Saturday, April 30, 2005

Rough Town

From Orlando, Florida, comes this headline:
Deputy Fatally Shoots Motorist During Traffic Stop
Implemented as a governing policy, the number of repeat offenders goes to zero.
Mexican Border-Hoppers Enrolled in Arizona Schools

(Lukeville, Arizona) Over a year ago, it was reported that Mexican children were crossing the border daily to attend public school at American taxpayer expense. Arizona Superintendent of Education Tom Horne ordered an investigation to be conducted. Yesterday, Horne said nothing has been determined about where students actually live. "The investigation is proceeding," said Horne. In other words, he's sitting on his thumbs.

Lukeville (pop. 65) sits walking distance across the border from Sonoyta, Mexico. Every morning, 85 children board two school buses bound for the school in the town of Ajo. School officials "are at a loss to explain the discrepancy." In reality, officials just don't want to explain the discrepancy. It's not a secret.
Each school day, the routine is the same. By 6:30 a.m., two empty school buses, sent by Pima County, pull into the tiny town of Lukeville and park within a few hundred yards of the border crossing.

Dozens of boys and girls walk from the Mexican town of Sonoyta into the United States through the port of entry, some chatting, dribbling basketballs and toting backpacks. A line of roughly 15 to 20 trucks, cars and minivans forms at the border as parents wait to drop their children at the bus stop and then head back into Mexico.
It's fairly common knowledge that children who live in Mexico are attending school in the U.S. with taxpayer dollars allocated for each of them. In fact, if the estimated 80 to 85 students who now catch the bus at the U.S.-Mexican border are eliminated from the total enrollment, the Ajo School District is estimated to lose about $425,000 in funding.

In summary, not only is the American taxpayer paying to educate illegal aliens living in the U.S., the taxpayer is also paying to educate illegal aliens who don't live in the U.S. I guess the "They pay taxes, too" argument wouldn't work in this case.

However, the state education chief, Tom Horne, is investigating to see "if there is abuse of taxpayer money." If so, "we will seek disciplinary action," he says.

Notably, Mr. Horne is prominent in a related story from this week where he has asked the U.S. Department of Education to exempt Arizona from "too rigid to be fair" federal accountability rules. Specifically, Horne wants academic and attendance requirements reduced so that Arizona can meet them.

Companion post at Diggers Realm.
School Project Halted by Salamanders

(Ann Arbor, Michigan) Environmentalists have filed suit to stop construction of a high school because a $100,000 search effort of a pond found a handful of salamanders that "may be endangered." They aren't certain that the salamanders they found are the endangered 'smallmouth salamander.' Nonetheless, the project gets shut down anyway.

A lawyer for the environmentalists said "they don't want clearing anywhere." According to school system spokeswoman Liz Margolis, the lawsuit is a continuing attempt "to stop construction on this site at all costs." It sure seems the environmentalists are considerably more "anti-progress" than "pro-salamander."

Think about it. The greenies spend $100,000 looking to find some reason to shut down a multi-million dollar school project and then they file suit because they might have found something. If you ever wonder why school systems constantly are asking for more money, it's because of costs being jacked up by this type of foolishness. Delays in construction are expensive and the delay caused by the salamander that might be in the pond will be paid for by property owners in Ann Arbor.

Interestingly, according to Todd Hogrefe, Endangered Species Coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, despite whether the high school is built or not, the salamander in question is probably not going to survive in its current location. Hogrefe suggests its fate was determined long ago by fragmentation of the area with subdivisions and highways.
Teacher Arrested for Sex with Student

(Hanford, California) Former 25-year-old Hanford West High School biology teacher, Elisa Kawasaki, was arrested Wednesday for having sex with a minor, a 16-year-old student. According to Captain David Scott of the Hanford Police Department, Kawasaki was arrested "based on newly received information from the victim."

Kawasaki taught at the school from January until April 21, when she resigned. After booking in Kings County Jail, she was released on $10,000 bail.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Hot Live Lobster

(Mt. Desert Island, Maine) According to this report, two people wearing ski masks and "paddling a small boat in the dark of night" were recorded on surveillance cameras as they boosted crates of live lobsters from Thurston's Lobster Pound in Tremont.

Similarly and not far away on Little Cranberry Island, another live lobster heist was recorded on camera at the Cranberry Isles Fishermen's Co-op. In total, 40 crates of lobster weighing about 90 lbs. each and worth more than $20,000 were stolen.

Based on the report, it appears that live lobster is being sold at the wharf in crates for about $5.50 a pound. This would explain why I see it in the grocery store for twice that amount and in a restaurant for three times that amount. I imagine that a person with cash could approach the lobsterman as his boat pulls in and buy a few for a little less.

There also appears to be little benefit to be derived by installing surveillance cameras to watch over crated live lobster. That is unless one likes to watch thieves at work. My suggestion would be to have the video signal sent to some central monitoring location so action could be taken while a theft was in progress.
Zell Miller Hospitalized

(Gainesville, Georgia) While giving a speech last night at an event for the Gainesville Care Center, former Senator Zell Miller felt faint and emergency personnel were summoned. He was taken to the Northeast Georgia Medical Center and was reported to have flu-like symptoms.
Outsourcing Jobs to the Love Boat

Outsourcing jobs to ships at sea? You bet. Digger has the story of two men, Roger Green and David Cook, whose company, Seacode, has a business plan to outfit a cruise ship with foreign software engineers and park it three miles off the coast of California. Immediately eliminated are taxes, immigrant visas, and parking, of course.

It will be interesting to watch this project in action and see the unintended consequences. More...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Unlawful Sexual Contact with Student

(Bath, Maine) A 44-year-old science teacher, Deborah Lepkowski, at Morse High School has been arrested on a charge that addresses inappropriate conduct between a teacher and a student. Court documents indicate that Lepkowski embraced a female student and licked her ears while at the teacher's home in January. Lepkowski has taught for several years at Morse High School and functioned as the track coach and the head field hockey coach. She is on leave from her teaching position.

There's got to be more to this story than ear-licking.

[Update 12/01/05]

Lepkowski gets no jail.
Damned Are The Missing

Continued at The Jawa Report is the series on missing American Roy Hallums. Along with Matt Maupin and others, Roy Hallums was taken by enemies of the U.S., enemies of freedom, and enemies of a democratic Iraq. They have been forgotten by the elite media and the U.S. government, almost like they never existed. It's wrong and it's not characteristic of America's normal response when people are lost, abducted, or even killed. America has historically gone after its people and returned them home. But, apparently, not now.

Consequently, it's up to the blogosphere to make missing Americans an everyday issue and a focus for prayers and dialogue. Let us collectively try to help the abducted in Iraq, and their families, and their friends. Let them not be forgotten.

Follow the link and read the story.
OBL Rumored Dead

Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report is skeptical. Supposedly, President Bush is to make an announcement tonight regarding Osama bin Laden which coincides with a vague reference by an Islamist website to OBL's demise. I agree with Rusty in being skeptical. More . . .
Woman Shoots Rapist

(Savannah, Georgia) While sitting in a parked car Monday night, a woman and her boyfriend were approached by two men and, at gunpoint, ordered out of the car.
The two men took a purse and wallet from the couple and then attacked the woman. They ripped her pants off and began sexually assaulting her, police said. But when one of the men put his gun down, the woman grabbed it and fired four shots. One of the shots struck one of the attackers in the neck, causing him to fall over.

The woman and her boyfriend jumped back into their car and drove off. The men followed and, using the gun, broke the car's rear windshield, police said.
At home, the couple called police who tracked down a bleeding Eric Easterling, 20. He faces prosecution for armed robbery and sexual assault charges. Police continue to search for his accomplice. The woman was treated and released from the hospital.
ACLU Sues Over 'Choose Life' License

(Columbus, Ohio) What a shock! The ACLU has filed suit against the state of Ohio over the 'Choose Life' license plates signed into law last February by Gov. Taft. It's contended that the plates only show one side of the abortion debate.

I have a solution. Pass a bill to allow the creation of 'Choose Death' license plates. Then the public would have an option and both sides of the abortion debate would be represented.

In other license plate news, Ohio Rep. Michael DeBose, (D) 12th District, has introduced a bill to make it mandatory for convicted sex offenders to be issued pink license plates.


Since Ohio has been issuing mandatory bright yellow license plates for multiple drunk driving offenders, DeBose believes his idea has a precedent and that sex offenders deserve their own color.

