Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Martial Law Declared in New Orleans
Disgusted and furious with the lawlessness of looters who have put fear into citizens, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared Martial Law in the city and directed the city's 1,500 person police force to do "whatever it takes" to regain control of the city.

Nagin said that Martial Law means that officers don't have to worry about civil rights and Miranda rights in stopping the looters.

[ ... ]

Officials tried to balance security needs with saving lives.

"We're multitasking right now," said New Orleans Police Capt. Marlon Defillo. "Rescue, recovery, stabilization of looting, we're trying to feed the hungry." New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns. He said there are gangs of armed men moving around the city. At one point, officers stranded on the roof of a hotel were fired at by criminals on the street.

The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the gun section at a new Wal-Mart had been cleaned out by looters.

Authorities said an officer was shot in the head and a looter was wounded in a shootout.
Opportunistic thugs are obviously taking advantage of the lack of police protection. As I recall, the situation in Somalia back in the early 1990s was similar. In that case, efforts to provide relief were negated by gangs of armed thugs directed by warlords. All that appears to be missing in New Orleans are the warlords.
Perverted Family Sexual Circus

(Cincinnati, Ohio) According to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, 25-year-old Robin Kraft and her husband, 31-year-old Paul Kraft, created a twisted home environment in which their five children - all ages 6 and younger - were made to watch and participate in disgusting sexual behavior regularly. Last Friday, a Hamilton County grand jury indicted the Krafts on 17 counts each, encompassing rape, attempted rape, felonious assault, pandering sexual material involving a juvenile, and child endangering.
Teacher Faces Sex Charge

(Middlebury, Connecticut) A 27-year-old former guidance intern at Newtown School District, Jillian Gehrkens, has been charged with two-counts of second-degree sexual assault and one count of risk of injury to a minor. The charges result from incidents with a student whose age and gender were not disclosed. However, the risk of injury charge appears to indicate the student was under 16 years of age.

After surrendering to police on Monday, Gehrkens was released on $25,000 bond.

[Update 9/02/05]

According to this report, Gehrkens' alleged victim is a 15-year-old male student at Newtown High School. Apparently, an investigation was launched when school officials became suspicious.

Gehrkens is scheduled to appear in court again on September 21.

[Update 9/14/05]

Updated information is here.

[Update 1/09/07]

Gehrkens pleads guilty. Sentencing in March 2007.

[Update 07/27/07]

Gehrkens sentenced.
Mom Gets Hand Slap in Baby's Diaper Rash Death

(Ebensburg, Pennsylvania) This case makes me sick. Amy Livingston, 28, effectively kills her 15-month-old baby through neglect, almost kills her 4-year-old son the same way, pleads guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy and, with credit for time served, she'll probably walk out of jail in a year.

Amy Livingston
Convicted of manslaughter, child sexual assault

Livingston boo-hooed her way through yesterday's sentencing after pleading guilty to manslaughter and statutory sexual assault as part of the lamest plea agreement ever negotiated. The result, 19 to 59 months (wink-wink) for manslaughter of her baby and six to 24 months (wink-wink) for sexual assault of the neighborhood boy.

All time is to be served concurrently (boo-hoo, boo-hoo) and, at the defendant's request (sniff-sniff), it won't be in state prison. She'll do her time in the county jail. By the way, when Amy, the dangerous moron, addressed the court, she expressed no contrition. She cried, but only because she sees herself as the victim.

And, there's more idiocy. Livingston's (lawyer, family, et al.) entire argument for a lenient sentence was that she was exasperated (boo-hoo), that she's immature (sniff-sniff), and that her husband left her to be deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army. Hell, I would have left without being in the service.

In case you're wondering who choreographed this comedy, it was Cambria County Judge F. Joseph Leahey and whoever was prosecuting the case. The best that I can tell is that the judge had to get back to watching his Ironside videos and the entire staff in the district attorney's office was on vacation. I guess we should be thankful that she didn't get just community service.
Study: No Brain Cancer From Mobile Phones

(London) Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research have found no correlation between a type of brain cancer called acoustic neuroma and the number of years a patient had used a mobile phone. They also were unable to correlate the number of calls, the length of calls, and the type of cell phone to any brain cancers.

This is obviously good news in the interim before the results of another study indicate differently, which seems to happen with regularity. Unfortunately, researchers at the institute failed to investigate and confirm the suspicion that excessive cell phone use results in a dramatic drop in IQ.
Iraqis Reportedly Drown After Bomb Scare

(Baghdad) This story demonstrates just how on edge the general population is in some parts of Iraq.

Twenty-four people drowned in the Tigris river on Wednesday after a false suicide bomb alarm scared them off a bridge in Baghdad, an Iraqi police source said.

"Someone among the people walking on the Aaimma bridge in al-Aadhamiya district of Baghdad suddenly shouted 'there is a suicide bomber on the bridge' and then the people panicked and jumped into the Tigris river. So far 24 people drowned," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Details of the incident are sketchy. I hope the source is mistaken about the number of people. Nevertheless, and no pun intended, everybody is jumpy due to the dangerous security situation.

[Update, 8/31/05, 0600 EDT]

This report has it as a stampede killing hundreds.

From the BBC:
At least five hundred people have been killed in a stampede in northern Baghdad, Iraqi officials say.

The incident happened on a bridge over the Tigris River as hundreds of thousands of Shia pilgrims marched as part of an annual religious festival.

It was sparked by rumours of a suicide bomber in a crowd. In the ensuing panic many pilgrims were crushed and some fell into the river.

Mortar rounds had been fired into the crowd earlier, killing seven people.

About 36 others were injured when four mortar round landed close to the Kadhimiya mosque.
Contrary to the previous report, it appears that people were pushed off the bridge as opposed to jumping off. Either way, it's another ugly example of followers of the religion of peace not being very peaceful.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

50,000 Virgins on Display

Some stories just ache to be passed along.

From The Washington Times:
Ludzidzini Royal Village, Swaziland -- Fifty thousand bare-breasted virgins danced for the king of Swaziland yesterday, vying to become his 13th wife.

King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, arrived dressed in a leopard-skin loincloth to watch the ceremony called the Reed Dance, which he has used since 1999 to pluck brides from the ranks of girls dressed in little more than beaded miniskirts.

Wielding machetes and singing tributes to the king and queen mother, called "the Great She-Elephant," the girls danced around the royal stadium in the hope of catching the eye of the 37-year-old monarch.
Human rights groups have expressed disapproval of the king's actions. I don't necessarily approve or disapprove, but I am astonished. Finding and gathering 50,000 bare-breasted virgins in this day and age seems unlikely. I'm fairly certain it couldn't be done in Ohio.
Child Sex Offender Battles for Custody

(Pasadena, Texas) In 2003, 27-year-old teacher, Lisa Zuniga, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old student and was sentenced to deferred adjudication, meaning that after she completes ten years probation she won't have a criminal record. At the time of sentencing, she was pregnant with the 13-year-old boy's child and gave birth to a daughter shortly thereafter.

Lisa Zuniga Duran

This week, 29-year-old Lisa Zuniga Duran (she's now married) will defend herself in family court against an attempt by the boy-father (now 17) and his mother, Tammy Ambriz, to have custody of the child taken away from Zuniga Duran and awarded to them. Oddly, in the criminal trial in 2003, the judge ordered Zuniga to register as a sex offender and avoid contact with minors.

Regarding the criminal case, it's an outrage that a teacher received essentially no punishment for molesting a 13-year-old student. In my opinion, some time in prison was warranted.

[Update 06/07/06]

Father sues for custody.
Woman Gets 90 Days for Copulation with Minor

(Manteca, California) San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Franklin Stephenson sentenced 39-year-old Cindy Farmanian to 90 days in jail after she pleaded guilty to two charges: oral copulation of a person under age 18, and dissuading a 13-year-old boy from reporting a crime.

