Friday, September 30, 2005

Internet showdown? I don't think so.

I've been reading various stories all over the net for two or three days about a "showdown" between the US and the EU or the UN or both. The Johnny-come-latelies to the internet in Europe want a piece of the net's control. China, Russia and others want control of the internet under the auspices of the UN, where they can control it. The US's position is, "We like it just fine the way it is." This is a showdown like that of a 12 year-old with a slingshot up against Josie Wales. No contest. There will not be showdown nor a confrontation. We just say, "No." and that's that.

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No stuttering by Iowa Supreme Court

The State Supreme Court of Iowa has ruled that a lawsuit against the University of Iowa may proceed. The plaintiffs are a group of adults who as children were raised in the Iowa Soldiers Orphans Home.

In 1939, professor Wendell Johnson of the University of Iowa conducted a study on stuttering. He used as his test subjects children at the Iowa Soldiers Orphans Home. None of these children suffered any kind of speech defect, including stuttering. At least they did not until Professor Johnson got through with them. He induced stuttering in the helpless children and many still experience speech difficulties today, 66 years later. The test subjects did not know what had been done to them until some of them read a report about the study in 2001.

They sued for damages and the State of Iowa decided to fight the lawsuit. The state's position was that, in 1939, an Iowa citizen had no right to sue the state. That situation was corrected in the mid 1960's by the Iowa Tort Claims Act. The State Supreme Court ruled that the suit could go forward since the state of the law in 1939 was not the issue. Since the former stuttering study subjects did not learn of their abuse until 2001, that would be the time period under which the lawsuit could proceed.

Inducing speech defects in helpless children, orphan children, orphans of military veterans. Sounds pretty cold hearted to me. I think that Iowa is going to pay.

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FDNY's Muslim chaplain resigns

The Muslim chaplain of the Fire Department of New York resigned today over statements published in Newsday charging that a conspiracy brought down the twin towers on 9/11. The Muslim chaplain, Imam Intikab Habib , hired on August 15 (although this version says that today was his first day on the job), told Newsday that he was skeptical of the official version of the attack on the World Trade Center, which killed 343 firefighters.
"I've heard professionals say that nowhere ever in history did a steel building come down with fire alone," he told the newspaper.

"It takes two or three weeks to demolish a building like that. But it was pulled down in a couple of hours," he said. "Was it 19 hijackers who brought it down, or was it a conspiracy?"
The good Imam Habib, who was educated in Islamic law in Saudi Arabia (surprise!) and preaches at a New York mosque, had appeared qualified and passed a background check. Where? Ali Baba's Good Muslim Employment Service?
"It's sad," said Kevin James, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Fire Department Personnel. "We had no idea those were his views. He's entitled to his opinion but he's not the right person for the chaplain."
But here is the real hoot. Imam Habib, speaking of Saudi Arabia, told Newsday,
"I come from a country where you're accustomed to living with people of different ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds."
Right. So long as you are a Sunni Muslim, avoid Westerners like the plague and condemn all Jews, you'll get along fine in Saudi Arabia. If you are a Christian you may not carry a Bible into the country, a crucifix must be hidden from public view and trying to find a place of worship is an exercise in futility. If you are a Jew you are not even allowed to enter the country. If you are a woman, Sunni or not, you may not drive a car, possess your own passport (it must be in the possession of a male relative) and you have to cover yourself head to ground so as not to sexually excite innocent Saudi males. If you are not a Muslim you may not even enter the city of Mecca. So, " . . . different ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds"? What a load of crap.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005


September 29 and 30 mark the 64th anniversary of the killing at Babi Yar.

Babi Yar is the name of a deep ravine, or canyon, on the edge of Kiev, Ukraine. In 1941 Ukraine belonged to the Soviet Union and Kiev had been occupied since September 19 by the German army. Many of Kiev's residents and all of the communist government had evacuated before the Germans arrived. Many other people, however, had remained behind in the hopes that the Germans would be less brutal than Stalin's communists. The Soviets had left behind a group of NKVD members to offer some resistance against the conquering Germans. As the Germans settled in to their new quarters scattered about the city, bombs began exploding. Over the next few days many bombs exploded in homes, hotels, restaurants and bars frequented by the German occupiers. Many Germans as well as Kiev civilians were killed in the blasts. The Germans decided that Kiev's Jews were to blame.

On September 28, 1941, this notice was posted around the city.
All [Jews] living in the city of Kiev and its vicinity are to report by 8 o'clock on the morning of Monday, September 29th, 1941, at the corner of Melnikovsky and Dokhturov Streets (near the cemetery). They are to take with them documents, money, valuables, as well as warm clothes, underwear, etc.
Any [Jew] not carrying out this instruction and who is found elsewhere will be shot.
Any civilian entering flats evacuated by [Jews] and stealing property will be shot.
Because of the reference to warm clothes, the Jews believed they were to be deported. They were not.
On the morning of September 29, tens of thousands of Jews arrived at the appointed location. Some arrived extra early in order to ensure themselves a seat on the train. A large crowd formed. Each person held onto their family members and belongings. Children were crying. They couldn't see what was happening up ahead.

Most waited hours in this crowd - only slowly moving toward what they thought was a train.

The Germans were counting out only a few people at a time and then letting them move farther on. Machine-gun fire could be heard nearby. For those that realized what was happening and wanted to leave, it was too late. There was a barricade staffed by Germans who were checking identification papers of those wanting out. If the person was Jewish, they were forced to remain.

Taken from the front of the line in groups of ten, they were led to a corridor, about four or five feet wide, formed by rows of soldiers on each side. The soldiers were holding sticks and would hit the Jews as they went by.

There was no question of being able to dodge or get away. Brutal blows, immediately drawing blood, descended on their heads, backs and shoulders from left and right. The soldiers kept shouting: "Schnell, schnell!" laughing happily, as if they were watching a circus act; they even found ways of delivering harder blows in the more vulnerable places, the ribs, the stomach and the groin. Screaming and crying, the Jews exited the corridor of soldiers onto an area overgrown with grass. Here they were ordered to undress.

Those who hesitated had their clothes ripped off them by force, and were kicked and struck with knuckledusters or clubs by the Germans, who seemed to be drunk with fury in a sort of sadistic rage.

A. Anatoli described the Babi Yar ravine as enormous, you might even say majestic: deep and wide, like a mountain gorge. If you stood on one side of it and shouted you would scarcely be heard on the other. It was here that the Nazis shot the Jews.

In small groups of ten, the Jews were taken along the edge of the ravine. One of the very few survivors remembers she "looked down and her head swam, she seemed to be so high up. Beneath her was a sea of bodies covered in blood."

Once the Jews were lined up, the Nazis used a machine-gun to shoot them. When shot, they fell into the ravine. Then the next then were brought along the edge and shot.

According to the Einsatzgruppe Operational Situation Report No. 101, 33,771 Jews were killed at Babi Yar on September 29 and 30. But this was not the end of the killing at Babi Yar.

The Nazis next rounded up Gypsies and killed them at Babi Yar. Patients of the Pavlov Psychiatric Hospital were gassed and then dumped into the ravine. Soviet prisoners of war were brought to the ravine and shot. Thousands of other civilians were killed at Babi Yar for trivial reasons, such as a mass shooting in retaliation for just one or two people breaking a Nazi order. The killing continued for months at Babi Yar. It is estimated that 100,000 people were murdered there.
For those who did not die at Babi Yar, things were even more gruesome. By mid 1943 the Germans were in retreat and the decision was made to try to destroy the evidence of what they had done in Babi Yar.
100 prisoners from the Syretsk concentration camp (near Babi Yar) walked toward Babi Yar thinking they were to be shot. They were surprised when Nazis attached shackles onto them. Then surprised again when the Nazis gave them dinner.

At night, the prisoners were housed in a cave-like hole cut into the side of the ravine. Blocking the entrance/exit was an enormous gate, locked with a large padlock. A wooden tower faced the entrance, with a machine-gun aimed at the entrance to keep watch over the prisoners. 327 prisoners, 100 of whom were Jews, were chosen for this horrific work.

Some prisoners had to dig into the mass graves. Since there were numerous mass graves at Babi Yar, most had been covered with dirt. These prisoners removed the top layer of dirt in order to expose the corpses.

Having fallen into the pit after having been shot and having been underground for up to two years, many of the bodies had twisted together and were difficult to remove from the mass. The Nazis had constructed a special tool to disentangle and pull/drag the corpses. This tool was metal with one end shaped into a handle and the other shaped into a hook.