My take is that very few rational people will drive with pink license plates. They would move to another state first --- which may be the goal of the proposed legislation.
Cell Phones in China Exceed Population of U.S.

(Beijing, China) According to the latest data from the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry, there are 349 million cell phone subscribers in China. This means that there are about 50 million more cell phones in China than there are people in the United States. The total number of telephone subscribers is reported as 674 million Chinese.

From any perspective, the numbers of anything coming out of China cannot be ignored.
Argentina Protests Falkland Islands in EU Constitution

(Brussels, Belgium) Through the Argentine Embassy in Brussels, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has officially protested to "European institutions" the inclusion of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and South Sandwich Islands as British Antarctic Territory in the EU Constitutional Treaty.

As I recall, the last time Argentina played this tune, it resulted in a war. Let's hope that the issue doesn't escalate to that level. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the EU Constitution is going to meddle with the authority of individual states to define their boundaries. I don't think that's wise.

Imagine if there were an American Union with a majority of Latin American representation that had the authority to define the boundaries of the U.S. You could probably say goodbye to Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

DMV Mails Licenses to Wrong People

(Ft. Worth, Texas) Statewide, the Texas Department of Public Safety mistakenly mailed hundreds of driver's licenses to the wrong people. About 500 to 600 people who recently applied for a license renewal or replacement were sent someone else's license. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said a sorting machine malfunctioned.

I'm a little curious to know what else was sorted improperly, if anything. The Department sends out lots of mail.
Teacher's Aide and Student

(San Jose, California) A 47-year-old teacher's aide, Catherine Rose, at Branham High School was arrested and accused of having unlawful sexual relations with a 17-year-old male student.

Catherine Rose
Catherine Rose

Apparently, Rose was apprehended by a police patrol while she was under the influence of drugs. Upon investigation, the relationship with the student was discovered. Allegedly, the student was also given illegal drugs by Rose.
Slanting The News

Compliments to Chad Evans at In The Bullpen for posting a blatant example of media spin. One story is explained by two different news sources with diametrically opposed messages. Chad's post provides all the justification necessary to insist that it's a mistake to rely on one outlet for information.

Go see for yourself.
Teens Arrested for Group Sex Video

(Springfield, Ohio) The Springfield News-Sun reports:
Four girls and one boy were arrested on Tuesday after deputies said the teens made a video of themselves having group sex.

The youths, ranging from sixth grade to 12th grade, reportedly were caught after one girl showed the sexually explicit video to two 12-year-old boys. Two of the girls charged are sisters.

"This is just beyond belief. And they're very cavalier about it and are acting like everybody's doing it," Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said.

The video included a 12-year-old sixth-grade girl from Reid Middle School, two 15-year-old sophomore girls and one 17-year-old senior girl from Shawnee High School, and a 16-year-old sophomore boy from North High School.
The kids were not seen to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and, astonishingly, they exhibited no sense of shame or embarrassment. How can such amorality be explained? In my mind, the media, the entertainment industry, and the Internet share responsibility and I can't honestly exclude Bill Clinton for being a catalyst.

There is also a fad in schools in which the youths participated whereby colored jelly bracelets are worn to indicate their sexual experiences. According to Lt. Russell Garman of the Clark County Sheriff's Department,
Different colored bracelets represent certain sex acts, Garman said. Black bracelets indicate the wearer is willing to have intercourse. Blue stands for oral sex, green stands for touching private parts and pink stands for kissing.

Someone can walk up to a person wearing a bracelet and break the band. The person wearing the bracelet then is obligated to perform the act represented by the color of the bracelet, Garman said.
The five youths were held overnight in juvenile detention. They are scheduled to appear in Juvenile Court at 1pm today.
School Nurses in Canada Now Prescribe Birth Control

(Montreal) In an effort to reduce an increasing teen pregnancy and abortion rate, the college of physicians in Quebec now authorize school nurses to prescribe birth control pills and to counsel students without waiting for the teen to ask. There's no requirement to see a doctor nor is there any parental notification.

Holy moly! I don't know which system is screwier, the Canadian, where there seems to be no control, or the American, where a student can't get an aspirin in school without the written approvals of a parent and the family doctor. Also, why wouldn't the next "progressive" step for the Canadians be to have the school nurses start prescribing medical marijuana?
Teacher Arrested for Methamphetamine

(Omaha, Nebraska) A 33-year-old second-grade teacher, Jolene Cortez, at Conestoga Elementary School in Omaha was arrested Monday night for possession of methamphetamine.

Jolene Cortez

According to police, Cortez was involved with methamphetamine to make money, therefore, she was charged with intent to deliver. Investigators found her in possession of two ounces of meth and a scale. Cortez appeared in court yesterday and bond was set at $10,000.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Cleveland Councilman Gets DUI

(Cleveland, Ohio) Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed was arrested Tuesday for drunken driving and resisting arrest. Known as an outspoken member of the city government, Reed has vowed to fight to preserve his reputation. I'm not sure what reputation he wants preserved, but I'm certain to remember that Zack Reed can really toss back the booze and be stupid enough to get behind the wheel of a car.
Teacher Investigated for "Inappropriate Touching"

(Columbus, Ohio) A Columbus Public Schools elementary teacher is the focus of a criminal investigation by Columbus Police. According to a statement released by the school district,
"On April 18, 2005, the principal at Winterset Elementary School became aware of allegations of inappropriate behavior by a teacher at the school," the statement said. "Upon learning of the allegations, the principal immediately notified the proper authorities and removed the teacher from the classroom. The district is conducting an internal investigation and is cooperating fully with Franklin County Children Services and the Columbus Division of Police in their investigations into this matter. The teacher in question has been assigned to home pending the outcome of the investigations."
The number of students involved was not disclosed.
Teachers Protest Standardized Tests

(Sterling Heights, Michigan) The Utica Community School System serves several townships north of Detroit with a total student enrollment of almost 30,000 taught by 1,700 teachers. Over 14,000 students attend seven junior and four senior high schools. To provide for consistency in the quality of education from classroom to classroom, the district has instituted a policy of "common assessments" which requires all students within a school be given the same end-of-semester exams in given subjects.

The teachers from each subject area collaborate to create the common assessment exam bank. Teachers then prepare exams for their classes with the requirement that common assessment exam questions must comprise at least 75% of the test. The balance of the test content is at the discretion of the individual teachers. Obviously, giving a similar exam to a multitude of students scattered through many classrooms will provide the district with data to better allocate resources. Administrative focus can be directed to areas identified as needing additional help.

The new policy seems beneficial to the overall student body, however, the teachers are not happy. In fact, they're so unhappy that the teachers union organized a protest rally outside the administration offices this past week to voice their concerns. According to Utica Education Association Executive Director Emalee Baldwin,
"Uniform tests do not take students with special learning styles or other individual needs into consideration."
Would anyone like to take a stab at explaining what her statement means? Would anyone like to explain "special learning styles?" Baldwin seems to be pumping smoke and, as such, it's not clear whether or not the teachers have a valid complaint.

I am not in academia and I might be way off base, but it sure appears to me that the teachers union is stifling progress to protect the incompetent among the faculty. If standardized tests are given and results are unsatisfactory, effectively a finger has been pointed towards the teacher. When subsequent and repeated corrective action doesn't solve the problem, then the teacher must be reassigned. It would seem that the common assessment approach also prevents individual teachers from significantly altering course content, for whatever reason, and depriving students from gaining necessary knowledge.

Standardized tests are a method to assess, monitor, and document progress and the teachers shouldn't complain. In the long run, students become more knowledgeable and the teachers become more proficient. What's not to like?
World TV Turnoff Week

(Toronto) Anti-TV activists this week will be using remote controls to turn off other people's televisions as part of their annual TV Turnoff Week. The radical leftist groups Adbusters, Britain's White Dot, and the TV Turnoff Network are behind the mischief. The stated goal is to remove television from public spaces.
"We are going to be going into pubs and either turning off the TV and leaving information or asking people, 'I just turned off the television. Did you notice?'" White Dot spokesperson David Burke told Agence France-Presse in London.

"People may think it is intrusive for an anti-television campaigner to go into a [bar] and turn off the television, but a lot of people find the television intrusive."
Frankly, I'd like to see these leftist loons show up at one of the "social clubs" in Queens or Brooklyn and turn the television off. I sense they would only do it once.

