Not errors, not misstatements, but out-and-out lies and misrepresentations in a story that are grossly contradicted by the official record. Even their own public editor is concerned by the lack of professionalism and devotion to the truth -- not that it will change anything in how the paper deals with the issue.
THE cover story on abortion in El Salvador in The New York Times Magazine on April 9 contained prominent references to an attention-grabbing fact. “A few” women, the first paragraph indicated, were serving 30-year jail terms for having had abortions. That reference included a young woman named Carmen Climaco. The article concluded with a dramatic account of how Ms. Climaco received the sentence after her pregnancy had been aborted after 18 weeks.
It turns out, however, that trial testimony convinced a court in 2002 that Ms. Climaco’s pregnancy had resulted in a full-term live birth, and that she had strangled the “recently born.” A three-judge panel found her guilty of “aggravated homicide,” a fact the article noted. But without bothering to check the court document containing the panel’s findings and ruling, the article’s author, Jack Hitt, a freelancer, suggested that the “truth” was different.
The issues surrounding the article raise two points worth noting, both beyond another reminder to double-check information that seems especially striking. Articles on topics as sensitive as abortion need an extra level of diligence and scrutiny — “bulletproofing,” in newsroom jargon. And this case illustrates how important it is for top editors to carefully assess the complaints they receive. A response drafted by top editors for the use of the office of the publisher in replying to complaints about the Hitt story asserted that there was “no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts as reported.”
Indeed -- despite the evidence of the official record of the court proceedings, including the scientific evidence, the official line of the New York Times is that hte article was fair, accurate, and truthful. Even though the information in it was false and the reporter never bothered to look at the official court transcripts in the case.
Yeah, you read that right.
Mr. Hitt said Ms. Climaco had been brought to his attention by the magistrate who decided four years ago that the case warranted a trial, so he had asked the magistrate for the court record. “When she told me that the case had been archived, I accepted that to mean that I would have to rely upon the judge who had been directly involved in the case and who heard the evidence” in the trial stage of the judicial process, Mr. Hitt wrote in an e-mail to me. So he didn’t pursue the document.
But obtaining the public document isn’t difficult. At my request, a stringer for The Times in El Salvador walked into the court building without making any prior arrangements a few days ago, and minutes later had an official copy of the court ruling. It proved to be the same document as the one disseminated by LifeSiteNews.com, which had been translated into English in early December by a translator retained by The Times Magazine’s editors. I’ve since had the stringer review the translation of key paragraphs for me.
The magistrate, Mr. Hitt noted, “had been helpful in other areas of the story and quite open.” So when she recalled one doctor’s estimate that Ms. Climaco’s pregnancy had been aborted at 18 weeks, he used that in the article. (The only 18-week estimate mentioned in the court ruling came from a doctor who hadn’t seen any fetus and whose deductions from the size of the uterus 17 hours after the birth were found by the three judges to be flawed.)
Mr. Hitt concluded the article with this summation of the Climaco case: “The truth was certainly — well, not in the ’middle’ so much as somewhere else entirely. Somewhere like this: She’d had a clandestine abortion at 18 weeks, not all that different from D.C.’s [another woman cited earlier in the story], something defined as absolutely legal in the United States. It’s just that she’d had an abortion in El Salvador.”
So the story was run based upon the word of the magistrate, and there was no attempt made to get a copy of the record -- a pretty shoddy piece of work. And what did the record show when the transcript was acquired, months after the piece ran in the NY Times magazine?
When Times Magazine editors provided me with an English-language version of the court findings on Dec. 8, just after the translation had been completed, there was little ambiguity in the court’s findings. “We have an already-formed and independent life here,” the court said. “Therefore we are not dealing with an abortion here, as the defense has attempted to claim in the present case.”
The physician who had performed the autopsy on the “recently born” testified that it represented a “full-term” birth, which he defined as a pregnancy with a duration of “between 38 and 42 weeks,” the ruling noted. In adopting those conclusions, the court said of another autopsy finding: “Given that the lungs floated when submerged in water, also indicating that the recently-born was breathing at birth, this confirms that we are dealing with an independent life.”
Yep -- a full-term pregnancy, a breathing child, and a murder. No abortion.
But how has the official NY Times responded to the situation? By defending the article, and refusing to acknowledge that its contents are false, all without allowing the facts to finally be checked.
The magazine’s failure to check the court ruling was then compounded for me by the handling of reader complaints about the issue. The initial complaints triggered a public defense of the article by two assistant managing editors before the court ruling had even been translated into English or Mr. Hitt had finished checking various sources in El Salvador. After being queried by the office of the publisher about a possible error, Craig Whitney, who is also the paper’s standards editor, drafted a response that was approved by Gerald Marzorati, who is also the editor of the magazine. It was forwarded on Dec. 1 to the office of the publisher, which began sending it to complaining readers.
The response said that while the “fair and dispassionate” story noted Ms. Climaco’s conviction of aggravated homicide, the article “concluded that it was more likely that she had had an illegal abortion.” The response ended by stating, “We have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the facts as reported in our article, which was not part of any campaign to promote abortion.”
And now that the facts are clear in the case, what is the response? To continue to defend the article as true, to reject the findings of the trial court as untrustworthy and possibly politicized, and to refuse to present a retraction or correction -- or even notify those who received the earlier response that new evidence was out there casting doubt on whether or not the article was fair or accurate.
The article was “as accurate as it could have been at the time it was written,” Mr. Marzorati wrote to me. “I also think that if the author and we editors knew of the contents of that third ruling, we would have qualified what we said about Ms. Climaco. Which is NOT to say that I simply accept the third ruling as ‘true’; El Salvador’s judicial system is terribly politicized.”
I asked Mr. Whitney if he intended to suggest that the office of the publisher bring the court’s findings to the attention of those readers who received the “no reason to doubt” response, or that a correction be published. The latest word from the standards editor: “No, I’m not ready to do that, nor to order up a correction or Editors’ Note at this point.”
In other words, what are the standards at the NY Times? No standards -- not when it might present the paper in a bad light, and so the Times stands by the article that is factually untrue. So much for the "paper of record".
UPDATE: 1/2/2007: Well, looks like some others are picking up on the story -- including Michelle Malkin, The Saloon, Elmer's Brother, The Coffeespy, Blake's Blog, Hot Air, Roger L. Simon, Custos Fidei
UPDATE 1/3/2007" Could it be that the only staff member to lose his position over this scandal (at least in part) will be public editor Barney Calame -- because he has once agaain taken a position critical of, rather than endorsing, outrageous actions by the Time editorial staff?
We're getting saturation news coverage of the event (along with Saddam's execution and Jame brown's funeral) an will see government services shut down on Tuesday, but the state funeral of former President Gerald Ford was not a big draw for government officials. Indeed, not even the current occupant of the Oval office could be troubled to attend.
The military band drilled. Wreaths with white roses hung outside the House and Senate chambers. In the Capitol Rotunda rested the black velvet catafalque that once bore the remains of Abraham Lincoln.
Everything was in place for former President Gerald Ford's state funeral Saturday night — everything, that is, but the statesmen.
•President Bush sent his regrets; he was cutting cedar and riding his bike on his ranch in Texas.
•Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his deputy, Richard Durbin, couldn't make it either; they were on a trip to visit Incan ruins.
•Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a pass, too — as did about 500 of the 535 members of Congress.
Only one Cabinet member — Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez — accepted the invitation, organizers said.
A 6-to-3 majority of the Supreme Court, including Ford's appointee, John Paul Stevens, ruled against attending.
Congressional staffers and Ford family representatives scrambled to find sufficient greeters and honorary pallbearers to join Vice President Dick Cheney and a score of former lawmakers and Ford administration officials.
I'm sorry, but I can only call this a shameful response. The President could and should have cut short the Crawford vacation. Reid and Durbin arguably could have rescheduled the trip south of the border -- they do get CNN in Latin America, so they know about Ford's death.More members of Congress could have made it back, Cabinet officials could have made an effort to return to Washington, and the Supreme Court justice (especially Stevens) could have put in an appearance. There should have been more than 77 official mourners at the Capitol on Saturday night.
After all, this is the state funeral for a former head of state -- shouldn't the current leaders of the United States be in attendance?
Or are we seeing that such funeral rituals are an anachronism in this country?
I happened across this new blog -- Breath of the Beast -- while perusing the American Thinker blog this morning. The first post, My First Encounter With The Beast, is a chilling personal narrative about an encounter with the ugly side of Islam over two decade ago.
Back in the early eighties my young family and I lived next door to an Iranian family. They were nice, friendly people. Hamid (not his real name) was a physician who was just starting out in his own practice. His wife, Haideh was also Iranian born. She was a mathematician. She taught at a local college. We moved in to brand new houses just months apart and shared the rigors of nurturing lawns where there had been only bulldozer tracks. We cooperated in the planting of trees and shrubs to define the empty expanses between our new homes. We borrowed tools from each other. Hamid and I played tennis often and even discussed the possibility of building a tennis court in the flat spot where our lots met. Our children played together and his son, Amir and my daughter Amy became very close friends. The two of them were barely more than toddlers when they first met but were soon talking about getting married the way little ones sometimes do when they find a close companion of the opposite sex. The next summer, they went back to Iran to visit with their families. We were afraid for our friends. We knew the country was in turmoil. They were gone for several weeks. For much of the time my Amy’s days were occupied with day camp but she still missed her friend. They finally returned a week before school. The two seemed to pick up right where they had left off.
It was a sunny Sunday morning and Amy went out right after breakfast and met Amir in his backyard. We watched as they began to play and turned away to read the Sunday paper. We were surprised when Amy came back inside a short while later. She walked by us with her head down and started up the stairs to her room. We had expected to have to call her in for lunch so it was odd that she came back so early. I called after her and asked her what was wrong. She told me how little 5-year-old Amir had matter-of-factly informed my innocent 5-year-old daughter that because she is a Jew it is his duty to kill her.
I hope the author, Yaacov Ben Moshe, keeps on writing and has more to say about his topic of choice.
What's more, I've found this week's nominee for the Watcher's Council.
Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator who spent his last years in captivity after his ruthless Baathist regime was toppled from power by the U.S.-led coalition in 2003, was hanged Saturday for crimes committed in a brutal crackdown during his reign, a witness said.
"Saddam's body is in front me," said an official in the prime minister's office when CNN telephoned. "It's over."
In the background, Shiite chanting could be heard. When asked about the chanting, the official said, "These are employees of the prime minister's office and government chanting in celebration."
A witness to the execution reported that celebrations broke out after Hussein was dead, and that there was "dancing around the body."
Not only was there dancing around the body, but also in Iraqi-American communities.
And celebrations broke out in Iraq as well.
I'll post more pictures/video of the big event when they becomes available.
UPDATE 1 -- 7:30 AM CST: Pictures added.
UPDATE 2 -- 8:00 AM CST: At least one local Dem blogger and party activist (connected enough to be admitted to our incoming Congressman's hospital room) appears troubled that it was Saddam swinging and not members of the Bush administration.
According to Raw Story, Saddam Hussein will die tonight. After 3 years of war, almost 3000 American soldiers killed, 20,000+ wounded, our reputation around the world badly damaged, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, and after spending almost $500 Billion of our tax dollars, we finally got Saddam hanging from a rope.
We should be so proud.
Tonight Saddam will be swinging from a rope and struggling for his last breath of air, while the ghouls across the country are waiting for the video to hit YouTube.
And yet the undeniable fact will remain that the only person who didn't lie about weapons of mass destruction will be hanging from the end of the rope.
And those that did will not.
UPDATE 3 -- 2:00 PM CST: Hot Air has video from FoxNews.
MORE AT Michelle Malkin, Captain's Quarters, Tammy Bruce, Liberty Papers, Sensible Mom, Ed Driscoll, bRight & Early, A Blog For All, PoliBlog, Anchoress, Patterico, Gay Patriot, Hot Air, TelChai Nation, Gateway Pundit, JammieWearingFool, Jawa Report
The Duke Lacrosse
Rape Frame-Up Case continues to go very badly for hack prosecutor Mike Nifong. Now even his peers are urging him to step aside so that justice can be done in this case.
In yet another moral blow to Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys called for the prosecutor to step down from the Duke lacrosse case.
The group, which represents district attorneys from across North Carolina, said in a statement that "it is in the interest of justice and the effective administration of criminal justice that Mr. Nifong immediately withdraw and recuse himself from the prosecution."
"It's extraordinarily unusual and it means a great deal," said Joshua Marquis, a district attorney in Clatsop County, Ore.
The district attorney group also called for the case to be reassigned and handed over to "another prosecutorial authority."
The statement was prompted by charges of ethics violations against Nifong filed Thursday by the North Carolina bar. Those allegations accuse Nifong of making inappropriate comments about the case in a series of press interviews early in the proceedings.
The recently filed ethics charge have created a true conflict of interest for Nifong. Dropping all charges and conceding the obvious innocence of the accused would be an implicit concession that he had engaged in the sort of wrong-doing of which he is accused, and so it is virtually impossible for any prosecutorial decision he makes from this point forward to not be seen as tinged with self-interest.
And speaking of those ethics charges brought by the NC Bar against Nifong, there could yet be even more, according to Time magazine.
The Dec. 28 ethics charges are expected to be expanded when the state bar's grievance committee meets again Jan. 18. Like a grand jury, the committee meets periodically; the current ethics charges stem from its most recent meeting in October and cover public statements Nifong made about the case last March and April. At its next meeting, the committee will deal with revelations from a Dec. 15 court hearing in which the state's DNA expert admitted he and Nifong agreed to keep secret from the defense early DNA results showing no Duke lacrosse player could be implicated in an attack upon one of two exotic dancers hired for the March 14 house party.
In other words, some of Nifong's most egregious misconduct in this case had not even been exposed when these charges were drawn up, and so there is a whole lot more to delve into.
And that doesn't even get into the question of possible criminal charges against this hack DA.
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Follow Your Surges by Done With Mirrors, and From Khomeini to Ahmadinejad by Matthias Küntzel. Here is a link to the full results of the vote.
Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|3||Follow Your Surges|
Done With Mirrors
|2||The Coming of Neo-Multilateralism|
|1 1/3||IRANIAN Military Seized in Raid on Iraqi Insurgents -- (And the NYT Deplores It)|
|1 1/3||The Dark Side of "Traditional Values"|
Right Wing Nut House
|2/3||Two Red Herrings Out of Three Ain't Bad|
|2/3||Negotiating with Iran|
The Glittering Eye
The Colossus of Rhodey
|2/3||Why Facts Don't Matter|
|2 1/3||From Khomeini to Ahmadinejad|
|1 2/3||Is Federalism Tainted by Slavery and Jim Crow?|
The Volokh Conspiracy
|1 1/3||The Sandy Berger Experiment: Bush Official Destroyed 9/11 Documents|
Doug Ross @ Journal
|1 1/3||Emaciated or Emancipated?|
The Possum Bistro
|1||Nifong's Sinking Ship|
|2/3||2007 Predictions: How the World Will Turn -- We Think|
The QandO Blog
|2/3||The Hanoudi Letter: The Second Anniversary|
The Hanoudi Letter
|2/3||A Month of a Unilateral "Cease Fire"|
Elder of Ziyon
|1/3||American Historical Association Against the War|
Spinning Clio: Where History and Politics Meet
In light of his new book, one would think Carter would have something to say about this wall.
Or is it only the Israeli security fence that offends his sensibilities?
A country has chosen to build a wall to stop the flow of militants from crossing its border and creating terror and havoc in two countries. Some critics say that the real problem is the tolerance of militants by a government that claims to be fighting them. Sound familiar?
Has Jimmy Carter been heard from to condemn this human rights atrocity? So far, no. After all this would be a wall built by Pakistan on its long border with Afghanistan.
I guess when Muslims build a wall to keep out Muslim terrorists, it is a good thing -- it's only when Jews defend themselves from Muslim terrorists that such barriers become a problem.
An independent voice in Venezuela is about to be silenced by the government for its active opposition to the government of strongman Hugo Chavez.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he will not renew the licence for the country's second largest TV channel which he says expires in March 2007.
In an address to troops, Mr Chavez said he would not tolerate media outlets working towards a coup against him.
Radio Caracas Television, which is aligned with the opposition, supported a strike against Mr Chavez in 2003.
But the TV's head said there must be some mistake as its licence was not up for renewal in the near future.
Marcel Granier also vowed to fight against the president's plans in Venezuela's courts and on the international stage.
The BBC's Greg Morsbach in Caracas says Mr Chavez has repeatedly threatened to take the TV off the air but has never given a date.
The move could help silence some of his critics in the media who have been a thorn in his side for several years, he says.
Mr Chavez, who was returned to power by a wide margin on 3 December, said Mr Granier was mistaken in believing "that concession is eternal".
"It runs out in March. So it's better that you go and prepare your suitcase and look around for what you're going to do in March," he said during a televised speech to soldiers at a military academy in Caracas.
"There will be no new operating licence for this coupist TV channel called RCTV. The operating licence is over... So go and turn off the equipment," Mr Chavez said.
So opposition to the government is now grounds for lifting broadcast licenses in Venezuela -- and there is no appeal from the heir-apparent to Fidel among Latin American human rights violators.
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for his role in 148 killings in 1982, will have his sentence carried out by Sunday, NBC News reported Thursday. According to a U.S. military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity, Saddam will be hanged before the start of the Eid religious holiday, which begins at sundown Saturday.
The hanging could take place as early as Friday, NBC’s Richard Engel reported.
The U.S. military received a formal request from the Iraqi government to transfer Saddam to Iraqi authorities, NBC reported on Thursday, which is one of the final steps required before his execution. His sentence, handed down last month, ordered that he be hanged within 30 days.
Some international leaders (and grievance polemicists) are outraged that the dictator might actually pay for his crimes and be executed by the Iraqi people he oppressed. And as I suggested some weeks back, the NY Times seems prepared to deck itself out in black to mourn the untimely execution of this murderous goon.
I am, however, disappointed about one aspect of this execution -- I had been hoping that Saddam would take a long drop on a short rope as the clock rang in 2007 -- sort of an Iraqi equivalent of dropping the ball over Times Square.
By the way -- I'm hoping photos of this administration of justice flood the 'net and that the video quickly shows up on YouTube and elsewhere.
The North Carolina bar filed ethics charges Thursday against the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case, accusing him of saying misleading or inflammatory things to the news media about the athletes under suspicion.
The punishment for ethics violations can range from admonishment to disbarment.
Among the four rules of professional conduct that District Attorney Mike Nifong was accused of violating was a prohibition against making comments "that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused."
The charges will be heard by an independent body called the Disciplinary Hearing Commission, made up of both lawyers and non-lawyers.
In a statement, the bar said it opened a case against Nifong in March 30, a little more than two weeks after the party where a 28-year-old student at North Carolina Central University hired to perform as a stripper said she was raped.
Another rule the rogue prosecutor is alleged to have broken is the one against dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation".
Methinks that DA Nifong is going down fast.
U.S. Senator Tim Johnson is spending Thursday, his 60th birthday, sedated in a Washington, D.C. hospital. Family members plan to be at his bedside.
Senator Johnson remains sedated after undergoing emergency surgery two weeks ago for bleeding in the brain. A Johnson spokesman says his family remains optimistic but could not say how long he'll remain under sedation.
The senator has been in critical condition since the surgery. He is sedated to help minimize the swelling of his brain.
Happy birthday, Senator Johnson. may the gift of health be conferred upon you by the good Lord this day -- and may you one day come to know that the prayers of the citizens of the United States are with you.
One of the recent questions about Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts has swirled around the issue of gay rights. Romney once said that eh would be better on gay rights than Se. Ted Kennedy, but has stood strongly against gay marriage since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court imposed it by judicial fiat in 2003.
Romney was recently interviewed by Human Events, and answers two questions on the issue in a way that I believe should clarify his position and reconcile his positions for most conservatives.
And also on the issue of gay marriage, the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts today gave you a symbolic victory in terms of scolding some of the lawmakers for their actions. Do you believe the same [skepticism among conservatives] will hold true on gay marriage or will people still critique that 1994 letter and some of the comments you made in that campaign?
No, actually, my view on marriage has been entirely consistent over my political career. And that is that I oppose same-sex marriage. I also oppose civil unions.
There are some people who feel that is inconsistent with also encouraging the elimination of discrimination against gay people as well as others of differences. I’m very much opposed to discrimination. I also recognize that it’s not wise to create a special class and establish new rights for any particular group. But I’m opposed to discrimination.
At the same time, I’m opposed to same-sex marriage. And ever since that feature has become a prominent one in my state, with the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court, I have taken every action that I could conceive of within the bounds of the law to defend traditional marriage and to stop same-sex marriage.
You mentioned the decision today of the Supreme Judicial Court. It’s more than symbolic. The Supreme Judicial Court—and this is a battle that my administration took to the court—they said, in fact, that the Legislature must take a vote on a citizens’ petition to have this go before the voters. They must take a vote, and failure to do so would represent a violation of a legislator’s oath of office. That is a very powerful statement, and I believe it gives me a pretty significant degree of confidence that we will see on the ballot in Massachusetts the right of citizens to define marriage. And that’s what I’ve been fighting for now for over two years.
On that same subject, would you accept another endorsement from the Log Cabin Republicans if it was offered to you?
Haven’t thought about that. I doubt it’s going to be forthcoming—and in part because for gay Americans of both Republican and Democratic stripe, the issue is now all about marriage. It is not about equality and hiring. Look, I would not discriminate against someone in a hiring position based on their sexual preference. But it’s now about marriage, and I am adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage.
I’ve been to Washington to testify in favor of traditional marriage. I’ve written a letter to every U.S. senator on the topic. I’ve fought same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in every way I could within the bounds of the law. So that’s not going to make me popular with gay Republicans or gay Democrats. But there are some gay individuals who I know, who are friends of mine, who respect that fact that I believe that traditional marriage is right for the nurturing and development of children, but that I do not want to discriminate against gay people in employment or housing or other parts of their life.
In other words, Romney draws a distinction between marriage and issues of non-discrimination in housing, employment, etc.
I’d argue that this is well within the conservative mainstream. Marriage is fundamentally an institution defined by our society as being between one man and one woman, and the American people have voted to retain that definition every time they have been given the opportunity to do so (with the exception of one poorly drafted proposal this year in Arizona). On the other hand, most Americans find discriminatory practices in employment and housing to be unacceptable and are supportive of efforts to eliminate it in cases of sexual orientation (although some, on libertarian principles, question the legitimacy of government-imposed non-discrimination requirements for any group).
Hopefully this interview and a close examination of Romney’s record will help to settle the gay issue (as well as the abortion issue) for conservatives and allow Romney to position himself as the best conservative option in 2008.
I’ve long thought that term limits are a bad idea, and have opposed them even when they were one of the staples of conservative ideology. I therefore find one of incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s pet issues to be heartening.
With Democrats assuming majority power next month, Congress has a fresh opportunity to make things right. The new House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, has proposed a repeal of presidential term limits in every session since 1985. Now he may have the political muscle to get it passed.
In my American government classes, I’ve always described the Twenty-Second Amendment as the GOP-controlled Congress’ method of driving a stake through the heart of FDR and as close to the posthumous treatment of Pope Formosus as we are ever likely to see in American politics. More than Prohibition (a dumb idea that, having made it into the Constitution, was wisely repealed), the two-term limit placed upon presidents is a blot upon the Constitution.
Indeed, I agree with this great American.
"The United States ought to be able to choose for its president anybody it wants, regardless of the number of terms he has served," Dwight Eisenhower said on the eve of his 1956 reelection. "I have got the utmost faith in the long-term common sense of the American people."
Do I fear that the American people might engage in some monumentally stupid act and reelect Bill Clinton (currently one of only two Americans barred from election to the presidency by Amendment XXII)? Not really, for I believe that Senator Hillary Clinton would commit homicide before permitting that. Do I vainly hope for the reelection of George W. Bush for a third term? No, as I have become increasingly disappointed in the policies of the current occupant of the Oval Office since the 2004 election. And while I recognize that because of the Twenty-Second Amendment we were mercifully spared the reelection of Ronald Reagan as he descended into the fog of Alzheimer’s disease, I also acknowledge that his situation is anomalous among recent American presidents, most of whom have remained healthy and active for at least a decade following their time in office.
Ignore the anti-Bush rant that constitutes the first half of Zimmerman’s column – focus on the big issue of restoring the Constitutional order to that established by the Founders.
Many who study terrorism related issues have presumed that Yasser Arafat was directly involved in the planning of the 1973 Black September operation that resulted in the murder of two US diplomats. Now the truth is out -- the US has had incontrovertible evidence of Arafat's involvement in and approval of the murders FOR 33 YEARS, only to cover it up by classifying the information.
The document has, at last, been declassified.
THE SEIZURE OF THE SAUDI ARABIAN EMBASSY IN KHARTOUM
In the early evening hours of 1 March 1973, eight Black September Organization (BSO) terrorists seized the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Khartoum as a diplomatic reception honoring the departing United States Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) was ending. After slightly wounding the United States Ambassador and the Belgian Charge d'Affaires, the terrorists took these officials plus the United States DCM, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador and the Jordanian Charge d'Affaires hostage. In return for the freedom of the hostages, the captors demanded the release of various individuals, mostly Palestinian guerrillas, imprisoned in Jordan, Israel and the United States.
The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and the head of Fatah. Fatah representatives based in Khartoum participated in the attack, using a Fatah vehicle to transport the terrorists to the Saudi Arabian Embassy.
Initially, the main objective of the attack appeared to be to secure the release of Fatah/BSO leader Muhammed Awadh (Abu Da'ud) from Jordanian captivity. Information acquired subsequently reveals that the Fatah/BSO leaders did not expect Awadh to be freed, and indicates that one of the primary goals of the operation was to strike at the United States because of its efforts to achieve a Middle East peace settlement which many Arabs believe would be inimical to Palestinian interests.
Negotiations with the BSO terrorist team were conducted primarily by the Sudanese Ministers of Interior and of Health. No effort was spared, within the capabilities of the Sudanese Government, to secure the freedom of the hostages. The terrorists extended their deadlines three times, but when they became convinced that their demands would not be met and after they reportedly had received orders from Fatah headquarters in Beirut, they killed the two United States officials and the Belgian Charge. Thirty-four hours later, upon receipt of orders from Yasir Arafat in Beirut to surrender, the terrorists released their other hostages unharmed and surrendered to Sudanese authorities.
The Khartoum operation again demonstrated the ability of the BSO to strike where least expected. The open participation of Fatah representatives in Khartoum in the attack provides further evidence of the Fatah/BSO relationship. The emergence of the United States as a primary fedayeen target indicates a serious threat of further incidents similar to that which occurred in Khartoum.
The United States government should have adopted a policy similar to Israel's in the wake of this attack -- we should have hunted down and killed those involved in this act of war against the United States. More specifically, this means that rather than encoraaging dialogue with the slimy terrorist Arafat, United States forces should have found him and killed him -- or at least taken him into custody for trial and execution.
Instead, we adopted a policy of treating Arafat like a legitimate player in the Middle East, giving his "Palestinian Authority" funds which he and his cronies could loot for personal gain and encouraging Israel to negotiate with the murderer. In the process, we have given every subsequent terrorist band the message that the United States will not engage in any sustained effort to punish terrorists who strike at American interests, only encouraging such attacks.
What's more, the failure to level with the American people about this incident has allowed at least two generations of moral retards to argue that the United States and Israel are the aggressors and the Palestinians the innocent victims. Congress needs to investigate why this information was hidden, and publicize who the responsible parties were. And perhaps Jimmy Carter can retract his praise for a man he knew (or should have known) ordered the murder of American diplomats.
As I've browsed the 'net this evening, I've come across two articles proposing something other than the Nixon pardon as Gerald Ford's greatest legacy. One suggests the nomination of John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court had the longest range effect -- an effect that I would argue is mostly negative and has done great harm tot he country.
Next week will mark the 31st anniversary of Stevens’ taking his oath as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Stevens has turned out to be one of the stalwart members of the court's liberal wing.
Thirty years after Ford left office, Americans are living under legal rules created by the Supreme Court, in many cases by 5-to-4 decisions with Stevens in the majority.
* Stevens wrote the majority opinion in Kelo v. New London, the 2005 decision that held that local and state governments could condemn and acquire private property even when it was not to be used for a public purpose.
* He helped form the five-justice majority in another 2005 case, Roper v. Simmons, which held that convicted murderers who’d been under age 18 when they committed their crime could not get the death penalty.
* He joined a 2000 decision called Stenberg v. Carhart in which the court struck down a Nebraska law banning so-called “partial-birth” abortions.
None of these decisions meet with my approval, and I believe each of them have been destructive of the proper Constitutional order. Indeed, Stevens' liberalism is proof positive that no president can ever be sure what sort of justice he will get when he makes an appointment.
The other argues that Ford's greatest legacy was that he set the stage for the election of Ronald Reagan four years after his own defeat, for any other outcome in 1976 would have likely ended Reagan's chance to be president and certainly sent the country down a very different path.
The true Ford effect was, once again, an unwitting one. By beating Reagan in the battle for his party’s nomination he saved Reagan from himself. It is very doubtful whether Reagan could have stopped Carter in 1976 — Ford as the incumbent President was the only Republican with any chance of winning — and if Reagan had lost against the Democrat peanut farmer that would have been the end of him.
What if, as he nearly did, Ford had defeated Carter? He would have faced a heavily Democratic Congress, a severe economic recession in 1979-80 and an ageing cabal in Moscow intent on sending troops into Afghanistan. He would have been ineligible for re-election in 1980 but, in these conditions, the Republican candidate would surely have been doomed at the polling stations. The odds are that the White House would have been captured by the most prominent Democrat in the land — Edward Kennedy.
The world we live in today might have been very different if that Kennedy, not Reagan, had occupied the Oval Office in the 1980s. He would not have followed policies that led to almost constant economic growth over the past 25 years nor taken on the Kremlin to the point where the Soviet Union imploded.
“What if” is an ultimately unanswerable question in history. Yet it is the real story of the Ford years.
Indeed -- that "what if" would have resulted in a world unrecognizable today -- and one that I believe would be significantly worse-off had Gerald Ford not fallen short in 1976.
I can forgive Ford his making the same mistake as so many other presidents when selecting a Supreme Court justice -- and thank God for his having run the 1976 presidential race just as he did.
