Saturday, July 05, 2003

It's a stickup!
Perhaps you've noticed that bank robbery has become a rather mundane activity in the USA, rather akin to robbing the local convenience store. Dan Barry explains why in Friendly Bank Makes It Easy for Robbers:
What is it about Commerce Bank? Why does it seem to attract those who prefer using the threatening note to the more traditional bank slip? Who insist on making cash withdrawals without technically having an account? Who are in such a hurry that they don't even have time to accept a complimentary pen?

The answer cannot simply be an extreme interpretation of the company's slogan: "America's Most Convenient Bank." There must be other explanations for why this New Jersey company has captured a healthy share of the city's bank robber market, generating the kind of buzz you just can't buy among the Rikers Island cognoscenti.

Commerce has had 14 bank robberies in Manhattan since January, a reach-for-the-sky number that exceeds by one the number of its Manhattan branch offices. Some of its larcenous visitors have stolen a few thousand dollars; others, just a few hundred. Some exude a "don't give me no dye pack" air of sophistication; others seem only vaguely aware that they are in a bank.
The police offered advice. Stop looking like cosmetics counters and return to a style that says you handle cash, not inquiries about eye shadow. Put up Plexiglas dividers called bandit barriers. Make surveillance cameras more prominent. Hire security guards; call them "greeters" if you like. Make the smile in "service with a smile" less doltish.

The police have adopted a kind of "Goofus and Gallant" model to reinforce its message. The Gallant is Amalgamated Bank, which has all the recommended — though not foolproof — security measures, including bandit barriers. It has not had a successful holdup at any of its seven branches in more than a decade.

Although many banks might have qualified for Goofus, the police settled on the brash new kid, Commerce. "Commerce does very little of what we recommend," Mr. Browne said. For example, he said, "They've told our detectives they have no interest in ever putting in the barriers."
In June, two Commerce branches were robbed on the same day — the company's 12th and 13th reported robberies this year. A few days later, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly made an unannounced visit to the grand opening of a Commerce branch in TriBeCa. He was not there to collect a balloon, but rather to point out, yet again, the absence of bandit barriers.

The next day, the Commerce branch at Third Avenue and 43rd Street was robbed — for the fourth time this year. The robber reached across the teller's counter, grabbed more than $2,000 in cash and hustled past a "greeter" who thought he was just another happy customer.

The branch manager did not want to discuss the robberies at his bank this week. But he did offer a free pen.
Sigh, I'm of an age that remembers when banks, if not exactly fortress-like, were a little bit formidable.
Euroweenie alert!
Rosemary Righter sums up the EU Assembly hijinks I mentioned on Wednesday in Berlusconi must have an apology from the red rabble:
The occasion was a formal one, the presentation that takes place at the outset of each rotating EU presidency. Berlusconi treated it with appropriate seriousness, delivering an accomplished, thoughtful speech. He, and the country he leads, were entitled to the customary courtesy of an adult debate on its substance.

What did he get? Before he even opened his mouth, a raucous claque of Green and left-wing MEPs waved placards plastered with the best insults they could plagiarise (the favourite, “No Godfather for Europe”, was a lift from Der Spiegel’s oh-so-witty cover story). His speech was greeted by a barrage of invective, all of it ad hominem, much of it infantile, some of it contemptible — the French Communist’s calling the Berlusconi Government “barbaric” or the Belgian MEP’s accusing him of laying Italy waste as did Attila the Hun. Martin Schulz, the deservedly obscure German Socialist now enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, was the last in a discreditable line-up of nincompoops who disgraced democracy by their inability to tell the difference between free speech and the political equivalent of a wrecker’s demolition ball.
Right, then. The rowdy Red-Green bunch conspired to drown out Berlusconi’s speech because it is not just Citizen Berlusconi the media tycoon whom they fear and detest, but his ambitions to make Europe less bureaucratic, more outward- looking and capable of adult partnership with America. Nor will they forgive his inexcusable presumption in asserting that Italians have as much right as the French or Germans to be heard in Europe’s councils.
Andrew Stuttaford sums up at The Corner:
Corrupt (check out how they pay themselves), self-important (all those declarations) and futile (what does it actually do?), the European ‘parliament’ has long been a disgrace, but it is revealing to see how often its MEPS use the chamber as the site for demonstration rather than debate. The reason? In the absence of a genuine shared political culture across ‘Europe’ there is nothing to debate. The EU’s ‘democracy’ is theatre and its members are nothing more than actors – over-indulged, overpaid but, alas, not yet over.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Weird news from all 'round
Hillary says Bill could be 'first mate' - Kewl! Then he could be keelhauled.

Heated political debate in hot tub hits boiling point - He's in a hot tub with five women and he starts talking politics! One of the women disagrees. He had to have stitches over his eye. Naturally, he's a liberal. No, it wasn't Al Gore.

Slain Over Butt Crack - Don't tell your new wife she has a skinny butt. Also don't say 'Stab me, I don't care.'

PM accused of French phobia
Labor has accused John Howard of suffering from "post-Iraq war Francophobia", calling on the Government to accept a French offer to join an Australian-led multinational intervention force in the Solomon Islands.
Hey, if you don't need any cooks, you don't need any cooks.