TV Turnoff Week events are also planned in other countries and they encompass picnics, concerts, and art. The whole scheme seems to be: make trouble and have a party. It would be nice if they just had their party and left everyone else alone.

Whatever happened to "live and let live" and "mind your own damn business?"
Marijuana Makes You Less Stupid Than Email

(London, England) Apparently in between hits on the hookah, researchers at the University of London Institute of Psychiatry found time to report that email makes a people dumber than if they just smoked marijuana. Researchers say that the constant interruptions of email makes a person feel tired and lethargic with a loss of ten IQ points. On the other hand, marijuana smokers are already tired and lethargic after losing only four IQ points.

Although it's not mentioned in the news story, the researchers have provided scientific data to prove that apples can be compared to oranges when everybody gets stoned.
Man Gets 30 Years for Impregnating Daughter

(Cleveland, Ohio) A 30-year-old local man, Eric Banks, was convicted of raping and impregnating his 11-year-old daughter. He said he looked at her as a girlfriend, not as his daughter, and had sex with her to prove his love. Nonetheless, Judge Kathleen Sutula yesterday sentenced Banks to 30 years in prison for 29 counts of rape and 29 counts of kidnapping.

The Banks' daughter gave birth to his child.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Hunger Striking Against the Minutemen

(San Pablo, California) From the San Francisco Chronicle comes the story, with John O'Hara photo, relating the inspirational story of Diana Ponce who is enduring the fifth day of a hunger strike to protest the Minuteman Project.

Hunger Striker
Hunger Striker - Diana Ponce

With her decision to endure hunger, I've personally developed some empathy for Diana Ponce. If you'll look how she's planned her hardship, you'll see that she has a large comfortable bed for reclining, she has a television with a remote control, she has a boom box at her feet, a cell phone in her hand, and a huge ice chest nearby, probably full of Diet Pepsi aching to wash down some potato chips. The only thing missing from the image is food, a natural accouterment. Just by resisting the temptation to order a pizza, Ponce indicates a willingness to suffer and demonstrates superhuman willpower.

Sarcasm aside, one thing is certain. Ponce is unlikely to gain much public support unless she puts some noticeable breathing room in that XXXL shirt she's wearing. I suggest a StrikerCam to monitor progress from the Internet. Others weighing in include, Ramblings' Journal, who prognosticates a lengthy fast, and Say Anything, who imagines a price dive in McDonald's stock.
Ten Arrested for Downing Bulgarian Helicopter

Updating a previous report about the downing of a civilian helicopter in Iraq, the U.S. military was tipped by several local residents as to the location of six terrorist attackers and arrested them on Saturday. According to a spokesman for the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division,
"The Iraqi citizen told the soldiers he knew where the blue pickup truck the terrorists used during the attack was parked and led them to the site."

"When the soldiers got there, several other local residents confirmed the first tip and showed the soldiers where the terrorists lived."

Three men and bomb-making material were found in one house, and three others who in the process of making bombs were found in a second house, the military said. All six were detained for questioning.
From a more recent report, additional tips to the American military has resulted in the arrest of four more terrorists, bringing the total to 10 suspects in custody. According to Col. David Bishop, Commander of the U.S. Army 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the U.S. seized large-caliber anti-aircraft ammunition, along with a diagram explaining how to shoot down aircraft, in searches of homes where the 10 terrorists were apprehended.

There's more coverage of the story with still shots and links to video at The Jawa Report and In The Bullpen. Go visit.
Everything is Safe For Work in Norway

(Oslo, Norway) Two workers were fired for surfing the Internet to view pornography while working at the Ekofisk Field for Conoco Phillips. After losing their jobs, the workers filed suit for damages against Conoco Phillips and won in municipal court. They also won their case in the appeals court.
Conoco Phillips appealed the decisions to the Supreme Court in order to have a clarification of what employees can do on company time and what employers can do to enforce violations of company policy.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the firings were not justified and have (sic) awarded the two NOK 250,000 (USD 40,000) each in compensation.
This is an absolutely ludicrous decision by the Norwegian Supremes. They have decided that people cannot be fired for failing to perform the jobs they were hired to do. Despite what they were doing, the workers weren't working.

If satisfactory job performance is no longer a prerequisite for keeping a job, why go to work? Hell! It wouldn't surprise me if the Norwegians ruled that people have a right to keep their jobs even when they don't show up. Theoretically, there's an infinite number of jobs a person could be hired for and not do from home. The Jawa Report notes that this type of insanity is quite consistent with the leftist approach to utopia where nobody works and everybody gets paid.
American Military Vehicles Turn Up in North Korea

Aftenposten reports that the Norwegian government is embarrassed that six U.S. military trucks given to Norway have shown up in North Korea.
For decades after WWII Norway received US weapon and infrastructure aid via NATO, including several thousand American M-6 trucks produced in the 1960s.

In 2002 the Norwegian Defense gave 203 discarded M-6 vehicles to Norway's Red Cross and about 1,000 more trucks in 2003. Formally these vehicles were still US property and the transfer required US clearance, something which is still lacking, VG reported.

Norway's Red Cross has transferred many vehicles to the International Red Cross and six of these ended up in North Korea last summer. Even though these owned and administered by the Red Cross, the North Korean regime can reportedly used them when desired.

American authorities were reportedly surprised to learn this and are displeased that US-made equipment is in North Korean hands.
U.S. Embassy press spokesman Andrew Schilling said an investigation is underway. Apparently voicing a policy that it's not responsible for what it does, the Norwegian government indicated that the affair is between the Red Cross and American authorities.

So, if I understand this "affair" correctly, North Korea could very easily be hauling around material for its nuclear weapons program in American trucks. How neighborly.
Train Disaster in Japan

Train Disaster in Japan

(Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture) The Mainichi Daily News reports:
Forty-nine people died and over 200 people were injured after a high-speed JR train derailed here, overturning the first three carriages, one of which slammed into an apartment block, police said.

The accident occurred on the JR Fukuchiyama Line at about 9:20 a.m. on Monday. Many people remained trapped in one of the wrecked carriages early Monday afternoon and rescue workers surrounded the accident scene to pull them out.
The Japan Times reports:
At least 37 people were killed and nearly 240 others were injured when four cars of a seven-car express train derailed and two of them slammed into an apartment building Monday morning in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, police and firefighters said.
Almost 600 commuters were on the seven-car express train. West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) officials quickly apologized for the deaths and promised to release more information as the investigation ensues. Preliminary reports suggest that the train was a few minutes behind schedule and speeding to make up time. Witnesses said that the train driver applied the emergency brakes before the derailment, possibly to avoid hit a vehicle at a railroad crossing.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Dying Woman Pleads for Surgery

(Sydney, Australia) A dying woman, Pamela Grady, 55, has publicly announced her dissatisfaction with the Australian National Health Care System for having to wait two months for life-saving surgery. While her health deteriorates, Grady is on a waiting list for a complex surgical procedure called a peritonectomy. The wait is blamed on the cost of the surgery and the limited resources of the hospital. Plus, the surgery is only performed at St. George Hospital and only one surgeon, Professor David Morris, in the entire country is qualified to perform the operation. According to Health Minister Morris Iemma,
"Professor Morris has made the clinical judgment that there are other cases more urgent than Ms Grady's."

"(The hospital) will arrange for Ms Grady's case to be reviewed this week to see if she requires her surgery sooner."
So, it appears that Pamela Grady is competing for a schedule opening with other people who are dying and awaiting life-saving treatment. Obviously, Grady is distressed, but it appears that others are in the same situation.
"I just thought when you've got a life-threatening illness, you have the operation done the next week. Apparently not," she said.
Naturally, Pamela Grady's case is disturbing and it's possible that public attention will allow her to receive her operation sooner. Nevertheless, from a big picture perspective, it seems virtually impossible to dispute the contention that a system of socialized medicine with obscene waiting times actually contributes to poorer health and earlier death. There also appears to be a dismal lack of planning by the central authorities when only one doctor in the entire nation is qualified to perform a particular procedure.