Despite claiming the power to reinterpret the state's constitution in a manner contrary to the intent of the drafters and to legislate from the bench to create homosexual marriage, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has finally found something it lacks the power to do under that constitution -- require the legislature to follow it.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that it had no authority to order the Legislature to vote on a ballot initiative to ban gay marriage, but the justices gave Governor Mitt Romney a symbolic victory by scolding lawmakers for shirking "their lawful obligations."
The SJC, the same court which legalized gay marriage in 2004, issued the unanimous 11-page ruling this morning in response to a lawsuit spearheaded by Romney, who is expected to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination as a social conservative.
The justices wrote that all the legislators took an oath to uphold the Constitution and will "ultimately will have to answer to the people who elected them."
Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Governor Mitt Romney, hailed the ruling as vindication for the plaintiffs even though the court dismissed the suit.
"We are very pleased that the court has confirmed once and for all that the Legislature has a constitutional duty to vote on the marriage amendment and that any failure to do so would be a violation of their oaths of office," Fehrnstrom said.
Interesting, isn't it, that the judges here find a violation of the constitution with no remedy, while a couple of years back they found a remedy with no actual violation of that constitution. I guess that their activism does have limits -- and those limits are exceeded when it might allow the people of Massachusetts to vote in a non-liberal manner.
UPDATE -- 12/31/06: An interesting piece on the topic from Opinion Journal.com.
The petitioners sued the legislature for abrogating its constitutional duty, and the state Supreme Judicial Court took the case. In its ruling last week, it agreed that the legislature's duty to vote on the measure was "unambiguous." But it claimed to be powerless to compel a vote. So the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, whose own arrogation of power created this mess, has suddenly discovered the limits of its power to clean it up.
All in all, this is quite the political spectacle. First judges usurp the power of the legislature to dictate their own social policy. Then the legislature uses a procedural ruse to deny voters a say on the gay-marriage issue. And these are some of the same people who say Iraqis aren't ready for democracy.
Have we reached the point where the federal government can intervene on the grounds that Massachusetts no longer has a functioning "republican form of government"?
“My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age,” Mrs. Ford said in a statement issued from her husband’s office in Rancho Mirage, also the location of the Betty Ford Center. “His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country.”
Gerald Ford, the only man to serve as President and Vice President without being elected to either office, has died at age 93. He had been in ill-health for some time.
Ford, a senior member of the GOP leadership in the House of Representatives, was selected as Vice president by President Richard Nixon following the resignation of Spiro Agnew in the wake of corruption charges. Less than a year later, Ford succeeded Nixon when the latter resigned from office in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
Ford had many accomplishments during his brief time in the White House.
Ford was the only occupant of the White House never elected either to the presidency or the vice presidency. A former Republican congressman from Grand Rapids, Mich., he always claimed that his highest ambition was to be speaker of the House of Representatives. He had declined opportunities to run for the Senate and for governor of Michigan.
He was sworn in as president Aug. 9, 1974, when Richard M. Nixon resigned as a result of the Watergate scandal.
"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over," Ford said in his inaugural address.
"I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our government, but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad."
Ford had become vice president Dec. 6, 1973, two months after Spiro T. Agnew pleaded no contest to a tax evasion charge and resigned from the nation's second-highest office. The former Maryland governor was under investigation for accepting bribes and kickbacks.
In the 2 1/2 years of his presidency, Ford ended the U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam, helped mediate a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Egypt, signed the Helsinki human rights convention with the Soviet Union and traveled to Vladivostok in the Soviet Far East to sign an arms limitation agreement with Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet president.
Ford also sent the Marines to free the crew of the Mayaguez, a U.S. merchant vessel that was captured by Cambodian communists.
On the domestic front, he faced some of the most difficult economic conditions since the Great Depression, with the inflation rate approaching 12 percent. Chronic energy shortages and price increases produced long lines and angry citizens at gas pumps. In the field of civil rights, the sense of optimism that had characterized the 1960s had been replaced by an increasing sense of alienation, particularly in inner cities. The new president also faced a political landscape in which Democrats held large majorities in both the House and the Senate.
But Ford is perhaps best remembered for his pardon of Richard Nixon -- an act which I believe will be remembered as one of the most selfless acts in American history, for many historians consider it to be the overriding fact that led to his loss to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election.
As Ford explained in his memoirs, his goal was the healing of the nation. Presuming, of course, that Nixon would have been indicted for crimes related to Watergate, it was likely that the trial would have occurred against the backdrop of the 1976 national elections, poisoning the political process. Appeals would have meant that the case would likely have continued to be in the national eye during the 1978 and 1980 elections as well -- if not beyond, should there be any sort of retrial -- meaning that the wrong-doing of Nixon and his associates would have been a major factor in American politics for nearly a decade. The stresses this would have caused would have inflicted even greater damage upon the nation, and therefore Ford decided to issue the pardon a month after taking office.
Indeed, history is already beginning to see the wisdom of Ford's decision. In 2001, the former president received a "Profile in Courage" award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in recognition of his decision -- and was praised by none other than Senator Ted Kennedy, who opposed the pardon at the time.
In the days to come, there will be many words said about Gerald Ford, as the media is saturated with coverage of his life and career, as well as the funeral rites associated with a presidential death. But let me sum it all up with a few words that I believe are fitting.
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One of my commenters has recently accused me of being mentally ill or a liar for believing that former president Jimmy Carter's current book reveals a deep seated anti-Semitism. I disagree with that contention (as do the voices in my head).
However, in the interest of fairness, I believe I should at least post something taking the contrary position -- especially since a wonderfully written and reasoned piece by Rabbi Schmuley Boteach appeared in today's Jerusalem Post arguing that Carter is not, in fact, an anti-Semite. Rather, the book reveals a different problem with Carter's world-view..
But with the publication of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, [Carter's] ignorant rant against Israel, many in the American Jewish community believe that Carter is not just a loser but an anti-Semite. I disagree.
Jimmy Carter is not so much anti-Semite as anti-intellectual, not so much a Jew-hater as a boor. The real explanation behind his limitless hostility to Israel is a total lack of any moral understanding.
Carter wants to do what's just. His heart's in the right place. He just can't figure out what the right is. He is, and always has been, a man of good intentions bereft of good judgment. He invariably finds himself defending tyrants and dictators at the expense of their oppressed peoples. Not because he is a bad man, but because he is a confused man.
Aonfused? How so? After all, Carter is often presented as one as the major do-gooders out there, a man with a deep sense of right and wrong. Indeed, many folks have argued that Carter is what our greatest elder statesman. How, then is Carter confused? Quite bluntly, it is a confusion based in a fundamentally flawed view of right and wrong.
CARTER SUBSCRIBES to what I call the Always Root for the Underdog school of morality. Rather than develop any real understanding of a conflict, immediately he sides with the weaker party, however wicked or immoral.
Israel has tanks and F-16's. The Palestinians don't. Therefore the Palestinians are being oppressed. Never mind that the Palestinians have rejected every offer to live side by side with Israel in peace and elected a government pledged to Israel's annihilation. Their poverty dictates the righteousness of their cause even if their actions speak otherwise.
That makes a certain sense. Cuba is weaker than the US -- therefore Castro is a good guy. North Korea is weaker than the US and South Korea -- therefore Kim Jong-Il is not a dictator and is fully justified in seeking nuclear power and weapons while his people starve. Hugo Chavez is supported by the poor of Venezuela, and he is therefore not a bad guy despite his anti-Americanism and evidence of vote fraud int he election Carter certified. Indeed, it even explains why Carter undercut the Shah of Iran and was rendered impotent in the face of the taking of American hostages in Iran -- as a US ally, the Shah was the obvious villain in Iran and Khomeni was a force for good, and any significant action against Iran would have been evil because of the power differential between the US and the Iranians, no matter how grave the provocation. And that confused moral calculus does clearly explain why Israeli self-defense against Palestinian terrorism constitutes a moral evil (greater even than the Rwandan genocide) in Carter's eyes.
Which, of course, absolves Carter of the charge of anti-Semitism in Boteach's book.
No, Carter is not anti-Semitic so much as a man whose lack of judgment and shallowness render him absolutely incapable of telling right from wrong.
Carter's obscene comparison of Israel with apartheid South Africa ignores the fact that Israel is the first country to airlift tens of thousands of black Africans to become free and full citizens in its borders, a phenomenon that has no precedent in the history of the world.
But by saying that the Palestinians are being subjected to apartheid Carter has grossly maligned not Jews, but black South Africans. Whereas black South Africans inspired the world with their humane capacity for forgiveness and peaceful coexistence with their white brethren, even after having been so egregiously wronged, the Palestinians have unfortunately embraced murderous hatred and racism. Arab newspapers routinely publish grotesque caricatures of Jews, and the Palestinians teach kindergarten children to grow up and blow up Israeli buses.
Nelson Mandela rose to become the world's greatest statesman with his articulation of brotherhood and reconciliation. But Yasser Arafat fathered international terrorism and stole hundreds of millions of dollars from his own people.
Which leads to one conclusion: Before one runs around the world as a global do-gooder, one should first develop the ability to identify the good.
In other words, Carter's moral compass is broken, and his words and actions must therefore be understood in light of that character flaw.
So I'll concede that the good rabbi may have a point -- Jimmy Carter does not have Jew-hatred in his heart, but has simply lost his ability to distinguish good from evil (if he ever had it). But given that his current book, recent column, and other statements echo the statements of Jew-haters over the centuries, the argument can still be made that even if he is not motivated by animus towards Jews, his recent activities have been functionally anti-Semitic. So while my criticism of the man may be seen as unfair by some, I stand by my criticism of his position -- and ask if the difference is one that really makes any difference.
Welcome visitors from FARK.com! Take some time to browse around the rest of the site -- and come back any time.
What do you get when you take a senior congressman with the ability to steer money to favored companies, a former aide to that congressman running a non-profit group, multiple lobbyists for the industry over which the congressman has a big say serving on the board, and big donations from that industry going to the group?
Well, it depends.
If the congressman has an (R) after his name, you get a major scandal and claims of a improprieties and a "culture of corruption" trumpeted throughout the mainstream media. If the congressman has a (D) after his name, you get a story that is more-or-less ignored and published on Christmas Day, when almost no one is paying attention to the news.
Which explains why the story that follows was published on December 25, 2006 in the Washington Post, and accounted for only a couple of short paragraphs in the wire-service reports highlighting denials of wrong-doing rather than possible improprieties.
Oh, and the congressman in question? John Murtha, an unindicted co-conspirator from Abscam who has previously been linked to preferential treatment for clients of his brother's lobbying firm and other shady deals.
For a quarter of a century, Carmen Scialabba labored for Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), helping parcel out the billions of dollars that came through the House Appropriations Committee, so when the disabled aide needed a favor, Murtha was there.
In 2001, Murtha announced the creation of Scialabba's nonprofit agency for the disabled in Johnstown, Pa. The next year, with Scialabba still on his staff, Murtha secured a half-million dollars for the group, the Pennsylvania Association for Individuals With Disabilities (PAID), and put another $150,000 in the pipeline for 2003, according to appropriations committee records and former committee aides. Since then, the group has helped hundreds of disabled people find work.
But the group serves another function as well. PAID has become a gathering point for defense contractors and lobbyists with business before Murtha's defense appropriations subcommittee, and for Pennsylvania businesses and universities that have thrived on federal money obtained by Murtha.
Lobbyists and corporate officials serve as directors on the nonprofit group's board, where they help raise money and find jobs for Johnstown's disabled workers. Some of those lobbyists have served as intermediaries between the defense contractors and businessmen on the board, and Murtha and his aides.
That arrangement over the years has yielded millions of dollars in federal support for the contractors, businesses and universities, and hundreds of thousands in consulting and lobbying fees to Murtha's favored lobbying shops, according to Federal Election Commission records and lobbying disclosure forms. In turn, many of PAID's directors have kept Murtha's campaigns flush with cash.
What sort of stuff are we talking about? Well, take a look at some of the specific examples.
After PAID's founding, Scialabba approached Kuchera [Bill Kuchera, chief executive of Kuchera Industries of Windber, PA] to get involved. Kuchera jumped, not only joining the group's board but ramping up hiring of disabled workers, who now compose a third of the 200 employees in his company's defense business. The federal government picked up Kuchera's $7 million training bill. This year, Murtha earmarked $1.3 million for Kuchera's chemical and biological weapons detection research.
Kuchera employees donated more than $31,000 to Murtha in the past three election campaigns, according to federal election records. Between 1990 and 2000, contributions totaled $1,000. And congressional lobbying disclosure forms tally $140,000 in payments since 2001 from Kuchera to Ervin Technical Associates, whose chairman is former representative Joseph M. McDade (R-Pa.), a close Murtha ally.
The Kuchera experience is not unique. Ed Washington, another PAID director, hails from MTS Technologies, an Arlington defense contractor that recently secured $8.9 million in federal funds to expand its Johnstown facility. MTS's lobbyist, the PMA Group, has disclosed some $300,000 in fees from the company since 1998. And PMA has returned the favor: Since 1989, the firm's employees have given Murtha $107,500.
Daniel DeVos, an honorary PAID board member, represents Concurrent Technologies, whose employees have lavished Murtha with more than $53,000 in campaign contributions and PMA with $820,000 in fees. That may sound steep, but the rewards have been substantial: a $150 million contract to operate the Navy Metalworking Center; a $4 million contract from the Army to evaluate fuel-cell systems; and $1.7 million for a weapons of mass destruction response laboratory, among others.
Seems like a tidy little system in which the industries are buying access and favors using a charitable group. Isn't that something that the Democrats accused Tom DeLay of doing, claiming it was unethical, or at least had an "appeaance of impropriety"? What about Murtha?
This ought to be the first test case for the Democrats when it comes to dealing with lobbying and ethics reform as Nancy Pelosi seeks to "drain the ethical swamp" and undo the so-called "culture of corruption" that Democrats claim has existed in Congress. But Pelosi, of course, is one of Murtha's biggest supporters and she tried to put him in a senior leadership role. Will she play favorites,or will she keep her word?
Oh, and by the way -- Murtha isn't the only member of Congress who may have improper relations with a PAID director.
Another PAID director, Jim Estep, is a central figure in an investigation of Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.), a Murtha ally and fellow member of the Appropriations Committee. Estep heads the West Virginia High-Technology Consortium Foundation and the Institute for Scientific Research, two nonprofit organizations that Mollohan helped set up and has plied with federal funds.
Yes, that is the same Alan Mollohan who is under FBI investigation for using non-profit groups to benefit himself and who lied on financial disclosure forms -- and who got thrown off the Ethics Committee as a result, but who still remains on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, the better to steer contacts to his supporters and his district.
And let me say one thing clearly -- I think efforts to aid disabled individuals are important. I've witnessed first-hand the difficulties that such folks face in finding employment, even when they have the skills to do the job. I believe that organizations that assist the disabled in finding employment and encouraging employers to see past the disabilities serve a truly noble goal. I'm therefore particularly incensed that Murtha and Scialabba chose such an organization to hide their illicit pork machine.
(By the way -- you should see the squealing posts from liberals in the comments over at end of the article -- this article is seen as a betrayal and an outrage)
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)
3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Well, the fine folks over at bRight & Early have created a database of blogiversaries -- the date on which bloggers began their blogs.
Not only that, they are running a contest or three!
HOW TO JOIN THE FUN: There are several ways to get in on the action.
1. The first way is the simplest — Add your blog to the Blogiversary Database. One of the confirmed blogs (those that follow the confirmation email sent after you submit your information) in the database at the deadline will be chosen at random. This will include all current participants and those who sign up before the deadline. How easy is that?
2. A separate random drawing will be done for the blogs who include the Blogiversary Database display code on their site. You can see a list of all the BDb blogs, separated into those who have and those who don't have the display code, here. I check the blogs fairly often, but if you think you are not on the right list please let me know. You can send an email to lakelandjim at gmail dot com.
3. The third way to win is to write a post about the Blogiversary Database. You can write what ever you want, but must include a link to the Add Your Blog page, the Blogiversary Database information page, and to this post. You should also create a trackback to this post. If your blogging software can't generate a trackback you can use Wizbang's Standalone Trackback Pinger. Those posts will also appear below.
The contest will run until the earlier of either 200 confirmed blogs in the database (of the 164 currently in the database 150 are confirmed), or midnight EST on Christmas New Year's Eve 12/24/2006 12/31/2006. The winners will be chosen at random in the week following the cutoff. If the 200 blog threshold is crossed before the 24th it will be announced here.
You where waiting for this part, weren't you? Three winners will be chosen from the categories listed above. You can only win once, and will be removed from the remaining drawings. The prizes will be awarded in this order:
1. Write a Post — The winner will receive a free one month blogad.
2. Display the Code — The prize for this category is a free two week blogad.
3. Join The Database — Win a free one week blogad.
So you will notice the addition of the Blogiversary Database to my left column, right above the licensing information. Scroll down and take a look -- it is worth it, and you never know what you will find!
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Directions on Iraq: A Blogging Colloquium (Updated) by The Glittering Eye, and The ROC by The Fourth Rail. Here is the link to the full results of the vote.
Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|2||Directions on Iraq: A Blogging Colloquium (Updated)|
The Glittering Eye
|1 2/3||Ex-president and Jew Hater for Sale -- Jimmy Carter's Dirty Little Secret|
|1 1/3||Tenets for a Useful Military|
|1||So, Mr. President. What Will It Be?|
The Sundries Shack
|1||What Moynihan and Kirkpatrick Saw|
|2/3||Should Executions Be Painless?|
Rhymes With Right
|2/3||Death of Pinochet|
The Colossus of Rhodey
|1/3||Right of Return|
Done With Mirrors
|1/3||Pinning the Blame on Iraq|
|2 1/3||The ROC|
The Fourth Rail
|2||One Muslim Voice on the Holocaust, Unheard|
The Y Files
|1 1/3||Why They Deny the Holocaust|
|1||The Uncertain World of 1946 and the Future We Created.|
|1||Evaluating Iraq Policy through Two Lenses|
|2/3||There's a Sickening Conference of Hatred Going on in the World Right Now...|
|2/3||The Face of the Faculty|
Campus Newspaper Confab
|1/3||Kofi Rips Off NY Taxpayers, Among Others|
|1/3||Reflecting on the Music Piece|
|1/3||Michael Wright and Pundita Rumble Over Iraq|
Congratulations to all participants in this weeks vote, especially the two winners.
And if you are interested in being nominated for the next competition, please visit The Watcher's excellent site to find out about his offer of link whorage.
Acts like these must be condemned as unequivocally at odds with the teachings of Our Savior Jesus Christ, whose birth we mark this day.
Police in Houston and Fort Bend County are investigating two incidents in which Jewish holiday decorations were vandalized.
Investigators do not know if the cases are related but the regional director of the Houston Anti-Defamation League, Martin Cominsky, said he is concerned about the incidents.
"Our hope is that the spirit of the holiday won't get destroyed and that people will understand that we are trying to create a community of respect and destroying other's religious symbols is not the model for that," Cominsky said today.
Cominsky said it is not unusual to have vandalism against holiday and religious decorations.
"Nativity scenes are sometimes destroyed," he said.
"I am concerned that any individual would try to destroy the religious symbol of another," Cominsky said.
The latest incident happened about 9 p.m. Sunday in the 5100 block of Loch Lomond in Meyerland at the home of Brian Cweren .
Cweren said he heard a noise coming from the front yard and looked outside and saw his inflatable menorah had been deflated and was on the ground.
A surveillance camera installed by Cweren captured an image of a man getting out of a Chevrolet Tahoe and walking onto the front yard. The man used something to puncture the menorah then jumped into the Tahoe and sped away.
Cweren said he called police and while he was on the phone the man returned and punctured an inflatable bear.
The man escaped before officers arrived.
Meanwhile, the Fort Bend County Sheriff's office is trying to determine who destroyed a plastic menorah at the entrance of the Lakewind subdivision in the New Territory development.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Terriann Carlson said the incident was reported about 10:45 a.m. Sunday at Homeward Way and Kendall Creek.
A menorah made from plastic pipe and adorned with lights had been smashed, Carlson said.
Police do not know if the two incidents are connected but Carlson said Fort Bend investigators will touch base with Houston police.
Cominsky said the incident in New Territory comes one year after some Jewish residents were frustrated because the neighborhood's holiday decorations only include Christmas items.
"And so a resident appealed to the homeowner's association (this year) and got permission to put up this menorah," Cominsky said.
As I Christian, I offer my solidarity in anger and offense at these acts of violation of symbols of the Jewish faith. It is my sincere hope that the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice quickly for these unacceptable acts.
And may my many Jewish friends, acquaintances, and readers be blessed by God during this holy season, and my they recognize that they and their faith are held in great esteem by the overwhelming majority of Christians.
Good grief -- they only needed to ask anyone who has taught English in the last half-dozen years or so. Or any teacher, for that matter, because we all have experienced it. Our kids want to use abbreviations, shorthand, and sentence fragments because that is what they are most comfortable and experienced with writing. That's how they IM and text message!
But now we do have confirmation from "journalists" of what those of us who actually work with students already knew -- which makes it "news" and therefore unquestionably true (because after all, would reporters every lie to you?). How long until we get the over-priced longitudinal study of student writing by researchers with the "proper academic credentials" to "prove" what we already know?
Zoe Bambery, a senior at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, might send more than 100 instant messages -- IMs -- during a typical evening. So during the SAT exam, the 18-year-old found herself inadvertently lapsing into IM-speak, using "b/c" instead of "because" as she scrambled to finish her essay.
She caught herself and now is careful to proofread before hitting print. But she is hardly the only student to find IM phrases creeping into school work.
"They are using it absolutely everywhere," said Sara Goodman, an English teacher at Clarksburg High School in Montgomery County who has worn out many purple and red markers circling the offending phrases in papers and tests.
Wendy Borelli, a seasoned English teacher at Springbrook High in Silver Spring, finds photo captions for the school yearbook sprinkled with shorthand such as "B4" and "nite." A student who left on a brief errand to the office announced he would "BRB."
In 2004, 16 million teenagers used instant messages to communicate, up from 13 million in 2000, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Students say IM language has become so ubiquitous they often do not realize they have lapsed into it.
"It's just natural. I had to learn not to do it" in papers, ChiChi Aniebonam, 17, said about her proficiency in IM. "I'm in AP literature, where you just can't put it into your writing, but when I'm writing something informal, now and again I use it."
And these are the top students -- you can only imagine how much more prevalent these issues are with average students who want to get academic tasks done with as little mental or physical exertion as possible and therefore avoid formal reading and writing whenever possible ("Mr. RWR -- You mean you actually read books for fun? Really?").
Then again, English is a constantly evolving language, as comparisons between books written today and those written before WWII (not to mention in earlier periods) will amply demonstrate. Sentence structure, voice, and vocabulary all have changed again and again -- and so I can only expect it will do so in the future. The question is one of how far we and future generations will allow the informality to progress without calling a halt to what some would call the debasement of the English language.
This Christmas day finds yet another front against the forces of
the Anti-Christ jihadi terror -- this one involving Somali Islamists fighting against the legitimate Somali government and neighboring Ethiopia
Ethiopian fighter jets bombed Somalia's main airport Monday, the first direct attack on the city that serves as the headquarters of an Islamic movement attempting to wrest power from the internationally recognized government. Another airport also was hit nearby.
Russian-made jets swept low over the capital at midmorning, dropping two bombs on Somalia's main airport, which recently reopened after the Islamic takeover of Mogadishu. An Associated Press reporter who arrived shortly after the strike saw one wounded woman taken away. The runway and one building used by the Islamic forces were damaged.
Shortly afterward, Baledogle Airport, about 60 miles outside Mogadishu, was hit, an Islamic soldier said. There were no reliable casualty reports available for either attack.
"The Ethiopian government is bombing non-civilian targets in Somalia in order to disable and prevent the delivery of arms and supplies to the Islamic courts," said Bereket Simon, an adviser to Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Ethiopia and the Somali government have long accused the Islamic council of recruiting foreign fighters into its ranks.
The Ethiopian attacks have the support of the legitimate Somali government, which has long accused the Islamists of being reinforced by foreign jihadis, and the bombings were intended to keep the Islamist forces from being re-supplied.
For their part, the Islamists have had the following to say about the attack.
The Somalia Islamic Courts Council's (SICC) Web site hailed "mujahideen" troops who, it said, chanted passages from the Koran as they went into battle against militarily superior Ethiopian "crusaders".
So let there be no question about who and what the SICC is, and why they seek to destroy the legitimate Somali government (which is secular) and Christian Ethiopia.
James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured "Godfather of Soul," whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a giant of R&B and an inspiration for rap, funk and disco, died early Christmas morning. He was 73. Brown was hospitalized with pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died around 1:45 a.m. Monday, said his agent, Frank Copsidas of Intrigue Music. Copsidas said the cause of death was uncertain. "We really don't know at this point what he died of," he said. Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolized him, and sometimes openly copied him. His rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson among others. Songs such as David Bowie's "Fame," Prince's "Kiss," George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song" were clearly based on Brown's rhythms and vocal style. "He was an innovator, he was an emancipator, he was an originator. Rap music, all that stuff came from James Brown," entertainer Little Richard, a longtime friend of Brown's, told MSNBC. "A great treasure is gone." If Brown's claim to the invention of soul can be challenged by fans of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, then his rights to the genres of rap, disco and funk are beyond question. He was to rhythm and dance music what Dylan was to lyrics: the unchallenged popular innovator.And without a doubt, we have lost a icon of American culture, a man whose influence on the musical scene went from sea to shining sea and around the world. It's hard to believe that he is gone. Let me also note that Brown certainly could make a claim the title of "the hardest working man in show business" -- he had concerts scheduled for this week, and was to perform live on one of the New Years Eve shows. It took Death itself to silent that magnificent voice and still those dancing feet.
And To All A Good Night!
Greg and Paula wish each and every one of you all the blessings and joy that come with Christmas and the birth of Our Saviour Jesus.
It only took five full seasons, but the Houston Texans have FINALLY beaten the Indianapolis Colts!
It doesn't take a Heisman Trophy winner to run through the Colts' defense. But on Sunday it certainly made it easier.
Ron Dayne, who won the award in 1999, had a career-high 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Kris Brown kicked the winning 48-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Houston Texans their first win over Indianapolis, 27-24.
The loss denied the AFC South champions the chance to clinch a first-round playoff bye.
It was the first time Dayne had gained 100 yards since September 2001 with the Giants.
The Texans (5-10) used Dayne and rookie Chris Taylor to eat up the clock and exploit the Colts' suspect run defense, ranked last in the NFL, while taking pressure off David Carr and the struggling passing game. The win broke a nine-game losing streak to the Colts (11-4).
It was, to say the least, a fantastic game -- and one I am glad not to have missed.
But will there be any significant punishment of those who attacked Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist and prevented his speech? And will the new procedures for permitting outside speakers on campus simply be a fig-leaf to prevent those from a conservative point-of-view from being permitted to speak at all?
Columbia University said yesterday that it had notified students involved in disrupting a program of speakers in early October that they were being charged with violating rules of university conduct governing demonstrations. The university did not disclose the number of students charged with violations.
Columbia’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, announced the disciplinary proceedings in a letter to the university community yesterday that was also released publicly. But he said he would not provide further details because of federal rules governing student privacy.
The charges will be heard next semester by the deans of the individual schools the students are enrolled in. Possible sanctions include disciplinary warning, censure, suspension and dismissal.
Mr. Bollinger noted that as president, he is also the “final avenue of appeal for those found to be in violation of University Rules.”
The disrupted program, sponsored by a campus Republican group on Oct. 4, featured speakers from the Minuteman Project, which opposes illegal immigration and has mounted civilian border patrols.
The ambiguity of the statement concerns me, though -- were those who were charged the individuals who rushed the stage to break-up the speech? Or did the Columbia charge those who defended the speaker and freedom of speech? Is that why Bollinger hides behind privacy law in refusing to disclose the number of students charged, or even what the charges are?
But beyond that, I'm troubled by the ambiguity in this part of the statement.
Mr. Bollinger said the university would tighten rules governing all student events, and require advance agreements about how events will be staged and who from outside Columbia will be allowed to attend.
In light of the failure of Columbia University officials to invite Gilchrist back, and previous actions antithetical to free speech and open inquiry, I fear this means that onerous burdens will be placed on those conservative groups that seek to invite "controversial" (read that "mainstream conservative") speakers because of the actions of PC Brown Shirts, while letting liberal speakers on with few restrictions because conservative believe in freedom of speech.
I was discussing this issue with my favorite congresswoman just the other evening. I can't believe we both seem to generally agree with the New York Times!
In 1996, Congress ordered immigration officials to create a system to track everyone who enters the country and everyone who leaves. That sensible directive lay on a back burner until 9/11. The Department of Homeland Security then hastened to set up the U.S. Visit program, which requires people to be photographed and fingerprinted at ports of entry for checking against databases of terrorists and other undesirables.
That system has been running since 2004, and has plucked hundreds of bad people from the huge visitor stream without horribly disrupting tourism and business travel. But news came last week that the other half of the program — monitoring foreign travelers when they leave — has been abandoned.
The Homeland Security Department had hoped to begin tracking departures at the 50 busiest land border crossings by next December. But it has given up meeting that deadline after deciding that the cost — including time lost in long lines at the borders — would be prohibitive. Part of the problem is technological: tracking methods that would work are too expensive.
The Government Accountability Office, echoing the Bush administration’s conclusions, said that a cost-effective departure system may not emerge for five to 10 years. And so, after spending $1.7 billion since 2003 on the U.S. Visit program, the administration will keep doing what it has been doing at the nation’s land exits, which is basically nothing.
It’s good to know who’s leaving the country — and who isn’t. About a third of illegal immigrants are believed to be those who entered lawfully but stayed after their visas expired. Some of the 9/11 hijackers were in this group. Hunting such people down is not even theoretically possible until you know whom you are looking for.
Of course, the formerly great newspaper then turns the corner into another in a never-ending series of Bush-bashing rants about the Iraq war and cutting taxes, but the overall point is correct -- we cannot control the borders until we know who is entering and leaving, and that won't come cheap. But then again, national security is one of the few legitimate things for the federal government to be spending money on, according to the Constitution.
