Thursday, March 31, 2005

Hey. Its Sandy Berger.

Politics: I thought this was going to go away, but it looks like it could get interesting.

"WASHINGTON — Former national security adviser Sandy Berger (search) will plead guilty to taking classified material from the National Archives, a misdemeanor, the Justice Department said Thursday. Berger is expected to appear in federal court in Washington on Friday, said Justice spokesman Bryan Sierra."
Unless taking classified material is the akin to jaywalking, Berger must have cut a deal. Update: NYTIMES with more.
"Samuel R. Berger, the former national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge and give up his security clearance for three years after removing classified material from a government archive, the Justice Department and associates of Mr. Berger said today. A well-respected figure in foreign policy circles for many years, Mr. Berger has also agreed to pay a $10,000 fine as part of an agreement reached with the Justice Department in recent days after months of quiet negotiations, the associates said. "....When the issue first surfaced last year, Mr. Berger insisted that he had removed the classified material inadvertently. But in the plea agreement reached with prosecutors, he is expected to admit that he intentionally removed copies of five classified documents, destroyed three of them, and misled staff members at the National Archives when confronted about it, according to an associate of Mr. Berger who is involved in his defense but who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plea has not yet been made formal in court."
All that and he is not facing jail time?


Obama stumps for former KKK member

Politics: Oh the irony.

"Obama told The Charleston Gazette on Wednesday, “Sen. Byrd has spent his career in the Senate standing up for the Constitution and putting principle over politics. The people of West Virginia are lucky to have such a distinguished and powerful advocate fighting for them who consistently delivers results.”
Senate: "At 9:51 on the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert C. Byrd completed an address that he had begun fourteen hours and thirteen minutes earlier. The subject was the pending Civil Rights Act of 1964, a measure that occupied the Senate for fifty-seven working days, including six Saturdays."
Michelle Malkin: "The ex-Klansman later filibustered the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act -- supported by a majority of those "mean-spirited" Republicans -- for more than 14 hours. He also opposed the nominations of the Supreme Court's two black justices, liberal Thurgood Marshall and conservative Clarence Thomas. In fact, the ex-Klansman had the gall to accuse Justice Thomas of "injecting racism" into the Senate hearings. Meanwhile, author Graham Smith recently discovered another letter Sen. Byrd wrote after he quit the KKK, this time attacking desegregation of the armed forces. The ex-Klansman vowed never to fight "with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."


Germany hits postwar unemployment record

EU: and France gets news that can't help stopping the No vote in May.

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Unemployment in Germany rose to a postwar record and France's jobless rate held at a five-year high, threatening prospects for growth in the euro region. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Germany, Europe's largest economy, rose to 12 percent in March from 11.7 percent in February, as the number of jobseekers rose for the 14th month, the Federal Labor Agency said in Nuremberg today. France's jobless rate held at 10.1 percent in February, the Paris-based Labor Ministry reported.


This is rather scummy

Schiavo: Heaven forbid I have a child that gets caught up in a tragic circumstance like this, but as a parent, you did this with my child in her last hours and there will be a Don and Luca Brasi type meeting.

"It is with great sadness that it has been reported to us that Terri Schiavo has passed away," Paul O'Donnell, a Franciscan monk who acts as spokesman for the parents, told reporters. He said the parents and other close family had been allowed into the room after the woman's death. "They've been requesting, as you know, for the last hour to try to be in there. And they were denied access by Michael Schiavo."


Wednesday, March 30, 2005!!

Politics: THE HORROR!!!!

"President Bush is requiring Cabinet members to spend several hours a week at the White House compound, a move top aides say eases coordination with government agencies but one seen by some analysts as fresh evidence of the White House's tightening grip over administration policy."

Damn the White House tightening their grip on...White House....policy.... the hell?


Yet another UN scandal.

UN: This time it's a rising star up the UN ranks that knows she is untouchable.

"An internal review of the United Nations office responsible for promoting and monitoring free elections throughout the world has found a string of management abuses at the agency, including humiliation of its staff, the misuse of agency funds and a willingness by the agency's leaders to tolerate sexual harassment. The scathing review, conducted by a Swiss-based management consulting company and detailed in a 22-page report, describes the agency, the Electoral Assistance Division, as an "unhealthy family." The division, part of the United Nations' Department of Political Affairs, is charged with the supervision of elections in Iraq and elsewhere.

...The review of the electoral division was particularly critical of Carina Perelli, a Uruguayan who is the division director. She had been considered one of the rising young stars at the United Nations and her office has been praised for its vigorous promotion of free and fair elections throughout the world.

The report faulted her management style and the culture it fostered. It said a political affairs officer and secretaries were "routinely used to carry out personal errands" for her and others who were in her "inner circle." The tasks included "driving them and their family members to and from various destinations and appointments, the payment of personal monthly bills and other similar tasks."

In interviews that the Swiss consulting firm conducted this past January and February with 29 current and former members of the division, staff members complained about "public humiliation of individual staff members," "blatant favoritism," and the use of travel funds for unjustified travel, particularly to Latin America, by inner circle members. The employees also told of a culture of fear in which abused or sexually harassed employees were too frightened of retribution to protest treatment that many described as "emotionally devastating." Several of those interviewed said Ms. Perelli often told them: "There's nothing they can do to me. I'm the youngest D2, a woman from a developing country," the report states, referring to the highest-ranking director status, just below that of an assistant secretary general."


Difference between a dirtrag and a real newspaper

UN: Via the Minneapolis Red Star Tribune. (dirtrag)

"There really is a lot more to the Oil-for-Food story -- for example, how the United States looked the other way when it knew Saddam Hussein was cheating, because it served Washington's purpose at the time. But the subject here is Kofi Annan, and Coleman is simply wrong in his conclusions, although that is unlikely to dissuade him. In the end, this isn't about Oil-for-Food. It's about the Bush administration's dislike of Kofi Annan. Coleman is simply the designated administration hit man. But the weapon Coleman has chosen, the Oil-for-Food Program, is a wimpy little toy. And no matter how much Coleman tries to make it look larger, that's what it will remain."
Via Scotsman: (Real newspaper)
"...But the Volcker report faulted Mr Annan over an "inadequate" inquiry into the case, and thereby hangs a tale. Under Mr Annan, the UN allowed the food-for-oil programme to degenerate into a corrupt empire in which Saddam Hussein bribed numerous UN and other diplomats to turn their backs while he looted his country and starved its people. Under Mr Annan, UN agencies failed to notice that Iran was making atomic bombs. Under Mr Annan, UN "peacekeepers" conducted systematic sexual abuse of local women and children across Africa. If Mr Annan was blind to all this - involving billions of pounds and millions of people - why would we expect him to know what his son was up to? Mr Annan will keep his job because his political myopia suits those UN members who see the organisation as a platform with which to beat the West. But if the UN is ever to be reformed, it will need a more sharp-eyed secretary general."


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Nancy Grace powers CNNHN past MSNBC.

Media: Nancy Grace mania runs up and over MSNBC to third place.

"NEW YORK (AP) -- CNN Headline News has supplanted MSNBC as the third-place cable news channel. CNN's sister network recently started a new prime-time lineup that has gotten off to a strong start, particularly a legal-oriented talk show with Nancy Grace. The new format replaced the continuous half-hour newscasts that CNN Headline News still carries for most of the day. But in its first month, the changes enabled the network to eclipse MSNBC in the prime-time ratings, according to Nielsen Media Research. For the full day, CNN Headline News also beat MSNBC for the first three months of the year. ....Grace, who benefited from a busy month of legal news including Michael Jackson's trial, averaged 518,000 viewers in March, Nielsen said. That instantly made her show more popular than anything on MSNBC, including "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. "She's a unique talent," Jautz said. "She's not only an analyst who comments on something, she's a practitioner. She has a practitioner's knowledge, expertise and passion." The ratings show no momentum for MSNBC, and published reports say NBC Universal has been in talks with Microsoft about dissolving their partnership and taking MSNBC over completely. "Headline News has brought new viewers to cable news and in the end that will be good for everyone," MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said."
Well, it won't be good for MSNBC since they are not getting any of the new audience. I pick on Olbermann, but the lineup of MSNBC from Abrams who comes off like a snot nosed frat punk to Matthews and Olbermann who are the two most unlikeable people on cable news needs a major rework. It's not working.