Of course, as we learned from another report, waiting times are so long that it's become generally recognized that patients may die before their turn is called. This explains why the Canadian socialized health care system includes computer-generated condolences in correspondence with patients in case they die while waiting for their appointments.
Man Finds Finger Slice in Arby's Sandwich

(Dayton, Ohio) Unlike the Wendy's chili finger case, this event seems to be genuine. David Scheiding filed the lawsuit in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court on April 1 against the owner of an Arby's franchise in Tipp City. He seeks damages of $50, 000 for being sickened when he found a slice of a human finger in his chicken sandwich. The manager of Arby's admitted to slicing his thumb while shredding lettuce and incompletely cleaning the area.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Dogfighting Bites

Robert Stevens, 64, of Pittsville, Virginia, will be spending 37 months in federal prison as a result of his conviction for selling mail-order videos of dogfights. Stevens violated the provisions of a federal animal cruelty law enacted after being signed by President Clinton in 1999. Maybe I'm too much of a traditionalist, but it seems that animal cruelty should be within the purview of state and local governments, not the feds. Holy moly, what's next? Federal leash laws?

Nevertheless, it's probably a good thing that Stevens was only taking videos of the dogfights and not holding them. Walter Tyrone Ware, 32, of Mobile, Alabama, was found guilty of six counts of dogfighting and sentenced to 20 years in prison on each count, to run concurrently. Ware was also convicted of possession of steroids and sentenced to 20 years to be served in addition to the dogfighting sentence. The total penalty of 40 years in prison was handed down by Circuit Court Judge Charles Graddick.

Readers of Interested-Participant are encouraged to remember Judge Graddick's name and are advised to stay the hell away from his court.

Trackback to COTT VIII.
Citizens Leave When Economy Improves

(Harlingen, Texas) According to U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Roy Cervantes, a total of 147 illegal aliens from Brazil were recently captured at six locations along the South Texas border, ranging from the Rio Grande River to a roadway north of McAllen. The breakdown of men and women was not reported, however, six were identified as children. Cervantes indicated the apprehensions appear to be 'random' since they occurred at various locations and the illegals came from cities throughout Brazil.
The first group was caught at about 9:30 a.m. after crossing the river illegally near the international ferry crossing at Los Ebanos, Cervantes said.

Over the next three hours, groups were caught near Sullivan City, in the brush near La Joya, during a Department of Public Safety stop about 30 miles northwest of McAllen, south of McAllen and at the McAllen bus station.
Curiously, it was only last month that another apprehension netted 40 illegals from Brazil at a remote location in Starr County.

Okay, let's recap. In the recent past, 187 people living in various cities in Brazil decided to come to the U.S. Since they arrived in groups after traveling about 5,000 miles, it appears that a coordinated intercontinental people-smuggling business is operating with measurable success. Notably, the increase in Brazilian migrants to the U.S. coincides with an improvement in the economy in Brazil. Although many have assumed that a better economy in Brazil or Mexico or any country would dissuade the citizens from migrating, the exact opposite seems to be occurring. As their home economies improve, citizens are capable of acquiring the nominal few thousand dollars it takes to migrate. Then, they do so.

In a nutshell, as foreign economies grow and prosper, their citizens are able to earn enough money to pay for travel to the U.S. So, despite improvements in their native country, America is still a more desirable place to be.

Of course, this only happens because the borders of the U.S. are globally recognized to be as secure as the hull of the Titanic.
Arab American National Museum

(Dearborn, Michigan) Mark your calendars. The Grand Opening of the Arab American National Museum will be celebrated on May 5 at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Schaefer in Dearborn. Of 15,000 major American museums, it will be the first to tell the Arab-American story.
A 38,500-square-foot space, the museum will function as an educational facility, an institution of preservation, and a community center, with a 158-seat auditorium, classroom space, a library resource center, and shop. The permanent exhibitions focus on two themes: the Arab world and the Arab-American experience.
Since a person can't swing a cat in the U.S. without hitting a museum of some kind, it seems odd that this will be the first for the Arab community.

Arab Americans, as defined by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, are "an ethnic group that originates from seventeen Arabic-speaking countries in northern Africa and western Asia." Specifically counted as Arab were people who reported Arab, Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Moroccan, North African, Palestinian or Syrian as an ancestry. The 2000 Census counted about 1.2 million people of Arab ancestry in the U.S. However, due to lack of consensus about the definition of an Arab ethnic category, the Census Bureau has expressed low confidence in the accuracy of its data. Helen Samhan, Executive Director of the Arab-American Institute Foundation, believes the census data is undercounting by a factor of three. As such, Samhan estimates that there are 3.6 million Arab Americans.

Interestingly, a 2000 Zogby survey found that only 23% of Arab Americans are Muslim, which is likely contrary to widespread belief. The balance is broken down as 42% of Arab Americans are Catholic, 23% are Orthodox Christian, and 12% are Protestant. So, there's a high likelihood of error if one automatically associates Arab ancestry with Islam.
As for the population of Muslims in the United States, Ms. Samhan said, "There's probably around 5 million, of which 20 percent are Arabs."

Approximately 40 percent of Muslims in this country, she said, are American blacks and another 30 percent hail from countries in South Asia including India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
I'm fairly certain that most Americans are unfamiliar with the details of what comprises Arabic ethnicity and the history of Arabs in America. The Arab American National Museum will surely help in promoting a better understanding and Interested-Participant applauds its opening.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Civilian Helicopter Downed Near Baghdad, 11 Dead

A Bulgarian civilian helicopter was shot down 20km north of Baghdad by a surface-to-air missile or a rocket-propelled grenade, killing three Bulgarian crew members, six Americans, and two others (reports conflict as to whether they were Fijian or Filipino). The Islamic Army in Iraq claimed responsibility for the downing, posting a video on the Internet showing the shooting of one crewmember, the sole survivor of the crash. According to Chad Evans at In The Bullpen, the terrorists claim in the video that they downed the helicopter as an act of revenge "for the Muslims killed in the mosques of Fallujah." Chad also links to the video.

The Americans worked for Blackwater Security Consulting, a subsidiary of the North Carolina-based security contractor, Blackwater USA, supplying security support for U.S. diplomats.

The helicopter was a Russian-made MI-8, owned and operated by a Bulgarian company, Sofia-based Heli-Air, chartered by SkyLink Air of Toronto, Canada, and flying under contract to the U.S. Department of Defense. It's believed to be the first civilian aircraft downed in Iraq. If so, I don't think it's because of restraint on the part of the terrorists. They are out to kill anybody they can. Innocent women, men, children, and babies have been regularly slaughtered. They have killed their family members and their neighbors. So, it is not surprising nor a change in strategy that they have shot at and hit a civilian aircraft. They have tried before. Unfortunately, this time they hit their target.


[Update] The Australian reports that the two Fijians who perished were former soldiers, Jim Atalifo and Timoci Lalaqila. They worked for Global Risks Strategies, a Fijian company, and provided security for diplomats.

The Bulgarian News Network has identified the helicopter crewmen as pilots Lyubomir Kostov and Georgi Naidenov and board-engineer Stoyan Anchev.
Student-Boffing Teacher Wants Plea Deal

(Sacramento, California) As previously reported, 30-year-old Margaret De Barraicua was caught by police having sex with a 16-year-old boy. It happened in her car behind the Leonard Da Vinci Elementary School in Sacramento and her two-year-old son was in the backseat. Ultimately, she was arrested and charged with four felony counts of rape.

De Barraicua

In an update to the story, De Barraicua's attorney, Phil Cozens, presented a proposed plea agreement in a hearing Wednesday at the Sacramento County Superior Court. Cozens said that his client would plead guilty or no contest in exchange for the charges being reduced to misdemeanors. He also proposed limited jail time or community service. So, in a nutshell, De Barraicua will admit guilt to misdemeanor rape in return for a hand slap.

Although not frequently, rape is recognized as a misdemeanor in some places. Last year, for example, a high-profile case involving a popular athlete revealed that the law in the state of Georgia has provisions for misdemeanor rape. I personally think the concept is ludicrous, but it hasn't seemed to raise too many eyebrows in the judicial and legislative communities. Of course, rape as a misdemeanor may represent a trend in the reclassification of crimes and next we'll have misdemeanor kidnapping or possibly felony double parking. It all seems screwy to me.

Nevertheless, in the De Barraicua case, she remains out on bail and her next hearing is scheduled for sometime in May.

[Update 09/15/05]

De Barraicua pleads guilty.
'Mad Cow' Infects Dutch Woman

(Amsterdam, Netherlands) A 26-year-old woman in Utrecht has been diagnosed with the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). It's the first reported human case of the disease in The Netherlands.

