Thursday, June 30, 2005

Life Sentence for Decapitating Her Own Children

(Brownsville, Texas) A 25-year-old Mexican woman, Angela Camacho, pleaded guilty today to three counts of capital murder and received three life prison sentences, to run concurrently.

Angela Camacho
Angela Camacho

From the Houston Chronicle:
Camacho and 24-year-old John Allen Rubio, her common-law husband, were accused of strangling and decapitating her two daughters, 3-year-old Julissa Quezada and 2-month-old Mary Jane Rubio, in 2003. The couple allegedly washed themselves afterward and had sex before decapitating their 1-year-old son, John Esthefan Rubio.

A relative called police, who found the girls stuffed in a trash bag and the boy on a bed. Rubio and Camacho told police they thought the children were possessed.

Camacho answered state District Judge Benjamin Euresti's questions in Spanish as he accepted her guilty plea.

[ ... ]

Rubio was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003 after he requested the death penalty. Rubio has since decided to fight the sentence. In February, he was found competent to choose his attorney for the appeal.
According to Cameron County District Attorney Armando R. Villalobos, Camacho's plea bargain ended the case which the Mexican government was prepared to appeal if a death sentence resulted in a jury trial. Camacho could have been the first Mexican woman executed in Texas if there were no plea.

From the Express-News:
Prosecutors argued that the real reason behind the killings was the household's troubled finances. Days before, the couple had been cut off from food stamps and had no money for the month's rent.

A relative discovered the bodies and flagged down a police officer. Officers found the naked body of the little boy at the foot of a bed, his head in a nearby trash bag. The two girls and their severed heads were stuffed into another trash bag.

Hundreds of residents, including children on their first days of Spring Break, watched outside as investigators collected evidence from an apartment littered with dirty baby bottles, deflated birthday balloons, piles of coloring books, pornographic magazines and trash.
Based upon the circumstances, it appears that a Texas jury would have found execution to be an easily justifiable punishment.

While providing for psychological evaluations, the case of Angela Camacho has been in process and in the news for two years yet, oddly, there has been scant mention of the important fact that she is an illegal alien. Under the presumption that she came to the U.S. to make a better life for herself and her family, one has to wonder what it was she left behind.

One thing is sure, though. The American taxpayer would have saved money if Camacho had been prevented from entering the U.S. to commit crimes. Mexico spawned the murderer. The Mexican taxpayer should pay to prosecute and incarcerate her.

I'd recommend that Texas Gov. Perry send Mexican President Vincente Fox a bill for the costs of the apprehension, prosecution, court proceeding, lawyers, psychologists, and incarceration of Angela Camacho. Prompt payment should be demanded with the proviso that interest will be charged on the unpaid balance.

It is just not a fair system for U.S. citizens to have their pockets picked by the government to prosecute Mexican criminals. What prevents the Mexican government from simply unloading its prisons and sending its convicts to the U.S.? Castro did it in the Mariel Boatlift in 1980. Hey, as long as America picks up the tab, why not?
293kg Catfish Caught

FISHERMEN in northern Thailand have caught the biggest catfish on record -- a 293-kg giant the size of a grizzly bear -- and eaten it, the WWF and the National Geographic Society have said.

293kg Catfish
Record Freshwater Fish

The giant catfish, believed to be the largest freshwater fish ever found, was caught along the Mekong River, home to more species of massive fish than any river on Earth.

"We've now confirmed that this catfish is the current record holder, an astonishing find," Dr Zeb Hogan, a WWF Conservation Science Fellow, said.

Project members determined that this new catch was 11 pounds heavier than the previous record holder - another Mekong catfish.

"I expect we're still going to find bigger fish than these," said University of Wisconsin fisheries biologist Zeb Hogan, the project director.

"It's astonishing."

According to Hogan, the Mekong has heretofore been a good habitat for such monsters because it is one of the deepest rivers in the world, reaching depths of more than 200 feet.
This is all fine except for one thing. How was it caught? Did someone wrangle this bad boy into the boat with a rod and reel? How about bait? What did they use? A chicken? A box of chickens? Also, it would be nice to know what kind of hook snagged the monster. Or, should I say, what kind of harpoon?

Nevertheless, the monster was eaten and it had to have been one of the few times in history that a community fish fry was held and the word 'fish' was used in the singular.
Juan and Carlos Sittin' in a Tree

(Madrid, Spain) By a vote of 187 to 147, the Spanish Congress of Deputies passed legislation today to legalize homosexual marriage. The country remains deeply divided on the issue.

Interestingly, over the past 500 years, the Spaniards explored and colonized the globe, spreading Roman Catholicism. Large areas of the planet and many populations became civilized and, not insignificantly, a large part of the world's one billion Catholics can thank the Spaniards for their strong faith in Christianity.

Then, in 2004, the Socialists gained power in Spain, due in part to the Madrid bombings by al-Qaeda terrorists just prior to the elections. Now, despite adamant opposition of the Roman Catholic Church, the Spanish Socialists have legalized homosexual unions, along with liberalizing abortion law and instituting no-reason divorce.

Female Counselor Accused of Raping Boy

(Bardstown, Kentucky) A 36-year-old former supervisor, Shannon Yager, at the Spectrum Care Academy in Hardin County has been charged with raping a 15-year-old boy.

Shannon Yager
Shannon Yager

Twelve charges have been filed against Yager in Nelson County where the sex with the boy is alleged to have occurred.
"There's nothing to this," Yager said off-camera. "My family has been traumatized by these accusations. This boy has been harassing my daughter at school. He's a huge boy, about 300 pounds, and I'm afraid of him. I believe these accusations are about money. I have someone with me 24 hours a day to make sure he can't accuse me of contacting him. I'm living in a nightmare. I've had 10 years in the profession without a problem."
However, court records indicate that the prosecution has a lengthy recording of a telephone conversation between Yager and the boy in which she discusses a sexual relationship.

Obviously, there's more to this case. A school counselor and a 300-pound boy sounds like a fairly unlikely match. There's also an allegation that the boy had a sexual relationship with his father's girlfriend prior to meeting Yager.

Yager is free on bond and a September trial is docketed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Drunk Zamboni Driving

Yes, sports fans. It is illegal.
New Iranian Prez Took U.S. Hostages in 1979

The newly-elected President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has a filthy history as a thug terrorist for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and was known as "Tir Khalas Zan" (literally, the Terminator) for his habit of firing coup de grace shots at the heads of prisoners after their executions. Ahmadinejad was also head of security in the takeover of the U.S. Embassy and the taking of American hostages in 1979. It would be hard to dispute the contention that Iran is a terrorist nation when the "population" just elected a known terrorist as president. By any reasonable measure of justice, Ahmadinejad should be in prison, not the presidential palace.

Rusty Shackleford has the whole story plus old and new pictures of Ahmadinejad at The Jawa Report. Go there.
Teacher's Aide Back in Court

(Fort Edward, New York) Updating a previous report, 31-year-old teacher's aide at Hudson Falls High School, Karlie Hall, 31, appeared in Fort Edward Court to face two new charges.

Karlie Hall

The new charges are public lewdness and endangering the welfare of a child. Hall is in custody at the Warren County Jail. No trial date has been announced.

Earlier this month, Hall was also charged with second-degree forgery and third-degree grand larceny for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars while working at The Quarters in Lake George. She forged signatures on company checks and cashed them.

It seems that Karlie Hall has a whole lot of 'splainin' to do.

[Update 05/30/06]

Karlie Hall sentenced.
Undersea Cable Develops Fault (UPDATED)

(Islamabad, Pakistan) A fault on an undersea fiber optic telecommunications cable has dramatically affected Pakistan's data and Internet connections with the rest of the world. It's anticipated that services will be disrupted at least through this coming weekend.

From the Times of Oman:
The cable developed a fault late on Monday, cutting the country's international data links, including the Internet, and causing chaos for businesses across the country. Satellite back-up systems were brought on-stream on Wednesday, restoring some Internet access.

"Data connectivity will not be as fast as it normally is but we've provided satellite back-up," said Mashkoor Hussain, vice president of operations at Pakistan Telecommunication Co. Ltd., which operates the data link. Telephone links had not been affected, he said.

