Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Missing Toddler Found With Family Dog

(Bethlehem, Indiana) A 2-year-old girl, Daisy Smith, wandered off into the woods along with the family dog sometime before 7pm last evening and search parties spent the night looking for them. At 7am this morning, Indiana Conservation Officer Andy Crozier found Daisy and the very protective family dog, a 1-year-old Black Lab named Thunder, on the bank of the Ohio River.

Although infrequent, it's nice to read good news.
Korean Censorship

In its attempt to keep the video footage of the Kim Sun-il beheading from being seen in South Korea, the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) has been aggressively censoring the images from the Internet. According to Robert Koehler at the Marmot's Hole, the government and ISPs have blocked access to blog service providers Blogspot and Typepad in a rather "ham-fisted" manner.

Jeff in Korea expresses outrage at the censorship and implores President Roh to "Tear down this wall!" In Jeff's words from Pusan,
On the night of June 24, 2004, the Korean government, without any real warning and without discretion, began raising a cyber wall around Korea, isolating residents and preventing them from accessing outside information. One by one, throughout the following days, internet domains fell under the hammer of the South Korean dictatorial regime.
It appears that some citizens have been arrested and taken into custody for hosting, posting, or distributing the video.

Kevin at Incestuous Amplification appears to be taking the censorship in stride as typical for the South Korean government. He's going on hiatus for a while.

In summary, there's no question that the censorship is occurring, however, among the many Korea bloggers, reactions are mixed. Personally, I think the issue should get more international exposure. The authorities need to be reminded that democratic countries don't arbitrarily take away free speech without protest from the rest of the world.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Canadian Elections

The Liberal Party won the most seats in the House of Commons in yesterday's national election, garnering 36.7% popular support. The Conservatives collected 29.6% and the New Democratic Party received 15.7%. The results are viewed as a mandate for Paul Martin and Liberal Party policies. The only provinces where conservative politics prevailed were in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.

Personally, it comes as no surprise that the population of Canada continues to believe in utopian promises espoused in Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic Provinces. It's obvious to even a casual political observer that the country has chosen a radical leftist path. Hopefully, enough conservative voices speak out to prevent the country from declining further into the chaos and unworkability of full-blown socialism.

One thing that I'm really interested in knowing is the impact on the election due to voters eating their ballots. The Edible Ballot Society encourages people to eat their ballots as a protest against the current political system and, apparently, it's considered a problem by the government since they have a law prohibiting the practice. Actually, the law was intended to prevent people from rigging elections by destroying other people's ballots, but Elections Canada has extended the reach of the law to encompass ballot eaters. And, people have been prosecuted. This makes sense when you consider that the liberals don't want people to eat their ballots because the constituency that would eat their ballots are the same howl-at-the-moon wingnuts who exclusively vote liberal. As a conservative, I say it's their right. Let them eat ballots!
Teacher Arrested For Sex With Boy, 14

(Tampa, Florida) In a breach of trust, a Greco Middle School teacher, Debra Beasley LaFave, 23, was arrested and charged for performing oral sex on a 14-year-old boy twice in the past month. This story is disgusting, but, for the sake of complete honesty, a lascivious pinch of my brain kind of wishes that years ago there was a teacher like her in my middle school. Of course, I would have had to have everything explained to me. As I recall, my entire knowledge base at that time consisted of what I learned from National Geographic magazine.

[Update] For those interested, a fairly comprehensive profile of Debra LaFave has been compiled by Kevin Aylward at Wizbang.

[Update 11/22/05]

Debra Lafave pleads guilty and gets no jail.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Al-Jazeera Reports Hostage Shot Dead

Missing since an ambush in April, U.S. Army Specialist Keith "Matt" Maupin has been reported by Arab TV Channel Al-Jazeera to have been shot dead by his captors. Al-Jazeera broadcast a grainy video which continues to be analyzed. Due to poor quality and camera angle, the Department of Defense cannot confirm who is depicted on the tape and continues to classify Maupin as "captured."

According to Maj. Mark Magalski, a spokesman for the 633rd QM Ballation, based in Cincinnati, stated that Maupin was promoted in absentia on May 1 from private first class to the rank of specialist.

Al-Jazeera also received a statement from a group called The Sharp Sword against the Enemies of God and His Prophet which said Maupin was killed in protest of US policies in Iraq and of the deaths of "martyrs" in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.

Kevin Aylward at Wizbang links up to a heart wrenching letter sent by 6th-grader Jacob Kelch to the family of Matt Maupin. Take a look.

Another Al-Jazeera broadcast identifies Corp. Wassef Ali Hassoun, a U.S. Marine, being held hostage under threat of beheading. A group called Islamic Response wants Iraqi prisoners released.

[Update - 6/30/04, 0630EDT] The Ohio News Network is reporting that local residents in SPC Maupin's home town of Batavia, Ohio, have seen the Al-Jazeera videotape and don't believe the person executed was Maupin because he is built physically different. They are holding vigils and praying with yellow ribbons throughout Batavia for Maupin's safe return and for the memory of Sgt. Kaiser, a local soldier who was just killed.
Man Killed by Potato Gun

(Cable, Ohio) Kyle Thompson, 21, was killed when a potato gun he was playing with exploded. It's suspected that too much gunpowder was used or a potato got stuck in the gun. Three others were injured, Judd Coffey, 31, Jason Anderson, 22, and Robert Kiser, 48.
"They were playing with this so-called potato gun, which is essentially a pipe bomb," [Champaign County Coroner] Richards said. "The metallic tubing exploded, essentially causing shrapnel to go flying everywhere."
I don't want to make light of death and misery, but this incident is a prime example of the fact that there is no way to protect people from themselves. There are risks in life and no amount of anti-gun or anti-pipe bomb legislation would have prevented this type of occurrence. People sometimes do dumb things and sometimes there are terrible results.
Law Requires Fire Retardant Cigarettes

(Albany, NY) Effective today, smokers in New York will need the lung power of a skin diver to keep their cigarettes lit. A new law specifies that all cigarettes be made of special paper that doesn't burn very well. Consequently, smokers will see their butts self-extinguish unless they're sucked on continuously.

The law was proposed and passed to reduce the risk of fires caused by people falling asleep while smoking and setting their mattresses ablaze. However, some believe that the total number of bedroom fires will not be affected since it's one of the few places where a person can legally smoke a cigarette in the State of New York.
Iraq Sovereignty Returned

Out of the blue, a little over an hour ago, the United States and Coalition Forces transferred sovereignty for the nation of Iraq to the Iraqi people. It occurred two days earlier than scheduled.

[Update - 0340am EDT] Prime Minister Iyad Allawi will lead an interim government having full sovereignty, according to a UN Security Council resolution on the handover earlier this month. Effective 10:26am Baghdad time, Iraq ceased being occupied by foreign powers. The continued presence of coalition forces is per the request of the interim Iraqi regime.

Some slants are less than upbeat. As an example, MSNBC is reporting that the handover is a symbolic formality done in a sneaky manner.

[Update - 0445am EDT] FOX News reports that Ambassador Paul Bremer has departed Iraq.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Prince Charles Favors Coffee Cure For Cancer

Prince Charles, the future King of England, has angered the medical community by promoting a controversial cancer treatment of daily coffee enemas and drinking gallons of fruit juice. It's called the Gerson Therapy after Max Gerson who used the therapy to cure his migraines. Medical professionals consider the cure to be without basis and possibly dangerous.

The main clinic for the Gerson Institute is in Tijuana, Mexico, where treatment is available for $4,900 a week and usually lasts three weeks. The treatment cannot be legally administered in the U.S.

I personally have always suspected that there was something off center about Prince Charles. His blanket rejection of accumulated medical knowledge for a trendy alternative treatment doesn't make a lot of sense and it seems to support my suspicion.
Green Party National Convention

The Green Party membership nominated David Cobb and Pat LaMarche as party candidates for president and vice president at the national convention yesterday in Milwaukee. I watched a portion on C-Span and noticed the following:
There were no more than 300 people in attendance. Half looked embarrassed to be there when the camera panned the room.