The prisoners who had to pull the corpses out of the grave would place the hook under the corpse's chin and pull - the body would follow the head.

Sometimes the bodies were so firmly stuck together that two or three of them came out with one hook. It was often necessary to hack them apart with axes, and the lower layers had to be dynamited several times. The Nazis drank vodka to drown out the smell and the scenes; the prisoners weren't even allowed to wash their hands.

After the bodies were pulled out of the mass grave, a few prisoners with pliers would search the victim's mouths for gold. Other prisoners would remove clothing, boots, etc. from the bodies. (Though the Jews had been forced to undress before they were killed, later groups were often shot fully clothed.)

Granite tombstones were brought from the nearby Jewish cemetery and laid flat on the ground. Wood was then stacked on top of it. Then the first layer of bodies was carefully laid on top of the wood so that their heads were on the outside. The second layer of bodies was then carefully placed on the first, but with the heads on the other side. Then, the prisoners placed more wood. And again, another layer of bodies was placed on top - adding layer after layer. Approximately 2,000 bodies would be burned at the same time.

To start the fire, gasoline was doused over the pile of bodies.

The [stokers] got the fire going underneath and also carried burning torches along the rows of projecting heads. The hair, soaked in oil [gasoline], immediately burst into bright flame - that was why they had arranged the heads that way.

The ashes from the pyre were scooped up and brought to another group of prisoners. Since there were usually large pieces of bone that had not burned in the fire, they needed to be crushed to fully destroy the evidence of Nazi atrocities. Jewish tombstones were taken from the nearby cemetery to crush the bones. Prisoners then passed the ashes through a sieve, looking for large bone pieces that needed to be further crushed as well as searching for gold and other valuables.
The Soviet Union would not permit any type of memorial to be placed at Babi Yar. The Soviets, for whatever reason, wished that it would just go away. Babi Yar had become a place of pilgrimage, but no formal marker of any type was allowed. Then, in 1961, the Russian poet Yevgeni Yevtushenko, whom the Soviets were never able to stifle, published the poem "Babi Yar".

By Yevgeni Yevtushenko
Translated by Benjamin Okopnik, 10/96

No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o'er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself. *1*
The Philistines betrayed me - and now judge.
I'm in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I'm persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok *2*
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I'm thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of "Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!"
My mother's being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The "Union of the Russian People!"

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I'm in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other's eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed - very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-"They come!"

-"No, fear not - those are sounds
Of spring itself. She's coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!"

-"They break the door!"

-"No, river ice is breaking..."

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I'm every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May "Internationale" thunder and ring *3*
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that's blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that's corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!
A year later, Dmitri Shostakovich set the poem to music, incorporating it into his Thirteenth Symphony. Soviet authorities, however, forced some changes to Yevtushenko's original text. By 1966 pressure had built up on Soviet authorities to the extent that they invited formal proposals and designs for a memorial to those who were so brutally murdered at Babi Yar. Eight years later, in 1974, the memorial was finally dedicated. If you follow the last link above you will see a small monument placed in 1966 to declare that a monument would be built at that site to the murders at Babi Yar. Notice that the stone was defaced. And that continues to happen even today.
An American Jewish youth delegation visiting the Holocaust site of Babi Yar in Ukraine discovered that a memorial placed there in 2001 has once again been damaged, according to a June 30, 2005 report by the AEN news agency. The memorial was reportedly damaged by local residents who held picnics on the site, burning fires and at some point recently, smashing the memorial plaque dedicated to the Nazis’ victims. This is the second time this year the plaque has been smashed.
The present day memorial still does not mention that any Jews were killed there.

Another reason not to drive a Volkswagen.

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New Orleans police looted 200 Cadillacs and Corvettes

Sewell Cadillac took a severe hit from Hurricane Katrina, but not from wind and water. In fact, the dealership was high and dry . . . and empty. Sewell President Doug Stead said he had heard while evacuated in Lafayette that police officers were patrolling the city in Cadillacs that carried $60,000 sticker prices. But the destruction of his dealership did not become apparent until he arrived back in New Orleans eight days after the storm.

"Someone had told me, 'We saw the police driving your cars,' and then when we got here the dealership was in total disarray, totally smashed up, every door was kicked in and we were looted," he said.

All told, Stead said more than 200 vehicles were taken. Some of them were new, some were used; some were part of the dealership's inventory, some were customers' cars in for service.

Cadillacs were not the only high-end vehicles that vanished. A handful of Sewell Corvettes were also gone, and as recently as last week an NOPD officer at Harrah's was seen driving a black Corvette with a dealer's sticker in the windshield.

"They took anything that was drivable - they even hotwired a tractor we use to move cars around, a thing that can't go any faster than 12 miles per hour," Stead said of the looters.
And what do the cops say?
NOPD spokesman Capt. Marlon Defillo said the force "welcomes any review" of its actions. At no time did any officer remove a car from the Sewell lot or showroom, he said.

"There were a number of vehicles stolen by individuals from that dealership and the police department recovered more than 100 of those vehicles," Defillo said. "A small fraction of those recovered were then used for essential purposes by officers whose vehicles had been damaged in the hurricane."

Defillo said late Wednesday the recovered vehicles were warehoused and returned to Sewell, and that NOPD brass had a "very positive" meeting with Sewell's owners last week.
That's great, except for some minor details, like; no such meeting ever took place; the only cars recovered by Sewell have been recovered by its insurance company.
Yet in an interview Wednesday morning, Sewell President Doug Stead did not mention those arrangements and said that, to his knowledge, there had been no interaction between the dealership and the NOPD. He said the dealership had recovered a handful of cars - some from as far away as Baton Rouge - by working with its insurance companies.
It would appear that the NOPD had a real field day at the expense of Wal-Mart, Sewell Cadillac, video stores, gun shops and hardware stores. A security officer at Children's Hospital stopped two cops who were attempting to steal a car from the hospital's parking lot.
Clayton said the officers explained they had a partner who needed medical attention. He offered to them a ride, which they accepted. But along the way, they began acting "hinky," he said, and when they arrived at the destination, the friend wasn't there. At that point, Clayton said, "I told them, 'The ride's over, guys.' "
More from Sewell Cadillac President Doug stead that will give you an idea of what life is like in New Orleans:
Nevertheless, Stead stressed that neither he nor any other Sewell employee requested a formal investigation from any law enforcement agency.

"The attorney general's office contacted us, we did not contact them," he said. "Please make that clear because I have to live here, you know."
NOLA also posts this report that police Commissioner Eddie Compass, who resigned Tuesday, claims he was forced out by Mayor Ray Nagin.
After announcing his retirement Tuesday, New Orleans Police Superintendent Eddie Compass told several high-ranking officers that he had been forced out by Mayor Ray Nagin, the officers said Wednesday.

They said Compass told them the decision came on the heels of a heated confrontation with the mayor. The officers spoke only on condition that they not be named.

At a hastily called news conference Tuesday with Nagin in attendance, Compass announced that he was retiring. When asked by a reporter whether Compass was being forced out, Nagin said no.

But after the announcement, Compass returned to a cruise ship where he and other displaced officers had been living, where they say he told them he had been forced to resign.

"He was going around telling officers, including myself, it wasn't his doing, that he would've never quit," said a high-ranking officer who asked not to be named. "He had tears in his eyes. He didn't want to go."

Another officer said Compass told him, "You work at the pleasure of the mayor. This was not my decision."

Officers said Compass told them that he and Nagin had an angry confrontation Tuesday morning, hours before Compass announced his retirement, which he said would begin after a transition period of up to 45 days.

Reached Wednesday by e-mail, Nagin said that those accounts were "inaccurate."
Crooks and liars, indeed.

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Rudolph is dead? Santa, say it ain't so!

Santa Claus will recieve compensation for the untimely death of reindeer Rudolph. Rudolph was peacefully grazing at Santa's summer hideaway in Denmark when two Danish Air Force jet fighters roared overhead. Rudoph dropped dead from a heart attack. The Danish authorities responsible for this catastrophe have agreed to pay Santa compensation for his defunct lead reindeer. Don't tell my 6 year-old. Who sold those jet fighters to the Danes? I blame Darth Rove.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pataki kills International Freedom Center, a.k.a. What's Wrong With America Center

After shoe no. 1 dropped on his head (Hillary against it) and then shoe no. 2 came crashing down (Rudy says, "no way"), New York governor George Pataki had no option but to declare the International Freedom Center at hallowed Ground Zero dead, dead, dead. The IFC was the idea of a group of morons who thought that it would be a good idea to show the world how the murders of 3000 innocent people on September 11, 2001 fit into the grand scheme of the worldwide quest for freedom. Most Americans, including the vast majority of the 9/11 victims' surviving family members, the NYPD, the NYFD, politicians with even an ounce of raw intelligence and Rudy Giuliani (been there, done that, talked the talk and walked the walk) were adamantly opposed to any memorializing or aggrandizing anything other than the innocents and heroes who died that day. Most Americans, including those most closely affected by the murderous terrorist attacks, like the victim's families, the police, the firemen and Mayor Giuliani, could not possibly give a shit less about grand schemes.