"Two satellite back-up systems have been provided from 9 a.m. (0400 GMT) to ensure that banks and other businesses like airline ticketing can be provided with Internet data facilities as normal as possible," he said.

Hussain said an attempt to repair the cable -- Pakistan's sole international cable Internet link -- early on Wednesday had failed.
A repair ship has been dispatched from Dubai and should reach the cable location by tomorrow afternoon. Repairs are estimated to take two days.

[Update 7/3/05] (Karachi, Pakistan) Yesterday afternoon, a repair ship owned by E-Marine, a submarine cable company based in the United Arab Emirates, arrived in Pakistan and began sonic testing to locate the defective portion of the undersea cable. According to Junaid Khan, president of the Pakistan Telecommunications Company (PTCL), testing to locate the fault and its repair would be cumbersome and time-consuming.
"The fibre-optic cable is lying at the bottom of the sea. Sonic testing will enable the engineers working on the ship to localize the fault. Their work is hampered by the sea, which is very rough these days. Once they have traced the fault, they will pull up the cable from the seabed. They will repair the defective portion of the cable or replace it completely according to the magnitude of the defect," he [Khan] explained.
The fault developed late on June 27 and is believed to be about 50 kilometers off the coast of Karachi. Pakistan’s Internet and other telecom links with the rest of the world were lost because of the fault in the SEAMEWE-3 Cable (South East Asia, Middle East and Western Europe-3). Mashkoor Hussain, the senior executive vice president of the PTCL, stated that:
"[A]s alternates the PTCL had acquired 100-megabyte (MB) space on satellite and further 100 MB space had been arranged to facilitate Internet use."
A few hundred megabytes of emergency capability won't put the airlines, banks, and the Karachi Stock Exchange back to normal. Notably, this current interruption of service is the fourth experienced by Pakistan in two years, occurring twice in 2003 and in April this year.

The cause of the cable failure is unknown at present. It is apparent that the loss of signal resulted from a mechanical breakdown of the cable for some reason. It could be attributed to a defect in material, shoddy workmanship or an externally applied force such as an earthquake. President Khan of PTCL has stated that the company doesn't intend to sue for damages, but he may change his mind if he discovers that the cable PTCL uses is defective. Insurance companies have a tendency to encourage such action.

All in all, it looks like it will take, as a minimum, a few more days before full service is restored.
Judge Removed From Office

(Cambria County, Pennsylvania) The Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline removed District Magistrate Allan Berkhimer from office for misconduct. Berkhimer was found guilty of failing to be patient, courteous, and dignified with members of his staff.

Apparently, judges have to be nice guys in Pennsylvania.
Muslims Demand Permanent Seat on UN Security Council

(Sanaa, Yemen) There are 57 countries represented in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) which meets regularly to discuss solidarity and mutual interests. Yesterday, the organization met, opening with a statement by Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Salient points include:
Honourable Ministers,

In the face of the intensification of Islamophobia in the West, I have seen it as a duty to launch a campaign against this detestable phenomenon, and We have approached the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva in this connection. We succeeded to have the Committee adopt a resolution prohibiting defamation of religions, in particular Islam, as well as linking it with terrorism. We also took the campaign to the United Nations General Assembly asking it to make efforts in this regard. In the same vein, we went to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and managed to convince it to place the matter in its agenda and admitted that defamation of Islam has become a fundamental challenge in the field of human rights in Europe.

Since the enlargement of the Security Council has become a pressing issue in the agenda of the United Nations, we have made extensive efforts in concert with the Islamic Group at the United Nations in New York to ensure a permanent representation for the Muslim world in the Security Council. For the Muslim world, that is one fifth of the world's population, cannot remain excluded from the activities of the Security Council which assumes a fundamental role in keeping security and peace in the world.
In summary, the OIC has proposed to the UN and the European Organization for Security and Cooperation that measures be legislated to prohibit people from voicing a dislike for Islam coupled with a demand for permanent Muslim representation on the UN Security Council.

Interestingly, the 'Islamophobia' that the Secretary-General discussed was also addressed recently by Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar at a seminar on Islam and international politics in Kuala Lumpur. It's notable that in neither speech was there a hint that Islamophobia is the direct result of actions by the followers of Islam. All dialogue regarding Islamophobia ignores terrorism, Wahabism, Sharia law, honor killings, and the lack of freedom and democracy while pointing to a perception problem among Western nations that must be prohibited. A campaign to outlaw Islamophobia has been launched. No mention has been made about the possibility that Islamophobia is a perception with a sound basis.

At the same time, the Secretary-General demands a "permanent representation for the Islamic world on the UN Security Council." No specific countries, however, were identified as candidates for the permanent seat.

It's encouraging that the people of Islam recognize and are concerned that they are seen negatively by the West. However, my take is that no rules or laws will ever impact the level of Islamophobia as long as the Muslim world views terrorism as an integral aspect of diplomacy. It also seems illogical to award a permanent seat on the Security Council to any country that silently, without condemnation, accepts terrorism as a substitute for statesmanship.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sunbather Dies with 109 Degree Temperature

(Waterville, Ohio) At the Heartland of Browning Nursing Home, Patricia Matney was found unconscious after sunbathing and died at a hospital with a temperature of 109 degrees.

Death from sunbathing?
Free Lunch for Kids All Summer

(Monroe, Washington) Let it be known that all children under 18 will be served free lunches daily, Monday through Friday throughout the summer, at the Frank Wagner Elementary School gymnasium. The free food is provided by taxpayers in accordance with the federal Summer Food Service Program.

Apparently, the free lunch program has nothing to do with educating students. It's simply a nanny-state giveaway for anyone under 18. Disturbingly, though, the program doesn't cover feeding the community children on weekends. I can't avoid getting wispy just thinking about those poor children not eating on Saturday and Sunday. This situation is too damn cruel. Free lunches should be provided seven days a week. It's for the children and the rich folks who pay taxes can afford it.

In a previous report, the same inadequacy was noted in Texas, so there appears to be a generic practice of depriving children on Saturdays and Sundays. This is unacceptable. Obviously, the current free food program needs to be revised.

The taxpayers surely have enough money to give free lunches to all children every day of the year until the age of 18. And, what about the toddlers and infants? Shouldn't they also be given free food? Certainly, baby food and formula can be provided for those that are under school age. It would also be nice if mom could get some help with the baby's diapers. Maybe, a free package of Pampers could be handed out with the daily allotment of formula. Throwing in my pet peeve, it never ceases to chap my kisser that the parents are left out of this welfare-state scheme. I'm confident that the taxpayer could fork over enough to provide mom and dad with a 12-pack and a pizza five days a week.

More cash needs to be funneled into the schools and communities to make it all happen. Promote a universal free food plan. Contact your representative.
Tariq Aziz Blames Saddam Hussein

(Baghdad, Iraq) A transcript has been released of Tariq Aziz's interrogation last week before the Iraqi Special Tribunal created for the purpose of trying Saddam and his top henchmen.

Tariq Aziz
Tariq Aziz

From the Gulf Times:
Iraq's Tariq Aziz said ousted president Saddam Hussain personally ordered the suppression of a Shia uprising in 1991 without reference to top aides, in new interrogation footage released yesterday.

Aziz, who rose to the post of deputy prime minister in Saddam's regime and was one of its best-known faces abroad, said the president had absolute power in such matters, unbridled even by the 10-member Revolutionary Command Council.

"Sometime in the 1980s - I do not remember when - an order came out that the president has the right to issue decrees that would have the force of law without having to consult or discuss these decisions with members of the Revolutionary Command Council," Aziz told the judge during the interrogation six days ago.

"Who issued this order?" asked the judge of the Iraqi Special Tribunal created to try Saddam and senior aides.

"The president himself," answered Aziz.
So, in this latest session, it appears that Aziz is prepared to lay all blame on Saddam Hussein. Of course, we can't trust that his current statements will be anything like his next. Last December, for example, it was reported that Aziz was "ready to name names," however, another report a week later indicated that he "is unwilling to testify against Saddam Hussein at a future war crimes trial."

