Saturday, November 19, 2005

People who live in glass castles shouldn’t throw stones
Britain's Prince Charles sues over leak

Britain's Prince Charles launched legal action after comments about Chinese diplomats from one of his private journals were published in a British weekly newspaper.

The journal contained the heir to the throne's views on the 1997 hand-over of Hong Kong to China, including one describing Chinese government people as "appalling old waxworks".

Silence, and the shame of it
200,000 protest Amman attacks

AMMAN, Jordan -- At least 200,000 persons demonstrated yesterday [11/18/05] against the recent bombings of three luxury hotels, while a new online statement attributed to terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi defended the attacks and threatened to cut off the head of Jordan's King Abdullah II...

Google this event and you’ll find that the Washington Times is the only major newspaper reporting this story.

Bias is killing the MSM, yet they persist. Perhaps they should check themselves into an integrity rehab program.

Friday, November 18, 2005

O.J. expounds on the law
LOS ANGELES - O.J. Simpson on Friday questioned the system that allowed both him and actor Robert Blake to be found liable for murder after being acquitted in criminal court, calling it "double jeopardy."

"I still don't get how anyone can be found not guilty of a murder and then be found responsible for it in any way shape or form," Simpson said in a phone interview from his Florida home. "... If you're found not guilty, how can you be found responsible? I'd love to hear how that's not double jeopardy…"

"If that was the standard in criminal trials, only 51 percent, then so many people would be convicted that we'd have to build more jails," Simpson said. "The standard is the difference."

Simpson was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, then was sued in civil court where a jury found him liable for their deaths and awarded damages of $33.5 million. In Blake's case, the jury awarded $30 million, a figure Simpson said was suspiciously similar.

"It was too coincidental," he said…

Then offers some creepy advice
Asked if he had any advice for Blake, he said, "If Robert Blake has friends and family around him, he'll do fine. I would give him the same advice I gave Michael (Jackson). You've got your kid. Go and raise your kid."

No surrender

In the cloakroom of the U.S. Senate

Democratic Senator from New Jersey; “Can’t you see the contributions that Bruce Springsteen has made to American culture?”

Republican Senator: “It’s hard to see anything after being poked in the eyes with a stick, again and again.”

Democrat: “So you won’t support my resolution?”

Republican: “Perhaps when I regain my eyesight.”

Sidoti Logic
House GOP Seeks Quick Veto of Iraq Pullout
By Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - House Republicans maneuvered for swift rejection Friday of any notion of immediately pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, sparking a nasty, sometimes personal debate over the war and a Democratic lawmaker's own call for withdrawal.

Furious Democrats accused the GOP of orchestrating a political stunt, leaving little time for debate and changing the meaning of a withdrawal resolution offered by Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania…

By forcing the issue to a vote, Republicans tried to place many Democrats in a politically unappealing position — whether to side with Murtha and expose themselves to criticism, or oppose him and risk angering the voters that polls show want an end to the conflict.

Two questions for Ms. Sidoti:

1) Criticism from whom?

2) If “the voters that polls show want an end to the conflict” represent the majority, why would an elected politician have a care in the world about backing Murtha?

Then what?
U.N. calls for global Iraq probe

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour sees an urgent need for an international investigation into the conditions of detainees in Iraq.

The recent discovery in an Interior Ministry building of 170 detainees who appeared to have been tortured indicated widespread problems with the detention system, Arbour said Friday, in a statement issued at UNHCHR headquarters in Geneva. [Ed.- the Iraqis detain terrorists and thugs, it is alleged that in one detention center the detainees have been tortured, therefore the problem is “widespread”]

"In light of the magnitude of the problem, I urge the authorities to consider calling for an international inquiry," she said.
Let’s assume, like Ms. Arbour did, that detainees are being maltreated all over Iraq. What will the “global” community do about it other than write a report and wring their hands? Will the UN send in troops to stop the abuse when it has done nothing to stop the terrorists fighting the advent of democracy in Iraq? The “international community” did nothing to stop the genocide in Rwanda in the early 90’s and has done nothing to stop what’s happening in Darfur today.

Virtue without action is conceit, which is worthless.

Clarke's third law

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke, "Profiles of The Future", 1961

Technology Summit Wraps Up in Tunisia

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- A crucial summit on expanding Internet access around the world ended Friday with a firm promise to narrow the digital divide - but little in government funding to make it happen.

The World Summit on the Information Society originally was conceived to raise consciousness about the divide between the haves and have-nots, and to raise money for projects to link up the global village, particularly Africa and Asia and South America.