And last but not least, via William Gibson, there's the The First International Moblogging Love Hotel Conference. I'm not sure I get the big picture on this, but the small pictures are quite clear.
Do I get credit?
After extensive research, I am proclaiming:
The Cracker Barrel Philosopher's Law:
Anyone in the news claiming that free speech rights have been violated has never read the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.
All I have is empirical proof, but it seems to be a reliable guide. Case in point - Karen Hunter, formerly an august member of the editorial board of the NY Daily News and currently a professor at Hunter College, who penned In Jersey, free speech takes a hit:
New Jersey's General Assembly voted 69 to 2 this week to eliminate the state's poet laureate position. The real purpose was to get rid of the controversial Amiri Baraka.

Baraka was asked by Gov. Jim McGreevey to resign last fall following publication of his poem "Somebody Blew Up America," which asks a series of questions, among them: "Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed/Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the twin towers/To stay home that day? Why did Sharon stay away?/Who? Who? Who?"
Even if you agree that Baraka pushed too far, don't we need to defend his right to speak?
Democracy and freedom of speech are basic to America. Eliminating New Jersey's poet laureate position is an effort to censor Baraka - and thus a symbolic slap at free speech.
Bzzzt! Thanks for playing, Karen. And you can't weasel out with a "symbolic slap".

Maybe these folks are from some alternative universe where every eructation that passed their lips was greeted with homage by the general populace, who then proceeded to shower them with loose change. Well, let's all welcome Imamu and Karen to Earth.

And then maybe someone can explain why New Jersey had a poet laureate in the first place.
Let the games begin
The Prowler reveals Democrats Get Dirty:
Across the country, Gov. Gray Davis's opposition research team -- the one that worked overtime during the last election to dig up dirt on former Los Angeles mayor Dick Riordan and opponent Bill Simon -- is at it again. Davis is said by one state Democratic insider to have budgeted more than $100,000 to dig up dirt on Rep. Darrel Issa, the multimillionaire who is helping to finance the recall effort against Davis, and who says he will run for the governor's job if the recall drive succeeds. Davis has also sent his minions forth to begin digging up dirt on actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
We've already seen the stuff on Issa coming out. If you want to get the flavor hop on over to, a labor union sponsored site that has teasers like "Darrell Issa... An Extremist!" and "Darrell Issa... A Car Thief?". But web sites aren't the preferred venue:
Davis has been using his favorite news outfit to spread his dirt on Issa. Both negative reports about Issa's distant past -- that he and his brother were suspected of filing a false car theft report more than 20 years ago and that Issa faced gun charges more than 30 years ago -- appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. "They just handed everything over to them," says the state Democratic Party operative. "That's how it works. I doubt the paper even had to do any of its own reporting. Davis's people are pretty thorough."
What liberal bias?

And while we are on the subject, the Prowler also reveals:
The presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry may be saying that it doesn't care about the new momentum of Howie Dean's team, but it sure isn't acting like it. Kerry's folks have begun intensive opposition research on Dean, sending staff to Vermont to pull together whatever dirt they can find out about not only Dean but also his wife, who continues to work as a physician in the state.

"It's early, but not too early to start taking him down a notch," says a Kerry staffer. "We've gone head to head with Dean in debates, we've tried to shout them down and shut them up, and they are still hanging around. We're going on the offensive."
The Kerry staffer says that Dean's recent appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" gave them pause. "He was avoiding having to talk about anything substantive from his background. There has to be stuff there. We're looking. If he's going to be around for the long haul, we might as well be ready."
And here it comes:

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean may have a little scandal in his past.
Asked whether he'd done anything like that when he was young, Dean said: "I take the Fifth. Was I ever arrested? No. But I'm not going to catalog my misdeeds, of which there were a significant number."
Ruh oh! Maybe he means this - Howard Dean: I Beat Booze:
In an interview with New York magazine in February, Dean's Yale University buddy Ralph Dawson was asked about the Democrat rising star's student hobbies.

"Well, he drank," Dawson blurted out.

Dean later explained: "I quit drinking when I got married in 1981. I didn’t think I handled liquor well."

Then the candidate revealed that sometimes his drinking caused trouble. "Actually, I drank beer. I tended to misbehave. I had a hangover the next day," Dean told New York magazine.

The up-and-coming candidate won't say what kind of misbehavior he indulged in, adding only, "What’s funny when you’re 18 isn’t funny when you’re 30, so I just quit."

He insists that he was never arrested for drunk driving and that there is no alcoholism in his family.
I'm not holding my breath waiting for any tut-tutting from the usual whiners about President Bush.
Welcome the new neighbors to the Windy City!
Janet Rausa Fuller beats around the bush in Day laborers demand jobs center:
Having already turned their backs on the city's July 1 deadline to move, day laborers said Thursday they are staying put at a vacant lot in Albany Park and demanded that a permanent center be built for them to gather and solicit work.
Sounds fairly obscure right? Why do day laborers need a vacant lot?
"I need the place," said Jose Luis, a 52-year-old man who withheld his last name. If he and other workers lose the space, he said he would be forced to "go to the streets, go to the corners. And maybe run from the police."

Jessica Aranda of the Latino Union of Chicago, an advocacy group that has taken on the workers' cause, said the hope is to have a permanent site modeled after centers in Los Angeles and New York, where laborers would not only get work on a lottery basis, but also learn English and get educated on labor rights.
The answer is that it is a place where illegal aliens find illegal day jobs.

But not to worry, Oscar Avila reports in the Chicago Tribune that 9 nations ask county to accept ID cards
The consuls general of nine Latin American nations on Wednesday demanded that Cook County adopt a controversial plan to recognize ID cards issued by their governments.
The matricula consular will make the life of citizens from Latin American countries easier and more reasonable," said Alexandre Addor-Neto, the consul general of Brazil in Chicago.