There were originally four different phases to this "memorial", the IFC, the Drawing Center, an art group that has since withdrawn, a dance center and a theater group. I would imagine that the dancers and the actors will break legs in their haste to abandon this train wreck. Pataki supported the IFC all the way until he got an encyclopedia out and researched the term "political suicide." Mayor Bloomberg, confident of reelection against a very weak local pol, commences whining, "Although I understand Governor Pataki's decision, I am disappointed that we were not able to find a way to reconcile the freedoms we hold so dear with the sanctity of the site." And, oh yass, the New York Times. We can look forward to their scathingly and bitterly worded surrender tomorrow.

Statement of the International Freedom Center
September 28, 2005

We are deeply disappointed that the will could not be found to continue the development of the International Freedom Center at this hallowed site. It is the site for which the IFC was created-at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's request, and as an integral part of Daniel Libeskind's master site plan. We do not believe there is a viable alternative place for the IFC at the World Trade Center site. We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end.

We are profoundly sorry to see:
This significant blow to the idea of a living memorial that emerged from a comprehensive public process;
The loss of a museum of freedom at the place where freedom was so brutally challenged;
The failure to accept the offer of nine great universities to offer cultural programming on freedom issues in the heart of Lower Manhattan; and
This setback to one of the most ambitious and promising service and civic engagement programs in this country.

Hundreds of people contributed to the IFC's development, including some of the world's best thinkers on the subject of human freedom. To all these people we offer our profound thanks for their hard work over the past four years. Freedom is humankind's greatest, most ennobling idea, and its surest antidote to terror and tyranny.

Finally, we wish those still involved in the important work of creating the Memorial the best of luck in the months and years ahead.
So why all the fuss? Probably the thing that I found most strikingly wrong was that the actual 50,000 square feet 9/11 memorial was to be located underground while the IFC was in a separate, imposing building occupying some 300,000 square feet of that building. It would have quickly become the center of attraction because of its accessibility. Then the exhibits in the IFC were to have included the Civil War, slavery in America, Auschwitz and The Holocaust, child labor in America, a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond. All of that begged the question,"What the hell has all that got to do with the good folk who lost their lives on 9/11?"

Questioning what a visitor would be likely to encounter at the site in the way of disruptive protests, Charles Wolf, who lost his wife, Katherine, in the trade center attacks, asked, "
Do you find a debate about Nazism at Auschwitz? Do you find a debate about the North and the South at Gettysburg?"
"This vision for the Freedom Center should be a tribute, a celebration of those men and women who through the course of history have moved us forward in our march to freedom," said John Cahill, a special adviser to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency overseeing the rebuilding effort. Again, one must ask, "What the hell has all that got to do with the good folk who lost their lives on 9/11?"

In spite of the liberal Mayor Bloomberg, the even more liberal New York Times and the morons who conceived and designed this now dead monstrosity, the majority of Americans have not been fooled. They have seen this for what it is and have rejected it out of hand. Good for us.

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McCain burned by Sheehan

In the previous post, I maintained that Senator John McCain was misled by Cindy Sheehan and her group which met with him. He now seems to realize that he was burned by her, both before and after the meeting. McCain's opponents are sure to get a giggle out of this. McCain said he had agreed to meet with Sheehan because he believed she was coming with a group of Arizona constituents. But on Tuesday, the only Arizonan in her small group was her congressional liaison, who grew up in Sedona but moved away when he went to college.
McCain said afteward, "It was a misrepresentation."
Asked if he would have met with her if he had known she was not with constituents, he said:
"I may not have."
After the meeting, Sheehan said she remembers McCain then saying Casey's death was "like his buddies in Vietnam" and that he was afraid their death was "for nothing." McCain said he doesn't remember saying that.
"That's ludicrous, I've never said anything like that. I not only have not encouraged Ms. Sheehan, I have expressed my strong disagreement with her views on the war."
Note that there are two different versions of this AP report. The one linked above has McCain's response to Sheehan's memory of the meeting and this one does not. It merely mentions that, "McCain, however, denied he made such a statement."

MSNBC has a partial transcript and a link to the video of Sheehan's appearance on Hardball with softball pitcher Chris Matthews. Not much there except for the following exchange:
MATTHEWS: I will go down the list, OK?

You say the only people that support the war have a vested interest in supporting the war.


MATTHEWS: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Evan Bayh, everybody who might conceivably run for the Democratic nomination in 2008 is backing this war.

Why are they doing it?

SHEEHAN: Because I believe that they feel like, if they don't, the nation will perceive them as weak.
Well, that certainly is a true statement. She also said that 62% of the American people believe that the war is wrong. Matthews didn't challenge that false assertion. Where did she get that number?

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McCain misled by Sheehan

Senator John McCain met with Cindy Sheehan and her group`and now regrets it. Apparently McCain had been led to believe that the group led by Sheehan would include Arizona constituents. McCain now says that the group included only one person with ties to the state who no longer lives there. He said he might not have met with Sheehan had he known none of his constituents was in the group. McCain said that the meeting consisted of "a rehash" of opinions already well known.
"She's entitled to her opinion," McCain said. "We just have fundamental disagreements."
I'm no fan of John McCain but I believe he allowed himself to be hornswaggled on this one.

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Ed Koch has had it with Cindy Sheehan

The former Democrat mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, has had it with Cidy Sheehan's antics. mayor Koch, a staunch Democrat who supported the invasion of Iraq but now thinks we should declare victory and leave, says that Sheehan's rhetoric is outrageous. And he believes that Americans no longer view her with the sympathy reserved for a grieving mother.
As the mother of a son killed in battle in Iraq, she originally struck a sympathetic chord, whether you supported the war in Iraq or opposed it. One cannot help but empathize with the agony of a bereaved mother. But that has changed over the months, and I believe that many Americans who viewed her with sympathy no longer do so.

Many Americans, myself included, now see her as a person who has come to enjoy the celebratory status accorded to her by the radicals on the extreme left who see America as the outlaw of the world. These radicals are not content to be constructive critics. They are bent on destroying this country.

Some of them want to turn America into a radical socialist state. Others hope to create a utopia. But regardless of their agendas, how can Cindy Sheehan's supporters defend her shameful statement, "This country is not worth dying for."

Those who rail against the United States have simply failed to sell their message to the public at large. They keep losing elections, local as well as national. Rather than broadening their appeal, they have narrowed it.
As far as the "Bush lied, people died," screed, Koch says,
I supported and still support the war in Iraq, because our Congress and President had every right to rely on the advice of the CIA that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. On Sunday, September 25, 2005, Tim Russert of Meet The Press, summed up the situation prevailing before the war, saying, "…post September 11th, there was a fear of terrorism, an inability to know whether there were weapons of mass destruction by the public or by the media. George W. Bush said there were. Bill and Hillary Clinton said there were. The Russians, French and Germans, who opposed the war, said there were. Hans Blix of the UN said there were."

We and our allies were right to invade, notwithstanding that other countries, terrified by the prospect of terrorism against them and tempted by corruption at the UN masterminded by Saddam Hussein through the Oil-For-Food program and lucrative vendor contracts with Hussein's regime, did not join us.
Koch then challenges some of the many rediculous statements made by Sheehan.
Sheehan has joined those who rail against Israel, labeling Israel as the culprit with her comment, "You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine and the terrorism will stop." Is that why Sunni and other terrorists have intentionally killed thousands of Shia civilians, labeling them, according to al-Zarkawi, infidels? Is that why Arab fundamentalists have declared war against all Christians and Jews?

Sheehan said she "would not have responded differently to her son's death had he died in Afghanistan rather than in Iraq." Sheehan argued that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was "almost the same thing as the Iraq war."

Sheehan's personal attacks on President Bush include comments in a speech on April 27, 2005, when she said, "We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We're waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush." Shameful.

"Casey was killed in the Global War of Terrorism waged on the world and its own citizens by the biggest terrorist outfit in the world: George and his destructive neo-con cabal."