It's probably prudent not to believe Tariq Aziz.
Egyptian Islamists Protest Prison

(Cairo, Egypt) With the way the media has hammered the United States about conditions at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, it surely isn't surprising that prisoners around the world want their plight exposed in the same manner.

From the Gulf Daily News:
Eighteen Islamists have started a hunger strike in a prison south of Cairo to protest their conditions of detention. The 18, whom police nabbed in 2002 on charges they wanted to launch jihad, are protesting "the transfer of five comrades to another jail," the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights said.
I think it's safe to assume that the elite media will probably not be complaining about the conditions in Egyptian prisons. The MSM seem not interested in prison stories that can't be tied directly to an agenda that embarrasses and weakens the U.S.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hitler Ordered Creation of Sex Doll

(via In The Bullpen) According to, Adolph Hitler directed Dr. Olen Hannussen of Denmark to develop the world's first inflatable sex doll. Hitler specified that the doll be blonde, blue-eyed with large lips and breasts. Placed in charge of the project was S.S. commander Heinrich Himmler.

A psychiatrist appointed by Himmler to assist, Dr. Rudolph Chargeheimer, wrote that:
"the purpose and goal of the dolls is to relieve our soldiers. They have to fight and not to mingle with 'foreign women.'"

"However," wrote Chargeheimer, "no real men will prefer a doll to a real woman until our technicians meet the following quality standards: The synthetic flesh has to feel the same like real flesh. The doll's body should be as agile and moveable as the real body. The doll's organ should feel absolutely realistic."
Based upon the description and except the part about playing the organ, it would be easy to confuse the Hitler doll with some of the celebrity babes in the media. Nevertheless, the plan died because the Allies bombed the factory.
Wal-Mart Heir Killed in Plane Crash

(Jackson Hole, Wyoming) John Walton, son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, was killed when a small, ultra-light home-made aircraft he was piloting crashed shortly after take-off earlier today. The exact cause of the crash has not been determined.
Teacher's Aide Accused of Sex with Student

(Athens, Texas) A 38-year-old teacher's aide at Athens High School, Charlya Hill, was indicted last Wednesday of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male student. The Henderson County grand jury produced three indictments consisting of two charges each, improper educator-student relationship and sexual assault of a child.

According to District Attorney Donna Bennett, warrants have been issued for Hill's arrest, however, it's assumed that she will turn herself in. As of Friday afternoon, she had not. Each of the charges Hill faces is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
School Employee Charged with Sexual Assault of Student

(Stamford, Connecticut) A 31-year-old athletics coach, Beth Raymond, at Eagle Hill School has been charged with risk of injury to a minor and second-degree sexual assault of a juvenile male. Last Friday, Raymond pleaded not guilty to the charges in state Superior Court before Judge James Bingham. Raymond's case was continued until July 14.

According to Raymond's attorney, Michael Meehan of the Bridgeport firm of Meehan, Meehan, & Gavin, Raymond coached the boys lacrosse and cross country running teams and worked as a dorm monitor at Eagle Hill School. The school is a private institution for students with learning disabilities.
Canadian Bogus Drugs

(Hamilton, Ontario) So far, the regional coroner, Dr. David Eden, has six dead bodies under investigation for possible linkage to the dispensing of counterfeit medication. Hamilton's King West Pharmacy is alleged to have supplied bogus heart medicine disguised as Norvasc, a Pfizer drug, to each of the six older citizens that died. Shut down last Thursday pending replacement of inventory and appointment of new management, King West Pharmacy resumed business Saturday.

The counterfeit Norvasc was confirmed to contain only talcum which is useless for unstable angina and high blood pressure, conditions for which the Pfizer drug is prescribed. However, there's no confirmation yet on how the pharmacy acquired the bogus drugs, on whether other pharmacies are involved, nor whether other patients are at risk. The investigation appears to be at the starting gate. There's no reported knowledge of the scope nor overall culpability for the alleged bogus drug operation.

All that said, one might think this is the start of a major scandal. The Canadian media has reported on the deaths and the possible tie-in with bogus drugs, but none are using the word 'scandal.' But I'm using it.

Let's review some aspects of the scandal that have come to the forefront because of the deaths and the bogus pills. First of all, no arrests have been made. That means the pharmacists are not currently held accountable for anything. However, it's known that they dispensed counterfeit pills. The argument that they may not have known doesn't fly since a patient, I repeat, a patient was able to tell the difference between the genuine and the fake. Now, either the pharmacy knew it was handing out bogus medicine or it's staffed with completely incompetent pharmacists. If the pharmacy knew, somebody should be in jail. If the staffers are incompetent, then the media should be busting down the door of whoever licensed them. Neither of these two actions appears to have taken place.

Secondly, it's now been reported that drugs dispensed by Canadian pharmacies are not regularly tested for content by any governmental or professional agency.

According to the Toronto Star:
Drug quality is under the purview of Health Canada, while the college [Ontario College of Pharmacists] inspects how well pharmacies are run and the conduct of pharmacists.

The college's protocol for inspection includes such measures as checking whether dispensing practices are sanitary and whether medications are properly labelled and locked up.

"We don't go in and inspect the drugs," said Della Croteau, the college's deputy registrar.
On the other hand, according to spokesperson Christopher Williams, Health Canada only inspects pharmaceutical distributors, not pharmacies, on a once-every-36-month cycle. Consequently, it appears that neither the College of Pharmacists nor Health Canada have instituted adequate measures to assure that the actual content of prescribed drugs meets specified requirements.

Suffice it to say that there is a recognized level of risk associated with prescription drugs in Canada. Notably, the risk is not mitigated by exporting Canadian drugs to the United States. Are you listening, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and other states?

Both the FDA and Health Canada (the FDA's northern counterpart) have repeatedly warned that there are no guarantees when it comes to taking medications imported from Canadian pharmacies, and federal sting operations prove the reality and seriousness of these concerns.

The FDA conducted a perfunctory import blitz in November [2003], finding 1,729 "unapproved drugs" in the 1,982 packages examined. These illegally imported medications included "recalled drugs, drugs requiring special storage conditions, drugs requiring close physician monitoring and drugs containing addictive controlled substances," and the FDA underscored their serious risks, stating that "[u]napproved drugs lack assurances of safety, effectiveness, quality and purity." Quite simply, when Americans buy drugs from foreign pharmacies - even in Canada - those medications are often mislabeled, unapproved, counterfeit or worse, they could be contaminated, the wrong dosage or even another drug altogether.

What's more, while 80 percent of the intercepted packages came from Canada, those prescriptions "revealed that products were manufactured in countries other than Canada." The FDA found medications produced in such medically-advanced and safety-conscious countries as Mexico, Costa Rica, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, and a host of others. In other words, imported drugs are often only in Canada long enough to get a new postmark.
In summary, officials in Ontario are investigating whether six recent deaths can be blamed on inadequate control of prescription drugs while readily admitting that there are inadequate controls. One wonders how many people have to die before the safety of prescription drugs is assured to a level above rolling the dice.

[Update 2230 EDT] In a related report, Canadian Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh recently announced that measures will be implemented to restrict Internet pharmacies from selling prescription drugs to U.S. consumers. Possible measures could include barring Canadian doctors from co-signing prescriptions without examining patients and prohibiting prescriptions for foreigners not physically present in Canada. A proposal will soon be forwarded to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

In another report, consumers are being warned of fraudulent Canadian drug web sites. Consequently, not only do consumers have to accept the risk of questionably controlled Canadian drugs, but there's also the risk that the drugs may be supplied by a disreputable Internet distributor.
Isabel Jurado Needs Help

Sanfilippo Syndrome, also known as MPS III, is a genetic Mucopolysaccharide (MPS) disorder and was named for Dr. Sylvester Sanfilippo who helped identify the condition in 1963. There are four different enzyme deficiencies that cause Sanfilippo. Children with Sanfilippo lack an enzyme that breaks down the body sugar called heparin sulfate which slowly builds in the brain, stopping normal development.