Cindy Farmanian
Cindy Farmanian

In a plea agreement, seven other charges were dropped. Farmanian will also have to attend a 90-day alcohol treatment program. Interestingly, she was initially turned in by her husband, Police Lieutenant Greg Farmanian. Apparently, he noticed that she was boozing it up and getting intimate with a bunch of teenage boys and decided to put a stop to it.

It's also interesting that Farmanian's husband, the defense lawyer, the prosecutor, and the judge all believe that the devil firewater made her commit the crimes, so she won't have to register as a sex offender.
Study: Terrorists Easily Enter U.S.

Simply put, by using a variety of tactics, terrorists are entering the United States with unacceptable ease. According to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies, gaps in the nation's border security, visa approval, and immigration systems have allowed dozens of terrorists to enter and embed themselves in the United States between 1993 and 2004. Ultimately, at least 21 foreign nationals became naturalized U.S. citizens before being identified as terrorists. The report of the study will be formally released later today at the National Press Club.

From the Associated Press:
Overall, 59 of 94 foreign-born nationals who were either convicted or indicted on terror charges broke federal immigration laws to enter or remain in the country between 1993 and 2004, the report found. It also noted:
_Twenty-two of the 94 either had student visas or other applications approving them to study in the United States; another 17 used visitor visas to enter the country.

_In at least 13 instances, suspected and convicted terrorists overstayed their temporary visas.

_Seven of the 94 were indicted for using false driver's licenses, birth certificates, Social Security cards and immigration records.

_Twenty-one became naturalized citizens.
The report identified many of the immigrants as affiliated with at least one terror organization, including 40 with al-Qaida, 16 with Hamas, 16 with the Palestinian or Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and six with Hezbollah.
The Department of Homeland Security has enacted programs to improve immigration enforcement, undeniably not a moment too soon. According to Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke, the levels of scrutiny imposed by the new programs "vastly improve the odds of stopping" the terrorists before they act.

Frankly, the odds of my satisfaction with national security are not improved when it's described in terms of a mathematical probability. What's next? Television news reporting the chance of terror right after the weatherman tells us the chance of rain? Obviously, more needs to be done. National security should be a "yes or no" issue, not something that requires a handicapper.

[Update 8/30/05, 1630 EDT]

The full report, Moving Beyond the 9/11 Staff report on Terrorist Travel by Janice L. Kephart, has been posted on the Internet. It's informative and engaging, particularly the section on the extent that terrorists use sham marriages to gain permanent residency and citizenship in the U.S. Beguiling American women into marriage is an effective tactic used intentionally to further their terrorist goals. I'm not shocked.

Companion post at The Jawa Report.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Woman Flees to Avoid Arrest for Sex with Boy Under 12 - Updated

(Muskegon, Michigan) When 32-year-old Dorothy Hanrahan heard that the police were looking for her, she packed up her six children and, along with her husband, skipped town for parts unknown. According to Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague, Hanrahan is charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly having sex with a boy under the age of 12.

From the Muskegon Chronicle:
The prosecutor said the child is not related to her and that she "befriended" several neighborhood children "before focusing on this particular boy."

"She bought him gifts and groomed him for a sexual relationship," Tague said. She is alleged to have had sex with the boy "on repeated occasions throughout the summer," he said.

"We are also investigating whether she may have had sex with another underage male," Tague said. "There could be further charges."
So, be on the lookout for Dorothy Hanrahan. She's Hispanic, brown hair, brown eyes, 4 feet 11 inches tall, weighs 175 pounds, and she's traveling with six kids and her husband. If anyone has information on her whereabouts, call the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department, 724-6351, or Silent Observer, 72-CRIME.

If convicted of the charges against her, Hanrahan could be sentenced to life in prison.

[Update 9/13/05]

According to this report, Dorothy Hanrahan was arrested and is in the Muskegon County Jail awaiting trial. Earlier today she was arraigned on four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for engaging in sex and sex acts with an 11-year-old boy. A trial date was not disclosed.
Mrs. Teacher, 53, Sticky with Boy, 14

(El Paso, Texas) Arrest warrants have been issued for a second-grade teacher at Vista Hills Elementary School and her husband pertaining to the molestation of a 14-year-old boy and attempts to cover it up.

From a report by Heath Haussamen for the Las Cruces Sun-News:
Donna McKnight, 53, of 11235 Signal Ridge in El Paso, is facing two counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor, a fourth-degree felony. Her husband, Ronald McKnight, 49, is charged with one count of bribery of a witness, a third-degree felony.

[ ... ]

According to court records, on Aug. 7 the 14-year-old boy was doing work at the home of Ronald McKnight's mother at 1205 Hueco in Chaparral, in southern Dona Ana County. He was approached by Donna McKnight who asked "if he wanted to make some extra money." Ronald McKnight was also at the home at the time, court records state.

Investigators report Donna McKnight told the boy she was going to have him rub suntan lotion on her skin. She then removed her clothes and told the boy to touch her intimate parts, which he did. At one point, Donna McKnight forced him to touch her, court records state.

She also pulled the boy toward her for a kiss on the mouth, court records state.

McKnight also allegedly told the boy she could "give him pleasure," but he refused.

Ronald McKnight became involved during a car ride afterward, when he told the boy "if he made his wife happy, they would allow him to drive the Jeep," court records state.

Donna McKnight propositioned the boy once more during the day for "the same kind of fun that they had that morning," court records state, but the boy refused.

He was paid $35 by the McKnights, records state.
The boy told his mother who alerted the police. According to investigators, Ronald McKnight subsequently left a message on the boy's mother's answering machine in which he offered to pay for two years college if they would "drop the complaint." McKnight also said his wife "has a 34-year career which would come to an end for 15 minutes of insanity."

If convicted of the offenses, each faces a possible three years in prison.

[Update 8/30/05]

A family member alerted the police that the McKnights were at a motel in Las Cruces where they were arrested yesterday morning. Both are being held on $50,000 cash bonds.

In a new development in the case, police said that family members alleged McKnight and her husband also were having sex with their son and daughter and it had gone on for years. The El Paso Police Department is investigating the allegations of abuse involving the McKnight children.

[Update II, 8/30/05]

Donna McKnight Ronald McKnight
Donna & Ronald

According to another report, the McKnight children are both minors who live with their parents and they claim that they had been raped and molested by both parents for several years. Also, new sexual assault allegations in several counties in New Mexico and El Paso County are being investigated.

[Update III, 9/12/05]

A Dona Ana County grand jury in New Mexico has indicted Donna McKnight on charges of criminal sexual penetration, criminal sexual contact of a minor, and other charges. If convicted, she faces a possible seven and one-half years in prison.

Also, Ronald McKnight was indicted by the grand jury on charges of bribery of a witness and other charges. If convicted, he faces a possible six years in prison.

Obviously, happy days are over for the McKnights. By successfully being charged with sex crimes and other felonies in two states, it's hard to imagine them surviving the judicial process without spending some time behind cold, steel bars.

[Update 02/28/06]

Donna McKnight sentenced to four years in prison.
U.S. Troops Kill Senior Taliban

(Kabul, Afghanistan) Elimination of an enemy leader is always welcome news.

Three Taliban fighters, including a top commander, have been shot and killed by US troops in Afghanistan's southern region of Uruzgan. Payenda Mohammed, commander of a group of some 150 Taliban fighters involved in a series of attacks against Afghan government troops and officials, died along with the other two insurgents in a clash last Wednesday, the US military in Afghanistan announced on Monday.
According to the governor of Uruzgan province, Jan Mohammad Khan, Payenda Mohammed was a main Taliban commander in the province who had a reputation for conducting rocket attacks, ambushes, guerrilla-style attacks and setting up illegal checkpoints.
Female Jail Guard Fired for Sex with Inmate

(Canton, New York) It's generally recognized that inmates occasionally engage in sexual activity with each other while locked up, however, to have a female corrections officer handing out intimate goodies is rare. Consequently, the story of corrections officer Robin Forbes is newsworthy.

A female corrections officer at the St. Lawrence County Jail has been fired for allegedly having sex with an inmate.