In an interview on CBS, Sheehan referred to the foreign insurgents coming into Iraq, who are condemned as terrorists even by other Arab countries, as well as the U.S. and Great Britain, as "freedom fighters." On September 16, 2005, she said, "Pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq." On the one hand, she and her supporters urge that the National Guard be brought back from Iraq to be used in New Orleans, and on the other hand, she condemns their use there now.

In addressing a veterans' group on August 5, 2005, she demeaned herself with the use of truly outrageous remarks hurled at the President, describing him as "a lying bastard," "that jerk," "that filth spewer and war monger," and "that evil maniac."
And then Koch makes this exhortation:
We who disagree with her statements, we who believe this country deserves our thanks, love and willingness to defend it, also have the right to express our views. Speak up, America.
I think that the blogospere has spoken up and continues to speak up. The problem is the coverage being lavished on Sheehan in the MSM, cropped photos and all. When the Washington Post and the New York Times are able to convince people that 300,000 anti-war demonstrators filled the streets of Washington last weekend when the real number was far less than that, it is difficult for the plumber in Peoria, you know, someone who votes, to know what is what.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Now you see him, now you don't.

Two somewhat contradictory items just appeared at Lucianne's place. The first says that New Orlean's police Superintendent Eddie Compass has determined that 249 NOPD officers went AWOL in front of Katrina. Now, remember that at a news conference Sept. 5, Deputy Police Superintendent Warren Riley had said between 400 and 500 officers were missing.
Lt. David Benelli, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, the union for rank-and-file officers, said true deserters should be fired.

"For those who left because of cowardice, they don't need to be here," Benelli told the paper. "If you're a deserter and you deserted your post for no other reason than you were scared, then you left the department and I don't see any need for you to come back."

But Benelli said he believes only a small fraction of the officers will wind up being deserters.

"We know there were people who flat-out deserted," he said. "But we also know there were officers who had to make critical decisions about what to do with their families.
Police Superintendent Compass;
"We have a penalty schedule for each violation, and when that process takes place, individuals will have the right to appeal the decisions made by the bureau chiefs," Compass said adding that "the final decision and recommendation will be by me as superintendent of police."
Well, no it won't because he abruptly resigned today.
"Every man in a leadership position must know when it's time to hand over the reins," Mr. Compass told reporters.
He made the announcement with hero Mayor Culpa, er, Ray Nagin at his side. Compass refused to answer any questions and asked that reporters respect his privacy and "just respect my right to be by myself."Mayor Culpa, er, Nagin, said, "It's a sad day in the city of New Orleans when a hero makes a decision like this." If Ray Nagin says so then it must be true.

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More from Mexico

This post garnered a lot of comment. I was accused of racism, being an ugly American, etc. etc. People seem to have a great deal of difficulty in discerning the difference between truth and unwarranted racist attacks. One does not have to go out of one's way to be critical of Mexico. All one has to do is report what is happening and the criticism is pretty self evident. Take this latest, for example, from the NYT. A typical story of corruption and incompetence from the border. Police torture, innocent people in prison, bodies returned to families that may or may not be family members, political pressure to throw someone, anyone, in jail for crimes they didn't commit in order to fool the public into thinking that the authorities were actually performing their duties. The usual stuff. Racist type criticism, don't you see.

There was a big article in the local newspaper Sunday about the newpaper's investigation of heavy metal content in a very popular local product, mezcal. Now, this stuff has a bad reputation. The worm in the bottle is not supposed to be in tequila, as some may think. Good tequila has no worm in it. That's mezcal. Mezcal is made about the same way and with the same ingredients as tequila. However, by Mexican law, it can only be called tequila if it is made in the state of Jalisco (Guadalahara) and from 100% blue agave cactus (not really a cactus, but it looks like a cactus so we'll call it a cactus). There are several different species of agave cactus as well as many states where this stuff is made. Good mezcal tastes about the same as good tequila. If you make the booze from 100% blue agave but in the state of Oaxaca, you can't call it tequila. You have to call it mezcal. By the same token, if you make the stuff in Jalisco but not from 100% blue agave, you can't call it tequila, you have to call it mezcal.

Anyway, a lot of the mezcal, in fact, the majority of its production, is in mom and pop backyard distilleries. Hence, it's an artsy, indigenous thing. They use the old methods, copper pots, lead pipe, etc, thereby imparting dangerous heavy metals into the hooch. The newspaper tested 30 different local brands here in Oaxaca and found as much as 300% legal limits of zinc, copper, lead and arsenic in the firewater. They also ran 3 tests on 3 different lots of each brand and found wide variations from lot to lot. Well, that's dangerous, wouldn't you agree? So what brands should the wary tourist, restauranteur and bar owner avoid? We don't know because the newspaper didn't have the guts to actually name any offending brands. If it had, it would now be under withering attack, castigated by federal, state and local government as well as a myriad and mind numbing assortment of indigenous and artsy type organizations for endangering their livelihoods. Screw the ignorant gringo tourists as well as any locals who didn't catch the newspaper report.

When Vicente Fox was elected el presidente, he appointed one Victor Lichtinger as his Secretary of the Environment. Mr. Lichtinger, educated at Stanford (just like Tiger Woods), reviewed data from his field inspectors that showed almost every resort beach on the west coast of Mexico was poisoning its water (raw sewage, industrial chemicals, heavy metals, chemicals). He went to the prez and a lot of money was sent to various state governors to clean up the mess and upgrade, replace, install new waste treatment facilities in places like the Cabos, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta and Ixtapa (Zihuatenejo). A year or so went by and Secretary Lichtinger's inspectors continued to point out that the situation was getting worse, not better. In fact, there were some beaches that, if you spent too much time in the water, you developed lesions and open sores on your skin. Bad. 16 of Mexico's most popular beaches suffered from pollution (and still do). For instance, in Zihuatenejo, the inspectors found fecal coliform levels in the marina, near the sewage treatment plant, at 1,500 parts per 100 milliliters of water, far beyond health standards. Untreated sewage and wastewater from Acapulco's 1 million residents and hundreds of thousands of tourists, was identified as a major source of contamination to the surrounding bay and coastline. Official reports in February, 2003, estimated that 30% of the city's beaches were not fit for human use.

So Secretary Lichtinger went public. "People and tourists have a right to know this," he foolishly stated. He went to the only newspaper that has shown a decided lack of fear of the feds, the states and the locals, Mexico City's "Reforma". Reforma sent its reporters and photographers out to the resorts and published a horrifying expose, complete with photos of skin lesions and open running sores, garbage and trash floating around, dead fish floating belly up, laboratory analyses of the water, etc..

And the government's reaction? The governor of Guerrero state (Acapulco, Ixtapa, Zihuatenejo) blasted Lichtinger and the federal government for endangering the tourist industry, of which he no doubt gets a big cut. Enraged state politicians insisted the pollution was caused by runoff from rainfall in faraway villages in the Sierras that lack plumbing. But the map suggests that the rivers that run through them do not flow into Zihuatanejo. "This one piece of data from five months ago could destroy this entire community," said Zihuatanejo's former mayor, Armando Federico Gonzalez. The opposition chimed in from the various affected state and federal congresses, also accusing the federal government of endangering the tourism fat cow. And Fox's response? Lichtinger was fired. He's now writing a book about the Fox government in collaboration with Aguilar Zinser, formerly Fox's ambassador to the UN. Zinser is the one who said that the US treats Mexico like it was our "back yard", a true statement. It's not only, "Don't drink the water," but also, "Don't go near the water."

When I play golf here, and I mean anywhere in Mexico, I carry three towels. If I hit a ball into any water - pond, lake, creek - I retrieve it with a ball retriever or a club, NEVER by hand. I pick up the retrieved ball with a towel, dry it completely and then drop it for the next shot without touching it with bare hand or glove. I also dry off the club or the ball retriever before they go back in the bag. You absolutely have no way of knowing what's in that water but can safely assume that it ain't nice, whatever it is. Towel number two, incidentally, is for cleaning the usual debris off of clubheads and towel number three is for face and hands. All 3 towels are white and washed after each round with bleach. Do I take the same precautions on a golf course in the US? Hell no.

