Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Bob Geldof announces Live8.

Entertainment: Wooooo, yet another go at self indulgent rock star rocking the free world to feel good about themselves raising money.

LONDON (Reuters) - Charity rocker Bob Geldof on Tuesday announced plans for five star-studded concerts aimed at pressuring world leaders into eradicating African poverty. Twenty years after the Live Aid sensation, the man dubbed "Saint Bob" for organising the 1985 concert to save the starving in Ethiopia wants to influence the G8 group of industrialized nations which meets in Scotland in July. "Here we are again," Geldof told a news conference in London, adding that he hoped to use the concerts "to tilt the world a little bit on in its axis in favor of the poor." "It seemed to me that we could gather together again, but this time not for charity, but for political justice."
Look at the fine shape Ethiopia is in after the Live Aid sensation today. This is a farcical sideshow. When people want to get serious about helping Africa, such as changing the political/societal aspects of the various African countries, which will help bring about change a lot quicker than Madonna warbling on a stage, then I will be more interested. This is nothing more than a bunch of simplistic mental midgets getting together for publicity.


Chirac circles the wagons

EU: Proving he has learned nothing from this weekend's debacle, Chirac names loyalist Dominique de Villepin as his new prime minister. Villepin is famously known for backstabbing Colin Powell at the UN and his "Bungle in the Jungle" when he tried to pay off terrorist group F.A.R.C to free Ingrid Betancourt.


Tony Blair left to clean up the EU mess.

EU: The European elite have a very low opinion of their people as they refuse to take "NON" for an answer.

"TONY Blair has started a behind-the-scenes attempt to kill the European Union constitution - defying growing international pressure to carry on with a British referendum. The Prime Minister is heading for a battle with a series of EU leaders as a result of his insistence that the constitution has perished with France's No vote on Sunday, and that it cannot be revived by a British Yes. He is facing angry calls from Greece, Ireland, Spain and Luxembourg to press ahead in the hope that French voters may change their minds in a second vote if the question is phrased differently. Mr Blair learned of France's emphatic No result while on holiday in Italy. At lunchtime yesterday he spoke to Jacques Chirac, the French president, to tell him that he believed it is now time to draw a line under the constitution. But Mr Chirac objected, saying that Britain should carry on. Mr Blair had been expecting such a response and replied that he would only do so if the French government could guarantee it will try a second time on exactly the same constitution. The Foreign Office believes Mr Chirac will never give such an assurance, knowing that it is likely to return a No vote far bigger than the 55 per cent on Sunday. The French president made no comment in public. Peter Mandelson, Britain's EU Commissioner, hinted at this yesterday. "France will have to consider whether it's going to ... to revisit the question and possibly come forward with a different view," he said. His words were picked up with fury by the French media - in what may have been a warning shot to Mr Chirac that Britain can make life difficult for him.
Spain must be seeing those large subsidies going the way of the dodo, I would fight too to keep that gravy train going. But it's actually a quote from a Tory candidate for leadership that has me furious.
"The Conservatives will be as relieved as Labour about the French result, as a referendum campaign threatened to split the party. Kenneth Clarke, a contender for the Tory leadership election, said he thought a referendum was an "unbelievably silly idea". The public should not be consulted on a "complicated legal document" like the constitution, he said, and such decisions should have been left to ministers. "
What an ass, if the Tories wish to go back into the void of a very minor party, putting this guy in charge will go a long way in helping that cause.


Monday, May 30, 2005

Der Spiegel is really unhappy about the Non Vote

EU: The non vote in the bag, now we have open hostility against the French people.

"France's stunning "non" in Sunday's referendum on the European Union constitution accomplishes two goals: it gives both globalization and Jacques Chirac, the nation's 72-year-old president -- known to some as "Europe's dinosaur" -- a swift kick in the derriere. The televised news coverage said it all. First, cameras flashed on the No camp, where burly workers flexed their biceps high in old-fashioned clench-fisted salutes to what they viewed as a grand victory. Then came shots of the Yes camp, where pale bureaucrats in suits slumped and scrounged to find some positive spin on the disastrous results. Chirac -- looking terribly old and gray -- offered a classic French pout. The truth is, the victory may be brawny (55 percent No to 45 percent Yes), but in the end it will prove terribly illusory. ....And anyone who has spent time in France knows, the lifestyle -- not to mention the abundant wine and cheese that accompanies it -- is stunningly good. Think six week vacations, 35-hour work-weeks, strong unions unafraid to call nationwide strikes, good childcare options, fat pensions and a bulging class of fonctionnaires happy to take all the state will give. Fear of losing all that sweetness has France trembling. For change does, indeed, hurt. As such, despite all their pro-worker rallies, slogans and calls of Liberte, the French have become closet conservatives. As much as they want to be part of a growing, entrepreneurial world, they are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary for 21st century life. Neither of course are their erstwhile pals, the Germans. Indeed, both nations are suffering from disillusionment. In Germany, the nation is stagnated by unemployment, frustration, and a seeming inability to spark an aging society used to being comforted rather than challenged or stimulated. Voters voiced their dissatisfaction by delivering German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats a stinging defeat in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia last weekend. Now federal elections have been pushed up a full year -- and many predict that Schroeder -- like Chirac will end his term in disgrace. France, too, has become a nation of complainers. And their favorite past-time is jabbing at the EU, which they view as too domineering, too anti-French, and to ready to force niggling changes on them. They are also terrified that a larger EU will give Germany more power and turn them into an even more marginalized former giant. July rightly points out in his editorial the self-aggrandizing nature of the vote. France proves it "exists because all alone, it is able to unhinge Europe," the sickened editor writes of his nation's hunger to prove its own power. "On your knees, Europe, in face of our no!" July calls the vote a "popular disaster" and headlines Monday's paper "The (nation's) Most Negative Day." ....Part of the problem for Chirac is that he has been in power a full decade and has little to show for it. During the Iraq war, he thumbed his nose at America and incurred the wrath of US President George W. Bush in order to win the love of his people. Now, he's lost that, too. By trying to ram the EU down his people's throat -- rather than sitting down years ago to patiently explain it to them -- he's lost his grand vision of creating an EU that would serve as a counterweight to the US. Indeed, Chirac failed to present the constitution -- or anything about the EU -- to his citizens in a way they could understand. Instead, all has been offered as a simple fait accompli. From that perspective, the French No reads as an understandable plea for democracy. Still, it is terribly regrettable. The Bush camp isn't saying so; officially, they support the EU. But secretly, when they are alone on the ranch in Crawford, there must be some heavy snickering taking place. Bush has made no secret of his dislike for Chirac. Yet certainly he must be pleased that the silly days of open animosity and "freedom fries" may be coming to an end. Now it is Chirac -- not Bush -- who's been French fried. "


Sunday, May 29, 2005

France rejects EU constitution

EU: The next week will be insane with everyone trying to cap the fallout from this.

French voters have rejected the proposed EU constitution in Sunday's referendum, according to exit polls. The polls give the "No" side 55% - in line with surveys published in the run-up to the vote. If confirmed, the result will be a blow to President Jacques Chirac and France's two main political parties, which campaigned for a "Yes".
Via AP(confirmed)
French voters rejected the European Union's first constitution Sunday, early government results showed — a stinging repudiation of the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent. With about 83 percent of the votes counted, the referendum was rejected by 57.26 percent of voters, the Interior Ministry said. The treaty was supported by 42.74 percent, the ministry said. All 25 EU members must ratify the text for it to take effect — and nine already have done so. The Dutch vote Wednesday, with polls showing opposition to the constitution running at about 60 percent. "There is no more constitution," leading opponent Philippe de Villiers said. "It is necessary to reconstruct Europe on other foundations that don't currently exist." De Villiers called on Chirac to submit his resignation — something the French leader had said he would refuse to do — and called for parliament to be dissolved. "Tonight we face a major political crisis," he said.

Instapundit with a blogging recap. There are many ways to look at the fallout from this rejection in terms of the Euro, Turkey, European unity, political ramification in France and elsewhere. But enough of that important stuff, I'm looking at it just for the entertainment value as everyone scrambles what to do next and who takes the most blame. Grab the popcorn and pull up a chair, this is going to be great.