A school district decides to actually call the breaks at Christmas and Easter Christmas Break and Easter break instead of some sanitized nonsense.
A man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire, apparently to protest a San Joaquin Valley school district's decision to change the names of winter and spring breaks to Christmas and Easter vacation.
The man, who was not immediately identified, on Friday also set fire to a Christmas tree, an American flag and a revolutionary flag replica, said Fire Captain Garth Milam.
Seeing the flames, Sheriff's Deputy Lance Ferguson grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the man.
Flames were devouring a Christmas tree next to the Liberty Bell, where public events and demonstrations are common.
Beside the tree the man stood with an American flag draped around his shoulders and a red gas can over his head.
Seeing the deputy, the man poured the liquid over his head. He quickly burst into flames when the fumes from the gas met the flames from the tree.
The deputy ordered the man to drop to the ground as he and a parole agent sprayed him with fire extinguishers.
''The man stood there like this,'' the deputy said with his arms across his chest and his head bent down, ''Saying no, no, no.''
The man suffered first degree burns on his shoulders and arms, Milam said.
Kern County Sheriff's Deputy John Leyendecker said the man had a sign that read: ''(expletive) the religious establishment and KHSD.''
On Thursday, the Kern High School Board of Trustees voted to use the names Christmas and Easter instead of winter and spring breaks.
I'm sorry -- the only thing incindiary about the school district's decision was the inane response of this religious bigot. And yet somehow, I doubt we will hear many folks criticize his actions, because he was acting in the service of a politically correct agenda. If, on the other hand, this had been a Christian protesting a decision to close for a Muslim or Jewish or Hindu holiday, we would hear all about bigotry and xenophobia from those who play the identity politics card.
This double standard was noted in a comment on another site I frequent in a different context.
I think it's funny that someone who doesn't like Muslims is called a racist, but someone who can't stand Christians isn't.
Not funny "haha", more like funny "hmmmmm".
Here''s hoping that when he gets out of the hospital, this flamer faces charges for unsafe public burning, arson, and destruction of public property.
He may be of the wrong party and a carpet-bagger to boot, but I must wish my soon-to-be Congressman, Nick Lampson, a full and speedy recovery following his angioplasty at the hospital just down the road.
U.S. Rep.-elect Nick Lampson underwent an angioplasty procedure to open a blocked vessel in his heart this afternoon and is expected to be discharged from the hospital Saturday.
"He's doing great — laughing and joking about getting out of Christmas shopping," said Lampson family friend Dave Matthiesen, a Houston-based attorney who had just visited with Lampson and his wife in the Congressman's private room at St. John's Hospital. "He's looking forward to getting up to Washington Jan. 4 to begin his term in Congress."
Lampson, D-Stafford, first went to the hospital Thursday night after complaining of illness at a friend's party. Doctors at St. John's Hospital in Nassau Bay ran tests on Lampson that night and today. During a routine angiography test around 3 p.m., doctors confirmed earlier tests that had indicated a blockage in a one vessel and decided to go ahead with the angioplasty.
Cardiologist Ghyath Samman performed the procedure by inserting a wire-mesh stent, placed on a balloon, into Lampson's vessel and inflating it to remove the blockage. Lampson was awake and alert throughout the procedure and is expected to make a full recovery, Samman said.
Samman added that Lampson should follow a low-cholesterol diet, but otherwise the congressman's activities will not be restricted.
Lampson had an angiography test several years ago, but this is the first time he has had an angioplasty procedure, Matthiesen said. The congressman has no other history of heart problems, he said.
"I think he's healthy as a horse," Matthiesen said.
I hope that last statement is true, because I draw a sharp line between political opposition and personal animus. I hope and pray that Lampson will serve out the next two years in Congress in good health.
So get well, Nick -- but understand that I and my fellow Republicans are working to ensure that you will be job-hunting two years from now.
(A little geography FYI for those not from the Houston area -- Christus St. John's hospital is directly across the street from Johnson Space Center, and about half a mile from the hotel where Clara Harris parked an SUV on her cheating husband several years back.)
UPDATE: Does this article from the Houston Chronicle confuse you -- given it was posted at 8:37 PM on Saturday night?
U.S. Rep.-elect Nick Lampson was discharged from the hospital Sunday morning, two days after undergoing an angioplasty procedure to open a blocked vessel in his heart.
Is there information we are not being told? Was Lampson readmitted following his release? Did Chronicle reporter Alexis Grant "phone in" the story hours before it happened? Or is this just sloppy reporting/editting by the local paper,confusing Saturday with Sunday?
But corrupt Prosecutor Mike Nifong has still left two heavy-duty felony charges in place, even after dismissing the rape charges because the alleged victim suddenly can't recall if she was ever penetrated by a penis -- regardless of her earlier versions of the story of her alleged assault.
Prosecutors dropped rape charges Friday against three Duke University lacrosse players accused of attacking a woman who had been hired to strip at a team party, but the three still face counts of kidnapping and sexual assault.
District Attorney Mike Nifong faxed a copy of the notice of dismissal to defense attorneys on Friday at 11:45 a.m. EST. The move took defense attorneys by surprise
In a news conference Friday afternoon, lawyers for the three players called on Nifong to drop the other charges as well, saying there is no evidence that their clients kidnapped or assaulted the woman in any way.
Nifong did not immediately return calls seeking comment about the dismissal.
The mere lack of evidence or a credible accuser, however, was not enough to get Nifong to dismiss all charges. Neither was the disclosure of prosecutorial misconduct on his part last week. And his actions still leave these young men facing a potential 20 years in prison. So Nifong tried to hide the story in by announcing it just before lunch on the Friday before Christmas, in the hopes that the disintegration of his case would be missed by the press.
The Washington Post's Andrew Cohen believes, as I do, that this ultimately bodes ill for Nifong's case.
There are two ways to digest today's big news about the dismissal of rape charges against the Duke lacrosse students. You can say that a very weak case against the three defendants has just gotten measurably weaker, which makes it almost non-existent. Or you can say that by getting rid of the rape charge, the prosecutor, and presumbly his complaining witness, now can move forwad on more solid legal and factual ground. While I think there is some truth to Option B, I'm going with Option A.
Why? Because whatever shred of credibility the alleged victim had-- whatever residual confidence people may have had in her story until now-- is now lost. If the woman is now unsure she was raped why should anyone believe her beyond a reasonable dobut going forward that she was sexually assaulted-- touched in a way short of rape? I think this likely loss of credibility will more than offset the fact that the prosecution's case, without rape, is much easier to prove against any or all of the three defendants. For them, Christmas came a few days early.
The dismissal documents may be found here.
Indeed, Nifong may be on the hook for criminal and or civil misconduct -- having possibly acted in a fashion that overcomes the presumption that he is immune from damages.
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UPDATE: The New York Times has this great piece on the ongoing disintegration of the case.
Except for the fact that the Jews were innocent of anything other than being Jews and were murdered for that, and border-jumping immigration criminals are guilty of violating American sovereignty and are simply being sent back to their homelands, immigration raids are exactly like Nazi persecution of the Jews!!!
U.S. Hispanic groups and activists on Thursday called for a moratorium on workplace raids to round up illegal immigrants, saying they were reminiscent of Nazi crackdowns on Jews in the 1930s.
They accused the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of "racial profiling," or selective enforcement against Hispanics, for arresting 1,300 workers on immigration violations in December 12 raids at meatpacking plants in six states.
"We are demanding an end to these immigration raids, where they are targeting brown faces. That is major, major racial profiling, and that cannot be tolerated," said Rosa Rosales, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, at a news conference.
"This unfortunately reminds me of when Hitler began rounding up the Jews for no reason and locking them up," Democratic Party activist Carla Vela said. "Now they're coming for the Latinos, who will they come for next?"
Such claims are nothing less than Holocaust denial on the part of advocates for immigration criminals. Every American, regardless of religion, race, or ethnicity, should stand up and denounce LULAC, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials for daring to spew such falsehoods.
And might I add this note.
Round 'em up! Ship 'em back! Rawhide!
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Not, of course, that the 1979 hostage-taking hadn't already created a de facto state of war between our two countries. But now we have, as a matter of fact and law, confirmation of an additional act of war by Iran against the United States.
The Iranian government is partly to blame for a 1996 terrorist attack that killed 19 Americans in Saudi Arabia, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth allows the families of the victims of the Khobar Towers bombing to seek $254 million in compensation from the conservative Islamic regime in Tehran.
Though intelligence officials have suspected a link between the Tehran government and the Saudi wing of Hezbollah, which the FBI has accused of carrying out the bombing, Friday's ruling is the first time a branch of the U.S. government has officially blamed Iran for the deaths of Americans in the bombings.
''This court takes note of plaintiffs' courage and steadfastness in pursuing this litigation and their efforts to take action to deter more tragic suffering of innocent Americans at the hands of terrorists,'' Lamberth wrote. ''Their efforts are to be commended.''
Lamberth relied heavily on testimony by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who investigated the bombings.
Two Iranian government security agencies and senior members of the Iranian government itself provided funding, training and logistical help to terrorists who carried out the attack on a dormitory that housed U.S. Air Force pilots and staff in Saudi Arabia, Freeh testified.
This unprovoked attack on American military personnel constitutes an act of war by Iran. There is therefore no need to await sanctions or any other action by the international community -- BOMB IRAN NOW!
That is what it sounds like, if you consider this aspect of his new book.
We know what happens when the right of Jews to exist is denied, but Carter has forgotten. The "Historical Chronology" at the beginning of his book starts with Abraham and grows more detailed in modern times. But between 1939 and 1947 there is . . . nothing!
In the text, the history of Jewish suffering is accorded five lines, and the Holocaust is barely mentioned in passing. But as both Hanukkah and Christmas remind us, Jews are history's most persecuted people, and Israel, where we started, is our last, best refuge. Carter's bizarre book is a poisoned holiday gift for Jews and Christians, and a danger to Jews throughout the world.
You read that right -- Carter leaves the Holocaust out of the history of the Jewish People in his book, and only briefly alludes to it. I guess he has joined Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and David Duke (as well as my recently-banned Troll, KKKen Hoop) in viewing the Holocaust as a hoax. After all, how else does one explain the omission of the greatest evil of Carter's lifetime from a book in which he indicts the victims for the offense of genocide?
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Since when is it part of the American political tradition to treat the selection of a new Speaker of the House like it is a presidential inauguration -- or a royal coronation?
On a scale associated with presidential inaugurations, Nancy Pelosi is planning four days of celebration surrounding her Jan. 4 swearing-in as the first female speaker of the House. She will return to the blue-collar Baltimore neighborhood where she grew up, attend Mass at the women's college where she studied political science, and dine at the Italian Embassy as Tony Bennett sings "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
But the hoopla is more than just a party.
Pelosi is grabbing the moment to present herself as the new face of the Democratic Party and to restore the party's image as one hospitable to ethnic minorities, families, religion, the working class and women.
"This is important strategic repositioning," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who teaches political communication and rhetoric at the University of Pennsylvania. "Essentially, she's trying to embody the Democratic Party that she would like to offer the nation in 2008."
In her meticulous selection of events and venues during a week when she expects to attract media attention from as far away as Australia, Pelosi is clearly trying to bury the label "San Francisco liberal" that Republicans tried to affix to her during the midterm elections.
" 'San Francisco liberal' is a construct used very effectively for a long time by Republicans," Jamieson said. "It's a little like 'Taxachusetts.' It's telegraphic and very powerful. They haven't been able to get her identified with it because, to this point, a lot of people didn't know who she was. She's trying to position a counterimage before she gets well known."
Brendan Daly, Pelosi's spokesman, said the four-day celebration befits a historic moment in American politics. "We've never had a woman speaker before," Daly said. "This is a big deal."
Now I'll concede that there were two days of Gingrich-oriented activities in 1995, but they were political events filled with speeches and were related to policy and governance, not celebration and revelry. It was a celebration of ideals and ideas, not of Gingrich. Pelosi, on the other hand, is creating NancyFest. maybe that is because the Democrats are bankrupt when it comes to idea.
In recent years, career politicians like John McCain have decided that the First Amendment is inconvenient, irrelevant, and obsolete, and have been responsible for numerous laws designed to strangle political participation by anyone other than politicians by seeking to muzzle individuals and groups that might be critical of elected officials or encourage public participation in the political process.
A divided three-judge court ruled yesterday that ads advocating for an issue and mentioning candidates can run during an election, creating a loophole in the law that sought to control the power of big money in elections.
In a 2 to 1 ruling, the court found that the government had no compelling justification to regulate television ads such as the ones Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. broadcast in July 2004, which advocated stopping congressional filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees.
The ads ran when Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) was running for reelection and had opposed some of Bush's nominees. The ads made no mention of Feingold's record, instead urging Wisconsin residents to call their senators to express their dissatisfaction.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, joined by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David B. Sentelle, agreed with Wisconsin Right to Life that ads such as theirs merely advocate a position without trying to criticize the record of a particular candidate.
The ads are not targeted "electioneering communications" and should not be burdened by the reporting requirements of the federal campaign finance law, Leon wrote.
The ruling was a key victory for Wisconsin Right to Life, which had sued the Federal Election Commission on the grounds that it had infringed on the group's constitutional right to free speech.
Needless to say, i believe this decision to be a step in the right direction -- though one which is clearly only a baby-step towards restoring political speech to its proper level of constitutional protection. After all, the court in this case clearly failed to apply a relevant portion of the United States Constitution in making this decision.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Now I realize that some might find the phrase "no law" ambiguous, arguing that "no law" means "any damn law they please" abridging freedom of speech or the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances. However, your average American, both now and at the time the First Amendment was ratified, has always understood that the First Amendment is intended to protect the right of the American people to be involved in the political process and to be free of government limitation and regulation when it comes to such political speech. I'm therefore pleased by this incremental restoration of a fundamental American liberty.
After all, how else can you explain a major American paper giving front page coverage to a report about what portions of the infrastructure of a major American city are most vulnerable to a terrorist attack?
An analysis done for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says that the PATH train tunnels under the Hudson River are more vulnerable to a bomb attack than previously thought, and that a relatively small amount of high explosives could cause significant flooding of the rail system within hours.
The analysis, based on work by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, revises some critical aspects of an assessment of the system’s vulnerability that was presented to the agency last spring. It makes clear that the tunnels — four tubes of varying design and sturdiness that stretch across the Hudson riverbed — are structurally more fragile than first thought.
A draft summary of the most recent analysis was given to The New York Times by a government official who was troubled by what the official felt was a lack of action in response to the analysis, which the official said the Port Authority got about three weeks ago. The official said the latest analysis indicates that it would take only six minutes for one of the PATH tubes to flood if a significant but not necessarily very large bomb were detonated.
Oh, yes -- once again we get the "anonymous public official with an axe to grind" giving the New York Times sensitive documents that the enemy can use to thwart our efforts to prevent terrorist attacks. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm coming to believe that the Grey Lady has put on a burqa and begun actively aiding the jihadi terrorists in their efforts to harm America.
And even if one wishes to be charitable and presume that this formerly great newspaper is not intent upon assisting our nation's enemies and abetting another terrorist attack on New York City, one still has to question the editorial decisions that go into the publication of such information. In particular, we need to start questioning the use of anonymous sources. I understand that there might be legitimate reasons for withholding the names of sources from time to time, but the current practice of obscuring identities and thereby rendering the public less-able to determine the credibility and motivation of such sources is troubling, to say the least.
Of course, the NY Times benefits from publishing material that helps America's enemies in at least two ways. First, it makes people think it is still a great newspaper standing up to the government. Second, it makes it quite certain that the NY Times offices will not be a target of any future terrorist attack -- because why would al-Qaeda attack its own military intelligence network?
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I once believed that Jimmy Carter was the most decent -- and least competent -- president of my lifetime. Sadly, only the latter judgment now stands in light of the despicable book he has recently published, a work that can only be labeled as anti-Semitic.
Now we find out a possible motivation -- Jimmy Carter has been beholden to Arab and Muslim money for his personal financial prosperity, as well as the ongoing support of his Carter Center. And these connections date back to the earliest days of his failed presidency.
Between 1976-1977, the Carter family peanut business received a bailout in the form of a $4.6 million, "poorly managed" and highly irregular loan from the National Bank of Georgia (NBG). According to a July 29, 1980 Jack Anderson expose in The Washington Post, the bank's biggest borrower was Mr. Carter, and its chairman at that time was Mr. Carter's confidant, and later his director of the Office of Management and Budget, Bert Lance.
At that time, Mr. Lance's mismanagement of the NBG got him and the bank into trouble. Agha Hasan Abedi, the Pakistani founder of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), known as the bank "which would bribe God," came to Mr. Lance's rescue making him a $100,000-a-year consultant. Abedi then declared: "we would never talk about exploiting his relationship with the president." Next, he introduced Mr. Lance to Saudi billionaire Gaith Pharaon, who fronted for BCCI and the Saudi royal family. In January 1978, Abedi paid off Mr. Lance's $3.5 million debt to the NBG, and Pharaon secretly gained control over the bank.
Mr. Anderson wrote: "Of course, the Saudis remained discretely silent... kept quiet about Carter's irregularities... [and] renegotiated the loan to Carter's advantage."
There is no evidence that the former president received direct payment from the Saudis. But "according to... the bank files, [it] renegotiated the repayment terms... savings... $60,000 for the Carter family... The President owned 62% of the business and therefore was the largest beneficiary." Pharaon later contributed generously to the former president's library and center.
When Mr. Lance introduced Mr. Carter to Abedi, the latter gave $500,000 to help the former president establish his center at Emory University. Later, Abedi contributed more than $10 million to Mr. Carter's different projects. Even after BCCI was indicted — and convicted -— for drug money laundering, Mr. Carter accepted $1.5 million from Abedi, his "good friend."
Such a connection is clearly scandalous, carrying with it an appearance of impropriety if not an actual impropriety in the dealing of preferential treatment to Carter and his family.
And the financial connections continue with the founding and support of the Carter Center.
Carter is a major recipient of aid from the Saudis, for instance. Before his death in 2005, King Fahd was a longtime contributor to the Carter Center and gave Carter several million-dollar donations. In 1993 alone, King Fahd presented Carter with a gift of $7.6 million. And the king was definitely not alone in his largesse. As of 2005, the king’s high-living nephew, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, has donated at least $5 million to the Carter Center...that we know about.
The Saudi Fund for Development, the kingdom’s leading loan organization and one of the sources of money for all those hardline mosques and madrassahs shows up repeatedly on the Carter center’s list of supporters. Carter has also taken money from the Bin Laden family - in 2000 he secured a pledge from the bin-Laden family for a $1 million contribution to his center.
Another big source of funds for Carter has been the United Arab Emirates. In 2001, Carter went to Dubai - a country where Jews are not permitted by law, incidentally - to accept the Zayed International Prize for the Environment, named for Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, the late UAE sheik and founder of the government funded Zayed Center, the source of some of the most virulently anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda in the world. Among other things, the Zayed Center took a book written by a French author claiming that 9/11 was an inside job by the CIA and the Mossad, translated into Arabic and distributed it throughout the entire Middle East. And the Zayed Center is a prime benefactor and host to Holocaust deniers of all persuasions.
Carter got a $500,000 prize from these people, and when he spoke at the awards ceremony,he gushed that the "award has special significance for me because it is named for my personal friend, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan."
Carter still receives an annual personal stipend from the Zayed Center.
Carter's book has been panned by most reviewers -- indeed, the only positive reviews I have read have come to me from my former troll, KKKen Hoop (whose rampant anti-Semitism and general hate-mongering finally got him banned). Carter, of course, complains that this is due to the influence of Israel and Jews in American politics and publishing. Indeed, Carter claims that he is just seeking to promote debate on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians, and that no college or university with a large Jewish enrollment will invite him to speak.
The former complaint, of course, is an anti-Semitic canard of long-standing -- and the latter is a lie.
Which brings us to Alan Dershowitz's piece in today's Boston Globe, challenging Carter on his refusal to debate the issues he raises after being invited to do so by Brandeis University, a school founded by Jews with a high concentration of Jewish students.
When Larry King referred to my review several times to challenge Carter, Carter first said I hadn't read the book and then blustered, "You know, I think it's a waste of my time and yours to quote professor Dershowitz. He's so obviously biased, Larry, and it's not worth my time to waste it on commenting on him." (He never did answer King's questions.)
The next week Carter wrote a series of op-eds bemoaning the reception his book had received. He wrote that his "most troubling experience" had been "the rejection of [his] offers to speak" at "university campuses with high Jewish enrollment." The fact is that Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz had invited Carter to come to Brandeis to debate me, and Carter refused. The reason Carter gave was this: "There is no need to for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
As Carter knows, I've been to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, many times -- certainly more times than Carter has been there -- and I've written three books dealing with the subject of Middle Eastern history, politics, and the peace process. The real reason Carter won't debate me is that I would correct his factual errors. It's not that I know too little; it's that I know too much.
In other words, Carter finds it necessary to resort to lies and slander to discredit his opponents. What he really wants is a free platform to lecture Jews about the evils of the Jews, free from rebuttal by a Jew. I agree with the assessment Dershowitz makes of Carter's refusal of an offer that meets his earlier criteria -- he is a bully who is afraid of anyone who might stand up to him and his lies and distortions.
And I'll take it a step further -- he is afraid that his disgraceful sell-out of an American ally will be exposed, and that the world will see that there is really little difference between his views of Israel and Jews and those of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and David Duke.
This split within the Orthodox Churches is quite sad.
Rival groups of monks wielding crowbars and sledgehammers clashed Wednesday over control of a 1,000-year-old monastery in a community regarded as the cradle of Orthodox Christianity, police said.
Seven monks were injured and taken by boat to receive medical treatment. They were released after several hours. No one was arrested, but three monks were banned from re-entering the Orthodox sanctuary of Mount Athos, on a self-governing peninsula in northern Greece.
Esphigmenou monastery is the scene of a long-running dispute between Orthodox Church authorities and rebel monks who occupy the site. Both Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, leader of the Orthodox Christian church, and Greece's highest administrative court have ordered their eviction, but the monks refuse to budge.
The rebel monks vehemently oppose efforts to improve relations between the Orthodox Church and the Vatican.
The fighting broke out between the rebel monks and a group of legally recognized monks.
The outsiders attempted to force their way into the monastery's offices in Karyes, the administrative center, to begin construction of a new building. The occupying monks attacked them with crowbars and fire extinguishers.
Esphigmenou's rebel abbot, Methodius, said his monks were provoked.
"We were attacked and had to respond," he said. "They should be ashamed to call themselves men of the cloth."
In October, a court in the nearby city of Thessaloniki handed down two-year suspended sentences against nine monks and former monastery members for illegally occupying Esphigmenou's offices.
A pity that the rebel monks show neither submission to the leaders of their church nor charity towards their fellow Christians.
And in light of the conference held by the Madman of Teheran, I think it is important to take note.
Local Muslim leaders lit candles yesterday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to commemorate Jewish suffering under the Nazis, in a ceremony held just days after Iran had a conference denying the genocide.
American Muslims "believe we have to learn the lessons of history and commit ourselves: Never again," said Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, standing before the eternal flame flickering from a black marble base that holds dirt from Nazi concentration camps.
Around the hexagonal room, candles glimmered under the engraved names of the death camps: Chelmno. Auschwitz-Birkenau. Majdanek.
"We stand here with three survivors of the Holocaust and my great Muslim friends to condemn this outrage in Iran," said Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum's director, addressing a bank of TV cameras in the room, known as the Hall of Remembrance.
The museum, she noted, holds "millions of pieces of evidence of this crime."
This is a moving and inspiring article. I encourage you to take a look.
The line of applicants hoping to fill jobs vacated by undocumented workers taken away by immigration agents at the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant earlier this week was out the door Thursday.
Among them was Derrick Stegall, who carefully filled out paperwork he hoped would get him an interview and eventually land him a job as a slaughterer. Two of his friends had been taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and he felt compelled to fill their rubber boots.
"Luckily, they had no wives or family they left behind. But it was still sad. They left their apartments filled with all their stuff. I took two dogs one of them had. The other guy had a cat I gave to my sister," he said.
Greg Bonifacio heard about the job openings on television and brought his passport, his Colorado driver's license, his Social Security card and even a color photograph of himself as a young Naval officer to prove his military service.
"I don't want to hassle with any identification problems because of my last name," said Bonifacio, a 59- year-old Thornton resident of Filipino heritage.
I'd lay odds that you would find a similar reality in each and every community where these raids took place -- American citizens lining up out the door for good jobs that they need and want to do.
They go good together -- when those workers are not aced out by those who violate our nation's laws -- and sovereignty.
As a rule, I don't remove posts. Instead I update them and annotate them and admit to errors and changed opinions.
However, I've never gone quite so far beyond the pale in attacking another blogger -- especially given my later change of heart about the blogger in question as a writer and as a human being. My negative views of a year ago modified over the course of several months to an attitude of respect, and I had reached out to her -- but had never given a thought to taking down this post due to my longstanding policy of not deleting posts. That was a misjudgment on my part.
Debbie recently contacted me expressing her dismay at what I had written and a comment I had not realized had been left here and which should have been deleted due to its content. I deleted the comment, and further discussion has led me to recognize that the post in question should not remain on the blog. Not because it reflects poorly on me, but rather because it reflects poorly on her. Leaving a post of the former sort is appropriate and an exercise in humbling the soul; leaving one of the latter sort is to perpetuate an injustice.
Debbie, you have my apology -- and my respect for the way in which you approached me privately after I had wronged you publicly. I know that my words here are not much, but I offer them to you in a spirit of regret and contrition for the offense I have given.
"The oppressive powers will disappear while the Iranian people will stay. Any power that is close to God will survive while the powers who are far from God will disappear like the pharaohs," he said Wednesday, according to Iranian news agencies.
"Today, it is the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime which are doomed to disappear as they have moved far away from the teachings of God," he said in a speech in the western town of Javanroud.
"It is a divine promise."
The time is now at hand to act against this maniac, before he has a chance to bring his nuclear plans to fruition -- if he hasn't already.
If the Supreme Court does not use this case to sharply limit -- if not completely overturn -- the Kelo decision, then private property means nothing and eminent domain will have become nothing more than a shake-down tool.
Claiming he is the victim of legalized extortion carried out under eminent domain powers, a landowner in New York is asking the Supreme Court to hear his case.
Landowner Bart Didden claims in a petition that a developer convinced the village of Port Chester, N.Y., to seize his land through eminent domain after Didden had refused to pay the developer $800,000.
As part of a 1999 redevelopment plan, the council had designated Didden's land as a "redevelopment area." This gives the council the power to condemn the property and hand it over to a developer of its choice.
Didden planned to build a CVS Pharmacy on the site, but the developer, Gregory Wasser of G&S Investors, wanted to build a Walgreens there. According to the petition, Wasser threatened to convince officials to condemn Didden's land under eminent domain if Didden did not pay him $800,000 or make him a 50 percent partner in the CVS project.
Didden says he refused the offer on Nov. 5, 2003. On Nov. 6, 2003, the village of Port Chester filed a condemnation petition to acquire the land and transfer the lease to G&S to construct a Walgreens.
Didden calls the case "extortion through the abuse of eminent domain" justified by the 2005 Supreme Court decision in Kelo vs. City of New London, in which the court ruled that the Fifth Amendment "takings clause" allows the government to condemn private property for redevelopment purposes.
"Essentially, the courts have ruled Kelo turns any redevelopment zone into a Constitution-free zone for property owners confronted by politically connected developers," Dana Berliner, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, said in a statement.
Frankly, we simply need to go a step further, and ban the use of eminent domain in any case where the land will leave government hands in less than 50 years -- or at least permitting land-owners and their heirs the right to repurchase their property for $1 if the land is to be turned over for private development in any time period less than half a century.
And if not, we simply need the Supreme Court to declare that private property, as understood by Americans since the founding of the Republic, no longer exists in this country.
As a founder of the venture firm Bain Capital, he grew extremely wealthy buying troubled companies and fixing them up for profit. By 1998, he'd concluded he "had enough money" and began looking for another challenge. He found it in Salt Lake City, where the planned 2002 Olympic Games were embroiled in allegations of financial mismanagement and malfeasance. Taking charge, Romney got the Games back on track and sold himself as a Mr. Fix-it when he ran for Massachusetts governor in 2002.
Romney's aides are hoping Republican primary voters will see a pattern: here's a turnaround specialist ready to fix the party, the country and the world. "The idea is to be the fresh perspective," says one adviser, who asked to remain anonymous describing strategy for a still-unannounced campaign. "McCain is yesterday, Giuliani is today, Romney is tomorrow."
But there is also this -- McCain is unpredictable, Giuliani is liberal, and Romney is a conservative. Everyone else is simply irrelevant -- including Newt Gingrich, who simply has too much baggage to possibly win an presidential election.
"This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."
Will someone please explain to me how that constitutes an endorsement of religion. After all, the THEORY of evolution is exactly that -- a THEORY. How does saying that it is a THEORY constitute a statement at all about religion?
After all, the study of science is supposed to be careful, open-minded, and critical regarding the evidence presented to support a theory. How does urging exactly such an approach to the THEORY of evolution constitute an endorsement of religion, not of science and the scientific method?
I guess this means that the study of science in this country must be close-minded, slip-shod, and uncritically accepting of claims based upon the authority of the majority.
James Baker was part of one sell-out of the Kurds after the Gulf War. Now his Iraq Surrender Group has proposed another sell-out by seeking to appease those who fight America at the expense of those who cooperate with America. Kurdish leader Masrour Barzani urges the United States to reject such a solution.
The Iraq Study Group's recommendations will accomplish nothing in Iraq. Its expressions of "gratitude" to those of us Iraqis who fought on the battlefield for freedom and liberty ring hollow. The report ignores our accomplishments, dreams and sacrifices in favor of a concern for those whose ultimate goal is the destruction of democracy.
Our federal constitution, which the majority of the Iraqi people voted for, is treated flippantly, as though it were a negotiable document rather than the hard-fought result of lengthy negotiation among those willing to participate in the new Iraq. Further, the study group's approach is driven by the concerns of the countries in this region rather than by the concerns of the Iraqi people.
Many Iraqis, especially the Kurds, are justifiably concerned about this. No one from the study group visited Iraqi Kurdistan, which the group admits is safe and pro-American, and where there has not been a single U.S. casualty since the war. Kurds not only fought alongside Americans but lost some of our best men to American friendly-fire incidents. Yet we staunchly support the work of the coalition and are eternally grateful for the sacrifices the American people have made for our future.