Plans by U.S. to Dominate Space Raising Concerns

Space: But who is concerned?

"Arms control advocates in the United States and abroad are expressing concern with the Bush administration's push for military superiority in space. A series of Pentagon doctrinal papers, released over the past year, have emphasized that the U.S. military is increasingly dependent on space satellites for offensive and defensive operations, and must be able to protect them in times of war. "
Damn those Pentagon people wanting America to be first and the best in space,that is un-American.
Michael Krepon, president emeritus of the Henry L. Stimson Center and an arms control official in the Clinton administration, said the United States is moving toward a national space doctrine that is "preemptive and proactive." He expects the Bush administration to produce a new National Space Policy statement soon that will contrast with the one adopted in 1996 by President Bill Clinton. "We adopted the traditional U.S. position of being a reluctant space warrior," Krepon said of the Clinton position. "Space was to be used for peaceful purposes, but if someone messed with us, we couldn't allow that to happen. But it was not our space policy preference."
Typical Clinton official, wait till they hit us first before we do anything, we must be caring of other's feelings. As if the Russians or Chinese are not working on the same type of weapons, they are not going to stop if we did.


Canada liberal party screws up Kyoto measure.

Canada: How bad of a plan is it when no one likes it?

"Ottawa — Canada's major environmental groups have turned against the federal government over a controversial Kyoto budget measure, increasing the pressure on the Liberals to back down and avoid a showdown with the Conservatives that could lead to a spring election. The NDP and Bloc Québécois have already pledged to vote against the budget bill. Last week, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper also vowed to vote against it unless the environmental provision is removed. Yesterday, eight environmental groups issued a joint statement saying the provision — which would allow Ottawa to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act — is creating an "unnecessary and divisive" debate. The groups found themselves in unlikely agreement with the oil industry, which also criticized the government's approach yesterday, saying it cuts short the debate on Kyoto implementation."

This is a slick move if you want to regulate without debate.

"At issue are a series of changes contained in budget legislation that remove all references to the word "toxic" from the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. That would broaden the substances that could be regulated under that law to include carbon dioxide."


Mugabe hands out laptops for votes.

Zimbabwe: It may be just me, but I would think handing out FOOD would make the people a lot more happy.

"President Robert Mugabe is campaigning across the length and breadth of Zimbabwe accompanied by three Air Force helicopters packed with more than 100 million US dollars worth of state-of-the-art Hewlett Packard laptop computers. Depending on the size of the community, the president doles out between ten and one hundred computers at each stop on the election trail. Schools are the main beneficiaries - many of which have been without electricity, textbooks and even roofs for many years. The money to buy the computers - enough to have imported nearly a million tonnes of staple maize for a country experiencing widespread crop failure and hunger - and to fuel the helicopters has come from state coffers in a clear violation of electoral rules forbidding competing parties from using government funds to contest elections."

Hewlett Packard is not going to like this endorsement.


4th poll shows Non vote growing. PANIC!

France: This is getting good.

"Opposition to the EU's constitution has become the default position on the French left, a new opinion poll confirmed Tuesday, raising massive problems for the "yes" campaign in the run-up to the country's referendum in exactly two months. For the fourth time in under two weeks, a majority of the French public told the Ipsos survey in Le Figaro newspaper that they will reject the constitution on May 29. A total of 54 percent were preparing to vote "no" compared to 46 percent for the "yes." But of deeper concern for the government of President Jacques Chirac were figures showing that most sympathisers with the political left now believe the constitution to be bad for France and Europe. "...Support for the "no" camp in France has been fed by a groundswell of discontent since the start of the year, as voters increasingly identify the EU with their most pressing social concerns: ten percent unemployment, stagnant wage packets and the flight of jobs to low-protection economies in the east. "European construction goes hand-in-hand for these people with business relocation, the decline of the welfare state and economic insecurity," said Ipsos director Pierre Giacometti. Last week Chirac won important concessions from fellow EU leaders, including agreement to re-write the so-called Bolkestein directive opening up the services industry in Europe. The directive was proving a powerful recruiting-sergeant for opponents of the constitution. But even this political victory appeared to have little impact on the negative polls. "Let us not delude ourselves: France is rebelling against liberal Europe," said Le Figaro in an editorial. "

Show you how much in a panic the French government is in, there is this hilarious tidbit.

"Barroso barred from French TV As hostility to the EU Constitution asserts itself amongst the French, all means are being used to stop the anti-Constitution sentiment spreading further. Following fears that even ten minutes of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso's "liberal views" could cost votes, President Chirac put pressure on France 2, a national television station, to stop Mr Barroso appearing on the political programme 100 Minutes to Convince, according to the Financial Times."


Cal Thomas may be hysterical, but he is not wrong

Medical: Cal Thomas had this to say about the Schiavo case.

"Our "evolving standards," as Justice Kennedy recently called them in a death penalty case, means all of us are potentially at risk of euthanasia if we do not measure-up to cultural and arbitrary whims imposed by unaccountable judges. Do you see where this is headed? Today, it's Terri Schiavo. Tomorrow it could be you or me."
John Cole said this in response
"Next thing you know, the 'Culture of Death' Police will be pulling over blue-hairs on their way to the earlybird special, Mercury Marquis after Lincoln Town Car after Buick LeSabre, and shooting them by the side of the road because they are no longer worthwhile or 'measure up.' What a hysterical moron. And not, tragically, in the funny way."

Cal Thomas may be over the top in delivery but he is not wrong in saying of the risk of adding in regards to euthanasia will happen if you go by what is going on in Holland.