Update#1: That didn't take long. Nicolas Sarkozy is said to be ready to take advantage of this defeat to Chirac sooner than later. Euro drops against the dollar. The Guardian lead editorial whines like a a baby. But the Guardian editorial does make a point that should be taken advantage of by India, China and America.

The value of the euro dipped on foreign exchanges last week in response to signs that the nos were holding their lead. Americans, Chinese and Indians, vying for advantage in an interdependent world, will be able to get their way more easily if Europeans are in disarray.
This would be the perfect time for India and China to expand their standing in the world economy at the expense of Europe. All three powers should probably look into making stronger ties with eastern European countries to undercut western Europe's clout over the east.

More updates: The Sun who is anti-EU takes pleasure in the non vote. Powerline points to an interesting breakdown of Red/Blue voting breakdown in France. Financial Times sees Chirac to save his career going on the defensive which could cause more trouble down the line.


Saturday, May 28, 2005

John Ford resigns

Politics: An FBI sting that catches you on tape asking for and taking money will do that to you.

AP: "State Sen. John Ford, a member of one of Tennessee's most powerful political families, has resigned after being placed under house arrest facing charges from a two-year FBI sting, the lieutenant governor said Saturday. Ford announced his resignation in a letter Lt. Gov. John Wilder read to the Senate. "I plan to spend the rest of my time with my family clearing my name," he wrote. A member of the Senate for more than 30 years, Ford was arrested Thursday following the sting operation nicknamed "Tennessee Waltz." He is charged along with four other current and former state lawmakers with taking payoffs, and he is also accused of threatening to kill a witness."

Bill Hobbs has much more local coverage on this huge story.


Friday, May 27, 2005

Why is Howard Kurtz lying?

Media: It's amusing to see the media still defending Newsweek and the Quran story by trying in a subtle way to change the original story using FBI documents the ACLU obtained.

Original periscope: "May 9 issue - Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash. " Howard Kurtz(05/27/05): "Let's parse the wording. Newsweek erred by saying in its ill-fated Periscope item that a forthcoming military investigative report would cite an allegation of the Koran being flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo. That was wrong, and Newsweek's anonymous source backed off."

I know Newsweek and Washington Post are owned by the same company, but this is ridiculous.


UK medical journal wants to ban long kitchen knives.

UK: I'm already stocking up on a supply of knives to sell on the black market.

Many assaults are impulsive, often triggered by alcohol or misuse of other drugs, and the long pointed kitchen knife is an easily available potentially lethal weapon particularly in the domestic setting. Government action to ban the sale of such knives would drastically reduce their availability over the course of a few years. In addition, such legislation would make it harder to justify carrying such knives and prosecution easier. The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime. We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect.
First knives, then they will come after sporks. This would fit the slippery slope argument to a tee, first they banned guns and just move down the list of things that can be used as weapons. via Volokh Conspiracy. Update: The BBC and Scotsman pick up on the editorial.


Republicans ticked off about Bolton delay.

Politics: Wha... you mean the new lovely dovey Senate was a farce and the Democrats can't be trusted? Shocking.

Senate Democrats refused to end debate on John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador yesterday, extending the contentious issue into next month and angering Republicans only three days after many had heralded a bipartisan breakthrough on judicial nominees. Some Republicans expressed confidence that they can confirm Bolton eventually, but yesterday's action seemed to stun party leaders and undermine talk of a newfound comity stemming from Monday's brokered deal on judges. "The honeymoon is over," Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) said sharply as he left the floor moments after senators voted 56 to 42 in favor of ending debate on Bolton's nomination. The vote fell four short of the 60 needed to halt a filibuster and move to a confirmation vote, which would require only a simple majority in the 100-member chamber. ....Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who appeared dour as yesterday's 35-minute roll call took place in an unusually crowded chamber, called the results "very, very disappointing." Earlier in the day, he said on the floor, Reid had given a speech calling for "comity and cooperation." "But tonight, after the Democrats have launched into yet another filibuster of a presidential nomination. . . . those words seem empty and hollow," Frist said. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) told reporters that Democratic leaders had assured Frist that he would get 60 votes to end debate if he tried. But Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the Democratic leader "told Senator Frist this afternoon he did not have the 60 votes needed, and urged him to consider holding off on the vote" while Biden and others pressed the administration for the requested documents. ....White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, "Just 72 hours after all the goodwill and bipartisanship in the Senate, it's a shame to see the Democratic leadership resort back to a partisan approach." ....Freshman Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) also voted for "cloture" but said he would vote against confirmation, in apparent protest of the administration's inclusion of Ellsworth Air Force Base, the state's second-largest employer, on a list of recommended base closings. He said of Bolton, "I don't think he's the best man for the job." Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Bolton supporter and one of the 14 who signed the agreement on judicial filibusters, said yesterday: "Maybe this was just a bridge too far at the end of the most stressful week in recent memory. . . . The spirit that we were trying to create has been damaged." Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), also a Bolton supporter and one of the 14 negotiators, said the Bolton vote had "no linkage" to the deal on judges. It was about "the mystery of the unknown" in the requested documents, he said."

I'm not too worried about Thune as all politics are local and he is talking to his state. But this is getting ridiculous. The blame falls on the Republican Senate leadership and the White House. The Democrats have not done or said anything that is a surprise, but you constantly get the feeling the GOP is getting outflanked at the big issues. The Senate is full of people who think they should be President and more than happy to spit in the faces of the party to act like a "maverick." The White House needs to do more to assert some sort of control and tell GOP Senators to cut the crap.

But on the bright side, Lindsey Graham looks like an idiot after his pompous behavior earlier this week.


Wolfgang Ischinger seems to be an idiot.

Germany: German ambassador to America had this astouding tidbit about the greatness of Europe in the lastest New Yorker.

"As older societies, we tend to think of ourselves as more experienced in the way societies evolve, and we tend to be skeptical of Americans who seem to think that if you believe hard enough, and you muster enough resources, you can change the world...In the last year or so, as we've engaged in discussions about the transformation of the Middle East and democracy, I have told my American friends that the region in this world that has seen the most transformation and change is Central and Eastern Europe--without shedding a drop of blood. So don't preach to us.
I guess World War I and II never happened and Soviet oppression of Eastern Europe was a nice deal for the people. Medienkritik slams a pictorial hammer on the good ambassador.


Quebec says no to Sharia law.

Canada: Muslims are upset about this, but considering this is Quebec, their complaints are going to be null and void.

QUEBEC -- In a pre-emptive strike against what it calls religious fundamentalism, the Quebec National Assembly has voted unanimously to condemn efforts to introduce Islamic tribunals in Quebec and in the rest of Canada. During the debate yesterday on a motion tabled by the governing Liberals, members from all political parties opposed Muslim groups seeking to apply sharia, or traditional Islamic law, in marriage or other disputes in the Muslim community. The decision, which drew immediate condemnation from some members of the Islamic community, echoed France's recent and controversial prohibition of religious symbols in schools. Liberal member Fatima Houda-Pepin, who introduced the motion, said sharia law would discriminate against women. She said fringe Muslim religious groups are seeking to use the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to impose religious values that undermine Canada's democratic institutions. ....Muslim leaders in Montreal were appalled by the adoption of the motion, saying they were never given a chance to argue their case before the Minister of Justice or other elected officials. "This is shocking, truly shocking. It is total bigotry or total ignorance of what Islam is," said Salam El Menyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal. "Taking such action is tantamount to religious bigotry and discrimination against a religious minority."Muslims are being excluded from rights other religions have. And this exclusion is very dangerous because that is exactly what Hitler did to Jews," Mr. El Menyawi said during a telephone interview. The Muslim Council tried to meet with Justice Minister Jacques Dupuis last December in an effort to explain how the community wanted to handle issues such as divorce. The community said it will examine all recourses available to force the National Assembly to reverse its decision. "I have been inundated with calls and e-mails from the Muslim community asking that we should file a complaint with the United Nations," Mr. El Menyawi said.


Soccer is more important people!

Entertainment: Seriously, this is the Super Bowl of soccer, Elvis should have schedule the concert later than pissing on his fans.

Outraged fans walked out in disgust last night after Elvis Costello arrived on stage several hours late because he was watching the football. He then shouted abuse at the audience and deliberately played badly. The avid Liverpool fan had arrived on stage at the UEA at 9.40pm because he tried to catch the Champions League final on television. Many fans had been waiting for him since 7.30pm and so when he received a hostile reaction from fans, he proceeded to shout abuse at them and under perform.