Although, once when playing the Blue course at Doral, I hit a ball right to the edge of a little pond or stream guarding the first green. It was too close to the water to get a shot at the green so I reached down, picked it up and tossed it back a few feet, penalizing myself one shot for the unplayable lie, of course. The course ranger just happened to be driving by on the cart path and saw me do this. He stopped his cart, got out and walked across the fairway to me and told me not to do that. He said, "Don't reach down with your hand or foot so close to the water - snakes and the occasional gator." He gave me a wink and then went on his way. After my heart attack had subsided, I vowed to play all Florida courses in the future with a shotgun.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

"What makes you think I want to be looked at?"

Bureaucracy gone mad. A West Yorkshire (that's in England) hospital has banned visitors from cooing at new-born babies over fears their human rights are being breached and to reduce infection. On one ward there is a doll featuring the message: "What makes you think I want to be looked at?" Labour MP Linda Riordan said the measures were "bureaucracy gone mad". "All mothers want people to admire their babies because all babies are beautiful. But in a case where a mother did not want to answer questions it should be up to that individual to say so."

"Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me," quoth Debbie Lawson, neo-natal manager. Well, yeah. We respect those rights here in the USA. We rush out and buy our newborns .45 ACP sidearms just as soon as we can get to the gun store. As soon as they're home from the hospital we prop them behind the wheel of a 385 hp Mustang GT, too.

No wonder Great Britain ain't so great anymore.

Saudis buy big piece of FOXNews

The Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal has purchased 5.46 percent of the Fox corporation. If you can't beat'em, join'em. Al-Waleed bin Talal, if you will recall, visited Ground Zero, left a $10 million check and a sour Taste in everyone's mouth when he blamed US foreign policy for the 9/11 attacks. Mayor Rudy sent him check back, saying,
"There is no moral equivalent for this attack. The people who did it lost any right to ask for justification when they slaughtered . . . innocent people . . . Not only are those statements wrong, they're part of the problem."
The real problem here will be the Saudi's attempts to use their stock to try to influence Fox's anti-terrorist views. I doubt they'll have much effect on Ailes or any of the others. I can't wait to see Geraldo reporting from the camel races, however.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Debt cancellation worth $40 billion to 18 countries

UPDATED: Added Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar

Paul Wolfowitz made a surprise announcement late Sunday that the international Monetary Fund of which he is chairman had garnered the approval of its membership to cancel $40 billion in debt to the world's 18 poorest countries. The agreement was not expected as there were some objections to some of the debt relief from some member nations. However, Wolfowitz managed to bang enough heads together to get it done. What cleared the way for the breakthrough was a pledge Friday from the G-8 the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan "to cover the full cost to offset dollar for dollar," the loan payments that would be lost.

The 18 countries, 4 in Latin America and 14 in Africa, are as follows: Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Apparently, everyone from B to Z.

Bob Geldof, again revealing his naivete, said, "This ... is only a beginning. But what a beginning. The deal should be implemented without delay with no strings attached save that countries use the money transparently to tackle poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy." Oh, OK. The only strings attached are that the countries whose debts were canceled use the money responsibly. Ha ha ha ha, what a hoot. If the so-called leadership in those countries was capable of responsible money management in the first place, they wouldn't be needing the charity of the world's developed nations, now, would they? Let's take a look at some of these innocent poor who are staggering under the weight of usurious interest payments.


The African kingdom of Dahomey originated in Benin. By the 17th century, the kingdom, ruled by an oba, stretched beyond the borders of present-day Benin, covered a large part of West-Africa. The kingdom was prosperous and established slave trading relations with the Europeans (mostly Portuguese and Dutch) who first arrived in the late 15th century. The coastal part of the kingdom became known as the Slave Coast.

Independence from France in 1960. 31 years ruled by Marxist-Leninist military governments, 14 years by elected politicians. Total foreign debt: $1.6 billion. Total budget revenues: $869.4 million. So Benin's debt exceeds its income by a factor of 1.84:1. Benin also receives some $400 million in foreign aid annually. Benin spends about $100 million annually on its military, or more than 10% of its income.

Voodoo is thought to have originated here. Voodoo economics?


Bolivia, named after independence fighter Simon BOLIVAR, broke away from Spanish rule in 1825; much of its subsequent history has consisted of a series of nearly 200 coups and counter-coups. That would about explain it all, wouldn't it?

Bolivians own a total of 900,000 televisions, about the number of TV's sold in the United States every day. There are 48 TV stations for those 900,000 TV's, or 18,750 customers per TV station. Sounds like 48 little Air Americas doesn't it?

World's third-largest cultivator of coca (after Colombia and Peru) with an estimated 28,450 hectares under cultivation in June 2003, a 23% increase from June 2002 - business is boomin'!

The Bolivians did capture and execute Ernesto Guevara Lynch and for that I guess we do owe them something. That incident occurred in 1967, however, and that's 38 years ago.

Burkina Faso:

Achieved independence from France in 1960. Its first military coup occurred in 1966, then returned to civilian rule in 1978. There was another coup, led by Saye Zerbo in 1980, which in turn was overthrown in 1982. A counter-coup was launched in 1983, which left Captain Thomas Sankara in charge. The current president is Blaise Compaora, who came to power in 1987 after a coup d'etat that killed Thomas Sankara.

A poor country even by West African standards, the landlocked state of Burkina Faso has suffered from recurring droughts, matched in number only by the military coups it has endured, especially during the 1980s.


Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule, with the exception of the 1936-41 Italian occupation during World War II. In 1974 a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (who had ruled since 1930) and established a socialist state. Torn by bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and massive refugee problems, the regime was finally toppled in 1991 by a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Ethiopia was historically called Abyssinia. The name "Ethiopia" is sometimes thought by Westerners to derive from a Greek term meaning "burnt visage", but this etymology is problematic. Ethiopian sources state that the name is derived from a son or grandson of Cush, son of Ham, brother of Canaan, father of Nimrod and grandson of Noah, mentioned in the "table of nations" in the Book of Genesis (X. 60) and in I Chronicles (I. 8). Hmmm.

The early 20th century was marked by the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie I, who undertook the rapid modernization of Ethiopia -- interrupted only by the brief Italian occupation (1936 - 1941). British and patriot Ethiopian troops liberated the Ethiopian homeland in 1941, and Ethiopia's regained sovereignty was recognised by Britain upon the signing of the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement in December 1944.

Haile Selassie's reign came to an end in 1974, when a pro-Soviet Marxist-Leninist military junta, the "Derg", deposed him and established a one-party socialist state. The ensuing regime suffered several bloody coups, uprisings, wide-scale drought, and a massive refugee problem.

After the 1974 revolution, the economy of Ethiopia was run as a socialist economy: strong state controls were implemented, and a large part of the economy was transferred to the public sector (government owned), including most modern industry and large-scale commercial agriculture, all agricultural land and urban rental property, and all financial institutions. And the government promptly ran it all into the ground.

Corruption is worsening in Ethiopia and the levels are higher than in previous years, according to the anti-graft watchdog Transparency International (TI). "Corruption is a serious problem in Ethiopia," Jeff Lovitt from TI told IRIN. "There is a problem in developing countries because they lack strong public services."


Formed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana fell victim to corruption and mismanagement soon after independence in 1957. A long series of coups resulted in the suspension of the constitution in 1981 and a ban on political parties.

In 1966, its first president and pan-African hero, Kwame Nkrumah, was deposed in a coup. In 1981, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings staged his second coup. The country began to move towards economic stability and democracy. President John Kufuor came to power in the presidential ballot in December 2000, marking the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power in Ghana since independence. He succeeded the long-time ruler Jerry Rawlings.

Well endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorer countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Look at these numbers; Budget revenues: $2.17 billion, Foreign aid: received $6.9 billion in 1999 alone, Expenditures: $2.56 billion; Where did $6.5 billion go? That has to be a typo.

Major transit hub for Southwest and Southeast Asian heroin and, to a lesser extent, South American cocaine destined for Europe and the US. Widespread crime and money laundering problem, but the lack of a well-developed financial infrastructure limits the country's utility as a money-laundering center, so there is that. Almost 50 years and Ghanians have yet to develop financial systems that can even support money laundering let alone, you know, finance.

Ghanaian chieftaincy remains strong throughout the country, particularly in the areas populated by members of the culturally - and politically-dominant Ashanti tribe. The Ashanti's chief, known as the Asantehene, is perhaps the most revered individual in the central part of the country. Like other Ghanaian chiefs, he wears bright Kente cloth, gold bracelets, rings and amulets, and is always accompanied by numerous ornate umbrellas (which are also a symbol of the chieftaincy itself). The most sacred symbol of the Ashanti people is the Golden Stool (no, it's not what you're thinking), a small golden throne in which the spirit of the people is said to reside.