Guardian 12/2004
"Euthanasia has been practised for 10 years in the Netherlands, the first country in the world to legalise the practice, and now accounts for 4-5,000 deaths a year, 3.5% of the national death rate. The practice is severely circumscribed and tightly regulated. It is estimated that doctors in the Netherlands, the only people allowed to perform euthanasia, turn down two-thirds of euthanasia requests. Euthanasia is legal from the age of 12. It cannot apply to children because they cannot take a free decision. But several moves are afoot to extend euthanasia beyond the current limits. For example, a national commission of experts concluded last week after three years of deliberation that euthanasia rights should be extended to those wanting to die because they are "tired of life". There is also a discussion about euthanasia for patients suffering from dementia, as well as about psychiatric and other cases involving patients unable to take a rational decision for themselves. On top of these debates comes the discussion over newborns. The dilemma has triggered surprisingly little debate in the Netherlands, but has caused a storm of controversy outside, particularly among the religious right in the US and in the churches. "From the point of view of the Netherlands, this debate about newborns is a logical development," says Professor Henk Jochemsen, a medical ethicist and Christian critic of euthanasia. "It's another step in the wrong direction."
BBC 11/2000
"...Over half of Dutch doctors have performed mercy killings with the required consent and consultation and at least 90% of the population support euthanasia. The BMJ study found that in 1995 almost two thirds of cases of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide went unreported. One in five cases of euthanasia occurred without the patient's explicit request, and in 17% of such cases, alternative treatment was available in contravention of the guidelines. Dutch law requires patients to experience "unbearable suffering" to justify euthanasia. But more than half the doctors surveyed said the main reason given by patients for the request was "loss of dignity". Almost half said they took action "to prevent further suffering". But there are fears that the system is already being abused. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some elderly people carry cards saying they do not want euthanasia. It is said they fear what will happen if they are suddenly hospitalised. Opponents of euthanasia warn that the liberal attitude to euthanasia is fraught with dangers. They say euthanasia has been offered to people suffering from depression, or even as a convenience. Dr Ben Zylicz, of the Dutch League of Doctors, said: "I have heard about a patient where the family came from Canada because of planned euthanasia. "The patient said, 'no, not today I don't want it anymore' and everybody pressed him saying 'look your family came from Canada, they cannot do it again'. "In a country where euthanasia is accepted this kind of thing can happen."
Expatica 06/2004
"Dutch Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has backed a decision by the Procurators-General Council (Attorneys-General Council) that dementia can — in accordance with strict conditions — be a valid reason for euthanasia. The council decided on 8 October last year that a doctor who acceded to an Alzheimer patient's request for help to kill him or herself should not be prosecuted. The council said Alzheimer's on its own is not sufficient reason for euthanasia, but can be if accompanied by unbearable and hopeless suffering. Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands, but is governed by strict regulation, including evidence the patient requested the procedure and that all the alternatives were clearly outlined. "
Australian BioEdge:
Dutch doctors prefer "terminal sedation" to lethal medications, according to a survey by Nijmegan University. Under this system, all treatment, food and water are withheld from heavily sedated patients until they die. Its detractors describe it as "slow euthanasia" since the intention of the doctor is to kill the patient. Pain control expert Bernardus Crul said that better care for the dying in the Netherlands and advances in pain control had now made terminal sedation a viable alternative. "Most doctors no longer see euthanasia as a medical necessity for fighting unbearable suffering and that the solution of terminal sedation is suitable for that," he told the Dutch Evangelical Broadcasting Network. The idea had a frosty reception in Australia from both sides of the debate. Euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke said that it put doctors in control of dying rather than patients. "No one has every come to my [assisted suicide] workshops and said I want to spend five days dying slowly," he told The Age. The president of New South Wales Doctors for Life Catherine Lennon said that it was just another form of euthanasia and that patients should beware of "unethical doctors" who might be willing to use it.
Then you have the cleft-palate abortion case in the UK where two doctors did not have charges brought against them by prosecution services because they acted in good faith.
Guardian: "The inquiry began after a legal challenge over a previous decision by police not to charge the doctors involved in the abortion carried out, in 2001, on an unnamed woman from Herefordshire who was more than 24 weeks pregnant. Joanna Jepson, 28, now at St Michael's Church, Chester, but then a trainee vicar, found out about the procedure in 2002 when studying abortion statistics and suggested that it amounted to unlawful killing. Yesterday Ms Jepson said: "While I'm disappointed about the CPS's decision to drop the case, I am pleased the case has raised the issue of late-term abortion and the plight of disabled babies in late-term pregnancy. It has exposed grave discrimination and I will be seeking legal advice." She said she might try to get clarification from the courts about whether unborn children in the third trimester have got human rights and what constituted "serious handicap". She might consider whether to re-open a judicial review of the first decision not to prosecute. This was stayed after police decided to conduct a second inquiry into the case, admitting the initial decision was not based on a full investigation. Ms Jepson was born with a congenital jaw defect, uncorrected until her teens, and her brother has Down's syndrome. Her lawyers had argued that a cleft palate could not be considered as a severe disability."

.. and last you have Doctor Eduard Verhagen who wants to set up policies on infant euthanasia.

"DR. VERHAGEN says he has watched one child die and was there moments later for the three others. All had severe forms of spina bifida. "The child goes to sleep," he said. "It stops breathing." "I mean, it's difficult to give the right emotion there, but it's beautiful in a way," he said, somewhat aware of how this might sound to a layman. "They are children who are severely ill and in great pain. It is after they die that you see them relaxed for the first time. You see their faces in a way they should be for the first time."

Now I'm not saying that America in 50 years will turn into Logan's Run. But I find John Cole's dismissal of Thomas to be too quick just because of the way it is written. There is justification in people worrying about where is the line to be drawn. The Schiavo case is going to start hearings and debates about euthanasia because people are worried about the slippery slope that Cal Thomas is talking about.

"The Republican-controlled House already passed a bill that would allow the federal courts to review cases like Ms. Schiavo's, in which the patient has left no written instructions, the family is at odds and state courts have ordered a feeding tube to be withdrawn. That bill evolved into one that was narrowly tailored to Ms. Schiavo. Now some Democrats, prodded by advocates for the disabled, say Congress should consider whether such a law is needed. "I think we should look into this and very possibly legislate it," said Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, who opposed Congressional action in the Schiavo case. Mr. Frank was speaking on Sunday on the ABC News program "This Week With George Stephanopoulos." Mr. Frank added: "I think Congress needs to do more. Because I've spoken with a lot of disability groups who are concerned that, even where a choice is made to terminate life, it might be coerced by circumstances." In the Senate, Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, has also been consulting with advocates for disability rights and is preparing to introduce legislation along the lines of the bill that the House passed, a spokeswoman said. Senator Harkin, an author of the Americans With Disabilities Act, was one of the few Democrats in the Senate who spoke in favor of the so-called private relief measure that allowed a federal court to review Ms. Schiavo's case. "
This is not something that is going to go away anytime soon.


Test scores improve, No Child Left Behind praised?

Education: Public education still stinks, but it doesn't stink as bad is one way of looking at it.

"WASHINGTON - Many urban school systems improved in math and reading and narrowed achievement gaps between whites and ethnic groups in the 2003-2004 school year, according to an educational group's analysis released Monday. Despite improved results on tests required by the No Child Left Behind Act, however, scores for big metropolitan school districts continue to lag behind national and state performance averages. "We still have a long way to go," said Michael Casserly, the director of the Council of the Great City Schools, an alliance of 65 metropolitan school systems with a total of 7.3 million students. Several cities showed marked improvements. "...Philadelphia, for example, nearly tripled the number of schools that met yearly progress requirements last year. A total of 160 made that grade, compared with 58 a year earlier. However, 50 of those schools made the goal last year because the state changed its criteria from the 2002-2003 school year to the 2003-2004 year. Paul Vallas, the system's superintendent, credited President Bush's education law with spurring Philadelphia's public schools to standardize their curricula and set clear goals. "The accountability that is a part of the No Child Left Behind Act has certainly pressured districts across the country to invest more of their time and effort in instruction," Vallas said. Among Philadelphia's innovations are benchmark tests every six weeks and a doubling of classroom time devoted to math and literacy, he said. Broward County, Fla., which includes Fort Lauderdale, and Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, did well, scoring above Florida's state average in reading and math in at least half the grades tested."


Monday, March 28, 2005

59 diplomats oppose Bolton

UN: Hell, the disapproval of ex-diplomats means he is the right choice, wear this like a badge of honor.

"WASHINGTON Mar 28, 2005 — Challenging the White House, 59 former American diplomats are urging the Senate to reject John R. Bolton's nomination to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "He is the wrong man for this position," they said in a letter to Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Indiana Republican has scheduled hearings on Bolton's nomination for April 7. "We urge you to reject that nomination," the former diplomats said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press and dated Tuesday."


Season over, let the Kobe hate flow.

Sports: Shaq is laughing.

Atkins, sitting in front of his locker that used to belong to Shaquille O'Neal, was asked by a reporter before the game what moves he would make during the off-season to improve the Lakers. "I ain't the GM of this team," he said. "Kobe's the GM of this team. Ask Kobe. You've been watching this [stuff] all year. You've been watching it and I've been playing in it." Pressed further, Atkins said, "I don't want to answer these questions. It's Easter."


Yep, the fix is in for Ward Churchill.

Politics: I was trying to figure out how they would whitewash it and they came up with a ballsy solution, just stack the deck.

"At least three University of Colorado professors who are set to judge whether Ward Churchill plagiarized or committed academic dishonesty have either signed petitions or made public statements questioning the case against him. Joseph Rosse, director of the office of research integrity and a member of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct that will now consider the Churchill case, said he did not think the positions taken over the past two months by his colleagues amount to a conflict of interest. There is a distinction, Rosse said, between supporting Churchill's freedom of speech and deciding whether he stole or misrepresented other people's work. But state Rep. Ted Harvey, a Highlands Ranch Republican who has been critical of CU's handling of the Churchill case, said the professors' previous statements or support show a major flaw in the process. "....Steven Guberman, associate professor in education, was one of nearly 200 Boulder faculty members who signed a petition last month defending Churchill's right to speak and protesting the preliminary investigation that ended Thursday. The faculty then took out an ad in a local newspaper with the faculty names. Guberman said he will not recuse himself because he believes he can be independent in judging Churchill's work. "They are two separate issues," said Guberman, who was appointed two weeks ago to the misconduct committee. "One is about freedom of speech. The other is about research misconduct." Two other committee members, law professor Richard Collins and physics professor Uriel Nauenberg, were quoted in articles about Churchill. Collins, reacting to questions about the likelihood of firing Churchill, said it would be tough to demonstrate that Churchill's work is so inaccurate that he is an unfit professor. Nauenberg said Churchill's Sept. 11 essay was obnoxious but that he shouldn't be forced out because of it. "If he had just been a little more thoughtful, nothing would have happened," Nauenberg told The New York Times. Collins recently told the CU faculty newspaper that the university would have to prove that Churchill was unfit for his job. For comparison, Collins said it would take evidence comparable to the hypothetical case of a math professor who repeatedly declared two plus two equals five. "It's tough to sack him," Collins said. Neither Collins nor Nauenberg could be reached for comment Friday, but Rosse said any possible conflicts of interest will be discussed at the first meeting of the committee. "I don't necessarily see a conflict of interest," Rosse said. "We believe our real asset is our credibility. I hope no one perceives a conflict."