EU: all over but the blaming.

EU: via the Guardian, Chirac may have pushed the no vote even higher after his speech tonight.

Jacques Chirac made a final attempt to reverse France's determination to reject the EU constitution last night, imploring voters "not to answer the wrong question" and insisting their choice was "about your future, your children's future, the future of France and of Europe". In a solemn address on television and radio, the president said it would be wrong to use Sunday's referendum to punish his government. He said it was his duty to warn of the consequences of a French non, and promised the treaty would make France stronger, guarantee its social advances and protect its public services. As two more polls put the no camp ahead yesterday, Mr Chirac said a no vote would be seen everywhere as "a no to Europe", opening a period of "divisions, doubts, uncertainties". It would be an illusion, to think Europe could pick up again with a new project - "there is no other project". ...Mr Chirac's appeal came, however, amid growing indications that he and most of his cabinet - including the deeply unpopular prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who is almost certain to be out of a job next week - had already resigned themselves to defeat. The president met journalists earlier and admitted it would now be "extremely difficult" to turn the tide. Nicolas Sarkozy, the leader of Mr Chirac's ruling UMP party, reportedly remarked: "The referendum? It'll be a small no ... or a big no." The post mortems are already under way in the Socialist party, which officially backs a yes vote but has been unable to persuade a majority of its voters to do likewise. Yesterday's two polls put French opposition at 54% and 55%. More than 80% of those questioned said their minds were now made up.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Euro dropping, No vote grows in France.

EU: French officials already stating the vote is lost as the blame game gets bitter and bigger.

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- The euro fell against the dollar after Agence France-Presse reported that a poll showed French voters' opposition to the European Union constitution has increased before a referendum on May 29. The euro also dropped against the yen and British pound after AFP said the poll for Le Monde, RTL and LCI television showed opposition rose 1 percentage point to 54 percent. Former finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy told French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin the campaign is lost, the Times of London reported earlier today. ``People are walking in this morning in Europe and seeing these stories, and now the margin for a no vote is increasing substantially,'' said Simon Derrick, a currency strategist at Bank of New York in London. ``This is piling additional downward pressure on the euro.''


Sony may outsource PSP to China.

Gaming: I still need to get one, the emu scene is moving along nicely.

May 26 (Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp., the world's second-biggest consumer electronics maker, may outsource production of the PlayStation Portable, possibly to China or Taiwan, to meet rising demand for its first handheld video-game player, said Ken Kutaragi, president of the video games subsidiary. ``We have to somehow increase our production capacity as we're not prepared to start selling in Europe, we've run out of units in the U.S. and it's still selling well in Japan,'' Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., told Bloomberg News today at a games industry meeting in Tokyo. Sony in February said it aims to more than double monthly production of the PSP to 2 million units by this summer, to compete with Nintendo Co., which holds about 90 percent of the handheld game market with its GameBoy and DS devices. The Kisarazu factory in Chiba, east of Tokyo, is the only facility that makes Sony's PSP console. The factory makes about 1 million units a month, Kutaragi said.


UK media watchdog okays bestiality shows.

Media: Well...okay then.

Clean-up TV campaigners seeking succour in Ofcom's new broadcasting rules suffered an immediate blow today when the regulator gave the all-clear to programmes about "sex with animals". The comments by Richard Hooper, the Ofcom deputy chairman, came at the unveiling of its long-awaited new broadcasting code and will have had the regulator's spin doctors holding their heads in their hands. Although Mr Hooper was at pains to point out that the new regulations will not give carte blanche to broadcasters, he said certain offensive material would be OK as long as it was shown at the right time and with suitable warnings. "[What about] a programme about sex with animals? Yes, it's potentially possible. It all comes down to context," he said.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Neal Shapiro fired?

Media: So says Drudge and Tvnewser. Feel free at anytime to start looking at Jeff Zucker if you want to know about NBC ratings woes. I don't think Shapiro was the one touting "Joey." But it does sounds like Zucker is circling the wagons around him.


EU President: Revote till those sumbitches say yes.

EU: Now that the No votes seem to be winning, the curtain falls to reveal that the EU supporters won't take no for an answer.

France and the Netherlands should re-run their referendums to obtain the "right answer" if their voters reject Europe's constitutional treaty in imminent national ballots, Jean-Claude Juncker, the holder of the EU presidency, said on Wednesday. The Luxembourg prime minister said all 25 EU member countries should continue their attempts to ratify the treaty whatever the outcome of the French and Dutch votes. His comments reflect a mood of deepening pessimism among Europe's leaders about the outcome of the referendums. "The countries which have said No will have to ask themselves the question again. And if we don't manage to find the right answer, the treaty will not enter into force," he said in an interview with the Belgian Le Soir newspaper.


Author of EU constitution blasts French Yes campaign.

EU: Valéry Giscard d'Estaing blames Chirac's government.

"Just days before France holds its referendum on the European treaty on May 29, polls show an almost daily increase in the No vote. Paris Match, the weekly magazine, on Tuesday published a survey showing 54 per cent against the treaty. In an interview with Les Echos, the French financial newspaper, Mr Giscard d'Estaing said France's political leaders were "used to the idea of Europe", but he said they were not deeply motivated by it. "When we meet difficulties they often blame Europe. So how can we be surprised then that the French have a bad idea of Europe?" he asked. Mr Giscard d'Estaing said it would have been better for politicians to stay out of the campaign, leaving academics, business and the media to do the job. "We know that in France referendums almost automatically slide towards becoming plebiscites [on the government]. It would have been better for the public powers to keep their distance, to avoid that temptation."


This won't help Schroeder.

Germany: It also doesn't help the Yes campaign in France or Holland.

May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Business confidence in Germany, Europe's largest economy, unexpectedly fell to a 21-month low in May, amid concern about the deteriorating growth outlook. The Ifo institute in Munich said today its business confidence index, based on a monthly survey of 7,000 executives, fell to 92.9 from 93.3 in April. Economists forecast an increase to 93.4, showed the median of 43 estimates in a Bloomberg survey. In Italy, business confidence slumped to a 3 1/2-year low the same month, a report from the Rome-based Isae institute showed today. ``I don't see any growth in Germany at this point,'' said Wolfgang Leese, chief executive officer of Salzgitter AG, Germany's second-largest steelmaker, in an interview. ``Demand is coming mainly from outside of Europe.''


EU heading towards destruction this weekend?

EU: News like this won't help the yes campaign in France or Holland.

GLOOM over the eurozone economy deepened yesterday as a leading international think-tank sharply cut its growth forecast for the 12-nation bloc and issued a powerful call for urgent cuts in interest rates. In the latest blow to hopes for European economic revival, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development cut its forecast for eurozone growth this year to just 1.2 per cent — down from its previous 1.9 per cent projection. Giving warning of an “abrupt weakening” in activity and “sagging consumer and business confidence”, the OECD ratcheted up pressure on the European Central Bank to make early and steep cuts in eurozone interest rates.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

About this filibuster deal by McCain.

Politics: I don't know why everyone is so upset, McCain was involved in making campaign finance reform, look how well that turned out. Aw hell... Republicans are screwed. More on reaction to this so far hideous looking deal via Instapundit and a huge roundup by Michelle Malkin.


Isikoff causing people to die? Just a blip.

Politics: This is usually where the professional race groups come in to denounce the indifference expressed by that person. It reads like you standard apology followed by a moment of truth. But still blaming the Pentagon for his screwup shows something about his character.

NEW YORK - One of the two Newsweek journalists behind the retracted article alleging that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Quran at Guantanamo Bay said he dropped the ball by not properly corroborating his anonymous source. Michael Isikoff, addressing the furor in an interview broadcast Monday night on "The Charlie Rose Show," said he regretted the possibility that his article, which has been blamed for violent protests in Muslim countries, may have spurred riots. "It was terrible what happened," he told Rose. "Even if it was just a little bit that we contributed to the violence that went on over there, that was awful, terrible." He said that the reporters had provided the article in full to a senior Defense Department official. The official asked for a change of wording on a separate issue, but said nothing about the details concerning the Quran. He and co-author, John Barry had provided his article for review as a precaution, he said, but had erred by not getting positive corroboration on each point in the article by the Pentagon official. Isikoff said that he thought the error had harmed the magazine. "I think it has clearly done some temporary damage," he said. "It's thrown us off our game for a little bit," he said. "I think this will end up being a blip."