The UN can raise consciousness to the heavens, but as usual its self-serving bureaucracy misses the point. Until there exists an innate intellectual (technicians and reliant users), economic, and physical (well-maintained) infrastructure sufficient to sustain the technology, the Internet will be a parlor trick for those who can afford a satellite dish.

Money alone doesn’t get it done. Think Saudi Arabia without the oil revenue that supports its 5.5 million “foreign workers” (21% of the country's population).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mon dieu!

Agence France-Presse reporter (turning to his photographer): “There’s some kind of commotion up the street. Hurry, let’s get there.”

Reporter (stopping just short of the turmoil and out of breath): “Start shooting, start shooting!”

Photographer (contemptuously): “I am, I am. Leave me alone.”

Reporter (thinking, as he positions himself for a better view): “My god, they’re beating the crap out of someone.”

Photographer (shouting to reporter as he climbs a tree to shoot down into the melee): “It’s a cop.”

Reporter (shouting back): “What?”

Photographer (shooting and talking): “They’re pounding a cop!”

Reporter (dejectedly): “Crap. Okay, let’s move on,”

[Agence France-Presse] staff passed a censure motion criticizing a decision to turn over photographs to police that showed a police officer being assaulted by protesters in Corsica. Police had requested the photographs as part of an investigation into the assault.

What's in a name?

That which we call the Capital Master Plan
By any other name would smell as Oil-for-Food.
Cost of U.N. Renovation Soars to $1.9 Billion

The new number is derived from an official U.N. report on the renovations to be released today and obtained by The New York Sun. The report, issued in the name of Secretary-General Annan and prepared by Fritz Reuter, the new director of the Capital Master Plan, as the United Nations calls the renovation project, was intended to "challenge all assumptions" about how the refurbishment should be conducted in order to make it less expensive, the U.N. undersecretary-general for management, Christopher Burnham, told the Sun earlier this fall…

As a result, the secretary-general is recommending that the world body undertake its renovation in stages, under one of the four strategies for the refurbishment project set forth in the new report. Under "Strategy IV," the option endorsed by the secretary-general, a "phased approach" is undertaken. Ten floors of the Secretariat building at a time would be vacated and renovated, and the United Nations would lease approximately 228,000 square feet of commercial space in Midtown Manhattan to house the displaced staff…

The total cost of the endorsed "Strategy IV," according to the report, is $1.588 billion, yielding a total project cost of $613.76 per square foot [Ed. – three times the norm for Manhattan], according to the document…

According to the report, the increased cost estimates result from the elimination of UNDC5 as a swing space option, construction-cost inflation, and a more precise understanding of the costs of the project now that 60% of the design work has been completed. The report says that the design work will be 100% completed between October 2005 and January 2006, and says the total cost of the design development and construction documents [Ed.- rendered, apparently, using gold leaf on Italian marble slabs] phase will be around $152 million.


The secretary-general now recommends that the costs of the Capital Master Plan be covered by one-time or annual cash assessments from member states, to be set aside in a "capital master plan special account." The report states that the United Nations would need to raise $45 million from member states for the fund before construction commences, and must maintain the fund's balance at 20% of annual expenditures in order to cover "temporary cash-flow deficits" and unexpected expenses. Breaking with U.N. practice, the report says, interest or fines may be imposed on member states that are late in paying their assessments.

"Finance is the art of passing money from hand to hand until it finally disappears."
Robert W. Sarnoff

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Well then, never mind
Car Torching a Tradition in France
PARIS Nov 16, 2005 — The torching of thousands of cars by restive suburban youths across France in the last few weeks has drawn worldwide attention, but it's a tactic with a long tradition in this country.

Whether for revenge, crime or simply for sport, French youths have been setting cars aflame for decades.

They torched cars during France's first major bout with suburban violence in the 1980s in tough neighborhoods ringing Lyon.

Gangs over the years have stolen cars to use for other crimes, then burned them, said criminologist Alain Bauer, president of the French National Crime Commission.

And in the 1990s, youths in Strasbourg began torching cars to mark the New Year.

"It was like a fun thing to do," Bauer said. Each year, "they burned 10, 20, 50, then 100. It became a tradition. This tradition spread all over the country."

Deaf old men
Rolling Stones Spark Noise Complaints

"I've got no artistic judgment against the Rolling Stones, but just because they're too old to hear their music doesn't mean their music has to be so loud," said Ted Weinstein, who said he heard noise from the concert from his home miles away.


There’s stuck on stupid and then there’s nailed to stupid
Woman Plans to Marry Man Who Shot Her

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A woman said she still plans to marry the man who shot her in the groin and then held her hostage in his family's garage for six days.