The speakers were uninspired and uninspiring.

All whooping and hollering seemed to come from no more than a handful of members. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they had stopped for a couple cold ones on the way in.

Speakers included:
Agha Saeed - American-Muslim Alliance National Chairman (Mr. Saeed could best be described as a Muslim Michael Moore. He compared Attorney General Ashcroft to Stalin. I did not believe one word he said.)

Medea Benjamin - Code Pink Founder (She began by stating that Rush Limbaugh spreads hate and then introduced Pat LaMarche as VP candidate.)

Anita Rio - Green Party Diversity Committee Co-Chairman

Sundiata Tellum - Green Party Black Caucus Co-Chairman and former Sierra Club functionary in Dallas

Kara Mullen - Green Party Fundraising Director, who passed the hat for donations to the party (Actually, it was a paper garbage bag and, before adjourning, she was thrilled to announce that they had collected $8,674.)

Adam Benedetto - Green Party Convention Director

Efia Nwangaza - Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from South Carolina (If I didn't know she was a Green Party member, I would have thought she represented the Anti-Slavery Party. She essentially spoke of nothing but slavery and reparations.)

Pat LaMarche - Green Party Vice Presidential candidate (Exuded an image which makes me confident that she could do a good job running a bowling league.)

David Cobb - Green Party Presidential candidate (Cobb spent his time on discussing end-of-world, oppression, sexism, racism, and Bush lied themes.)
I didn't catch a reading of the party platform, but I was able to glean elements discussed by the speakers. It was fairly typical end-of-the-world environmentalism salted heavily with oppressed-peoples-unite socialism.

Unexpectedly strong emphasis was directed toward reparations for slavery, abolishing the death penalty, and "BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW!" With these issues so important, it seems the party no longer sees the environment as their primary focus.
In summary, everything about the convention was without flair, without enthusiasm, and, seemingly, without adequate planning. I got the distinct impression that it was being put together while it was occurring. The Green Party message was muddled, yet strongly flavored with socialism.

As a caveat, I must mention that I didn't view the total event. I may have missed something salient.

[Update] It appears my estimate of attendees was wrong. According to this report, there were 408 delegates who voted for David Cobb as nominee for president out of a total of about 750 votes cast. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also provides this description of the event.
The daylong proceedings Saturday comprised many of the theatrics not seen in mainstream political parties, including outright denunciations of the United States, literature praising Communist dictator Fidel Castro and even a ballot cast for the late Socialist Eugene Debs.

The convention hall stage didn't even have an actual American flag.
Therefore, I guess it wouldn't be inaccurate to say the Green Party is proudly anti-American and pro-Communist.

It's also reported that the Greens formally rejected the idea of endorsing Ralph Nader for president.
Stealthy Retail Growth

I challenge anyone to read a sampling of newspapers in America, Europe, and the Far East and not find a story about Wal-Mart. The big box discount retailer is always in the news, garnering both good and bad press. The good press, usually driven by the local population, hails new job openings and increased availability of a multitude of products at affordable prices. The bad press, usually driven by national union and environmental advocates, disparages Wal-Mart for the lack of union representation, for the demise of locally owned shops because they can't compete against Wal-Mart, and for the litany of customary environmentalist complaints against anything that's associated with civilization. Simply put, through widespread condemnation and commendation, Wal-Mart is newsworthy.

The overwhelmingly massive amount of news coverage on Wal-Mart is also noteworthy. It literally sucks away any reasonable press interest in the success being achieved by other companies. Pretty much ignored is the recent growth and handsome return being realized by Home Depot, Kroger, Target, Costco, Walgreen, and others. With the spotlight on Wal-Mart, the success of others in the retail industry go largely unnoticed by the media and the general public. And, without the heat of the spotlight, other companies also benefit from not being thrust into contentious and expensive negotiations on a variety of state, local, and community issues. Others see additional benefit by being able to piggyback onto Wal-Mart's success in some locations while avoiding those locations that prove to be too expensive or too difficult.

In the United States, a country where it's estimated that the activist-to-issue ratio is approaching 1:1, it's no small favor that Wal-Mart is doing for the retail business world. Strategic planners are well aware that a measure of stealth during expansion and growth can forestall potential collateral costs. If a store can be up and running before the local moonbats have organized, total startup costs will be minimized. With Wal-Mart shining so brightly and fielding all the complaints, the exciting growth of other companies can be hidden in plain view. For this, Wal-Mart deserves a Thank You card.
Car Color Tells Driver's Personality

(London) According to a survey of 130,000 insurance claims performed by the Churchill Co., the color of the car a person owns is an indication of the personality of the driver.
"We think about color all the time, from what we wear to how we feel. This emotional influence transfers to how we drive," psychologist Donna Dawson told Britain's Sun [newspaper].
Ranked by most likely to crash, the analysis of the relationship of car color to driver personality resulted in the following:
Rank - Car Color/Personality
1) BLACK - rebels
2) SILVER - cool and aloof
3) GREEN - prone to hysterics
4) YELLOW - idealistic lovers of novelty
5) BLUE - introspective and cautious
6) GRAY - calm, sober and dedicated with tendencies to slip out of personality
7) RED - energetic and quick-thinking
8) PINK - gentle and loving
9) WHITE - status-seeking extroverts
10) CREAM - self-contained and in control
Read into these results whatever you want. I personally don't give it much credence since I knew a guy who owned a pink Continental and there's no way that anyone would characterize him as gentle and loving. So, I'd say the results of the analysis are not to be relied upon.

[Update 09/15/06]

Astute analyst Charles Hill at Dustbury indicates that the drivers' astrological sign must also be considered in the formula which predicts likely insurance claims. For example, someone born under the sign of Virgo is more likely to be involved in an accident than all others. Consequently, a Virgo with a black car should not be ferrying kids to school.

It's not clear how the car color/astrological sign combination calculates out mathematically. Maybe one is more important than the other and mixing them produces an exponential result. Who know? My take is that one has to be a little loony with plenty of free time to come up with these hypotheses.

I'd personally like to see the research data on the risk of pedestrians being run over, correlated to car color and the astrological signs of the driver and the pedestrian. Now, that would be fun, eh?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Nude Photo

(Cleveland, Ohio) Over 2,700 people showed up at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland for a nude group photograph. They disrobed sometime after meeting at 4AM while the temperature was in the 50s. And quite nippy, I presume.
Lewinsky Upset With Clinton

(London) Monica Lewinsky expressed scorn at Bill Clinton's explanation of their relationship.
"I really didn't expect him to go into detail about our relationship" in the book, the 30-year-old Miss Lewinsky told the Daily Mail newspaper.

"But if he had and he'd done it honestly, I wouldn't have minded. ... I did, though, at least expect him to correct the false statements he made when he was trying to protect the presidency.

"Instead, he talked about it as though I had laid it all out there for the taking. I was the buffet, and he just couldn't resist the dessert," she was quoted as saying.

[ ... ]

She said she had spent the past several years trying to "move on" and build a life.

"It has been so difficult because of so many of the lies that he has told about me and about what happened."
So she's saying that Bill Clinton lied. Imagine that.
Why Brits Can't Spell

It's surely been troubling for centuries that the people in the nations of the British Commonwealth spell words incorrectly. I have wondered why on many occasions. But, the wondering is over thanks to Andy Duncan. In a few succinct paragraphs, Andy provides an explanation. Here's a portion:
According to the story, when printing really got going around the King James period of the 1600s, just after the time of Shakespeare, there were two sets of British printers on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Back here in Olde Englande, on the hearty isle of yore, a powerful printing trade guild quickly established itself around the innovative technology of printing presses, with all the accoutrements of force-backed monopoly and its usual bean-feast of consumer exploitation.

As these guild printers were paid by the letter they sought every single possible intellectual excuse as to why every word should be spelt with as many letters as possible. Hence, the ridiculous 'through'. The printing guilds would take Greek derivations, or Latin derivations, or French derivations, or whatever derivation, as gospel, dependent upon whichever one gave them the longest possible 'correct' spelling.