Monday, May 23, 2005

Update on the Williams sisters

UK: Previously talked about here, we get two updates as it turns into a soap opera.

The Sun(1): "SCHOOLBOY dad David Ryan began having sex with Jemma Williams when she was 11 — as her mum Julie slept in the next bedroom. David’s family last night told how Julie allowed the under-age pair to spend the night together even after worried neighbours alerted cops and social workers. " The Sun(2): "A LAD named by Jade Williams as the father of her baby last night demanded a paternity test — because he is WHITE and the child looks BLACK. Ben Flitton wants a DNA check to prove he is not the dad. He admits he had a one-night stand with Jade, 14. And at first he accepted her assertion he was five-month-old Lita’s dad, even buying the tot clothes and toys. But Ben’s father Ian, 38, said: “You’ve only to take one look at Lita now to know it’s impossible. She is clearly different to my son.”
More discussion on the sisters here, here, here, here, here. More Blog results at Technorati. Update! The father of two of the sisters didn't know he was a grandfather till he read the papers and is pissed. Now the police are going to get involved because of these reports to see if laws were broken.


Germany and France can't deal with the world.

EU: This could be the most coherent, level-headed article ever in the Guardian.

The devastating defeat of Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrats in the weekend elections in North Rhine-Westphalia blows the whistle on Germany's attempt to balance economic energy and social cohesion in the old way. This was truly a milestone event - akin in its way to Britain's winter of discontent a quarter of a century ago. A bugle blew in the Ruhr on Sunday, sounding the last post for the postwar German model. Germany seems to me to have fallen victim to something that was captured by its most famous poet in his most celebrated work. In part one of Goethe's Faust, the central character's pact with the devil allows him to have energy, life and youth unless he becomes so entranced by the passing moment that he wishes that things will never change. When Faust stumbles unthinkingly into that wish, his world and his life are forfeit to Mephistopheles. ....There was nothing wrong with the postwar settlement for the Europeans who benefited from it, especially for those who had survived the terrible years of 1914-45. But it was only sustainable as long as the millions who languished under communism were unable to get their share of the prosperity, security and freedom that western Europe enjoyed. Once communism collapsed, the privileges and protections that were essential to the western settlement began to be unsustainable economically and, in an important way, morally too. This is the world we all now inhabit. It is a world in which Britain, because of the premature destruction of its own post-1945 settlement, is better equipped to make the transition to the market-economy-dominated 21st century than the older nations of the European Union. Now it is the turn of Germany, struggling to reform but highly educated and highly skilled - the key assets for any developed economy in this changing global economy - to go through its own version of that painful transition.


More on Diana Griego Erwin

Media: Sac Bee's public editor puts out four examples of articles that Erwin was supposed to verify people and places. Instead she quit. (CLICK HERE FOR UPDATED REPORT ON JUNE 27th, 2005 )

The editors selected 12 columns that identified ordinary people the editors thought they could find. They grew more suspicious when they weren't able to verify named sources in seven of the 12. Of the seven, the editors picked four that were among the most recent and which included people who seemed readily identifiable. The editors believed, therefore, the columns would be the easiest for Griego Erwin to authenticate. ....Here are the four: * April 26: Although the reference to the bar and the bartender were dropped in the rewritten column, the editors were unable to verify the existence of Audrey Hellund in the published column. Hellund is described as a woman "who moved to Sacramento a few years ago after the murder of her brother in a Texas roadside altercation." The column ends with this Hellund quote: "... I came here to get away from that memory, but you know what? You can't ... get away. That thinking is everywhere. (People) have no patience. Hotheads are everywhere. What is it about us? What is it?" * April 7: This column begins with, "Elsie Chau lives in a dark, old Craftsman north of downtown somewhere where the Alkali Flats neighborhood bleeds into Boulevard Park." The column tells the story of how Chau finds a homeless woman named Carolina living in a below-ground doorway at her home, how she eventually lets the woman stay in the root cellar and how the two women strike up a year-long friendship. Chau is described as a 62-year-old widow of seven years who lives with her cats, Christine and Queen Sweetness. "The haughty black-and-white felines sweep their tails dramatically about in a way that gives their walks a swagger." The column ends with Carolina suddenly leaving without notice, upsetting Chau. " 'I just want to know that she's safe if anyone knows her,' Chau said. She smiled sadly." Editors can't verify Chau's existence or find her house. But there are other problems as well. Readers are led to believe that Griego Erwin was at Chau's house, what with the descriptions of the cats' sweeping tails and Chau smiling sadly. But, said Rodriguez, Griego Erwin told the editors during their inquiry she was never at the house and that she wrote the column based on a telephone interview with Chau. * March 31: This column talks about the country's racial divide in the wake of well-known defense attorney Johnnie Cochran's death. The column's first paragraph reads: "Margaret Brown invites me to sit at a wobbly wood table in her Florin-area home. She peels carrots and talks to me. Later, as tears roll down her cheeks, she dices potatoes hotly." The column describes Brown as an 89-year-old retired teacher. She is African American and a former Louisiana beauty queen. Her "dark skin is creased and wrinkled." She is called "Aunt Queenie" by her great-nephew, who lives in her concrete basement. The editors can't verify Brown's existence or find her home. * Feb. 20: In a column about a student teacher who fought off a would-be rapist at Hiram Johnson High School, two women are quoted, Mary Magorki and Sheila Baston. The attack, according to the column, "was a hot topic around the lunch table at the senior center Mary Magorki, 72, frequents." The editors can't verify Magorki's existence. Although the senior center is unnamed in the column, Griego Erwin told the editors the facility is the Hart senior center at 915 27th St. Rodriguez said the editors checked with the center and that officials there have never heard of Magorki nor is she one of the center's regular visitors. Baston is described as a woman "who runs a pre-teen 'girls club' at her church in the Highlands area." The paper can't authenticate Baston's existence or find her girls club. Rodriguez said the paper gave Griego Erwin several days to verify any one of the questionable sources in the four columns, but the columnist never offered a single explanation and instead submitted her resignation on May 11. "I don't know if she couldn't, or wouldn't, but in the end, she didn't," Rodriguez said. "To this day, I don't know if these people exist," he said. "But I have the right and the duty as the editor to ask for verification."


Israeli universities boycott likely to be thrown out.

Israel: Sue Blackwell is resigned to the fact her anti-Israel ploy is going to be overturned.

Sue Blackwell, an academic at the University of Birmingham who attracted worldwide condemnation for leading calls to cut academic links with the universities of Bar-Ilan and Haifa, said she expected the boycott to be rescinded on Thursday by the Association of University Teachers. "I think a stitch-up is quite likely. It looks like the meeting is going to be packed with people who never usually bother to come to conference because of the campaign that has been waged against us," she said. ...."The boycott is there, active and expanding," said Professor Steven Rose, a professor of biology at the Open University. "Because of the campaign it has become a much more high-profile issue and academics will not be able to ignore the treatment of Palestinians when they do joint-projects with Israelis. "[Israel] is very strong in areas such as neuro-science, genetics and stem cell research so British scientists will lose out. But the people who will lose out most are the Israelis because they value links with Europe so highly." Opponents said the boycott would have little effect on research, but was an unacceptable attack on academic freedom. David Hirsh, a lecturer at Goldsmiths College and one of the co-ordinators of the campaign to overturn the boycott, said Israel was being "unfairly demonised". He said: "The logic of their position is that Israel is an illegitimate state and that Jewish nationalism is unlike that of any other nationalism. I think that is essentially an anti-Semitic position and there is a risk of Jews working and studying at British universities being unfairly painted as racist if they do not describe themselves as anti-Zionists." Dr Blackwell said she was offended by the suggestion that the boycott was in some way motivated by anti-Semitism, and said she had a track record of fighting all forms of racism.