Isabel Jurado has Sanfilippo Syndrome. She is the 3-year-old daughter of Jimmy Jurado, head of Latin American sales for a chemical company. Jurado is reaching out to friends, acquaintances, family, and the public for help to have young Isabel treated for the condition.

If you can help, Jeff Quinton has more information.
Fewer Meth Labs Due to Restrictions on Cold Tablets

Based on initial data, it appears that the Meth-Free legislation enacted in Tennessee has produced results, a 39 percent decrease in meth lab busts. The law requires that over-the-counter cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a necessary ingredient for making methamphetamine, be placed behind pharmacy counters. Consequently, any purchases, whether intended for use in meth production or medicinal care, could be limited and noticed.
Ohio Farmhouse Shooter Known to be Violent

(Bellefontaine, Ohio) Updating previous reports (here and here), the full investigative report on last month's farmhouse massacre indicates that the shooter, Scott Moody, was known to have a violent nature. Moody's mother, Sheri Shafer, had approached a domestic violence counselor and discussed her abusive son. Apparently, her intention was to have him removed from the home.

Still, no clear motive for the killings has been determined.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Madison Should Secede From Wisconsin

(Madison, Wisconsin) Doug Moe, a columnist for The Capital Times, has analyzed the historic disputes between the leftist city of Madison and the state of Wisconsin and concluded that the city should secede from the state. Moe believes that Madison would be a nice fit as part of the state of California.

I think what Moe isn't considering is the fact that Madison is in perennial conflict with the rest of the state because of the influence of the University of Wisconsin. If the university were shut down and moved -- lock, stock, and library -- to California, then Madison would be in harmony with the rest of the state. The buildings could be turned into cheese factories and another university for the state could be started in a different city, say Green Bay or Appleton. Then all problems would be solved and no legal maneuvering, such as succession, would be necessary.

Of course, a move like I've suggested wouldn't be easy. Machine designers would find it inconceivable to create a shovel large enough to move such a leftist pile of academia in one scoop.
Honda Exports to Europe from China

(Guangzhou, China) As of Friday, Honda Motor Co. started exporting cars made in China to Europe. The Honda Automobile (China) Co. plant in Guangzhou is exclusively manufacturing cars for export.

It's conceivable now to see a Honda for sale in Japan as an import. Arguably, this would be an extreme in outsourcing.
Most Popular Topics

The following list is defined by as the current top ten most popular topics in the blogosphere.
1. last night
2. benedict xvi
3. quote of the day
4. star wars
5. kentucky derby
6. part ii
7. good news
8. happy birthday
9. paul ii
10. john paul ii
I guess I'm not very trendy since I don't recall covering these popular topics recently. It's rather interesting that "last night" is the most popular subject. Obviously, there are a lot of folks that had such a wonderful or terrible or unique experience "last night" that they chose to write about it.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Iraq Prez Says No Kurdish Independence

From the Hindustan Times:
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani dismissed as "unrealistic" aspirations by Iraqi Kurds for independence in their northern enclave and urged Turkey to set aside its doubts and give backing to Kurds in the war-torn country.

"I never thought or championed that Kurdistan should break off from Iraq ... because these dreams are unrealistic and impracticable," Talabani, the leader of a Kurdish faction who has long been at odds with Turkey, said in an interview with the Turkish Aksam daily.

"Let us say a Kurdish state were set up. How could a state opposed by Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq live? These countries could suffocate the Kurdish state even if they did not attack it," he added.
Although there surely are many Kurds that desire their own homeland, the cold, hard logic that Talabani uses is hard to dispute. As a separate state, Kurdistan would be landlocked and surrounded by hostile countries. Unfortunately, warring factions in the Middle East sometimes do not use logic.
Bollywood Actress Katrina Kaif Poses

If there is any wonder why the Indian films coming out of Bollywood are so popular, check out the talented actress Katrina Kaif.

Bollywood Babe Katrina Kaif
Katrina Kaif
Bollywood Actress

She kind of has that girl-next-door look about her. I bet even Mr. Rogers would like to have her as a neighbor.

Trackback to COTT.
Paroled Sex Offender Kills Pregnant Woman

(Riverside, California) This story demonstrates that some criminals are so dangerous that they should never be paroled.

From Inland Southern California:
A parolee with a history of violence and mental illness was indicted Friday in the slayings of a pregnant Riverside woman and her unborn child, and prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty in the case.

Tony Lee Reynolds, 23, was indicted on 14 felonies, including the killings of Estela Perez and her unborn daughter, Michelle. Perez was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death March 31 in her home near the city's Fairmount Park. [ed. note - Perez was stabbed at least 33 times, including in the eye.]

[ ... ]

At a morning news conference, police and prosecutors described the Perez slaying as heinous. Perez, 29, had her throat slashed, and she had been stabbed numerous times in the stomach, legs, and chest, court records show.

District Attorney Grover Trask called Reynolds the "poster boy" for the death penalty. Trask said the case illustrates "the laws concerning parolees and sex offenders are what I'd call too liberal."
Ya think?
Irish Prison Reform

With worldwide attention being directed toward the prison at Guantanamo Bay, the hardships endured by prisoners in other countries are ignored. Take for example the reforms currently underway in Ireland which are destined to increase prisoner punishment.

PRISONERS in Irish jails will no longer be permitted to hire servants or order in private supplies of food and alcohol under new draft rules published today by the justice ministry.

Irish Prison Maid
Irish Prison Maid
(Photo: Agence France-Presse)

The new rules will remove outdated references to penal servitude and imprisonment with hard labour.

On the flip-side, for those on the inside at least, a provision that prisoners can use private furniture and bedding and employ an assistant to perform housekeeping tasks is also going.

They will also no longer be permitted to order in private food or alcoholic drinks.

Regulations governing prison life, such as accommodation, visiting rights, discipline, health and education, have been revamped. In addition, compulsory drug tests will be allowed.
Think about it. No pizza, no beer, and no chambermaid -- it's inhumane! It's barbaric! Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, where are you?

Companion post at The Jawa Report.
Intruders to Iran Arrested

(Pakistan) From the Quetta News section of The Frontier Post comes this intriguing report, reproduced verbatim.
Iranian law enforcing agencies have arrested 15 Pakistani and 8 Bengali on Friday when they entered Iran with out legal documents. According to details Iranian border security forces arrested 15 Pakistanis and 8 Bengalis while they were trespassing into Iranian territory with out any travelling documents. The Iranian security forces pushed them back into Pakistani territory where Pakistan Levies arrested them. The Levies handed over them to FIA for further investigation.

And from the PakTribune, here's a similar report.
QUETTA, June 23 (Online): Iranian security forces have arrested 106 Pakistani on Thursday when they entered Iran with out legal documents.
In each case, the intruders were turned over to Pakistani law enforcers. In total, 129 people tried to enter Iran without proper documents and were refused.

These two instances involve easily a couple of packed busloads of people and, as such, one has to wonder where they were going and for what purpose. The reports are lacking much information, such as the ages of the travelers and whether they were families or single men or pilgrims. The only thing we know is that the Iranian border police wouldn't let them into the country.

Since the Pakistani press thought these two stories were worthy of reporting, I think they are worthy of asking a question. So, what's going on? I suspect there's a simple explanation and I'll look like a fool for asking.

Companion post at In The Bullpen.
First Afghan National at West Point

(West Point, New York) With the Taliban no longer in power, Afghan citizens are now able to make decisions for themselves. Consequently, one 20-year-old Pashto speaker was able to complete an arduous application process to become the first Afghan national to attend the U.S. Military Academy. He reports for duty June 27.

From the Army News Service:
Shoaib Yosoufzai, one of 21 international cadets accepted as a member of the Class of 2009, comes from Laghman providence in Eastern Afghanistan.

Yosoufzai spent two years at Kabul University learning civil engineering. Continuing in the engineering field and gaining a strong military background are two of the reasons he wanted to come to West Point.

"I wanted a military career and the U.S. Military Academy has a very good educational system that helps with your leadership skills," Yosoufzai said. "They have a good engineering program and I would like to help my people in every field that I major in here."