Meanwhile, on your side of the Atlantic, in Newe Englande, British printers worked in a competitive free market with no guild and no force-backed monopoly, though still working on the basis of cost per letter printed. However, instead of trying to lengthen words, to maximise their charges to an obliged public, this competitive pressure made the Colonial printers try to find ways to shorten the 'correct' spellings of words, so as to reduce their prices, so as to make themselves more attractive to the burgeoning American marketplace. Hence, 'thru'.

And so, the relationship between the US and Britain, which is historically based upon the throwing off of an unwelcome force-based yoke, has been stamped ever since throughout the two printed languages right there in front of our eyes - so next time some subject of Her Majesty complains to you about your incorrect spelling of the word 'colour', ward them off with a forty minute libertarian rant about the oppression of Great Britain in Virginia, in the 1650s. Most excellent.
In a nutshell, British printers were doing unionized piecework (more letters, more pay) while the American printers had to deal with free market competition (fewer letters, less cost). It makes a lot of sense and explains why the Brits (and Aussies) say "Crikey!" and the Americans say the shorter "Gosh!"

To be fair, it must be noted that not everyone agrees with Andy's explanation. In fact, Andy even states that he has no evidence to support his story but it's sounds good enough to be believable.
School Pets

To all those parents and teachers that think it's cute and educational to have pets in children's classrooms, listen up! At the end of the school year, those cute and educational hamsters, lizards, ducks, chicks, birds, gerbils and others are left at the local animal shelter to be destroyed. That's right, they're killed because no one wants to take care of them for the three months of summer vacation.

Just something to think about in between the oohs, ahs, and "Oh, isn't he cute's?"
Innovative Lawmaking

The Delaware House of Representatives is considering a bill to repeal the law of supply and demand. Dustbury has the details.
Michigan - Tax Godzilla

Somebody might want to call the fire department to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office because her tax pen is on fire. Leading a list of ways for the government to suck more dollars from citizens and visitors, she signed into law a bill on Thursday increasing tobacco taxes. Effective July 1st, taxes on cigarettes will increase by 75 cents to $2.00 per pack. It's anticipated that tobacco taxes will produce $1 billion in revenue in the next fiscal year. Others see a down side.
"This is a devastating blow," said Polly Reber, spokeswoman for the Michigan Distributors and Vendors Association, which represents about 30 tobacco wholesalers. "It's a pretty significant tax increase for a Republican Legislature to vote for, or for any legislator to vote for."

[ ... ]

Ed Welgarz, executive director of the Service Station Dealers Association, said the higher cost of cigarettes will encourage more cigarette smuggling from states with lower taxes; more Internet sales of cigarettes, which don't pay the state tax, and more convenience store robberies for cigarettes.
Gov. Granholm also has plans to raise taxes on liquor and to reinstate an estate tax on estates valued at more than $1 million.

My take is that Gov. Granhom and the legislature may be overly optimistic about the amount of revenue to be derived by increasing the tobacco tax. At a tax rate of $20 per carton, smokers will go to great lengths to find alternative, cheaper ways to get their cigarettes.

The voters of Michigan might want to reconsider the virtue of keeping the current crop of tax-happy politicians in office. I'd suggest that it's in the citizens' best interest to get rid of them.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Bat Halts School Construction

(Saybrook Township, Ohio) Construction at the 123-acre Lakeside High School in Saybrook Township has been halted until June 30 at the earliest because a pregnant endangered bat was found near the school property. Now officials from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to discuss the matter. While waiting for the plan to discuss the matter to be implemented, the halt in construction may increase the cost anywhere from $40,000 to $800,000. Understandably upset, U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Madison, has called on all responsible parties to get moving.
"A $44 million project (is) being held hostage by one pregnant bat," said LaTourette. "I can't believe local officials have to wait 10 days for a meeting."
If anyone wonders why education costs are so high, it's a multitude of variations of the pregnant bat problem. At least they'll be left with possibly a most interesting school mascot. The Lakeside High School Pregnant Bats! Woo-hoo! Go, team, go!
Schwarzenegger Says 'Hasta La Vista' to Strays

(Sacramento, California) California law requires that stray animals be held in shelters for a minimum of six days before they are allowed to be killed. Governor Schwarzenegger wants to change the time period to three days for cats and dogs and allow for the immediate killing of birds, hamsters, potbellied pigs, rabbits, snakes and turtles. Changing the current law, called the Hayden Law after former state Sen. Tom Hayden, would save local governments that operate the shelters up to $14 million.
"This is an issue that affects the care and protection of tens of thousands of stray animals, and will inflict heartbreak on a lot of owners and people in the animal adoption world," Hayden told the Los Angeles Times Thursday."

[ ... ]

Because of space limitations, the shelters are being forced to euthanize animals who are otherwise highly adoptable immediately after the holding time" rather the making more informed decisions, Palmer [spokesman for the state Department of Finance] said.

The changes also would eliminate a requirement that shelters search for the owners of strays that have been embedded with microchips that carry phone numbers and addresses.

Also eliminated would be a requirement that people convicted of animal cruelty must pay the veterinary costs of the animals they hurt.
Needless to mention, pet owners and animal rights advocates are outraged and some political observers think the governor is "stepping in the cat litter."

Interestingly, the story notes that 600,000 cats and dogs are put to death each year in California. That equates to almost 2,400 cats and dogs killed per work day, 300 per hour, throughout the year, every year.
Momma's Boys and Daddy's Little Girls

(University Heights, Ohio) During this week's conference of Catholic educators at John Carroll University, John Ropar, Director of Counseling, stated that the current generation of college students are unable to cope with simple problems as a result of overprotective parenting.
"What we have done is woven this web of support and safety where they don't learn that if they fall down and skin their knees, that they will be OK," says Ropar, stepfather of three daughters, ages 19, 21 and 23.

"They don't learn to develop a sense of self-efficacy - I can do it, I can manage. Then they arrive on our campus and have roommate conflicts and don't have the slightest idea how to deal with it."
I agree. Many parents don't teach their children how to make good decisions nor do they force them to accept responsibility for their behavior. This is because we live in a society where nobody is responsible for the bad things that happen to them because there is always someone else to blame. So parents continue to protect children well past childhood. How many times have we heard of teenagers doing something exceedingly dumb, only to be followed by their parents armed with lawyers ready to sue the school, the store, the teacher, the police, the road, the tree, and the brewery. According to Ropar,
"We as parents have to allow for a latitude of choices for our sons and daughters," he said. "Eventually, parents just have to let go."
Think about it. When people start college, they are typically 18 or over - old enough to vote, old enough to join the military. They also should be considered old enough for their parents to quit pestering their teachers.
The Death of Kim Sun-il

The series of events culminating in the beheading of Kim Sun-il has prompted some people to wonder if the whole situation wasn't at least partially staged. Nagging questions remain regarding when the kidnapping actually occurred and when it subsequently became known. It appears that Kim was a hostage for at least two weeks before it was announced. This would be contrary to the normal terrorist method, especially since they wanted to trade Kim for assurance that South Korea wouldn't send troops to Iraq. It doesn't make sense for the terrorists to abduct a person, hold him hostage, and not tell anyone until just before they execute him. A discussion of this issue and others has been compiled by Jeff in Korea along with links to other sources following the story. Most engaging, in my opinion, is the transcript of Kim's last words. The message is much more political than personal and has a machine-like quality in its wording.

Meanwhile, the South Korean government has initiated a formal investigation on "the role of Kim's employer in reporting the disappearance and a controversy surrounding a videotape that Associated Press Television News received before it was widely known that Kim was missing."