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Daniel Okrent unable to use common sense?

Media: Daniel Okrent, the "public editor" had this to say.

"ONE of the more persistent criticisms of The Times comes from those who believe the news pages are the designated disseminator of views passed down from the Olympus that is the editorial page. If there's anyone among the 1,200 newsroom employees of The Times who believes this to be true, I've failed as a reporter: in 16 months, I haven't found a soul here who has ever experienced any pressure, or even endured a suggestion, to conform to the opinions expressed on the editorial page."
Everyone is already on the same wavelength, there is no pressure to conform.


Kofi about to throw his son under the train

UN: When you have to use the "Billy Carter" defense, you are in trouble.

"KOFI ANNAN, struggling to survive as the United Nations Secretary-General, plans to blame his son for embroiling him in the oil-for-food scandal when a UN inquiry issues a harsh report tomorrow. UN officials are hoping to deflect criticism of the UN chief by insisting that his son misled him about payments that he, Kojo, 29, received from a UN contractor. The inquiry, led by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, is expected to criticise Mr Annan’s management lapses, in particular his failure to notice the apparent conflict of interest of his son working for a company that was awarded a UN contract. It will confirm that Mr Annan repeatedly met representatives of the firm, Cotecna Inspection SA. "...Aides say that Mr Annan plans a “Billy Carter defence”, whereby he should not be held accountable for any transgressions by his son, just as Jimmy Carter was not forced from the White House when it emerged that his brother was lobbying for Libya. Mark Malloch Brown, the UN Secretary-General’s chief of staff, said last week that Mr Annan expected to be exonerated, but that Kojo’s situation may be “very different."


Tories to use bloggers

UK: Now, if they could get actual good Tory officials to be in charge, they would be in business.

"THE Conservative Right is to turn to new American campaigning techniques and the internet to try to revive the party and overcome what it sees as opposition from the metropolitan Establishment. Only weeks away from the general election, senior Conservatives will open a new front today in the battle for ideas by creating a website advocating “social conservatism”. It will invite people to bypass the media and put forward their own views on how the party should evolve. The faction behind it denies that it is “rocking the boat” in the pre-election period and says that in the early weeks the website will be used to campaign for a Conservative victory. It wants people to use the increasingly popular practice of “blogging” — writing online diaries — to break the power of the broadcast media.

"In its first phase, is to try to persuade what it calls “social conservatives” to back the Tories at the election. The second phase will follow immediately. At that point, it will begin to urge Tory supporters and natural conservatives, particularly within the faith communities and environmental movement, to support “one nation” conservatism. In a recent article Mr Duncan Smith said that the “blogosphere” would become a big force in Britain and could boost conservatism."


Who knew Australia has so many fascists?

Australia: The math lessons will be taught on time! There is so much wrong with this article and the teachers seem way too eager about this.

"The contents of some Queensland children's lunchboxes are confiscated as pre-schools introduce tough new "no junk food" policies, an investigation by The Sunday Mail found. Early childhood teachers believed the inspections were the only way to stop children eating junk food, regularly packed for them by their parents. ""The children will not eat anything that has been packed for them that is inappropriate," pre-school teacher Debbie Stange said. "When they have morning tea, I'll walk around and check what's in their lunchboxes. "If someone has something that is not appropriate they actually dob each other in." Ms Stange said "offending parents" were spoken to at mid-term interviews. "We really have to do it (confiscate food) only a few times and they all step in line," she said. The school's head teacher Glenda Seawright said since the regime was introduced, the children's concentration had improved. "This year we are trialing a fruit-only morning tea," she said. "It is an education for the parents because they see packaged food as convenient. We would never humiliate or embarrass the child."

So they are teaching little kids to fall in line, rat each other out and the teachers are smarter than the parents also teaching them what is good for themselves. This sounds like a swell school district. Sadly, you always have one parent who think having food mullahs is a good thing.

"Melissa Mathews, whose son Layton, 5, attends Ormiston College Pre-school, supports the strict approach to junk food. "We were told ahead of time that if it's in there they have it taken away and then at the end of the day they'll have it given back," she said. "They're just trying to promote good eating habits . . . you see too many kids who are overweight."


Gays are ignorant of HIV transmission... yeah right

Medical: The Guardian pushing a line of horse manure.

"...Both men have given accounts to Dr Blick of how they may have passed the infection to the New York patient - a story which leads straight to the door of the West Side Club and shines an uncomfortable light on the crystal meth sex scene and the widespread ignorance among gay men about the risks associated with HIV transmission. Unlike other venues where men meet for anonymous sex, West Side has a reputation for being a friendly and pressure-free environment. Many men undoubtedly visit the bathhouse simply to unwind after a hard day at the office. Others go there in the hope of finding sympathetic partners - or, in the phraseology favoured by crystal meths users, to "party and play". According to one regular attendee who asked to remain anonymous, the West Side Club is attractive to many HIV positive men precisely because "no one questions you about your HIV status" there. The result is "everyone assumes everyone is positive". He says that when he has offered to use condoms in the past he has been told by the men he has partnered not to bother. Instead, like many of the bathhouse's clientele, he goes "bareback" oblivious to the fact that even HIV positive men need to protect themselves during anal sex because of the risk of cross-infection with different strains of the virus. "

How can there be widespread ignorance about the risks of getting infected? That is a lame excuse to a practice among a subset of the gay community who don't give a damn about practicing safe sex and thinking it is all a game. The most recent example of this was Erasure member Andy Bell who had this nugget of wisdom.

Female First: "The openly homosexual singer revealed he was HIV positive in December - six years after he was diagnosed with the fatal disease - and admits he believed catching the illness was a re-affirmation of his homosexuality. He said: "You are going to think this strange, but I wanted to be HIV positive. I thought HIV was a touchstone of being gay." The 'Breathe' singer also says he doesn't think about dying, because he believes he can fight the disease for many years with the help of medicine."

I have a hard time feeling sorry and sympathy for stupid people.


Mugabe policies at work.

Africa: Once again the coddling of Mugabe by various African leaders, looking at you Mbeki, has allowed for this country to become nothing more than a third world nation and I'm being generous in saying that.

"While Mugabe's friends Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Daniel arap Moi of Kenya and Namibia's Sam Nujoma have all left office, Africa's last remaining independence leader has used every trick in the brutality book to stay in power. Many of those who dared to oppose Mugabe have been tortured and killed, and their womenfolk raped; the free press has been bombed and closed down; almost all the white commercial farmers have been kicked off their farms, destroying the country's agriculture and leaving the nation hungry; and food aid has been reserved for followers of the ruling party. Supporters of Mugabe have been rewarded with jobs and farms, making all sectors of society complicit. The recipients of farms include 15 high court judges, senior military and police officers and the Anglican bishop of Harare. But with the country in its third year of a drought, Mugabe may have gone too far. Last year he halted foreign food aid, announcing that the country had a bumper harvest and was "choking" on food. Yet diplomats estimate the harvest of maize, Zimbabwe's staple, at 300,000 tons, one-sixth of what it needs. The opposition claims the government has been handing out D-grade maize usually used for animal feed. Foodnet, an international organisation that monitors hunger, estimates that more than 5m people, almost half the population, are on the verge of starvation. Another 3m - many of them professional people - have already voted with their feet and gone abroad. The country has been left perilously short of doctors and nurses. As those who remain go to the polls in parliamentary elections this Thursday, people are daring to believe that Mugabe's sins may finally be returning to haunt him."


