Friday, December 23, 2005

Spot the idiot senatorial staff *

“Just this past week there were public reports that a college student in Massachusetts had two government agents show up at his house because he had gone to the library and asked for the official Chinese version of Mao Tse-tung's Communist Manifesto. Following his professor's instructions to use original source material, this young man discovered that he, too, was on the government's watch list.”
Edward M. Kennedy, 12/22/05 Op-Ed in the Boston Globe

Mao Tse-tung (1898-1976) translated Karl Marx’s (1818-1883) Communist Manifesto from German to Chinese, who knew?

* - I'm giving Teddy the benefit of doubt here

Incompetents invariably make trouble for people other than themselves*
New York's 3-Day Transit Strike Ends

NEW YORK - Faced with mounting fines and the rising wrath of millions of commuters, the city transit union sent its members back to work without a new contract Thursday and ended a crippling, three-day strike that brought subways and buses to a standstill…

"We thank our riders for their patience and forbearance," said union local president Roger Toussaint…

The return to work was announced just minutes before Toussaint and two of his top deputies were due in a Brooklyn courtroom to answer criminal contempt charges that could have landed them in jail.

Earlier this week, state Justice Theodore Jones fined the union $1 million a day for striking. And under the state no-strike law, the rank-and-file members were automatically docked two days' pay for each day they stayed off the job…

"I think it was all for nothing," said commuter Lauren Caramico, 22, of Brooklyn. "Now the poor people of the TWU are out six days' pay, and nothing gained..."

* - Larry McMurtry, 'Lonesome Dove'

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Heads I win, tails you loose

“We become similar to the House of Commons. Whoever has the most votes wins. We haven't worked that way for 216 years.”
Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Senate floor, December 18, 2005

Yeah, that would definitely be my first thought: Eat it
Double-Mouthed Fish Pulled From Neb. Lake

...Clarence Olberding, 57, wasn't just telling a fisherman's fib when he called over another angler to look at the two-mouthed trout. It weighed in at about a pound.

"I reached down and grabbed it to take the hook out, and that's when I noticed that the hook was in the upper mouth and there was another jaw protruding out below," said Olberding.

He said in his 40 years of fishing, he's never seen anything like it.

Don Gabelhouse, head of the fisheries division of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, said a two-mouthed fish was new to him, too.

"It's probably a genetic deformity," he said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with it."

The second mouth didn't appear to be functional, Olberding said. He has plans for the fish, which don't included mounting.

"I'm going to smoke it up and eat it," he said.

The “village” at work

I read Judge Rules Caging Ohio Children Was Abuse
NORWALK, Ohio (AP) -- A couple abused some of their 11 adopted children by making them sleep in wooden cages without pillows or mattresses, a judge ruled Thursday…
did a search and found Tipster noticed caged children in visit last year
The Gravelles were certified to adopt children in 1996 by Huron County Children Services, and the children were adopted over time from a mix of private and public agencies, said Carmen Stewart, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

In Ohio, parents who are interested in adopting must go through a criminal background check, a physical, and a home study, which may take up to 180 days.
It took Huron County Juvenile Judge Timothy Cardwell three months to come up with a no-brainer legal opinion, one can only imagine how long it will take him to secure these children.

The “parents,” Michael and Sharen Gravelle, were both over 50 when they began adopting these children at a rate of one every 145 days.

How can that happen? It can’t when government agencies and the individuals they employ are competent and accountable.

Here’s some information to mull over:
  • In 2004, workers in the public sector had a union membership rate more than four times that of private-sector employees
  • Within the public sector, local government workers had the highest union membership rate, 41.3 percent
  • About half (7.8 million) of the 15.5 million union members in the U.S. lived in six states (California, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), although these states accounted for just over one-third of wage and salary employment nationally
  • Since 1990 public sector unions have donated $146 million to political campaigns and there was no altruism involved; 91% of those funds went to a single party, the Democrats. Contributions that lopsided are of purpose having nothing to do with good government
So, am I saying that it’s all the fault of government unions and the Democrats? No! That any such small, self-serving group can hold such political sway is the fault of an ignorant and apathetic citizenry.

The next time you have a seemingly endless wait at the Department of Motor Vehicles, finally to be “assisted” by some indifferent surly “public servant,” you have no one to blame but yourself. Sadly, while you’ve just lost time, think about what those kids in Ohio have lost.

Those that can, do. Those that can’t, fulminate and litigate

Fascinating isn’t it; the glorious European Union (aka “the superior model”) seems incapable of bringing itself into the 21st century technologically. Instead of investing in research and development, the collective demands that Microsoft revel its trade secrets regarding Windows and that the United States relinquish control of the Internet.

Windows is a dog, always has been, always will be. I’ve had and used personal computers (at home and at work) for a quarter of a century and never once have those computers’ operating systems been Windows (or DOS). My point being there are very viable alternatives.

Surely the $613 million fine Microsoft paid the EU in March 2004 was sufficient capital to underwrite an R&D effort to create an operating system that could compete with Windows.

“Democratic socialism” has turned Europe into a cabal of truculent spoiled children.