Although questions remain to be answered, one thing is sure. It is that the South Korean people are being shocked into realizing that their place in the world is alongside Europe, the rest of Asia, and the U.S. in the fight against terrorism. They can no longer just watch, they have to participate. The Flying Yangban explains.
Foreigners Can Carry Guns in Saudi Arabia

(Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia will allow foreigners, threatened by militant violence in the kingdom, to carry guns for their protection. According to Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz,
"In principle a Saudi has the right to carry a weapon, if he has a permit. Likewise a foreign resident, if he felt in danger he could get a permit to carry a weapon."
Sure! What a novel idea and it sounds so easy, doesn't it? If threatened, people can protect themselves by carrying a weapon ... in Saudi Arabia. But this idea doesn't fly in countries harboring utopians. Carrying a weapon for self protection uses common sense, a foreign concept to utopians. And, unfortunately, Western civilization happens to be overrun with utopians. Isn't it odd that, among the world's countries, people in Saudi Arabia are allowed to protect themselves to a greater degree than are people in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, or the United States? (Via Bastardsword)

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Judge Masturbates in Court

(Oklahoma City, OK) Oklahoma State Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed a petition yesterday seeking the removal of Sapulpa District Judge Donald Thompson, 57, for "conduct constituting an offense involving moral turpitude in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution." It's suspected that Judge Thompson frequently masturbated and used a device for enhancing erections while his court was in session.
In the petition, the attorney general charged Thompson used a penis pump, a device billed as providing sexual pleasure and promising better erections and larger penis size, during trials and exposed himself to a court reporter several times while masturbating on the bench.

"On one occasion, Ms. (Lisa) Foster (Thompson's court reporter for 15 years), saw Judge Thompson holding his penis up and shaving underneath it with a disposable razor while on the bench," the petition reads.
Knowing of his proclivities, one has to wonder what he really means when he sustains a motion.
Jack Ryan

(Chicago, Illinois) Anyone supporting GOP Senate candidate Jack Ryan has got to be troubled by the revelations coming out of his divorce document filings. They indicate that he badgered his wife, actress Jeri Ryan, into frequenting sex clubs with him to participate in some pretty racy sexual antics at less-than-completely private settings. However, there's some question now as to what the truth is since Ryan has declined to answer any allegations directly. Spoons takes a good look at the drama here.

From another perspective, it appears that Ryan is quickly losing support from the National Republican Party and is rumored to be considering the option of dropping out of the campaign. Fund-raisers have been canceled and it's expected that the White House will soon weigh in with advice. It sure seems like Ryan's political stature has been substantially weakened, maybe irretrievably.

[Update - 6/26/04] Jack Ryan has dropped out of the Senate race. The Republican State Central Committee must now choose a pinch candidate. The bench roster hasn't been made public.
Tainted Malaysian Seafood

(Singapore) According to this report, seafood exporters in Johor Baru, Malaysia, have been intentionally using formaldehyde as a disinfectant and preservative for exported seafood. Exporters found to be doing so are at risk of losing their export licenses. The story only mentions prawns, fish, and squid as being suspected of contamination in shipments to Singapore.
Politically Correct Gemstones

(Antwerp, Belgium) An agreement has been signed to add a new "ethical" label for diamonds to indicate they originated from a conflict-free source. So, in addition to carat, color, clarity and cut, there will now be a fifth "C" to designate conflict-free quality.

Although I'm not a student of gemology, this appears to be nothing more than a symbolic move to satisfy the politically correct advocacy. Not coincidentally I imagine, it will probably allow DeBeers to further tighten their stranglehold on the diamond industry.
Hotmail Counters Google Gmail

Starting next month, MSN Hotmail will offer 250MB storage with its free email accounts. The move follows Google's offering Gmail with 1GB storage and Yahoo! email increasing to 100MB.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Soybean Fuels

(Huron, Ohio) Democratic Congressman Marcy Kaptur wants school buses in Ohio to run on a mixture of soybean oil and diesel fuel because not doing so supports "some of the most undemocratic, repressive governments in the world."
Biodiesel is more expensive than diesel fuel, often by 6 to 15 cents more per gallon. But Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo) said it is more environmentally friendly and is a move toward helping the country end its "great addiction" to imported oil.
If school systems are going to spend even more money than they already do, I'd like to think the increased expenditure had something to do with educating the students as opposed to the mandated purchase of higher priced products. The only result of implementation of her proposal will be an increased cost to education system without any benefit to the education system.

By the way, politicians do this type of thing all the time, using school systems to test their pet economic experiments while bending over to a constituency. Democrats probably do it more often than Republicans, but both parties are guilty. It would be nice if the free market was toyed with less.
Muslim Polygamy Outlawed in Ireland

From the UK Telegraph comes this report.
Muslims who marry Irish women have to make a formal declaration that they will not take more than one wife on being granted citizenship.

The Irish government confirmed yesterday that it has ordered all men from Islamic countries seeking residency to sign a sworn affidavit rejecting polygamy.

Muslim men also have to agree they will not seek residency for a second wife if granted Irish citizenship. A man must swear he has "one spouse only" and "has no intention of entering into a simultaneous marriage."
As I understand, Islam has always specified that a man can have up to four wives, but this is the first time that I've heard of a monogamous nation having a problem with multiple marriages. There are married Muslims throughout America, but I'm not aware of any multiple marriage issues. Maybe there is a problem and it just hasn't bubbled to the attention of the courts and media yet.

On a related subject, the divorce procedure specified by Islam is unique in several regards. Recognizing that I'm not schooled in the process, I understand that only the husband can divorce the wife and it involves some sort of recitations and declarations with witnesses. If my understanding is close to being correct, the Muslim divorce process would seem to be completely incompatible with Western democracies. (Via Blackfive)
Clancy Game "Warmongering" to North Korea

In November, Red Storm Entertainment will release "Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2," a first-person shooting game that is somewhat rooted in real-world fact. Designed for Nintendo Game Cube and PCs, the game is a "fast-paced, realistic slaughter-fest" involving North Korean, Chinese, Russian, British, French, and American forces. According to Red Storm, the game isn't intended to slur North Korea, but they think differently.
It's already attracted North Korea's attention. In a curt review, one of its government newspapers called the game "proof" of U.S. warmongering.

"Through propaganda, entertainment and movies," read a recent online commentary in the Tongil Newspaper, Americans "have shown everyone their hatred for us. This may be just a game to them now, but a war will not be a game for them later. In war, they will only face miserable defeat and gruesome deaths."
If I recall correctly, at one time Saddam Hussein also said something about "miserable defeat and gruesome deaths." So, I guess the world can prepare for another Mother of All Battles.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Measuring Michael Moore

Christopher Hitchens critically analyzes Michael Moore and the movie Fahrenheit 911 in an article for Slate which is worth a look. Elements of the movie and Moore's character are discussed in detail. In summary, the movie is a compilation of cheap, unsupported shots at President Bush, America, Western Civilization, and other entities, while Moore himself flip-flops between opposing viewpoints to launch contradictory attacks. As an example, on one hand Moore contends that no forces should have been sent to Afghanistan, on the other, he maintains that too few forces were sent to Afghanistan. He uses both contentions to support his attacks on President Bush.

Hitchens does not simply bash Moore, he dissects him, piece by piece. Like I said, it's worth a look. Allah has more.
South Korean Hostage Beheaded

Kim Sun-il, 33, was beheaded by al-Qaeda-linked kidnappers, a group identifying itself as Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad. The body of the South Korean translator was found on the road between Baghdad and Falluja.
In a dispatch from Baghdad, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an "informed source" as saying that negotiations with the kidnappers collapsed over the South Korean government's refusal to drop its plan to send troops.
This just adds to the mountain of evidence that the Islamic religious warriors are nothing but murderous thugs. Kevin Aylward has a compilation of links to the story at Wizbang.

[Update - 6/23/04, 10am EDT] Jeff in Pusan has a running account of the story from Korea. Among many, some notable aspects include:
Kim was probably kidnapped well before it was reported.

His body was found to be booby-trapped with explosives when recovered.

A number of Korean lawmakers want to appease the murderers after the fact by stopping Korean troops from going to Iraq.

Koreans have threatened to burn down a mosque in Seoul and kill Muslims in the country.
There's also been increased security at the American and British embassies.