County Sheriff Gary Jarvis called the alleged incident, "an embarrassment." Jarvis said Robin Forbes of Hermon was fired August 2nd after being caught having sex in a secluded area of the jail.
"Oh, Officer Forbes! Another strip search? Well, if you must."
Die-Hards Will Die Hard

(New Orleans) Hurricane Katrina has been downgraded to Category 4 with winds of 155 MPH. Landfall is expected within the next hour, about 0630 EDT.

From the head of Jefferson Parish comes this chilling quote, "I'm expecting that some people who are die-hards will die hard." Currently, it's believed that at least 100,000 people did not evacuate.
Three Nursing Home Patients Die During Hurricane Evacuation

(Baton Rouge, Louisiana) This story comes about a year after two nursing home patients died during evacuation for Hurricane Ivan.

An official with the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner's Office says three residents of a New Orleans nursing home fleeing Hurricane Katrina aboard a school bus died today (Sunday) during an evacuation to a Baton Rouge church.

The names, ages and sexes of the dead were not available.

Don Moreau, chief of operations, says the coroner's office responded to a call from emergency medical technicians to a Baptist church, which was the destination for the bus of nursing home patients. Once there, Moreau says one person was dead inside the church and another was found dead inside the bus.

He says the person in the bus appeared to have been dead for some time.

Moreau says the others on the bus, 21 people, were transported to Earl K- Long Hospital, where a third nursing home resident later died.
No clues on the causes of the deaths, however, the coroner's office remarked that many people on the bus appeared to be dehydrated. It's not known how long the evacuees were on the bus. Nevertheless, it appears that the evacuation process itself can be life-threatening to nursing home residents.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Katrina's Older Sister Camille

In August of 1969, Hurricane Camille made landfall at Gulfport, Mississippi, with winds gusting over 200 MPH. Just a few miles away at the Richelieu Apartments in Pass Christian, Mississippi, 23 people decided to ride out the storm and have a "hurricane party."

Before Hurricane Camille
Richelieu Apartments before Hurricane Camille

Tragically, it turned out to be a farewell party.

After Hurricane Camille
Richelieu Apartments after Hurricane Camille
(Photos credit: Chauncey Hinman)

The only method that assures safety from hurricanes is evacuation. Simply leave the area quickly.
Lodi Muslims Suspect Government Mole

(Lodi, California) The Lodi Muslim community has been rocked by two prominent citizens being implicated in a federal terrorism investigation.

Hamid Hayat is accused of lying about attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. His father, Umer Hayat, was also arrested for lying about his son's involvement.

Muslim leaders in Lodi say since those arrests, a man who'd forged deep ties in the community has now disappeared. Federal prosecutors have revealed they did have a cooperating witness in Lodi, but did not name the person.
What a cheap shot. Blame it on the guy who skipped town. Instead of trying to distance themselves from terrorist activities and summarily denounce terrorism, the Muslims in Lodi are saying that someone ratted them out.

In my estimation, we would probably benefit by having more moles.

Companion at The Jawa Report.
Letter From A Pen Pal

Rusty Shackleford has struck up a philosophical dialogue with an Islamic pen pal in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At The Jawa Report, Rusty relates his latest communication with Karim. Although, there are no surprises on the Islamic perspective, it's interesting to see how lizard-leaping logic is used in the argument. Take a look and observe a debate with someone who makes pronouncements that contradict previous pronouncements and, all along, Karim apparently thinks it makes sense.

As a belief system, Karim seems to be able to take every dictate of Islam independent of all other dictates. Consequently, Islam is a "religion of peace" is not conflicted by "kill the infidels."

Rather disjointed thinking, I'd say. Yet, somehow, hundreds of millions of Muslims think it all makes perfect sense.
Hurricane Katrina

(New Orleans, Louisiana) Hurricane Katrina is now rated as a Category 5 with wind speeds of 160 MPH. Southeastern Louisiana is under evacuation orders, mandatory or voluntary. President Bush has declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, authorizing federal emergency management officials to release federal aid and coordinate disaster relief efforts.

From The Times-Picayune:
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin followed at 5 p.m., issuing a voluntary evacuation.

Nagin said late Saturday that he's having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he's been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses.

"Come the first break of light in the morning, you may have the first mandatory evacuation of New Orleans," Nagin told WWL-TV.

[ ... ]

State Police activated the state's redesigned contraflow plan Saturday at 4 p.m., allowing traffic to use both sides of Interstates 55, 59 and 10 to evacuate New Orleans to the north, east and west after early afternoon traffic left westbound lanes of I-10 backed up bumper-to-bumper for miles in the 93-degree heat. Within hours, however, the contraflow system seemed to have alleviated much of the logjam.

The Crescent City Connection and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway suspended toll collections to move traffic more quickly.

[ ... ]

"This is a day that will demand your full attention and cooperation," Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard warned at mid-afternoon.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a test. This is the real deal," Nagin said at his news conference a little later.

Nagin said the city would open the Superdome as a special-needs shelter today at 8 a.m.

[ ... ]

Though no curfew had been issued by Saturday evening, New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass said he and Nagin likely will call a curfew and station police officers at local shopping centers to prevent looting.

"Looters will be dealt with severely and harshly and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he said.

Entergy Corp. officials said the company has geared up for disaster with about 7,500 lineman and tree-trimmers ready to mobilize.
No more planning, it's time to act. Leave now.
Child Molesting Teacher Serves Only 4 of 10-Year Sentence

(Talladega County, Alabama) This story should frost some cookies.

Linda Dingler, 49, was a teacher at Lincoln High School in 1999 and had at that time been carrying on a sexual relationship with a student who was 13 or 14 years old.

In November of that year, she was arrested and indicted on three counts of sodomy in the second degree and one count each of soliciting the student over the Internet and transmission of obscene material to a minor, all of which are class B felonies. In June 2001, she accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

She will be released next month, not on parole or probation, but what the state Department of Corrections refers to as EOS, for end of sentence.
One source indicates that Dingler was originally sentenced to ten years for one count of transferring obscene material to a child by computer, ten years for one count of soliciting a child by computer, and ten years for second-degree sodomy. So, her convictions resulted in three 10-year sentences, all to run concurrently. Yet, through some type of administrative loophole and without a parole hearing, Dingler, a teacher convicted of child molestation, will get out of prison next month after serving a mere four years.

The scheme that allows her release is a program where an inmate gets two and one-half days knocked off a sentence for every day of good behavior. This means that all sentences in actuality become 40 percent of the time specified by the court. Five years become two and 25 years means only ten. I wonder if the juries know this tidbit of penal trivia.

The victim's parents are outraged. They accepted the provisions of the plea agreement with the understanding that Dingler would serve a minimum of eight years. Compounding that, they didn't even have a chance to protest since there was no parole hearing. I understand their anger. Just reading about the case frosts my cookies.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

California Chips and Fries

Check out the latest health alert.

From the Los Angeles Times:
California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer sued nine snack- and fast-food giants Friday, saying the law requires them to tell the public that their potato chips and French fries contain a toxic chemical.

In a suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Lockyer sought a court order compelling the companies to place warnings on their cooked potato products because they contain higher levels of a suspected carcinogen, acrylamide, than other foods.
Lockyer said he didn't want to tell people to stop eating fries and chips. No, he wants each company to tell everybody that they might get cancer if they eat fries and chips. What a guy.

What is more interesting is the irony represented by this latest action. Arguably, California is a leader in per capita marijuana smoking due to the proliferation of medical marijuana clubs and I've read that the side effects of smoking medical marijuana are arrested by eating fries and chips. So, if one has cancer and uses medical marijuana to ease the pain and then eats chips and fries due to the side effects of using marijuana, one may get more cancer. Or something like that....
Wrong Kidney Removed

(Sleepy Hollow, New York) One would imagine that modern medicine has advanced enough to preclude stupid errors like this.