According to Health Ministry spokesman Bas Kuik, the woman has never lived outside The Netherlands and must have become infected before 1997 when the government imposed strict controls on testing Dutch beef. It's believed she acquired the disease from eating tainted beef.

Testing performed in Scotland and the Netherlands confirmed that the woman has vCJD and her "prognosis is poor," said Health Ministry Inspector Jan van Wijngaarde. The disease is fatal and incurable.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Escaped Murderers Used Turbans to Scale Prison Walls

(Quetta, Pakistan) Seven convicted murderers serving long sentences escaped from Mach Central Jail by unraveling their turbans to help in scaling the prison walls. Eight prison officials were immediately suspended. Interestingly, Mach Central Jail had 10 prisoners break out in 2002.

Although the Mach Central Jail is in western Pakistan and not far from the Afghanistan border, none of the escapees are known to be involved in terrorism or sectarian violence, said the Balochistan Minister of Prisons Mir Habibur Rehman Hasni.
School Interpreter Charged with Sexual Assault

(Clinton, Arkansas) A 34-year-old interpreter for the Clinton School District, Michelle Sikes, will face a jury trial the week of May 9 at the Van Buren County Circuit Court. Sikes face 11 charges of first degree sexual assault for having sexual relations with a 15-year-old boy. If convicted, she faces a possible 30 years in prison.
Iran Closes Al Jazeera for Provoking Subversion

(Tehran, Iran) According to the Gulf Times, angry complaints from Iranian Members of Parliament prompted the government to close the Tehran branch of the Arabic television station Al Jazeera.
“We have ordered the temporary closure of the Al Jazeera bureau,” said Mohamed Hossein Khoshvaght, director general of the culture and Islamic guidance ministry.

“This suspension will last for as long as is needed for our experts to examine the possible actions of the Al Jazeera channel to provoke subversive elements in the troubles that took place.”
Apparently, lawmakers are upset about Al Jazeera's reporting and alleged involvement in last week's demonstrations in Khuzestan Province marking "80 years of Iranian occupation.” The London-based Popular Democratic Front of Ahvazi Arabs in Iran called for peaceful demonstrations to voice the concerns of a small ethnic Arab minority. When the government decided to shut down the protest with military force, the demonstrators turned violent resulting in three deaths and 200 arrests.
“All the troublemakers were arrested,” Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi was quoted as saying by state run television.

“It appeared that they were linked to the subversive groups and television stations,” he said, using the term for those who are trying to overthrow Iran’s Islamic regime.
Because some members of Al Jazeera were among those arrested, the network was implicated for provoking subversion. The government also was angered by Al Jazeera's characterization of the violence as "separatist unrest by Iran’s Arab minority." Iranian Arabs represent the majority in Khuzestan Province's main city of Ahvaz, but only 3% of the entire Iranian population.

Khuzestan is a far western province in Iran, bordering Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Consequently, it's much closer culturally to ethnic Arab influences from Iraq and the Gulf than the predominantly ethnic Persian influences in the rest of Iran. Also, since the median age of the population in Iran is young (23.5 years), it's understandable that there would be exuberant ideological protests. However, Iran is a large country (larger then Alaska) and it's unreasonable for a relatively small group of protesters to be called a separatist movement. The government is exaggerating the importance of the demonstrators, probably to justify its harsh suppression of any dissent and its call for the "expulsion of representatives" of Al Jazeera.

Of note is that the recent events indicate that there is a solid starting point for pursuing widespread agreement between the Iranians and the Americans. Neither of them likes Al Jazeera.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Puckered Profs to Picket

(Akron, Ohio) Unionized professors at the University of Akron are puckered about lack of progress in contract talks, therefore, they plan to picket next month's commencement ceremonies.

I'm not sure the picket idea makes much sense. Professors don't have to be in attendance to hand out sheepskins and the students are probably not union, so what good does it do to picket the ceremony? Maybe they just intend to hold a protest gathering and it has been reported wrong.
Ex-Congressional Candidate Plotted to Kill Husband

(Warren, Ohio) Federal agents arrested Maridee Constanzo for plotting to kill her husband, Roger Bauer, after her accomplice disclosed the scheme to the police. It's alleged that Constanzo was to pay her accomplice $10,000 and a share of her inheritance to kill Bauer.

Maridee Constanzo Arrest
Maridee Constanzo

Constanzo ran in the Democratic primary for the 17th Congressional District seat in 2002 and lost. Interestingly, the 17th Congressional District seat was occupied for many years by Jim Traficant. Then he went to prison for racketeering and bribery.

Jeez! What a shock? Two crooked politicians in one congressional district!

[Update] Another source reports that Roger Bauer called 9-1-1 twice in the last month because of threats from Constanzo. Also, the name of Constanzo's accomplice is Bill Cindea who was to kill Bauer on a May trip to Florida. Constanzo was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, but she became ill and had to be hospitalized. When she does go to court, the prosecution is expected to ask the judge to have her remain in custody "so she cannot carry through on her alleged plans."
Teacher Arrested for Making Out with Student

(New York City) A 27-year-old math teacher, Joann Hernandez, at IS 55 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn has been arrested and charged with sex abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. Another teacher saw Hernandez and a 15-year-old eighth-grade student kissing in full embrace in a classroom during the school day. Hernandez has been reassigned to a regional education office in Queens until an investigation is completed. If convicted, she will be fired from her $45,583 per year teaching position.

[Update 4/21/05] According to this report, Hernandez, accompanied by her mother, father, and husband, pleaded not guilty at her night court arraignment. Apparently, she left her three kids with a babysitter.
Stem Cells Linked to Cancer Risk

Some medical researchers may be moderating their optimism with the news that stem cells replicated in the laboratory have produced aggressive cancers when transplanted into animals. The likelihood of creating cancerous cultures is tied directly to the amount of time cell division occurs in the laboratory. Stem cells that are allowed to age longer outside the body are thought to produce an enzyme, telomerase, which overrides the cells' ability to limit the number of times they divide. The finding is not a deal-breaker, though. Evidence suggests that adult stem cells are safe if the number of times they are allowed to divide outside the body is limited.

Research teams at the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain and the University Hospital of Odense in Denmark are credited with discovering the stem cell-cancer link. Unfortunately, it's likely to slow progress on current stem cell projects while tempering the tunnel vision of the most enthusiastic researchers. Certainly, everyone will hurry up to go a bit slower.
Great Expectorations

(Kansas City, Missouri) During a book-signing event last night, Michael A. Smith handed a book to Jane Fonda and then spit on her. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

There are two schools of thought on this incident. Some people are likely to think it's quite appropriate to spit a nice ugly wad on Jane Fonda. Others think she doesn't deserve it.

My take is simple. By thrusting herself into the public spotlight, Jane Fonda is opening deep and abiding wounds from which many lives were unavoidably destroyed. Hanoi Jane helped in the destruction. So, she should have expected an adverse reaction. Whether she deserves being spat on would be a value judgment. I wouldn't do it but I'm not unhappy that someone did.
Man Shoots His Car

(Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida) John McGivney got mad at his miserable 1994 Chrysler LeBaron, so he pumped five rounds from a .380-caliber semiautomatic into the hood. When asked, McGivney said, "I'm putting my car out of its misery."

Ultimately, he was arrested for discharging a firearm in public and released on $100 bail. However, he has no regrets. "I think every guy in the universe has wanted to do it," McGivney said.

In my case, probably a few times.
70 Bodies Found in Tigris River & Soccer Stadium

(Baghdad, Iraq) Totaling more than 70, the bodies of men, women, and children were recovered from the Tigris River at Suwayra, south of Baghdad, and in a soccer stadium in Haditha, northwest of Baghdad. Some of the bodies in the river were decapitated. In the soccer stadium, at, least 20 men had been lined up against a wall and shot.

President Jalal Talabani announced the discovery of the bodies in the river, which are believed to have been hostages taken from the town of Madain last week. Suwayra is downstream on the Tigris from Madain. The Iraqi President also stated that the names of the victims are known as well as the names of the terrorist murderers who are responsible.

Shiite Muslim leaders and the government blame Sunni Muslim killers for the deaths of the people found in the river. The Sunnis had issued threats to the Shiites in Madain saying they would be killed if they didn't leave the town. Next came the abductions and murders.