He started the process about a year-and-a-half ago as one of more than 60 people applying from universities and high schools throughout Afghanistan.
The academic dean at the nascent National Military Academy of Afghanistan is Shoaib's father, Hamdullah Yosoufzai, who provided encouragement.

Yosoufzai's attendance at West Point is part of a long-running international program designed to spread American goodwill and knowledge to all parts of the globe. Previous graduates of West Point include former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza ('46), former Philippine President Fidel Ramos ('50), former Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres ('79), and a son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Hun Manet ('99). Obviously, the lessons on democracy and freedom produce mixed results for some international students.

Nevertheless, the fact that a student from Afghanistan is due to join the cadet corps is uplifting.

Companion post at Diggers Realm.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sharon Reed Milks Her Nakedness Again

(Cleveland, Ohio) Remember Sharon Reed? She's the local broadcast channel 19 Action News personality that stripped naked last year for an "art" photograph. Well, it's time to milk the sensationalism once more. Tonight at 11pm EDT on the news, she'll be reprising last year's Body of Art segment. Set your TIVO if you missed it before. The local station has already broadcast a warning about the adult nature of the program.
NE Ohio: Aryan Brotherhood Raided

(Painesville, Ohio) It all started with an investigation into threats made on the lives of two Eastlake police officers.

From The News-Herald:
Members of the Aryan Brotherhood jailhouse gang and Pagans Motorcycle Club were among the dozens arrested Thursday during a six-county, multi-jurisdictional raid on organized crime activity.

After almost two years of investigation by federal, state and Northeast Ohio law enforcement agencies, 44 arrest warrants were executed in Lake, Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Trumbull, Summit and Mahoning counties, said Patrick J. Berarducci, a senior special agent and Ohio spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

As of late Thursday afternoon, authorities had taken 33 of the 44 suspects into custody, he said. The 44 warrants were comprised of 12 federal warrants and 32 state warrants, the special agent said.

Exact charges and names of those arrested were expected to be released this morning by the ATF, Lake County Sheriff's Department, Eastlake police and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Ohio.

Potential federal and state charges could include firearms violations, narcotics trafficking and possession of stolen property, Berarducci said.
According to Berarducci, a 20-month undercover operation resulted in the raids and arrests by 14 teams of law enforcers totaling about 125 officers. Undercover agents purchased more than a dozen machine guns. A raid at a Mentor amphetamine lab last week was also the result of the undercover operation.

The Aryan Brotherhood is comprised primarily of white supremacists who advocate violence against minorities in U.S. prisons. The members continue to encourage violence on release from prison. In Ohio, there are about 550 Aryan members incarcerated who can be easily identified by double lightning bolts and the numbers "666" tattooed on their chests and the initials "AB" on their left collarbones.

The coordinated effort involved the U.S. Attorney's Office, Cleveland Police, Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Marshal's Office, Lake County Sheriff's Office, Painesville and Eastlake Police, Ashtabula County Sheriff's Office, Mahoning County Sheriff's Office, Youngstown Police, and the Mahoning County Prosecutor's Office.

Companion post at Diggers Realm.
School Secretary Arrested for Rape of Boy

(San Bernardino, California) Secretary Christel Puentes Ochoa, 23, at San Bernardino High School was arrested Wednesday and charged with four counts of statutory rape of one boy, a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a second boy, and influencing a witness by force or threat. On Thursday, Ochoa appeared in San Bernardino Superior Court and pleaded not guilty.

Ochoa is currently at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga with bail set at $150,000. She could be sentenced to six years in prison, if convicted.

[Update 12/16/05]

Ochoa agrees to a plea bargain and pleads guilty to one count of statutory rape.
Is the German Army Becoming Soft?

Throughout history, one of the proudest traditions of the German Army has been to instill and project the image of the noble Teutonic warrior - strong, courageous, and disciplined. Well, according to this report, that tradition has been abandoned. A German military court has ruled that a male soldier has the right to wear a ponytail.

Understandably, I can't shake the nagging thought of Hanz and Franz doing each other's hair while situated in a muddy foxhole. Also, attempting to display an intimidating presence on the battlefield would seem to be impossible if the adversary forces think they are fighting girly men.

In another report concerning discipline in the German Army, a Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig has ruled that soldiers do not have to obey lawful orders if they don't want to. The court decided that a soldier's "freedom of conscience" allows him to disobey the commands of his superiors.

The net result of the ruling likely will be to kick all dereliction of duty cases into the civilian judicial system for a determination of the acceptability of orders given to soldiers. In other words, civilian judges will oversee the military command structure and decisions may ultimately require their prior approval.

Lastly and on the same general subject is this report concerning the the training methods used in German Army boot camp. A total of 18 military boot camp trainers and instructors were charged for "violent training practices" by the civil prosecutor's office in Muenster. Twenty other soldiers are being investigated.

The charges stem from training activities that included simulation of hostage-taking situations and interrogations. According to military officials, combat preparation for intervention in Muslim regions was not part of basic training. Some of the trainers, however, had served in the Balkans or Afghanistan and wanted to prepare the recruits by giving them the benefit of their experience.

If convicted, each of the 18 soldiers face a possible five years in prison. No trial date has been scheduled yet.

In conclusion, it appears that the country of Germany has not only forgotten its centuries-old military history, but it's also forgotten the purpose of the military, which is to break things and kill people.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

SCOTUS Screws Property Owners

By a 5 to 4 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that local officials can seize private property, homes and businesses, from any American citizen whenever they decide to. Presumably, the seizures will occur for economic development.

I predict that this ruling will lead to an exponential increase in bribery of local officials. A man's home is no longer his castle if he has to rely on the government to decide whether he can keep it.

I also predict that this ruling will be revisited by the Supreme Court due to unintended negative consequences. As an example, what prevents local officials from maliciously bulldozing a church or entire community (i.e. a fringe religious sect) for the sake of nefarious "economic development?" Also, I don't see any mechanism to prevent a majority party from selectively targeting the businesses and homes of their opponents for seizure.

The five justices in the majority should have their property seized, not for economic development (although I'm sure that could be factored in), but for being complete dumbasses. In my estimation, heretofore unimagined avenues for corruption have been created.
Ithaca Gun Co. Folds

Back in the 1960s, my father could not have been more proud of his Ithaca shotgun. Even when we didn't go hunting, he would find a way to bring it up in conversation. He would be saddened, as I am, by the news that the Ithaca Gun Co. has folded.

From The Ithaca Journal:
Mired in debt and struggling to compete, the Ithaca Gun Co. has ended production after more than a century in business.

"We're just tapped out, we can't do it any longer," Andrew Sciarabba, one of seven investors who own Ithaca Gun Co., told The Post-Standard of Syracuse.

Closure of the company, which had 26 employees, comes less than a year after it received $150,000 from Cayuga County for operating expenses. Ithaca Gun had missed its May and June payments on the loan, for which it had put up its equipment as collateral.

[ ... ]

Ithaca Gun began production in 1880, and soon became known for making affordable and durable shotguns such as the Deerslayer and Deerslayer II.

"The closing of Ithaca Gun is another sad, but not unexpected, chapter in the life of one of America's oldest gun companies," said Dave Henderson, a lifelong sportsman who writes a twice weekly outdoors column for The Journal and other area newspapers.

"This marks the third financial failure under the 124-year-old Ithaca Gun name in the last 20 years and, frankly, wasn't unexpected given the shaky status of both the company and the firearms business in recent years."
There is hope that someone will appear to rescue the Ithaca name and continue the tradition, but there's no confidence that it will occur. The company has been unable to meet its financial obligations for quite some time.

Besides burdensome debts of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been hounding the company for back excise taxes. So, sadly, one of America's oldest gun companies, with no cash and no credit, ran out of options.

Retail gun dealers can now expect difficulty in selling their inventory of Ithaca products since there can be no guarantees. At the same time, those gun owners who sent their firearms to the factory for repair or refurbishment may not even be able to get their guns back. Everything is closed down.