Schroeder: I hate capitalism

Germany: Last election it was anti_Americanism, now its about capitalist pigs! They tried this ploy in the North Rhine-Westphalia elections over the weekend and it didn't work, I doubt it will work nationwide.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's party took aim at the "market radicalism" of the conservative opposition Monday as it geared up for early national elections, signaling it will present itself as defending social programs and workers' rights. Schroeder called for early elections Sunday after his Social Democrats suffered a stunning state election defeat in a traditional stronghold. He said voters' decision to end the party's 39-year grip on Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, had undermined the national mandate he needs to reform the struggling economy. Party chairman Franz Muentefering said Schroeder plans to clear the way for new elections by holding a parliamentary confidence vote July 1 — setting the scene for the vote to be held by Sept. 18. The tactic was used by Schroeder's predecessor, Helmut Kohl, who forced elections in 1983 by calling a confidence vote in which his own supporters abstained. Conservative leaders were readying their challenge for the elections, closing ranks around the leader of the main opposition Christian Democrats, Angela Merkel, as Schroeder's likely challenger. While recent polls have shown a strong national lead for the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and their coalition partner, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's Greens, were confident of winning back voters. "The aim is to make clear that we have to push through the reforms, for which the chancellor needs support," Klaus Uwe Benneter, the party's general secretary, told ZDF television. "But we also have to show that what is at stake now is the social aspect of the market economy — this fall, we will have to conduct a debate between those want ... to push through market radicalism and those to whom protection from dismissal and worker participation in managing companies is important."


This would be the UK version of trailer park trash

Society: or welfare queens or future Jerry Springer guests. I feel bad for the babies, because between the mother and her daughters, I don't see one adult in the picture. At least be freaking embarrassed that your kids are sluts and you are ashamed of taking taxpayer's money. But to blame the school for not teaching what is an obvious lack of morals and common sense is an outrage.

SISTERS Jemma, Natasha and Jade Williams proudly pose with their tots — after getting pregnant aged 12, 16 and 14. The three girls and their children share a council home in Derby with their twice-divorced mum Julie, 38. None of the toddlers’ dads is supporting their children — so the Williams family rakes in £31,000-a-year benefits. Moaning mum Julie last night insisted their school was to blame for them getting pregnant. Grandma Julie said teachers had failed her girls by not explaining about the perils of sex early enough. She added: “People are saying I’m a bad mum for letting this happen but I blame the schools — sex education for young girls should be better. “I do feel responsible, because they’re my children. But I do think sex education should be started earlier. “Times have changed since I was young. Girls are becoming sexually active in their early teens. They don’t realise how hard bringing up a child is.” Julie, who had her first child at 20, said she was stunned when she learned Jemma was expecting at 12. She added: “I was so shocked. She didn’t tell me for seven months because she thought I’d hit the roof. “I only found out when I took her to buy a new bra and as she was being measured I saw her huge bump.” Just weeks later she discovered Jade, then aged 14, and 16-year-old Natasha were also expecting. Natasha had previously had two miscarriages and an abortion.
So what about the fathers?

"The sisters get nothing from the fathers of their babies - relying on a string of state handouts instead.

Julie gets £250 a week, made up of £57 in income support, £51 in family allowance and the rest in tax credits. Natasha, who is now 18, gets £120 a week in family tax credits. Neither of her sisters receives anything directly. But no one in the family pays rent or council tax and they receive free nursery care — taking their total benefits to more than £31,000 a year. Both Jemma and Jade are still at school. Jade, now 15, is about to take four GCSEs. Jemma told last night how Jade introduced her to the lad who became T-Jay’s father. She said: “I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant because I was too scared. “I only told my boyfriend David, who was 14 at the time, but I didn’t want to have an abortion. “He was my first love but now I’m gutted because he doesn’t want to have anything to do with me or T-Jay. “He was great to start with but he’s got a new girlfriend.” Jade said she became pregnant with Lita after a one-night stand. She said: “It was just one of those things really. I wasn’t using contraception and I suppose I just thought it wouldn’t happen to me. “I didn’t tell anyone for ages as I initially wanted an abortion, but I couldn’t go through with it. Her dad knows about her but doesn’t want to have anything to do with her and doesn’t contribute anything. We’ve put the Child Support Agency on to him. “But we don’t need their dads as we give them all the love and support they need.”

Yep, those babies are screwed.


Sunday, May 22, 2005

So, yeah.. Ron Artest is crazy.

Sports: Via detroit news.

Weird scene The Pistons were still shaking their heads at what happened Thursday night as they were on their bus inside the loading-dock area of Conseco Fieldhouse. It was between 11:30 and midnight and the Pistons' bus was about to leave the arena for the airport. Suddenly, a dark Escalade roared into the loading dock, nearly hitting several people. Out jumped Ron Artest, the Pacers forward who got a seasonlong suspension for his part in the Nov. 19 brawl. According to Pistons players on the bus, Artest was wearing an old (and short) pair of shorts. He had no shoes on and, upon getting out of the vehicle, he tore off his T-shirt. Given the history between Artest and the Pistons, the team's security officials were on high alert. But Artest made no motion toward the bus. He simply walked, bare-chested and bare-footed, into the building, presumably for a midnight workout. "There's something going on there," Ben Wallace said, not wanting to comment further.


Belinda Stronach says stop picking on me.

Canada: Via Andrew Coyne, Belinda is disturbed at the lack of civility because she dumped her party and boyfriend to further her ambition of being absolute ruler of Canada because it is her divine right. It didn't take her long to get the liberal victim card out. She better get used to being known as a political ho because that is what she has showed herself to be.


Washington Post issues a Koran correction

Politics: Lots of correcting going on in the MSM this week, too bad it's buried in the back pages.

A May 18 article incorrectly stated that former Army translator Erik Saar said in previous media interviews that guards at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, routinely tossed Korans on the ground. Saar has said there were "chronic problems" with the way military guards handled the Koran and failures to follow military procedures for respectfully handling the Muslim holy book when guards inspected cells, but he did not say that guards routinely tossed copies of the book.
via LGF.


Laura Bush mobbed in Israel!!! kinda..sorta..maybe..

Politics: Talk about hysterical reporting.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Protesters besieged Laura Bush during her visit Sunday to two of Jerusalem's most sacred sites, with Israeli police locking arms to restrain the crowd and Secret Service agents packed tightly around America's first lady. Stepping into the long-running Mideast conflict, she appealed for Israelis and Palestinians to commit to working for peace and said Americans "will do what they can in this process." The demonstrations at the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock showed "what an emotional place this is as we go from each one of these very, very holy sites to the next," Mrs. Bush said later in the West Bank town of Jericho as she stood at the ruins of the 8th-century Hisham's Palace.
Sounds huge!
Mrs. Bush, who is on a tour intended partly to help defuse anti-American sentiment in the region, placed a note in the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest shrine. She wrote the note on the flight Sunday from Jordan to Israel, but wanted to keep the contents private, a spokeswoman said. Dozens of protesters stood nearby, shouting, "Free Pollard now." Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew who is serving life sentence in a U.S. prison for spying for Israel, was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy. The first lady was mobbed by protesters and local reporters, and Secret Service agents and Israeli police had to physically hold back the crowd as she approached the wall. She then went to the Dome of the Rock, a mosque on a hilltop compound known to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount. As she left the mosque, one heckler yelled, "How dare you come in here?" and "Why do you hassle our Muslims?" Mrs. Bush removed her shoes as she entered the mosque and walked barefoot on the red carpet. She held a black scarf tightly around her head as she gazed up at the gilded dome and the colorful mosaics on the marble walls. Some of the women studying inside the mosque were clearly annoyed at the intrusion and waved their fingers at the U.S. entourage. Despite the chaos at both sites, Mrs. Bush kept smiling and said little. In Jericho, which is under Palestinian control, security was tight and no protesters were evident when Mrs. Bush visited the ruins and met at a hotel with leading Palestinian women.
So.. a dozen protestors about a convicted spy, a couple of women heckling and a bunch of people annoyed with the size of the crowd while they are praying is huge?


Germany set for early fall elections.

Germany: As expected, Schroeder party(SPD) lost in North Rhine-Westphalia election, unexpected is how badly they lost to the CDU (45-37%) This has prompted call for early elections. The anti-capitalism talk couldn't save Schroeder from this crushing defeat.