In Haditha, the men shot and killed in the soccer stadium are believed to be off-duty Iraqi Forces personnel in civilian clothes that were abducted while shopping. The murderers have been incorrectly called "insurgents" even though the massacre has all the telltale attributes of a Zarqawi-led terrorist atrocity.

[Update] Chad Evans provides his take at In The Bullpen that the murders in Haditha were most likely the evil work of Ansar al-Sunnah which has a history of repeatedly targeting the Iraq military and executing people by gunshot. Although there's presently no information to confirm who is responsible for the murders, I'll defer to Chad's judgment.
Sgt. Matt Maupin - Missing Over One Year

Compiled from a report by Major Patricia C. Anderson, Command Information Officer: In early April 2004, terrorist insurgents ambushed a fuel convoy west of Baghdad which was manned by Halliburton employees and U.S. Army soldiers from the 724th Transportation Company. Over half of the convoy detail of more than 40 individuals were killed or wounded. Three were captured, two Halliburton employees, Timothy Bell and Thomas Hamill, and one soldier, Private First Class Kenneth Matthew "Matt" Maupin.

A week after the ambush, on April 16, Al-Jazeera aired a video showing a presumably uninjured Matt Maupin surrounded by five masked men with automatic weapons. Maupin was positively identified in the video. On June 28, Al-Jazeera aired another video purportedly showing Maupin being shot and then being pushed into a grave. The quality of the video was, however, of such poor quality that neither the military nor Maupin's parents were convinced that the man was Matt Maupin.

Based upon available information, the U.S. Army has classified Maupin as "missing-captured" and it intends to find him. One Halliburton employee, Thomas Hamill, escaped from his captors after 24 days and returned to the U.S. Authorities also continue to search for Timothy Bell, the other Halliburton employee captured during the ambush.

For the U.S. military, Brig Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, Chief of Army Public Affairs, stated:
"I want to make sure everyone is clear about this - we do not abandon our comrades. We will not abandon Matt Maupin, or his family."

"While Matt is in a captured status the operational commands keep looking for anything that would lead them to him. We cannot, and must not, detail those efforts, but we are certain at the Department of the Army that the operational commanders are active. Remember that Soldiers live by an ethos that includes an all-important tenet -- 'I will never leave a fallen comrade.'"
Last Friday, a routine board of inquiry met to review recently-promoted Sgt. Keith "Matt" Maupin's status. The board recommended that Maupin continue to be listed as "missing-captured" and, according to U.S. Army spokeswoman Shari Lawrence, their recommendation was subsequently approved by the adjutant general. As such, the Maupin family's fears that the search for Matt would be abandoned have been allayed -- for now.

Given the fact that the mainstream broadcast, cable, and print media rarely mention captured and kidnapped Americans, it's quite understandable that the Maupin family fears that the search for their son will be abandoned. The MSM have provided scant information and no emphasis. Obviously, public pressure for more strident action in finding missing Americans won't ever occur if the public isn't informed.

Roy Hallums - Missing Since November

Also missing is Roy Hallums. He was kidnapped last November from his residence in Baghdad where he was working as a civilian contractor. The MSM completely ignored the Hallums abduction, however, The Jawa Report and others have been diligently keeping the story alive. Notably, Rusty Shackleford's efforts to track and keep current on all those missing is commendable. At present, The Jawa Report continues ongoing stories about the missing military and civilian personnel in addition to Part 1 of an interview featuring Roy Hallums ex-wife, Susan. Go visit and note the linkage.

After people wade through and filter out the abundant chaff on the Internet, they will find a sense of conscience in the blogosphere. Whenever a grievous error or evil is detected and announced, bloggers race to become involved and highlight the injustice. It's not organized nor programmed nor scheduled. Rather, it's seamless, it's spontaneous and, to the chagrin of the MSM, it's frequently effective. For the sake of the families and friends of Matt Maupin, Roy Hallums, Timothy Bell, and others, the blogosphere must step up and keep their stories alive.

[Update] Part 2 of the Susan Hallums interview has been posted. One thing that's apparent is that demands for the release of the missing men have not been accompanied with any sort of public outcry. The MSM can be faulted for keeping the issue somewhat hidden, but that doesn't explain why the 'so-called' human rights organizations haven't shouted for accountability. Think about it. The Red Cross, the ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and many others, are infected splinters in the backside when it comes to the U.S. military, but are narcoleptic puppy dogs when it comes to the enemies of America.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Kindergartners Accused of Sex at School

(Mission, Texas) Two 6-year-old boys are alleged to have performed oral sex on each other at the Emiliano Zapata Elementary School. A third 6-year-old reportedly walked in on the boys while they were in the restroom and later told his parents. School authorities and the police were subsequently notified. It's not clear what corrective measures are to be taken.

If the incident occurred as alleged, it must be an indication of something very sour in the community. In reality though, whether it occurred is not as troubling as the realization that 6-years-olds have the subject of homosexual oral sex on their minds. This is outrageously wrong! And, it is wrong despite how 'is' is defined.

I'm disgusted.
Oklahoma City - April 19, 1995

In loving memory of the 168 men, women, and children who died from violent domestic terrorism in and around the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

Oklahoma City Memorial
Oklahoma City Memorial - Field of Empty Chairs

At the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Field of Empty Chairs individualizes the atrocity. The small chairs represent the children whose lives were taken. (Hat tip: Conservative Dialysis)
Teacher Arrested for Sexually Abusing Two Boys

(Jemison, Alabama) A 36-year-old substitute teacher, Tiffany Elkins, at Jemison Middle School in Chilton County was arrested Friday and charged with sexually abusing two boys last year.

Tiffany Elkins
Tiffany Elkins
(Photo -

Elkins was formally charged with five counts of rape and four counts of sodomy for abusing two boys under the age of 16. Tipped of the alleged abuse by a third boy, the Sheriff's Department said that other victims may been announced. Elkins has no previous criminal record. She currently sits in jail, probably trying to figure out how to explain her predicament to her two daughters.

Interestingly, Elkins is the second female teacher this week that has been arrested in Chilton County for abusing underage boys. The other was Christy Lynn Chapman.
Trophies of Death

Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report has a post up which describes how Al Qaeda is now using graphic art images of beheadings in its propaganda and recruiting. It's disgusting. Evidently, Al Qaeda targets its propaganda and recruiting at people who are personally ingratiated by the beheading of another human being.

I'm no expert, but it seems that about the only other groups since the dawn of civilization who considered severed heads to be desirable trophies were primitive tribes in the tropics of South America, Africa, and some South Pacific Islands. The practice alone indicates a primitive mentality that honors only barbarism. This uncivilized worship of the severed head has arguably been best encapsulated and illustrated by the fiction of William Golding in Lord Of The Flies. In the novel, an isolated society ruled by thugs worships the severed head of a pig.

Take a look at the images here. They're stylized representations, which might make them less objectionable to the general Muslim public, but it doesn't make them less ugly.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Pearcy Story Revisited

Digger informs me that Steve and Virginia Pearcy, infamous for hanging the American military in effigy, are now threatening bloggers with lawsuits for covering the story of their anti-Americanism. Their unflushed-toilet diplomatic approach in expressing their political beliefs has to be viewed as aberrant behavior. It's seldom prudent to create enemies and then issue threats.

Get complete coverage at Diggers Realm.
Chocolate Stops Cancer

(Washington, D.C.) From a report in Science Daily comes the results of a lab study conducted by researchers at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University. The findings indicate that a natural compound found in chocolate, pentameric procyanidin (pentamer), has cancer-fighting properties. According to Robert B. Dickson, Ph.D., Professor of Oncology, the research finding "does not mean that people who eat chocolate will either reduce their cancer risks or treat a current case." However, it does appear to indicate that chocolate contains natural anti-oxidants which protect cells from cancer.

Interestingly, the funding for the research was provided by MARS Incorporated, makers of M&M's, Snickers, TWIX, and Mars Bars. Isn't modern medical science absolutely wonderful? Society has already been given a reason to stay high on medical marijuana and now it appears there's a trend toward the munchies being controlled by medical M&M's. Legally, and with a clear conscience, a person can sit at home smoking dope and eating bon-bons. How great is that? A conspiracy theorist might believe that this is all a political scheme to create the perfect liberal voter.