A patient at Phelps Memorial Hospital Center had an operation this week on the wrong area of his body, in the second local case of so-called wrong-site surgery in two months.
Two egregious errors in two months makes one wonder if the same incompetent crew was at work. The hospital expressed deep regrets for leaving the patient without a healthy kidney.
Predicting Hurricane Katrina

It doesn't take a scientist to notice how absolutely wrong the hurricane predictions regarding the path of Katrina have been. First, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Katrina would make landfall in central Florida and veer north to track along the eastern seaboard. But Katrina went west and then southwest to make landfall in southern Florida.

Oops! Obviously, the NHC had to go back to the drawing boards. Next came the announcement that Katrina would cross southern Florida into the Gulf of Mexico and then veer north. Afterward, Katrina would travel along the west coast of Florida to make another landfall somewhere east of Mobile, Alabama. Instead, Katrina continued on a westerly track, and strengthened.

Oops! Again. Now the NHC is predicting that Katrina will make landfall in the vicinity of New Orleans.

Stay tuned. There may be future oops.

In the meantime, since it seems that anybody's guess is valid right now, I'll throw in my prediction. Katrina will stall in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, continue to gain strength, then reverse direction and go back across Florida, making landfall just south of Tampa. The storm will leave a path of devastation across Florida and regain strength once over warm Atlantic waters. Katrina will then make a sharp left turn and head up toward the Carolina Outer Banks.

As an aside, female anchor, Kelly Cass, on the Weather Channel just said, "You know, sometimes these storms get so big that they alter the environment." Superb meteorological analysis, don't you think? Ignorant me, I always thought that storms come with the environment.
Mall Terror Suspect Nuradin Abdi

(Columbus, Ohio) After drawing attention to himself by bragging that he was going to blow up a shopping mall, Nuradin Abdi was arrested by federal agents in November 2003 on immigration violations. Subsequently, he was indicted for conspiring with al-Qaeda operative Iyman Faris to detonate a bomb at a Columbus-area shopping mall. Faris is currently enjoying a 20-year stretch in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiring in the failed plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge.

At a hearing yesterday before U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, Abdi's defense lawyers asked the court to dismiss the case due to misconduct by the U.S. government. In what could be called an "Abu Ghraib by proxy" defense, Abdi's lawyers contend that the U.S. government caused Abdi to go insane because of the way prisoners were treated in Iraq. As such, the defense asked that all of Abdi's statements to investigators be excluded from the case which is scheduled to be tried next month.

Judge Marbley said he would rule on the defense's motion within two weeks.

[Update 08/02/07]

Abdi sentenced.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Rolling Blackouts in Southern California

A power transmission emergency was declared by the California Independent System Operator about 1600 PDT yesterday, prompting rolling blackouts in areas of Fontana, La Puente, Cathedral City, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Ontario. Each community was affected for about 30 minutes. The cause has been attributed to high ambient temperatures and the loss of an important transmission line.
Chinese Gun Runners on Trial

(Qinghai Province, China) In one of the largest arms-smuggling cases in China's history, 17 Chinese are being tried in Xining, the capital of the remote western province of Qinghai. They are accused of buying more than 900 guns and 1,500 gun accessories in Pakistan for transport into China, where private ownership of firearms is illegal.

From the Daily Times:
It was not clear whether the guns were headed for Muslim separatists in Xinjiang, who have been fighting for decades for an independent "East Turkestan" homeland and whom Beijing calls terrorists, or to meet demand amid a growing wave of violent crime that has come with China’s economic reforms.
The trial is expected to wrap up tomorrow and the accused gun-runners could be sentenced to death. No information is provided regarding the source of the guns.
Two Senior Egyptian Police Killed in Sinai Sweep

(Cairo, Egypt) According to the Egyptian Interior Ministry, two senior police officers were killed by land mines during the massive manhunt for terrorists in the Sinai.

From the Arab News:
Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Adel and Lt. Col. Omar Abdel Moneim were the highest ranked police officers killed in Egypt since a violent insurgency in the mid-1990s and the first slain since about 4,000 security personnel launched a massive sweep Sunday of the northern Sinai for suspects linked to July's triple Sharm El-Sheik attacks and October's bombings at the Taba and nearby Ras Shitan resorts.

Yesterday's blasts occurred after two land mines exploded on the 1,800-meter high Halal mountain, about 60 kilometers south of the Mediterranean coastal town of El-Arish, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
On conditions of anonymity, officials stated that they believe fugitives, who traditionally hide in the Sinai's mountains, planted the mines. Egyptian security forces have detained 650 people thus far in the Sinai sweep which started last Sunday. A primary target still at large is Salem Khadr El-Shenoub, suspected of harboring terrorists linked to the Taba and Ras Shitan attacks.

Also worthy of mentioning is that the indigenous Bedouin tribesmen, steeped in knowledge of hideouts and smuggling routes, have emerged as key suspects sometimes and valuable informers at other times. However, in general, it's believed that the tribesmen collaborate with the terrorists at a level less than originally thought due to significantly different ideologies and interests. For instance, the autonomous Bedouins do not like to have the police looking at their affairs which is exactly what happens if they collaborate with the terrorists. So, unless there are family ties, I suspect the tribesmen provide little help for the terrorists.

Companion at Jawa Report.
Survey: Swedes Biggest Whiners

According to a survey of global complaining conducted by NOP World, a business research consulting firm, the Swedish were found to be the world's premier country in bitching and moaning. In second place were the Brits, followed by the Aussies and Canadians in 3rd and 4th places.

At the bottom of the list reside the Taiwanese, who narrowly beat out Saudi Arabians, Chinese, Poles, and Russians as the population who whines least. The U.S. came in at 5th place, tied with Argentina and Brazil.

Interestingly, the polling found that "the wealthiest and better educated respondents tended to be the most likely to speak out if they were unhappy." I suspect this indicates that people with time on their hands often are the chief complainers. Obviously, those people who are up to their belt loops in muck trying to clear the swamp of deadly snakes just don't have time to piss and moan.

Companion post at In The Bullpen.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Canadians for Kinky Friedman

According to the Toronto Star, the official headquarters for Canadians For Kinky Friedman For Governor Of Texas In 2006 has been opened in Toronto.
Homeless Mom Gets 9 Years for Molesting Boy

(Lakewood, Colorado) After three years of sexually assaulting a boy and having a child by him, 31-year-old Tani Leigh Firkins pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child before Jefferson County Court Judge Peter A. Weir. She was sentenced today to nine years in prison.

Tani Leigh Firkins

Apparently, Firkins was homeless and lived in a shelter operated by the boy's parents when she began molesting him at age 14. The sex continued until the boy was 17 and charges were filed when a videotape surfaced of their sexual relationship. The boy's parents are justifiably outraged about Firkins. They took Firkins and her two other children in and gave them comfort and shelter and, all along, Firkins was having sex with the boy and provided him, and some of his friends, with marijuana and alcohol.

Just prior to being arrested and shortly after Firkins gave birth to the boy's child, social services took custody of the infant along with the other Firkins children.

The parents of the boy are also pursuing the possibility of additional charges being filed in Denver where they contend that, conservatively, 50 to 100 sexual assaults occurred. They have scheduled a meeting with Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey.

[Update 03/23/07]

Firkins sentenced in Denver District Court to six more years in prison.
Blogger "Flag" Button

I'm sure you've probably noticed it. John Ray thinks it "looks like the thin end of the wedge of censorship." That's my assessment, also.
Arizona Shootings Were Preventable

(Glendale, Arizona) The killing of two employees in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart Superstore appears to be an example where two conflicting laws precluded prevention of the incident. The suspected shooter, Edward Liu, who obtained his gun just days before the killings, had satisfactorily passed a background check in accordance with federal and state law governing sale of firearms. However, according to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), patients' private medical records are confidential and cannot be released. Therefore, the background check of Edward Liu did not include review of his alleged history of mental instability contained in his medical files.

In summary, one set of laws specify that an individual will be evaluated for the suitability of possessing a deadly weapon while another set of laws prevent access to the information necessary to comprehensively perform the evaluation. If anything, it seems the law requiring background checks for potential buyers of deadly weapons should override the restrictions on releasing private medical information.

