Friday, December 02, 2005

Killing two programs with one anchor
Couric is on CBS' wish list

NEW YORK — NBC's "Today" show co-anchor Katie Couric is being actively wooed by CBS to be its next evening news anchor — a move she is seriously considering, according to sources at both networks.

In recent weeks, CBS News President Sean McManus has been doggedly courting Couric to switch networks and assume the anchor seat of the "CBS Evening News," according to three senior editorial employees at CBS and NBC...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

No truth to the rumors

that the AP report Partial Face Transplant Done in France caused a flurry of Hollywood client-to-agent phones calls seeking “face donor cards.” Rumor had it that a number of Tinseltown celebrities wanted their famous faces auctioned for charity, should they come to an untimely death.

Calvin Woodward’s rant

Who’s Calvin Woodward? He’s the Associated Press “writer” (apparently all their reporters have been fired) who covered the speech President Bush gave yesterday at the United States Naval Academy. Calvin’s personal statement, masquerading as a “news report,” is entitled Bush Attempts Hard Sell on Iraq Progress

The Associated Press’ representing themselves as a news organization is just plain silly.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Zealotry invariably supplants reality
CHICAGO (AP) -- Four Christian peace activists taken hostage in Iraq belong to a group that has spent more than 15 years walking into some of world's hottest war zones, usually armed only with notes explaining that they aren't there to convert anyone…

The Chicago-based organization - supported by several Protestant denominations that believe Christianity forbids all war-making and violence - has sent activists into war zones, including Bosnia and Haiti, since the late 1980s. It has about 160 members around the world and about a dozen in Iraq.

The kidnapped men had been witnessing the conditions of civilians and detainees, intending to go home and speak to church and other groups to call for an end to the fighting, Phillips said.

Three of the activists had been in Iraq for a little more than a week, and the other had been in the country for several months, she said.

The group adamantly opposes the current Iraq war. It issued a statement saying the kidnappings are "the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. government due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people."

I hope for their and their family’s sake that these people survive, unharmed. But for their sponsoring organization to blame the US and UK for their predicament is at once mind-numbingly hollow, arrogant, and a testament to their delusions.

Is it political posturing or a sprint to the barricades?

The French domestic intelligence service, which is one of Europe’s most invasive (and thus very effective), has had time to digest the who, what, where, why, and how of the riots. To be sure, it's given its report to the Interior Minister and thus to the Prime Minister.

It is therefore interesting that the government’s first definitive actions -- irrespective of the promise to address the “root” social problems -- will be to turn down the immigration spigot, further enable domestic intelligence, and enhance their already tough anti-terrorism laws.

Perhaps the riots weren’t simply the mindless rage of “youths” after all.

France toughens controls on aliens

PARIS -- French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced tightened controls on immigration yesterday as part of his government's response to the nation's worst civil unrest in four decades.

Authorities will better enforce requirements that immigrants seeking 10-year residency permits or French citizenship must master the French language and integrate into society, Mr. de Villepin said.

France also will implement a stricter screening process for foreign students and plans to crack down on fraudulent marriages that some immigrants use to obtain residency, he said.

Both Mr. de Villepin and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, his rival, have announced law-and-order measures since rioting broke out this month in depressed suburbs where many immigrants live.

The two men -- members of President Jacques Chirac's conservative party -- are expected to vie for the presidency in 2007. Both want to appear firm in response to the violence and France's broader problems absorbing immigrants…

Also yesterday, France's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a new anti-terrorism bill that would increase the use of video surveillance and allow police more time to question terror suspects.

The bill would allow mosques, department stores and other potential targets to install surveillance cameras and would lengthen prison terms for terrorists and those supporting them.

It also would enable police to monitor people who travel to countries known to harbor terror training camps and would extend the detention period for terror suspects from four days to up to six days.

France already has some of Europe's toughest anti-terrorism laws, enacted after a wave of terror attacks in the 1990s by Algerian Islamic militants. But officials want to fill perceived gaps exposed by the London attacks on July 7 that killed 56 persons -- including four suicide bombers -- and improve prevention.

The bill would be the fourth addition to France's already substantial anti-terror arsenal since 2001.

Sir, step away from that child!

At 20,000 feet en route to Auckland on a Qantas airliner

Air steward (to a man seated in an aisle seat): “Mr. Jones?”

Passenger Jones (looking up from his newspaper): “Yes?”

Steward: “Sir, we’d like you to exchange seats with a woman seated two rows forward.”

Jones (looking forward to see a woman standing at her center seat position): “Why?”

Steward: “You’re seated next to an unaccompanied minor.”

Jones (glancing warily at the 10 year boy seated in the center seat): “Is there something wrong with the lad?”

Steward (smiling): “No, Sir. You’re the problem.”

Jones (raising his eyebrows): “Excuse me?”

Steward (still smiling): “Sir, Qantas does not allow unaccompanied children to sit next to men.”

Jones (incredulous): “You’re serious?”

Steward: (smile gone): “Very.”

Jones (smiling): “Fine then, find the lad another seat next to some women.”

Steward: “Sir, it would be easier and more convenient if you’d simply move.”

Jones: “I’m sure it would be. But I didn’t buy my ticket and choose this seat to be at your service, did I. You seem a bright man, I’m sure you’ll find another solution to the problem your airline has created.”

Steward (sternly): “Do I need to call the Captain?”

Jones: “Do I need to call my solicitor?”