Oh, yes, Kofi Annan is from Ghana.


Jim Jones, Leo Ryan, Kool Aid. Lots of people think that Guyana is in Africa, possibly because its former name was British Guiana. It is easy to confuse Guyana, Guiana, Ghana and Guinea. It's in South America. Originally a Dutch colony in the 17th century, by 1815 Guyana had become a British possession. The abolition of slavery led to black settlement of urban areas and the importation of indentured servants from India to work the sugar plantations. This ethnocultural divide has persisted and has led to turbulent politics. Guyana achieved independence from the UK in 1966, but until the early 1990s it was ruled mostly by socialist-oriented governments. In 1992, Cheddi Jagan was elected president, in what is considered the country's first free and fair election since independence. Upon his death five years later, he was succeeded by his wife Janet, who resigned in 1999 due to poor health. Her successor, Bharrat Jagdeo, was reelected in 2001. He is a Russian trained economist. That's certainly good news.

Transshipment point for narcotics from South America - primarily Venezuela - to Europe and the US. The 1856 British Guiana 1c magenta stamp is considered the rarest in the world, with only one copy known to exist.

Political instability, inter-ethnic tension and economic mismanagement have left it among the world's poorest countries, with an infrastructure that is barely able to support its population. By 1995, 94% of revenue went to service external debt, while today it is down to "just 20%".

Following national elections in March 2001, demonstrations, assaults, road blockages, vandalism, looting and confrontations with law enforcement authorities occurred both in Georgetown and outlying areas. These events have continued on a sporadic and unpredictable basis and may increase in the run-up to the 2006 elections. Georgetown in particular suffers from violent crime, including home invasions, kidnappings, carjackings and shootings. Criminals may act brazenly, and police officers themselves have been the victims of assaults and shootings. Sounds just like Mexico.


Once part of Spain's vast empire in the New World, Honduras became an independent nation in 1821. After two and a half decades of mostly military rule, a freely elected civilian government came to power in 1982.

Honduras fought a war with El Salvador in 1969 that lasted 100 hours. It was called the Football War (the Soccer War by the US). Existing tensions between the two countries were inflamed by rioting during the second qualifying round for the 1970 Football World Cup. The war is often cited as the last occasion on which piston engined fighters fought each other - both sides deploying former World War II American types. P-51 Mustangs, F4U Corsairs, T-28 Trojans and even Douglas DC-3s converted into bombers saw action.

Honduras is sometimes called the original banana republic. It's history from 300 years of Spanish rule through the usual multi- constitutions, coups, revolts, political assassinations, foreign interventions (British, Nicaraguan, El Salvadoran, Mexico, US, William Walker) and general banana republicanism has led to its sorry state today. It needs yet another bailout by richer countries.


The world's fourth largest island, formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896, but regained its independence in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held, ending 17 years of single-party rule. In 1997, in the second presidential race, Didier Ratsiraka, the leader during the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency. The 2001 presidential election was contested between the followers of Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana, nearly causing secession of half of the country. In April 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced Ravalomanana the winner. Ravalomanana claimed the election was rigged, and in Feb. 2002 he declared himself president. In response, Ratsiraka proclaimed martial law and set up a rival capital in Toamasina. Madagascar in effect found itself with two presidents and two capitals. After a recount in April, the High Constitutional Court declared Ravalomanana was the winner with 51.5% of the vote. Ratsiraka, after first refusing to accept the outcome, fled to France in July, and Madagascar's six-month civil war ended.

Having discarded past socialist economic policies, Madagascar has since the mid 1990s followed a World Bank and IMF led policy of privatization and liberalization. This strategy has placed the country on a slow and steady growth path from an extremely low level. Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-fourth of GDP and employing 80% of the population. Exports of apparel have boomed in recent years primarily due to duty-free access to the United States. Deforestation and erosion, aggravated by the use of firewood as the primary source of fuel are serious concerns. President Ravalomanana has worked aggressively to revive the economy following the 2002 political crisis, which triggered a 12% drop in GDP that year.

In Oct. 2004, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund agreed to write off half of Madagascar's debt. Now they've written off the rest. Madagascar is the home of five percent of the world's plant and animal species, 80 percent of them unique to Madagascar. Among its most notable examples of biodiversity are the lemur family of primates and its baobab trees.

In 1817, the Merina ruler and the British governor of Mauritius concluded a treaty abolishing the slave trade, which had been important in Madagascar's economy. Madagascar and Mauritania are the only countries in the world not to use decimal-based currency. Both nations instead use multiples of five.

The Malagasy economy took a brief downturn during the 1980s when Coca-Cola, the world's leading purchaser of vanilla, switched to the New Coke formula that contained synthetic vanillin. The situation reverted itself when the company reintroduced its classic formula.

To be continued.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Racial violence out of control in New York City

Two incidents reported today of racial hate crimes being committed by students in New York City. In the first, from Staten Island, a 13 year-old white girl, an honor student at IS 27, was walking home when she was viciously attacked by 5 black students, 4 girls and a boy, ages 13 to 15. They punched her, held her down while they pulled out her hair, broke a bottle over one of her eyes, then the boy kicked her in the head and neck. The girl suffered a detached retina in one eye during the attack and a doctor says she may lose the sight of that eye. All the while beating her, the attackers shouted "You're a white bitch, you think you're so pretty." Police have arrested the four girls involved in the attack.

In the second report, this time from Brooklyn, 3 black and one Hispanic female eighth grade public school students were arrested for an attack on 1 of 2 white Catholic parochial school students who ride the same bus to and from their schools. The black girls are part of a 10-12 member "wolfpack". They attacked one of the white girls first on the bus and then followed them when they disembarked to continue the beating. Police picked up the two girls at their catholic school the next day and then drove them past the bus stop where the two were able to identify 4 of their attackers. In the bus attack, the attackers shouted, "Look at the f***ing white cracker bitches."

I blame the parents, if there are any still around, race mongers like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Charles Rangel as well as New York public school officials and police who have allowed this kind of thing to go on for years. My question would be, "When are Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Charles Rangel going to begin to actually try to accomplish something for their people?" I fear that the answer is, "Never." Bull Conner? Bull Shit.


Friday, September 23, 2005

I've got a bone to pick with somebody

I just checked my Site Meter to see from whence were coming today's visitors. I checked the "By Referrals" category and the VERY FIRST ENTRY was a Google search results page for a search for "teen bitches in Mexico". Now, I racked my brain for all of 3.5 seconds trying to recall any post of mine that contained the four words:

There aren't any. I have never, to my knowledge and recollection, ever used the term "bitches". "Teen", perhaps, although I do not recall it. "In" and "Mexico" comprise 2/3 of my blog's title. I clicked on the link to the search page and it was, as you might imagine, all XXX stuff. On the second page, there I was. It was the title block of my blog and my blogger profile. The terms "in" and "Mexico" were emboldened but teen and bitches did not appear.

How does this happen.? The fact that the link appeared means that some sweaty, panting porn seeker in search of teen Mexican bitches had actually paid a visit to my blog. It makes me want to wash my keyboard and monitor. How does this happen?

Are these the stupidest people on earth?

I have to think they are. The Israelis abandon Gaza and turn it over to the Palestinians who immediately demonstrate their nation building skills by roaring into the strip with all guns blazing. They gunned down two of their own people in their exuberance last week. They sought out abandoned Jewish synagogues, looted them and burned them. All except for one which they are going to convert into a weapons museum. The Israeli settlers had built a number of high tech greenhouses in which to grow food. American Jewish groups purchased the greenhouses from the evacuating settlers and donated them to the Palestinian Authority. When the Palestinians came roaring in, with all guns blazing, they looted and stripped the greenhouses bare. Apparently Palestinians don't require fruits and vegetables as part of their daily fare.

A few years ago, Arafat (still dead at last report) complained to the UN about Israeli undercover agents selling adulterated explosives to the Palestinian terrorist cells. The explosives had been rendered so unstable by Israeli chemists that the stuff blew up in the middle of terrorist bomb construction. So Arafat whined to the UN. "Our good wholesome terrorist bomb assemblers are being killed by vicious Joo chemists," or something like that. Just last week an accidental explosion in a Hamas bomb factory killed 5 Palestinian bomb makers. Oopsie daisy!

Now, at the supposed final mass rally of Palestinians celebrating the handover of Gaza to, well, I'm not sure whom, a pickup truck laden with explosives drives through the crowd, all guns blazing in the air, of course, and explodes, killing at least 15, including two children, and wounding at least 60. The Palestinian terrorists immediately blamed it on an "Israeli drone", but Palestinian Authority security officials said the explosion was caused by the "mishandling of explosives."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group and the Palestinian interior ministry said Hamas was responsible.