Also from Korea, the Marmot reports that there's been some disruption on the Internet due to people searching for gruesome video of the beheading and the government trying to prevent any footage from being available.
The Ministry of Information and Communications has gone on high alert to prevent video footage of Kim's decapitation from entering Korea via the Internet, and local sites would be shut down in they are caught with the video. It also asked major Korean internet service providers to shut off contact with foreign sites that get their hands on the murder footage. Of course, when Nick Berg was killed, the ministry not only failed to take measures to prevent curious Korean netizens from watching the poor man have his head cut off, but partially state-owned MBC ran footage of Berg's murder on broadcast TV.
South Korea is understandably chaotic at present.

[Update - 6/24/04, 1130am EDT] According to this report, the South Korean Ministry of Information and Communication has ordered Internet service providers to impose a strict ban on the spread of the footage of Kim Sun-il being killed in Iraq.
"On the night of June 23 the ministry already shut down a local Web site showing images of the killing," ministry official Kim Ki-kwon said.

"The ministry ordered Internet service providers to shut down three other Web sites by noon," the official added.

In addition, the ministry requested that Internet portals ban users from conducting searches using words such as "execution" and "beheading" on their search engines.

The ministry warned that Internet users who continue to try to spread the on-line footage would be prosecuted after tracking down their Internet protocol addresses.
Some still pics are here and here.

Robert Koehler reports from the Marmot's Hole that the murder of Kim has resulted in increased public support for Korean troop deployment. Some in the public are enraged and seek vengeance for the murder. Consequently and unfortunately, Korean Muslims and mosques continue to receive threats.

[Update - 6/24/04, 4pm EDT] Just Another Pane in the Glass has the video links, both short and long versions.
Rocket Fuel In Milk

The California State Food and Agriculture Department and the Environmental Working Group, a private watchdog, have found rocket fuel in milk. Samples were taken from milk in Alameda, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and Orange counties and minute quantities were detected of perchlorate, a rocket fuel component widely used by the defense industry. There's disagreement as to whether the level represents a health threat to infants and small children. It is expected, however, that there will be agreement that the addition of rocket fuel to kid's milk will allow a general reduction in their prescribed Ritalin dosages.

Monday, June 21, 2004

9-Year-Old Charged With Felony

(Chesterfield Township, Michigan) Tabarri Waller, 9, will face a jury in Macomb County Circuit Court on June 29 on charges of malicious destruction of property. Maximum penalty for the crime is five years in prison. His parents rejected a plea bargain, insisting their son is innocent.

There's no way that I'll believe the jury will send a 9-year-old to prison. So, what's the purpose of the trial? It's easy to see that the onus of responsibility needs to be placed on the parents such that they will be forced to pony up payment for the damage caused. It doesn't seem to be a smart move by the parents. They're likely to incur greater cost with a trial versus without.
Road-Rage Murderer Sentenced

(Columbus, Ohio) Antwan Carter lost his cool while driving and, as a result, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. After becoming enraged at Tonya Jones, 33, while driving, he followed her home and shot her dead.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
Australian Child Sex Arrests

(Adelaide, Australia) Nine men, including two former Anglican ministers, two officers of the Salvation Army and two former leaders of a church youth group, have been arrested on charges of sexually abusing children.
Police Superintendent Grant Stevens, who heads a special task force investigating offences against children, says up to 60 people have yet to be questioned and more arrests are expected.

Ten days ago the Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide, the Most Reverend Ian George, resigned after a church committee criticised his handling of church abuse allegations.

Congregations throughout Adelaide on Sunday heard a strongly worded apology and a prayer for forgiveness from members of the church diocese.
Of course, the public and the believers should forgive the church for harboring the pedophiles because they apologized and it's the Christian thing to do.

In order to solve the problem of pedophilia in the church, it first must be recognized that it's endemic and conspiratorial. Throughout the church, and this applies to all faiths and denominations, pedophiles protect pedophiles. To stop the ubiquitous molestation, the leadership has to be replaced through aggressive prosecution. Don't expect for a nanosecond that the church can police itself.
Pedophile Priests Hiding in Foreign Countries

One of the most damning practices revealed in the investigations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests has been that the church has transferred molesters from parish to parish to evade prosecution. It's known that this practice has been occurring for decades within the U.S. and, now, through an investigation by the Dallas Morning News, it appears that the church continues to transfer and provide help to pedophile priests on a more extensive, international level.
From Africa to Latin America to Europe to Asia, these priests have started new lives in unsuspecting communities, often with the help of church officials. They are leading parishes, teaching and continuing to work in settings that bring them into contact with children, despite church claims to the contrary.
The movement of fugitives has been global and secretive in nature and priests that are no longer allowed to work in the U.S. have found sanctuary abroad. The investigation by the DMN is ongoing.
Starting this week and continuing in coming months, we report the results of a yearlong investigation that reaches all six occupied continents. Key findings include: Nearly half of the more than 200 cases we identified involve clergy who tried to elude law enforcement. About 30 remain free in one country while facing ongoing criminal inquiries, arrest warrants or convictions in another.
These criminal molesters need to be aggressively targeted by law enforcement at the international level and brought to justice. I'm at a loss for the right words to express how sick I feel just by knowing that the Catholic Church allows and abets this practice.
Google PageRank

One aspect of Internet communication that I haven't been able to comfortably grasp is the methods and criteria by which website content is selected and displayed by the various search engines. The reason is that all explanations I've seen ultimately end with a note that some type of subjective determination is made by someone which rates a website's content versus all other sites' content. So, placement is heavily based on the opinion of some person or group, which is not easily definable.

Providing some guidance with regard to methods and criteria used by search engines, in general, and Google, in particular, is this post at Blog Business World. It's informative for those who wonder why their website's content is ranked as it is. While visiting, be sure to check out this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Clinton Loses Cool During BBC Interview

During a BBC television interview to be broadcast this week, Bill Clinton lost his temper and raged at interviewer David Dimbleby. According to this report,
The atmosphere, which was initially warm, then turns decidedly chilly. One BBC executive who has seen the interview, which took place in a New York hotel last Wednesday, said: "He is visibly angry with Dimbleby's line of questioning and some of that anger gets directed at Dimbleby himself. As outbursts go, it is not just some flash that is over in an instant. It is something substantial and sustained.

"It is memorable television which will give the public a different insight into the President's character. It will leave them wondering whether he is as contrite as he says he is about past events. Dimbleby manages to remain calm and order is eventually restored."
The television program won't leave me wondering. I've been absolutely certain of Bill Clinton's insincerity from the beginning.

For those interested in a more smoochy interview with Clinton, check out this UK Guardian piece which fairly drips with love juices.
Blogging At Political Conventions

According to a report by Anick Jesdanun for the AP, bloggers can be expected all around the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and some will even be given media credentials. The article mentions a few people we all are familiar with so take a look. Most interesting to me was the following:
More than 50 bloggers met last Tuesday's deadline to apply for the Democratic National Convention credentials, of which an undetermined number will be selected based on originality, readership level and professionalism, said convention spokeswoman Lina Garcia.
Leave it to the Democratic Party to place more stringent requirements on bloggers than they do on the elite media.
State Pays For Patient To Have Sex With Doctor

(Gresham, Oregon) According to this story, Dr. Randall J. Smith, 50, advised a patient that having sex with him would relieve her pain and then billed the Oregon Health Plan for his time. He massaged her "trigger points" to alleviate her pain and then had sexual intercourse. For all his "doctoring," he billed the Oregon Health Plan about $5,000. Ultimately, he was found out and prosecuted. He voluntarily gave up his medical license and was sentenced to two months in jail.

The story doesn't mention anything about the woman who, in addition to pelvic pain, apparently also suffers from chronic and severe brain atrophy. Also not mentioned is the fact that Dr. Smith demonstrates how medical professionals consistently overcharge for services. Nobody is going to convince me that a little jiggy-jiggy time on the exam table is worth $5,000.(Via AnalogKid)
Jews Should Leave France

According to a story in the Jerusalem Post (free reg.), the prominent French Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld said this weekend that French Jews would be best off leaving the country, if they can.
While clearly differentiating between the rise of Nazi power in the late 1930s and the situation in France today, Klarsfeld drew a direct parallel to the Holocaust, stating that history has proven it would have been best "had the Jews of Poland and the Jews of Austria left Europe when they could have."