Of course, I'm being facetious. Nonetheless, once the news of a link between chocolate and cancer deterrence disburses among the public, there's no telling how it will be interpreted. And, as soon as MARS or Hershey is able to legally announce a direct link between chocolate and a reduced incidence of cancer, it will probably be emblazoned on a candy wrapper. Consequently, we can expect the food-Nazis to be outraged. It's also probably safe to assume the obesity alarmists and the dentists will weigh in.
China Signs Oil Deal with Canada

(Beijing, China) Current plans are that, by 2009, Canada will be exporting 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day to China from the Calgary Oil Sands. An agreement of understanding has been signed between PetroChina Company Limited and Enbridge Inc., a leading energy transportation and distribution company. Enbridge will build a 1,160 kilometer pipeline from the oil sand deposits to the Canadian west coast for shipment by tanker to China.

It is anticipated that a binding contract will be in place within a year with the total project cost estimated to be about $2 billion. It will be the first time that Canadian oil is exported to Asia.
Comoros Volcano Kills 17

(Comoros Islands) Ash, boulders, and molten lava spewed from the crater of Mount Karthala yesterday as islanders fled. Thus far, reports indicate that seventeen people have died.

Comoros Islands
Comoros Islands

According to this report:
"Villagers are in total darkness, gritty rain is falling and visibility is zero," a resident from the village of Idjinkoundzi on the western flank of Mount Karthala, who gave his name as Charif, told Reuters by telephone.

The 2,361-meter (7,746-foot) Mount Karthala and its forested slopes form most of the land mass of Grande Comore, the main island in the Comoros chain, which lies 300 kilometers (190 miles) off east Africa, and which has witnessed periodic eruptions.

Jean Marc, a pilot with Comoros Aviation who flew over the summit, said: "I saw the start of a lava flow, but for the moment it's confined to the inside of the volcano."

Families from the villages of Trelezini and Tsorale piled into taxis and buses and headed for the capital, Moroni, which lies on the west coast of Grande Comore, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Karthala's crater, towering above the Indian Ocean.
A former French colony, Comoros is one of the world's poorest nations with about 650,000 people, mostly Sunni Muslims. The country is not self-sufficient in food production, therefore, rice is its largest import.
Indonesia Approves Nuke Power Plants

(Jakarta, Indonesia) Indonesian authorities have approved a plan for four 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plants with construction and startup scheduled for completion in 2016. The site of the project is the Muria peninsula on the north coast of the island of Java which was chosen for its volcanic and seismic stability.

Indonesia's energy requirements have grown rapidly with current electricity production supplied by hydro and fossil-fueled power plants. The country is a member of OPEC, however, it has been unable to reliably and profitably supply oil for the world market recently due to internal demand and depletion of existing oil fields. There has even arisen some political pressure to have Indonesia cease being an OPEC member due to the cost. Consequently, nuclear power has become an attractive alternative.

As an aside, it's unusual to cite 'volcanic and seismic stability' in a discussion about Indonesia. Even so, we're sure to see the environmentalists erupt.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Principal Allegedly Helped Students Cheat

(Chester, Pennsylvania) A principal and administrator for Edison Schools, Jayne Gibbs, was suspended pending completion of an investigation of allegations that she gave students the answers to tests.
Jayne Gibbs was placed on a paid leave Thursday after eighth graders at Edward E. Parry Edison Junior Academy said she had given them answers to questions on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test, said Wayne Emsley, Chester Upland School District assessment director.
As principal of a district middle school from 2002 to 2003, students testing proficient in math on the PSSA exam jumped from 11 percent to 71 percent. A 60% increase in math proficiency in such a short period of time should have raised some curiosity, but it seems unlikely that a principal would give answers to students. A school principal usually doesn't have direct day-to-day contact with students. If students were getting test answers, it would seem most likely to have been from a teacher. In any event, if cheating occurred, the teachers must have known or, at least, they must have been suspicious.

[Update] From another report, the Chester Upland School District became aware of the cheating by students who came forward. According to Wayne Emsley, Director of Assessment,
"We were made aware of it by students," Emsley said. "I think that's to their credit. They were uncomfortable with some of the things they were asked to do and they brought it to a staff member's attention."
It's worth noting that the students displayed a level of ethical behavior even though it appears their superior, the principal, was unprincipled. I consider the students' actions to be praiseworthy.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Two Towns Fight for Wal-Mart

(Dumas, Arkansas) In southeast Arkansas, Wal-Mart has plans of building a Supercenter in the town of Dumas and closing a store in McGehee, about 20 miles away. The people in McGehee are upset, complaining that the loss of their Wal-Mart will severely decrease sales tax revenue which is relied upon for their hospital.

This is the first story I've seen where communities are fighting for a local Wal-Mart. Most of the time, we can rely on the MSM to tell us that Wal-Mart is not wanted.
Nazi Death Camp Liberation - April 1945

Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp
(Bergen-Belsen, Germany) Although it wasn't classified as a 'factory death camp,' Bergen-Belsen, near Hanover, Germany, was a Nazi prisoner-of-war and slave labor death camp where tens of thousands of people died slowly through starvation, dehydration, and disease.
Bergen-Belsen camp was liberated by British troops on 15 April 1945. A total of 100,000 prisoners from 40 countries, among them 50,000 Soviet prisoners of war and 30,000 Jews, had died in the camp.

In a further tragedy, British doctors were powerless to save the worst off. Of the 55,000 men and women who managed to stay alive until help came, some 14,000 never recovered from serious illness.
Notably, among those killed was teenage diarist Anne Frank. An official memorial ceremony at the site of Bergen-Belsen is scheduled for Sunday while another ceremony will occur at Hyde Park in London.

Also on Sunday will be memorial ceremonies in the camps of Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrueck near Berlin and Buchenwald in eastern Germany.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp
(Weimar, Germany) Sixty years ago, soldiers of the 3rd United States Army under General George S. Patton liberated 21,000 prisoners at Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar.
Shortly before the Allies arrived, there were still 50,000 prisoners at Buchenwald. But as the troops approached, the SS began to evacuate them. Buchenwald's commandant ordered 28,000 people to be taken either by foot or train to other camps including Dachau, Flossenbuerg and the Theresienstadt ghetto. Although the exact number of people who perished in the death march is not known, at least 10,000 died of hunger, exhaustion or murder. In total, of the nearly one quarter-million people from all across Europe who entered the gates into Buchenwald between July 1937 until April 1945, some 56,000 died there as well.
A reunion last Sunday gathered more than 500 survivors of Buchenwald. It is considered to be the last 10-year anniversary for actual victims of the death camp since most will pass away before the next memorial ceremony.


On May 10, a National Memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust will be dedicated in Berlin.

Interestingly, although many news media sources are reporting on the anniversaries of the liberation of concentration camps, the subject doesn't seem to get widespread and focused attention inside Germany. In a quick sampling of Der Spiegel, Deutsche Welle, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, I found a single story about Buchenwald. There may be more, but there doesn't seem to be any emphasis on the camps as part of German history. Others (see here, here, here, and here) have also apparently noticed that, inside Germany, reporting on the subject of the Holocaust is somewhat muted or missing.

We must never forget.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Fine French Whine - Chirac Pleads for EU Constitution

(Paris, France) In preparation for the May 29 referendum on the EU Constitution, President Jacques Chirac appeared on a two-hour television political infomercial to plead with and insist that the French electorate vote for the measure. According to the Deutsche Welle:
French President Jacques Chirac urged a skeptical electorate to support the European constitution, warning that a 'no' vote would make Paris the "black sheep" of the European Union.

In a high-stakes two-hour live television appearance aimed at jumpstarting the flailing 'yes' campaign in France ahead of a May 29 referendum, Chirac also insisted the treaty could not be renegotiated if the 'no' camp were to prevail.

But the French president -- who has staked his prestige on approval of the constitution -- said he would not resign should voters reject the landmark text.
Shucks! That's a shame. Either way the vote goes, Chirac stays. He continues:
"The reality is that you would have 24 countries that voted yes and then the black sheep that blocked everything", he said.

"France would be considerably weakened," he warned, adding that within Europe, "France would cease to exist politically."

Chirac also cautioned that "European construction would stop," adding: "The argument that we could renegotiate (the treaty) is not a serious one."