The report is right to acknowledge that part of the problem in Iraq is America's inability to distinguish friend from foe. Unfortunately, Baker-Hamilton fares even worse in this regard. This comes as little surprise, since it was partly written by those who orchestrated the saving of Saddam Hussein in 1991.
Remember -- the Kurds have steadfastly supported US efforts to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. They have paid a terrible price for those efforts, as the United States has abandoned them in the past.
Once again Kurds are about to be sold out. Should the U.S. administration adopt the recommendations of Baker-Hamilton, the Kurds will be sacrificed to protect the interests of Iraq's neighbors. We were massacred in 1975 and 1991 by Saddam Hussein because we thought that our commitment to democracy and tolerance made us natural U.S. allies. We responded then, as we did four years ago, to American calls for the introduction of a new era in the region. Like Americans, we dream of a better future for our children, one in which they can grow up without deformities caused by chemical attacks on our villages.
Baker, Hamilton, and the Iraq Surrender Group have a different vision -- negotiate with America's enemies even if that means that America's friends once again pay the price of our failure to stay the course, honor our commitments, and support our allies.
Iraq's constitution should be treasured. Iraq's neighbors should not be allowed to violate our sovereignty. Democracy and federalism are the popularly chosen basis of the new Iraq. Never again should Kurdish wealth be stolen to finance genocide against the Kurdish people.
While Kurds welcome American troops into their homes, Baker-Hamilton proposes that the United States revise its policies to meet the demands of those firing at its soldiers. According to the study group, we are all part of "a problem" that needs fixing, and we are equally unworthy of America's protection.
Don't sell us out to our authoritarian neighbors and those who are terrorizing our communities. We agreed democratically to participate in this project because we were guaranteed the rights needed to protect our people. We Kurds are asking President Bush and America to remember the sacrifices we have made to keep your loved ones safe in Iraq. We are asking you to keep a promise where those before you have failed.
We must stand by the Kurdish people, and all the peace and freedom loving Iraqis. We must finish what we started, resolute in the assurance that our course is correct and our goals are proper. If we do not, we show the world one clear truth -- the United States is not to be trusted, and American promises and commitments will not be honored when the going gets tough. In short, the decision that faces America is stark -- will we continue to be a great nation which stands with our allies, or will we simply be an impotent joke with which others ally themselves at their own peril?
Interestingly enough, the top leader of Iraqi Shiites has come out in support of US efforts to work with a coalition of Iraqi forces to isolate extremists, rather than negotiate with those who bankroll those who seek to bring down the US-backed government.
It may be that the Palestinian people are so sick of the feuding terrorist groups that dominate the Palestinian Authority that they are voting not to give their own life-blood to save them.
As gunmen spilt it and warring politicians hailed its sanctity, ordinary Palestinians showed their disgust for feuding Hamas and Fatah gunmen by refusing to donate blood.
Doctors at Gaza City’s main hospital are used to a plentiful supply of volunteers queuing up to donate blood for victims of Israeli attacks. But faced with the selfinflicted wounds of the nascent Palestinian civil war, that supply has all but dried up. “We are all frustrated and depressed,” said Dr Jumaa al-Saqqa, director of publicity at the Shifa hospital.
He said that his staff were used to treating countless victims from battles with Israeli forces. But on a day in which his hospital became a battlefield, staff were dispirited at having to treat the victims of violence between Palestinians.
“We have a shortage of blood in the bank now. During Israeli incursions hundreds of people come to donate blood but now nobody. Why give your blood? For whom? For one to kill the other? I want to just take my white coat off and go home.”
Outside, Ismail Haniya, the Islamist Prime Minister, protested that the “smallest drop of Palestinian blood is dear to us”. Yet even as he spoke, his Hamas fighters were kidnapping, killing and wounding security personnel loyal to President Abbas.
And a day after Tony Blair backed the “moderate” Mr Abbas, fighters loyal to his Fatah faction sparked the day’s violence by using an ambulance to attack a Hamas unit at Shifa Hospital, killing one Islamist policeman with a rocketpropelled grenade and injuring ten in the gunfight that ensued.This set off a wave of revenge shootings and kidnappings across northern and central Gaza. Hamas reportedly captured the Fatah gunman suspected of firing the grenade, and shot him dead, dumping his body on the street. Six gunmen were killed and dozens wounded.
Will the Palestinian people recognize that their society is dominated by thugs, criminals, and pirates and continue to reject them all? Are they prepared to let them die rather than allow the lives of more innocent Palestinians to be spilled as collateral damage in a hopeless war against Israel? Or will they start giving blood again once the victims of these terrorist factions are Jews, not each other?
In other words, is this boycott a hopeful sign for peace, or merely a temporary aberration?
And no, I don't mean Betsy Ross -- I mean the current 50-star banner that waves over our country and around the world.
I sure didn't -- until I came across this article today. The designer's name is Robert G. Heft, and the story of how he came to design the flag is sort of amusing to this teacher.
As a junior at Ohio's Lancaster High School in 1958, Heft needed a project for his American history class.
He found his calling when he came across the story of Betsy Ross, creator of the country's original flag. Armed with an idea, Heft took his family's 48-star flag and removed the blue portion of the banner.
It took him nine hours to cut out the 100 fabric stars needed to cover each side of the flag's top corner, he said. Heft went the 50-star route because of speculation that Alaska and Hawaii would become states.
Heft asked his grandmother to sew the blue section onto the flag, but she refused after realizing he'd dismantled the family's banner.
"She didn't want anything to do with it," Heft recalled.
Out of options, Heft took matters into his own hands, sewing his version of "Old Glory."
After working on the flag for 12 1/2 hours, Heft said he expected his grade to match his effort, but his teacher gave him a B-minus. Normally a quiet student, Heft said he had to confront the teacher.
"I approached him (thinking), 'Are you kidding me?' " Heft said.
After the discussion, the teacher told Heft that if he got the flag accepted nationally, he would give him an A.
Heft then sent the flag to a state representative and in 1960, his design became the country's official symbol. His teacher promptly bumped up his grade.
That sort of goes to show that a teacher never know what influence his or her words will have on a student -- and that it is important to be prepared to follow through on promises you make to students.
Heft still owns that original flag -- and speaks about his experience and patriotism to over 200 groups a year. He is working on a book about the flag and his experiences over the year.
Oh, and this July his design becomes the longest-serving flag in American history.
Not bad for a high school history project.
That is what Swift & Co,, recently hit by immigration raids in six states, appears to have done.
Former employees are suing Swift & Co. for $23 million, alleging the meatpacking company conspired to keep wages down by hiring illegal immigrants.
The 18 former employees are U.S. citizens who worked at a plant in Cactus, north of Amarillo, one of six facilities raided in a federal sweep that led to the arrests of nearly 1,300 employees and temporarily halted Swift's operations.
"These plaintiffs are ... victims in a longstanding scheme by Swift to depress and artificially lower the wages of its workers by knowingly hiring illegal workers," said their attorney, Angel Reyes.
And there seems to be a good prima facie case. After all, how do you explain the rate of pay dropping from $20 an hour to $12 an hour over the last several years, even as wage rates in this country have been rising? Simple -- get rid of those expensive Americans and replace them with cheap foreign laborers in this country illegally.
These border-jumping immigration criminals were not "doing jobs Americans won't do". No, they were (and others are) doing jobs that Americans are ready, willing, and able to do -- taking money out of the pockets and bread out of the mouths of American citizens by depressing wages in the industries in which they work.
And unethical businesses like Swift & Co. are willing participants in their crime against the American people.
I was surprised to receive my first piece of 2008 campaign literature this week.
I guess this makes him The Early Frontrunner.
Don Richardson, for those of you who don't remember, got a whopping 6% of the vote in the special election to fill the remainder of Tom DeLay's unexpired congressional term (Congresswoman Shelley Sekula Gibbs got 62%, Libertarian Bob Smither got 19% and Democrat Nick Lampson was too scared to run against a Republican who was on the ballot) and as a write-in in the general election received .28% (yeah -- that is twenty-eight one-hundredths of a percent, or 428 votes). But he's running again!
I hear that he is showing up at all the county GOP Executive Committee meetings in the district, and that he put in an appearance at Congresswoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs' recent open house in Fort Bend County.
Richardson, of course, has some problems -- including the fact that before this year it had been over a decade since he had voted Republican or participated in a GOP primary. He has yet to file his final FEC report and filed all of his earlier expenditure reports late. There is also the little issue of his having lied to the assembled precinct chairs of CD22 and his seeking a bribe from the RNC.
Needless to say, I won't be supporting Dishonorable Don Richardson.
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are The Peace Myth by Andrew Olmsted, and The Clash of Convictions and the Remaking of the World of Wars by Winds of Change.NET. Here are the full results of the vote.
ere are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|2||The Peace Myth|
|1 1/3||Baker's Bad Recipe|
|1||The Sticky Parts of the ISG Report Recommendations|
The Glittering Eye
|1||The Real Holocaust Deniers|
|2/3||Vietnam and Iraq: Public and Government Opinion|
|2/3||War and War|
Done With Mirrors
|2/3||Iran's Plan, on the Second Page|
The Sundries Shack
|2/3||Court-Protected Racial Discrimination?|
The Education Wonks
|2/3||A Day of Infamy|
Right Wing Nut House
|2/3||Pearl Harbor, 65 Years Later -- A Family Connection|
Rhymes With Right
|2 1/3||The Clash of Convictions and the Remaking of the World of Wars|
Winds of Change.NET
|1 1/3||Rummy's Farewell|
Mr. Smash Goes to Washington
|1 1/3||Democrats' New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda|
Are We Lumberjacks?
|1||The Roots of Leftist Anti-Semitism?|
|1||The ISG and the USIP: Who Are These People and Why Are They Saying All These Things?|
|2/3||Yes, Let's Bring in the Neighbors|
The QandO Blog
|2/3||Bush Receives a Report|
|1/3||President Bush's Way Forward|
Freedom of speech and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances? Only if you register with the government first, and fill out all the burdensome forms!
House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) has pledged to take up a lobbying reform proposal that would impose new regulations on speech by grassroots organizations, while providing a loophole in the rules for large corporations and labor unions.
The legislation would make changes to the legal definition of “grassroots lobbying” and require any organization that encourages 500 or more members of the general public to contact their elected representatives to file a report with detailed information about their organization to the government on a quarterly basis.
The report would include identifying the organization’s expenditures, the issues focused on and the members of Congress and other federal officials who are the subject of the advocacy efforts. A separate report would be required for each policy issue the group is active on.
“Right now, grassroots groups don’t have to report at all if they are communicating with the public,” said Dick Dingman of the Free Speech Coalition, Inc. “This is an effort that would become a major attack on the 1st Amendment.”
Under the bill, communications aimed at an organization’s members, employees, officers or shareholders would be exempt from the reporting requirement. That would effectively exempt most corporations, trade associations and unions from the reporting requirements—but not most conservative grassroots groups, which frequently are less formally organized.
This bill is aimed directly at you and me, ladies and gentlemen. It is designed to quiet grassroots activists. No doubt the next move will be to apply these same measures to individual activists, including bloggers.
If one of my colleagues were doing this in class, I'd be among the first to report him.
Before David Paszkiewicz got to teach his accelerated 11th-grade history class about the United States Constitution this fall, he was accused of violating it.
Shortly after school began in September, the teacher told his sixth-period students at Kearny High School that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven, according to audio recordings made by a student whose family is now considering a lawsuit claiming Mr. Paszkiewicz broke the church-state boundary.
“If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong,” Mr. Paszkiewicz was recorded saying of Jesus. “He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he’s saying, ‘Please, accept me, believe.’ If you reject that, you belong in hell.”
The student, Matthew LaClair, said that he felt uncomfortable with Mr. Paszkiewicz’s statements in the first week, and taped eight classes starting Sept. 13 out of fear that officials would not believe the teacher had made the comments.
Since Matthew’s complaint, administrators have said they have taken “corrective action” against Mr. Paszkiewicz, 38, who has taught in the district for 14 years and is also a youth pastor at Kearny Baptist Church. However, they declined to say what the action was, saying it was a personnel matter.
I'm sorry -- Paszkiewicz’s statements are out of bounds. They go well beyond an expression of opinion and into preaching.
Which is not to say there is not a proper place for the discussion of religion in a high school classroom. I teach world History, and am obliged to talk about a number of world religions. I strive to be neutral on them all, including Christianity. I do, however, find myself struggling to explain some of the finer points of Christian theology when we discuss the Reformation, because you cannot understand what it was all about without actually talking about the theological controversies that were at its heart. But I do not -- and steadfastly avoid -- preach my view of religion.
And even my fellow "extremists" on religion in the public arena agree with my view.
Even some legal organizations that often champion the expression of religious beliefs are hesitant to support Mr. Paszkiewicz.
“It’s proselytizing, and the courts have been pretty clear you can’t do that,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, a group that provides legal services in religious freedom cases. “You can’t step across the line and proselytize, and that’s what he’s done here.”
On the other hand, that is not to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Matthew's position on the issue.
In a Sept. 25 letter to the principal, Matthew wrote: “I care about the future generation and I do not want Mr. Paszkiewicz to continue preaching to and poisoning students.” He met with school officials and handed over the recordings.
I don't think that discussion of Christianity -- even discussion that crosses appropriate boundaries -- constitutes "poisoning students."
Still, Matthew's actions in this case are every bit as appropriate as those of students who object to the political proselytizing that goes on in the classrooms of many liberal teachers and professors. I'm pleased he stood up for what is right.
From the lips of Michelle Obama, wife of Senator Barack Obama.
"My income is pretty low compared to my peers"
According to a tax return released by the senator this week, the promotion nearly tripled her income from the hospitals to $316,962 in 2005 from $121,910 in 2004.
By my calculation, she has seen a 260% increase in her earnings in one year -- a year in which the major change in her life was the election of her husband to the Senate. I'll let you make the decision over whether or not that is suspicious.
Oh, by the way -- her earnings in 2004 would have paid the salaries of three teachers in my school district that year, and the 2005 earnings would have paid for nearly eight. So when I hear that she is underpaid, I have very little sympathy for her. -- especially when you consider that the family income in 2005 was $1.7 million, which would pay the salaries of 42 teachers in my district.
And these are the supposed champions of the little people.
H/T American Thinker
I'm saddened by this decision by the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, but pleased by the decision of many city merchants to show greater sensitivity.
A few Fort Collins merchants are adding a Jewish menorah to their holiday displays following a decision by the city last week not to include one in the city's display.
Despite a renewed request by Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik, of the Chabad Center of Northern Colorado, the Downtown Urban Renewal Authority stuck with limiting the city's display in Old Town to nutcrackers, Christmas trees and elves.
"I showed them a video of every president lighting a menorah at the White House," said Gorelik. "It's so unfair to promote only one religion, but I don't think they reconsidered it for a moment."
This is the second year Gorelik tried and failed to sway the city.
So, on Dec. 21, as in past years, Gorelik will light a menorah in celebration of Hanukkah at the Old Town display, but after the ceremony it will be moved to a nearby pub's lighting display.
U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., will attend this year's menorah lighting.
Gorelik said more than a dozen other Fort Collins businesses and a school have called him about putting a menorah in their holiday lighting displays.
The eight days of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, mark the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. after a long war. There was only enough oil for single night's light, but the oil lasted for eight nights.
Phil Pringle, who owns Pringle's Wine and Liquors in Fort Collins, said he's going to add a menorah to the holiday decorations at his shop.
"I'm Catholic, but I'm a great proponent of free speech," said Pringle. "Instead of being so antiseptic, I'd like to see the city be more tolerant."
Pringle said he understands the city's legal concerns, but believes symbols that reflect other religious beliefs could be included in the city's display.
"I have no problem with Kwanzaa or pagans. I wouldn't object to a winter solstice display," said Pringle, who has owned the liquor store for 24 years.
Gorelik said he has supplied several businesses with menorahs and said it's the city's Christmas trees that caused the dispute.
"This is not initiated by the menorah, it's initiated by the Christmas trees," he said.
The city should have included a menorah in its holiday decore -- and it should have also included a Nativity scene, out of recognition of the reason for the season. But I will remind Rabbi Gorelik that the menorah is, strictly speaking, a religious symbol whereas the Christmas tree is not -- a principle long upheld by American courts.
But most important, we see the inclusion -- indeed, the welcoming -- of Jews and their holiday traditions by average people, a reality not found many other places on this globe.
UPDATE: The New York Times has great coverage of this story today.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday his country was ready to transfer nuclear technology to neighboring countries, nearly a week after Arab states on the Persian Gulf announced plans to consider a joint nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad told a top Kuwaiti envoy he welcomed the decision by the Islamic republic's Arab Gulf neighbors to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, state-run television said.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to transfer to regional states its valuable experience and achievements in the field of peaceful nuclear technology as a clean energy source and as a replacement for oil," state media quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Mohammed Zefollah Shirar, a top adviser to the Kuwaiti emir.
Unfortunately, we know that the Iranian program is not peaceful -- and that the Iranian leader has implicitly threatened to use nukes to wipe Israel off the map. Do we act -- or do we allow the situation to continue on, permitting Ahmadinejad to complete the work that he denies Hitler began?
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush said in Japan he would try "to beat the hell out of" Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton if she were to run for president.
Bush may be friends with former President Bill Clinton, but if New York's junior senator campaigns for the White House in 2008, as many expect, "I'll be back on the other side (of politics), and I will be trying to beat the hell out of her, if I possibly can," a grinning Bush said in Tokyo, where he spoke at Waseda University's school of sports and science.
Want to bet these folks claim they love the United States -- just loathe the military?
Police charged five protesters on Friday during the second demonstration in a month outside the new Army recruiting station.
"We thought it was important to not have this recruiting station open quietly," said Emily McFarlane, a UNC-Chapel Hill junior who helped organize the protest at the Army Career Center, 1502 E. Franklin St.
About 30 protesters -- members of Students for a Democratic Society, The Raging Grannies and others -- held signs, walked in a circle and shouted, "Out of Iraq, out of our schools! Out of town, shut the war down!"
Property manager Analisa Bellamy, flanked by about five police officers, told the protesters to move to the public sidewalk several yards away on East Franklin Street.
After her second request, all but three protesters moved to the sidewalk.
Two of them, Barry Freeman, 80, and Janie Freeman, 71, were charged with second-degree trespass after refusing Bellamy's request that they put their signs down. The couple's 8-by-11-inch signs read "Hands Off My Grandchildren."
Stephen J. Woolford, 39, a peace advocate from rural Chatham County, was charged with second-degree trespass.
Attila Nemecz, 26, of Raleigh, and Eric Gardner, 22, of Apex, were charged with picketing.
I'm sure every one of those protesters considers themselves "pro-choice" -- but they want to make sure that their choice is the only one that potential recruits can learn about and access. They are not patriots -- they are anti-American fascists who actively support our nation's enemies.
Or at least as valid as any aspect of the sharia barbarism that accompanies jihadi Islamist extremism.
Mohabbat Khan Mosque Khateeb Maulana Muhammad Yousuf Qureshi said on Wednesday that a fatwa (decree) issued for the killing of a Danish cartoonist who had drawn caricatures of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), would not be withdrawn.Continue to be enlightened while reading "Fatwa Against Danish Cartoonists Still Valid" Â»
“We have put a price on the blasphemer’s head, and will pay one million dollars to the person who kills him,” Qureshi told Daily Times. Qureshi said that the US government had banned his entry into America and refused him a visa after he issued the fatwa against the cartoonist working for Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Qureshi, who has been criticising the US and leading anti-US rallies, said he was not against Americans. He said he had visited the US every year between 1984 and 2000, but stopped going there after the 9/11 attacks. “I am only against US government policies which are anti-Muslim,” he said. staff report
First, the "offensive" cartoons.
And my own little contribution.
Place Bacon Upon Him
Freedom of speech trumps your right not to be offended, you terrorist swine.
Any Muslim who is offended by these cartoons and wishes to write or shout angry words at me has my deepest apologies -- you are not my target and I regret any offense given.
Any Muslim who is offended by these cartoons and wishes to do me violence can copulate with a pig.
I stand by those sentiments.
Â« All done with "Fatwa Against Danish Cartoonists Still Valid"?
How was a priceless Afghan treasure preserved through two decades of Russian occupation and Taliban oppression? That is the story in the current issue of Der Spiegel.
The treasure, from a Bactrian tomb that dates from roughly the time of Christ, was secreted away by Afghans and hidden until the American liberation of their country following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
It was a mystery of legendary proportions. When a 2,000-year-old treasure trove went missing from Afghanistan's National Museum in the 1980s, the rumors abounded: Did the Soviets take it? Was it looted and sold on the black market? Were 22,000 pieces of gold, jewel-encrusted crowns and magnificent daggers melted down and traded for weapons?
As it turns out, none of these plausible scenarios ever happened. Instead, a mysterious group of Afghans had stowed the so-called Bactrian gold underground and guarded its secret for over two decades of war and chaos. This month, some of the artifacts are on display at the Guimet Museum in Paris.
The group, the so-called "key holders," held the keys to the underground vault where the treasure was kept underneath the presidential palace grounds. They are believed to have hidden the treasure sometime after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. They diligently kept their secret throughout the civil war of the 1990s and the period of Taliban rule all the way up through the 2001 American-led invasion.
"Over the last 20 to 25 years, during food shortages and money crises, this handful of people ... could have sold these collections instead of going hungry, but they never once sacrificed their own cultural heritage," Fredrik Hiebert, an archaeologist with the National Geographic Society, told the Associated Press.
There has to be a book in this story somewhere -- one that is filled with love of country, love of history, and a great deal of intrigue and courage.
I once believed that Jimmy Carter was a good and decent man. He may have been at one time. But his recent book reveals the festering anti-Semitism in his soul -- and he refuses to defend that book if it requires actually meeting a critic on an equal footing.
Former President Carter has decided not to visit Brandeis University to talk about his new book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid" because he does not want to debate Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz as the university had requested.
"I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter told The Boston Globe. "There is no need ... for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
The debate request is proof that many in the United States are unwilling to hear an alternative view on the nation's most taboo foreign policy issue, Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, Carter said.
No, Mr. Carter -- the debate request is proof that Americans want honest discussion. You claim that you want to promote dialogue -- but when offered a chance for discussion and debate, you refuse to participate. I guess it is question of what the meaning of "dialogue" is -- and in your vocabulary, it means "shut up and listen to what I have to say."
I guess it is simply the case that Jimmy Carter doesn't want to share the stage with a Jew as an equal -- instead he would rather visit a Jewish university and tell the Jewish students what is wrong with the Jews.
For shame, Mr. Carter -- you truly are the Worst President Ever -- and now have become the Worst Ex-President Ever.
A good decision -- how do you penalize a company and stockholders today for (lamentably) legal actions taken (often by a predecessor entity) over a century and a half ago?
A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected most claims by slave descendants that they deserve reparations from some of the nation's biggest insurers, banks and transportation companies.
The three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that slave descendants have no standing to sue for reparations based on injustices suffered by ancestors and that the statute of limitations ran out more than a century ago.
But the panel did keep alive a smaller portion of the suit, claiming that major U.S. corporations may be guilty of consumer fraud if they hid past ties to slavery from their customers.
The opinion, written by Judge Richard A. Posner, said that "statutes of limitations would be toothless" if descendants could collect damages for wrongs against their ancestors.
"A person whose ancestor had been wronged a thousand years ago could sue on the ground that it was a continuing wrong and he is one of the victims," the court said. It said statutes of limitations could be extended in some cases but not for acts committed 100 years ago.
The panel also said the descendants lacked standing to sue because their links to the slaves were distant.
Now the court did keep alive a consumer fraud claim, but I doubt it will prevail. After all, does a company have an affirmative obligation to disclose any connection to slavery in its distant past?
That is the issue that this country struggles with in the wake of the decision by Gov. Jeb Bush to suspend executions in his state and a federal judge's order that California revamp its execution protocol.
Executions by lethal injection were suspended in Florida and ordered revamped in California on Friday, as the chemical method once billed as a more humane way of killing the condemned came under mounting scrutiny over the pain it may cause.
Gov. Jeb Bush (R) ordered the suspension in Florida after a botched execution in which it took 34 minutes and a second injection to kill convicted murderer Angel Nieves Diaz. A state medical examiner said that needles used to carry the poison had passed through the prisoner's veins and delivered the three-chemical mix into the tissues of his arm.
In California, a federal judge ruled that the state must overhaul its lethal-injection procedures, calling its current protocol unconstitutional because it may inflict unacceptable levels of pain.
Judge Jeremy D. Fogel of the U.S. District Court for Northern California ordered the state to revise its procedures and consider eliminating the use of two drugs: pancuronium bromide, which causes paralysis, and potassium chloride, which causes cardiac arrest.
The judge did not order executions halted, though they have been effectively on hold since February while he conducted a review.
The "pervasive lack of professionalism" in the executions, Fogel wrote, "at the least is very disturbing."
Forgive me, but since when did it become a moral, much less constitutional, requirement that executions be painless, bloodless procedures that spare teh convicted killer pain? Yes, I know we do not permit "cruel and unusual" punishment, but is it really cruel that a condemned man might be conscious of his punishment being carried out? Does it really shock the conscience that the guilty might feel some level of fear and pain, just like his victims did as he snuffed out their innocent lives? No, it does not.
But this illustrates the fundamental problem with the jurisprudence in this area. We have allowed judges to set themselves up as philosopher kings, deciding on the basis of some undefined standard what constitutes "cruel and unusual". We have judges who are intent upon ensuring that the condemned not experience on bit of suffering as their lives ebb away in payment for their crimes. The ultimate end is likely to be a ban on lethal injection -- currently considered to be a "humane" method of execution, on the grounds that any suffering on the part of the condemned constitutes cruelty which shocks the conscience.
However, I would argue that your average American holds a very different position on the issue. We recognize that capital punishment is, in the end, punishment. And while we do not want ancient spectacles like those in the Colosseum, burning at the stake, or crucifixion, we are not troubled that a killer might feel some discomfort as he experiences his much-deserved demise. I'd bet that your average American would have no problem with seeing the return of firing squads or the hangman's noose as the standard form of execution. Indeed, only the horrors of the Holocaust render the gas chamber unacceptable to me, the method of execution indelibly linked to the Hitlerian genocide and therefore morally unacceptable.
So I'll say it plainly -- rather than a lethal injection of three drugs, let's go back to the lethal injection of lead by a team of marksmen.
n a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body's nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.
Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.
"I couldn't believe it," said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. "Mice with diabetes suddenly didn't have diabetes any more."
The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market.
This is great news -- but the "years away" part of the last sentence is frustrating. What we seem to have here is a cure for a life-threatening disease, one that may be confirmed very quickly -- but it will be much longer before regulators approve making those of us with diabetes healthy and able to live normal lives again without glucose meters, pills, insulin shots and highly regulated diets. Such delays seem cruel.
I want to lift this woman up as an example to America's Muslims -- and to all Americans. For while I am often very hard on the religion of Islam and the evils perpetrated in its name, I recognize that there are many Muslims (an overwhelming majority, in fact) who are good and decent people.
Fadwa Hamdan is one of them.
Stomping her boots and swinging her bony arms, Fadwa Hamdan led a column of troops through this bleak Texas base.
Only six months earlier, she wore the head scarf of a pious Muslim woman and dropped her eyes in the presence of men. Now she was marching them to dinner.
“I’m gonna be a shooting man, a shooting man!” she cried, her Jordanian accent lost in the chanting voices. “The best I can for Uncle Sam, for Uncle Sam!”
The United States military has long prided itself on molding raw recruits into hardened soldiers. Perhaps none have undergone a transformation quite like that of Ms. Hamdan.
Forbidden by her husband to work, she raised five children behind the drawn curtains of their home in Saudi Arabia. She was not allowed to drive. On the rare occasions when she set foot outside, she wore a full-face veil.
Then her world unraveled. Separated from her husband, who had taken a second wife, and torn from her children, she moved to Queens to start over. Struggling to survive on her own, she answered a recruiting advertisement for the Army and enlisted in May.
Ms. Hamdan’s passage through the military is a remarkable act of reinvention. It required courage and sacrifice. She had to remove her hijab, a sacred symbol of the faith she holds deeply. She had to embrace, at the age of 39, an arduous and unfamiliar life.
In return, she sought what the military has always promised new soldiers: a stable home, an adoptive family, a remade identity. She left one male-dominated culture for another, she said, in the hope of finding new strength along the way.
“Always, I dream I have power on the inside, and one day it’s going to come out,” said Ms. Hamdan, a small woman with delicate hands and sad, almond eyes.
She belongs to the rare class of Muslim women who have signed up to become soldiers trained in Arabic translation. Such female linguists play a crucial role for the American armed forces in Iraq, where civilian women often feel uncomfortable interacting with male troops.
Finding Arabic-speaking women willing to serve in the military has proved daunting. Of the 317 soldiers who have completed training in the Army linguist program since 2003, just 23 are women, 13 of them Muslim.
The story is inspirational -- and demonstrates how Muslims can and should be a part of every aspect of American society.
One could completely derail the prosecution case -- and the other may or may not have anything to do with the case.
The woman who said she was raped at a party thrown by Duke's lacrosse team misidentified her alleged attackers in a photo lineup that was "an incoherent mass of contradiction and error," defense lawyers argued in court papers filed Thursday.
Attorneys for the three indicted players filed a motion asking a judge to bar prosecutors from using the photo lineup at their clients' trial and prevent the accuser from identifying the players from the witness stand.
Duke University law professor James E. Coleman Jr. said the case would be "effectively dismissed" if the court finds the lineup inadmissible "and rules that it is so suggestive that there can't be an in-court identification."
What evidence would be left without the identification? None, based upon yesterday's information about the DNA testing.
And then there is this -- which may be irrelevant, but could be a bombshell.
The woman at the center of the Duke lacrosse rape case is pregnant and due to give birth any day, roughly nine months after the team party where she says she was raped by three men.
The pregnancy was confirmed late Thursday by a person familiar with the case, speaking to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. Fox News and WRAL-TV in Raleigh reported that she gave birth Thursday night.