It would be difficult and likely unfair to try and point to one specific failure that led to the downfall of the business. Obviously, it was a compilation of factors over many decades that led to lights out and locked doors. It's just as well to say that times and circumstances changed and the company wasn't able to adapt.
Tax Credit for Volunteer Firefighters

(Syracuse, New York) Democratic State Assembly members Joan Christensen and William Magnarelli have sponsored a bill that gives a 10 percent property tax exemption to volunteer firefighters and ambulance crews. It's passed the Assembly and has been sent to the state Senate.

Woo-hoo! Although I'd like to see tax cuts across the board, I am in favor of tax cuts for anybody, anytime.

It should be mentioned that a percentage cut in taxes would favor the people with more property (i.e. the rich) and, oddly, Democrats are sponsoring the legislation. It's kind of out of character for the Dems to give a larger tax exemption to the rich folks.
Tax on Internet Downloads

(Trenton, New Jersey) Tax-happy politicians in New Jersey are pushing an expansion of the state's 6 percent sales tax to include Internet downloads and subscriptions.

From The Express-Times
According to the bill, New Jerseyans would shell out more for currently untaxed goods and services not found online.

It would also create the new category of "digital goods," or any subscription to a Web site, or downloaded or digitally transferred product.

Targeted would be music-download services such as iTunes, which charges users 99 cents per song. That fee would go up to $1.05 under the legislation. Internet users who subscribe to Web outlets such as online journals and pornographic sites would also pay a 6 percent tax on any fees.

Supporters contend it is designed to modernize the state's tax laws in the Internet age.
So, the politicians aren't raising taxes, they're "modernizing" the taxpaying process. Of course, this means I'll have to update my list of euphemisms. "Modernizing" now means the government found a new way to stick it to the public. Consequently, if your elected official starts talking about making things more modern, hold on to your wallet.

Trackback to Basil's Blog.
Nuevo Laredo Police Force Gutted (UPDATED)

(Nuevo Laredo, Mexico) According to Nuevo Laredo Mayor Daniel Pena, nearly 80 police officers have been fired after failing a screening process that considered factors such as absenteeism and testing for drugs. The internal review follows a contentious June 11 takeover of the city's police department by Mexican soldiers and federal agents due to alleged corruption and the murder of a newly-appointed police chief only hours after taking office. An actual shootout occurred on city streets between Nuevo Laredo Police and federal agents.

City spokesman Alberto Rodriguez stated that an additional 70 police officers may be dismissed by week's end. The total number of police fired is expected to be about 20 percent of entire force of 700. In addition to the firings, officers have been pulled off of street patrol since last week, leaving law enforcement to the Mexican Army and federal police officers. There's a sense of lawlessness and chaos on the city streets.

As a result of decreased city police presence, there's been an upswing in wanton broad-daylight violence by some criminal elements. On Friday, 22-year-old Filiberto Pena Berlanga was gunned down while driving a vehicle with Texas plates in front of city hall and just a block away from police headquarters. Three others were wounded in the gunfire which left Berlanga with several shots to the head.

On the Texas side of the Rio Grande River, Gov. Rick Perry responded to a request from Laredo Mayor Betty Flores and sent additional Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers to the Laredo area to combat the threat of Mexican violence spilling over the border. Also, federal grant money is expected to be made available for an emergency communications system soon. U.S. Customs and the Border Patrol are monitoring the escalating violence closely and will deploy additional resources if necessary.

Although the shakeup of the Nuevo Laredo Police Department is a step in the right direction, the power and influence of the Mexican drug gangs have not been directly challenged. It's expected that there will be continued violence until an uncorrupted law enforcement effort is mobilized to weaken the authority of the drug kingpins.

[Update 6/28/05] The crackdown on crime and corruption in Nuevo Laredo by Mexican soldiers and federal agents continues with a series of raids rescuing dozens of kidnap victims on Sunday.

The 44 people freed Sunday - including many found with their eyes covered with tape - told authorities they were kidnapped by police officers in Nuevo Laredo, a city of 350,000 across from Laredo, Texas, or by members of the Zetas, a gang led by former soldiers who became drug hit men and are blamed for a rash of killings and violence along the Mexico-U.S. border, said Deputy Public Safety Secretary Rafael Rios.

Some of the victims had been held up to three months, at least one had been tortured and was taken to a hospital. None of those rescued had been reported missing or was the subject of a ransom demand, Rios told a news conference in Mexico City.

Deputy Attorney General Gilberto Higuera said those rescued were apparently "involved in criminal activities and were not victims of kidnappings" for ransom. [emphasis mine]
The raids encompassed three safe houses and were prompted by a tip from a suspect taken into custody. It's believed that some of the kidnapped victims worked for a rival drug gang.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

All Iraqi Suicide Unit

Buried in this report is the claim by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that a unit of suicide bombers has been created that is comprised entirely of Iraqis.
"A unit of martyrs named Al-Ansar, belonging to the martyr Brigades of Al-Baraa bin Malek, has been formed. All its members are Iraqis," said an internet statement, the authenticity of which could not be confirmed.
The fact that there exist Iraqi suicidal fanatics in Iraq is hardly news, however, it appears that Zarqawi considers it to be significant enough to make special mention. Maybe the new unit will be heralded for purposes of recruiting.
Spanish Pedophile Sting

Breaking news from The Australian:
IN Spain's largest crackdown on paedophile circles to date, police have detained 186 people suspected of exchanging child sex pictures and videos over the internet, the interior ministry said ovenight.

Police detained the suspects - people from all walks of life, including minors and students - in a coordinated nationwide sweep that began yesterday, the ministry said. The operation followed a nine-month investigation.
The Spanish appear to be going after pedophiles quite vigorously. I don't know what kind of punishment the Spanish courts impose for pedophiles but, if it were up to me, I'd seriously consider eunuchizing them.

Companion post at Conservative Thinking.
Pakistani Wife Tortured by Husband

(Peshawar, Pakistan) Postal worker Abdul Shakoor, 49, married 16-year-old Nazakat last November and then commenced abusing her. He beat her, repeatedly tortured her with knives, and threatened to kill her.

In May, Shakoor administered several blows to Nazakat's womb, causing her to lose a baby. Nazakat and her father went to the police in Kharian (between Lahore and Rawalpindi) to register a complaint against Shakoor. The Kharian Police refused to accept a complaint.

Not long afterward, Shakoor tied Nazakat to the bed and shaved her head, considered the worst torture a girl could experience. Nazakat's father, 75-year-old Raza Khan, rescued her from the bindings and they went to the Kharian Police who again refused to register a complaint.

Subsequently, Nazakat and her father went to Voice of Prisoners, a free legal aid organization.
"The accused used to target sensitive parts of her body for torture as well as keeping her locked for weeks. The accused also shot at her twice but (miraculously) she survived," Noor Alam Khan, chairman Voice of Prisoners, disclosed.
With the aid of Voice of Prisoners, Nazakat is attempting to get help from President Musharraf. Her family is also seeking an explanation from the Kharian Police and will petition the Lahore High Court and the Family Court.

Coupled with a previous post, this story is another example of how women are mistreated in Pakistan with scant help available from law enforcement authorities.
U-2 Plane Crashes in SW Asia

A U-2 spy plane crashed about 7:30pm EDT yesterday. Other than southwest Asia, the location of the crash site hasn't been pin-pointed. It's believed that the pilot did not survive.

[Update 1155am EDT] According to Major Kelley Thibodeau, U.S. Central Command,
"The pilot completed flying a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (in Afghanistan) and was returning to base when the crash occurred (late Tuesday)."
Due to "host nation sensitivities," the Air Force is not disclosing the crash site, however, it has been secured "to ensure the safety of local citizens and the integrity of the site for investigation team members."
Filipino Hostage Released

Last November, Filipino accountant Robert Tarongoy was abducted in Iraq and held captive. Today, he was released under circumstances that haven't been explained.

From The Manila Times:
Robert Tarongoy, the Filipino accountant held captive in Iraq since November, has been released by his captors, President Arroyo announced Wednesday.

"Tarongoy is in the hands of the Philippine Iraq Crisis Team headed by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis," Mrs. Arroyo said during a press conference in Cebu City.

"They are now finalizing plans of how to bring back Tarongoy to Manila," the President said.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jose Brillantes said Tarongoy might be with Seguis at the Philippine Embassy in Baghdad as of posting time.