"...The center-left Social Democrats had run North Rhine-Westphalia, a western region of 18 million people that includes the industrial Ruhr Valley, since 1966. But a rise in unemployment and discontent over the chancellor's efforts to trim the welfare state tested voters' patience in the party's traditional heartland. "Unfortunately, there is no reason this evening for the Social Democrats to celebrate," party chairman Franz Muentefering said in Berlin. "This is a bitter defeat." He told ZDF television that he and Schroeder would propose to party members that national elections, which were expected in the second half of 2006, be advanced by a year. "The chancellor and I have decided ... to propose that we aim for parliamentary elections this fall," Muentefering told ZDF television. He added that "Schroeder is the chancellor and the candidate for chancellor." Christian Democratic leader Angela Merkel was jubilant at Sunday's win. "The voters have given the Christian Democratic Union a sensational result today," a beaming Merkel told reporters. The outgoing regional government is the last at state level that mirrors the national government of Social Democrats and Greens, and Merkel had argued before the vote that a conservative win would signal the end of the "red-green model." The Social Democrats lost votes in a string of state elections last year, and this spring lost control of the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, where they had governed with the Greens.
Update# More on the German elections from MEDIENKRITIK, Guardian and Reuters. Chances of Schroeder winning is slim to none. He can't Paul Martin his way out of this mess.


Environment vs making lots of money in Brazil. FIGHT!

Brazil: Save trees vs making billions off of farming that help to employ thousands of people?

In 2004 the government decided to make a stand in this half-moon shaped area stretching along the southern and eastern edges of the Amazon. A year later, environmentalists and government officials have little to show for the effort. The government said on Wednesday that deforestation jumped to its second highest level on record in 2003-2004, to 10,088 square miles (26,130 sq km) -- an area nearly the size of Belgium and slightly bigger than the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Just under 20 percent of the world's largest tropical forest, which is home to an estimated 30 percent of the world's animal and plant species, has now been destroyed. Even if last year was below the deforestation record of 11,216 square miles (29,050 sq km) reached in 1994-1995, the deforestation levels during the past three years have never been so consistently high, all above 20,000 square km. The Green Party quit President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's center-left ruling coalition on Thursday in anger at the figures. ....High world prices for Brazil's leading farm goods, such as soy which fetched around $10 billion in exports last year, are making farming very attractive in Brazil. The powerful farm sectors' soaring profits are making the government's job of controlling deforestation that much harder, not least because many government officials see the sector as key to Brazil's soaring export boom. Environmentalists fear this may represent an insurmountable challenge for the government. The fact that the government did not discuss the deforestation figures with environmentalists, as they do every year, before releasing them this time could have been an ominous sign. "It looks like they no longer believe in the possibility of calling on society to react to this and they are trying to diminish the importance of the deforestation," said Roberto Smeraldi, director of Friends of the Earth in Brazil.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Tidbits from the French EU constitution vote.

EU: Chirac being told to shut up because he is unpopular, but he insists on being everywhere.

European Union constitution supporters are urging French president Jacques Chirac to stop campaigning for the landmark document ahead of a crucial French referendum next week, saying his unpopularity makes him a liability. The centre-right president, ignoring the calls and new poll numbers showing his popularity at a three-year low, was pressing on with his push for the EU charter in a TV appearance yesterday. "It would be better if he kept quiet," said Francois Rebsamen, the number three official in the opposition Socialist Party, which, like Chirac, also wants a "yes" victory in the May 29 vote that is being watched across Europe. "His word is counterproductive."

Both sides are ramping up their campaigns with the "non" vote again in the lead.

Telegraph is reporting that there is a secret plan to "rescue" the constitution with a plan B despite the public claims there is no plan B.


Man, Martin Luther King message does not work in Boston.

Politics: Unless they want to show racism is involved, whining that he should get the job because he is black is a slap in the face. You can't fight for equality and then turn around play the race card because you don't like the outcome.

"Angry at the University of Massachusetts for passing over a black candidate to lead its Boston campus, minority legislators and activists vowed yesterday to fight the appointment of Dr. Michael F. Collins, a Boston physician recommended for the job by UMass president Jack Wilson. Black and Hispanic legislators, two Boston city councilors, and the head of the Boston chapter of the NAACP held a press conference at the State House to express disappointment and outrage that Wilson did not choose J. Keith Motley, the interim chancellor of UMass-Boston. Motley, 49, one of three finalists, would have been the first black chancellor of the Dorchester campus. ''When do we fire somebody for doing a good job?" Representative Marie P. St. Fleur, a Dorchester Democrat, said, her voice rising in anger. ''This is larger than Keith Motley. I am outraged by [Wilson's] lack of courage to make a just and fair decision." St. Fleur and other critics said they will lobby UMass trustees to reject Wilson's choice. They also called on Governor Mitt Romney to use his influence to make sure that Motley is appointed. ....Motley, in his first public comments since Wilson's announcement, said yesterday he was disappointed in the outcome, but still confident in his ability to lead a campus. He said he will consider future opportunities at UMass and elsewhere. Wilson has asked Motley, who spent a decade as student services dean at Northeastern University, to work in his downtown office as a vice president of the five-campus university system, a spokesman for the UMass president said. Motley said he needed to discuss the offer further with Wilson. ''People make decisions, and you have to move on," Motley said, drinking tea with honey after hosting the community awards breakfast, where he choked up before receiving a standing ovation from 200 guests. ''I don't dwell on what [Wilson's] thought pattern was, and I know Keith Motley's not a failure. . . . I made history here, and I'm very proud of that." At a State House press conference, Motley's supporters were less forgiving. Representative Shirley Owens-Hicks, a Mattapan Democrat, said she believes that if Motley were white, he would have been recommended for the job. Councilor Felix Arroyo described the decision as ''not acceptable whatsoever," and Councilor Charles Yancey said it was ''a slap in the face to our children." Leonard C. Alkins, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, said Wilson's decision ''had set back the city of Boston over 100 years."


German youths enlisted to help the French vote correctly.

EU: If this isn't an implied threat to scare the French into saying Yes.

PARIS -- Those French citizens who thought they would spend a quiet day at the Louvre this week have found themselves assaulted by German youths, dozens of them, intent on plying them with blue-and-yellow flags, heaps of literature and long, impassioned arguments. "I'm asking you, as fellow Europeans, to think about whether you want my people to retreat back into our old history," Hans-Stefan Stemmer, a 20-year-old Berlin university student, told a bewildered elderly couple in fluent French the other day in the museum's elegant courtyard. They declined his offer of European Union flags, but said they'd think about his entreaties. Mr. Stemmer and hundreds of his comrades are part of a desperate last-ditch effort this week by leaders across Europe to persuade the French to vote in favour of adopting the European Union constitution in a May 29 referendum. To the shock and horror of French leaders, the people seem prepared to defy the wishes of the elite and cast a majority Non vote. That would invalidate the constitution, which requires approval by all 25 EU countries"
I think this is the German version of P Diddy's "VOTE OR DIE!" But I would take it more seriously.


Zimbabwe: Bring back the white people!

Africa: I'm shocked that the land grabbing failed, just shocked.

White farmers may be allowed back on their land in Zimbabwe as part of a plan by the government of Robert Mugabe to solve the country's deepening economic crisis. The president's key finance aide has called for some of the farmers whose properties were confiscated in a land seizure programme to be allowed to resume growing crops to boost the country's flagging agricultural output. Gideon Gono, governor of the central bank and Mr Mugabe's main policy maker, made the proposal as he announced a 31% devaluation of the Zimbabwe currency. "In order to ensure maximum productivity levels, there is great scope in the country promoting and supporting joint ventures between the new farmers with progressive-minded former operators," said Mr Gono in a state radio and television broadcast that lasted nearly three hours. He added that the skilled whites and other new investors would be given special guarantees of uninterrupted tenure of five to 10 years, backed by government force to prevent any disruptions on the farms. Mr Gono was careful to say that it would not reverse Mr Mugabe's redistribution of white-owned land to blacks. However, observers say his plan would be an implicit admission that the land seizure policy has failed.


Friday, May 20, 2005

Euro falls as French economy goes south.

EU: Via Financial Times.

The euro dropped on Friday to a seven-month low against a resurgent US dollar as French economic growth fell short of expectations and investors fretted about the political turmoil that could result from three critical European votes over the next 11 days. The French economy expanded by a smaller than expected 0.2 per cent in the first three months of the year, increasing concern about the fragility of the eurozone economy. Europe's second-largest economy had been expected to grow by 0.5 per cent in the first quarter. Julian Callow, economist at Barclays Capital, said: “Investors are recognising that the euro does not have a happy set of fundamentals supporting it. The economic news is crumbling and political tensions are rising.”
Investors are about a year and a half late.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Slavery has gotten better over the years.