Annan depressed enough to quit.

UN: Poor guy, I feel ya man! Not really.

"KOFI ANNAN, the United Nations secretary-general, is said to be struggling with depression and considering his future. Colleagues have reported concerns about Annan ahead of an official report this week that will examine his son Kojo’s connection to the controversial Iraqi oil for food scheme. Depending on the findings of the report, by a team led by the former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, Annan may have to choose between the secretary-generalship and loyalty to his son. American congressional critics of the UN are already pressing him to resign over the mismanagement of the oil for food programme, and even his supporters have been dismayed by the scandals on his watch, including the sexual abuse of children by UN peacekeepers in Congo. "


Saturday, March 26, 2005

UN Whitewash upcoming.

UN: Wall Street Journal got the early scoop on the report to be released on Tuesday on Kofi Annan and son.

"An investigative panel probing the United Nations' oil-for-food program in Iraq will for the first time directly fault Secretary-General Kofi Annan for management lapses involving his son and a controversial contractor, according to people who have seen the contents of the panel's report. Moreover, the panel, appointed by Mr. Annan and headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, will criticize Mr. Annan for failing to spot or take action to correct systemic failures in the U.N.'s internal bureaucracy that allowed problems inside the program to continue until 2003, these people said. The report is set to be released Tuesday. "Mr. Annan is particularly criticized for failing to pay enough attention to conflicts of interest involving his son, Kojo, who worked as a consultant for a Swiss company, Cotecna Inspection Services SA, that was seeking lucrative U.N. contracts, these people said. At the same time, the panel has concluded that there is no evidence Mr. Annan rigged the U.N.'s procurement system in the oil-for-food program, exerted undue influence over contractors or ever sought or received improper financial benefits, these people said.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Uh Oh...

Germany: All together.. Don't mention the war!

"Hitler books 'show new obsession gripping Germans' By Kate Connolly in Berlin (Filed: 25/03/2005) The intimate details of Hitler's life - from his fear that his lavatory might be poisoned to his habit of scratching his neck until it bled - are obsessing Germans once again amid a huge revival of interest in the Nazi era. New titles about Hitler are flooding the bookshops to satisfy the hunger for revelations about the period in time for the 60th anniversary of the end of the 1939-45 war. One columnist has likened the plethora of publications to a "garish circus of commemoration". "Sixty years ago the Third Reich perished," wrote Jens Jessen in Die Zeit. "Now one gets the impression it is being resurrected on a daily basis." ....A poll published yesterday showed huge sympathy for Right-wing extremists among Germans from the capital and the surrounding region. National Socialism "had its positive sides", thought 15 per cent of Berliners and 20 per cent of people living in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg. At the same time 12 per cent of Berliners and 24 per cent of Brandenburgers said they wanted a "Fuhrer who would rule with a firm hand".
Nice to see that Nazi ban by the German government is working.


Kilpatrick: It's not my fault that Detroit sucks

Politics: Mayor Kwame"Navigator rollin" Kilpatrick of the failed city known as Detroit says he is not to blame for Detroit being the sink hole of urban planning that it is.

"In January, Kilpatrick announced the city was teetering on the brink of a financial crisis and said he was cutting 900 city jobs. At the time, he called on unions and city contractors to make concessions as well -- a call he reiterated Tuesday. Kilpatrick said the national economy was hurting Detroit and criticized cuts in federal assistance for local governments. Cuts in state revenue-sharing and rising pension and health care costs are also factors, he said. Meanwhile, the continued exodus of residents from Detroit continues to erode the city's tax base. Kilpatrick said Tuesday the city must address its high taxes and insurance rates, as well as the problems with its public schools, if it wants to keep families from leaving. "
I agree with him about the national economy since it is growing and shows what a depressing hellhole of a city Detroit is to business and people who want to live in a thriving city.


Michael Moore's minutemen seek exit strategy.

Iraq: Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein says the elections demoralized them.

"Many of Iraq's predominantly Sunni Arab insurgents would lay down their arms and join the political process in exchange for guarantees of their safety and that of their co-religionists, according to a prominent Sunni politician. Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein, who heads Iraq's main monarchist movement and is in contact with guerrilla leaders, said many insurgents including former officials of the ruling Ba'ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against US troops and Iraqi government forces since the January 30 election. “Firstly, they want to ensure their own security,” says Sharif Ali, who last week hosted a pan-Sunni conference attended by tribal sheikhs and other local leaders speaking on behalf of the insurgents.

Unlike Mr Zarqawi's followers, who are thought to be responsible for the big suicide bomb attacks on Iraqi civilian targets, the other Sunni insurgents are more likely to plant bombs and carry out ambushes against security forces and US troops active near their homes.

...Sharif Ali said the success of Iraq's elections dealt the insurgents a demoralising blow, prompting them to consider the need to enter the political process."


Tony Blair: FU Chirac, I still win!

EU: Chirac's victory in stopping deregulation seems to be short-lived.

"TONY Blair yesterday claimed that Britain now has the power to force France and Germany to open up to foreign workers and accept the European Union Services Directive against their will. The Prime Minister told MPs that, far from losing a battle with Jacques Chirac over the directive, he has returned home with an agreement that it will be decided by a vote in the enlarged European Union. He believes this means Britain can join forces with Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia to force their vision of a reformed Europe on France and Germany - representing a landmark defeat of "New Europe" over "Old Europe". Reporting on what is expected to be his last EU summit ahead of the general election, Mr Blair told the Commons that he was prepared for a battle over the future of the European "social model", to be defined for all 25 member states. "Some, notably France, believe this model should remain in its existing form. Some, like Britain, believe firmly in Europe’s social dimension but want it updated to take account of modern economic reality," he said. Reports suggested that he had caved in to Mr Chirac’s demands, by agreeing to redraft the directive. But Mr Blair said: "Fortunately, the final decision will be by QMV [qualified majority voting]." Mr Blair’s official spokesman said that at a dinner for heads of governments on Tuesday night, the Prime Minister became satisfied that he had enough support among the new members to win a vote. "The opinion round the table was very much in our favour," said the spokesman. When asked whether France and Germany would ever be forced to open their markets, he said: "It’s a Europe of 25, and it’s 25 who will decide."


Third Survey shows "Non" Vote rising

France: This poll seems to be taken before France gutted the open service pact.

"PARIS (Reuters) - Opposition to the European Union constitution is growing in France despite political leaders' efforts to drum up support for the treaty, a poll shows. Fifty-five percent of French voters who have decided how they will vote in a May 29 referendum on the constitution plan to reject the text, according to the poll for the weekly Marianne magazine, to be published on Saturday. The poll was the third survey in less than two weeks to show a majority against a constitution that is intended to make the EU work more smoothly. The proportion opposed to the treaty has risen from 51 percent and 52 percent in the two previous polls -- a trend which will dismay France's main political parties, who have stepped up their campaign for the EU treaty in recent days."


Syria, what's not to like?

Syria: LATIMES gives space to Bouthaina Shaaban, minister for emigrant affairs.

"DAMASCUS, Syria — I recently picked up a newspaper and saw the following headline: "Rice Promises That Washington Will Build a Different Kind of Middle East." Unsure what this could possibly mean, I looked closer at Condoleezza Rice's remarks to U.S. troops in Kabul, Afghanistan, to see if I could learn what this new Middle East was going to be. A different kind of broader Middle East that's going to be stable and democratic," was what she described that day, "where our children will one day not have to worry about the kind of ideologies of hatred that led those people to fly those airplanes into those buildings on September 11th." So let me get this straight. Rice believes that our region harbors "ideologies of hatred" and that it is populated by "those people." Those terrorists."

In related news.