Klarsfeld's remarks come on the heels of reports that the Jewish Agency was planning to launch a campaign to persuade French Jews to immigrate to Israel to escape a wave of anti-Semitism.
There are about 600,000 Jews in France versus 6 million Muslims and the government has documented 180 attacks or threats against Jews or Jewish-owned property since January, attributed to an increasingly violent second- and third-generation Muslim population. Attacks and threats are at a rate of more than one a day, every day, and there's no reason to believe the rate will do anything but increase.

Why aren't the leftists and the elite media calling out for diversity and tolerance on the part of the Muslim community? Societies are continually reminding their citizenry that they must be tolerant of the followers of the religion of peace, but there is nobody directing the same message to the Muslims.

Personally, if I were in France and Jewish, I'd move somewhere that is safer. Hell, forget that. If I were in France, I'd move just because it's France. With the Muslim population growing exponentially versus the non-Muslim population, it will soon be an Islamic theocracy anyway.
Transvestite-Only Bathrooms

Yes, I did a double-take too. It's called the Pink Lotus Bathroom and the Grey Biker has the ins and outs on the story. I'm afraid that I'm forever confused by the blurring of the differences between the sexes. Is a transvestite a biological woman or man or something in between?
UPS, eBay, and AuctionDrop

To sell something on eBay, just drop it off at any UPS store and they'll ship it to AuctionDrop, which will photograph the item and offer it for sale. Seller doesn't pay shipping and gets the item back if it doesn't sell.

However, for items that do sell, AuctionDrop assesses very healthy fees of 38% of the first $200, or a minimum of $20, plus declining percentages on amounts over $200. This doesn't include the eBay charge of 5.25% of the first $25 and declining percentages for amounts over $25.

I've heard no feedback on this service.
Chinese Furniture Dumping

About a year ago, 30 American furniture manufacturers filed a petition with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) that alleged Chinese furniture makers were dumping their bedroom furniture into the US market. About six months later, in January 2004, the ITC ruled that Chinese wooden furniture exported to the American market had hurt US furniture manufacturers. The illegal dumping of beds, dressers and nightstands at artificially low prices, the largest complaint ever filed against Chinese goods exported to the US market, was then investigated by the Department of Commerce.

On Friday, a preliminary decision was announced and the Commerce Department and International Trade Commission will start collecting tariffs from Chinese furniture importers as early as November. Import duties will be imposed in three classes on manufacturers, encompassing a total of $1.2 billion of annual imports.
The seven largest Chinese furniture makers will face duties of 4.9 percent to 24.3 percent.

About 80 other Chinese manufacturers will have a 10.9 percent duty imposed.

The remaining Chinese furniture makers, estimated to total about 30,000, will have a 198 percent duty imposed.
This is welcome news to US furniture makers who suffer from a competitive disadvantage to unrestricted Chinese imports. By the end of the year, it is expected that the ripple effect of the tariffs will been seen in noticeably higher prices in stores. For those that have major furniture purchases planned, it may be prudent to fix in a price before the anticipated increase.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Israeli Indicted For Link to Hizbullah

(New York) Tomer "Tommy" Grinberg, 30, a Jewish Israeli living and working in New York, was indicted June 16 in Manhattan Federal Court for planning to ship military night-vision equipment, including night-vision goggles and infrared aiming devices to the terrorist group Hizbullah. Grinberg and a conspirator, Naji Antoine Abi Khalil, 39, an Arab with dual Lebanese-Canadian citizenship, were arrested after a sting operation at a storage warehouse in Manhattan.

For an Israeli Jew to help Islamic terrorists indicates that, for the right amount of money, there are no ideological barriers.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Imam Fawaz Damra Convicted

(Akron, Ohio) Continuing the story, yesterday, Fawaz Damra was convicted of lying to immigration authorities. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Cherie Krigsman, the conviction means that the government was able to prove that Damra had "solid, long-standing ties to international terrorist organizations. This sends the message that you can't be a member of an international terrorist organization and become a U.S. citizen."

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 9th before U.S. District Judge James Gwin. It's expected that Damra will lose his citizenship and may see up to five years in prison.

Local Muslims don't think the jury was fair and continue to believe that Damra is a good spiritual leader. However, evidence that Damra raised funds for terrorists and extolled "the murder of Israeli citizens and calling Jews, among other things, sons of monkeys and pigs" was enough to convince the jury. It troubles me to no end that there are many Muslim Americans who don't think there is anything wrong with hating Jews and supporting terrorism. By the way, as far as I know, the automatic Muslim hatred for Jews is not reciprocal.
Most Wanted Fugitive Captured

(Akron, Ohio) According to this story, Akron Police apprehended Edward Kennedy, 29, one of the FBI's 12 Most Wanted Fugitives. Kennedy is alleged to have murdered an Alabama woman and shooting her son several times. He survived. Kennedy has other charges pending.

A tipster saw Kennedy's photo on the FBI website, recognized him, and notified police. Extradition proceedings are underway.

Apparently living at great depths with the hagfish, the prehistoric ratfish was recently discovered off Brazil by scientists. The ratfish is rarely seen, but fossil records indicate it was swimming in the ocean as far back as 180 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
Paul Johnson Beheaded

All news sources are reporting that Al-Qaeda has beheaded hostage Paul Johnson. Bastards!

[Update] Al-Arabiya television reported the beheading. CNN has reported that Al-Arabiya had a video of the killing, but a network official said there was no video.

[Update] Apparently, there is no video, but Drudge has posted (WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC) photographs. Kevin Aylward has more at Wizbang.

[Update] Shortly after discovery of the body of Paul Johnson, Saudi Security forces killed the leader of Al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, 31. Also killed were his brothers Faisal and Bandar Al-Dakheel who also were on the Saudi most-wanted list.

Also, according to reports in Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post, the Arab satellite network Al-Arabiya continues to say there is video, but attempts to access it have been unsuccessful.
Illegal Something

(Via John Ray) Stuart Harding, 71, stood by the side of the road with a sign that displayed "SPEED TRAP - 300 yards ahead." For standing on the side of the road with the sign, he had his driver's license taken away and he was fined. This incident happened in the UK where there apparently is a motor vehicle law for illegal standing or illegal sign holding. Or, how about illegally embarrassing the police?

Sheesh! It sure sounds like the British don't believe in free speech. And, I can't even count the number of times I've been alerted to speed traps by drivers in the opposite direction blinking their lights. It's common courtesy on the road.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Yahoo! Email

I just noticed that my Yahoo! mailbox capacity has been increased from 6MB to 100MB. Since I didn't have anything to do with the change, it's a welcome surprise. Woo-hoo!
House Rejects Snowmobile Ban

The environmentalists sure have reasons to be puckered this week. In addition to the Supreme Court ruling that it's not the court's job to tell the Bureau of Land Management how to do its job, the House of Representatives has rejected an attempt to ban snowmobiles in Yellowstone Park. The House also rejected a measure to stop the killing of bison which is done to prevent the spread of disease to cattle.

Does anyone know why someone would want to protect diseased bison? The only thing I can figure is that they want the diseased bison to infect cattle and thereby harm the beef industry. Of course, I could be wrong.
Officers Killed

(Birmingham, Alabama) This story saddens me to no end. Three police officers were killed today after going to a house in a low-income neighborhood known for drug dealing. According to Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale and Police Chief Annetta Nunn, several suspects have been arrested, including Nathaniel Lauell Woods.

Of note is that this is the third time in just over a year where two or more Alabama police officers have been gunned down.

My sympathy is with the family and friends of the officers.

[Update] The slain officers have been identified as Harley Chisholm III, 40; Charles Robert Bennett, 33; and Carlos Owen, 53.
Troop Pregnancies

Simply put, the Defense Department was asked how many females have gotten pregnant while being deployed. The Defense Department responded by stating that they don't keep track.