There had been no prior indication that the woman, a 28-year-old college student who already has children, was pregnant. She has not spoken in public since granting an interview to the News & Observer of Raleigh shortly after the party.
The person who confirmed the pregnancy to the AP had no information about the father. Defense attorneys have stressed for months that no sex occurred at the party. They have cited DNA testing that found genetic material from several men in the accuser's body and in her underwear -- but none from any member of the lacrosse team.
If the baby's father is not one of the accused, it probably won't impact the case at all. On the other hand, if one of the accused is the father, that takes the case in an entirely new direction. (UPDATE: She is not due until February. A judge has ordered a paternity test anyway.)
UPDATE: The fraud appears to be confirmed. Where is the US Department of Justice to deal with this obvious conspiracy to violate the civil rights of these young men?
The head of a private DNA laboratory said under oath today that he and District Attorney Mike Nifong agreed not to report DNA results favorable to Duke lacrosse players charged with rape.
Brian Meehan, director of DNA Security of Burlington, said his lab found DNA from unidentified men in the underwear, pubic hair and rectum of the woman who said she was gang-raped at a lacrosse party in March. Nurses at Duke Hospital collected the samples a few hours after the alleged assault. Meehan said the DNA did not come from Reade Seligmann, David Evans, or Collin Finnerty, who have been charged with rape and sexual assault in the case.
Meehan struggled to say why he didn’t include the favorable evidence in a report dated May 12, almost a month after Seligmann and Finnerty had been indicted. He cited concerns about the privacy of the lacrosse players, his discussions at several meetings with Nifong, and the fact that he didn’t know whose DNA it was.
Under questioning by Jim Cooney, a defense attorney for Seligmann, Meehan admitted that his report violated his laboratory’s standards by not reporting results of all tests.
Did Nifong and his investigators know the results of all the DNA tests? Cooney asked.
“I believe so,” Meehan said.
“Did they know the test results excluded Reade Seligmann?” Cooney asked.
“I believe so,” Meehan said.
Was the failure to report these results the intentional decision of you and the district attorney? Cooney asked.
“Yes,” Meehan replied.
This farce needs to be ended immediately -- and Nifong needs to go to jail.
While the American Left wails over the fact that captured terrorists don't get a mint on their pillow at Gitmo, the top court in Israel has recognized that targetting terrorists for death is a proper policy.
Israel's high court upheld Thursday the military's right to assassinate members of groups the state defines as terrorist organizations, but cautioned that such operations should always be weighed first against the potential harm to civilian bystanders and the human rights of the target.
The unanimous decision departs little from guidelines the military says it already follows in carrying out "targeted killings," the terminology used by the government and by the court in its ruling. But it does say commanders should allow an independent investigation to follow each assassination and recommends that the military compensate "innocent civilians" harmed in the operation.
Under current practice, Israel's military works with Shin Bet, the domestic security service, to compile lists of Palestinians who are influential or active figures in armed groups. Using eavesdropping equipment, aerial surveillance and informants, air force pilots or drone operators receive detailed information about a target's movements, most commonly in the Gaza Strip, where the army no longer operates regularly on the ground.
Military officers say the decision to strike is made -- sometimes in a matter of minutes -- by balancing the threat posed by the target against the potential for injuring bystanders. Many of the strikes have killed civilians in addition to targeted individuals.
Israeli military officials said they would review the court's findings in coming days. But one senior officer who specializes in matters of international law said the ruling, although vague in places, appeared to be a "validation" of existing policies regarding assassinations, and he expected few new restrictions to be implemented.
Why is it that I expect that American courts will not use this decision by a foreign court when interpreting our Constitution in cases related to the Crusade Against Jihadi Terrorism? Could it be because the decision makes sense on a fundamental level, and recognizes that terrorists, like the pirates of old, are the enemies of all mankind?
Will the Tyrant of Havana soon be residing in Hell? According to US intelligence sources, Satan's minions are probably preparing a particularly warm spot for Fidel as you read these words.
Cuban President Fidel Castro is very ill and close to death, Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte said yesterday.
"Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer . . . months, not years," Negroponte told a meeting of Washington Post editors and reporters.
Castro relinquished power for the first time in 47 years after surgery July 31 for an undisclosed intestinal disorder.
So start chilling that champagne -- and get the necessary supplies ready to celebrate Cuba libre with Cuba Libre.
Which means, of course, that there will be no way of checking if folks have over-stayed their visas. Is there anything that the Department of Homeland Security is doing right?
In a major blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to secure borders, domestic security officials have for now given up on plans to develop a facial or fingerprint recognition system to determine whether a vast majority of foreign visitors leave the country, officials say.
Domestic security officials had described the system, known as U.S. Visit, as critical to security and important in efforts to curb illegal immigration. Similarly, one-third of the overall total of illegal immigrants are believed to have overstayed their visas, a Congressional report says.
Tracking visitors took on particular urgency after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it became clear that some of the hijackers had remained in the country after their visas had expired.
But in recent days, officials at the Homeland Security Department have conceded that they lack the financing and technology to meet their deadline to have exit-monitoring systems at the 50 busiest land border crossings by next December. A vast majority of foreign visitors enter and exit by land from Mexico and Canada, and the policy shift means that officials will remain unable to track the departures.
Is it time to dismantle DHS yet, and replace it with an effective agency for dealing with homeland security?
A laboratory hired by the prosecution in the Duke lacrosse case found DNA from unidentified men in the accuser's body and underwear but none from the defendants, according to a defense motion filed Wednesday.
DNA Security of Burlington in May produced a report to Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong that made no mention of finding the genetic material.
Wednesday's motion raised questions about whether Nifong and DNA Security withheld evidence favorable to the defense. It also cast further doubt on accounts given by the accuser, who told nurses and police that her attackers ejaculated and did not use condoms. The tests revealed no DNA evidence from any of 46 lacrosse players then suspected in the case.
"This is strong evidence of innocence," said the motion, which was signed by attorneys for all three defendants. "There is not a single mention of this obviously exculpatory evidence in the final DNA Security report."
Defense lawyers for months pressed Nifong in court to release all test documents from DNA Security. The evidence in Wednesday's motion was contained in thousands of DNA Security papers that a judge in October ordered Nifong to give to the defense.
Defense lawyers, citing the state's open file discovery law and the U.S. Supreme Court requirement that prosecutors surrender all helpful evidence, asked for more lab records, including analyses, notes, e-mail and logs of phone calls. They also asked that Brian Meehan, director of DNA Security, be questioned under oath. A hearing is scheduled for Friday in the case.
And it would appear we need to shut down the lab, too, for ginning up a report tailored to the prosecution’s wants and needs instead of bringing the facts to light.
After all, if they are ordering a retrial, it doesn’t seem like such a victory for the right to speak freely.
Two Christian pastors found to have vilified Muslims under Victoria's religious hatred law won their appeal and hailed the decision as a victory for free speech.
The Court of Appeal ordered the case to be reheard at the original tribunal, before a different judge and with no further evidence. It set aside the orders for public apologies in newspaper advertisements and for the pastors not to repeat their remarks.
Last year Judge Michael Higgins found that Pastors Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot and Catch the Fire Ministries vilified Muslims at a seminar on jihad in Melbourne in March 2002, in a newsletter and a website article.
He said these suggested that the Koran promoted killing and looting, that Muslims wanted to take over Australia and terrorists were true Muslims.
Justices Geoffrey Nettle, David Ashley and Marcia Neave overturned that finding but rejected the appeal that the Racial and Religious Vilification Act was unconstitutional.
They ordered the Islamic Council of Victoria, which brought the original complaint, to pay half the appellants' appeal costs but left the costs of the original hearing to be decided by the judge who rehears the case.
On what basis was the original decision overturned? This one – a distinction that I think is very important.
Justice Geoffrey Nettle said Judge Higgins equated hating Muslims' religious beliefs with hating Muslims because of their beliefs. This was not so — many people might despise Pastor Scot's perception of Christianity, yet not dream of hating him.
"No doubt the purpose of the act is to promote religious tolerance. But the act cannot and does not purport to mandate religious tolerance," he said in his judgement.
Indeed, Judge Higgins had held that quoting the Koran to prove a negative point about Islam constituted religious vilification of Muslims – effectively arguing that the truth was not only not a defense in such cases, but was evidence of the offense having been committed.
Does this new regulation strike you as somehow wrong – and a case of overreaching by government?
People who melt pennies or nickels to profit from the jump in metals prices could face jail time and pay thousands of dollars in fines, according to new rules out Thursday.
Soaring metals prices mean that the value of the metal in pennies and nickels exceeds the face value of the coins. Based on current metals prices, the value of the metal in a nickel is now 6.99 cents, while the penny's metal is worth 1.12 cents, according to the U.S. Mint.
That has piqued concern among government officials that people will melt the coins to sell the metal, leading to potential shortages of pennies and nickels.
"The nation needs its coinage for commerce," U.S. Mint director Ed Moy said in a statement. "We don't want to see our pennies and nickels melted down so a few individuals can take advantage of the American taxpayer. Replacing these coins would be an enormous cost to taxpayers."
There have been no specific reports of people melting coins for the metal, Mint spokeswoman Becky Bailey says. But the agency has received a number of questions in recent months from the public about the legality of melting the coins, and officials have heard some anecdotal reports of companies considering selling the metal from pennies and nickels, she says.
Under the new rules, it is illegal to melt pennies and nickels. It is also illegal to export the coins for melting. Travelers may legally carry up to $5 in 1- and 5-cent coins out of the USA or ship $100 of the coins abroad "for legitimate coinage and numismatic purposes."
Violators could spend up to five years in prison and pay as much as $10,000 in fines. Plus, the government will confiscate any coins or metal used in melting schemes.
The rules are similar to those enacted in the 1960s and 1970s, when metals prices also rose, the Mint said. Ongoing regulations make it illegal to alter coins with an intent to commit fraud. Before today's new regulations, it was not illegal to melt coins.
Now hold on – is the money MY money, or the government’s money? Do the coins belong to me, or to the government? What about the metal the coins are composed of – my property or the government’s? And if the answer to these question is that it is my property, where does the government get off penalizing my decision on how to dispose of the coins and their metal content?
Talk about intolerant “tolerance” by the forces of secularism – this takes the cake!
A high school choir was asked to stop singing Christmas carols during an ice skating show featuring Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen out of concern the skater would be offended because she's Jewish.
A city staff member, accompanied by a police officer, approached the Rubidoux High School Madrigals at the Riverside Outdoor Ice Skating Rink just as they launched into "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" and requested that the troupe stop singing, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Thursday.
Cohen, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist and 2006 U.S. National Champion, had just finished her performance at the rink on the downtown pedestrian mall, and was signing autographs.
Choir director Staci Della-Rocco said she complied with the request "because a policeman told me to stop. I didn't want to have a big old huge scene in front of my kids," according to the newspaper.
The city staff member, special-events employee Michelle Baldwin, could not be reached for comment. City Development Director Belinda J. Graham confirmed the incident.
Now for what it was worth, Ms. Baldwin seems to have been acting outside of the scope of city policy.
"This request was simply made by a staff member who was attempting to be sensitive to the celebrity guest, without considering the wider implications ... or consulting with her supervisor for guidance," Graham said in an e-mail to the newspaper.
Mayor Ron Loveridge called the incident "unfortunate."
"You kind of wish people do a little checking first. You certainly have my apology," he said, referring to the choir members.
But that Baldwin even thought the request was appropriate – and that the officer was willing to accompany her to silence the group – should tell you just how far some folks are willing to go to ensure that everybody except Christians are receive “tolerant” and “sensitive” treatment.
Oh, and as for Sasha Cohen, she never requested that the songs stop, nor does she object to hearing Christmas carols. Seems to me that the city employees involved could take a lesson from the person in whose name they were acting.
I guess I don’t understand why I should feel bad for the family in this story. After all, they are here breaking the law, and yet they are somehow presented to be victims of the government’s decision to enforce the law.
Isabel Ramirez wept as she clutched her 18-month-old daughter, Brenda, in the ramshackle trailer park where she lives.
Her husband, Juan, had been detained in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid on the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant where he worked, and she didn't know where he was.
"He was the only one working. He paid for everything, the bills, rent. I have three kids," 33-year- old Isabel Ramirez said.
As she spoke, her 7-year-old daughter, Laura, was at school, and her 3-year-old son, Juanito, kicking muddy snow by the trailer, was having a very bad day.
His father "is in jail," Juanito said. He threw a stick angrily down at the snow and turned and banged his head against the side of a broken trampoline.
As authorities began deporting workers rounded up in raids at meatpacking plants here and in five other states, this city, which for decades has run on illegal labor from Mexico, confronted an unexpected challenge: what to do about kids left behind.
I’ll answer the question for you – deport the kids with the parents if they were not born with American citizenship. If the kids were born here, revoke the parental rights and place them for adoption – or permit the parents to irrevocably renounce US citizenship on behalf of their children.
Now some of you might object that this proposal is harsh. Know what – you are right. But harsh measures are the only ones that will allow us take control of our border. And you might object that the foster care/adoption expenses would be high for those children taken into state custody. But then again, the taxpayers are already footing much of the bill for the millions of children of illegal aliens in this country, so the added cost would be significantly less than one might think.
And for those who think illegal immigration is a victimless crime, you might want to read this piece from MSNBC.
UPDATE: More efforts to portray the immigration criminals, their families, and their employer as victims of the government enforcing the law.
And in a move that is probably even more outrageous, this story tries to present the American consumer as the real victim -- something that I expect to see repeatedly as there is a concerted push for an amnesty.
I hadn't planned on commenting on this story, because I don't like the political discussions revolving around Johnson's health issues. I think considering the implications of his death/incapacity are unseemly, and betray a certain ghoulishness on the part of some commentators.
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) was in surgery last night after falling ill at the Capitol, introducing a note of uncertainty over control of the Senate just weeks before Democrats are to take over with a one-vote margin.
Johnson, 59, was taken to George Washington University Hospital shortly after noon, where he underwent "a comprehensive evaluation by the stroke team," his office said. Aides later said he had not suffered a stroke or heart attack, but they offered no further comment or details of the surgery.
At 11 p.m., Mr. Johnson was undergoing surgery, and was expected to be in the operating room until the early morning hours.
That isn't good.
I agree with Captain Ed.
So skip the calculations and the political fallout from Johnson's ailment. Let's just pray he'll fully recover and continue his representation of his constituents in the Senate. If that's not the case, we can do the math when it becomes necessary.
Michelle Malkin makes a similar point.
The prayers and best wishes of both the Right and Left (my darling wife calls the speculation "disgusting") in my household are with Johnson and his family. Let's worry about the human side of this situation, and leave the politics for another day, if we have to be concerned with such things at all.
Well, Texas schools are struggling to deal with mandates about when the school year must begin -- starting next fall, school may start no sooner than the fourth week of August. That means changing traditional dates for breaks debating when to have final exams, and otherwise taking aim at some sacred cows.
Texas public school students better play hard during their upcoming winter breaks because next December some will have fewer days off and — bah, humbug! — others will be stuck studying for finals.
The new state law ordering school to start later in the summer has forced local educators to make tough decisions that will influence families' vacation plans and could affect students' performance on high-stakes tests and semester exams.
Many area districts recently adopted their calendars for 2007-08, and this much they have in common: Classes begin Aug. 27 (the law bars districts from starting before the fourth week in August) and end after Memorial Day.
But, by sprinkling teacher-training days in different places, districts have varied the length of popular vacation times.
Some, including the Houston Independent School District, have proposed a shorter, three-day Thanksgiving break. Others — Pearland is one — opted for a weeklong break, meaning students stay in school through early June.
One sticking point for many districts became when to end the first semester: before or after winter break. Ending before the break meant, in most cases, cutting short the Thanksgiving holiday. But dragging the semester beyond the break meant students would have to study for end-of-course exams over their vacation.
My district has not acted yet -- but I expect that no one is going to be completely happy with the outcome.
I talked about this issue back in January, and came up with my own proposed school calendar. I think you will see the problems this whole situation creates for district planners.
A Jordanian man has shot dead his daughter and her fiance on rumours that the couple had engaged in premarital sex.
The suspect has confessed to the authorities "that he shot the couple after his wife informed him she had heard from neighbours that her daughter and her boyfriend had been having sexual relations," the Jordan Times reported, quoting a police officer.
The father said he was "infuriated" by the rumours and apparently decided to kill the couple to cleanse his family's honour, the official said.
The suspect was arrested and charged with murder on Saturday, two days after the killing of his 21-year-old daughter and her 23-year-old fiance.
An autopsy revealed that young woman was a virgin, the report added.
Since January, more than 12 women have been killed in similar "honour crimes" in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
Hundreds of Muslim women die each year at the hands of family members for offenses such as alleged premarital sexual activity, being the victim of rape, or being alone with an unrelated man. How soon until we start seeing such offensive practices become common place here?
Kotto, 69, is producing and starring in a two-hour TV pilot that he says is inspired by The X-Files. He's also pitching publishers a book on the making of Live and Let Die, a film that joins the four-volume James Bond Ultimate Collection, new in stores this week.
Kotto had quit acting soon after ending six seasons as star of NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street. "People say you disappeared and criticize you for being away," he said. "But what am I supposed to do? Die on a set? It's too much."
So Kotto, who had worked steadily since the '60s, slipped away.
"I was tired, so I split. I went to the Philippines, built a restaurant and laid down on the beach for two years. I also hung out in Hong Kong and Europe. I got away from acting and movies. Then the bug bit me, and I came back to L.A."
The LST piece mentions that Kotto is Jewish – and supported Steve Forbes for president in 2000, presumably making him a Republican.
I can’t wait to hear more about the television pilot.
After all, if we are going to question the veracity of contemporary historical events, maybe we should look into events much further in the past.
I just got an e-mail from Bhuvan who tried to post a comment at the BBC. The comment, on a story about the Holocaust denial conference in Iran was apparently too controversial.
Now wait, I would like to see a conference that questions whether Prophet Muhammad existed or not. Sounds controversial? Why not? Free speech. There is more historical proof to the occurrence of the Holocaust than for the existence of Prophet Muhammad.
Indeed. So, in the spirit of 'free speech', we at The Jawa Report are organizing the first ever Was Mohammed Real? conference. Panels include:
Mohammed: Was he real or just another Zionist plot?
The Crusades: Ultra-Orthodox Muslims speak out against using the Crusades as justification for a Palestinian state.
Did Mohammed Conquer Mecca? New evidence suggests otherwise.
72 White Grapes vs. 72 Virgins: The etymology of patriarchy in Islamic societies.
'Angelic visit' or 'Pedophelic Visions': The fiction of Mohammed and his 9 year old lover Aisha.
The Illuminati: Why the Great Seal of The United States offers definitive proof that Mohammed was really a 32nd degree Mason.
You get the picture. Any other suggestions?
And might I add another topic for the conference:
Mental Illness or Demonic Possession: An Analysis of Mohammad’s Qu’ranic Visions
Other topics of discussion can be found at IMAO.
After all, if all we are doing is engaging in free speech asking questions and exploring issues that will get you imprisoned (or worse) in some parts of the world…
Even as he prepares to leave office, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is showing that he understands the importance of dealing with our nation’s immigration crisis.
Gov. Mitt Romney, who is weighing a White House bid, signed an agreement Wednesday that allows Massachusetts State Police troopers to detain illegal aliens they encounter over the course of their normal duties.
Under the terms of the agreement, made with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, an initial group of 30 troopers will receive five weeks of specialized training next year, paid by the federal government.
The troopers will be drawn from the Violent Fugitive Apprehension Squad, the Criminal Investigation Section, the Anti-Gang Unit, the Drug Enforcement Unit and the Community Action Team.
"The scope of our nation's illegal immigration problem requires us to pursue and implement new solutions wherever possible," Romney said in a statement. "State troopers are highly trained professionals who are prepared to assist the federal government in apprehending immigration violators without disrupting their normal law enforcement routines."
Oh, and one question – will Romney’s Democrat successor, Deval Patrick, maintain this policy?
UPDATE: And the answer is -- Deval Patrick doesn't give a damn about our nation's illegal immigration crisis.
I’m sure that each and every inconvenience of failure to get perfect service will be labeled a bias incident by the terrorist supporters at CAIR.
American Muslims making a religious pilgrimage to Mecca are being encouraged to file civil rights complaints if they feel discriminated against by airlines.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), citing what it called the "airport profiling" of six imams removed from a recent flight, yesterday said Muslims traveling this month to the holy site in Saudi Arabia need to be aware of their rights.
"Given the increase in the number of complaints CAIR has received alleging airport profiling of American Muslims, we believe it is important that all those taking part in this year's hajj be aware of their legal and civil rights," said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR spokesman.
The group has established a toll-free hot line (800/AL-QAEDA) I won’t advertise the real number for victims of "flying while Muslim," as Muslims have begun departing for the weeklong hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime obligation to visit the holy city of Mecca, which this year begins Dec. 29.
Fortunately, there are loyal Muslims speaking out against this group.
But M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), said the announcement by CAIR "continues the tired stoking of the flames of victimization."
"They are unfortunately exploiting, for purely political reasons, what should be a sacred and purely spiritual story of our faith's annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca," Dr. Jasser said.
"We need new leadership and organizations which use their passions and the bandwidth of the media to lead the ideological fight against radical and political Islam rather than this tired pre-emption of supposed discrimination."
I’ve got a suggestion – why doesn’t the family members of each and every victim of 9/11 call the real hotline number to complain about their loved ones being victims of “flying while Muslim”. Maybe then these Islamists will CAIR.
A violent solar explosion sent a dangerous wave of radiation through space late Tuesday, prompting NASA to order the crews of Discovery and the International Space Station to take shelter overnight, according to Local 6 News partner Florida Today.
The solar flare erupted around 9:40 p.m., unleashing enough radiation to disrupt radio communications on Earth and in orbit while endangering astronauts circling 220 miles above the planet.
NASA flight surgeons and agency radiation experts determined that the burst of highly energetic particles approached a limit that made preventative action prudent, Florida Today reported.
Station commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and shuttle skipper Mark Polansky were told to move their crews to the most shielded areas in either spacecraft.
They include the middeck of the shuttle's crew compartment and temporary sleeping quarters in the station's U.S. Destiny science laboratory.
The back ends of the American lab and a Russian command control center at the outpost also were options, the report said.
That is one of the more unusual hazards of space travel.
Given the level of Democrat Corruption that has been exposed since November, this might be a positive development.
Senior party officials said Tuesday that Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the incoming speaker, had consulted with Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the minority leader, on forming a bipartisan group to examine outside enforcement. The goal would be to have the group report back in the spring.
An independent Congressional watchdog, if approved, would be a major break with tradition. Some lawmakers say House and Senate members have sole responsibility for policing themselves when it comes to internal rules.
Some lawmakers have said an independent entity could be unconstitutional.
The Democratic officials, who spoke only if they were not publicly identified because the proposal for the new panel was now being presented to lawmakers, said the prominence of corruption as a concern in the elections last month gave new impetus to such an idea.
“With ethics such a big issue coming out of the election, members see a need to think outside the box,” one senior official said.
Well, they could start by dumping Murtha, Hastings, Jefferson, Mollohan, Emanuel, McDermott, . . .
One more consideration for the Iraq Surrender Group supporters and other cut-n-runners.
Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said.
The Saudi warning reflects fears among America’s Sunni Arab allies about Iran’s rising influence in Iraq, coupled with Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. King Abdullah II of Jordan has also expressed concern about rising Shiite influence, and about the prospect that the Shiite-dominated government would use Iraqi troops against the Sunni population.
A senior Bush administration official said Tuesday that part of the administration’s review of Iraq policy involved the question of how to harness a coalition of moderate Iraqi Sunnis with centrist Shiites to back the Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
So, "realists", what is your solution to this one? Personally, I support partition, with the US and coalition forces playing peace-keeper between three states -- Sunni, Shi'a and Kurd.
I'm pretty liberal when it comes to acceptable activities for teachers outside of working hours. Blogging has made me acutely aware of the problems that could arise if schools could simply fire teachers for their exercise of freedom of expression in their private lives.
But I have really mixed emotions about this.
Stephen Murmer's secret career as an artist has caught up with him.
Murmer, a popular high school art teacher, was suspended after objections were raised about his private abstract artwork, much of which includes smearing his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas.
Murmer contacted the American Civil Liberties Union on Friday, saying school administrators had suspended him with pay for five days because of his work as a painter and that he could face further punishment, ACLU legal director Rebecca Glenberg said.
Murmer has been instructed by Monacan High School administrators not to speak with the media, Glenberg said. He did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Schools spokeswoman Debra Marlow confirmed that a Monacan art teacher had been placed on administrative leave but declined to provide additional details because it is a personnel issue.
"In the school system, personnel regulations state that teachers are expected to set an example for students through their personal conduct," Marlow said. "Additionally, the Supreme Court has stated that schools must teach by example and that teachers, like parents, are role models."
Murmer went to great lengths to keep his work life separate from his activities as an artist, said ACLU executive director Kent Willis. As an artist, he goes by the name "Stan Murmur," and appears in disguise in photographs and videos promoting his art.
"As a public employee, he has constitutional rights, and he certainly has the right to engage in private legal activities protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution," Willis said.
Like I said, I really don't know what to think about this one -- is there a line beyond which we teachers cannot go if we wish to stay in the field of education? What do you think?
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are On Negotiating with Iran and Syria -- Part II by American Future, and "Come for the Egalitarianism, Stay for the Bestiality and Tyranny" by Dr. Sanity. Here is teh link to the full results of the vote.
Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|3 1/3||On Negotiating with Iran and Syria -- Part II|
|2 2/3||How to Lose Support for a War|
The Glittering Eye
|1 1/3||Dennis Prager Dead Wrong On Ellison & Koran|
Rhymes With Right
|1 1/3||Suspending Disbelief In Oregon|
The Education Wonks
Done With Mirrors
|1||Hiding Behind the Wall...|
|2/3||A Welcome Division: Let's Talk Coffee|
Right Wing Nut House
|1/3||The Latest Chapter of The Incredibly Shrinking Church|
Gates of Vienna
|1/3||What the U.S. Needs from its Armed Forces|
|2 2/3||"Come for the Egalitarianism, Stay for the Bestiality and Tyranny"|
|1 2/3||History's End, History's Beginning|
The Adventures of Chester
|1 1/3||Put Your Hand in the Puppet Head|
A Crafty Madness
|1 1/3||Democrats, Terrorists and 'Brotherly Way'|
World Defense Review
|1 1/3||Defending the 17th|
|1||The Militarization of the Police|
The QandO Blog
|1||The Biggest Gang In Iraq|
|1||Memo to Grand Imam Tantawi|
The Big Pharaoh
|2/3||Coulter Gets Results!|
|2/3||Michael Moore Issues Iraq Withdrawal Fatwa|
It's my old congressman -- Tom DeLay.
I'd like him to address a question for me -- was he in any way behind the staff shenanigans in the office of his successor, Congresswoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs?
After all, it is clear that he knew about the Foley emails BEFORE Dennis Hastert – and did nothing about his knowledge besides allow staffers to try to stir up interest in the press.
Democratic campaign operatives pushed newspapers to write about then-Rep. Mark Foley's e-mails to teenage pages in the hope that a scandal would emerge before the midterm elections, according to a House ethics report.
The findings were bolstered when an aide to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat, said the congressman also knew about the e-mails, which were dubbed "inappropriate" by the ethics panel. Mr. Emanuel, who was chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) when Mr. Foley's sex scandal broke in late September, had denied knowledge of the Florida Republican's e-mails.
The House ethics panel, which is formally called the Standards of Official Conduct Committee, Friday released its final probe into Mr. Foley's behavior, scolding Republicans for failing to act on years of troubling signs and naming Democrats who knew about the e-mails.
CNN first reported Saturday that Mr. Emanuel, the incoming chairman of the Democratic caucus, was "informed" but never saw the e-mails that Mr. Foley sent to a former page in the summer of 2005.
An Emanuel aide yesterday confirmed to The Washington Times that DCCC staffer Bill Burton told the congressman about the Foley e-mails in fall 2005. The aide said Mr. Emanuel took no action because the e-mails were mentioned in passing as a "rumor" about Mr. Foley.
On Oct. 8, Mr. Emanuel was put on the spot during his appearance on ABC's "This Week."
"Did you or your staff know anything about these e-mails or instant messages before they came out?" host George Stephanopoulos asked. Mr. Emanuel interrupted with "No."
"George -- Never saw 'em," he said twice.
Isn’t such failure to act the very thing the Dems called scandalous when it was Hastert and other GOP leaders accused? Why the silence now – especially given the clear attempt by Emanuel to parse language to make a misleading statement technically true (something I suspect he learned from his old boss)?
Oh, and by the way, the report shows what I repeatedly said this past summer.
The ethics report outlined several Republicans and staffers who were aware of Mr. Foley's drunken late-night visit to the page dormitory, but concluded no Republicans knew about the sexually explicit instant messages.
The ethics panel said the tone of the e-mails and instant messages were vastly different, but said Republicans failed to exercise due diligence about the e-mails back in 2005, when the former page told his friends on Capitol Hill the Foley e-mails were "sick."
Now, will those folks who accused me (and other Republicans) of “defending a pedophile” and “covering up the truth” please acknowledge that they were, at best, wrong – if not intentionally lying about what I said at the time?
Capital punishment sounds like the only reasonable course of action for this stone-cold killer.
A teenager responsible for a crime spree that sent police into a frenzy said he has no regrets in an interview about what led him to kill. Lavender Howse, 16, murdered one man, and shot a child and a woman within a matter of hours in June, 2005.
"This ain't no place to be, especially for no 16-year-old," he said.
Howse was convicted of shooting a security guard in cold blood, then minutes later shooting a nine year old in the face and another innocent woman walking her dog.
"In a blink of a moment it can happen," he said. "That's how it happened to me, I wasn't even thinking. It just happened."
Now in prison, he won't even have a chance of freedom till he's 81 years old. His home is a prison cell after a life on the streets of East Nashville.
In other words, taxpayers will be supporting him for 65 years – at a minimum. And he feels not a lick of remorse.
For Howse, emotion is rare and remorse is unseen. "I finally got over it, you gotta let it go, can't keep thinking about it," he said. Even the nine year old gets little sympathy. He said he'd like to say sorry maybe, but for Howse it was just a mistake.
No remorse, no empathy.