"UNITED NATIONS, March 24 -- Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri with "physical harm" last summer if Hariri challenged Assad's dominance over Lebanese political life, contributing to a climate of violence that led to the Feb. 14 slayings of Hariri and 19 others, according to testimony in a report released Thursday by a U.N. fact-finding team. The report, which calls for an international investigation into Hariri's death, describes an August meeting in Damascus at which Assad ordered the Lebanese billionaire to support amending Lebanon's constitution, according to testimony from "various" sources who discussed the meeting with Hariri. The amendment, approved Sept. 3, allowed Emile Lahoud, the Syrian-backed Lebanese president, to remain in office for three more years."


Oh man. JIMMAH!

Politics: Poor James Baker having to deal with these idiots.

"Former President Jimmy Carter will lead a bipartisan commission to examine problems with the U.S. election system, American University's Center for Democracy and Election Management said on Thursday. Carter, a Democrat whose Carter Center has monitored more than 50 elections around the world, will co-chair the private commission with Republican James Baker, who served as Secretary of State under President George H. W. Bush. Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat who lost his seat in the 2004 election, will also participate. "I am concerned about the state of our electoral system and believe we need to improve it," Carter said in a statement. He said the group will assess "issues of inclusion" in federal voting and propose recommendations to improve the process. "We will try to define an electoral system for the 21st century that will make Americans proud again," he said. "....Still, concerns emerged about exceedingly long lines that kept voters from the polls in several states including Ohio, whose 20 electoral college votes ultimately decided the election in President Bush (news - web sites)'s favor. "

Heaven forbid long lines in a hyped up election cycle. Those poor people having to wait to vote in a line! That "issues of inclusion" bit is a dead giveaway of them trying to figure out how to rig the system more favorable to typical demo voters.


Ward Churchill in trouble?

People: Via Michelle Malkin. The gist is Ward Churchill is in trouble not for his stupid 9/11 speech which he should be not be, but for other aspects of his career.

- In the course of this review, we have determined that the allegations of research misconduct warrant further action. - Question of ethnicity. Regarding misrepresentation of ethnicity to gain credibility...we believe such misrepresentation may constitute research misconduct and failure to reach standards of research integrity. - We have concluded that allegations of research conduct related to plagiarism HAVE SUFFICIENT MERIT TO WARRANT FURTHER INQUIRY. Will refer to Boulder Campus Standing Committee on research misconduct.

Review could take up to seven months. "

That last part could be seen by people as the university to drag this out as long as they can until everything dies down. But the parts cited is a strong case for him being an academic fraud.


Reality TV, Iraqi style.

Iraq: Fox is asking for local rights.

"Television helps break mystique of holy warrior By Steve Negus and Dhiya Rasan Published: March 24 2005 02:00 Last updated: March 24 2005 02:00 Say theword mujahid- or holy warrior - these days and many inhabitants of Baghdad are likely to snigger. An appellation once worn as a badge of pride by anti-American insurgents has now become street slang for homosexuals, after men claiming to be captured Islamist guerrillas confessed that they were holding gay orgies in the popular Iraqi TV programme Terror in the Hands of Justice. For Iraqis opposed to the predominantly Sunni Islamist insurgency, Terror in the Hands of Justice, which airs twice daily on Iraqi public television, has broken the mystique of a force that used to strike terror into the hearts of anyone working with the Americans or the new government. But for many Sunni, even some who do not support the insurgents' goals, the programme's suggestion that the entire guerrilla movement comprises sexual libertines and petty criminals is an insult to their community."


"Relatively nonintrusive" = Somewhat pregnant

Politics: like I'm trusting these guys.

"The Federal Election Commission revealed yesterday that it plans to take what one of its commissioners termed a "relatively nonintrusive" approach to regulating political campaigns on the Internet. The agency, which is beginning to consider how and whether to restrict blogs, e-mail and other online activities, released a document describing the legal issues it plans to tackle over the next several months. Its "notice of proposed rulemaking," as it is known, indicates that the FEC is focusing much of its attention on whether to apply federal contribution limits on online political advertising campaigns. It also indicates that the six-member panel has not decided to impose, but is leaning against imposing, restrictions on independent bloggers or bloggers who work for political campaigns. "


Child Rape: Embarrassing

UN: According to the Guardian.

"The reputation of United Nations peacekeeping missions suffered a humiliating blow yesterday as an internal report identified repeated patterns of sexual abuse and rape perpetrated by soldiers supposed to be restoring the international rule of law. The highly critical study, published by Jordan's ambassador to the UN assembly, was endorsed by the organisation's embattled secretary general, Kofi Annan, who condemned such "abhorrent acts" as a "violation of the fundamental duty of care". The embarrassment caused by the misconduct of UN forces in devastated communities around the world - including Haiti, Sierra Leone, Bosnia, Cambodia , East Timor and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) - has become an increasingly high profile, political problem. "
DAMN IT!...oh sorry, I was just filling the unwritten part of the article.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

We are what you need!!!

Media: Chris Satullo of the Philly Inquirer is being a whiny little snit as he hoist up the banner of the MSM patting himself on the back for being great.

"New media are flowering, drawing away eyeballs. For all their vitality, these newer outlets, such as blogs, observe only loosely the canons of traditional journalism - when they're not mocking those rules outright. The traditional standards include journalism's ethical golden rule: Never engage in a conflict of interest, or even the appearance of a conflict, that would give reason to doubt your fairness and honesty in working in the public interest. Fewer and fewer Americans believe that journalists live up to that standard. The public ranks journalists low for their ethics, though not yet quite as low as car salesmen. For people whose lifeblood is credibility, this is dire. "....My craft is in deep trouble. Our only coin of value, credibility, is plummeting. These Romulans are smart; they know our weaknesses. And we keep handing them ammunition. So they are pressing their attack on the very idea of an independent press.

An independent press. A lofty abstraction. But if you are a person who would like to pick up a paper, flip on CNN, or surf the Net with reasonable confidence that the information you get is as accurate as possible, and untainted by hidden agenda, you might want to help us resist the assault. You deserve that righteous information; you deserve to feel that confidence. But if the Romulans win, forget it.

At The Inquirer, we're out to earn your trust, each and every day. We may err at times, through commission or omission, through carelessness or pigheadedness, but we will never stop striving to uphold the ethical standard you have every right to demand."

But what if people question those standards?

"...Last week, the paper’s circulation department came up with a list of a couple of hundred people who had canceled during the election cycle and had not been contacted. The list was divided among editors and editorial board members - each with 15 or 20 names - and they began calling. It is too early in the dialing process to present any results or plans for future discourse, [editorial page editor] Chris Satullo said. But he said that he relished the dialogue with readers, adding that he tried to steer them away from using the terms “bias” and “objectivity.” “Those terms have been drained of any stable meaning,” he said."

That sounds like insulting their intelligence, but what are you really thinking about readers?

"...Introduce yourself as a member of the editorial board. You've heard that the person stopped the paper over concerns with election coverage (do not pin it on 21 Reasons; in fact, many people who cancelled did so over Polman or other issues), and you wanted to give them a call after the heat of the campaign died down. If they blow you off, thank them for their time and let them know that if they ever want to resubscribe they can do so by calling our customer service line at 800-222-2765. They can get a 50 percent discount on the rate by mentioning that they had stopped the paper due to election coverage. If they want to talk, that's a bummer. But a couple of talking points:"

So if they have concerns, lie like a son of a bitch and feed them cow manure. That sounds like outright disdain that readers dare to question your greatness. Gee, I still don't get why people think the print press sucks, how can they not see your greatness?


Wolfowitz turns on the charm.

Politics: "Filthy" Wolfowitz is a now a lock for the world bank post.

"By Paul Blustein Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, March 24, 2005; Page A02 Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz virtually sealed his election as World Bank president yesterday after meeting with members of the bank's board, who were impressed and reassured by his answers to their questions, according to bank sources. In the process, though, Wolfowitz's march to the bank presidency has sparked jockeying among foreign officials over other jobs, with European officials pressing for a European to get the No. 2 post at the bank, according to several bank sources. Wolfowitz told European board members yesterday that he recognized the need for a top management position to go to someone from their countries, European sources said. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions."


UK, the land of the easily offended

UK: This is pathetic on the Somali Muslim community part and once again casts Muslims in a hideous light. Unless they can prove it was provocation, the fact the guy had to go to court is ridiculous. Even if it was a deliberate act on his part, it is still stupid to get worked up about it.