Tina Marie Stebbins revealed her intentions in a letter released Monday as her boyfriend, Christian Leroy Lindblad, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting her in June 2002…

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

His, Hers, and Its
All Students Deserve Safe SCC Restrooms

Pomona College is in dire need of a gender-neutral restroom in the Smith Campus Center. As the situation currently stands, the campus center only has gender-specific facilities, creating an uncomfortable, exclusive and unsafe environment for students at the Claremont Colleges who do not choose to conform to heteronormative identities. As a highly trafficked public space, it is unfair to make those students who identify as transgendered, transsexual, or gender-variant to scour the campus in search of a gender-neutral bathroom, while normatively gendered students can use one of a number of gender-specific bathrooms located throughout the campus center.

A correction

In a previous post, I estimated that the monetary damage stemming from France's present state-of-emergency would be, approximately, $1.4 billion.

However, today the Washington Times reports:
National Police Chief Michel Gaudin said vandals torched 215 vehicles overnight, continuing a steady decline that showed France was "getting back to normal" after 19 nights of arson attacks, clashes with police and other unrest...

The numbers have fallen steadily since vandals burned 1,408 vehicles across France in one night on Nov. 6 at the peak of the violence. In all, over nearly three weeks of unrest, 8,500 vehicles have been torched, 100 public buildings and another 100 companies destroyed or damaged, 125 police officers injured, 2,800 people arrested, and 600 jailed, [Prime Minister Dominique de] Villepin told parliament.
Taking the French government at its word (and using $1.5 million as a per incident recovery cost for the public and private buildings torched), the monetary “riot” damage to date is merely $400 million.

Which is not too bad considering this:
According to figures compiled before the riots by the police intelligence service, some 28,000 cars were burned in the first ten months of the year -- making an average of 650 a week, most of which were destroyed at weekends.
All things being equal, in 2005, France was headed for $430 million worth of fire-gutted automobiles anyway. So, torched-car-wise, France is just having a really bad month.

As to the total number of public buildings and private businesses that are normally razed by arson each year in France, I could find no statistics.

Monday, November 14, 2005

You’re fired
Martha Issued Walking Papers

Certainly, it's not the turn of events [Martha] Stewart expected. Earlier this month, the homemaking maven told Fortune magazine that she had been led to believe that her show would be replacing Trump's Apprentice, rather than competing with it.

"It was even discussed that I would be firing the Donald on the first show," Stewart told the magazine. (Apparently, that story line just didn't fit in.)

Blood and Gore

Former Goldman Sachs chief executive David Blood and former Vice President Al Gore have co-founded a British-based sustainable investing company named Generation Investment.

Says company chairman Gore:
"What changed in the US with hurricane Katrina was a feeling that we have entered a period of consequences and that bitter cup will be offered to us again and again until we exert our moral authority and respond appropriately," he says. "I don't want to diminish the threat of terrorism at all, it is extremely serious, but on a long-term global basis, global warming is the most serious problem we are facing."
Islamic fascism’s goal is to march human civilization back to the Dark Ages. If these fascists succeed, global warming (a supposed consequence of today’s technology) and terrorism (purportedly, only a means to an end) should both cease to be a “threat.” Unfortunately for Generation Investment, which wants to “combine conventional equity market analysis with longer-term judgements about sustainability,” capitalism will have disappeared as well.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve
French TV boss admits censoring riot coverage

One of France's leading TV news executives has admitted censoring his coverage of the riots in the country for fear of encouraging support for far-right politicians.

Jean-Claude Dassier, the director general of the rolling news service LCI, said the prominence given to the rioters on international news networks had been "excessive" and could even be fanning the flames of the violence.

Mr Dassier said his own channel, which is owned by the private broadcaster TF1, recently decided not to show footage of burning cars.

"Politics in France is heading to the right and I don't want rightwing politicians back in second, or even first place because we showed on television," Mr Dassier told an audience of broadcasters at the News Xchange conference in Amsterdam today...
Here’s the problem, Jean-Claude, your sleeve isn’t long enough.

Assume the average value of a torched vehicle was €11,000. Those (9,000) “burning cars” represent more than €99 million ($116 million) worth of willful destruction by the rampaging “youths.” And the value of the commercial and public buildings gutted by arson? Being very conservative: if each structure was worth, on average, $750,000 and just one (1) such incident occurred each night in only a third (100 = 300/3) of the cities under siege for the last 17 days then another $1.3 billion went up in smoke.

Update

Apparently, the European Commission also has sources other than Monsieur Dassier’s news service.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso proposed that the
European Union give $58 million to France for helping riot-hit towns recover. He said the EU could make up to $1.2 billion available in longer-term support.