Addor-Neto was joined by the consuls general of Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
It only makes the life of illegal aliens easier and only in locales that accept this crap as proof of something.
The emissaries are backing a proposal by County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado (D-Chicago) that would accept cards issued by Latin American nations.
But Maldonado, flanked by county law enforcement officials, said opponents are taking a "a very myopic view" toward the cards. He said officers prefer that undocumented immigrants produce cards issued legally rather than phony driver's licenses obtained on the black market.
Actually, I'm sure the general preference is that the illegal aliens not be there in the first place.
"If anything, what we're doing by accepting the matricula consular is enhancing the sense of the security of the citizens of Cook County," Maldonado said.
This guy is full of more crap than a Christmas goose. He must smell votes. I wonder how many holders of a "matricular consular" are also illegally registered to vote?

Special Delivery Alert!
(Via The Fat Guy) Lightning Strikes Preacher Who Asked For Sign:
FOREST, Ohio -- Damage to a church in Forest, Ohio, is estimated at $20,000 after a preacher asked God for a sign.

A member of the First Baptist Church said a guest evangelist was preaching repentance and seeking a sign from God when lightning struck the steeple.

Ronnie Cheney called the incident "awesome, just awesome!"

Cheney said the lightning traveled through the microphone, blew out the sound system and enveloped the preacher, who wasn't hurt.

Afterward, services resumed for about 20 minutes until the congregation realized the church was on fire. The building was evacuated.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

It's Howie the Duck!
Pro Kool-Aid drinker Sheryl McCarthy waxes lyrical in Newsday - The Candidacy of Howard Dean Takes 'Wing':
George W. Bush may be raking in campaign money hand over fist, but among the Democratic presidential hopefuls Howard Dean isn't doing too shabbily. He's raised more than any other Democrat during the second quarter of the year, and while this doesn't exactly make him the front-runner he's the one everyone's talking about.

I've followed the Democratic candidates with about as much enthusiasm as I'd muster for a high-stakes lacrosse game. But even I can see that Dean is catching on. Which makes me wonder: Does Howard Dean's growing popularity stem from the fact that people think he's Josiah Bartlet, the fictional president of NBC's "The West Wing?"
Sheryl explores this theory in depth, proving once again that "The West Wing" is the leftazoid epiphany. Gosh, I hope her panties aren't all wet!

But she's wrong. Howie's appeal is his resemblance to another fictional character:

Howie Dean, the lefties' dream

UPDATE: Over at the Gaggle, Ith reports a Dean supporter's email to a "West Wing" mailing list urging "Help Bartlet's Candidate win back FL and the U.S." Is this some form of popular delusion? Also via the Gaggle, a link to Mark Steyn's takedown of Howie.
Another country heard from
Celeste Katz in the NY Daily News shovels it in Museum's art dumps on Rudy:
Here's Rudy Giuliani's latest art attack.

An artwork featured in a new exhibit opening today at the Whitney Museum depicts America's mayor looming heroically over the city skyline - with two balls of elephant dung resting at the sides of the canvas.

The work is thinly veiled reference to Giuliani's fury over a portrait of the Virgin Mary smeared with elephant dung that was part of a 1999 show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

The lampoon of the former mayor is part of the "The American Effect," a Whitney show featuring foreign artists' sometimes jaded take on the U.S. - just in time for the Fourth of July.
Zounds! The "artwork" at the Whitney really is crap! But it's nice of them to schedule it for Independence Day. Even better, the artiste, Zhou Tiehai, is from Shanghai. I guess we won't see Deng Xiaoping posed behind the elephant plops.
Thereby Zhou Tiehai and his colleagues are retracing the steps of the late Deng Xiaoping's revered theory of taking the initiative in the economic drive and moving towards the sea itself, into the world, 'xia hai'.
But back to the Daily News for other fare for connoisseurs:
... a 1996 painting of a Japanese air raid over a burning New York City and a photo of the soldier who pointed a rifle at a terrified Elian Gonzalez, enclosed in a picture frame that features a smiling Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

The Giuliani portrait - loosely based on his Time magazine Person of the Year cover - is not his first unflattering depiction in the Whitney. In 2000, some of his condemnations of the Brooklyn Museum show were printed in the Gothic typeface favored by the Nazis in an exhibit that featured a recording of storm troopers marching.
Way cool, but I hope they got the right picture in the Elian Gonzalez item.
Pontification from Der Slickmeister
In an opinion piece in last Sunday's NY Daily News, Bubba Clinton picked up the lefty refrain about nasty big media. Whatever staffer wrote it for red nose merely trotted out the usual. But what struck me was the opening bon mot:
"It's your money," says President Bush when he promotes tax cuts. I disagree with his tax policy but admire his spin.
High praise indeed, coming from Slick.

But I'm puzzled. You mean it really isn't our money? Who knew?
And speaking of the Frenchies
French first lady encourages run by Sen. Clinton for U.S. presidency:
France's first lady expressed her support for a presidential run by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying that such a candidacy would be an inspiration to women worldwide.

Bernadette Chirac, the wife of French President Jacques Chirac, made the comments Wednesday on a prime-time TV newscast featuring an interview with the New York Democrat, who is in France to promote her new book.