Brillantes did not give details on Tarongoy's release. He said arrangements are being made for the immediate return of Tarongoy to the Philippines.
Obviously, this is good news. I'm anxious to hear the details of his captivity and release. After all, he was held hostage for more than six months with the constant threat of death. Surely, he has some important information to reveal.

Call me suspicious or skeptical, but every time there's an unexplained hostage release, I tend to think a ransom was paid.

[Update 1630 EDT] (via The Jawa Report) According to this report, Tarongoy was released after the Filipino government met certain unspecified demands of the terrorist group, Jaysh al-Mujahedeen (the army of holy warriors). There's no official word from Manila yet.

The current leadership in Manila may have paid a ransom (as I suspect) to prompt the release of Tarongoy and, unless it's announced, we may never know. One thing is certain, though, the Arroyo administration's policy of appeasement toward fanatics is doomed to failure. The only predictable result is that the kidnappers are emboldened to continue their terrorist activities. The Philippines need new leadership.

Companion post at Diggers Realm.
Female Rapist Sentenced to 8 Years

(Bowling Green, Ohio) Updating a previous story, 35-year-old Leslie Thrasher was sentenced yesterday for raping a 12-year-old boy. She received eight years for each of two counts of rape, to run concurrently.

Leslie Thrasher
Leslie Thrasher
Convicted Rapist

Wood County Common Pleas Court Judge Reeve Kelsey also determined that Thrasher was a sexually oriented offender and, therefore, will be required to register as a sex offender when she is released from prison. Also, under Ohio's truth in sentencing laws, Thrasher won't be eligible for parole.

According to Wood County Prosecutor Gary Bishop, there is a related aspect to the case which hasn't been answered.
[P]rosecutors still do not know whether a baby born to Thrasher earlier this year was fathered by a minor. He said the child has been adopted, and prosecutors have not obtained permission from the adoptive parents to have DNA testing done to determine paternity.
Consequently, there's a distinct possibility that Thrasher's rape victim fathered her child. It's not clear how this aspect of the case is to be addressed.
Jack Kilby 1923 -2005

(Dallas, Texas) Born in Great Bend, Kansas, in 1923, Jack St. Clair Kilby was an engineer, scientist, and inventor. For many years, he worked for Texas Instruments and, in 1959, he patented an integrated circuit device made with germanium. His legacy is the explosion in Information Technology we now enjoy. Yesterday, Texas Instruments CEO Tom Engibous said,
"In my opinion, there are only a handful of people whose works have truly transformed the world and the way we live in it - Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers and Jack Kilby."

"If there was ever a seminal invention that transformed not only our industry but our world, it was Jack's invention of the first integrated circuit."
For his creation, Kilby was deservedly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000.

Jack Kilby died Monday at his home in Dallas. He was 81.

Companion post at The Jawa Report.
Border Checks Questioned by Maine Civil Liberties Union

(Old Town, Maine) U.S. Customs and the Border Patrol conduct periodic law enforcement checks on Interstate 95 to look for terrorists. Not surprising, the Maine Civil Liberties Union (MCLU) believes that the checks constitute unreasonable searches and seizures and are contrary to the Bill of Rights.

I'm pretty much on the side of those that believe searching for terrorists is not only reasonable, but necessary.
Runaway Bride Discusses Her Ordeal

(Lawrenceville, Georgia) Last night, Jennifer Wilbanks was interviewed on NBC and stated that she wanted to vanish because she feared she couldn't be the perfect wife.

From the AP:
An FBI report says Wilbanks "was scared to marry (fiance) John Mason because she is afraid... she could not be the wife that her fiance John Mason needed. Wilbanks wanted to disappear without a trace."
Jennifer, Jennifer, don't give up. There's still time to live your dream. By all means, disappear. Remember, Paul Simon listed 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and you've only tried one. Try it again, Jenn.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Senator Dick Apologizes

Jeff Quinton is all over the story. My only comment would be to ask the question of what are all the people who defended Senator Dick (D-Illinois) and justified his ignorant statements going to do? In the least, they should say, "Never mind."

This should be a lesson for the other Democratic (and Republican) Senators -- don't be a Dick.
Put Me In Charge of Gitmo

I can't recall exactly when I first heard of "prisoner abuse at Gitmo" but I assure you it wasn't unexpected. Seldom do leftist Tinkerbelles ignore the opportunity to create the perception of a crisis to embarrass and weaken the Bush administration and the American military. My own visceral reaction to alleged mistreatment of terrorist prisoners was and is, "Yeah!"

You see, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the solemn graveyard of Flight 93 in rural Pennsylvania. And, a day doesn't go by that I don't trust the American military to make the right decisions with regard to the Gitmo prisoners. So, whatever the prisoners are subjected to at Gitmo, it's probably less severe treatment than if I were in charge.

All along, I've thought that my opinion with regard to the prisoners probably was not unique nor isolated. In fact, although it had no effect on my opinion one way or another, I've felt that most Americans would agree with me. Well, apparently I was right.

With a tip of the hat to Michelle Malkin, Gerry Daly, and Ankle Biting Pundits, a poll resulted in the finding that most Americans approve of the way the prisoners are treated and also approve the continued operation of the base for housing enemy combatants.

Of course, the leftist Tinkerbelles will continue to believe that wars are won with ball point pens, so I don't expect any diminution in their rhetoric. In the meantime, it would please me immensely if the prisoners were made less comfortable. Hell, freak them out and tell them their beans are flavored with bacon.
Woman Permits Sex by Minors

(Melbourne, Arkansas) A 28-year-old Melbourne woman, Amelia Peek, was arrested last week for permitting an 11-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy to engage in sexual intercourse while under her purview. Izard County Sheriff Tate Lawrence stated that the 11-year-old provided a statement to investigators. Also, alcohol is alleged to have been consumed by Peek and the children.

Peek was released from jail after posting bond. By the way, Melbourne is a small town off the beaten path in the Ozark Mountains of north central Arkansas.
When The Mind Goes Blank

From SouthCoastToday:
New research indicates parts of the brain that govern fear and anxiety are switched off when a woman is having an orgasm but remain active if she is faking.

In the first study to map brain function during orgasm, scientists from the Netherlands also found that as a woman climaxes, an area of the brain governing emotional control is largely deactivated.
This explains the bumping-into-walls behavior that I've repeatedly seen over the years. I always thought it was just something quirky and unexplainable.

Companion post at The Jawa Report.
Malaysian Official Urges Ending 'Islamophobia'

(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar spoke at a seminar on Islam and international politics and stated that the image of Islam has been hurt by association with terrorists. Consequently, he wants the West to try harder to "curb misconceptions" and learn more about Islam.
"It is imperative that the phenomenon now widely known as 'Islamophobia' is stopped dead in its tracks," Syed Hamid said. "In this regard, more inter-civilisational dialogues should be organised to foster deeper understanding and bridge the gap."

[ ... ]

"The negative profiling of Islam needs to be changed," he said. "Islam and Muslims must not be viewed with suspicion or as an enemy of the West. It is a religion of peace and justice."
Unfortunately, probably at the very same time that the Foreign Minister was spewing political pearls of heart-felt Kumbaya-ism, his "peace and justice" buddies in al-Qaeda detonated eight car bombs in Iraq, killing dozens.

Nevertheless, it's not that the West needs to learn about Islam because it wouldn't make a difference. Learning about Islam won't stop the explosions nor the corpses. Muslims need to start pointing the finger at themselves and recognize that their religion of peace and justice has been hijacked by extremists. Islam has become the religion of murder and suicide. That's not a perception problem, that's a fact.

On a different note, the Foreign Minister mentioned that the Muslim world has many fatwas, religious edicts, being issued by many sources and that there is no regulation nor consistency in interpretation. His concern is that a fatwa-palooza situation of differing interpretations makes Muslims vulnerable to outside propaganda. As a remedy, Hamid recommends the adoption of a "common fatwa." In my opinion, the problem is that anyone within the hierarchy of Islam can issue a fatwa and, with so many people dictating policy, there is no unique and singular message. The result is confusion.