My take is that they're lying and the number is embarrassingly high. I'm sure they're trying to figure out how to mitigate the problem in-house, without turning it into a political football. Nonetheless, you can be sure that the Defense Department knows exactly how many women got pregnant while on active duty, while deployed, in which branch, by command organization, and by roster.

They're just not telling.
Clinton Explains Lewinsky

In a taped interview with Dan Rather for this weekend's 60 Minutes program, Bill Clinton said that he did the jiggy-jiggy with Monica Lewinsky because he could.

The cavalier attitude he displays towards infidelity coupled with no regard for the consequences of his behavior makes me wonder how many others he has used because he could. His own words support my contention that Bill Clinton is singularly an opportunist with one core value, self-gratification at any expense.
Designer Killed for Comment

Interior designer Beatrice Harrowyn, 47, criticized the curtains in Jose Da Silva's home so he went to his garage, got an ax, and killed her. Da Silva kept her body in the tub for a few days before dumping it beside the road. He was convicted of the murder and will be sentenced this Friday.

Pretty sensitive guy, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Viagra and Cocaine

Recent experience in the UK has prompted police to issue a warning about the use of Viagra and cocaine together. Apparently the combination of drugs places tremendous stress on the heart muscle which has resulted in seizures and death.
Doctor Proposes Not Treating Lawyers

(Chicago, Illinois) According to this report, Dr. J. Chris Hawk proposed that the American Medical Association endorse refusing care, except for emergencies, to attorneys involved in medical malpractice cases. His idea produced quite an uproar at the AMA's annual meeting in Chicago.

Personally, I think it wouldn't do any good because the trial lawyers would just go to court and sue to have every boo-boo classified as an emergency.
Library Sex Case

(Naperville, Illinois) On May 18, police received a phone call from a Naperville Public Library and the caller stated that a man was fondling himself while looking at pornography on the Internet in a part of the library where children were present. A patrol car was dispatched to the library. Information of what occurred next is rather sketchy so the following re-creation is provided based upon available data.
POLICE: You called about a guy fondling himself?


POLICE: Where is he?


POLICE: What's his name?

LIBRARIAN: I'm sorry. That's confidential.

POLICE: What's he look like?

LIBRARIAN: I'm sorry. That's confidential.

POLICE: Which computer was he using?

LIBRARIAN: I'm sorry. That's confidential.

POLICE: Can you tell me what web sites he was looking at?

LIBRARIAN: I'm sorry. That's confidential.

POLICE: Is there anything you can tell us?

LIBRARIAN: Yes. You need a court order for me to answer your questions.
Frustrated, the police leave to get a court order and return the next day to start their investigation. On June 15, Richard J. Blaszak, 34, of Naperville, was arrested and charged with sexual exploitation of children and public indecency.

The reason it took almost a month to apprehend and charge the alleged perpetrator is because the librarians helped impede the investigation. Due to the Illinois Library Records Confidentiality Act, librarians feel bound by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the confidentiality of patrons' reading interests.

I must plead abject ignorance. Of the gazillion times I've looked at the Bill of Rights, I've not seen the portion that addresses confidentiality of reading interests. What's more is that I'm not sure I understand what that means. Does it mean that I can't be compelled to sign my driver's license because it would breach my constitutional right to confidentiality about what I've read?

Just call me confused.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee

(Helsinki, Finland) The creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth last December, achieving some fame for his accomplishments. Yesterday, he was awarded the first Millennium Technology Prize which came with $1.2 million cash, thereby achieving some fortune.

Supreme Court Rules Against Environmentalists

In a case where environmental groups wanted the courts to direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to take specific action to protect federal lands from off-road vehicles, the Supreme Court said no. Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia stated that Congress never intended "pervasive oversight by federal courts over the manner and pace" of BLM compliance. In a nutshell, it's not the court's job to tell the BLM how to do its job.

Understandably, the environmentalists are crestfallen.
Robert Keiter, an environmental law professor at the University of Utah Law School, said the ruling could raise questions about whether a number of broadly worded legal protections for wilderness areas would "prove enforceable in the future ... because of the court's unwillingness to put any teeth" into the congressional mandates. Because of that, the ruling also could have an effect on laws governing national parks, he said.
The SCOTUS ruling will likely have a chilling effect on future attempts by the environmental crowd to get their way through judicial activism.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Helen Crump vs. Thelma Lou

Don't forget to cast a vote in the ongoing controversy. Currently, Thelma Lou is leading.
United Nations Predicts Calamity

One of the United Nations committees responsible for releasing periodic reports forecasting the end of the world, the Convention to Combat Desertification, has issued its tenth annual prediction. Once again, the end of the world is foreseen to be imminent because of population growth, technology, and global warming. And, also once again, no time frame is established for when the end will come, but they know it's near.
The Global Change Research Program says global warming could eventually make the Southwest wetter -- but it will also cause more extreme weather, meaning harsher droughts that could kill vegetation.
Therefore, the scientists figure that the wetter the land becomes, the harsher the droughts.

I guess I just don't understand the scientific part because, to me, wet is the opposite of drought. Nonetheless, I suspect that the end-of-the-world committees will announce the same open-ended prediction for as long as money is shoveled in their direction.
Glen Campbell Gets Jail Time

(Phoenix) For drunk driving and hit-and-run, singer Glen Campbell was sentenced to 10 days in jail. He'll also pay a $900 fine, get 2 years probation, and do 75 hours community service. Fortunately for him, no one was injured in his hit-and-run.
Invoice Your Date

Hey, guys! If your last date turned out to be a non-prospect, try invoicing her for half the cost. That's what this guy did.
To: [X] Subject: Invoice 6/12/04
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 2004 17:15:59 EDT


On June 5, you agreed to accept dinner, paid for in full, by me, based on your stated offer that we would go out again. In that you have ignored all overtures to said follow up meeting, you are hereby considered in breach of contract.

To that end, you are being invoiced for 50% of the cost of the dinner, pursuant to the offer. For the record, the offer presented you with the option of not going out again and paying for half of the dinner, or going out again and not paying at all. You accepted these terms, choosing to go out again, as stated above, but have since failed to deliver your end of the agreement. . . .
His invoice requests remittance of $37.25, payable within 30 days.

I don't know if he'll be paid or what he'll do if he's not, however, I suspect that his attractiveness to the opposite sex may be tarnished by his businesslike approach to dating. (Via Spot On)
Gruesome Cigarette Packs

(Singapore) Beginning August 1st, the government of Singapore will launch a new anti-smoking campaign which requires gruesome, graphic images to be displayed on all cigarette packages. Images will include a cancerous lung and a brain oozing blood after a stroke and must cover at least 50% of the total surface area of each package.
Southern Baptist Convention

(Indianapolis, Indiana) The Southern Baptist Convention quit the Baptist World Alliance because the global association is liberal and anti-American. Since the SBC represents a third of the revenue and membership of the BWA, the decision to quit is big news for Protestants and liberals.
Pierce Brosnan

(Sacramento, California) Pierce Brosnan, AKA James Bond, has joined singer Bonnie Raitt, famed tree-sitter Julia "Butterfly" Hill, and his wife, environmental activist Keely Brosnan, in advocating more controls on logging in California. According to the actor (cue the orchestra),
"Along our coastlines, deep in the valleys, atop the mountains and in the forests, old growth trees are a living symbol of California's natural, historical, cultural heritage."
This is all fine, but I do have one question. Isn't Brosnan an Irishman who proudly calls Ireland his home? If so, the environmentalists are importing a celebrity tree-hugger which would hardly seem to be necessary. There is no shortage of celebrities nor tree-huggers in California.
Ongoing Controversy

Over a long time period, there has been a controversy in the Interested-Participant conclave and it was suggested that I query the readership to establish a basis for awarding bragging rights for keenest eye. The controversy is over who is the more attractive woman, Helen Crump or Thelma Lou. Feel free to weigh in.
Plot To Blow Up Columbus Mall

(Columbus, Ohio) The FBI arrested Nuradin M. Abdi, a 32-year-old Somali national, and charged him with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida, and two counts of fraud and misuse of government documents. Abdi, Iyman Faris, a convicted al-Qaida operative, and others allegedly conspired to blow up a shopping mall in the Columbus area. Which one wasn't named.