Entertainment: Chris Martin of Coldplay is depressed being a slave to EMI and he is trying to get the word out to fight da man!

"I don't really care about EMI. I'm not really concerned about that. I think shareholders are the great evil of this modern world." ...Martin told reporters at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre that the band was uncomfortable that they sell so many albums they can affect a major corporation's stock price. "It's very strange for us that we spent 18 months in the studio just trying to make songs that make us feel a certain way and then suddenly become part of this corporate machine," Martin said backstage. He criticised what he called "the slavery that we are all under to shareholders."
Slavery has sure evolved over the years. Slavery back then.
Slavery today. Feel the pain, agony and torture.

BTW, Stay your ass out of Africa, they have more than enough problems and the continent can't handle someone who wants to be Bono Jr. This article by Franklin Cudjoe pointed out the lack of intelligence spewed by the likes of Chris Martin.

"Coldplay frontman Chris Martin has said that Ghana's rice, tomato and poultry farmers need to be protected from cheap imports. Yet the problems of Ghana's farmers lie elsewhere: they and other entrepreneurs are stifled by punitive tax regimes and the high cost of capital, not to mention our disarrayed land tenure systems which lead to low crop production. Neither Mr Martin nor fellow celebrities have mentioned these problems: they claim that the world's trade regime is "rigged" in the name of "free trade", harming poor countries like Ghana and benefiting interest groups in wealthy countries. The only solution, they say, is to protect local economic interests. If we did ban rice and tomato imports, just how would we feed ourselves? Ghanaians depend on rice as a major staple in our diets, yet local production caters for only 30pc of the rice we consume. Subsidies to local producers also mean fewer choices for consumers. The average Ghanaian has suffered because of shoddy goods made locally by protected industries that do not face any competition. Who can blame consumers for buying higher quality and less-expensive foreign goods?"


US Airways and America West to merge.

General: This could be the largest merging of suck in the history of air travel.


Belinda is a lesson to Canadian conservatives

Canada: Never trust someone who is friends with Bill Clinton.
"In a dramatic culmination of weeks of pitched demands that the government resign, Members of Parliament cast their ballots twice Thursday afternoon. In the first round, on Bill C-43, the vote went as expected -- in the government's favour. Liberal MPs paused briefly in their voting to give a standing ovation to Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, who first introduced the budget to the House of Commons. The final count was 250 for, 54 against. In the second round, on the new multibillion-dollar spending package negotiated with NDP Leader Jack Layton, the result went the same way. The combined block of Liberals, NDP and Carolyn Parrish carried 152 votes, the same number as the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois. That left Independent MPs David Kilgour and Chuck Cadman to swing the result. Kilgour followed through on a pledge he made publicly just hours earlier, voting for the budget, but against the additional spending package. Cadman, however, voted with the government. Speaker of the House Peter Milliken was left to make the final, deciding vote in favour of the government. "I don't know why Honourable Members keep doing this to me," Milliken said, as he rose to address the tie vote.
To show how dishonest Belinda is,
Bloomberg: Martin's support got a boost Tuesday when Belinda Stronach, a former leadership candidate for the Conservatives, defected to the Liberals. Stronach, 39, former chief executive of car-parts maker Magna International Inc., said she didn't want to force an election less than a year after the last vote. And she was concerned the Conservative link with the Bloc Quebecois would strengthen support for separatism in Quebec. Martin appointed her Minister for Human Resources."
The entire reason the Bloc Quebeconis have made gains are because of the Liberals and her defecting over will just give the Bloc more ammo against whatever is left of the Liberals in Quebec.


Now we get the real deal from the press about radical Muslims

Terrorism: Via Instapundit.

BLAME THE CRAZY MUSLIMS: This seems to be the rapidly-gelling defense of Newsweek. True enough -- and as Christopher Hitchens and Austin Bay have been saying, media outlets like the Times have been failing to point this out in the past. ...It may have taken a journalistic scandal to unclog the pipes, but it's nice to see people finally noticing this, and holding the "Arab" (or at least Muslim) "street" to account as moral agents. That hardly excuses Newsweek's journalistic failings, though. (And I suspect that if a falsehood by Rush Limbaugh had led to a race riot, people wouldn't be taking this tack.) Still, with David Brooks, Jeff Jacoby and Tom Friedman all on the same page here, perhaps the press will begin to recognize that this isn't Vietnam redux, but an entirely different sort of war. One in which, I should note, the enemy counts on journalists to be sloppy, biased, and willing to excuse or ignore Islamist extremism in the service of domestic politics.

That will disappoint Poynter and Editor and Publisher who have lead with the defense that Scott McClennan/White House are evil incarnate trying to control them. Now we will get press releases from C.A.I.R berating the press for blaming Muslims for the violence. But in the end, the press after a couple of weeks will go back to blaming America.


Churchill says he is an Indian, tribe says no.

Politics: Ward Churchill is hilarious, you have the tribe saying you are not an Indian and he is saying whatever, you are the liar.

By Charlie Brennan, Rocky Mountain News May 19, 2005 University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill on Wednesday blasted as "categorically untrue" a statement from the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians that his claim to membership in the tribe is fraudulent. In an escalating war of words between the professor and the Tahlequah, Okla.-based Cherokee band, to whom he has long staked his status as an American Indian, Churchill said the tribe has the right "to disenroll me. . . . What it does not have a right to do is falsify history at its own convenience." Churchill also said he hasn't been notified that he has been disenrolled. "Therefore," he said, "I cannot reasonably be accused of 'fraud' for having represented myself (as being enrolled)." Tribal spokeswoman Marilyn Craig said she would be sending Churchill a copy of Chief George Wickliffe's statement disavowing his membership. "I want to settle this thing, once and for all," Craig said.


Poor little Belinda Stronach, stop picking on her.

Canada: In Banada, the major media outlets are decrying how "mean" the conservatives are to poor Belinda calling her names. The fact she doesn't have qualifications to sort envelopes, much less get a cabinet position is a nevermind. She did "whore" herself for political ambition, male or female, that is a fact. The reasons she gave for being a political whore are downright ridiculous and illogical unless you are a Canadian liberal who have long since been addicted to government handouts like a crack addict. Corruption and criminal activity are fine as long as you keep the money coming which has rightly earned Canada the title of a banana republic. Can you think of any other country that someone can claim to be a democracy trying to pull off as much blatant bribing as Paul Martin as done without being thrown out on their ass? Not even France who has been trying to get the Non opinion damaged would be able to pull this off with payoffs to political parties and business/worker groups. If nothing else, Conservatives learned the hard way that you can't trust a moderate, especially one who feels it's her divine right to be a leader because she is daddy's little rich girl.


Muslims hate America, but like our aid money.

Muslim: This is a deliberate failure in this day and age by Muslim leaders and in large part Muslims themselves to be filled with such misinformation and ignorance. As someone who grew up in a Muslim family, this is downright embarrassing.

"The report, by Charney Research, is based on 14 focus groups conducted last December and January among college-educated men and women in Egypt, Morocco and Indonesia. Anger at U.S. foreign policy and at the U.S. government dominated spontaneous reactions in all three countries. Many young Muslims said they admired Osama bin Laden, while views of President Bush were uniformly negative. All focus group members rejected U.S. views of the war in Iraq, saying the United States invaded on a false premise to further its own regional goals. Anti-Semitic stereotypes also were noted. Focus group members saw the United States and Israel as synonymous and estimated the proportion of Jews in the U.S. population at up to 85 percent; it is 2 percent. The report found negative opinions of the United States are taking a toll on U.S. companies, and that amounts of U.S. aid were massively underestimated; not one person in any focus group knew the U.S. is the world's largest donor by dollar amount. "Most Egyptians and Indonesians put U.S. support for their countries over 10 years in millions; the correct figures were $7.3 billion and $1 billion, respectively," the authors said. When asked what they wanted from the United States, focus group members said respect and aid to develop as their countries choose."
"We hate your guts, most of you are Jews, but send more money."


Schroeder getting setup for a huge defeat this weekend.

Germany: This would be the worst in a string of election defeats and harm his run for a third term. Now if he were to take a page out of Paul Martin's book, he would have send money to the region to pay them off. But Germany is not a banana republic.