See also Privacy Law Prevents Gun Background Checks.
Titan Rain - Web Attacks Traced to China

A prudent observer of world affairs will likely not find the following report surprising. Simply put, hundreds of attacks on computer networks owned by the U.S. Defense Department and other agencies have been launched from websites in China.

From the Houston Chronicle:
Classified systems have not been compromised, but authorities remain concerned because, as one official said, even seemingly innocuous information, when pulled together from various sources, can yield useful intelligence to an adversary.

"The scope of this thing is surprisingly big," said one of four government officials who spoke separately about the incidents, which stretch back as far as two or three years and have been code-named Titan Rain by U.S. investigators. All officials insisted on anonymity, given the sensitivity of the matter.

U.S. analysts are divided on whether the attacks constitute a coordinated Chinese government campaign to penetrate U.S. networks and spy on government databanks. Some in the Pentagon are said to be convinced of official Chinese involvement; others see the electronic probing as the work of other hackers using Chinese networks to disguise the origins of the attacks.
There appears to be agreement among analysts that Titan Rain is organized and coordinated, but it's unknown who is directly responsible. It is known, however, that computer network attacks are like a flood. Last year, the Pentagon alone identified 79,000 separate intrusion attempts by all sources.

Companion post at Diggers Realm.
Leftists Supporting The Troops?

Rob Port at Wizbang has the story about anti-war protestors besieging wounded and disabled soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., with taunts and protest signs. One sign displayed "Maimed for a Lie." purportedly will provide videotaped confirmation of the story later today.

True or otherwise, the story is somewhat credible based on previous antics of anti-war protesters. It's not unusual for radical leftists to voice their dissension in an outrageous and disturbing manner. In fact, on many occasions their actions have been substantively indistinguishable from children's temper tantrums. It's a lousy way for them to influence the public to be sympathetic to their viewpoint.

If this reported stunt at Walter Reed actually occurred, my guess is that they'll lose support. It's contrary to their mantra that they "support the troops." (via Drudge)

[Update 8/25/05, 1100 EDT]

Rob Port has updated the story, indicating that the hospital protest was organized by Code Pink Women for Peace and it apparently has been going on for some time. It's really disgusting that our wounded fighting men and women have to see these anti-war extremists out the windows of the hospital while they are trying to heal and recuperate. Clearly, these leftist low-lifes do not support the troops. All they seem to do is bring more agony to people who are already in pain.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Castration Won't Deter Sex Offenders

(Louisville, Kentucky) Commonwealth Attorney Dave Stengel has criticized proposed legislation that would impose a castration penalty for sex offenders. Stengel maintains that castration has no deterrent effect.

Oh, really?
Louisiana Woman and 15-Year-Old Boy

(Houma, Louisiana) Although she's married with four children, 26-year-old Brianne B. D'Errico decided nonetheless to engage in sex with a 15-year-old boy. She was arrested and charged with carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said authorities were alerted by the boy's family that there had been a "relationship" for about three months.

If convicted, D'Errico could receive ten years in jail and a $5,000 fine. She is free on $2,500 bond.
Report of Osama bin Laden Injury

Mac Powell has the provocative news at In The Bullpen. Apparently, "various Islamic websites" are the sources for the information which describes an injury to bin Laden's left leg incurred while he was involved in an attack on a Spanish base, presumably in western Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, more than once we heard rumors of an enemy leader's death or injury that didn't pan out. So, the search is on for confirmation. Bin Laden's leg on a platter would be fine, as long as it was accompanied with his head.
Woman Accused of Criminal Sex with Boy

(Hastings, Minnesota) Dawn Marie Juelsgaard, 33, has been charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old boy she hired to help her in her sales business. The boy admitted to Dakota County Sheriff's deputies that he and Juelsgaard had sex on three occasions between July 11 and July 20.

Juelsgaard faces up to 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine if convicted of the charges against her.
California Islamic Leader Under FBI Scrutiny

(Garden Grove, California) A grocer, who leads a lesser-known radical Islamic group, is being seriously looked at by the FBI. He is Iyad K. Hilal, Islamic author, philosopher, and leader of the extreme group Hizb ut-Tahrir in the U.S.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Hizb ut-Tahrir, which means Party of Liberation, has been banned in parts of Europe and the Middle East. After the July 7 bombings in London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair proposed banning the group there.

It advocates a return to the days when all Muslims were governed by a religious leader known as the caliph.

The Orange County businessman is apparently not suspected of any terrorist acts, but local FBI terrorism investigators have launched an inquiry into the activities of him and his group. An FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, Cathy Viray, declined to call it an investigation but confirmed that "we're looking into the matter." She declined to comment further.

Southern California Muslims who know Hilal, 56, said he was an Islamic scholar whose writings argued that the religion was incompatible with democracy.
Hilal seeks a caliphate state and he directs his anti-democratic teachings primarily to university students. While claiming to be non-violent, Hizb ut-Tahrir has strong ties to former leader Bakri Mohammed, the Syrian who praised the terrorists responsible for the 9-11 and London attacks. It's also believed that the members of Hizb ut-Tahrir are a politically-sensitized pool of individuals from which al-Qaeda frequently recruits.

FBI agents seem to have adequate justification to be checking on Iyad K. Hilal and Hizb ut-Tahrir. I would be troubled if they didn't.
Deathly Overdose on Death Row

(San Quentin, California) Nicholas Rodriguez, 27, is the first death row inmate to die of an unintentional heroin overdose in San Quentin State Prison. Officials closed the investigation into the incident without determining how the drugs got into the prison's high security area.

So, where's Human Rights Watch? Where's Amnesty International? For crying out loud, inmates are in danger of losing their lives.
Atlanta Compiling Database of Homeless

(Atlanta, Georgia) Starting today, a team of Atlanta police officers will be surveying the downtown homeless and panhandler populations to compile a database to assist in directing needy people to government services. The effort comes on the heels of a new law signed last week by Mayor Shirley Franklin which prohibits panhandling at tourist destinations in and around downtown Atlanta.

Full implementation of the new law won't occur for at least a month thereby allowing for the word to get out and for the homeless to get help. When implemented, police will issue citations and court summons to panhandlers who violate the new ordinance. Violators could receive as much as 30 days of community service, a fine of $1,000, and up to 30 days in jail.

Of course, there's opposition. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already threatened to sue on the basis that the new law violates rights of free speech. Although it's not really clear, the ACLU seems to believe that the right to beg is guaranteed by the Constitution. Don't ask me where in the Constitution. I don't have a clue.

Frankly, I would have anticipated the ACLU to have a big problem with the city creating a database of homeless people and panhandlers, claiming invasion of privacy or something. Admittedly, I might just be premature.
Plane Crash in Peru

(Lima, Peru) Preliminary indications are that bad weather caused the crash of a TANS Peru airliner carrying 100 people about 300 miles northeast of Lima. Casualty estimates are sketchy, ranging from 37 to 70 dead. The Boeing 737-200 carried a crew of eight and several Americans were among the 92 passengers.

Just after 3pm local time, the plane was on a landing approach to the airport at Pucallpa when it was hit by a strong crosswind. The pilot is believed to have tried an emergency landing without landing gear on a nearby road.

[Update 8/25/05]

According to this report, 58 people survived and 37 perished in the crash. Three passengers are currently unaccounted for. Two Americans were among the dead, Stephen Michael Lotti and Sherra Young Gay.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pat Robertson Preaches

Pat Robertson said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated and probably most rational, freedom-loving people secretly tend to agree with him. Nonetheless, Robertson should have kept those words from falling out of his mouth because, if Chavez is taken out, the United States will be boxed in without a shred of deniability. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Robertson's words actually caused an in-progress black operation to be aborted.
Ohio City Declares English the Official Language

(Norton, Ohio) Yesterday, the Norton City Council adopted a resolution by a vote of 4 to 3 mandating that English be used in all documents, publications, correspondence or any written material on behalf of the city.