People who don't believe the United States is at war with terrorism are delusional.

[Update 08/02/07]

Abdi sentenced.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Imam Fawaz Damra Trial

(Akron, Ohio) Tomorrow, Fawaz Damra goes on trial in U.S. District Court in Akron for lying on immigration documents and during interviews when he went through his U.S. naturalization process. However, according to this report, Damra's trial is a terrorist trial. He is accused of lying about his close and supportive association with well-known terrorist organizations.
Regardless of what U.S. District Judge James S. Gwin allows jurors to hear about Damra's terror connections, government lawyers hope to make one thing clear to jurors: Fawaz Damra -- the smallish, stoic-looking, 41-year-old man sitting across from them -- helped terrorists like Osama bin Laden, and lied to keep those affiliations hidden.
It seems the government has a strong case, if the judge allows the evidence.
Migraines Can't Forecast Weather

(Vancouver, British Columbia) During the annual meeting of the American Headache Society, research results were presented which indicate that migraine headaches, which may be triggered by the weather, are not viable predictors of the weather.
"Most people in the study thought they could predict which type of weather factor triggered their migraines, but they really couldn't," researcher Marcelo Bigal of the New England Center for Headache said in a statement.
My only comment is that I've always thought that the American Headache Society was a euphemism for the Internal Revenue Service.
Hindu Mobs Attack Lesbianism

(New Delhi) Hindu mobs threw stones, ripped up posters, burned effigies, and damaged theaters to stop the showing of a lesbian film because it violated Indian traditions and degraded Indian culture. The leadership of the lesbian advocacy has not commented on the situation, but it's probably safe to assume that there is no joy for the followers of Sappho. Add a billion Hindu homophobes to a billion Muslim homophobes and a billion Christian homophobes and the army of lesbians sure seems puny.
Supreme Court Keeps 'God' in Pledge

Exactly 50 years after "one nation under God" was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance, the Supreme Court overturned a 9th U.S. District Court ruling that it was unconstitutional. The SCOTUS said that atheist Michael Newdow did not qualify as his daughter's legal representative and, therefore, could not speak for her.
A Bad Day

You are sitting in a portable toilet and it is stolen by thieves who are unaware you are in it. The thieves nonchalantly load the toilet onto a tractor trailer and you cannot get out until the rope the thieves had tied around the cubicle loosen after a jolting ride. You eventually jump from the speeding truck and break your collarbone.

You are having a bad day.
Anne Frank 1929-1945

In an orange and gray notebook, Anne Frank told the story of her short life. Had she outlived the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she likely would be celebrating her 75th birthday this month.
Men Safer Drivers With Passengers

According to a survey of 500 drivers by a German magazine, men drivers are more conscious of the safety of female passengers than women drivers are of male passengers. Results of the survey indicated that 65% of men were found to change their driving style when a woman was sitting next to them. On the other hand, despite who sits next to them, 71% of women said they wouldn't drive more safely.

Well, there you have it. Scientific evidence supporting the contention that chivalry is not dead and that there is no equivalent female behavioral attribute. From a bigger picture perspective, the results of the survey also point out a flaw in the thinking of feminist philosophers. Unless they can evolve a female attribute that's equivalent to male chivalry, their goal of establishing female superiority over men in all regards is unachievable.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Unstressful Birth

(Columbus, Ohio) A woman jumped out of a second-floor window of a burning building and then gave birth two hours later. To Starlena Watson, having a kid is a piece of cake.
Relieving Stress

To relieve stress, some people choose to go fishing or to the beach or, maybe, camping. The report of the death of noted scientific researcher and UCLA professor, Dr. Roy Walford, indicates that he opted for a much less conventional way to relieve stress.
Dr. Walford alternated years of intensive laboratory research on mice with yearlong sabbaticals in which he walked across India in a loincloth measuring the rectal temperatures of holy men . . . .
Thanks go to Chuck for pointing me to this story. Frankly, though, I'm having difficulty believing that Dr. Walford's methods would reduce stress. It seems that all aspects of his technique would significantly INCREASE stress.
Students Abandon Pets

(Indiana, Pennsylvania) This report out of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania indicates that college students frequently abandon pets when school semesters end. According to Nancy Peterson of the Humane Society of the United States, it's a perennial problem.

It wouldn't surprise me if the people who abandon their pets are the same folks that turn into animal rights activists.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Irish Vote For New Citizenship Rules

Almost 80% of the voters in Ireland, the last European Union country to give the right of citizenship automatically to all children born on its soil, have cast ballots in favor of a referendum to delete the right to automatic citizenship. The government is expected to quickly draft new legislation so that parliament can approve new law to close the citizenship "loophole."

The stance of the EU and Ireland runs counter to the philosophy employed by the United States, where it seems that anyone giving birth within sniffing distance of the border is automatically awarded citizenship and head-of-the-line status for health benefits, education benefits, social security, and driver's licenses.
Limbaughs Announce Breakup

Rush Limbaugh and his wife Marta have announced plans to divorce. They're probably penciling in some changes to the Manual of Conservative Values right now.
Man Arrested For Stupid Question

(Toledo, Ohio) Police arrested David Pasztor, 46, for sending a handwritten letter to the FBI asking if it would be legal if he shot Mayor Jack Ford between the eyes with a high-powered rifle from 50 feet away. He is currently in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $200,000 bond.

Mr. Pasztor would seem to need more than simple legal advice.
Concealed Weapons Ban in Parks

Several communities are trying to establish policies to ban carrying concealed weapons in public parks. Unfortunately, Ohio's concealed-carry law would negate the validity of any local statutes and enforcement could be challenged in court. According to Kim Norris, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro,
"If you are a licensed concealed-carry holder, you should be allowed to carry in a park."
On the state level, the issue will be addressed by the Ohio legislature when it considers a bill introduced by state Sen. Ray Miller (D-Columbus) which would let local communities ban the carrying of concealed weapons in parks and recreation areas.
Nobody's Going To Like Sara Lee

The textiles and clothing industry in the United States is being massively transformed and Americans, except those that work in the industry, are generally not aware that it is happening. The cause of the transformation can be summed up in one word - China.

Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, the world's largest untapped labor pool, China, has been patiently awaiting the elimination of all quotas and tariffs on textile and clothing imports to the world's largest market, the United States. In theory, trade restrictions are removed with WTO membership. However, since the immediate importation of Chinese textiles and clothing in 2001 would have devastated American competition, safeguards were imposed in the form of quotas and tariffs to allow time for the U.S. industry to adjust. Those safeguards are scheduled to expire at the end of this year.

To effectively compete in the textiles and clothing market with no restrictions on Chinese imports, American executives must make dramatic changes in their business methods and strategies. Without changes, a company may fail. Yet, even with a revised corporate vision, there's no guarantee of success. The right changes must be made. Unfortunately, restructuring is usually discomforting to the workforce. Dramatic restructuring hurts.

As an example, a planned transformation was announced yesterday by Sara Lee Branded Apparel, a division of Chicago-based Sara Lee Corp. The company plans to lay off 3,825 workers and close five plants by the end of the year to consolidate production of intimates, sportswear, and underwear. Plants will be closed in Puerto Rico, Honduras, and Mexico, and production will be scaled down at a plant in Asheboro, N.C. Additionally, the headquarters in Winston-Salem will eliminate 150 jobs. Via a news release, the moves are explained:
"Whenever decisions affect employees' positions, they are made with careful consideration," said Lee A. Chaden, chief executive of Sara Lee Branded Apparel. "It is imperative, however, that we redeploy resources to maintain and enhance our long-term competitive position."
And, it's largely being done because trade restrictions on Chinese imports cease at year's end.

There can be no doubt that the restructuring of Sara Lee Branded Apparel is going to be painful, but the company has no other choice if they are going to survive in the marketplace. The loss of 3,825 jobs will negatively impact families and communities to a great degree, but it will help more than 50,000 workers to remain employed by the company worldwide.

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