But he claims to have found God – sort of.
Care to guess which religion this unrepentant murderer has picked?
He has found God in prison, and has converted to Islam while in the Metro jail.
Hey, I’m just asking the question – but it seems to me that this could be a solution to both the Iran problem and the unproven climate hysteria pushed by socialist ideologues.
Some of the scientists who first advanced the controversial "nuclear winter" theory more than two decades ago have come up with another bleak forecast: Even a regional nuclear war would devastate the environment.
Using modern climate and population models, researchers estimated that a small-scale nuclear conflict between two warring nations would cause 3 million to 17 million immediate casualties and lead to a marked cooldown of the planet that could lead to crop failures and further misery.
* * *
The new studies looked at the consequences if two nations dropped 50 Hiroshima-size bombs on each other's big cities. By analyzing population data and distance from blast, scientists predicted a regional nuclear war would kill 3 million people in Israel and up to 17 million in China. The U.S. would see 4 million blast deaths.
But the researchers say black soot from the fires would linger in the atmosphere, blocking the sun's rays and causing average global surface temperatures to drop about 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the first three years. Although the planet would see a gradual warming within a decade, it would still be colder than it was before the war, the scientists said.
The cooldown would shorten the growing season by about a month in parts of North America, Europe and Asia. Normal rainfall patterns such as summer monsoons in Africa and Southeast Asia would be disrupted, possibly causing huge crop failures.
But as I understand matters, this would cut back on the warming trend that we are told threatens to bring about “the end of the world as we know it” – and the population reduction would slow the rate of growth and temperature increase. I would therefore think that liberals would advocate popping off several nukes ever couple of decades, because of we have Earth in the balance – or is such thinking merely an inconvenient truth?
Moves like this one always amaze and infuriate me.
NEEDHAM, Mass. -- Needham High School has abandoned its long-standing practice of publishing the names of students who make the honor roll in the local newspaper.
Principal Paul Richards said a key reason for stopping the practice is its contribution to students' stress level in "This high expectations-high-achievement culture."
The proposal to stop publishing the honor roll came from a parent. Richards took the issue before the school council, which approved it. Parents were notified of the decision last month. Richards said he received about 60 responses from both parents and students and the feedback has been evenly split for and against.
After all, it isn’t about learning and growing – it is about making kids feel good about themselves, regardless of whether or not they have anything to be proud of.
Then again, maybe I'll respect this more when the school district bans reporters from athletic contests and orders the athletic department to quit supplying statistics/scores to the media. After all, we wouldn't want some kid to get hurt feelings because he/she failed to excel at some sport, would we? Furthermore, it would relieve stress on kids living in this high expectations-high achievement culture just as effectively as cutting the honor roll does.
Unfortunately for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his crowd of Holocaust denying anti-Semites, the verdict is in and the evidence indisputable.
Delegates at the meeting earlier on Tuesday agreed to form a "fact-finding" committee to study the Holocaust.
The head of the new committee, identified as Iranian academic Mohammad Ali Ramin, said its members were "not racist or opposed to any particular group".
"Rather they are just seeking the truth to set humanity truly free," the ISNA students news agency quoted him as saying, without naming the committee members.
Robert Faurisson, a French scholar who has described the Holocaust as a "historical lie", said the committee included members from the United States, France, Canada, Switzerland, Austria, Iran, Bahrain and Syria, ISNA reported.
But if you want to know what these buffoons are really all about, consider this speech and its reception.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday told delegates at an international conference questioning the Holocaust that Israel's days were numbered.
Ahmadinejad, who has sparked international outcry by referring to the killing of six million Jews in World War Two as a "myth" and calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map", launched another verbal attack on the Jewish state.
"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want," he said.
"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out," he added.
His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference, who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel Jews and European and American writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated.
This is the leader of a nation chasing after nuclear weapons. He is promoting a view of history that is wrong, in order to justify his own planned genocide of the Jews – a genocide envisioned and justified by his holy book. Given the folks that Ahmadinejad has surrounded himself with during this conference, perhaps the now is the time to put an end to him and his plans – and to cleanse the human race of some of its most disgusting specimens.
I'm glad the rabbi backed down -- especially since he would have lost in court.
The holiday trees that went away in the middle of the night are back.
Tonight, Port of Seattle staff began putting up the trees they had taken down Friday night after a local rabbi requested that a Hanukkah menorah also be displayed. Port officials said the rabbi's lawyer had threatened to imminently file a lawsuit, leaving them with insufficient time to consider all the issues.
A nationwide furor erupted over the weekend as news of the trees' removal spread, with a flood of calls to Port officials and harshly worded e-mails to Jewish organizations. Today, Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky said he would not file a lawsuit and the Port, in response, said it would put the trees back up.
"This has been an unfortunate situation for all of us in Seattle," Port of Seattle Commission President Pat Davis said in a statement. "The rabbi never asked us to remove the trees; it was the Port's decision based on what we knew at the time. We very much appreciate the rabbi's willingness to work with us as we move forward."
And I hope the menorah the rabi wants is put up -- and that a Nativity scene is added. After all, the rabbi has demanded the introduction of religious symbols to the airport's holiday display, which had been secular up to this point.
And by the way -- I'd like to heartily condemn those who have threatened the rabbi for his actions. Even though he was dead wrong, such threats of violence are never appropriate -- and especially not in the name of a holiday honoring the Prince of peace.
Iran held a gathering that included Holocaust deniers, discredited scholars and white supremacists from around the world on Monday under the guise of a conference to “debate” the Nazi annihilation of six million Jews.
Among those representing the United States was the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, whose prepared remarks, issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said the gas chambers in which millions perished actually did not exist.
Robert Faurisson, an academic from France, said in his speech that the Holocaust was a myth created to justify the occupation of Palestine, meaning the creation of Israel.
That is what Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has frequently claimed, and it was Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statements that inspired the Foreign Ministry to hold the conference. The ministry said 67 people from 30 countries were participating in the two days of meetings.
In a welcoming speech, Rasoul Mousavi, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies, said the session would provide an opportunity to discuss the Holocaust “away from Western taboos and the restriction imposed on them in Europe.” In several European countries, denial of the Holocaust is a crime.
An accompanying exhibition also denied the Holocaust. One poster with three photographs showed dead bodies and described accounts of their gassing as a myth. Signs pointed to smiling prisoners freed at the end of the war with the label “truth.”
New captions in Persian on other pictures of corpses described them as victims of a typhus epidemic in Europe, not of the Nazi death machine.
I bet my recently0-banned troll Ken Hoop is positively orgasmic reading these accounts, having spent months espousing just such lies here.
And I ask the world -- is this a nation that we can allow to get nuclear weapons, especially given the stated objective of its president to complete the task tha he denies hitler began?
I wonder if these folks -- actual experts in military and foreign affairs, including three retired four-star generals -- will get the same respect as the "realist" amateurs of the Iraq Surrender Group?
President Bush heard a blunt and dismal assessment of his handling of Iraq from a group of military experts yesterday, but the advisers shared the White House's skeptical view of the recommendations made last week by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, sources said.
The three retired generals and two academics disagreed in particular with the study group's plans to reduce the number of U.S. combat troops in Iraq and to reach out for help to Iran and Syria, according to sources familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was private.
Not only do they oppose the "cut-and-run" proposals of the ISG and the Democrat Party, some even suggest that an increase in troop levels might be needed.
I guess it all comes down to whether or not one believes in victory -- or whether one believes that America is past its prime and can no longer fight a war to victory.
I wish he had gotten life, but 90 years seems acceptable.
A teenager who helped to savagely beat another youth and sodomize him with a plastic pipe, leaving him near death, was ordered Monday to serve 90 years in prison.
In a verdict that his victim called "just," Keith Turner, 17, faces at least 30 years behind bars before he can become eligible for parole. The sentence came less than a month after Turner's friend, David Tuck, 18, received a life prison term for his role in the attack.
"This is just another step," the 18-year-old victim told the Houston Chronicle after Turner was sentenced. He noted that he faces more surgeries and the trial of a lawsuit related to the incident.
His father said he was pleased with the result.
"We did it. We got them both. It's what we wanted. We're happy," said Albert Galvan. "Those two guys are not going to walk around in society for a while."
Turner showed little emotion as state District Judge Michael McSpadden announced the jury's decision. His mother, Janis Turner, sobbed.
She had sought to convince the jury on Friday that her son is a good person who was influenced by bad people. "He's not a bad kid," she told jurors as they began considering punishment. "He's making bad choices."
How many "good kids" do you know who sodomize people with a pipe for kissing a girl of a different race?
I guess that the clear mandate of the voters to stop granting benefits and imposing burdens upon people based upon race and sex is just to onerous for some educators to apply.
Three universities asked a federal court in Detroit to delay a state ban on affirmative action programs until after this year’s admissions and financial aid cycles. The colleges, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University, want to complete their annual admissions and financial aid cycles using the standards that were in effect when the process began earlier this year. The voter-approved initiative to ban the use of race and sex preferences in university admissions and government hiring is to take effect Dec. 23.
And thus these university officials stand in a long line of dishonor with Orval Faubus and George Wallace in seeking to illegally engage in racial discrimination in education. Fire them all, and replace them with true believers in civil rights and a color-blind society.
One of the more egregious examples of judicial silliness by the judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been overturned by the Supreme Court in a remarkable stand for common sense.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the federal appeals court in California overstepped its authority when it granted a new trial to a murder defendant whose victim’s relatives sat at the trial, in the view of the jury, wearing buttons with the victim’s picture on them.
The appeals court, in granting a writ of habeas corpus, found that the buttons were inherently prejudicial and deprived the defendant, Mathew Musladin, of the right to a fair trial.
Voting 9 to 0, the Supreme Court overturned that ruling in an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas that did not actually decide whether the buttons were prejudicial. That was, and remains, “an open question in our jurisprudence,” Justice Thomas said. And that was precisely where the appeals court had gone wrong, the justices agreed; it had based a grant of habeas corpus on a legal principle that the Supreme Court itself had not adopted.
The short answer is that the justices unanimously decided that there is no basis in law or precedent for holding that the actions of private individuals (wearing buttons showing the victim in a murder case) constitutes state action depriving a defendant of due process.
I do find it of concern, however, that some members of the court seem to leave open the door for the possibility that the buttons do constitute a violation of the defendant's rights.
Are they interested in protecting the rights of imprisoned terrorists?
Or are they simply enamored with the jihadi pigs who keep attacking America and Israel -- you know, concern for the PC terrorists, not the un-PC ones who target abortion clinics and gay bars?
Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph laments in a series of letters to a newspaper that the maximum-security federal prison where he is spending the rest of his life is designed to drive him insane.
"It is a closed-off world designed to isolate inmates from social and environmental stimuli, with the ultimate purpose of causing mental illness and chronic physical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis," he wrote in one letter to The Gazette of Colorado Springs.
Rudolph wrote that he spends 23 hours a day in his 7-by-12-foot cell, his only exercise confined to an enclosed area he described as a "large empty swimming pool" divided into "dog-kennel style cages."
"Using solitary confinement, Supermax is designed to inflict as much misery and pain as is constitutionally permissible," he wrote in a letter.
Personally, I agree with one of Rudolph’s victims.
"It gives me a great deal of pride to think he's never coming out of there," said Diane Derzis, who runs a Birmingham, Ala., women's clinic Rudolph bombed in 1998. "He should never see daylight again."
I may despise the business Derzis is in and believe that she has much more innocent blood on her hands than does Rudolph, but I find Rudolph’s actions repugnant and believe he should never walk the streets free again.
You have to love it when something like this happens to a PC weenie like Rosie O’Donnell. After all, she tried to gin up a controversy over so-called “homophobia” over an innocuous comment not too long ago – now she is facing the heat over a much more clearly racist caricature on The View.
A city councilman is demanding that Rosie O'Donnell be held accountable for comments she made on ABC's "The View" last week that he said offended Asian-Americans.
O'Donnell set off a firestorm when she mocked Chinese broadcasters commenting on Danny DeVito's drunken Nov. 29 performance on "The View."
"The fact is that it's news all over the world. You know, you can imagine in China it's like, 'Ching chong, ching chong, Danny DeVito, ching chong chong chong chong, drunk, 'The View,' ching chong.'"
O'Donnell's imitation was followed by laughter from her co-hosts and a loud "gong" that producers threw in.
City Councilman John Liu (D-Queens) has written a letter to Barbara Walters, co-executive producer and co-host of "The View," blasting O'Donnell.
"Her caricature of the Chinese language hits a raw nerve in our community," Liu wrote.
Liu admonished Walters for sitting by and not scolding O'Donnell for making the "derogatory remarks" that "have consequences beyond the stupidity of the person who made them."
"What will you do to hold yourself and those who host the program accountable for such offensive remarks?" Liu asked Walters.
By the standard she applied to Kelly Ripa, she clearly owes the Asian community an apology for her insult to them. After all, spokespeople for the aggrieved group have spoken -- and Rosie is therefore guilty as charged.
The evidence makes it clear that the bulk of civilian casualties were the result of Hezbollah strategy, not Israeli ruthlessness.
Mohammad Abd al-Hamid Srour moved missiles across southern Lebanon under cover of a white flag. Hussein Ali Mahmoud Suleiman used the porch of a private home to fire rockets. Maher Hassan Mahmoud Kourani dressed in civilian clothes, hid his Kalashnikov in a tote bag and stored anti-aircraft missiles in the back of a green unmarked Volvo. The three men, all members of Hezbollah, were captured by Israel during last summer's war.
Now their videotaped interviews form part of a remarkable report by retired Lieutenant Colonel Reuven Erlich of Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Relying heavily on captured Hezbollah documents, onsite and aerial photography and other first-hand evidence, the report shows how the Shiite group put innocent civilians at risk by deliberately deploying its forces in cities, towns and often private homes.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, has accused Israel's military of "indiscriminate warfare" and "a disturbing disregard for the lives of Lebanese civilians." Mr. Erlich demolishes that claim, and in the process shows the asymmetric strategy of Islamist radicals.
I encourage you to look at the evidence – and ask yourself who had the most to gain from the civilian casualties, Israel or Hezbollah. The answer should be obvious, and should also explain the motives of those who blame Israel.
Dozens of government supporters broke up a silent march by a small group of dissidents marking International Human Rights Day on Sunday, roughing up participants and accusing them of being mercenaries of the U.S. government.
The activists led by physician Darcy Ferrer tried to keep walking around the park, but they were eventually forced out of the park and they fled in taxis.
"Long live Fidel and Raul!" the government loyalists chanted, referring to ailing leader
Fidel Castro and his brother. "Down with the worms!"
"They are mercenaries!" some of the loyalists shouted of the dissidents.
The government supporters were waiting for the activists at the park before the march started.
So what we have here is an organized effort to prevent the exercise of human rights. And yet somehow our left-wing countrymen and women find it impossible to criticize the Castro regime for its human rights abuses.
But hey, the left-wingers of the “cultural elite” see Cuba as such a wonderful place – despite the fact Cubans lack the freedom to criticize Cuba’s government that these American Mercedes Marxists use to undercut the United States.
The “flying imams” are ready to settle with US Airwaiys.
Five of the six Islamic religious leaders have retained the Council on American-Islamic Relations for legal representation and are seeking a "mutually agreeable" resolution, said Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director.
US Airways scheduled a meeting with the imams on Dec. 4 to discuss the incident, but the men canceled it and hired the activist group to act as legal counsel.
"With the hopes of reaching an amicable resolution to this matter, we would like to take this opportunity to ask for a formal meeting with US Airways executives and legal counsel," said Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR's national legal director, in a letter to the airline.
The imams represented by CAIR include Omar Shahin, Didmar Faja, Ahmad Shqeirat, Marwan Sadeddin and Mohamed Ibrahim.
I hope the airline tells the imams and the terrorist-supporting hacks from CAIR that any settlement will require that the imams apologize for disrupting the flight, that they acknowledge that the airline and law enforcement acted appropriately, and that the imams and CAIR reimburse the airline and law enforcement for the cost of their disruption and the subsequent investigations.
Unfortunately, the imams seem to think that they are the ones who should be paid, despite the fact that three separate reviews have determined that the decision to remove them from the plane was appropriate given their suspicious activities.
And a great commentary from a Muslim writer in Arizona
Who do you like for President in 2008?
Vote early -- but not often.
Because after all -- even murdering troglodytes who follow the "religion of hack your enemies to pieces" need to have some guidelines for their conduct. I'll highlight some of the more interesting ones.
Every Mujahid must abide by the following rules:
• 1. A Taleban commander is permitted to extend an invitation to all Afghans who support infidels so that they may convert to Islam.
• 2. We guarantee to any man, who turns his back on infidels, personal security and the security of his possessions. But if he becomes involved in a dispute, or someone accuses him of something, he must submit to our judiciary.
• 3. Mujahideen who protect new Taleban recruits must inform their commander.
• 4. A convert to the Taleban, who does not behave loyally and becomes a traitor, forfeits our protection.
• 5. A Mujahid who kills a new Taleban recruit will be punished according to Islamic law.
• 6. If a Taleban fighter wants to move to another district he must get permission from his group leader.
• 7. A Mujahid who takes a foreign infidel as prisoner with the consent of a group leader may not exchange him for other prisoners or money.
• 8. A provincial, district or regional commander may not work for a non-governmental organisation or accept money from an NGO.
• 9. Taleban may not use Jihad equipment or property for personal ends.
• 10. Every Taleb is accountable to his superiors in matters of money spending and equipment usage.
• 11. Mujahideen may not sell equipment.
• 12. A group of Mujahideen may not take in Mujahideen from another group to increase their own power.
• 13. Weapons and equipment taken from infidels or their allies must be fairly distributed among the Mujahideen.
• 14. If someone who works with infidels wants to co-operate with Mujahideen, he should not be killed. If he is killed, his murderer must stand before an Islamic court.
• 15. A Mujahid or leader who torments an innocent person must be warned by his superiors. If he does not change he must be thrown out of the Taleban movement.
• 16. It is strictly forbidden to search houses or confiscate weapons without the permission of a district or provincial commander.
• 17. Mujahideen have no right to confiscate money or personal possessions of civilians.
• 18. Mujahideen should refrain from smoking cigarettes.
• 19. Mujahideen are not allowed to take young boys with no facial hair on to the battlefield or into their private quarters.
• 20. If members of the opposition or the civil government wish to be loyal to the Taleban, we may take their conditions into consideration.
• 21. Anyone with a bad reputation or who has killed civilians during the Jihad may not be accepted into the Taleban movement.
• 22. If a Mujahid is found guilty of a crime and his commander has barred him from the group, no other group may take him in.
• 23. If a Mujahid is faced with a problem that is not described in this book, his commander must find a solution in consultation with the group.
• 24. It is forbidden to work as a teacher under the current puppet regime, because this strengthens the system of the infidels. True Muslims should apply to study with a religiously trained teacher and study in a Mosque. Textbooks must come from the period of the Jihad or from the Taleban regime.
• 25. Anyone who works as a teacher for the current puppet regime must receive a warning. If he nevertheless refuses to give up his job, he must be beaten. If the teacher still continues to instruct contrary to the principles of Islam, the district commander or a group leader must kill him.
• 26. Those NGOs that come to the country under the rule of the infidels must be treated as the government is treated. We tolerate none of their activities, whether it be building of streets, bridges, clinics, schools, madrases [schools for Koran study] or other works. If a school fails to heed a warning to close, it must be burned. But all religious books must be secured beforehand.
• 27. [With alleged criminality] As long as a person has not been convicted of espionage and punished for it, no one may take up the issue on their own. Only the district commander is in charge. Witnesses who testify must be in good psychological condition, possess an untarnished religious reputation, and not have committed a major crime.
• 28. No lower-level commander may interfere with contention among the populace. If an argument cannot be resolved, the district or regional commander must handle the matter. The case should be discussed by religious experts or a council of elders. If they find no solution, the case must be referred to religious authorities.
• 29. Every Mujahid must post a watch, day and night.
• 30. The above 29 rules are obligatory. Anyone who offends this code must be judged according to the laws of the Islamic Emirates.
In other words, no smoking, no pedophilia -- but kill all the teachers.
Gotta love the ethics of these jihadi pigs.
You must be kidding! The former NY Times "reporter" best known for making up stories out of whole cloth and plagiarizing the work of others is now writing for a magazine about bipolar disorder -- the illness that he claims made him engage in his acts of journalistic dishonesty.
After a humiliating plagiarism scandal that rocked the New York Times [NYT], Jayson Blair is quietly resurrecting his journalism career by writing about the very subject he says brought him down: Bipolar disorder.
Blair, 30, has been lending his expertise to 3-year-old bp (bipolar) magazine. He wrote a first-person piece about bipolar disorder and the role it played in his downfall that bp magazine ran last year.
“It went through a very rigorous editing process,” said Editor Nancy Tobin. “We just have a very rigorous editing process and a great deal of fact checking.” Tobin admits she was skeptical of Blair at first. “When I first got a call from Jayson Blair I was very surpised,” said Tobin, who didn’t know he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Before he wrote for them, Tobin said she “made very careful verfications that he was who he said he was” and had him fax her his diagnosis from his psychiatrist’s office.
But can you trust a thing he says?
Folks still debate what it is, who built it, and why.
The island of Antikythera lies 18 miles north of Crete, where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean. Currents there can make shipping treacherous -- and one ship bound for ancient Rome never made it.
The ship that sank there was a giant cargo vessel measuring nearly 500 feet long. It came to rest about 200 feet below the surface, where it stayed for more than 2,000 years until divers looking for sponges discovered the wreck a little more than a century ago.
Inside the hull were a number of bronze and marble statues. From the look of things, the ship seemed to be carrying luxury items, probably made in various Greek islands and bound for wealthy patrons in the growing Roman Empire. The statues were retrieved, along with a lot of other unimportant stuff, and stored.
Nine months later, an enterprising archaeologist cleared off a layer of organic material from one of the pieces of junk and found that it looked like a gearwheel. It had inscriptions in Greek characters and seemed to have something to do with astronomy.
That piece of "junk" went on to become the most celebrated find from the shipwreck; it is displayed at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Research has shown that the wheel was part of a device so sophisticated that its complexity would not be matched for a thousand years -- it was also the world's first known analog computer.
The device is so famous that an international conference organized in Athens a couple of weeks ago had only one subject: the Antikythera Mechanism.
Every discovery about the device has raised new questions. Who built the device, and for what purpose? Why did the technology behind it disappear for the next thousand years? What does the device tell us about ancient Greek culture? And does the marvelous construction, and the precise knowledge of the movement of the sun and moon and Earth that it implies, tell us how the ancients grappled with ideas about determinism and human destiny?
Just one more bit of evidence that the past is not always as cut and dried as we thin it is -- and that there is always something more to learn.
As an educator and a taxpayer, I find the leniency shown to Dottie Malone Atkins to be shocking and unacceptable.
A former English professor at Texas Southern University, who has served six months of a 10-year sentence for stealing thousands of dollars from programs she managed at the school, could be released on probation before Christmas.
Dottie Malone Atkins, 67, pleaded guilty in April to theft by a public servant in connection with fraudulent requisitions she created and consultant fees she was paid as director of the Mickey Leland Center on World Hunger and Peace, and two other programs, prosecutors said. She was sentenced in June to 10 years in prison. She had faced a maximum sentence of 20 years.
But state District Judge Don Stricklin granted her request this week for "shock probation," meaning she will be released from prison after serving about 180 days and will be placed on supervised release.
"The good news is Ms. Atkins will be home for Christmas," said Sam Adamo, her lawyer. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, according to court records.
Harris County Assistant District Attorney Donna Goode said the state opposed probation. She wants Stricklin to impose conditions of release that include restitution, community service and an apology to TSU administrators and students.
Prosecutors have said that from 2000 to 2002, Atkins stole about $76,000 from the Leland center, the university's anti-tobacco program and the Texas Legislative Intern Program.
They said she created fake requisitions and invoices for work that was not done.
This thief will not even admit the full extent of her crimes -- what is the deal with letting her out early? What is more, there is no requirement that she make restitution for the money she stole -- money that came from students at TSU and taxpayers of the state of Texas. And to listen to her lawyer, she is the victim in this case -- a victim of "gambling addiction".
Here's hoping that Judge Stricklin reconsiders his decision -- or that some avenue remains for the state to overturn his action. Serving five percent of a sentence and making no restitution for the damage she has done is no punishment for Atkins.
This story is shocking -- not only do the government-mandated dairy cartels raise your prices for dairy products, they also prevent any competition outside that cartel structure.
In the summer of 2003, shoppers in Southern California began getting a break on the price of milk.
A maverick dairyman named Hein Hettinga started bottling his own milk and selling it for as much as 20 cents a gallon less than the competition, exercising his right to work outside the rigid system that has controlled U.S. milk production for almost 70 years. Soon the effects were rippling through the state, helping to hold down retail prices at supermarkets and warehouse stores.
That was when a coalition of giant milk companies and dairies, along with their congressional allies, decided to crush Hettinga's initiative. For three years, the milk lobby spent millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions and made deals with lawmakers, including incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
Last March, Congress passed a law reshaping the Western milk market and essentially ending Hettinga's experiment -- all without a single congressional hearing.
"They wanted to make sure there would be no more Heins," said Mary Keough Ledman, a dairy economist who observed the battle.
As I said, the story shocks the conscience. And the arrogance of the anti-competition members of Congress involved in this travesty, both Republican and Democrat, is disgusting. We need to throw every one of them out -- especially those in leadership positions or who acted to prop up the profits of their own family businesses.
In most industries, this sort of activity would be illegal and an example of activity forbidden under anti-trust laws. But Big Ag is treated differently by the government, and so the consumer gets screwed .
Time to get cartels, agricultural subsidies, and price controls out of the supermarket, and allow the free market to set prices for us instead.
Brushing past months of unflattering headlines about a federal corruption investigation, Representative William J. Jefferson was elected to a ninth term on Saturday, with a decisive runoff victory that again emphasized this city’s sharp racial divisions.
Mr. Jefferson, a Democrat, was heavily favored in black precincts, and Saturday’s result suggested that his loyal constituents ignored the accusations of an F.B.I. investigation and rallied around him, as they had in the past and as the congressman had pleaded with them to do. He has not been charged with anything, and vigorously maintains his innocence.
A dominant figure in Louisiana politics for more than 20 years, Mr. Jefferson, 59, is at the center of a political organization that is influential at several levels of elected office in this city.
With slightly more than a third of the precincts reporting, Mr. Jefferson led his Democratic challenger, Karen Carter, 37, a lawyer and Louisiana state representative, with just more than 60 percent of the vote late Saturday. Mr. Jefferson ran especially strong in suburban Jefferson Parish, about a third of the district, where the sheriff had come out against Ms. Carter. She conceded around 10:15 p.m. Central time.
The election did not affect the Democrats’ new majority in Congress but was nonetheless being followed in Washington, where there was concern about the potential pall a Jefferson victory could cast on the party’s new emphasis on ethics. Democratic leaders kicked Mr. Jefferson off the House Ways and Means Committee last summer in response to the Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into his financial dealings. The state party refused to endorse him.
Let's see -- Murtha, Hastings Mollohan, and now Jefferson -- what will Pelosi do about these unethical/criminal members of her own caucus?
And by the way, I think that Jefferson's reelection shows the need to get Baker and Hamilton working on a "New Orleans Study Group" that will set a path for US withdrawal from that cesspool of corruption where success is impossible for those who seek to impose honest government.
Update: A Quandry for Democrats
More at Michele Malkin
A must story for football fans.
A big guy with a big love of the game and a big heart (the stories I could tell you!) is excelling in his career. I’d love to see this come to pass.
I’d have thought that this year’s hurricane season would have caused caution – but less than two weeks after it ended, we are already getting the same sort of alarmist predictions regarding next year’s hurricane season that we heard back this past spring.
Te 2007 Atlantic hurricane season should have above-average activity, a top hurricane researcher said Friday.
Colorado State forecaster William Gray predicted 14 named storms next year, including three major hurricanes and four other hurricanes.
Gray and fellow researcher Philip Klotzbach said fewer hurricanes are likely to make landfall compared to last year, which had the busiest and most destructive hurricane season on record.
It had 28 named storms, including 15 hurricanes, four of which hit the U.S. The worst of those was Katrina, which leveled parts of the Gulf Coast.
This year's season had nine named storms and five hurricanes, two of them major. That was considered a "near normal" season but fell short of predictions by Gray and government scientists.
No hurricanes hit the U.S. Atlantic coast in 2006 - only the 11th time that has occurred since 1945.
Gray's team said a late-developing El Nino contributed to the calmer 2006 season but that those conditions are likely to dissipate before the next June-to-November season.
"Despite a fairly inactive 2006 hurricane season, we believe that the Atlantic basin is in an active hurricane cycle," Gray said. The active cycle is expected to continue for another decade or two, he said.
In other words, despite not knowing what they were talking about last year, they are confident that they know what they are talking about this year.
So, will this heavy season be the fault of George W. Bush – or of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the Democrats, given that they are now in charge and setting the tone in Washington?
And folks are going out of their way not to note a tiny little detail about the so-called “lone-wolf terrorist”.
A man was arrested Friday by federal agents on charges of planning to set off hand grenades in garbage cans at a shopping mall.
Derrick Shareef, 22, of Rockford, was arrested when he met with an undercover agent in a parking lot to trade a set of stereo speakers for four hand grenades and a handgun.
Federal officials said he planned to set off four hand grenades in garbage cans at the CherryVale shopping mall in Rockford, about 90 miles northwest of Chicago.
He was charged with one count of attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion and one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Officials say he was acting alone.
If convicted, each charge in the complaint carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Federal officials said that in September, Shareef became acquainted with a witness who was cooperating with the FBI and confided to him that he wanted to commit acts of "violent jihad," as well as other crimes, to obtain funds to further his goals.
Shareef? Jihad? But this terrorist pig’s religious affiliation isn’t mentioned in a single article I’ve encountered (not even FoxNews), despite such an incredibly ethnic name and the goal he was seeking to fulfill with his attack. This leads to an obvious conclusion.
As Limbaugh said today on his show – sounds like a Methodist. Surely, he must be a Methodist. Gotta be a Methodist.
Anything but a Muslim.
After all, Islam is the Religion of Peace.
Seems to be a match made in Leavenworth.