"A man who was made subject to an Anti-Social Behaviour Order for putting up a sign saying “porking yard” in his pub car park, because it was offensive to Muslims, today described the court action as “a joke”. Leroy Trought, 42, was given a two-year Asbo at a hearing at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Monday. Magistrates ordered him to change the wording of the “porking yard” sign at The Swan With Two Necks in St Judes, Bristol, to “parking yard”. He was ordered not to display any signs that may be threatening, abusive or insulting at the pub, which is next to a Somali mosque. "...But Mr Trought today said that imposing the Asbo was a joke. He said the sign was intended to commemorate the large number of butchers’ shops that used to be located in the area and he had never intended to cause any offence. He said: “We ran a competition in the pub to think of a funny name for the car park and one of the customers came up with the name ‘the porking yard’. “I grew up in Bristol so I know that this area has traditionally had a lot of butchers. It was always known as ‘pork alley’ so ‘the porking yard’ just seemed to fit. “There’s a butcher across the street that has been here for more than 100 years. It’s political correctness gone mad. "... Somali-born Khalil Abdi, who is street warden in the area, said the sign was deliberately provoking the Muslim community. Speaking to the Bristol Evening Post, he said: “Because of my faith I am required to attend the mosque in the education centre to pray. “I regularly use the learning centre in Wade Street, which is near to the pub, with my fellow Somali friends. “Muslims do not eat pork but the sign has a picture of a pig and the words ‘porking yard’. “My friends and I were angered and upset by the sign and we have welcomed the court ruling ordering the sign to be changed. I definitely think it is provocative and insulting to Muslims."


Hollywood types continue to annoy me.

Sudan: Don Cheadle, you ignorant slut. He and Jon Prendergast co-wrote a piece about Darfur and not surprisingly, America gets 99% of the blame for the situation. They go with a 10 point list that could have only been made up if you are unaware of basic facts.

"First, when former Secretary of State Colin Powell famously called what was happening in Darfur "genocide," he said we were already doing all we could to counter it. In the six months since he and President Bush used the term, however, not one punitive measure has been imposed on the orchestrator of the atrocities--the Sudanese regime. And as the African Union (AU) struggles to deploy 2,000 troops to Darfur, a region the size of France, the French government recently announced that it will deploy 41,000 police in Paris if it is chosen as the Olympics site for 2012. Doing all we can?"
The United States has had sanctions on Sudan since 1997, and have continued to add sanctions since then. The problem is no matter what sanctions we put or propose, other countries carry on business as usual. The leadership doesn't care.
Aljazeera: "Reacting to the US bill, Sudan's chief negotiator in the Abuja peace talks with Darfur rebels, Majdhub al-Khalifa, told Aljazeera: "The US legislation would not harm the Sudanese government, and would not benefit the Darfur rebels, but would harm the interests of US companies." Al-Khalifa said the "so-called Comprehensive Peace in Sudan Act passed by the US Congress has not deterred Sudan from continuing its economic development, with the help of other countries such as China and a number of Southeast Asian countries, and even some European countries".

The other security council members have fought every substantial resolution made by America and the EU is cancelling debts by the Sudanese government so they can sell them Airbus planes. The French police deployment analogy is ridiculous unless you expect them to send 41,000 police to the region. Now add to that the African Union who you say is struggle is demanding Western countries stay out of the conflict and just send logistical support.

Reuters: "...Bashir said after the talks in Chad that he would respect all previous ceasefire accords. "We want this problem to remain African, in the hands of the African Union (AU), that the AU assumes its responsibilities and has the confidence of the international community," he said."
Scotsman: "...But Mr Konare said that while African nations are willing to offer troops, the international community must be willing to provide logistical support. An AU mission returned from Darfur on Friday where it carried out an assessment on troop numbers needed. Officials expect to release details of the assessment later this week."

You have America willing to put sanctions and everyone else saying meh.

"Second, U.S. officials say that if they pressure the regime any harder, it would implode and the consequences would be grave. Graver than what this administration has called genocide? Regardless, this is specious, as the regime is one of the strongest governments in Africa and in no danger of collapse."
The major flaw in this piece are the charges Cheadle throws out without actually citing a specific person. It's not just U.S officials saying the country could implode.
SPLM/A leader John Garang: "...Warning that Darfur was "rapidly degenerating into chaos and anarchy," Garang said "this overall situation, if left unchecked can eventually cause Sudan to implode and degenerate into statelessness and serious insecurity."

As for being one of the strongest governments in Africa, considering it is Africa, it's the same as saying this ant is the biggest of a whole colony. The Ivory Coast was considered strong and look how that turned out.

"Third, U.S. officials have said since the beginning of the Darfur war that they needed to first focus on nailing a deal between the regime in Khartoum and southern-based rebels, which would in turn have immediate and positive impacts on the situation in Darfur. This approach led Khartoum to delay signing until the beginning of this year; since then the situation in Darfur has only deteriorated. Fourth, the U.S. has repeatedly said, to its credit, that justice must be done for the crimes that have been committed in Darfur. But it has sliced the legs out from under that sentiment by opposing referral of the Darfur case to the International Criminal Court, the ideal locus for timely and cost-effective accountability. Fifth, the U.S. has said that the Darfurian rebels, not the government, have recently been the biggest obstacle to forward movement. Evidence of continued government aerial bombing and Janjaweed raping has largely silenced this excuse."

Taking care of #3 and #5 , it seems that the rebels have made themselves an obstacle a couple of times. Southern Sudan peace deal scares Darfur rebels

"KHARTOUM, Sudan, Oct. 25, 2003 (PANA) -- Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in the western region of Darfur fear government troops could wipe them out once Khartoum signs a definitive agreement to end the 20-year civil war in the south. The government is "negotiating with the south because of pressure from the international community and military pressure in the south, in the west and in the east" of Sudan, SLM secretary general Mani Arkoi Minawi is quoted as saying by the London-based Arabic Alhayat daily Friday. A peace accord with the southern Sudan People`s Liberation Army (SPLA) "will be a way for the government to regroup to suppress the other marginalized areas, including the west and our movement in particular," Minawi is quoted as saying. Taipei Times June 2004: "The factionalism of the (rebel) leadership almost derailed talks in N'Djamena and set back the talks in Addis Ababa," said one African Union official working on the Darfur issue. A Western diplomat based in Khartoum said: "I doubt they are both reading from the same hymn sheet." Other analysts say that as international pressure on Khartoum builds, rebels are content to drag their feet in peace negotiations in the hope of winning greater concessions."

Dealing with #4, All you have to do is read up on the nonsense that happened when Belgium had it war crimes law to see why the ICC will be used for petty uses. BTW, how are you going to get the people responsible to the ICC in the first place? Sudan is not going to bow down and send them.