"Let's not be afraid," he urged the audience.
Chirac obviously believes in exaggeration. Maybe it's due to some nervousness about the referendum. Undoubtedly, he's seen the recent poll which indicates that 55 percent of the voters want to reject the proposed constitution.
Germany Considers Minimum Wage

By law, Germany does not have a minimum wage, however, through agreements between unions and workers, minimum wages are strictly established for most industries. The system has worked swimmingly for decades but, with the eastern expansion of the European Union, many migrants are willing to work for less than the recognized traditional wage minimums.

Having foreigners in Germany working for less than the going rate has angered the unions and political pressure is being applied to stop the practice. Since the entry of Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic States into the European Union last year, wages in Germany have noticeably dropped with a resultant loss of tax revenue.

Consequently, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder this week said, "We can't allow people to bring in workers from other European countries, let them work here for peanuts and thereby destroy healthy German businesses." Something is disingenuous about his statement since businesses customarily benefit by reducing their costs of production and a cheaper work force does just that.

[T]he cabinet decided to adopt a draft law by May that would allow minimum wages in all sectors of the German economy. Falling short of the introduction of a statutory minimum wage, the law would extend a law that applies only in the construction sector. Under this law, foreign employees must be paid the same rates as German workers under the collective bargaining deals reached by labor unions and employers.
Presumably, the law would remove the economic incentive to hire foreign workers because they would have to be paid the same as German workers.

A national minimum wage law would naturally please the socialist elements in the government, but it probably will have a negative effect on business and unemployment. For one thing, it's generally recognized that minimum wage laws cause jobs to disappear and, secondly, they provide ample encouragement for businesses to outsource. The systemic socialism that infects the German political system will be well served by a minimum wage law but businesses will be less competitive because of increased labor costs and the dismal 10+% unemployment rate will probably grow due to outsourcing.

In summary, the unionized German economy is struggling to compete with free market influences from neighboring countries. The ingrained socialist policies are in conflict with global capitalism. The Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Franz Muentefering, said as much in a speech this week.
"The internationally imposed strategy of profit maximization poses a long-term threat to our democracy."
So, it doesn't really make much difference whether Germany tinkers with the minimum wage or not. If they impose a national wage standard, businesses will outsource jobs or possibly move entire factories. If they don't clamp down on wage minimums, businesses will hire cheaper foreign labor. Either way, the motive to maximize profit will be paramount.
China Wants Asian as UN Secretary-General

With Kofi Annan's term as UN Secretary-General ending in 2006, China has started a push to have his successor be from an Asian country. According to Zheng Qirong, an expert from the China Foreign Affairs University,
"Since U Thant from Myanmar assumed the UN secretary-general from 1962 to 1971 an Asian hasn't had the opportunity to take up the job," said Zheng. "Therefore, the public opinion holds that the United Nations should be put under the leadership of an Asian this time."
I don't know how Zheng got from A to B in the quote. It must be Chinese logic.
Annan Says U.S. & UK Share Blame for Oil-for-Food Scandal

According to a report from, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the United States and Britain share responsibility for the oil-for-food scandal. Annan contends that most of the money Saddam Hussein made from oil sales was not governed by the oil-for-food program, but rather income was generated through smuggling operations to Turkey and Jordan that had the tacit approval of the U.S. and the UK.

I don't get it. If oil was being smuggled out of Iraq and not part of the UN oil-for-food program, how would that make the U.S. and UK responsible for the oil-for-food scandal? Kofi seems to be making a baseless charge.

Interestingly, Annan also stated that most of the American media has an ideological bias and, therefore, hasn't reported that the U.S. and UK are to blame for the oil-for-food scandal. This statement is bizarre. Agreed, the American media have a bias but it's normally in full support of the UN and the Secretary-General. Holy moly! The MSM normally ignores or glosses over the peccadilloes of the UN.

Frankly, I fear that I'm missing some major point or something because this recent contention from Kofi Annan couldn't make less sense. It seems he's trying to make the U.S. and UK responsible for UN programs. It would naturally follow that he thinks the U.S. is responsible for UN 'peacekeepers' raping children in the Congo. Or the U.S. is at fault for inaction by the UN in Darfur.

I'm confused.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Man Buys Shirt, Finds $2,000 in Pocket

Larry Hoffman then returns the $2,000 to the Goodwill Store in West Bend, Wisconsin, where he bought the shirt. Good for him! Hooray for Larry!
HS Counselor Booted For Sex with Boy

(New York City) A 29-year-old guidance counselor, Samantha Solomon, has been booted from her position for having an affair with a student at the High School for Health Professions and Human Services in Mahattan.

Samantha Solomon
Samantha Solomon

Although she denies the allegation, Solomon is to meet with Education Department officials tomorrow to discuss disciplinary action. With the booting of Solomon, students and faculty at the school have had two scandals this week of female teachers having sex with male students. Social Studies teacher Rhianna Ellis has been accused of having a 10-month affair with a student which resulted in the birth of a child.
Two Hurt in High School Cat Fight

(Cleveland, Ohio) Seven girls have been suspended from South High School for fighting that resulted in one student and an assistant principal going to the hospital. Apparently, the girls were mixing it up over the weekend and carried the fight into the school on Monday. The assistant principal, Ruth Billingsley, got knocked unconscious by a thrown chair.

South High School has a reputation for violence even though security is provided by five guards and two off-duty Cleveland police officers.
ACLU Says Death Row Inmates 'Least Dangerous'

(Akron, Ohio) The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed papers with the U.S. District Court to stop state prison authorities from transferring Death Row inmates from Mansfield Correctional Institution to the Mahoning County super-max prison. Prison officials contend the move is being made to save money.

In opposition, ACLU lawyers stated that the move is in violation of a judge's order that requires a hearing for super-max inmates and that the super-max is "cruel and unusual" punishment. One lawyer, Staughton Lynd of Niles, stated that super-max prisons cause inmates to deteriorate mentally and the doors are solid metal. Another lawyer, Michael Benza of Cleveland, said, "These guys on Death Row are the least dangerous inmates."

'Wrongful Birth' Lawsuits

(Columbus, Ohio) The Ohio Supreme Court is considering Ohio's first 'wrongful birth' cases where mothers seek damages from hospitals and doctors for misreading prenatal tests and not informing them that their fetuses have profound genetic disorders. The mothers claim that they would have terminated their pregnancies if they had known.

Being considered on appeal are the lawsuits of Lois Coleman, whose child was born with a fatal genetic disorder, and Helen Schirmer, who gave birth to a son with severe mental retardation and physical disability. Defendants in the cases include Dr. Vikram Dogra, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland Women's Health Center, and the Mount Auburn Obstetrics & Gynecologic Associates in Cincinnati.

The Ohio Supremes has previously rejected 'wrongful life' lawsuits filed for damages on behalf of a child due to a doctor's negligence. However, the court has allowed 'wrongful pregnancy' lawsuits for damages from failed sterilization procedures. Although the 'wrongful birth' cases are the first before the Ohio court, precedents have been set by 20 other states which allow similar malpractice actions.

Interestingly and seemingly out of character, two Ohio Justices, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton and Terrence O'Donnell, have expressed reservations "about broadening the scope of medical malpractice claims, suggesting this is a public policy issue more appropriate for the Ohio General Assembly." I don't claim a lot familiarity with the subject, but this is the first time I can recall in recent history that higher court judges have indicated that an issue should be decided by the people's representatives. It seems that courts usually just give orders to legislatures.

Recent news reports from across the nation indicate that a number of state courts have considered the legality of 'wrongful birth' lawsuits. Examples are:
In Idaho, the Supreme Court turned downed a suit claiming that four doctors - Donald Smith, Marc Astin, Monte Crandall and Darren Coleman - failed to properly diagnose birth defects which resulted in a 'wrongful birth.'

In South Carolina, a 'wrongful birth' case alleging that Donald S. Wu, MD, didn't properly perform ultrasound testing is pending in court. A 'wrongful life' lawsuit against Dr. Wu by the same claimant had been previously disallowed.

And, in Massachusetts, in an arguably ludicrous case, a woman, Deborah Gaines, filed suit against an abortion clinic for the 'wrongful birth' of her daughter. While Gaines was at the clinic for an abortion, a gunman went on a rampage, ultimately murdering two people, and Gaines couldn't return for her abortion. Her lawsuit claims inadequate security at the clinic and seeks damages for having and raising a child.
The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to rule on the 'wrongful birth' issue by this fall.

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