"The Fatah Central Committee holds the Hamas movement fully responsible for the victims of the military parade (that was held) among civilians," Fatah's Central Committee said in a statement.
They are stupid and they are animals and undeserving of even a shred of sympathy. I really hate those people. Temper tantrum ends.

UPDATE: Heh, it gets even better.
During an Islamic Jihad rally at the abandoned Jewish settlement of Netzarim last week, a gunman died after accidentally shooting himself in the head.
Accidentally shot himself in the head? Unbelievable. And then there is this, right after the explosion during the celebration.
Even after the blast Friday, seven or eight gunmen stood in the back of another truck riding through Gaza, using their feet to stop a half-dozen rockets from bouncing around in the bed.
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Hillary losing popularity with hard core leftists

The latest poll by the Daily Screw'em Kos amongst the socialists, Communists, Trotskyites and various other anti-American troglodytes and Neanderthals who frequent the Daily Screw'em Kos website shows that the Hildebeast is losing ground with them. In a poll answered by some 10,000 respondants Wesley Clark is running a strong first.

Wesley Clark -- 34 percent
Russ Feingold -- 19 percent
John Edwards -- 10 percent
Hildebeast -- 8 percent (down from 10% in June)
John Kerry -- 3 percent

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Lynn Swann formally announces run for PA governor

"I'm running to be the next governor of Pennsylvania."
Lynn Swann, who won 4 super Bowl rings with the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers, announced his decision as final to make a run for the governorship of Pennsylvania. He gave the keynote speech at a gathering of Black America's Political Action Committee (BAMPAC), the nation's leading conservative African-American PAC. Swann said,
"Why am I doing this - undertaking the challenge of trying to unseat an incumbent? It's not to gain fame - I'm already famous. It's not to gather the reins of power. I know that I can build a great team and let them run . . ."
Swann said he was startled to learn that his success at USC and with the Steelers was only the tip of the iceburg of his potential.
"I didn't know. No one told me. I wasn't trained to understand how much more there was. We realize only a small fraction of the potential we have in this country."
Swann related that his parents already had two sons but his mother wanted a girl. When he came along instead, she named him Lynn and set out to turn him into a dancer. Swann said he got the pink bicycle and pink dress. He studied ballet, jazz and tap dancing before discovering football. That dance training paid off, however, as he made one of the truly great pass catches in Super Bowl history against the Cowboys. If you will recall, he caught a pass on the right sideline, over his right shoulder, after the ball had already crossed the sideline, and still managed to keep his feet inbounds. A catch that only a trained ballet dancer could have pulled off.

Swann has been a leader of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization for 25 years. One has to wonder why he would seek to enter the world of politics, a far dirtier business than pro football. I guess he wants to make a difference in a lot of people's lives. Good luck and God bless.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Donna Brazile speaks out again

I was lampooned somewhat for being naive and gullible enough to believe what Donna Brazile said about President Bush and his pledge to rebuild New Orleans and return all of its refugees to their homes. One influential blogger, after linking my post, said,
I hate to be the cynic. But let me suggest another possibility. Those Democrats praising Bush's Thursday speech are doing so as part of a bit of cynical Kabuki theater.
Aother influential ex-blogger who was responsible for me launching this blog said,
I think they're praising him because he's behaving precisely like a good Democrat should. Lots of spending, lots of empathy. Soft head, empty wallet.
Yet another blogger said,
I dunno. I think it's a trick.
Let's hear the latest from Donna Brazile as told to her friend, Cindy Adams:
I'M a woman, 45 years old, whose birth certificate says "Negro," and I was Al Gore's campaign manager. With all that layin' on top of me, I thought nothin' could ever scare me.

No difficulty with anyone putting up a casino, but the levee problem, which has been with us for centuries, never got fixed.

Right now we need a president who will help. He's helping. I'm so grateful. Poverty and misery is humbling. I'm humbled to the core that this administration is helping the poorest of the poor. Why beat up on a president who's helping? When I'm calling around for willing hands, I'm not worrying about party affiliation.

Kicking people who are working 24/7 to bring assistance? I don't think so. When I needed to relocate my family, some of whom were sick and on welfare, when I needed to find them housing, white people opened their hearts and homes. A Red Cross volunteer found my father. I've seen Anne Rice's house. It's in 5 feet of water. People, white and black, are reaching out to one another. If the government didn't act quickly, the people acted quickly. It's no time to play the race card.

Look, I know who I am. I know my only power is my mouth. I have been known to upset people. And I used what I had because Katrina was an equal-opportunity destroyer.

Girl, I only tell you, I applaud this president for stepping up.
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Senate must show pork before votes

You show me your pork and I'll show you mine. Now this sounds like some progress. Mark Tapscott reports on a Senate vote today approving the Coburn amendment. Senator Tom Coburn, R-Ok, attached the amendment (Senate Amendment 1775) to the Agriculture Appropriations bill (H.R. 2744) and the amendment was approved 55-39. The full bill was later approved 97-2. The amendment would force the Senate to attach any House limitation, directive, or earmarking to a bill's conference report. At this time, the Senate can automatically approve all of the pork measures attached to a bill by the House without the messiness of debate or vote. The House still must approve the measure. Anybody taking bets?

Here is the vote on Senate Amendment 1775 - The Coburn Amendment.

Alabama: Sessions (R-AL), Yea Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Alaska: Murkowski (R-AK), Yea Stevens (R-AK), Nay
Arizona: Kyl (R-AZ), Yea McCain (R-AZ), Yea
Arkansas: Lincoln (D-AR), Nay Pryor (D-AR), Nay
California: Boxer (D-CA), Yea Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Colorado: Allard (R-CO), Nay Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Connecticut: Dodd (D-CT), Yea Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Delaware: Biden (D-DE), Yea Carper (D-DE), Nay
Florida: Martinez (R-FL), Yea Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Georgia: Chambliss (R-GA), Nay Isakson (R-GA), Yea
Hawaii: Akaka (D-HI), Yea Inouye (D-HI), Not Voting
Idaho: Craig (R-ID), Yea Crapo (R-ID), Yea
Illinois: Durbin (D-IL), Nay Obama (D-IL), Yea
Indiana: Bayh (D-IN), Yea Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Iowa: Grassley (R-IA), Nay Harkin (D-IA), Nay
Kansas: Brownback (R-KS), Yea Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Kentucky: Bunning (R-KY), Nay McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Louisiana: Landrieu (D-LA), Yea Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Maine: Collins (R-ME), Yea Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Maryland: Mikulski (D-MD), Not Voting Sarbanes (D-MD), Nay
Massachusetts: Kennedy (D-MA), Nay Kerry (D-MA), Yea
Michigan: Levin (D-MI), Yea Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Minnesota: Coleman (R-MN), Nay Dayton (D-MN), Yea
Mississippi: Cochran (R-MS), Nay Lott (R-MS), Nay
Missouri: Bond (R-MO), Nay Talent (R-MO), Yea
Montana: Baucus (D-MT), Nay Burns (R-MT), Yea
Nebraska: Hagel (R-NE), Nay Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Nevada: Ensign (R-NV), Yea Reid (D-NV), Nay
New Hampshire: Gregg (R-NH), Nay Sununu (R-NH), Yea
New Jersey: Corzine (D-NJ), Not Voting Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nay
New Mexico: Bingaman (D-NM), Yea Domenici (R-NM), Not Voting
New York: Clinton (D-NY), Yea Schumer (D-NY), Yea
North Carolina: Burr (R-NC), Yea Dole (R-NC), Nay
North Dakota: Conrad (D-ND), Nay Dorgan (D-ND), Nay
Ohio: DeWine (R-OH), Nay Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Oklahoma: Coburn (R-OK), Yea Inhofe (R-OK), Yea
Oregon: Smith (R-OR), Nay Wyden (D-OR), Yea
Pennsylvania: Santorum (R-PA), Yea Specter (R-PA), Yea
Rhode Island: Chafee (R-RI), Yea Reed (D-RI), Nay
South Carolina: DeMint (R-SC), Yea Graham (R-SC), Yea
South Dakota: Johnson (D-SD), Nay Thune (R-SD), Nay
Tennessee: Alexander (R-TN), Yea Frist (R-TN), Nay
Texas: Cornyn (R-TX), Yea Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Utah: Bennett (R-UT), Nay Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Vermont: Jeffords (I-VT), Nay Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Virginia: Allen (R-VA), Yea Warner (R-VA), Yea
Washington: Cantwell (D-WA), Yea Murray (D-WA), Nay
West Virginia: Byrd (D-WV), Nay Rockefeller (D-WV), Not Voting
Wisconsin: Feingold (D-WI), Yea Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Wyoming: Enzi (R-WY), Not Voting Thomas (R-WY), Yea

I don't see any pattern here at all. In some cases senators from the same state and the same party voted differently - Mass, Kerry yea, Kennedy nay - Tenn, Alexander yea, Frist nay. In other states they voted the same - Cal, Boxer yea, Feinstein yea - PA, Santorum yea, S.P.E.C.T.E.R. yea. The leadership was split also. Reid, Durbin, Kennedy and Byrd all voted nay while Biden, Boxer, Feinstein, Dodd and Leiberman all voted yea. Frist and Hatch voted nay while McConnell, McCain and Lugar voted yea. It looks like maybe this may have been a stealth operation by Coburn and a few others that took some senators by surprise, not giving the leadership a chance to coordinate and whip their troops into line. I dunno.