"There are a lot of women who hope one day she'll run for the presidency of the United States and that she'll win," Mrs. Chirac said of Sen. Clinton in recorded remarks on TF1 television.
Apparently, Bernadette can really get into the concept of having a perpetual adulterer as a husband. Well, she's had lots of experience. With those qualifications, maybe she'll run for the presidency of France!
Good news from France!
Angela Doland tells all in French Performers Boycott the Stage:
PARIS - After calling off operas and foiling film festivals, thousands of French performing artists took their strike to the streets Wednesday, puffing into tubas and waving puppets in protest over unemployment benefits.
Be still my heart! Hopefully it includes the damn mimes too.

But what is keeping the artistes from their usual hijinks?
Actors, musicians, filmmakers and theater technicians are worried about changes to a unique French system that protects performers with an unemployment plan that covers their downtime between projects.
As things stand, performers have to rack up 507 hours of work in a year to qualify for 12 months of unemployment pay. Under the new proposal, they would have to work 507 hours over 10 1/2 months to win benefits for eight months.
More than 102,000 people qualified for the artists' unemployment system last year, nearly double a decade ago. In 2002, the government's fund for arts workers was at a shortfall of $950 million.
Hmm, it used to be work for about 3 months, get 12 months on the dole. The proposal is that they only get 8 months on the dole. What a shocking imposition on French culture!
Demonstrators said the unemployment benefits gave them time and money to work on new ideas.
Now that's a scary thought!
The Communist-backed CGT union worries that 35 percent fewer artists will be eligible under the new plan.
Hey, the Communists run the performers union. It's just like the USA!
Burning international issue alert!
(Via Gweilo Diaries) The BBC shocks with Cambodia PM tops smokers' list. It's nice to know that someone has enough time on their hands to track this kind of thing. Kind of like Mr. Blackwell's Worst Dressed list. So who's the Mr. Blackwell of smoking?
The United Nations has appealed to him to quit the habit, and after several failed attempts he said he was ready to try once again.

"I am checking to see whether I can do that or not," he said.

Cambodia has still not signed the UN Framework Convention for Tobacco Control - and the international body believes the prime minister is setting a bad example.
I should have guessed.

Notice that the UN doesn't publicize the top flatulence list, probably because it hits too close to home.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Tempest in teapot alert!
I've got about 8 windows open reading various press accounts of Silvio Berlusconi's remarks at the EU Assembly. It would be nice if even one could start at the start and proceed to the end. But the camera dudes were keeping themselves amused, as this from the BBC and this from the Telegraph illustrate.

The gist apparently is that Berlusconi delivered a speech to the EU parliament laying out the strategy for his 6 month stint as President of the European Union. I'm sure this was was a yawn inducer, but not for the Euro lefties and Greens who attacked him even before the speech started:
There had earlier been protests by Green MEPs, who held up banners proclaiming "The law is equal for all" and "No godfather for Europe" at the start of his speech.
Or as the Telegraph describes it:
In the chamber, slow handclaps drowned out Mr Berlusconi while green MEPs shouted and held up banners saying "No godfathers".

Others held signs declaring "La legge e uguale per tutti" (The law is equal for all), a reference to the way Mr Berlusconi rushed through an immunity law on the eve of a bribery verdict that was expected to go against him.
Nice of them to bring their party gear.

Then in the question period after the speech. Martin Schultz, a German Social Democrat MEP piped up:
Mr Schulz criticised the prime minister's conflicts of interest, the anti-immigration rhetoric of one of his ministers and poked fun at his ability to avoid prosecution.

Mr Berlusconi calmly waited for his turn to speak, then said: "Mr Schulz, I know there is a producer in Italy making a film on the Nazi concentration camps. I would suggest you as the role of the guard. You would be perfect."
Silvio, it's just easier to call Marty an asshat. Well, in any case, that brought down the house and:
Pat Cox, the parliament's Irish president, suspended the session, saying that Mr Berlusconi had "perhaps allowed himself to go beyond the normal rules of engagement".
Anyhow, now everybody's real huffy about everything. The Italians and Germans are calling in each other's ambassadors in for stern messages, but the best part is:
European Parliament leaders have demanded a formal apology from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi over his "Nazi guard" remarks to a German MEP.

If they do not get such an apology by 1230 GMT on Thursday they will consider breaking off relations with the European Council, headed by Mr Berlusconi...
The Parliament is going to break off relations with the Council? Hot dang, what a knee slapper! Break out the hot buttered popcorn, this is getting good.
Early returns indicate a tight race!
Over at they're featuring a Democrat Presidential candidate poll and right now the Rev. Al is neck and neck with Howard the Duck. It's a Democrat "primary" so in keeping with party tradition, be sure to vote early and often.
It's Howie again
Fresh from the Howard the Duck campaign - Statement from Howard Dean on the Worsening Crisis in Liberia:
Dubuque, IA - "Today, the world community looks to the United States for leadership in addressing the worsening crisis in Liberia. One week ago, I called for a foreign policy under which our nation reclaimed its role as the inspirational leader of the world and the beacon of hope and justice in the interests of humankind.
The fat and sugar content of this looks real high. Better watch out for lawsuits.
I said that American military force should be committed only when American security interests are imminently threatened or in the face of imminent humanitarian catastrophe.
"Imminent humanitarian catastrophe" is a succinct description of the whole continent of Africa.
And I argued that, in such cases, we must always strive to act multilaterally not unilaterally.
No grope like a group grope.