It's interesting that three council members voted against the resolution.
High School Has 65 Pregnant Girls

(Canton, Ohio) There's a report out of Canton that 65 girls at Timken High School are pregnant out of a total of 490 female students. and WorldNetDaily have the story, but that's about it. So far, it seems that most other media sources don't think it's important enough to mention.

From the standpoint of pregnancy rate, the 65 girls represent slightly more than 13 percent at the school which is only marginally higher than the national rate of 10 percent. From the perspective of the sheer number of pregnancies, it would seem logical to have an obstetrician and a gynecologist on the faculty. Alphabetically, the Timken High School Prenatal Department would fit nicely between mathematics and science. Expect your property taxes to increase accordingly.

Kidding aside, it's not unreasonable to anticipate that most of the pregnant girls won't finish high school nor is it unreasonable to expect that a host of grandparents are going to be asked to raise another generation of children.

It's an outrage.
Woman Arrested for Rape of Boy

(Hoosick Falls, New York) Village police arrested 33-year-old Bonnie Rock on charges of felony rape and endangering the welfare of a child. Rock allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old boy about ten times in the past few weeks. Apparently, police were tipped to the alleged sexual behavior by Rensselaer County Child Protective Services.

Rock is in custody in the Rensselaer County Jail without bail. She is scheduled to appear before Village Justice Edward Gorman tomorrow morning.

[Update 8/24/05]

According to this report, acting Village Judge Edward J. Gorman released Rock without a hearing and without bail. There was no hearing because media interest would have caused safety and security problems in the village's small courtroom. No bail was set because Rock is not considered a flight risk since she has three children, ages 14, 9, and 6. However, she will be required to wear an electronic monitor and is only allowed to go to work, to the grocery store, and to take her children for visits to the doctor.

Rock's attorney, Richard McNally, stated that he hopes the case is settled in Hoosick Falls Village Court and not in Rensselaer County Court where felony cases are typically adjudicated. It's not clear what happens next in the case.
Men's Vogue

Apparently, there are a number of men in society who need a periodical to tell them about the latest trends in fragrances, herbal shampoos, matching accessories, and stylish shoes. Consequently, the publishers of Vogue have decided to introduce Men's Vogue to the already fairly-saturated magazine market. Although the target market is probably men who prefer umbrellas in their cocktails, don't be surprised if Men's Vogue shows up at the barber shop.
Network Television Slumping

Based on the summer ratings thus far, network television is taking it in the shorts.

With three weeks left to go, the broadcast nets are down a collective 10% among adults 18-49 vs. last summer -- and 15% in viewers 18-34. ABC is the only net up over last year, while Fox is flat; other four nets are down sharply.
The numbers have analysts scratching their heads. I don't understand why. All they have to do is look at some of the shows and ask themselves the question, "Is this programming worth my time?" In most cases, only the disingenuous would answer affirmatively.
Woman Sentenced for Sex with Boy

(Snohomish County, Washington) Last November, 37-year-old Gina Marie Bell decided to have sex with one of her children's friends, a 14-year-old boy. Yesterday, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Linda Krese sentenced Bell to a year and a day in jail for admitting to 3rd degree child rape. Upon her release, she will have to register as a sex offender.

The judge also specified that Bell is permitted to have only limited contact with minors, including her own children, until she undergoes an evaluation for sexual deviancy. For what it's worth, I've completed my evaluation. She's a pervert.
Man Accused of Plotting to Bomb VA Office

(Seattle, Washington) A 53-year-old man, Charles "Charlie" Merle Whitaker III, has been arrested for allegedly making threats to bomb the Veterans Administration offices in Seattle. Federal agents were tipped by former roommates that Whitaker made violent and aggressive comments regarding the VA including his intention to "blow up the building."

Whitaker is in state custody in the King County Jail on investigation of threatening to bomb or damage property and on suspicion of a drug violation. He's scheduled to appear in court later today. The U.S. Attorney's office is considering possible federal charges.
Palestinian Kidnappers Free French Journalist

(Gaza City) Here's a followup to a previous report regarding the kidnapping of French television journalist Muhammed Ouathi.

From the Khaleej Times:
A French television journalist abducted by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza a week ago was freed unharmed on Monday, witnesses said.

The kidnapping of Mohammad Ouathi, a soundman for France 3 television, was the longest in a series of abductions of foreign journalists and aid workers in Gaza. No group claimed responsibility. Ouathi is a Frenchman of Algerian origin.

His release was announced by the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), an umbrella group of Palestinian militants that said it helped mediate an end to the abduction.
No other details concerning Ouathi's release were disclosed. My guess would be that a ransom was paid.

Interestingly, the PRC, which is dominated by Fatah gunmen, claimed it helped free Ouathi. It's believed by others that the PRC was directly responsible for the kidnapping.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Library Lends People

(Almelo, Holland) The local public library has launched a new initiative to lend out people in an effort to dispel stereotypes. According to the library director, Jan Krol, several varieties of people, including gypsies, Muslims, and homosexuals, can be borrowed for one-hour sessions. This idea has great potential, especially if the list of people available for borrowing includes French chambermaids and Swedish lingerie models.
Egyptians Sweep Sinai for Terrorists

With adequate evidence that the Sinai Peninsula is a hotbed for terrorists, several thousand Egyptian police supported with armored vehicles were mobilized yesterday to search and apprehend perpetrators and anyone with information. The sweep started in the towns of El-Arish and Sheikh Zuayed and a total of about 500 individuals were detained for questioning. El-Arish has been identified as an explosives smuggling center.

In addition to the towns, security forces fanned out on the desert in the operation which is expected to take several days. The manhunt has been called open-ended, whatever that means. Hopefully, it means that they will continue searching and apprehending terrorists until there are none residing anywhere outside the comfy walls of Egyptian prisons.
Cops Forced to Take Taxis on Emergencies

I saw a movie where the police chief didn't have a driver's license and was forced to take a cab everywhere he went. That was art. Here's a case of reality following art.

From Aftenposten:
Police in Oksnes and Bo in Vesteralen, high up on Norway's northwest coast, have such equipment shortages that they have to call a taxi to respond to emergency calls.

Area police have had their fleet of vehicles trimmed from two to one due to budget cuts, and have repeatedly had to ring a taxi when needing another car to respond to a call ....
Fortunately, the mayor said he'll donate a sled for responding to calls in the winter. It seems that one may safely assume that there are no high-speed chases involving taxis and sleds.
Shuttle Landing Site in France

From the Stars and Stripes:
The United States and France have agreed to establish an emergency landing site for the shuttle at Istres air base, north of Marseille.
The agreement allows Americans to use the base during shuttle launches only. Istres was selected because it has one of the longest runways in Europe, three miles.
Man Spies on Stepdaughter

(Akron, Ohio) A 51-year-old Springfield Township man, Lowell Longshore, installed a camera in the shower to spy on his 19-year-old stepdaughter. He was arrested and charged with voyeurism.

Cheap 65-inch Plasma Televisions

Just in time for football season, Matsushita is expected to announce this week that its dropping the price of its 65-inch plasma television to less than $1,000, less than half its current price. The company is planning on a simultaneous worldwide introduction of cheaper units to expand its share of the market.
Intimate Pruner
Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria
From PageSix:
DESPERATE housewife Eva Longoria says she only discovered her sexual self after she got some pruning done in an intimate area.
I can't be the only person that believes celebrities sometimes reveal just a bit too much about themselves. And, people can't wash the knowledge from their minds so, every time I see Desperate Housewives, this little tidbit of information will be in the back of my mind.


[Update 8/31/05]

Kevin at Wizbang has posted a couple additional smoking hot pictures of Eva. He focuses on the subject of push-up bras, but I can't get intimate pruning off my mind.
Congressman Kucinich Marries British Citizen

(Cleveland, Ohio) I didn't expect an invitation and my expectation was met.

From the Plain Dealer:
Wedding bells chimed at Cleveland City Hall Sunday as Rep. Dennis Kucinich said vows in a ceremony attended by about 250 people, including a host of politicians and a couple of movie stars.