Other pork wranglers:
Being American in TO
The Daily Bubble
Murdoc Online
The Coaster
A Stitch in Haste
Jamul Blog
The Club for Growth

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The problem with the Supreme Court

Here is a good reason why those of us who believe in the Constitution of The United States and Rule of Law get so outraged over the direction that many are trying to push this country. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
There are "some women who might be appointed who would not advance human rights or women's rights," Ginsburg told those gathered at the New York City Bar Association.
Excuse me, Justice Ginsburg, but it is not the function of the courts, any court, including the Supreme Court, to advance rights. Not women's rights, not human rights (notice how she considers human rights and women's rights as separate) nor your rights nor my rights. That is the responsibility of the legislature. The responsibility of the court is to interpret the laws as written by the legislature, period. Damn!

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Looting still a problem in New Orleans

Only this time it is looting by city employees and officials of supplies and donations intended for hurricane victims. Police raided the home of Cedric Floyd, chief administration officer of Kenner, La., a New Orleans suburb. Police were reacting to complaints from victims that city workers were helping themselves to donations for hurricane victims. Floyd was in charge of distributing donations to hurricane victims in the New Orleans suburb. Police found cases of food, clothing and tools intended for hurricane victims in Floyd's garage and hauled away 4 pickup truckloads of looted donations. Police Capt. Steve Caraway said, "It was an awful lot of stuff."

Police will file charges of committing an illegal act as a public official against Floyd, and more charges against other city workers are possible. The donated materials must be processed as evidence but eventually will be distributed to victims.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Let's talk about oil shale

This report has everyone a-twitter over the fantastic volume of 1.5 to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil reserves in our western oil shale deposits. Now, before we start celebrating and immediately withdraw from the Middle East so that they may get on about the business of killing each other as they have for 1300 years, a few words of caution.

First, "oil shale" is a misnomer. There is no oil in it, at least as we think of petroleum and it's not shale. The organic material is chiefly kerogen and the "shale" is usually a relatively hard rock, called marl. Kerogen is a solid, waxy, organic substance that forms when pressure and heat from the Earth act on the remains of plants and animals. Kerogen converts to various liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons at a depth of 7 or more kilometers and a temperature between 50º and 100ºC - or - yields oil when the shales undergo destructive distillation. And therein lie the problems, insoluble up to the present time.

The kerogen must be superheated to about 450ºC (842ºF) in order to convert it to something approaching petroleum. If the shale is mined and crushed, this is done above ground but produces a horrifying amount of waste material as well as permanently scarring the land. It can also be done "in situ" by sinking heaters encased in pipe into the shale to great depths. The shale is heated and the resulting gases and liquids can be pumped out, more or less like a conventional oil or gas well.

Both processes use a tremendous amount of water which would then presumably also be contaminated and have to be treated, an expensive process in its own right. The material generated by either of these processes produces a liquid which must undergo additional processing and the result is an oil which is said to be better than the lowest grade of oil produced from conventional oil deposits, but of lower quality than the upper grades of conventional oil. In other words, it's not Texas Sweet. It would really be most fair and accurate to call the processing results synthetic crude oil and gas.

Oil companies have spent billions of dollars, and heretofore lost all of it, in attempting to overcome these significant obstacles. At $66.00 a barrel, however, the expense might now be worth it. The environmental concerns and challenges are gargantuan and are only now beginning to be addressed.

The proven oil shale deposits in the US total 33,400,000,000,000 tonnes (multiply by 1.2 for US tons). That's 33 trillion 400 billion tonnes. And estimated undiscovered reserves are about the same number, so the total is about 67 trillion 800 billion tonnes. The estimated yield of synthetic oil per shale tonne is 57kg, or about 125 pounds of oil per tonne of shale. A conventional barrel of oil weighs about 250 lbs., so about two tonnes of shale is required per barrel of synthetic lower grade oil. Therefore, US known deposits of oil shale should yield about 1.675 trillion barrels of oil with the possibility of doubling that number.

(shale tonnes x 57kg x 2.2) / 250 = conventional barrels

Try to imagine the hole a 33,400,000,000,000 tonne excavation would make. Hello, China. Try to imagine the mountain of waste rock (carcinogenic) because the rock expands, kind of like popcorn, when it is heated to remove the kerogen, so more has to go back than is removed. Hello, Icarus. Try to imagine the poisons produced by the processing of all that shale if it is done above ground, or all the dead fish if it is done in situ. Hello, King of the Wasteland - the Ayatollah of rock-'n-rolla.

It is an unfortunate fact that none of the oil companies, despite their massive investments in research, have been able to successfully demonstrate the capacity to process this stuff in large quantities without rendering an uninhabitable moonscape, a real Death Valley. But, at $66.00 per barrel and 1.7 to 3.4 trillion barrels awaiting, the impetus exists to keep pouring money into it.

However, all is not doom and gloom. Shell Oil believes that its in situ process can be profitable at oil prices above $30 per barrel and its process, theoretically, is fairly clean. It is also fairly efficient, using about 1 unit of energy for every 3.5 units produced. This is far, far more efficient than any other technology that anyone is talking about. Shell has tested and, at least to their satisfaction, has proven the process on a very small scale. The process is, in a word, amazin'. Here is how Shell does it.

1. Drill shafts into the oil-bearing rock. Drop heaters down the shafts. Cook the rock until the hydrocarbons boil off, the lightest and most desirable first. The resultant product will be about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light synthetic crude oil. One advantage discovered with oil shale is that a production site, when it gives out, gives out fairly quickly. This is as opposed to conventional wells which taper off over many years, yielding less and less petroleum as each year goes by. Shell claims that this process yields 10 times as much oil as more conventional strip mining and above-ground processing.

2. While the rock is cooking, ground water contamination becomes a real problem. What is the simplest compound you can think of that is impermeable to water? Right, ice. Shell drills holes all around the production site, every 8 to 10 feet, installs pipe and pumps refrigerant through the pipe. The ground water is frozen all around the superheated rock effectively protecting itself as well as the groundwater outside the site. A protective "shell", as it were, 20 to 30 feet thick. Now Shell pumps out the water inside the ice "shell" and production commences.

3. When the production site gives out, Shell pumps water back into the shafts. Since the rock is superheated, much of the initial water flashes off as steam which picks up any kerogen still laying around. Shell collects the steam and removes this last vestige of useful organic compound which also avoids contamination of the surrounding groundwater, and then moves on to the next production site. Shell uses a checkerboard (chessboard, for you geeks) approach, which means that they will maintain and use 1 or 2 of the ice walls from site A for site B, and so on.

Pretty nifty, eh? But also unproven on a production scale and it will be horrendously and frightfully expensive to develop that first production site. Also, the real fear of the oil companies like Shell is that if they invest billions more in the development of this process, what happens to the price of oil? Imagine the price of oil in 10 years if the United States tapered off oil imports to, oh, zero. Will China's oil requirements keep pace and keep the price of a barrel of oil high enough that Shell et al can make money? And China is actively engaged in oil shale exploration and process development, also. It's a little scary. Possibly the federal government will have to step up to the plate here and offer some type of protection to oil companies willing to sink 5, 10, 20 billion dollars or more in this project. And remember that the oil companies have already lost a bundle in their early and unsuccessful attempts to develop oil shale production. All in all, though, it seems pretty exiting to me.

More info here:
The Godfather
Austin Bay
Red State Rant
Myopic Thoughts
The Missouri Mule
Justus for All

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