If reports are true that Chelsea Clinton and her boyfriend Marc Mezvinsky are considering marriage, the father of the groom won't be able to attend the wedding until he is released from prison in November 2008.
Ed Mezvinsky, a former Iowa Congressman, is serving a seven-year sentence for fraud after getting caught up in a series of Nigerian e-mail scams.
Initially, Mezvinsky became the victim of "just about every different kind of African-based scam we've ever seen," federal prosecutor Bob Zauzmer told 20/20 for a report to be broadcast this evening.
But then, says Zauzmer, Mezvinsky began to steal from clients and even his own mother-in-law to raise the money to try yet another scheme.
* * *
After leaving Congress, Mezvinsky moved to Philadelphia's Main Line suburbs with his wife Marjorie Margolies, a former television reporter, who won a seat in Congress herself.
"They were seen as people of means; they were a legitimate power couple," said Gar Joseph, a political columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.
The Mezvinkskys were also close to Bill and Hillary Clinton and were frequent guests at White House state dinners.
Prosecutors say Mezvinsky used his connections to the Clintons and his son's social relationship with Chelsea to persuade people to give him money to participate in the scams.
Stupid and corrupt – seems to me to be a step down for Chelsea, whose parents are at least intelligent and corrupt.
The words of Hezbollah’s leader would seem to imply that, since that is how jihadis like Hezbollah deal with individuals seen as collaborators with Israel – and Saniora’s response seems likely to confirm the implicit sentence of death.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora denounced Hezbollah and its leader on Friday in an unusually personal attack, a day after the guerrilla group's chief renewed his pledge to bring down the U.S.-backed government.
The prime minister and Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah had traded barbs in the past, mostly through aides or supporters, but their recent remarks descended into direct attacks for the first time. The escalation of rhetoric marked a sharp turn in Lebanon's political crisis and further stoked the tensions between the two sides that threatens to tear the country apart.
"What we've seen yesterday was an unnecessary fit of anger and rudeness that we don't accept," Saniora told hundreds of supporters at his heavily fortified office complex where he has been holed up since the opposition launched street protests on Dec. 1 to bring down his government.
He accused Nasrallah of threatening a coup and said the protests will lead nowhere. Emboldened by international support for his U.S.-backed government, Saniora has repeatedly insisted he would not give in to the demonstrations.
In a rousing speech delivered Thursday night on huge screens in central Beirut, Nasrallah accused Saniora of conniving with Israel during its monthlong war with Hezbollah last summer. He claimed Saniora ordered the Lebanese army to confiscate Hezbollah's supplies of weapons - his sharpest attack on the prime minister since the August cease-fire that ended the fighting.
"Didn't the prime minister of Lebanon work to cut off the supply lines?" Nasrallah asked.
He said government officials had asked American envoys to persuade Israel to destroy Hezbollah: "Those are the ones responsible for the war, not the resistance."
We know that Hezbollah is nothing more than a Syrian and Iranian proxy, and that Syria has been killing Lebanese leaders for years in an effort to keep the country in turmoil. Let’s make it clear that any action against Saniora – and continued funding of Hezbollah – will be grounds for action against the Baathist government of Syria and Islamofascist government of Iran, which the “realists” of the Iraq Surrender Group see as partners for peace in the Middle East.
I guess it helps to be a darling of the liberals -- then there is no outrage.
Hot on the heels of Mel Gibson and Michael Richards, radio personality Don Imus let loose with his own barrage of antisemitic vitriol on the November 30 broadcast of his “Imus in the Morning” show.
That morning, the program, which is produced in New York by WFAN and simulcast on MSNBC, was going to host a group of gospel singers known as the Blind Boys of Alabama. In anticipation of their appearance, Imus recalled reservations voiced by station supervisors prior to an earlier appearance by the group.
“I remember when I first had ’em on a few years ago,” Imus said. “The Jewish management at, whoever we work for, CBS, were bitchin’ at me about it.” WFAN is a subsidiary of WCBS radio.
“We had a meeting in my office,” Imus continued. “They were furious, but of course I don’t care what they say and never have.”
At this point, the show’s executive producer, Bernard McGuirk, a regular on-air presence, said of the Blind Boys, “Even if you wear a beanie, how can you not love these guys?”
“I tried to put it in terms that these money-grubbing bastards could understand,” Imus replied. “I said: ‘They’re handicapped, they’re black and they’re blind. How do we lose here?’ And then a light bulb went off over their scummy little heads.”
Imus co-host Larry Kenney, an impressionist who appeared earlier in the program as the Rev. Jerry Falwell, then said: “They probably were trying to push a more Semitic group on you. I don’t know, maybe the Paralyzed Putzes of Poland, or something like that.”
“You can’t believe what goes on behind the scenes, at least with me with these people,” Imus said. “And fortunately, I don’t care.”
Imagine that line coming from a commentator like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Bill O’Reilly. There would be a public uproar, even more vitriolic than the furor over Mel Gibson’s drunken tirade. Why hasn’t Imus’ clearly offensive comments provoked an outrage.
Oh, that’s right – Imus is seen as a friend by the liberals, so he gets a pass regardless of how offensive his statements are.
Indian men's penises do not match international sizes and most condoms on sale in the country are too big, according to a medical study.
The Indian Council of Medical Research, the country's top health research institute, found 60 percent of men in Mumbai had penises at least 2.4 centimeters (one inch) shorter than international condom sizes, The Times of India newspaper said Friday.
For 30 percent, the gap was five centimeters (two inches), said a researcher quoted in the article headlined "Indian men don't measure up".
The institute surveyed 1,400 men visiting family planning clinics across the country to conduct the "Study on proper length and breadth specification for condoms".
The study was carried out in a bid to improve the sizing of condoms, which have a failure rate of up to 20 percent in India.
"While improper usage is one of the reasons, there is also condom slippage or tear, which is associated with the size of the condom in relation to an erect penis," said Dr Chander Puri, director of the councils National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health.
[INSERT YOUR PUNCHLINE HERE]
Just a quick reminder of the difference between American military personnel and those they fight.
The story of a group of Marines' quest to save a sick baby in war-torn Iraq gives some hope to humanity this holiday season.
At the center of the story is Navy medic Chris Walsh and the 1st Battalion 25th Marines. The Marines were patrolling the streets of Fallujah in June when they faced an enemy attack.
"An IED exploded immediately adjacent to Chris' vehicle, so they all piled out to chase the trigger man," said Capt. Sean Donovan.
But the Marines had a surprise encounter in their pursuit.
"And as they did so, a woman came from one of the houses calling to them that the baby was sick. So they stopped, and Chris came up and looked at the baby," Donovan said. "And this was baby Mariam, and it was immediately clear to him that this baby desperately needed care."
Baby Mariam was just 2 months old and suffering from a rare intestinal abnormality. Under the threat of another attack, Walsh had to make a quick decision.
"Right on the spot, the mission changed from the trigger man to the baby girl," Donovan said.
A routine military mission suddenly became a lifesaving mission for Walsh and those around him.
"The shared willingness to engage this mission was the bravery of the family in bringing her forward," Donovan said.
Chris Walsh was killed by an IED in September – but the mission of caring for little Mariam continues.
"To honor Chris, to honor the other men that died in battalion, we had to go through with the mission and keep fighting," said Father Marc Bishop. Eventually the Marines won their fight, and baby Mariam was granted permission to leave Iraq.
Dr. Rafael Pieretti from Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital performed the surgery, which took place in October.
"She's doing well," Pieretti said. "She's gained weight. She's socializing more. She has a different life."
On the eve of baby Mariam's arrival, Walsh's mother, Maureen, received a letter from Donovan, telling her the story of a life that was saved because of her son's big heart.
The letter from Donovan read in part: "Although he won't be visible, Chris will be very much on that patrol, the hope for Mariam's very tiny life having arisen from the charity and gallantry of your son."
Miraiam lives because of the kindness, decency, and generosity of servicemen like Chris Walsh and his comrades. But you won’t here John Murtha, John Kerry, or the rest of the Cut-n-Run Caucus talking about these selfless actions by our troops – because you see, it doesn’t fit with the version of the truth with which they seek to mislead the American people.
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, an unabashed apostle of Reagan era conservatism and the first woman U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has died.
The death of the 80-year-old Kirkpatrick, who began her public life as a Hubert Humphrey Democrat, was announced Friday at the senior staff meeting of the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
Spokesman Richard Grenell said that Ambassador John Bolton asked for a moment of silence. An announcement of her death also was posted on the Web site of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-oriented think tank here where she was a senior fellow.
Kirkpatrick's assistant, Andrea Harrington, said that she died in her sleep at home in Bethesda, Md. late Thursday. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Kirkpatrick's health had been in decline recently, Harrington said, adding that she was "basically confined to her house," going to work about once a week "and then less and less."
One of my favorite commentators, Bill Bennett, offers this eulogy for the former UN Ambassador.
Bill Bennett, a former secretary of education under Reagan, the nation's drug czar under the first President Bush and a leading conservative opinion-maker, called her "very forceful, very strong, a daughter of Oklahoma, great sense of humor. She held her own."
Bennett said the Iraq Study Group so prominently in the news "would have been better with Jeane Kirkpatrick on it ... She had no patience with tyrannies, said they had to be confronted, you couldn't deal with tyrannies, that there were some people you could work with - these people you couldn't."
In other words, Ambassador Kirkpatrick was a true realist, unlike those currently accorded the title.
Why should we expect good-faith in future negotiations if one of the party rejects every past agreement?
Earlier Friday, Haniyeh vowed that the Hamas government would never recognize Israel and would continue to fight for the liberation of Jerusalem.
"The world's arrogance (US) and Zionists ... want us to recognize the usurpation of the Palestinian lands and stop jihad and resistance and accept the agreements reached with the Zionist enemies in the past," Haniyeh told thousands of Friday prayer worshippers at Teheran University.
The United States is pressing the Hamas-led Palestinian government to recognize Israel, renounce violence and form a national unity government with Fatah in a bid to revive the peace process with Israel.
"I'm insisting from this podium that these issues won't materialize. We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem," he said.
So we have one more element of the Iraq Surrender Group/Israel Sell-out Group plan collapsing before our very eyes. So much for “realism”!
I cannot believe how far down the road of dhimmitude some have gone – incidents like this are not examples of “tolerance” or “accommodation”, but are instead a flat-out surrender of law and culture to a force alien to Western society.
A COUNCIL has sparked fury by virtually shutting a swimming pool on Sunday afternoons for “Muslim-only” sessions.
All women are banned — and non-Muslim men may swim IF they follow the strict Islamic dress code of swim shorts that hide the navel and extend below the knee.
Croydon Council in South London runs the sessions at Thornton Heath leisure centre between 4.45pm and 6.45pm.
Similar slots are laid on for Muslim women outside opening hours, where bathers must be covered from the neck down to the ankle.
Locals who flock to the area’s only major leisure centre each week are furious.
Member Daniel Foley, 44, said: “I turned up and saw a sign saying it was closing early for Muslim afternoon — I couldn’t believe it.”
Nearby Croydon Mosque defended the move. It said: “Muslims are not allowed to show off intimate parts of their body. This is non-negotiable. Muslims have as much right to go swimming as anyone else.”
Croydon Council said: “We are keen to ensure sports facilities are there for everyone.”
But what the Council doesn’t realize is that their decision doesn’t ensure that the facility is there for everyone. Rather, it segregates and separates, limiting access to the general public during times when the facility has customarily been open to them. I’m certain that the Council would not consider a “Whites Only” swim time to accommodate those who object to being surrounded by non-whites, or a “Christians Only” swim time. Until and unless the facility is rented out to a Muslim group for such exclusive use, the facility ought to remain open to all in the name of tolerance and equality of all the people of the area.
President Bush vowed yesterday to come up with "a new strategy" in Iraq but expressed little enthusiasm for the central ideas of a bipartisan commission that advised him to ratchet back the U.S. military commitment in Iraq and launch an aggressive new diplomatic effort in the region.
On the day after the congressionally chartered Iraq Study Group released its widely anticipated report, much of Washington maneuvered to pick out the parts they like and pick apart those they do not. The report's authors were greeted with skepticism on Capitol Hill, and Democratic leaders used the occasion to press Bush to change course without embracing the commission's particular recipe themselves.
The group's 96-page report roiled some in the Middle East, particularly Israel, which rejected proposals for concessions to Syria. And it drew fire from current and former U.S. officials who called its diplomacy ideas unrealistic, unattainable and even misguided. The U.S. ground commander in Iraq, while welcoming the report's broad principles, warned that meeting its goal of withdrawing combat units by early 2008 could prove to "be very problematic."
So let's get this straight -- the White house sees problems with it, the Democrats aren't embracing it, our allies are opposed to the ideas included, and the military finds its suggestions unworkable. Would somebody explain why the authors are being called "realists"?
Today is the sixty-fifth anniversary of the sneak attack on Pearl harbor by the Japanese. Today's New York Times carries a special section dealing with the recovery from the attack -- with pictures and articles censored and locked away during the war, with a special focus on the civilian shipyard workers brought to Pearl to aid in the recovery.
In the months after Dec. 7, a sleepy shipyard went into hyperdrive, pulling off unprecedented feats of engineering that The Times’s Robert Trumbull described in a series that is excerpted on today’s Op-Ed page. The Japanese had crippled the fleet but left the Navy base’s immense oil storage tanks untouched, making it possible to ramp up the shipyard for 24-hour duty. The Navy and the civilians made it up as they went along: The U.S.S. Oklahoma, flipped with its belly exposed, was righted by a fantastical arrangement of cables and winches out of “Gulliver’s Travels.”
On May 27, 1942, the carrier Yorktown, severely damaged in the Battle of the Coral Sea, pulled into port and was immediately swarmed upon by more than 1,400 workers. She sailed out again on the 30th, fit to fight in the Battle of Midway.
The local labor force was supplemented by a flood of thousands of workers, mostly bachelor men, shipped in from the states. Their lives centered around the shipyard and Civilian Housing Area III, population 12,000 at its peak and suddenly Hawaii’s third-largest city after Honolulu and Hilo. It had its own train station, bus fleet, police department, baseball fields, boxing arenas, theater, post office, stadium and football tournament, the Poi Bowl. And it had a newspaper, The Pearl Harbor Banner, filled with small-town news items (“Five Hundred Pairs of Shoes Salvaged Here,” “Fresh Vegetables Now Assured”), photos, sports scores and updates from the front.
One of those civilians was Fred Bagley, My maternal grandfather, who was recruited in Providence, Rhode Island, to help bring the Pacific Fleet back to fighting strength. This special section therefore has a special meaning to me, thirty-seven years after a heart attack took him away from me. I never got to hear the stories that I know he had to share, so I will count this as a chance to learn a little more about him and what he did during the war.
I encourage readers to take the time to read about the work of thousands of men whose efforts were so important to the war, but whose work is often overlooked as we rightly honor those who fought and died.
This discovery gives us insight into the state of Egyptian medicine.
Archaeologists have discovered the mummified remains of a doctor they believe lived more than 4,000 years ago and was buried along with metal surgical tools.
The mummy was discovered in Saqqara, 12 miles south of Cairo, while archaeologists were cleaning a nearby site, Egypt's official Middle East News Agency quoted Zahi Hawass, chief of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, as saying.
Hawass said the doctor, named Qar, lived under the 6th dynasty from about 2350 B.C. to 2180 B.C., and that the upper part of the tomb was discovered in 2000 while the sarcophagus was found during more recent cleaning work.
"The lid of the wooden casket had excellent and well-preserved decorations ... and the mummy's linen wrappings and the funerary drawings are still in their original condition," Hawass said.
He said the mask covering the face of the mummy was very well preserved despite slight damage to the mouth area.
Bronze surgical instruments, earthenware containers bearing the doctor's name, a round limestone table, and 22 bronze statues of gods were also discovered, Hawass said.
I never cease to be amazed what emerges from the sands of that "antique land".
I certainly hope so -- indeed, I hope they scrap TAKS.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst agreed Wednesday with some lawmakers who want to replace the TAKS test with end-of-course exams for high school students.
"Our interest is to be able to move away from the test to end-of-course exams and have a standardized test where we could evaluate what the results of our teaching is (compared) to other states," Dewhurst said after speaking to the Statewide Education Legislative Briefing.
High school students would take end-of-course exams, and all seniors would be required to take either the SAT or the ACT.
The state would pay for that test, which would be nearly $50 per student, Dewhurst said.
Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, recently proposed scrapping the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test for end-of-course exams in the higher grade levels.
The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
"I don't know of anybody who thinks it's a bad idea," Shapiro said.
She plans to push for the change during the next legislative session, which opens Jan. 9.
I certainly agree with the Shapiro proposal as it relates to the high school level. Indeed, I would go a step beyond that and include start-of-course exam as well, so that we can find out not only what students know, but also how much they are learning along the way. That would actually bring some real accountability to both students and teachers, which the current system tries, but fails, to impose.
Residents of a southern Somalia town who do not pray five times a day will be beheaded, an Islamic courts official said Wednesday, adding the edict will be implemented in three days.
Public places such as shops and tea houses in Bulo Burto, about 124 miles northeast of the capital, Mogadishu, should be closed during prayer time and no one should be on the streets, said Sheik Hussein Barre Rage, the chairman of the town's Islamic court.
Those who do not follow this edict "will definitely be beheaded according to Islamic law," Rage told The Associated Press by phone. "As Muslims, we should practice Islam fully, not in part, and that is what our religion enjoins us to do."
He said that the courts are announcing the edict over loudspeakers in the town.
Let's just call it the "Religion Of Hack Your Opponents To Pieces".
The location has long been known, but now Vatican archaeologists have worked to uncover the apostle's burial site so that the faithful can view it.
Vatican archaeologists have unearthed a sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul that had been buried beneath Rome's second largest basilica.
The sarcophagus, which dates back to at least A.D. 390, has been the subject of an extended excavation that began in 2002 and was completed last month, the project's head said this week.
"Our objective was to bring the remains of the tomb back to light for devotional reasons, so that it could be venerated and be visible,'' said Giorgio Filippi, the Vatican archaeologist who headed the project at St. Paul Outside the Walls basilica.
The interior of the sarcophagus has not yet been explored, but Filippi didn't rule out the possibility of doing so in the future.
Two ancient churches that once stood at the site of the current basilica were successively built over the spot where tradition said the saint had been buried. The second church, built by the Roman emperor Theodosius in the fourth century, left the tomb visible, first above ground and later in a crypt.
When a fire destroyed the church in 1823, the current basilica was built and the ancient crypt was filled with earth and covered by a new altar.
Neat stuff -- and a remarkable discovery for Christians around the world.
After all, I've seen him to be pretty much a fraud on every conservative issue, so I'm not surprised by this statement.
Gov. Rick Perry, who built his re-election campaign on border security, told a gathering of border mayors today that building a wall along the border with Mexico is a "preposterous" idea.
"Now, strategic fencing in certain urban areas to direct the flow of traffic does make sense, but building a wall on the entire border is a preposterous idea," Perry said.
"The only thing a wall would possibly accomplish is to help the ladder business."
While Perry always opposed fencing the border, his re-election campaign de-emphasized that position.
Perry ran millions of dollars of television advertising portraying the border as an open zone of human and drug smuggling and as a potential pathway for terrorists. He launched a program to put live Internet cameras along the border and said he would ask the Legislature for $100 million for border security.
The campaign was widely seen as an effort to appeal to a Republican voting base angry at the federal government for failing to act to halt illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America.
Perry told the Texas Border Coalition that the national anti-immigrant rhetoric of the political campaigns was not constructive.
Governor Good-Hair has licked his finger, put it to the wind, and determined that amnesty and open borders are going to win in the next Congress -- and he wants to make sure he is on the right side.
But so-called "realists" consider this Holocaust-denying loon an excellent partner for peace in the Middle East.
"These oppressive countries are angry with us ... a nation that on the other side of the globe has risen up and proved the shallowness of their power," Mr Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northern town of Ramsar.
"They are angry with our nation. But we tell them 'so be it and die from this anger'. Rest assured that if you do not respond to the divine call, you will die soon and vanish from the face of the earth," he said.
Hey, Mahmoud -- Allahu F*ck You!
On the other hand, burning an American or Israeli flag is still perfectly acceptable to the moral midgets of the Associated Students.
Preceding an ongoing investigation into SF State College Republican behavior, the Associated Students board unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the student group for purposely stomping on flags containing the Arabic symbol for God.
“Associated Students, Inc. deems the College Republicans’ actions as contrary to university values and feel they should be held accountable by the university for their actions,” the resolution says.
The Nov. 15 resolution comes on the heels of several student and student organization complaints at board meetings and the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development, or OSPLD, which has also sparked a separate investigation and assembly of a special panel to decide if the College Republicans did indeed violate the university’s conduct rules.
The resolution cited a rule outlined in the university’s Strategic Plan saying, “SFSU facilitates teaching, learning and work experiences among students, faculty and staff that promote equity and social justice within a respectful and safe environment.”
Moreover, the resolution sets the stage for the College Republicans possibly losing official student group status and or ASi funding.
Amid heavy campus police presence at an Oct. 17 anti-terrorism rally in Malcolm X Plaza, some members of the crowd turned angry when the College Republicans stepped on homemade Hezbollah and Hamas flags, though the student group claims they were not initially aware the flags contained the Arabic symbol for God.
After that, the College Republican-organized rally dissolved into a heated shouting match between the group and a mix of students, including some Muslim students, eventually resulting in formal complaints to student representatives.
‘They were voicing their concerns that this event was even allowed. They were offended,” said Kimberly Castillo, board member and chair of University Affairs, the committee that drafted the resolution. “We felt it our duty to respond.”
Administrators have been criticized for even allowing the rally to take place.
“The actions on the part of the College Republicans amount to no more than hateful religious intolerance, and constitutes an attempt to defy policies outlined and defined by San Francisco State University’s values,” the resolution says. “Members… pre-mediated the stomping of the flags knowing it would offend some people and possibly incite violence.”
ASi board members Joicy Serrano and Faith Cushenberry have been appointed to the Student Organization Hearing Panel, which will convene when the OSPLD investigation concludes.
Joey Greenwell, director of the OSPLD, declined to comment and did not give a time frame when it might be finished, saying all matters of the investigation are confidential.
The College Republicans said they will take legal action against the university if sanctions are imposed upon them, citing their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
First, I'm shocked that the ASI is condemning the actions BEFORE the investigation and hearing on the matter. Seems rather Stalinist to me, and it makes any investigation and hearing appear to be nothing more than a show-trial. After all, consider what the resolution says -- before the investigation or hearing, it declares the group to be guilty of the offense. And to ensure the College Republicans are found guilty, two members of the board that passed that passed the resolution will be voting members of the hearing committee!
Second, has any student group ever been sanctioned for disrespect to the Israeli falg and the Jewish symbols contained therein? For disrespect shown to Christian symbols by feminist groups? For disrespect to the American flag, which is clearly constitutionally protected (as are the other acts of disrespect)?
Why the specific protection of terrorist organization banners and Muslim religious sensitivities? What about the rest of us -- and the rights guaranteed under the US Constitution?
Death to Hamas! Death to Hezbollah! Death to Associated Students, Inc! Partners in terrorism, oppression and murder.
Bravo for the Holy See, which insists upon ministering to all people in all parts of the world, and standing up to the Red Chinese dictators who operate a puppet church that regularly flaunts the authority of the Pope.
The Vatican will move to resume relations with China after more than half a century if religious freedom is allowed but it will not abandon China's diplomatic rival Taiwan, an official said on Tuesday.
The Vatican, which Taiwan sees as an important ally as it fights for international legitimacy against China, would seek to restore an apostolic nunciature in Beijing for the first time since the Communist Party began ruling China in 1949, said Monsignor Ambrose Madtha, charge d'affaires at the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Taipei.
But the Vatican would seek to keep a delegate in Taiwan, he said. Taiwan split from China in 1949 after the civil war that brought the Communists to power, and the Vatican went with it.
"Holy See's position is quite clear and is known to the Taiwanese government," Madtha said. "The Holy See would maintain its delegate in Taipei. The Holy see will not abandon Taiwan."
Thank you, Holy Father, for standing up against Communist oppression, as your sainted predecessor did before you.
And I wish it told us that they were being reconstructed after their destruction by the Taliban in a grave act of historical vandalism.
The empty niches that once held Bamiyan’s colossal Buddhas now gape in the rock face — a silent cry at the terrible destruction wrought on this fabled valley and its 1,500-year-old treasures, once the largest standing Buddha statues in the world.
It was in March 2001, when the Taliban and their sponsors in Al Qaeda were at the zenith of their power in Afghanistan, that militiamen, acting on an edict to take down the “gods of the infidels,” laid explosives at the base and the shoulders of the two Buddhas and blew them to pieces. To the outraged outside world, the act encapsulated the horrors of the Islamic fundamentalist government. Even Genghis Khan, who laid waste to this valley’s towns and population in the 13th century, had left the Buddhas standing.
Five years after the Taliban were ousted from power, Bamiyan’s Buddhist relics are once again the focus of debate: Is it possible to restore the great Buddhas? And, if so, can the extraordinary investment that would be required be justified in a country crippled by poverty and a continued Taliban insurgency in the south and that is, after all, overwhelmingly Muslim?
The whole world should be contributing to this project -- led by the Muslim world, to make up for the great CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY that was committed in the name of their faith by the Taliban when they destroyed these great works.
Because the birth of a child is, generally, a wonderful, joyous event.
Mary Cheney, the vice president's openly gay daughter, is pregnant. She and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are "ecstatic" about the baby, due in late spring, said a source close to the couple.
It's a baby boom for grandparents Dick and Lynne Cheney: Their older daughter, Elizabeth, went on leave as deputy assistant secretary of state before having her fifth child in July. "The vice president and Mrs. Cheney are looking forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of their sixth grandchild," spokesman Lea Anne McBride said last night.
Cheney, 37, was a key aide to her father during the 2004 reelection campaign and now is vice president for consumer advocacy at AOL. Poe, 45, a former park ranger, is renovating their Great Falls home.
News of the pregnancy will undoubtedly reignite the debate about gay marriage. During the campaign, Mary Cheney was criticized by gay activists for not being more publicly supportive of same-sex marriage. Her father said people "ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to" but deferred to the president's policy supporting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages. Cheney herself called the proposed amendment "a gross affront to gays and lesbians everywhere" in her book, "Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life," which was published in May.
Cheney has described her relationship with Poe -- whom she took to last year's White House dinner honoring Prince Charles and Camilla-- as a marriage. The two met in 1988 while playing ice hockey and began dating four years later. They moved from Colorado to Virginia a year ago to be closer to Cheney's family. In an interview with the Post six months ago, when asked if she and Poe wanted children, Cheney said that was a "conversation I think I should have with Heather first."
Even if my belief is that a mixed-sex, two-parent family is the best family structure, I will not condemn or cast aspersions upon those who act differently.
And sadly, I suspect that the timing of this event was based upon politics. No, not the politics of her father and the Bush Administration, but the politics of personal destruction the Left has engaged in regarding homosexual Republicans and or homosexual family members of Republicans.
This sounds like the best possible plan -- one that establishes a paper trail for vote verification.
A federal panel voted yesterday to begin developing a national standard that could result in the gradual phasing out of the paperless electronic voting machines in use across the Washington region and in many parts of the country.
The "next generation" of voting systems should have an independent means of verifying election results, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee said. The standard would have to be adopted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
"This seems to mark the end of an era" for paperless electronic voting, said Doug Chapin, director of electionline.org, a nonpartisan organization that tracks changes in the country's election systems.
The commission and its advisory panel have yet to determine when the new standard would go into effect and how it would apply. A report prepared by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology last week said the new standard would not be implemented until 2009 at the earliest.
Now I trust the system we have here in Harris County (the eSlate), but still believe that a system with a paper trail needs to be adopted. I encouraged our county election official to adopt such system several years ago, but that advice was not taken. The reality is that I like optical scanners, because they leave a verifiable, voter-marked system whereby we can manually count what the voter marked if necessary, while still quickly scanning and recording them.
On the other hand, this system still worries me. Do you really want your vote entrusted to the United States Postal Service?
This is clearly a non-disruptive protest directed against a policy impacting the students. Why, then, will the school district not permit the exercise of free speech by students who object to a new dress code?
Oh -- it has to do with the picture, which no one found offensive for well-over a month.
The parents of two students threatened with suspension for donning buttons depicting Hitler youth are suing, claiming the boys' free speech rights were violated.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Friday, seeks to bar the Bayonne school district from suspending or disciplining seventh-grader Anthony LaRocco and fifth-grader Michael DePinto if they wear the protest buttons.
The buttons, which were made to protest a mandatory uniform policy for grades K-8 adopted in September, have the words "no school uniforms" with a slash over a superimposed photo of young boys wearing identical shirts and neckerchiefs.
A lawyer for the parents, Karin R. White Morgen, said her clients did not want to speak to reporters, but provided a statement from DePinto's mother, Laura DePinto.
"I've gotten overwhelming support from MANY people that tell me that they absolutely agree with what the image depicted, an ominously homogenous group of blindly cooperative children," the statement said.
"That image showed no swastikas, no weapons, and Hitler himself wasn't depicted," she wrote. "The picture makes a profound statement about what can happen when we turn children into 'uniform' followers."
One student wore the button for at least six weeks before objections were raised last month, said Morgen.
This is the lame excuse offered by the school district.
The district, in letters sent to the parents, said the images of the Hitler youth "are considered objectionable and are offensive to many Bayonne citizens and do not constitute free speech according to Mr. Kenneth Hampton, attorney for the Bayonne Board of Education."
How, exactly, are they offensive, when no one objected for six-weeks? There are no symbols of racism or hate, and the message is clearly not one supporting Nazism or its evil works of genocide. What is being protested is forced regimentation. There can be no other legitimate understanding of the buttons, which clearly are free speech, according to the First Amendment of the Constitution.
I don't think that this should take long for the courts to decide -- after all, the controlling precedent in Tinker says the issue quite clearly in holding that neither students nor teachers "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
Oh, and since you might be wondering -- I support the school district's uniform policy, and hope the challenge by the parents is rejected by the NJ Department of Education
I despise the position of this group. I believe that their sign is one which engages in religiously-bigoted speech. However, consistent with my belief that there should not be viewpoint discrimination by public entities, I support the right of this group to be treated exactly like every other campus group when it comes to posting signs with political messages -- and to exercise constitutional liberties freely.