Kucinich, 58, married Elizabeth Harper, a British citizen who works for a monetary-policy think tank in Chicago. It's his third marriage.
They were married at The Mall outside City Hall in Cleveland and the ceremony was witnessed by several celebrities. Notables included Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn. For those that would like to formally send along best wishes, it's rumored they've registered at and PETA.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Terrorist Catch and Release Program

So the Filipinos arrest an al-Qaeda linked terrorist, Daud Santos, preparing to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Manila with 1,000 kg of explosives and then, astonishingly, release him on bail.

Pretty disgusting, eh?
Women Caned for Gambling

(Jakarta, Indonesia) Here's another story attesting to the absolutely miserable lives women (and men) lead under Sharia law. Being a Westerner, I find it difficult to understand how they put up with it.

From the Mainichi Daily News:
Indonesia caned women Friday for the first time after they were accused of illegal gambling in the staunchly conservative province of Aceh.

More than 1,000 people gathered after Friday prayers to watch as four women were struck in the back with rattan canes, each receiving seven blows, Alias Abubakar, an official in the central town of Takengon told private-radio El-Shinta.

Authorities confiscated 65,000 rupiah (US$7) from the women, who were found guilty of betting on card games, he said.
To be fair, some men were also recently flogged for gambling, so the prohibition is not gender specific. Nonetheless, women are restricted and punished much more under Islamic law than men. In fact, women are treated almost like pieces of property.

Naturally, since Sharia law is not a product of the U.S., there is no outrage by international human rights organizations. However, if caning occurred at Guantanamo Bay, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International would be catalysts for violent protests and riots worldwide.
Women Join Hamas

From the Jerusalem Post:
Hamas revealed over the weekend that dozens of women in the Gaza Strip have joined its armed wing, Izzaddin Kassam, and were preparing to carry out attacks on Israel.

Pictures posted on the Hamas-affiliated Palestine Information Center Web site showed masked women, dressed in military fatigues and armed with Kalashnikov rifles and pistols, receiving training at a secret location in the Gaza Strip.

According to Hamas, the women were being trained in planting roadside bombs, firing rockets and mortars and infiltrating Jewish settlements.
Undoubtedly, Palestinian women have been involved with terrorist activities all along, but this is the first time that I've heard that Hamas has formed an official all-female military unit. Stupid me, I was under the impression that the Palestinians would be less belligerent when the Israeli settlers left the Gaza Strip. On the contrary, they are emboldened.
Ontario Needs New Nukes

(Totonto) It should be simple to understand that a number of major generating facilities, representing thousands of megawatts, have reached or are reaching the end of their useful lives and no replacement generating units are in the pipeline. Since the time required to build new units can be more than a decade, analysts believe the time to act is now to assure that power will be available to the grid in the future.

Ontario needs more nuclear power plants and will soon have to decide how many and where new reactors should be built, Energy Minister Dwight Duncan says.

"I think the people of Ontario need to know that that decision is coming quickly ... clearly we have to look seriously at nuclear. There is no doubt (sic) it," he told the Toronto Star yesterday.

Duncan said the existing nuclear reactors, which produce about 50 per cent of the province's power, will reach the end of their life expectancy by 2020, putting Ontario's energy future even further into question.

And since it takes 12 to 15 years to complete a nuclear facility, costing billions of dollars, time is of the essence, the minister said.
Ontario, with a liberal government and an environmentally-idealistic electorate, may literally have to have the lights turned off before approval is given for new nuclear power plants. Already, Greenpeace Canada spokesman Dave Martin has said that there is a conspiracy at work by the government, Ontario Power Generation, and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) to overstate Ontario's electricity needs. Interestingly, Martin's assertion comes on the heels of several system-wide brownouts imposed by operators due to insufficient generating capabilities.

Just the thought of new nuclear plants has the environmentalists puckered as they continue to advocate alternative energy sources and conservation. Unfortunately, wind power, solar cells, and conservation have not proven to be able to take the place of large capacity fossil, hydro, and nuclear units in terms of cost and reliability. Typically, wind farms and solar generators have to rely on subsidies and tax credits to produce power competitively. Also, the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow. Nevertheless, solar and wind power, and also conservation, are fine for tweaking the edges of a power supply curve, but they're not capable of producing the thousands of megawatts of electricity required to meet the residential and industrial needs of the province.

In summary, it's foreseen that Ontario will not be able to meet the electrical needs of its citizens without building new, large generating facilities. The choices are coal, oil, nuclear, and hydro, all of which represent some defined, manageable risk to the environment with hydro fairly exploited to the maximum already. The Energy Minister and others favor nuclear power. On the other hand, the environmentalists are against all options other than alternative sources and they won't be satisfied until the world is blanketed with wildflowers and bunny rabbits and folk music is piped in from the heavens. Expect a loud political debate on the issue.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Taliban Told U.S. to Kill Osama in '98

As I recall, the U.S. had a different president back in 1998.

From the Daily
During a meeting between an American diplomat and a Taliban official in 1998, the latter suggested that one way of dealing with Osama Bin Laden “would be for the US to kill him or arrange for Bin Laden to be assassinated”.

This is one of the revelations found in US government documents released last week. The US diplomat who met Taliban official Wakil Ahmed, an aide to Mulla Omar, was Alan Eastham Jr, the No 2 man at the US embassy in Islamabad. More than one meeting took place between the two in November and December of 1998, three years before the 9/11 attacks.
The documents declassified Thursday indicate that bin Laden was clearly Washington's priority in 1998. Unfortunately, it appears that nothing substantive was undertaken to get him until after 9/11.
Saudis Whack Another Terrorist

(Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) Here's some good news.

In conjunction with Thurday's Medina raid that resulted in the death of al-Qaeda biggie, Saleh al-Awfi, the Saudis report that most-wanted terrorist, Majed al-Hasseri, was also whacked the same day in Riyadh. The Saudis are rather proud of their success at neutralizing, by killing or capturing, 24 of 26 most-wanted terror suspects who were identified in 2003.

Since Saudis continue to be implicated in terror acts, there's reason to believe that the kingdom needs to update its most-wanted list.
Teacher with 12-Year-Old Boy

(Santa Fe, New Mexico) A substitute Santa Fe school teacher, Nancy McCulloch, 33, has been arrested and charged with criminal sexual contact of a minor and attempt to commit a felony for sexually abusing a 12-year-old male student. McCulloch pleaded not guilty to the charges. According to State Police Sergeant Chris Valdez, more charges are likely.

Trackback to Wizbang.
NCAA Backtracks

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has decided to backtrack from its absolutely brainless politically correct pronouncement banning Indian mascots. Now, the NCAA brain surgeons say it's acceptable to use Indian names if the tribe approves.

Maybe I'm looking at this issue from the wrong perspective, but it seems to me that the universities and colleges are being set up for a ready-made shakedown. Consider for a moment the scenario where the university is forced to get permission from the tribal elders for use of the name Sioux, Seminole, Apache, Comanche, Cherokee, or whatever. Would not the response be, "Sure, we will give our blessing if you pay us?"

Thanks, NCAA. You laid one stinking loaf and, to cover the stench, you pinched out another.
Ohio Couple Accused of Child Prostitution

(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) I'm no longer astonished by the level of depravity brought about by addictive drug usage. It just sickens me.

From the
Pittsburgh police patrolling the North Side early Tuesday stumbled across a twisted tale of interstate child prostitution, sex abuse and drug addiction, according to the FBI.

As a result, a man and woman from Warren, Ohio, were hauled in to U.S. District Court yesterday to face federal charges of transporting a 15-year-old runaway from Warren to Pittsburgh to sell her to a man for sex in exchange for cocaine.

Greg Lowery, 44, who has an extensive criminal record in Warren, and Pamela Tilley, 45, could face at least a mandatory five years in prison if convicted.
If they are guilty of the alleged behavior, five years in prison would be a travesty. In addition to being apparent sicko druggies, Lowery and Tilley are alleged to have sexually assaulted the 15-year-old and also a 13-year-old female escapee from a juvenile placement center in Ohio.