More whingeing by following the link, but one has to wonder at Howie's thought processes. It's imperative for the US to try to reverse entropy in Africa, but not to take out a dangerous thug in Iraq. Sure Howie, that's real compelling.
Vocational training alert!
(Via LGF) In Fallujah, Iraq (one of Saddam's strongholds) there was an explosion at a mosque that blew up a radical anti-American cleric.
A powerful explosion that ripped through the compound of a Sunni Muslim mosque in this restive city killed its preacher and at least six students drawn by his calls for a religious war to expel U.S. troops from Iraq, U.S. officials, residents and the victims’ relatives said today.
It seems that they were having a bomb making class in the basement and some of the students hadn't done their homework.

They should apply to the EU and UN for education subsidies, just like the Palestinians.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Well, someone fell for it
Kraft to Revamp Products on Fat Fears:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Kraft Foods Inc. (NYSE:KFT - news), the No. 1 U.S. maker of processed foods, on Tuesday said it would reformulate many of its products, cease marketing in schools and take other steps to counter a rise in obesity that could trigger a rash of lawsuits against the food industry.
Kraft acknowledged that the moves, which include capping the portion size on single-serve foods like its Lunchables children's meals, could help indemnify the company against potential lawsuits.

"We're making these commitments first and foremost because we think it is the right thing to do for the people who use our products and for our business, but if it also discourages a plaintiff's attorney or unfair legislation, that's fine with us," said the company spokesman, Michael Mudd.
I wonder what wuss sold them on this idea? They'll still get sued for the old recipes and now they just admitted something needed to be changed.

But the professional worriers are all atwitter:
"Reducing portion size will help people lower their overall calorie intake since studies have shown that people tend to eat what is in front of them," said Samantha Heller, a nutritionist with New York University.
"This is sort of a preemptive move to stave off the lawyers and the critics," said Henry Anhalt, an endocrinologist and director of the "Kids Weight Down" program at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.

"What I think is going on is that the soothsayers are saying that coming down the pike are going to be large lawsuits, class action suits looking at cardiovascular disease, premature death, diabetes, and they're going to turn to the food industry and lay it on their feet," he said.
Henry apparently has trouble with metaphors. Here's a more succinct summary:
"This is an ongoing battle," said Keith Patriquin, a buy-side analyst with Loomis Sayles, which holds shares of Kraft and other big food names. "Trial lawyers ... are looking for the next big thing."
Only in America.
Today's Hoot
Tim Blair in the Bulletin:
South Australian member of parliament Frances Bedford last week decided that her opinion of Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine was so important that she should review the film for her fellow members of the House of Assembly. "Because many people have told me what a good movie Bowling for Columbine is, I went along to see it last weekend with my 23-year-old son," Frances began, sending members hurtling towards the bar. "I was looking forward to seeing it because of Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men, which was published in 2001 but which I have not yet been able to read because so many people keep borrowing it from me. Because of that I am not sure of the relationship between the book and the film." There isn't one, apart from a common theme of inaccuracy. Bedford, who holds the seat of Florey for the ALP (Australian Labor Party - i.e. portsiders, natch), would know this if she'd even read the book's cover. "I left the cinema deeply concerned about many things," she revealed. Not as concerned as the residents of Florey, who now realise that they are represented by Margaret Pomeranz Lite.
Maggie is the Australian Roger Ebert. Only fluffier.
Ruh Oh!
'Dr. Misterio' Sued For Alleged Sex Assault Of Minors:
A man who advertised on several Spanish-language radio stations as "Doctor Misterio" was sued Monday for the sexual assault of two minors -- less than a year after he pleaded guilty to the sexual assaults of six other females.
I guess we know what the mystery was, but wait there's more!
"Doctor Misterio," whose real name is Fernando Lozano, pleaded guilty in January to the sexual assault of six girls and women, ages 15 to 31, and was sentenced to nine years and four months in state prison.
Lozano pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license, sexual penetration by fraud, lewd acts on a child under 15 and sexual battery.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said the 32-year-old immigrant will be deported to Mexico after he serves his sentence.
They misspelled "illegal alien".

But there's even more!
According to the lawsuit, Lozano was frequently promoted on the top-rated "El Cucuy de la Manana" -- "The Morning Boogeyman" -- show on KSCA-FM (101.9). El Cucuy "regularly recommended" Lozano for 1.5 years on his show, which is No. 1 among listeners 25 to 54 in Los Angeles, according to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, suffering from various ailments, took the advice of El Cucuy and went to see Lozano. Lozano allegedly told Doris he could cure her stomach pain with a massage, the lawsuit states. But during the massage, he allegedly committed a sex act on the girl, according to the lawsuit.

Doris was charged $500 for the treatment, the lawsuit states.
If you hit the link, you'll discover that he treated epilepsy the same way.

These Third World stories are always so wacky! Good thing we don't have stuff like that in the good ole USA.
Problems in Beantown
Saha Talcott tells the tale in the Boston Globe:
It's an etiquette problem fit to stump even Emily Post.

When the country music superstars the Dixie Chicks performed at FleetCenter two weeks ago, the offices of City Councilors Chuck Turner and Felix Arroyo presented the threesome with a signed and stamped certificate of congratulations for speaking out in the spring against the war in Iraq. Six days later, the rest of the council nixed the honors.

Now, the two city councilors have to figure out how to take back the presumptuously awarded honor.

''It's a huge embarrassment,'' said Laurie Leyshon, a Boston peace activist who asked Turner and Arroyo to sponsor the resolution. ''It's like, who's going to go after them and take it away? It's awful.''
How, pray tell, did this happen?
Amid the hubbub, Leyshon appeared at the FleetCenter carrying the cream-colored certificate with its official gold seal. Inside a heavyweight folder, tied at each corner with small bits of ribbon, the certificate lauded the Dixie Chicks for ''their courage in speaking truthfully regarding their view on the US invasion of Iraq.''

