess so.
Murray predicted that cartoons will appear in newspapers showing a "handcuffed, trouserless senator of either gender wandering our corridors" looking for their pants, handcuffs, handkerchief and notebook.
Party on, dude!
Time to start checking out the family tree!
George Neumayr brings us up to date on the latest hijinks in Casino Country:
Indian gaming "benefits us all," say the industry's public relations flaks. An Indian gaming television advertisement running in California pictures a group of upstanding citizens in a barbershop enumerating its many civic blessings. Gambling lords are apparently the sturdiest pillars of a community.

Pols from both parties are loathe to challenge this obvious scam, lest they appear "anti-Indian." The result is a racket of staggering proportions.

Last year in California, where Indian tribes pay no state or local taxes on gaming, five new casinos opened, bringing the total to over 50. Indian gaming revenue is now in the ballpark of $4 billion. Much of this money flows to a small network of hucksters who live not on poverty-stricken reservations but in gilded mansions. And millions of these profits go back to the politicians who let these casinos clog and corrupt the state.

Time magazine reported last December the outrageous case of Maryann Martin. She is a Californian who formed a three-person "tribe" with her two brothers, then started up a casino last year by moving a trailer onto an old Indian reservation near Palm Springs. Martin discovered that her mother had been the last surviving member of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians. This not only allowed her to start up a casino but also qualify for federal aid. "In 1999 and 2000 alone, government audit reports show, she pulled in more than $1 million from Washington -- $476,000 for housing, $400,000 for tribal government and $146,000 for environmental programs," reports Time. The tribe soon consisted of one adult -- Maryann Martin -- after her drug-dealer brothers got shot.
Check out the rest of the article for what to do when you don't have a tribe or reservation; or your reservation is inconveniently located. Here's a hint - hire a politician.
One California tribe, the San Miguel Band, managed to spend $519,403 per member on lobbying the state, reports Time.
Dang, I must have some Indian ancestors. Maybe the government will give me some cash while I investigate?
There really are X-ray glasses?
While perusing my favorite mail order sporting goods catalog I was struck by an oddity involving the People's Republic of Kalifornia. Many sporting goods that propel projectiles are subject to widely varying restrictions across the country, which are indicated by footnotes in the catalog. But while examining the night vision gear that was for sale, I noticed that none of it can be shipped to California.

Now, I've mentioned night vision before, but I've always figured it was just another techno gadget that I would fool with for an hour and then put on a shelf. Besides, out here in the sticks, about all I'm likely to see are deer, foxes, and possums. I'm not that interested in their nocturnal hijinks.

Anyhow, I thought I'd do a little Googling to find out what problem the People's Republic of Kalifornia had with night vision. Unless I am missing something obvious, all I can find is this shocker - Video Voyeurs:
Night-vision camera filters are being used by voyeurs to see through people's clothes. Some of these pictures are being sold online, and no one can stop them.

Glasses that give its wearer X-ray vision have been a pop-culture fad in slapstick movies and TV shows since the '50s. But new video-camera technology is making X-ray vision a reality for voyeurs, and it's no longer a laughing matter. This week on "CyberCrime" we investigate the use of specially equipped video cameras that can see through clothes.
Back in the late '90s Sony released its Night Shot camcorder, which came equipped with infrared technology for filming at night. But when the night shot feature was used during the day, the camera could see through clothing. Sony pulled the Night Shot off the market. But now voyeurs are getting the same effect using an infrared filter.

What's even more surprising is that the practice is legal in most states. Currently, only one state, California, specifically outlaws the use of X-ray cameras. Senator Dick Ackerman authored a bill, enacted in January 2000, that makes all types of video voyeurism illegal. The law states that it is a crime "to secretly videotape or photograph another person under or through their clothing."
Gawd, it's the technopervs again. I'm a little surprised that they can actually see through clothes, but I'm not surprised there are a bunch of wingnuts trading what must be grainy green photos of naked people. Is this really the reason that you can't buy a night vision device in California?
Yee Doggies!
The United Nations sure knows how to throw a going away party! Iraq oil for food will cost $100M to shut down:
The "best estimate for all known and projected costs" associated with phasing out the program over six months is $106 million, Annan said in a report.
It's Kofi's version of the long and expensive goodbye.
The more things change, the more they stay the same
Bill Buckley discusses the curious case of Aleksandr Zaporozhsky - What's up in the spy world?
The Big Bad Russians have pulled a fast one which bears pondering. The victim is one Aleksandr Zaporozhsky, by U.S. lights a hero, by Russian lights, a traitor. We learn that in November, 2001, he was enticed to revisit his homeland, on stepping foot in which he was whisked off, tried, and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Several questions immediately arise. True, Zaporozhsky spied against Moscow, but when he did that, he was spying against a Soviet regime ultimately repudiated by the Russian people. It was ten years between the time the Russians shook off Communism and the time the Russian secret police got around to luring Zaporozhsky back to Russia. Why should they be mad at a citizen who turned against the regime finally rejected by everybody, including the Soviet president?