A women's group at Rhode Island College is suing the school, saying its free speech rights were violated when campus police took down signs bearing the message "Keep Your Rosaries Off Our Ovaries."
The Women's Studies Organization posted the signs near a campus entrance last December to coincide with a day of activism for women's rights. But police removed the signs within a few hours after a priest on his way to conduct a weekly Mass observed them and alerted the president of the public college, the students said.
The president, John Nazarian, then ordered the signs taken down, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of the students by the Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.
"The issue is this is a public university, and a public university can't abridge anyone's free speech rights — including the students," said Jennifer Azevedo, an ACLU volunteer attorney.
The group had been negotiating with the college over the signs in the past year, but had been unable to resolve the problem and decided to sue, said Nichole Aguiar, the organization's president and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The complaint seeks damages and asks a judge to declare the college's acts unconstitutional. It also challenges a recently enacted policy on campus signs that the group complains is selectively enforced.
The college said in a statement it could not comment because it had not seen the complaint but added that it respected and encouraged free speech by the entire campus community.
"It is this robust exchange of views and ideas that provides our students with the opportunity to grow and learn and take advantage of the full college experience," the statement said.
An anti-abortion student group at the college, RIC 4 Life, released a statement Monday calling the signs from the women's organization offensive and disrespectful. It said it would continue working "to educate the RIC community about the gift of life."
The sort of speech restrictions that Rhode Island College (found in the article) has enacted are offensive to American values. They must be struck down so that every group -- including wrong-wing anti-life religious bigots like the Womens Study organization -- have the ability to speak freely on the campus of a public college or university.
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Genocide? What Genocide? by Joshuapundit, and Getting the News from the Enemy by Flopping Aces. Here are the full results of the vote.
Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|2 1/3||Genocide? What Genocide?|
|2||The Art and Artifice of War Reporting|
Right Wing Nut House
|1 2/3||After the Next Attack|
Done With Mirrors
|1 1/3||The Problem With Hate Crimes|
|1||Iraq, Iran, Syria and the Realists -- Part I|
|1||Would You Rather Be Hanged Or Shot?|
The Glittering Eye
|2/3||Human Rights Watch Says "Poor Saddam"|
Gates of Vienna
|2/3||The Right To Elect a Convicted Felon?|
Rhymes With Right
|1/3||Mythology and War|
|2 2/3||Getting the News from the Enemy|
|1 2/3||Is the L.A. Times Repeating Enemy Propaganda?|
|1 1/3||"Peace Now" Makes a Land Grab Of It's Own|
|1 1/3||Getting the News from the Enemy, Update|
Flopping Aces (2)
|1||Would a Summit Help in the War on Islamists?|
The QandO Blog
|1||Profiles in Slack|
Last Refuge of a Scoundrel
|2/3||Time to End Blame Game|
After all, today is December 4, 2006 -- some 15 months after Katrina hit New Orleans.
More than 15 months after Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Ray Nagin on Monday tapped a leading regional planner and disaster recovery expert to head a new city recovery office.
Edward J. Blakely, who helped coordinate recovery planning in California after two natural disasters and in New York City after Sept. 11, has been chosen to lead what is expected to be a five-person office and to serve as the leader for marshaling a recovery process that critics have derided as too slow.
``We think he's the best in the world to help us through this recovery,'' Nagin said at a news conference.
Well, now we know why New Orleans is still a ruin -- Ray Nagin was trying to find someone with a clue to help him rebuild.
It's Christmas time. Let's have a manger, shepherds, wise men and a star -- but no Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Christ is missing from Christmas in this small town. The community's holiday display has a manger with shepherds, a guiding star, camels and a palm tree, but no baby Jesus, Mary or Joseph.
The parks superintendent said Jesus was left out because of concerns about the separation of church and state. But Mayor Dick Callaway said it was done for purely technical reasons: "It's not easy to put a light-up representation of a baby in a small manger scene, you know."
In recent years, some communities around the country have dropped nativity scenes after the displays were challenged as unconstitutional. Some communities have tried to head off legal problems by incorporating nonreligious symbols, or symbols of more than one faith, to avoid the appearance of endorsing one religion over another.
David Cunningham, parks superintendent in this town of 11,000, initially insisted St. Albans' display was not even technically a manger scene because he was concerned about possible lawsuits. But the mayor said such anxieties were unwarranted.
"We have a manger scene," the mayor said.
No, you have a parody of the Christmas story -- take it down, and keep the city offices open on Christmas Day. Oh yeah, and prepare to lose the next election, for we Christians will not be mocked by this patronizing insult to our faith.
UPDATE: Jesus is back -- but he will be "Abandoned Baby Jesus", with no Mary and Joseph.
Some big news in the world of archaeology and history – discoveries and developments galore!
1) In Israel, a fourth-century church has been discovered at Shiloh, the ancient spot that the Bible tells us was home for the Ark of the Covenant at one time.
The site, emerging from the soil in the hills of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is richly decorated with brightly colored mosaics and inscriptions referring to Jesus Christ.
The church dates to the late 4th century, making it one of Christianity's first formal places of worship, said the team, led by Yitzhak Magen and Yevgeny Aharonovitch.
"I can't say for sure at the moment that it's the very first church, but it's certainly one of the first," Mr. Aharonovitch said yesterday as he supervised a team carrying out the final excavations before winter. He said the site contained an extremely unusual inscription that referred to itself, Shiloh, by name.
"That is very rare and shows early Christians treated this as an ancient, holy place," said Mr. Aharonovitch, 38. According to the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the two tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, was kept by the Israelites at Shiloh for several hundred years.
Discussions are underway regarding how o conserve the site – and about whether further digging might result in the discovery of the ancient site of the Jewish Tabernacle.
2) In an unprecedented discovery, the standard of the Emperor Maxentius was found with other imperial items on the Palatine Hill in Rome
Archaeologists have unearthed what they say are the only existing imperial insignia belonging to Emperor Maxentius _ precious objects that were buried to preserve them and keep them from enemies when he was defeated by his rival Constantine.
Excavation under Rome's Palatine Hill near the Colosseum turned up items including three lances and four javelins that experts said are striking for their completeness _ digs usually turn up only fragments _ and the fact that they are the only known artifacts of their kind.
Clementina Panella, the archaeologist who made the discovery, said the insignia were likely hidden by Maxentius' people in an attempt to preserve the emperor's memory after he was defeated by Constantine I in the 321 A.D. battle of the Milvian Bridge _ a turning point for the history of the Roman empire which saw Constantine become the unchallenged ruler of the West.
"Once he's lost, his objects could not continue to exist and, at the same time, could not fall in the hands of the enemy," she said Friday.
Some of the objects, which accompanied the emperor during his public appearances, are believed to be the base for the emperor's standards _ rectangular or triangular flags, officials said.
An imperial scepter with a carved flower and a globe, and a number of glass spheres, believed to be a symbolic representation of the earth, also were discovered.
The discovery was announced Wednesday by Italy's Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli during a visit to New York.
The items, inside wooden boxes and wrapped in linen and silk, were found buried at a sanctuary last year and have since been restored and analyzed. The depth of the burial allows experts to date them to the early 4th century A.D., ministry officials said.
I can’t wait to see pictures.
3) Egypt is relocating 3200 families from a village near the Valley of the Kings to allow archaeological work on an ancient necropolis that lies beneath it.
ulldozers moved Saturday into an Egyptian village near the Valley of the Kings in pursuit of a long-delayed effort to allow archaeologists to begin studying a wealth of tombs in the area.
Gurna is the village closest to the Valley of the Kings, where Tutankhamen and other pharaohs were buried.
It lies on top of a vast necropolis where wealthy and powerful commoners built their painted tombs in the second millennium B.C.
The Egyptian government, with advice from architect and intellectual Hassan Fathi, tried to move them in 1948 by building the model village of New Gurna on the banks of the Nile, but most trickled back to their old homes.
On Saturday, the bulldozers picked away at four uninhabited mud- brick houses, apparently in an attempt to show that the government was serious this time.
Samir Farag, the governor of nearby Luxor, the center of the tourist trade in the area, said 120 houses had been demolished in the last week and that all but five or six people in the village had signed up for the new resettlement program, which involves 3,200 households.
Unfortunately, many of the residents do not wish to move, because of distrust of the government, the belief their new homes are too small, and the fear they will lose their ability to exploit the tourist trade.
1) Shortly after the New Year, Congress will pass and the President will sign an immigration bill granting amnesty and eventual citizenship to border-jumping immigration criminals -- guaranteeing that a new generation of 20 million new illegal immigrants will be granted amnesty sometime in the next quarter century. After all, the amnesty of the 1980s led directly to the increased illegal immigration of the 1990s and 2000s because there was an expectation of another one. Why should things happen differently this time?
2) Will the Saudi Peace Initiative of 2002 finally bear fruit? Perhaps, if Israeli PM Olmert agrees to the framework This could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state, as well as peace between Israel and seven Arab countries: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, the Emirates, Morocco and Tunisia. Are the Arabs willing to guarantee Israeli security against the various terrorist groups they have encouraged in the region over the last several decades?
3) When even the incoming head of the Congregation for the Clergy says that the abolition of mandatory celibacy should be considered, can the elimination of the practice be that far away?
4) Fresh from his reelection as dictator, Hugo Chavez now plans on throttling the free press of Venezuela with a new censorship law aimed at those who criticize his government.
5) Here we have it – Steven Breyer is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court, as evidenced by his own words. If it is his intent to look beyond the Constitution to determine the validity of American law, he is in violation of his oath of office.
6) The New York Times is lamenting the possibility that the Supreme Court might interfere with local control of school districts that want to use race in assigning students to schools based upon race and ethnicity. Have the editors really moved so far from the principles of Brown v. Board of Education? And here is an early report on oral arguments on the topic before the Court today. And SCOTUS Blog offers a great analysis of why the race-based programs will likely fall.
7) More troops in Iraq, not fewer? That is the call of military leaders, not politicians – you know, the folks who are experts about the situation on the ground and what is needed to win. Sounds like a great idea to me.
8) Terrorists promote ignorance to get a grip on Iraq. I guess that means that only stupid people can support sharia law and jihadi murder.
9) Even though Prager was dead wrong in his column, I don’t believe he should lose his position on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council – an especially not at the urging of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization associate with groups out to finish what Hitler started.
10) John Bolton to leave the UN due to Democrat intransigence on his confirmation, despite doing an excellent job as UN Ambassador.
11) Another one bites the dust. The IDF does good work to eliminate terrorist scum.
12) NASA has interesting new plans for a permanent presence on the moon.
Yesterday at church, I had the odd experience of telling a couple of friends that I hope they can't make it to the men's Fellowship Christmas party. And a couple of weeks ago, I was rather pleased that one of these guys couldn't join me to watch the Texans play his favorite team because of a work-related meeting.
Now that may sound weird, but around here it isn't -- it is a sign that a launch is imminent, and that everything is going according to plan. After all, the guys who will miss the Christmas party are part of the team that will be guiding this little project once it gets of the ground on Thursday night.
They wield no scalpels, but seven U.S. and European shuttle astronauts will be prepared to carry out electronic bypass surgery when they lift off this week to overhaul an outdated power system aboard the international space station.
Many involved in Discovery's upcoming 12-day flight consider it among the most challenging of the 33 space station construction missions that will be flown by NASA shuttle crews.
"This is a major milestone in space station assembly," said NASA's John Curry, the mission's lead space station flight director. "I will be pleasantly surprised if everything works without a hitch."
Curry's planning team has spent more than four years preparing a timeline of critical procedures that must be carried out by the astronauts, in concert with activities in Mission Control.
If successful, the shuttle crew will replace the station's 6-year-old temporary power system with a permanent electrical grid.
The overhaul will provide electricity to power European and Japanese science modules when they are added to the station in late 2007 and 2008. The work also will enable the 220-mile-high orbital outpost to house six full-time astronauts in three years, twice the current population.
Mission Control will interrupt the flow of electricity to half of the space station during two of the shuttle crew's three spacewalks. The interruptions will enable the spacewalkers to make more than 150 changes to external power lines.
"It's just like it was in your own home when your mother told you to turn off the lamp before you unplugged it," said astronaut Robert Curbeam, who will lead each of the near seven-hour outings.
Equally as worrisome, one of two 120-foot-long solar panels that have supplied electrical power to the station for the past six years must be retracted. The never-before-attempted retraction is necessary to provide clearance for a pair of similar panels on the solar power module installed on the station by the Atlantis astronauts in September.
Stretching 240 feet, the panels on the new power module are designed to rotate like a slow-turning aircraft propeller to collect sunlight that can be converted into electricity.
To establish the new electrical grid, the shuttle crew and flight controllers also must activate four external power distribution boxes and a pair of coolant pumps that have been dormant since they were installed four years ago.
The challenge for the shuttle crew and ground controllers will be to activate the pumps as quickly as possible after the distribution boxes are switched on during the second and third spacewalks. The cooling fluid circulated by the pumps prevents the boxes from overheating.
Discovery's launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is scheduled for Thursday at 8:36 p.m. CST.
The liftoff will be the first at night in four years. According to shuttle managers, NASA must resume nighttime launches if the agency is to finish assembling the half-built station. The project must be finished by 2010, the White House-imposed retirement date for the space shuttles.
"At this stage, every mission is critical. Every mission depends upon the success of its predecessor," said Mark Polansky, Discovery's commander. "Every mission that follows is concerned with how we finish."
Discovery's mission was once scheduled to lift off in July 2003, six months after the shuttle Columbia's in-flight destruction. In September, the Atlantis astronauts carried out the first of 15 flights needed to finish the space station.
After the cause of Columbia's breakup was traced to damage from foam insulation loss during liftoff, NASA used daytime launches for the best use of cameras that would track any loss of foam from the shuttle's external fuel tank. With no debris causing serious damage, NASA is more confident about night launches.
Discovery's crew will deliver an 11-foot-long addition to the station's solar power network.
Once the astronauts reach the orbital base, they plan to hoist the 4,100-pound aluminum truss segment from the shuttle's cargo bay with a robotic arm.
During the mission's first spacewalk, Curbeam and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang plan to bolt the $11 million extension to the station. If the older solar panel refuses to retract, Curbeam and Fuglesang would be directed to use battery-operated ratchets to reel in the panel.
The spacewalkers could also face problems as Mission Control attempts to activate the dormant power distribution boxes and coolant pumps on the second and third outings.
Managers could add a fourth spacewalk. Replacement boxes and pumps are already positioned aboard the station.
"You are basically re-wiring your house while you live in it," said Kirk Shireman, who chairs NASA's space station mission management team. "So, we have spent a lot of time over the years developing procedures to back out of our procedures, another reason why this fight is so complicated."
So guys, we'll all be thinking about you when the gift exchange is going on -- because we know that you have something much more important to do. Good luck and Godspeed to all involved in the Discovery launch and mission.
I reject the religion, but I applaud the United States Government for approving a religious symbol for the graves of its adherents killed in the service of the United States.
The widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan saw a Wiccan symbol placed on a memorial plaque for her husband Saturday, after fighting the federal government for more than a year over the emblem.
Roberta Stewart, widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, and Wiccan leaders said it was the first government-issued memorial plaque with a Wiccan pentacle, a five-pointed star enclosed in a circle.
More than 50 friends and family dedicated the plaque at Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Nev., about 45 miles east of Reno.
They praised Gov. Kenny Guinn (R) for his role in getting the Nevada Office of Veterans Services to issue the plaque in September. The agency cited its jurisdiction over the state veterans' cemetery.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved the symbols of 38 other faiths for use in national veterans' cemeteries; about half are versions of the Christian cross.
The Jewish Star of David, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel, the Mormon angel, the nine-pointed star of Bahai and an atomic whirl for atheists are also permitted, but not the pentacle.
VA officials have said they are rewriting rules for approving emblems, but the process requires a public comment period.
About 1,800 active-duty service members identify themselves as Wiccans, according to 2005 Defense Department statistics, and Wicca is one of the fastest-growing faiths in the country. Its adherents worship the Earth and believe they must give to the community. Some consider themselves "white" or good witches, pagans or neo-pagans.
Patrick Stewart and four other soldiers died Sept. 25, 2005, when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
I'm just sorry it took so long to do the right thing here.
It does not get any clearer than this -- such statutes are under-inclusive in their application.
If their overarching purpose is to affirm the equality of all people, then the law should punish all assaults the same, regardless of the race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status of the victim. The "protected class" should be human beings.
Cut through all the arguments about freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and "perceived harms" from crimes based upon bias, and this is the heart of it -- no person should be victimized by crime, and differential treatment based upon "protected class" status undermines the very notion of equality that we as a society strive for in our attempts to wipe out racial bias.
With reluctance, I support them. But I feel sad about needing to do so.
All snout and tail, the pink and brown pigs contentedly rooting in the wire pen behind Craig Baker's stone shop seem piggishly comic. They're racing pigs, after all, and that's got to be funny.
But few in the sprawling subdivisions along Baker Road are laughing.
These pigs are subtle weapons, here to show the new neighbors — the Katy Islamic Association — they aren't entirely welcome. Tension has been growing in this west Harris County community since September when the Muslim group announced it had purchased 11 acres south of Interstate 10 to build a mosque, school, community center and athletic facilities.
Hard feelings started when Baker met association officials, who, he said, advised him he should move his stone shop.
"They told me it was time for my family to pack up," said Baker, whose family has occupied its land since the early 1800s. "They said a mosque and a marble shop didn't go too good together."
Angered by the perceived insult and aware of Islamic dietary laws banning pork consumption, Baker responded by announcing he would stage weekly pig races on his Muslim neighbors' holiest day of prayer.
Ordinarily, I would oppose anyone making new neighbors, especially a house of worship, unwelcome in such a manner. But it strikes me that Baker's actions don't make any sense absent some sort of provocation from the Katy Islamic Association. After all, why would a successful and respected businessman, a life-long resident of the community with roots in the area that go back to the early nineteenth century, take actions that are likely to alienate as many folks as they please?
But aren't pigs on the property line racing on a Friday night a little offensive to a Muslim neighbor?
"The meat of a pig is prohibited in the religion of Islam," said Katy Islamic Association member Youssof Allam. "It's looked upon as a dirty creature."
Yeah, there's that and also that Friday night is a Muslim holy day.
"That is definitely a slap in the face," said Allam.
But is it really any more of a slap in the face than telling a man to close up his business and move away? Or beginning construction on the property without applying for -- much less being issued -- the appropriate permits? It seems to me that there is a real problem here with regard to the conduct of the Katy Islamic Association.
There are, of course other concerns from the local community.
"It's not an appropriate place to have a mosque or church," said resident Barbara Simpson.
It isn't going over real well.
"As a house of worship, they shouldn't be disturbing the peace and tranquility of 15 homes," said resident John Wetmore.
Neighbors tell us they're concerned about traffic and drainage and a little fear of the unknown. Some of the homeowners even offered to buy the land back for more than a million dollars. The K.I.A. doesn't seem very interested in the offers.
"We're not going anywhere," said Katy Islamic Association member Alvi Muzfar.
And frankly, I don't find any of those arguments convincing. After all, this is a developing area in which the road will, sooner or later, be widened to accommodate the additional residences. A house of worship in the area is not, as County Commissioner Steve Radack points out, in any way incompatible with the area. And the drainage issues will be dealt with in the permitting process, just as they would if there were a new sub-division put in. So I see no reason NOT to build the mosque complex, and urge the community to welcome their new neighbors.
But I also urge the Katy Islamic Association to make amends with Craig Baker for whatever offense they caused, wittingly or unwittingly -- at which point I hope Baker will send his piggies to market or donate them to the Katy ISD FFA program.
And I repeat what I have said here in the past -- even though I have serious problems with the tenets of Islam, though long experience I know that most Muslims are decent, hard-working, peace-loving people. They are welcome here in this country as citizens and friends, with an absolute right to the liberties guaranteed in our Constitution. But they do not have to impose Islamic practices and values upon the rest of us, nor do they have a right not to be offended by others acting contrary to Islam. After all, religious freedom is a two-way street.
For now the KIA has been ordered to halt all building on their property because the organization has been issued a notice of permit violation by the Harris County Building Permits division.
“A violation is in place and they have to stop all construction until they offer information we have asked them for and until they have a permit issued,” said Raymond Anderson, Manager of the Harris County Permits Division.
“If they do not confer with our policies in place they could be referred to the (Harris County) District Attorney's office.”
Seems to me that the neighbors might very well have some things to be concerned about.
And notice, please, that the spokesman for the group refuses to answer questions about the comments to Craig baker. If they were never made, why no denial?
OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Conservative Cat, Third World County, Madman Returns, Wake Up America, Adam's Blog, Samantha Burns, Stuck On Stupid, The HILL Chronicles, Bullwinkle Blog, Pirate's Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, Dumb Ox, Uncooperative Blogger
How true this is.
Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy. -- John Derbyshire
Because after all, the United States (not to mention Israel) is the true focus of evil in the world, not oppressive dictatorships and sharia states that oppress their people.
Yes, I know it seems like a mundane way for someone to die, but given the state of medical “science” during this stage of Egyptian history, it does not come as a surprise that an infection resulting from injuries sustained in some sort of accident could kill a person, even a healthy young man.
A CT scan of King Tutankhamun's mummy has disproved a popular theory that the Egyptian pharaoh was murdered by a blow to the head more than 3,300 years ago.
Instead the most likely explanation for the boy king's death at 19 is a thigh fracture that became infected and ultimately fatal, according to an international team of scientists.
The team presented its results this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago, Illinois.
"I think it is the end of the investigation. … We can now close this file," said team leader Ashraf Selim, a radiologist at Kasr Eleini Teaching Hospital at Cairo University in Egypt.
The murder theory can pretty well be discounted by discoveries about the two bone chips found loose in Tut’s skull in a 1968 x-ray. In all likelihood, rough handling of Tut’s mummy by Egyptologist Howard Carter and his associates did that damage, along with much of the other damage to the skeleton.
But the break in the left thigh was coated with the resin, indicating that it happened shortly before the body was embalmed and that there was an associated wound through which the resin leaked. Given the probability of an infection, it should not be surprising that Tut died quickly, before there was a chance for significant healing of the injury.
But there is information about “King Tut’s Curse” in the article – it is an interesting read.
With a hidden video camera rolling, Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford allegedly pocketed a $1,900 payoff from a government informant in October, then promised results.
"I'll drum up seven (votes) or make somebody walk out."
That was among allegations levied Thursday against council members Ford and Rickey Peete, who were arrested by FBI agents on federal bribery charges accusing them of accepting thousands of dollars from an informant in exchange for their votes.
In the second major local public corruption investigation in two years, authorities say secret audio and video recordings show the pair received cash payments -- $12,000 for Peete and $6,900 for Ford -- for their support of a real estate development and billboard approved by the council on Oct. 3.
The federal investigation, dubbed "Main Street Sweeper," comes amid the prosecution of politicians statewide in the FBI's Operation Tennessee Waltz.
To date, 15 public officials or aides have been charged in the investigations.
"In the book of public corruption ... this is another sad chapter," said My Harrison, FBI Special Agent in Charge.
Both investigations are open and ongoing, according to U.S. Atty. David Kustoff.
The Ford family now has defendants in both investigations.
John Ford, the brother of Edmund Ford, is awaiting trial in a Tennessee Waltz case alleging he took $55,000 in bribes for his support of a bill in the legislature sought by FBI agents posing as crooked businessmen.
And remember, this is the family that produced the Democrat Party candidate for US Senate in Tennessee this fall – I wonder if a closer look at Harold Ford, Jr. and his years in the House will show hat the apple didn’t fall far from the tree?
And you know what is more shocking – the other indicted councilman was previously convicted of taking bribes during his first stint on the city council. Are the folks in Memphis capable of self-government?
Look what the cat drug in – a corrupt Democrat set to head another major subcommittee. In this case, the committee that oversees the budget of the law enforcement agency that is investigating his corruption.
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is under investigation by the FBI. And he's set to assume a top post which would put him in control of the FBI's budget. Neat trick, eh?
The FBI's probing Mollohan for possible violations of the law arising from his sprawling network of favors and money which connects him to good friends via questionable charities, alarmingly successful real estate ventures, and hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarked funds.
The investigation appears to be active and ongoing. We're told that the Feds continue to gather information on the guy. Yet the Democrats look poised to make Mollohan the chairman of the panel which controls the purse strings for the entire Justice Department -- including the FBI.
Anyone else find that outrageous? How can Nancy the Ethics Queen possibly clean House while allowing such a blatant conflict of interest?
Unless, of course, this is another example of a Democrat broken promise to preserve Democrat corruption.
Indeed, these questions are precisely why I (and others) urged Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman to go with an optical scanner system when we went to paperless electronic voting. We got the paperless eSlate instead.
Paperless electronic voting machines used throughout the Washington region and much of the country "cannot be made secure," according to draft recommendations issued this week by a federal agency that advises the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
The assessment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, one of the government's premier research centers, is the most sweeping condemnation of such voting systems by a federal agency.
In a report hailed by critics of electronic voting, NIST said that voting systems should allow election officials to recount ballots independently from a voting machine's software. The recommendations endorse "optical-scan" systems in which voters mark paper ballots that are read by a computer and electronic systems that print a paper summary of each ballot, which voters review and elections officials save for recounts.
Personally, I think we should use a system similar to the "scantron" forms that my students use on tests -- one that is simple, clear, and leaves a paper original that is easy to verify. And the technology is not high-tech at all.
And if we had, I suspect that Nick Lampson would not be headed to Congress from CD22, given that Congresswoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs suffered a huge drop in votes due to the complicated method of casting a write-in vote.
It is nice to see UH have success again, given the number of former students I have go there to play football -- and Rice hasn't been to a bowl game in my lifetime. To have both going to bowls in the same year is nothing short of amazing.
For years they've been crosstown rivals in despair, suffering loss after loss while fans waxed nostalgic about long-vanished gridiron prominence. At times their supporters could only empathize with the bittersweet lament of the perpetual loser: "Been down so long it looks like up to me."
As Chronicle sportswriter Richard Justice observed, "Every year around this time, we gather to bury football at Rice and Houston. We hurumph that the Owls and Cougars will never again be respectable, that their time has long since passed."
Not this holiday season. Both Rice and UH can hold their heads high. Tonight at Robertson Stadium, the latter faces Southern Mississippi for the Conference USA championship, with the Liberty Bowl on the line. Meanwhile Rice is packing its bags for a trip to the Big Easy and the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 22 to face the Sun Belt Conference champion.
Houston's comeback started in earnest in 2003, when coach Art Briles arrived and put gifted freshman quarterback Kevin Kolb at the helm of his unorthodox offense that was initially as entertaining for its shifting formations as its scoreboard results. The Cougars went to the Hawaii Bowl that year, and after several disappointing seasons have bounced back to amass a 9-3 record.
Rice's rise has been meteoric, with first-year coach Todd Graham taking a team that was 1-10 last year and started 0-4 this season to a 7-5 finish and their first bowl appearance in 45 years. It's fitting that the two Houston teams faced off at the start of the year; the Cougars scratched out a come-from-behind, 31-30 victory.
Both teams are reaping awards for their performances. UH's Kolb has been named C-USA player of the year, while Rice coach Graham is the conference coach of the year. Meanwhile, Cougar coach Briles is in the running for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award selected by the Football Writers Association of America.
Now that Rice and UH have discovered the formula for winning seasons, fans might just start getting addicted to success. Cougar supporters can do their part by bundling up tonight and filling chilly Robertson Stadium to root their hot team on to Memphis.
Looks like Houston may have something to root for this bowl season.
Well, it would be easier than moving the stones in the manner traditional views suggest, with huge press-gangs manhandling blocks of stone weighing tons.
The Ancient Egyptians built their great Pyramids by pouring concrete into blocks high on the site rather than hauling up giant stones, according to a new Franco-American study.
The research, by materials scientists from national institutions, adds fuel to a theory that the pharaohs’ craftsmen had enough skill and materials at hand to cast the two-tonne limestone blocks that dress the Cheops and other Pyramids.
Despite mounting support from scientists, Egyptologists have rejected the concrete claim, first made in the late 1970s by Joseph Davidovits, a French chemist.
The stones, say the historians and archeologists, were all carved from nearby quarries, heaved up huge ramps and set in place by armies of workers. Some dissenters say that levers or pulleys were used, even though the wheel had not been invented at that time.
Until recently it was hard for geologists to distinguish between natural limestone and the kind that would have been made by reconstituting liquefied lime.
But according to Professor Gilles Hug, of the French National Aerospace Research Agency (Onera), and Professor Michel Barsoum, of Drexel University in Philadelphia, the covering of the great Pyramids at Giza consists of two types of stone: one from the quarries and one man-made.
“There’s no way around it. The chemistry is well and truly different,” Professor Hug told Science et Vie magazine. Their study is being published this month in the Journal of the American Ceramic Society.
The pair used X-rays, a plasma torch and electron microscopes to compare small fragments from pyramids with stone from the Toura and Maadi quarries.
They found “traces of a rapid chemical reaction which did not allow natural crystalisation . . . The reaction would be inexplicable if the stones were quarried, but perfectly comprehensible if one accepts that they were cast like concrete.”
The pair believe that the concrete method was used only for the stones on the higher levels of the Pyramids. There are some 2.5 million stone blocks on the Cheops Pyramid. The 10-tonne granite blocks at their heart were also natural, they say. The professors agree with the “Davidovits theory” that soft limestone was quarried on the damp south side of the Giza Plateau. This was then dissolved in large, Nile-fed pools until it became a watery slurry.
Lime from fireplace ash and salt were mixed in with it. The water evaporated, leaving a moist, clay-like mixture. This wet “concrete” would have been carried to the site and packed into wooden moulds where it would set hard in a few days. Mr Davidovits and his team at the Geopolymer Institute at Saint-Quentin tested the method recently, producing a large block of concrete limestone in ten days.
New support for their case came from Guy Demortier, a materials scientist at Namur University in Belgium. Originally a sceptic, he told the French magazine that a decade of study had made him a convert: “The three majestic Pyramids of Cheops, Khephren and Mykerinos are well and truly made from concrete stones.”
The concrete theorists also point out differences in density of the pyramid stones, which have a higher m