Leyshon had picked it up a half-hour before from Turner's office. More than a month earlier, she and other activists at United for Justice with Peace had asked Turner and Arroyo, who are known for their antiwar activism, to sponsor the congratulatory resolution.

Turner and Arroyo had been so confident that Boston would embrace the Dixie Chicks proclamation that Turner asked his staff to print the certificate before the official council vote.
A week after the concert, the rest of Boston's city councilors made quick work of the resolution.

''Here we are in a fiscal crisis, putting the finishing touches on the city's budget, and they wanted to talk about the Dixie Chicks,'' said council president Michael Flaherty, who did not allow the panel to vote on the resolution because it did not directly relate to city business.
It's a tough job being a wingnut.
Talking Hairdo Alert!
Over at the Washington Times, Charles Hurt has a puzzler:
In April, the House voted 421-1 to pass the HEROES Act, which essentially would defer student loans for soldiers called into action. The only dissenting vote was cast accidentally by one of the bill's sponsors.
Well, that's rather strange, but we're after bigger game.
The bill is stalled in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee under a "secret hold," said Sen. Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican and chairman of the committee.

Senate tradition allows members to lodge secret, or "anonymous," holds against a bill and block it indefinitely.

Supporters of the bill, the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, were mystified for months that anyone would hold up such popular legislation, but couldn't pinpoint the culprit.
I wonder if it is like "double secret probation"?
Capitol Hill speculation about the secret hold eventually centered on Mr. Edwards, one of four senators seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

"Apparently, presidential politics got involved," Mr. Kline said.

One Republican staffer on the Senate education panel said Mr. Edwards is holding up the bill so that he can take top credit for passing it later.

"Edwards likes this issue and he wants to see his name on it," the staffer said.

Mr. Edwards and his office initially denied responsibility for blocking the bill at all.
Told last week that everyone involved with the legislation adamantly said that Mr. Edwards put the hold on it, Edwards spokesman Mike Briggs replied, "They're adamantly wrong."

Yesterday, however, Mr. Briggs acknowledged that his boss was stalling the bill.

"We support this bill, but Senator Edwards wants his amendment voted on," he said. "He wants to make a good bill better."
That Johnny, he's a man of the people.
Do Bigfeet piddle in the woods?
'Bigfoot' leaves a big puddle. Maybe he was p*ssed off.

And what is the plural of Bigfoot?
Number 1 Son Alert!
Marc Morano reports at that Fox Movie Channel Bans Charlie Chan Movies:
The Fox Movie Channel abruptly cancelled its planned Charlie Chan film festival last week after complaints from an Asian American group that the character was "one of the most offensive Asian caricatures of America's cinematic past."

The Fox Movie Channel announced on June 27 on its website that it was canceling its several-months-long "Charlie Chan's Mystery Tour" because the "films may contain situations or depictions that are sensitive to some viewers."

The note to viewers said, "Fox Movie Channel realizes that these historic films were produced at a time where racial sensitivities were not as they are today. As a result of the public response to the airing of these films, Fox Movie Channel will remove them from the schedule." The detective series featured the Asian character Charlie Chan in more than 40 movies beginning in the silent era of the 1920s and continuing into the late 1940s.

The pressure to cancel the movie broadcasts came from the National Asian American Telecommunications Association (NAATA), which called Chan "a hoary stereotype that has dogged Asian Americans for decades."
No word on when some Belgians will complain that Hercule Poirot makes them look like mustachioed fops.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Great White North Alert!
Daniel Leblanc shocks in the Globe and Mail with Worn-out navy says it's taking a 'pause' for a year:
OTTAWA -- Tired and broke, the Canadian navy is slowing down for a year, cutting back on major training exercises and delaying a return to NATO's Atlantic fleet, senior officers say.

"We're just taking a pause here," said Rear-Admiral Glenn Davidson, commander of the navy in the Atlantic.
Retired naval officer Richard Gimblett, a research fellow at Dalhousie University, said the navy is doing what is required to survive. He said the navy has learned a lesson from the army, in that it refuses to take on tasks that will mortgage its future.

"The navy has a severe personnel shortage," Mr. Gimblett said. "The navy doesn't want to get caught in the trap that the army has been in for the last decade, of sending people over to Bosnia three tours in a row, and just basically wearing out the army."
You know, we could have our armed forces in a similar state if we would just take the advice of the Ohio elf and fully fund a "Department of Peace":
He said the department would work with the United Nations and other countries before conflicts arise.
The forum, sponsored by Cultural Creatives in Action, a Connecticut-based peace group, had the feel of a 1960s peace rally, although most of the crowd was middle-aged.
Peace and love, man. No word on what the elf would do if someone started dropping airliners on major cities.
The Good Old Days
Dave Barry revs out down Memory Lane and laments that things just aren't the same:
Nobody will ever write a song like that about my Actuary, or any other modern car. Modern cars are just not songworthy.
The other guys are all jealous of me

When I cruise in my Hyundai Elantra GT

And the girls always feel a romantic explosion

When they learn that my warranty covers corrosion

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Not the best post for Sunday morning - depending on what you were doing Saturday night.
Julian Coman astounds in the Telegraph with The magazine with the answer to all life's problems: get drunk:
It must rank as the most politically incorrect publication in America: a magazine dedicated to a select readership of old soaks, barflies and inveterate long-lunchers.