Outlandish? Oh, were it so.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The gods too are fond of a joke*
War protesters pack up, leave

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- Dozens of war protesters packed up their tents and left their campsite in a field near President Bush's ranch Sunday, vowing to return during Easter for a third vigil if U.S. troops are still in Iraq…

"We're here for the long haul. As long as this country is at war with Iraq, we'll be here to oppose it," said Hadi Jawad, a co-founder of the Crawford Peace House, which opened a month after the war began in March 2003. "I think Crawford has become a point of pilgrimage to a lot of people. This has become hallowed ground."

* - Aristotle

Hey, Dominique, can you spare a job?
French PM: 'Urgent' reform needed

In an exclusive interview [Ed. – watch the video and learn why what happened in LA in the early 90’s was a riot but what occurred in France earlier this month was simply “unrest.”] with CNN's Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, de Villepin said the government was taking urgent action in the areas of justice, housing, education and employment.

He said the government was launching a "very intensive" program to help deprived neighborhoods, including tripling the scholarships to boarding schools given to children from these areas.

De Villepin said the country's employment agency would see all the young people from deprived areas in the next month "in order to either propose either a job, either a training program or an internship."
After de Villepin gets those “youths” educated, trained, and put into new housing where will they find work?
The Economics Fueling the French Riots

The problem for Europe -- and France in particular -- is that no society can long survive when 20% of young people, with plenty of energy and no place to put it, are unemployed. It's not simply an immigrant problem. Romano Prodi, the leader of the center-left coalition in Italy, says living conditions are terrible in that country's suburbs, even in areas made up only of Italian citizens.

One important lesson of the French riots is that the European economic model is leaving too many people behind, and that's not sustainable.

French Sept unemployment falls to 9.8 pct, lowest level this year – report

French government and industry reports put actual unemployment for workers under 30 at 41%

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy."
Ernest Benn

Monday, November 28, 2005

Stop state-abetted suicide bombers with a ‘Code of Conduct.’ Yeah, that’ll work
EU agrees terror pact with Muslim neighbours at tense summit

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, co-hosting the summit with his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, hailed the accord on a Code of Conduct on fighting terrorism after extended wrangling over the wording.

"Terrorism can never be justified," Blair said addressing a news conference to close the summit. "This is a very important moment both for the European countries and for our other colleagues round the table."

For the EU states, terrorism can never be justified even as a means of winning self-determination, but the Arab states wanted the right to resist occupation.

But for the Europeans the centrepiece of the summit was the anti-terror code of conduct.

"We will condemn terrorism in all its manifestations without qualification (and) reject any attempts to associate terrorism with any nature, culture or religion," said the two-page pact...

Here’s a surprise
Charity cash for Palestinian poor was siphoned to suicide bombers

Millions of pounds donated by British and other European charities to help the Palestinian poor were unwittingly diverted to fund terror and support the families of suicide bombers, Israeli prosecutors claimed yesterday.

Ahmed Salatna, 43, a Hamas activist from the West Bank town of Jenin, was remanded in custody by a military court charged with distributing €9m (£6.2m) for such purposes over the past nine years. The recipients are alleged to have included the family of a young man who blew himself up at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, killing 15 people and wounding 107. Hamas and Islamic Jihad acknowledged responsibility…

Mr Salatna, who has directed an Islamic charity in Jenin since Israel released him in 1996 after serving three years for Hamas activity, was arrested in September. Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said Mr Salatna directly transferred the European funds to Hamas cells, suicide bombers and their families.

Bad = store window featuring women wearing lingerie
Good = fostering endless hours immersed in
mindless bloody violence
Models of downtown discord

AUGUSTA -- Showing more skin than a bag of pork rinds, the models sit in a downtown window and wave to the passing world.

The lingerie-wearing women attract attention -- lots of attention. Many who see them on Water Street smile broadly and wave. Some turn away sheepishly. A few glare or shake their heads.

The models are downtown Augusta's latest attraction, a controversial attention-grabber by Spellbound, a recently opened lingerie store looking to establish its name.

To some, the women bring life and beauty to an often colorless street. But the models, who have graced the storefront a few days a week since September, aren't popular in all quarters.

Augusta police are receiving complaint calls, and a downtown business owner says the women are driving away customers, especially shoppers with children.

"It's tainting the wholesome businesses down here," said Carrie Rossignol, co-owner of Video Game Exchange, across the road from the storefront. "I think it's selfish, and I think it's morally reprehensible."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Hopefully, the last Englishman to leave the isle will strike the Union Jack
Giant mosque for 40,000 may be built at London Olympics

A MASSIVE mosque that will hold 40,000 worshippers is being proposed beside the Olympic complex in London to be opened in time for the 2012 Games.

The project’s backers hope the mosque and its surrounding buildings would hold a total of 70,000 people, only 10,000 fewer than the Olympic stadium. Its futuristic design features wind turbines instead of the traditional minarets, while a translucent latticed roof would replace the domes seen on most mosques. The complex is designed to become the “Muslim quarter” for the Games, acting as a hub for Islamic competitors and spectators.

“It will be something never seen before in this country. It is a mosque for the future as part of the British landscape,” said Abdul Khalique, a senior member of Tablighi Jamaat, a worldwide Islamic missionary group that is proposing the mosque as its new UK headquarters.

Tablighi Jamaat has come under scrutiny from western security agencies since 9/11. Two years ago, according to The New York Times, a senior FBI anti-terrorism official claimed it was a recruiting ground for Al-Qaeda. British police investigated a report that Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 London bombers, had attended its present headquarters in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. In August, Bavaria expelled three members of the organisation on the grounds that it promoted Islamic extremism.