One final note - the Foreign Minister cites the need for "more inter-civilisational dialogues." In this regard, he apparently believes that Muslims are much more than culturally different from the rest of the world. Forget culture, Islam is a different civilization.
Pakistani Family Honor Preserved by Murder

Despite the fact that President Pervez Musharraf recently enacted a law making honor killing a capital offense, it continues at a rate of about 1,000 deaths each year. That equates to a rate of just about three a day, every day throughout the year, and it's mostly women that are killed. Here's a recent example.

Arab News:
MULTAN, Pakistan, 21 June 2005 -- A Pakistani poured kerosene over his sleeping wife and daughter and burned them to death in the country's latest example of so-called honor killings, police said yesterday.

The 45-year-old man, named as Jalil Ahmed, snapped after his brother caught his daughter having sex with a neighbor in the remote town of Samasatta, about 105 km south of the central city of Multan, police said.

He rushed back from his workplace in the southern city of Karachi and with the help of his brother tied the 20-year-old girl Shomaila, and her mother to wooden beds as they slept, police officer Arif Nawaz said.

They then set light to the two women - the girl for having an affair and the 40-year-old mother Azeem Mai for "not discouraging her daughter," the police officer said.
The father and uncle were arrested by police and a fugitive third person, a neighbor, is being sought.

Sadly, however, there is no guarantee that those responsible for the murders will be punished. On a local level, Pakistan is governed primarily by tribal councils which often are complicit in the honor killings. In many cases, murderers are allowed to walk by the tribal elders because they ordered the honor killing.

The national government has been attempting to stop the honor killings, mainly due to pressure from the U.S., but it's trying to change a system that has been in place for centuries. There's strong resistance to any change and, as a consequence, progress is slow.

If that wasn't enough, there's also the Islamic court system where cases of honor killings are also tried. Typically, the Islamic courts are at odds with the national judicial system and are generally supportive of the tribal elders.

All in all, the Pakistani judicial mix makes the outcome of any case unpredictable. Often, the perpetrators of honor killings are sentenced to short prison terms or they get a complete walk. And, as a result, women continue to be regularly murdered in the name of honor.
Woman Indicted for Sex with Boy

(Seabrook, New Hampshire) A grand jury indicted 18-year-old Rachael True of Seabrook for felonious sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy. True is scheduled to be arraigned in Rockingham County Superior Court on July 7.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Smirk-Worthy Surveys

I've become jaded to surveys. Besides the ludicrous Sweatiest Cities rankings (ed. note: cities don't sweat, people sweat) that came out the other day, now we've got the following report saying those born in winter suffer sleep disorders.

From the People's Daily Online:
Fan Dongsheng, director of a just-founded "sleeping center" under the Chinese Medical Association (CMA) in Beijing, has sampled over 700 clinical cases collected in his personal medical practice to reach the conclusion.

According to Fan's survey, around 40 percent of the sampled patients were born in November, December and January, the coldest period in China, while those born in spring, summer and autumn only account for around 20 percent respectively.

The expert held that fetuses were probably more vulnerable to external disturbances before being delivered in winter and their pre-natal experiences tended to exert certain negative impact on their future sleeping habits.

It is estimated that sleeping disorders are tormenting some 100 million Chinese, but only one million of the sufferers have resorted to professional treatment, which is still a fledging service in the country.
So, Fan Dongsheng samples 700 people out of a population in excess of one billion to come up with his conclusions. That equates to one person for every 1.4 million in the population. Consequently, I could poll one person in Phoenix, Arizona, (est. pop. 2003 - 1,388,416) and extrapolate his/her answers to make conclusions about the entire citizenry of the city. And, I guarantee that I could find at least one person in Phoenix who believes that Elvis is alive.

In summary, Dongsheng's survey, the sweatiest cities dumbness, and many others that are reported unquestioned by the media produce only one predictable result. My smirks.
Van Full of Illegals Overturns, Five Dead

(Columbia, Missouri) Early yesterday morning, a van carrying 20 people, some identified as Central American citizens from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, overturned on Interstate 70, killing five and hospitalizing the others. The driver was west of Columbia heading east on I-70 at about 7am when he lost control. Killed were three men, one woman, and a fifth victim whose sex has not been determined. Only one has been identified thus far, Julio Lopez-Luna, age and hometown unknown.

I'm assuming that the van was ferrying illegal aliens. The reporting of the story doesn't state they were illegals but, by all indications, that's all they could be. Twenty people packed in a van (I don't know how they would even do that), unable to speak English, without identification, and some claiming to be from Central America? What would you think?

The injured were taken to University Hospital in Columbia and Columbia Regional Hospital. Two survivors are listed in critical condition, one is serious, and the others' conditions are indeterminate. Their 20-passenger van had California license plates. None of the travelers were wearing seat belts.
Stolen Goods Sold on eBay

(Bellefontaine, Ohio) Two local people were arrested Thursday for operating an elaborate criminal scheme in which shoplifted goods were auctioned on eBay. Todd and Laura Morris, both 35, directed their children, ages 5, 13, 15, and 17, to shoplift at various stores throughout the state and then they sold the stolen merchandise on eBay. Approximately $25,000 worth of goods, mostly clothing with anti-theft devices still attached, were found at their home.

Charges against the husband and wife include engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft, child endangerment, and receiving stolen property. Prosecutors are considering whether to charge the children with delinquency since they were integral to the scheme. Nonetheless, they have been described as reluctant participants.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fun Fathers' Day Fact

(via Medgadget) Here's a little-known fact about fatherhood.
FatherWorld, published by Fathers Direct, the UK national information centre on fatherhood, details a worldwide increase in active fathering. It names as "Best Dads in the World" the Aka Pygmies, a hunter-gatherer tribe from northern Congo, in central Africa. When the mother is not available, the father calms his baby by giving him a nipple to suck.
I understand that 37 states have enacted laws related to breastfeeding, but none seem to address breast sucking. If the idea catches on, there might be a need for additional legislation.
Woman Indicted for Sex with Boy

(Kingston, New York) Arrested last month, 28-year-old Peggy Goble of the Hamlet of Wallkill was indicted this week by an Ulster County grand jury on charges of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy. According to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Harp, Goble seduced the boy over a period of three to four weeks, offering cigarettes and alcohol, before performing oral sex on him the first week in May.

Also according to Harp, Goble has a seven-year-old son.
Survey: No Students Could Name A Living Scientist

Asked to name a contemporary scientist, not one of 950 students aged 13 to 16 could do so. They did, however, mention Madonna and Chemical Ali, Saddam Hussein's murdering cousin. The survey was performed by the educational requirements group, OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations).
Germans Arrest Three Terrorist Suspects

(Karlsruhe, Germany) Sometime between 1996 and 2001, three Iraqi national citizens identified as Dieman A.I., 39, Kawa H., 33, and Najat O., 43, entered Germany seeking asylum. They were denied asylum, however, according to prosecution spokeswoman Frauke-Katrin Scheuten, they were allowed to stay in Germany. As an aside, this doesn't make a lick of sense to me.

Nevertheless, during their stay in Germany, they were recruited as members of the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam which is identified as the parent group of Ansar al-Sunna operating in Iraq. And, this past Tuesday, the three were arrested by police per the direction of Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm on criminal charges of raising money and serving as couriers for the terrorist group. Their arrests are part of a continuing series of raids involving hundreds of police and dating back to January. According to this report:
These raids were launched as a result of information that U.S. interrogators obtained from a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, the New York Times reported afterward.
Also on Tuesday, police conducted raids at 24 locations in cities across Germany and, with Swiss help, a location in Basel was searched.

In summary, the three terrorist suspects are in custody because a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay provided information.
Google Going After PayPal

(Mountain View, California) According to this report, Google Inc. will be introducing an electronic payment system later this year that is perceived as a threat to the popular PayPal service which was bought by eBay in 2002. By receiving commissions from online transactions, Google can become less reliant on advertising for its revenue. The Wall Street Journal initially reported the story on its web site. Thus far, there has been no official comment from Google.

Ultimately, with competition maybe PayPal will think twice before giving its customers a hard time.

(via Wizbang)

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