In a market which already boasts a myriad of titles catering for minority interests, the Modern Drunkard has found a surprising niche. The motto of its 38-year-old editor, Frank Rich, is taken from the writer, Charles Bukowski: "When you were drunk, the world was still out there, but at least it didn't have you by the throat."

This is the consoling message that Mr Rich has decided to send from editorial offices, complete with bar, in downtown Denver, Colorado. Each month, readers can browse through a range of drink-related news stories, witty, intelligent reflections on the creative benefits of alcoholic excess, and uplifting celebrations of the lives of great drunks.
No, Julian isn't funnin' us. Check out the Modern Drunkard web site. I especially like the post card collection - here's one. Crone repellant indeed.

Well, I certainly hope they'll enshrine the John Riggins line from the previous post - "C'mon, loosen up, Sandy baby." Bwahahaha!
It's Swinging Sandra!
Mark Steyn observes that O'Connor makes catchphrase law of the land:
Whether or not you dig it as a personal philosophy, ''diversity'' makes a poor legal concept. It was not intended to be precisely defined, but instead woozy and fluffy and soft-focus. It makes a fabulous bumper sticker: ''Celebrate Diversity.'' But it makes a poor legal concept to enshrine at the heart of the U.S. Constitution, which is where Swingin' Sandra's vote put it last week.

The correct term is ''racial quotas,'' but that's too bald, too clear. So its proponents came up with the coy evasion of ''affirmative action.'' But over the years that also became tarnished. Hence the invention of ''diversity.'' Who could be against ''diversity''? Who wouldn't want to celebrate it? It's the perfect enlightened vapidity.
As Swingin' Sandra put it, approvingly, the Law School (like Sandra) ''engages in a highly individualized, holistic review . . . flexible, non-mechanical . . . soft variable . . . nuanced judgment . . . potential to enrich . . .'' Zzzzzzzz.

Which is the point. The court's message is: As long as we don't see how the sausage is made, you're OK. Take your ''soft variables'' into the smoke-filled room. Worse, the court has dignified ''diversity''--a flag of activist convenience, a wily obfuscation--as a compelling state interest, and on its promoters' terms.

''Diversity'' doesn't extend to, say, some dirtpoor piece of fundamentalist white trash. Her presence wouldn't ''enrich'' anyone. ''Diversity'' means ''more blacks.'' That's why traditional African-American colleges are exempt from its strictures: As 100 percent black schools, they're already as diverse as you can get.
More japery by following the link where Mark has fun with Modo's whining about Clarence Thomas as well.

But all this reminds me of the startling outcome of this week's Enemy of the Week contest at the American Prowler. The winner is former Washington Redskins running back John Riggins! Why, you ask?
Years ago at a D.C. bash she expressed disdain at the Patrick Kennedy-like behavior of one of the diners at her table. By then he might have been crawling under it, or on top of it for that matter. In any case, he famously said, "C'mon, loosen up, Sandy baby." It took her about 25 years to do so, but do so she did, acting on the advice of hard-partying former Redskin running back John Riggins.
Yep, it was Swinging Sandra.
Not this again
It must have been a slow news day in the Old North State, since the Raleigh News and Observer had Molly Hennessey-Fiske come up with Obesity: A matter of personal choice or public policy?
In North Carolina, the land of Krispy Kremes and barbecue, no "fat tax" legislation is pending, but lawmakers and health advocates note that obesity-related costs are rising. About $2.38 billion of the state's medical costs go to treat people who are obese and overweight. That is about 6 percent of the state total, just above the national average.

"If you look at the most problematic health-care issues we have -- cancer, heart disease, stroke -- those can be linked back to obesity and smoking," Sauer said. "Somebody's got to pay for it."
Note that the causation is on the vague side. And I have news for Ms. Sauer, unless there is some breakthrough I haven't heard about, we're all going to die eventually. If government is going to pay medical costs, they're going to pay for something eventually. All this stuff is just a tax dodge from the nanny staters with an added boost from trial lawyers who missed out on the tobacco settlement and are hoping for similar largesse.

And there's another fly in the ointment:
Further complicating obesity education and fat-tax proposals is the fact that America's weight is not equally distributed.

Studies show a clear link between income and weight gain. Obesity is far more prevalent among low-income Medicaid recipients than the general public, the 1998 CDC study showed.

There is also a connection between race and weight-related diseases. North Carolina has seen higher rates of Type 2 diabetes among African-Americans, particularly children, according to a study published last winter in the Journal of the American Medical Association. State health statistics show African-Americans are three times as likely to die of complications from diabetes as their white neighbors.
Banzhaf, the law professor, said such taxes wouldn't disproportionately hurt poor or minority consumers because the levies would discriminate only when it comes to ingredients.

"It's a tax, but it's one they can avoid," he said.
Sorry Professor, but it sounds like discrimination to me. You know - taxing those "least able to afford it" and victims of past discrimination. Hey, I know, let's have a tax credit for them!

Finally, in the obligatory opposing sidebar, Richard Wagner of the John Locke Foundation offers the expected opposing arguments and then mentions one I had been wondering about:
Contradicting long-held scientific thought, recent evidence uncovered by numerous respected researchers indicates that diets rich in fats and low in carbohydrates, such as the Atkins Diet, are healthy and perhaps preferred. So, fat taxes would be, in effect, the worst prescription that policy-makers could write.
Don't worry Richard, after the fat tax, they'll be promoting a carbs tax next.
And speaking of New York
Al Guart reports in the NY Post that Web Sellers Burn Tax-Dodge Puffers:
New Yorkers dodging heavy taxes on cigarettes by buying from Native American sellers on the Internet could be hearing soon from the taxman.