"Sixth, U.S. officials say the deployment of the AU troops is all that is needed. But AU monitors in Darfur themselves say they are largely spectators in the face of continuing atrocities, and every Darfurian we talked to on the ground believes a much larger force with a much stronger mandate is needed to truly protect civilians."
I refer everyone back to the top where the African Union itself said they agreed this is an African problem only. All they want is the resources. You going to try and force former colonies to say okay? Again, I can't verify these U.S. officials, if someone can send links that would be helpful. #8 shows Cheadle lacks any sense and has no clue what has been going on.
"Eighth, the U.S. often argues that it cannot do more because China and Russia will veto more potent multilateral action on Darfur. But no one has tested this threat. It is time to play diplomatic chicken with Beijing and Moscow. The U.S. and U.K. should press for a vote on a strong U.N. Resolution with real consequences and dare anyone to support crimes against humanity by vetoing it."
It has been tested and re-tested (Google Results 1 - 50 of about 51,400 for china russia veto sudan . (0.34 seconds) You think China and Russia give a damn? They can always turn it around and say these sanctions will do more harm than good. Cheadle does not understand how world politics works. The U.K. has tried as well and been turned back. #9 and #10 also make very little sense if you keep up a little with the situation.
"Ninth, the U.S. has argued that constructive engagement needs to be employed with Khartoum, rather than a punitive and isolationist approach. However, tough policy has a proven track record with the Sudanese regime: In the 1990s, the Security Council briefly punished Sudan for its support of terrorism, and the regime quickly changed its behavior. Despite this evidence the Security Council has dithered over the past two years to sanction the regime as the crisis in Darfur has intensified. This week's move by the U.S. to repackage a resolution it's tabled since mid-February will only delay action in Darfur further. Tenth, and most insidiously, the U.S. is arguing that the circumstances in Darfur are actually getting better. Facing increased incidences of rape and pillage, continuing aerial attacks, and, worst, a credible threat of famine, most Darfurians would beg to differ."
It had to repackage the resolution into 3 parts because it wouldn't past otherwise and even that got delayed as France wants to use Darfur to push the ICC. I wish they would cite where these US officials comments were taken from, since most of it is the opposite of what I have been reading about over the last year. The conclusion to this piece is a call to arms.
"The only antidote to this searing truth--the only way the U.S. will take the kind of leadership necessary to end the horrors for Fatima and her people--is for there to be a political cost to inaction. As American citizens increasingly raise their voices and write their letters about Darfur, the temperature has indeed risen. But not enough. We need to make it a little warmer, a little more uncomfortable for those politicians who would look away. Just a few more degrees. Just a few more thousand letters. It is, frankly, that simple."
Okay, great, now find the addresses to write the rest of the security council since it has been America who has lead the charge in trying to put more pressure on Sudan, only to be turned back time after time. This piece should have never made it to the editorial pages of WSJ. It is poorly written and thought out exactly the way you expect a Hollywood actor to think, 10 miles wide and half an inch deep. It casts blame on the one country that has been doing much of the work to get something done, while ignoring the others that deserve it the most.


P Diddy continues to annoy me.

Media: Someone got an overinflated opinion about himself.

"He also has a movie in development with MTV Films, an urban heist picture for which he will be producer and star. "I was watching 'Ocean's 11,'" said Combs, referring to Steven Soderbergh's remake of the classic Rat Pack film, "and I just couldn't relate to it. "You have all these black icons," he continued, "Chris Rock or Chris Tucker in comedy, Denzel [Washington] and Jamie Foxx in acting, me and Jay-Z in music, what about us? It's about time to put the greatest black icons in a film together. We're not running around in 'do-rags and low riders anymore." This is one project that Combs is unequivocal about appearing in. "I'm trying to hit the big screen, baby," he said. "I'm trying for my head to be 6 feet tall."
Why would he be in this film if it's about greatest black icons?


Union fights for religious holiday!

New York: Not really.

"March 24, 2005 -- The city Department of Education yesterday softened its stance on allowing employees to take Easter Monday off for religious purposes after hundreds of teachers complained of discrimination. The department's about-face contrasted with a directive given a week earlier that urged principals not to let staffers take Easter Monday off because it is "not an actual religious holiday." Principals said the original directive also applied to Holy Thursday. The Catholic Church says neither day is a "day of religious obligation." City schools normally enjoy Easter Monday off as part of a weeklong spring break linking Easter and Passover. But the dates of both holidays did not match up this year. Spring break is April 25-29. The teachers' union blasted the initial order as "anti-religious" and vowed to defend teachers disciplined for taking the days off. "
Please, this is about teachers wanting their day off. Religion has nothing to do with it.


Some are more equal than others.

EU: Papers unhappy with France and Germany getting their way on the stability pact and dropping the deregulation of worker movement thru the EU.

"German papers lash out at European Union leaders for their spinless retraction of monetary and service sector laws. Europe's high-tax social models clearly aren't working, commentators say, yet leaders seem intent on sticking with them. Why?

Germany on Thursday reverberated with news from the European Union summit. Most opinions, however, oozed anger and frustration, after EU leaders gleefully announced that they were backpedaling on laws designed to make it easier for people from various EU nations to move about and find work. Instead of deregulating and uniting, the EU more deeply entrenched itself in its high-tax social model by insisting it would not loosen the laws in its services sector to allow more cross border competition. The decision was made largely to appease German and particularly French voters who fear such deregulation would allow cheap laborers from Eastern Europe to sweep in and steal their jobs. The idea is that the laborers would be paying lower taxes in their home countries and therefore could afford to undercut the higher-taxed French and Germans. Leaders also agreed to weaken the fiscal rules underpinning the euro, known as the growth and stability pact, largely because euro biggies like Germany and France have had trouble sticking to it. To set the tone of the day, the left-leaning Berliner Zeitung features a large comic at the top of its editorial page showing EU leaders trying to blow up the EU hot air balloon. The tattered and partly patched fabric lies on the ground as various leaders get big-cheeked trying vainly to fill it. Meanwhile, high in the sky, the US and China balloons float peacefully by."


Okay, maybe the Plame case wasn't a crime

Media: Two stories from Washington Post and Editor and Publisher both saying that may not have been any crime committed in revealing Valerie Plame name in a Bob Novak column. This is a 180 when this story first broke as the Wall Street Journal pointed out in February.

"After an egregiously long delay, Attorney General John Ashcroft finally did the right thing yesterday when he recused himself from the investigation into who gave the name of a CIA operative to the columnist Robert Novak. Mr. Ashcroft turned the inquiry over to his deputy, who quickly appointed a special counsel." In the recent annals of press freedom, there are few more regrettable sentences than those two from a December 31, 2003, editorial in the New York Times. The special counsel that the Times was cheering on, Patrick Fitzgerald, is now threatening a Times reporter with jail, and in a way that jeopardizes the entire press corps. This is what happens when liberals let their partisan disdain for a President obscure their interest in larger principles."
Washington Post: "The 40-page brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that there is "ample evidence . . . to doubt that a crime has been committed" in the case, which centers on the question of whether Bush administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in the summer of 2003. Plame's name was published first by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak and later by other publications."

It was all fun and games for the press when it looked bad for Robert Novak and the Bush admin. It hasn' worked out the way they hoped and now furiously backtracking to save themselves.


Flogger industry getting paid!

Malaysia: Who says the job market is stagnant?

"Malaysia's 50 executioners and floggers are to get a pay rise. Specially selected prison staff will see their bonuses for each stroke they inflict rise by over 300%. Hangmen will get a 60% rise to reflect the difficult nature of their job - receiving 500 ringgit ($131) instead of the current 300 ringgit. With threats to flog an estimated half a million illegal migrants thought to be hiding in Malaysia, prison officers could be in for a major windfall. Foreigners caught and convicted of immigration offences can be whipped up to six times. Previously, officers only received only three ringgit ($0.80) for each blow they struck using a rotan, a heavy bamboo rod. But now they will get 10 ringgit ($2.60). Executioners will also enjoy a pay rise in a country which has hanged some 358 people over the last 24 years. According to the prison service, few officers applied to be executioners and the country is experiencing a shortage. However, flogging jobs are hotly contested, with only one in five applicants being accepted. The service says only hardened staff are suitable. But the government has stressed that illegal migrants will be flogged gently in comparison with those sentenced for violent crimes. "

How do you flog gently... nerf whips?


Bring back the White Racists!

Africa: Yeah Robert Mugabe is doing a bang up job.

"The hungry children and the families dying of AIDS here are gut-wrenching, but somehow what I find even more depressing is this: Many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970's. "If we had the chance to go back to white rule, we'd do it," said Solomon Dube, a peasant whose child was crying with hunger when I arrived in his village. "Life was easier then, and at least you could get food and a job." Mr. Dube acknowledged that the white regime of Ian Smith was awful. But now he worries that his 3-year-old son will die of starvation, and he would rather put up with any indignity than witness that. An elderly peasant in another village, Makupila Muzamba, said that hunger today is worse than ever before in his seven decades or so, and said: "I want the white man's government to come back. ... Even if whites were oppressing us, we could get jobs and things were cheap compared to today." "His wife, Mugombo Mudenda, remembered that as a younger woman she used to eat meat, drink tea, use sugar and buy soap. But now she cannot even afford corn gruel. "I miss the days of white rule," she said.
Pathetic, and not one African country is willing to stand up to put Mugabe in his place, especially the so called shining light of South Africa with its Canadian like soft diplomacy towards Mugabe.

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