A detention hearing is scheduled for Monday. In the meantime, Lowery and Tilley are locked up in the Allegheny County Jail. The girls are in foster care.

Companion post at Diggers Realm.
High School Principal Beaten by Student

A former student of Covington High School was sentenced to six months in jail for battery on the principal and assistant principal of the school, the St. Tammany Parish district attorney announced Friday.

According to prosecutors, Delloyd Marigny, 17, become angry when he was told he was going to be expelled and grabbed the arm and neck of the principal, slamming him into a book case and cinder block wall.
The report doesn't mention why Delloyd was being expelled but it's not a stretch to assume it might have something to do with discipline. In liberal parlance, it seems that Delloyd has "issues." My crystal ball says that Delloyd will likely have a life encompassing at least several substantial stays in the slammer.

Friday, August 19, 2005

No More Cooties

(London) Modern science has made a breakthrough with the invention of antimicrobial underpants. The British Ministry of Defense is even supplying the cootie-free skivvies as part of the new desert uniform for soldiers. Woo-hoo!

Col. Silas Suchanek, who led the team that procured the new equipment, said the unisex trunks were made from artificial fibres for comfort, with silver particles woven into the material to prevent soldiers from sweating.
Hi-Yo, Silver! Interestingly, I've noticed that I seem to sweat less when I have a lot of silver, but I never thought of putting any in my shorts.

Nevertheless, just think how popular the new cootie-free knickers will be among the sultry "Love-You-Long-Time" salesgirls in Skanktown. You have to admit that the Brits hit a home run with this idea. Maybe next they can make bed linen cootie-free to stave off the emerging bedbug problem in hotels around the world.

All in all, the idea sounds smashing with one possible exception. Specifically, just how much of a problem will people have trying to get through airport security screening while sporting metallic underwear?
Woman Killed for Being Pregnant with Female Fetus

(Rajkot, India) Twenty-five-year-old Nita Koli, six months pregnant with a female fetus, was set on fire by her husband, Sanjay, and mother-in-law, Kuwar Koli, for "not being able to give birth to a boy." Nita died from her burns Wednesday.

From The Times of India:
Sources say Nita, who has two daughters, may have been killed after a sex determination test that possibly revealed that she was carrying a female foetus.
The mother-in-law and the husband were arrested yesterday and charged with murder.
German Court Sentences 9/11 Terrorist to Seven Years

(Hamburg, Germany) The Hamburg State Superior Court found Moroccan citizen Mounir al-Motassadeq, 31, guilty of membership in the 9-11 terrorist organization and sentenced him to seven years in prison, less than half the 15 years imposed on him in 2003 verdict that was overturned.

Presiding Judge Ernst-Rainer Schudt ruled that Motassadeq had been the "polite, friendly, reserved" member of an eight-man terror cell. Led by an Egyptian, Mohammed Atta, it formed in the German port city of Hamburg in autumn 1999.

"From being friendly, nice young men, they turned into fanatics," said Schudt. Motassadeq had "gone along" with this, not dissociating himself, and had taken over administrative tasks for the group.

Three of the cell members including Atta later piloted hijacked planes that were used as missiles on September 11, 2001 in attacks on New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. U.S. President George W. Bush declared a "war on terrorism" in response.

"The complete picture shows the accused to have been a member of a terrorist organization, but not to have been an accessory to the murderers of September 11," said Schudt.

Mounir al-Motassadeq
9/11 Terrorist

What a bunch of crap! Somebody needs to wipe the smile off this bastard's face. So what if he was polite, friendly, and reserved? He was equally responsible for the 3,000 deaths on September 11, 2001. In fact, if he took over "administrative tasks," he effectively managed the operation. This make me sick. Motassadeq deserves nothing more than the pitch darkness, extreme coldness, and concrete hardness of a prison cell for the rest of his life.

[Update 01/08/07]

Mounir el Motassadeq sentenced again.
Beth Geisel Gets DWI

(Albany, New York) Most people, after finding themselves in a hole, quit digging. Not 42-year-old Sandra "Beth" Geisel. Remember, it's only been a couple weeks since she was indicted for rape of a student in a high-profile case that has embarrassed and humiliated her children, her husband, her friends and the Christian Brothers Academy. Yet today, around 0830 EDT, she decides to drive while sloshed, cuts off a police car, and gets arrested for driving while intoxicated. She blew a 0.13 on the breathalyzer.

Geisel Gets DWI
Beth Geisel pleads not guilty to DWI
(Photo - WNYT)

The only explanation I can figure for Geisel's behavior is that she's trying to fortify her contention that the hooch made her commit the rape of a student, or that she's exceedingly stupid. In either case, she's a menace to society.
Kudzu-Eating Goats

(Peachtree City, Georgia) In a pilot project, the Peachtree City Council has allocated $10,000 to see if goats can be used to control the spread of kudzu. It would be cheaper than herbicides in killing the kudzu which blankets many areas of the U.S., particularly in the southeast.

Native to Asia, kudzu was originally introduced in the U.S. as an ornamental plant and later used as fodder. Since the 1950s, however, due to its relentless growth and ability to completely cover other vegetation, it's been classified as a weed. In 1998, kudzu was officially listed by the U.S. Congress as a Federal Noxious Weed.
Attack on U.S. Navy Ships in Jordan Port

(Aqaba, Jordan) A mortar round was fired in the direction of two U.S. Navy warships in docked in the Jordanian Red Sea Port of Aqaba this morning. According to a statement by the U.S. 5th Fleet, the projectile flew across the bow of the USS Ashland (LSD -48), a dock landing ship, and hit a warehouse. There were no American casualties, however, one Jordanian soldier died of injuries.

Also in port was the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), an amphibious assault ship. Both ships subsequently left port.

Concurrently, there were two other mortar attacks, one near a hospital in Aqaba and one on a road near the airport of the resort city of Eilat.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility, however, the missiles used are believed to be Katusha-style rockets, used by pro-Iranian Shiite Hezbollah terrorists.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Teacher Arrested for Crack

(Saratoga Springs, New York) A 38-year-old physical education teacher and basketball coach at Saratoga Springs Central Catholic High School, David Speers, was arrested with a companion, Pamela Baumgardner, 37, for trying to buy drugs on an Albany street corner. Speers was charged with loitering for the purpose of buying drugs and criminal possession of crack cocaine. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany fired Speers.

Both Speers and Baumgardner were locked up in the Albany County Jail with bail set at $1,000 each.
Female Teacher Faces Sex Charges

(Grand Barachois, New Brunswick) A teacher at Ecole Pere Edgar T. LeBlanc, Rene Gaudet, has been charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a 13-year-old male student. She has been suspended from her teaching position and is scheduled to return to court on August 25.

[Update 01/27/06]

Gaudet sentenced to house arrest.
Gaza Protesters Fighting Off Soldiers

Live blogging (noon EDT) of clash at Kfar Darom, one of the most religious of 21 settlements.
- Troops clashing w/protesters on roof of synagogue (est. 300 at start),

- Sand, paint, and diesel oil thrown on troops, soldiers spraying soap on protesters,

- IDF not armed but outnumber protesters 30 to 40 to one,

- SWAT teams carrying out settlers one by one,

- Soldiers trying to breech barbed wire encircling synagogue,

- Security forces trying to clear roof before nightfall (1300 EDT),

- Cranes being used to put IDF troops inside large containers onto synagogue roof,

- (1209 EDT) About 100 protesters on roof,

- Soldiers using water cannon shooting water mixed with blue dye and turpentine,

- Five police officers have been injured, taken away on stretchers,

- Police say that acid was thrown at them,

- Leader of the settlers holding Israeli flag on top of synagogue,

- (1220 EDT) Soldiers reach rooftop and are removing barbed wire,

- Soldiers have upper hand now (1235 EDT), protesters being apprehended and put on buses,

- (1240 EDT) Soldiers in control of roof, show's over.
Newscasters report that those apprehended will be prosecuted for violently fighting the police, security forces, soldiers, and SWAT teams. The non-violent protest became violent, resulting in five injured soldiers and two injured protesters.

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