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats trail opposition conservatives in the run-up to Sunday's elections in Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, which has been ruled by the SPD for the past 39 years. Defeat for Schroeder's party could trigger a political earthquake in Berlin and fuel battles over new directions for SPD to restore its fortunes. It would also badly damage the Chancellor's bid to win a third term in next year's national elections, analysts say. North Rhine-Westphalia is crucial for a series of reasons, not least because its government is the last copy in any of Germany's 16 Laender (federal states) of the SPD-Greens coalition which rules in Berlin.


Malcom X = Gay black icon?

People: London Guardian pushing a biography from 1991 looking to "out" another leader for debate claiming the Nation of Islam kept hidden Malcom X's gay past.

"Malcolm X was born 80 years ago today, on 19 May 1925. But amid the commemorations, controversy is brewing. Some black activists are enraged by suggestions that their hero might have been gay - or at least bisexual. The controversy has been stirring since the publication of Bruce Perry's acclaimed biography, Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America (Station Hill, New York) in 1991. Based on interviews with Malcolm's closest boyhood and adult friends, Perry suggests that the US black nationalist leader was not as robustly heterosexual as his Nation of Islam (NoI) colleagues have always insisted. Malcolm X, real name Malcolm Little, joined the militant Muslim NoI in 1949, attracted by its teaching that Allah would deliver black people from white bondage. By the 1960s, Malcolm had developed NoI ideology in new directions, becoming America's leading spokesperson for black consciousness, pride and self-help. Sexual freedom was not, however, part of his agenda...."


Howard Dean urged to be nice.

Politics: You would think the head of the DNC would know how to play the game of politics. When Pelosi and Reid have to sit you down for a talk, there are problems. Via Robert "Prince of Darkness" Novak.

Dean's election by the DNC membership was a case of the inmates seizing control of the asylum. After the 2004 election, party leaders spent more than three months in a fruitless effort to find an alternative to Dean. Their fears of money drying up under Dean have largely been realized, but they have deluded themselves into thinking the former Vermont governor who screamed his way out of any hope for the 2004 presidential nomination was under firm restraint. The party's congressional leaders, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, sat down with the newly elected Chairman Dean for a heart-to-heart talk. They politely urged him to restrain his rhetoric, to organize rather than inflame. Dean thereupon buried himself seeking Democratic converts in the "red" states of Republican America, giving the impression that he was heeding the pleas of the congressional leadership. He was not. He has described the Republican leadership, in various venues, as "evil," "corrupt" and "brain-dead." He has called Sen. Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, a "liar." He has referred to conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh as "drug-snorting." What he said last weekend differed from this invective only in that it was presented to an urban forum and so became public knowledge. Addressing the Massachusetts Democratic convention in Lowell, Dean declared: "I think DeLay ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence down there courtesy of the Texas taxpayers." Dean would jail DeLay without trial, without indictment and without accusation of any crime. National chairmen are supposed to fire up the troops, but Dean's rhetoric crosses a line. What he said was too much even for so tough a partisan Democrat as Rep. Barney Frank, who attended his state's convention in Lowell and was appalled by Dean's language. Dean's deficiencies as face and voice of the Democratic Party were supposed to be overcome by his legendary prowess, evident by his run for president, raising funds in small packages. That so far has proved a grievous disappointment. First quarter figures show the DNC received only $13 million from inviduals, compared to $32 million raised by the Republican National Committtee [RNC]. Overall figures were $34.2 million by the RNC, $16.7 million by the DNC.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mugabe: I need food!!!

Africa: Good to see the land grabbing was a success eh?

"President Robert Mugabe yesterday abandoned his confident forecasts of a bumper harvest in Zimbabwe and confessed that international food aid was needed to avoid famine. Mr Mugabe, who declared last year that Zimbabweans would be "choked" if aid was "foisted" upon them, climbed down and agreed to meet the head of the United Nations World Food Programme. Having previously pledged that his seizure of white-owned farms would make Zimbabwe self-sufficient, Mr Mugabe said he would accept outside help if it came without conditions. Renson Gasela, agriculture spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said the president should "eat humble pie, forget about the claim of a bumper harvest and accept food from whoever can offer help". Last year, Mr Mugabe hailed the "success" of his land seizures, saying they would yield a record maize harvest of 2.4 million tons, more than enough to supply Zimbabwe with its staple food. In fact, this year's harvest was below 600,000 tons. The government has quietly admitted trying to import another 1.2 million tons to meet the annual demand for 1.8 million tons. But imports on this scale are affordable and logistically possible only with international help. Yet Mr Mugabe still refused to ask for food aid. It took a personal intervention from Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, before he agreed to yesterday's U-turn. "


UK suburbs in the grips of feral youth.

UK: Via Telegraph

Feral youths are running wild in suburban streets with no fear of either the police or the criminal justice system, a senior police officer said yesterday. Chief Supt David Baines, of Greater Manchester police, spoke out as Phil Carroll, 48, continued to fight for his life after being attacked by a gang of youths he had confronted in an alleyway behind his home. ....Mr Baines said: "We have gangs of young people with alcohol hanging around on street corners being abusive, swearing, intimidating and causing trouble. "They then go on to damage property or, as we have seen with Mr Carroll, to commit a very vicious and unprovoked assault. "They are feral, have no parental control or respect for anybody and are often fuelled by alcohol. They don't give a damn about the police or the criminal justice system."


Frank Gorshin dies at 72.

People: The job he did as the Riddler made it one of the best Batman villians that ever appeared in the television or movie series.

Frank Gorshin, the impressionist with 100 faces best known for his Emmy-nominated role as the Riddler on the "Batman" TV series, has died. He was 72. Gorshin's wife of 48 years, Christina, was at his side when he died Tuesday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, his agent and longtime friend, Fred Wostbrock, said Wednesday. "He put up a valiant fight with lung cancer, emphysema and pneumonia," Mrs. Gorshin said in a statement. Despite dozens of TV and movie credits, Gorshin will be forever remembered for his role as the Riddler, Adam West's villainous foil in the question mark-pocked green suit and bowler hat on "Batman" from 1966 to '69. "It really was a catalyst for me," Gorshin recalled in a 2002 Associated Press interview. "I was nobody. I had done some guest shots here and there. But after I did that, I became a headliner in Vegas, so I can't put it down."


Donald Trump offers to rebuild WTC

People: ...and trashes the Freedom Tower design.

NEW YORK (AFP) - New York property tycoon Donald Trump unveiled his design for "bigger, stronger and better" twin towers to replace the World Trade Center originals destroyed on September 11, 2001. Denouncing the existing plans for rebuilding Ground Zero as the "worst pile of crap architecture I've ever seen," Trump argued that erecting two new, even taller twin towers was the only valid response to the terrorists. The consummate self-promoter, known as "The Donald," showed off his proposal just weeks after the official master design was put on hold because of security concerns surrounding the centerpiece 1,776 foot Freedom Tower. Describing the Freedom Tower as an "empty skeleton," Trump said its construction would be a capitulation. "If we rebuild the World Trade Center in the form of a skeleton ... the terrorists win. It's that bad," he told reporters gathered in the lobby of his 5th Avenue Trump Towers headquarters on Manhattan.


CBS cancels Wednesday 60 minutes.

Media: Considering this is the show that Dan Rather thought he would appear on from time to time doing stories, I would say CBS royally screwed him, not that he doesn't deserve it.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Keith Olbermann accuses the White House of Treason

Media: What is the crime? They didn't deny Newsweek story.

"...Obviously it didn't happen. It didn't even happen when the West went into Iraq. But if stuff like the Newsweek version of a now two-year old tale about toilets and Qu’rans is enough to set off rioting in the streets of countries whose nationals were not even the supposed recipients of the ‘abuse’, then weren’t those members of the military or the government with whom Newsweek vetted the plausibility of its item, honor-bound to say “you can’t print this”? Or would somebody rather play politics with this? The way Craig Crawford reconstructed it, this one went similarly to the way the Killian Memos story evolved at the White House. The news organization turns to the administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the news organization with both feet - or has its proxies do it for them. That’s beyond shameful. It’s treasonous.

....Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide. Either way - and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep - Scott McClellan should resign. The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks. Ah, that’s what I smelled. "

This is the CBS memo defense X 10. It's all a rovian plot to take down the Press. Newsweek screws up and its the White House's fault because they didn't do enough to stop them.

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