Under a settlement in the federal appeals court, the Ojibwa Trading Post, a popular online cigarette vendor based in upstate New York, has agreed to report its sales and hand over customer names to authorities every two weeks, effective immediately.

The reporting is required under the federal Jenkins Act.
It is currently not known how many customers Ojibwa Trading Post has in New York, but the Seneca reservation is thought to be the largest distributor of online cigarettes in the state.
The Jenkins Act is from 1949, but it gets the Feds on the case since they are the only ones with enough authority to go after the Indian Reservations.

Well, back to Uncle Vito and the boys.
Something stinks in Brooklyn
And it's at Democrat party HQ. You likely haven't been keeping up on the Brooklyn judicial scandal, but here it is in a nutshell. It seems that you can't get nominated for a judgeship in Brooklyn without kicking in big bucks to the local party leadership. Well, now the investigation has spread:
Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Clarence Norman, a state assemblyman, may have spent as much as $200,000 of the organization's funds over the last several years on personal expenses, including pricey Brioni suits, designer shoes, hotels and meals, sources told The Post.

Investigator's from Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes' office are now scouring the Kings County Democratic Committee's financial reports - including receipts for American Express bills relating to a card held by Norman and paid with party funds, The Post has learned.

Norman's Brooklyn party financial records have come under scrutiny as an offshoot of the DA's examination of claims that judicial nominations and political endorsements by the Democratic Party leaders within the borough are delivered in exchange for payments.
I'm so surprised!

All this came to light when a mother complained she was being railroaded in a child custody case. It seems she was - the judge had taken a box of $100 (each) cigars and cash to favor the husband. The DA rolled the judge who opened up a can of worms.
PJ puts the boot in
P.J. O'Rourke reviews Hillary's epic tome in the Weekly Standard:
IF YOU PLAN not to read this summer, "Living History" is just the book. Hillary Clinton's new memoir is more than 100,000 pages long. At least I think it is. There are only 562 page numbers, but you know how those Clintons lie. A mere ream of paper could not contain the padding that has gone into this tome. Hillary--with the help of at least six ghostwriters--nails the goose of a manuscript to the barn floor and force-feeds it with lint.

We are informed, for instance, that Jackie Onassis was once, herself, a first lady and later married a Greek shipping magnate. We learn how a chief executive walks to the podium to deliver a State of the Union speech: "The president greets members of both parties who, by tradition, sit on opposite sides of the aisle." Even Hillary's grief over the death of her dad is padded: "My father would not be at the table vying with Hugh and Tony for one of the drumsticks or asking for more cranberries and water-melon pickle, two of his favorites from childhood." And then there are the fulsome tales of official junkets--unimportant, uninteresting, uneventful, and unending. "I had given a lot of thought to how Chelsea and I should dress on the trip. We wanted to be comfortable, and, under the sun's heat, I was glad for the hats and cotton clothes I had packed." And I was glad for the scopolamine transdermal patch.
Lots more goodness by following the link, but here's one more snippet:
Vituperation is supposed to be another of Hillary's salient features. But she spritzes, rather than splashes, acid and then only on the dead, the powerless, and Ken Starr. Hillary calls Bill's mother "Virginia Cassidy Blythe Clinton Dwire Kelley" and eulogizes her as "an American original--bighearted, good humored, fun-loving"--by which she means a drunk. "I didn't use makeup," declares Hillary, "and wore jeans and work shirts most of the time. I was no Miss Arkansas," but "no matter what else was going on in her life, Virginia got up early, glued on her false eyelashes and put on bright red lipstick, and sashayed out the door."

Damning stuff. But the junior senator's insults are preferable to her compliments. Hillary's friend Jean Houston "wraps herself up in brightly colored capes and caftans and dominates the room with her larger-than-life presence and crackling wit, . . . reciting poems, passages from great works of literature, historical facts and scientific data all in the same breath."

Let's take a deep one. Boring others is a form of aggression, and Hillary attacks her public with the weapon of brutal dullness. Ms. Clinton has led a busy, meddlesome life from an early age. "I was elected co-captain of the safety patrol. . . . This was a big deal at our school." But until page 440 of her memoir, nothing happens. You know the nothing I mean. Any number of Clinton friends and supporters told us it was nothing. And, as a result of nothing happening, nothing--as you may remember--happened. So, starting on page 440, that nothing happens, and by page 472 (that is to say immediately, given the high-speed laser-printing prolixity of "Living History"), Hillary is announcing, "Life moved on, and I moved with it."
Thinking of Hillary, one can only say "Head 'em up, move out."
Meanwhile, back in outer space ...
Steve Miller reports in the Washington Times that Greens spurn Democrats, hope for another Nader run:
"There are some good Democrats in the running," Mr. McLarty said. "Dennis Kucinich is at the top of that list. And Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean and Al Sharpton — we appreciate some of their stands, but some of them are compromised."
These are the Democrat contenders that the ecoweenies find most attractive (but tainted)? It's the goof troop.

But I wonder who they would really like to vote for if Ralphie didn't run?
In a national poll of Green Party members, Mr. Nader was the favorite for the presidential race next year, trailed closely by former Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. Also noted were Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, and television figure Bill Moyers.
Cynthia "Moonbat" McKinney! I should have known.