It is conjectured by James Risen, writing in the New York Times, that what the defector had done was cue the FBI onto the trail of Robert P. Hanssen, the FBI traitor who worked for Soviet money for 20 years, betraying Russians who were giving us important information, resulting in mayhem and death. We gave Hanssen a life sentence, and there are those who at his trial were wistful for the gallows when that sentence was passed.
The link between the two cases could tighten up one step further. What if Moscow were to offer to return Zaporozhsky to the United States, in return for the release of Hanssen to Russia?
What grabs attention is the trans-ideological nature of the Zaporozhsky ambush. Hanssen did not betray his country because the star of socialism blinded his eye and captured his soul. He wanted more money than the FBI was paying him. Zaporozhsky was, from all accounts, someone who rejected the Communist system and wished to fight against it, as so many sometime Communists did. Was corporate pride at work here? — We Russians may be governed by a different order, serving different gods, but we will not forgive a betrayal even though it was of a predecessor government everywhere rejected. What would we have thought if the government of West Germany, licensed in 1954 by the occupying powers with full authority (excepting defense policy), had lured back to Bonn a German who had defected from Hitler and given secrets to the Allies, sentencing him to imprisonment?
Our old pals may have mellowed a tad, but their interests aren't ours.
Lifestyle alert!
Sarah Baxter in the UK Times - US teens ditch summer camp for health spas:
American teenagers are turning their backs on traditional hiking, canoeing and climbing summer camps. The latest trend is for an inward-bound voyage of discovery in which you learn to love yourself, practise meditation and t’ai chi and pamper yourself with a facial and a pedicure.

Bunk beds in log cabins by the lake are out, private bedrooms in elegant surroundings are in.

Genna Epstein, 14, tried the mosquitoes-in-the-wood experience one summer and hated it. “It was very grungy,” she said. “I went hiking and biking and played soccer and basketball and I was always being told, ‘This is what you have to do’.”

Her mother Ros had already tried out Canyon Ranch’s spa and health resort for adults in Massachusetts. When she heard it was starting up a camp for 12 to 17-year-olds in her home state of Pennsylvania, she thought this would be just the tonic for Genna.

“She glowed when she came home. Her favourite classes were kickboxing and yoga, meditation and funk aerobics. They even had one called footwear analysis — and she came home and told me her fashion sneakers weren’t good for her feet. Yes, she got her nails done, but it’s not like she was going to the beauty salon every day.”
Footwear analysis?
“Children of today have a more deeply felt interest in personal development and self-empowerment,” said the CosmiKids director Judy Williams. On the curriculum are “pint-sized aromatherapy” and “fishing for intentions at the bridge of the imagination”. The vending machines will serve only healthy snacks.

“Creative learning sessions” such as dance, storytelling, beadwork and songs will help children to develop a “reverence for humanity and the universe”.

It is a far cry from the Gunnery, generally considered to be the first American camp. Two teachers, Frederick and Abigail Gunn, took pupils from their school in Washington, Connecticut, on a two-week hiking trip in 1861. They struck camp and went trapping, boating and fishing. With the spreading of the Boy Scout movement to America and concerns for the health of “weakly” urban children, a tradition was born.
I'd like to see someone demonstrate trapping in one of the "creative learning sessions". That would have 'em running screaming for the exits.
Now 10m American children attend summer camps each year and, with prices of between $600 (£360) and $2,000 (£1,200) a week, new market trends are too lucrative to ignore.
Boys have yet to catch up with the kinder, gentler camps. There was only one in Genna Epstein’s group last year, but he got into the spirit. “He loved it just as much as we did,” she said. “He had a manicure and a pedicure and was totally open to anything.”

She is hoping he will return, like her, for the new summer season. “I made tons of friends and still talk to them all. The camp really makes you feel happy with who you are.”
Somehow I overlooked this trend. Out here in flyover country, we have Vacation Bible School.
Today's Africa Story
Pipeline Explosion in Nigeria Kills 105. Accident, some sort of sabotage? Well sort of....
LAGOS, Nigeria - Fuel gushing from a vandalized pipeline exploded in southeastern Nigeria, killing at least 105 villagers as they scavenged gasoline, Red Cross authorities and witnesses said Saturday.

It was not immediately clear what touched off the blast late Thursday on a length of pipe 30 miles north of the city of Umuahia. Nigeria's national ThisDay newspaper cited witnesses as saying it may have been caused by a spark from a motorcycle used by one of the victims.
Ndu Ughamadu, spokesman of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, confirmed the pipeline was ruptured by "vandals," adding it was still unclear how many people were killed.

Witnesses speaking on condition of anonymity said villagers had been scooping fuel from the pipeline for about six weeks since it was first ruptured by saboteurs in early May. They said authorities had continued to pump fuel through the line despite being informed of the breakage.
The pipeline was carrying fuel from a state-owned refinery in the oil city of Port Harcourt to the city of Enugu, 140 miles to the north.

ThisDay cited witnesses as saying police colluded with the vandals by charging villagers 80 cents to scoop up buckets and barrels of fuel for resale. A police officer reached by telephone at the state command in Umuahia declined comment.

Pipeline vandalism, known as "bunkering" or "scooping," is common in Nigeria despite the risk of fire, prosecution or being shot on sight by security forces.

Thousands have been killed in explosions in recent years, including more than 1,000 in a 1998 blast in the Niger River delta town of Jesse.

Since then, the government has tried to educate villagers about the danger of scavenging pipeline fuel. But the practice continues, spurred by poverty and residents' anger at the government and oil industry for allegedly polluting the environment and financially neglecting the oil-rich delta.
I'll ignore the obligatory dubious ecoweenie reference. The operative problem is a torrent of oil money that goes to the Nigerian government and disappears. Funny how that happens!