EU Threatens Microsoft With Penalties

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- The European Union has threatened to fine Microsoft up to 2 million euros ($2.37 million) a day, saying Thursday the software company is not fully complying with the EU's 2004 antitrust ruling.

Microsoft immediately retorted that the EU Commission and a trustee monitoring the case had failed to take proposals it made last week fully into account before taking the action, adding it would contest the measure under EU law…

The EU ordered Microsoft in March 2004 to pay 497 million euros ($613 million), share code with rivals and offer an unbundled version of Windows without the Media Player software for what it saw as an abuse of its dominant position in the industry. The Court of First Instance, the EU's second-highest court, has not yet set a date to hear Microsoft's appeal…

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Strike four!

“Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Report: Al Sharpton Dismisses Sitcom Role

NEW YORK - Al Sharpton, who was previously in talks with CBS to star in a sitcom, says he's not interested in being a TV star after all.

"I haven't done the things I've done to be in a sitcom," Sharpton told the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., in Tuesday's editions.

The Democrat, who has run for president, mayor of New York and the Senate, was earlier this month reported to be working with CBS on a pilot tentatively titled, "Al in the Family" — an allusion to the Archie Bunker classic `70s show...

Yeah, we should definitely aspire to European socialism
The Web: Europe's cyber privacy declines

…The EU Parliament last week adopted a privacy directive -- promulgated by the United Kingdom in June -- by a 378 to 197 vote. The directive requires all Internet and telephone traffic to be monitored and stored for up to two years to prevent further terrorist acts on the continent. Civil libertarians here in the United States have previously cited Europe as a model for privacy when arguing against the USA Patriot Act and other domestic data search tools…

Remember, Folks, these are the same guys who want to control the Internet

Victoria not victorious
Wife of Joel Osteen Asked to Leave Plane

HOUSTON (AP) -- The wife of the pastor of the nation's largest church was asked to leave a plane after she failed to comply with a flight attendant's instructions, the FBI said Tuesday.

Houston Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen, his wife, Victoria, and their two children boarded a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to Vail, Colo., Monday. The plane's door had been closed when Victoria Osteen and a flight attendant had a disagreement.

"She failed to comply with the flight attendant's instructions, and they were asked to leave the flight," FBI spokeswoman Luz Garcia said without elaborating on the disagreement.

The FBI reviewed a report from Continental after the incident, Garcia said. No charges will be filed, she said…
"To know a woman, observe how she wins her object, rather than how she loses it; for when we fail our pride supports us; when we succeed, it betrays us."
paraphrase of Charles Caleb Colton

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

March of the moron
Baby Penguin Is Stolen From Zoo

LONDON (AP) -- A baby penguin thought to have been snatched from a zoo as a quirky festive gift is unlikely to survive until Christmas Day, his keeper warned Tuesday.

Toga, a three-month old jackass penguin, was stolen from Amazon World on the Isle of Wight in southern England on Saturday.

Zoo manager Kath Bright said the bird, who was taken from a compound where he lived with his parents and four other penguins, would probably die of malnutrition if not urgently returned…

"We can't understand what may have been going through the thief's head, but we are worried someone decided a penguin would make the perfect Christmas gift," [Zoo manager Kath Bright] added. "There has been a lot of attention because of the film 'March of the Penguins.' Perhaps someone saw the film and thought their wife or girlfriend would be thrilled to have one as a present."

Well, okay… How about Russian brides?
EBay Scraps Plans to Offer Live Pets

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. has canceled plans to allow live pets to be sold on its Web site after receiving thousands of angry letters from users.

The San Jose-based company has long banned the sale of live animals except fish and snails, and officials said Monday they were scrapping plans to create a separate classifieds category that would feature free ads from animal shelters and paid ads from breeders.

Over the weekend, an eBay manager revealed in a posting to an online message board that the company was considering lifting the ban, prompting letters from more than 2,000 users, most of whom urged that the ban remain, said company spokesman Hani Durzy,

Users were worried the listings would encourage puppy mills, where animals are sometimes bred in unsanitary conditions, and that it would be difficult to differentiate between legitimate animal shelters and unsavory sources…

When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends.
Heavy Crowd Expected at Williams Funeral

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Few condemned inmates have generated as much public support as Stanley Tookie Williams - and so much post-execution attention. His final send-off promises to be no different.

A funeral normally reserved for a dignitary or religious leader was scheduled for Tuesday, almost exactly a week after Williams was executed by lethal injection for murdering four people during a pair of 1979 robberies.

Among those expected to attend were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who visited Williams shortly before his death; Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan; and hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg…

Williams was condemned in 1981 for using a sawed-off shot gun to kill 7-Eleven clerk Albert Owens, 26, in Whittier. Weeks later, he killed Yen-I Yang, 76, Tsai-Shai Chen Yang, 63, and the couple's daughter Yu-Chin Yang Lin, 43, at the Los Angeles motel they owned.
Update: A little more insight

A Public Goodbye for Williams

...The public viewing of his body attracted a sometimes rowdy crowd that spilled into the street, backing up traffic. Marijuana smoke wafted through the air as sport utility vehicles with 20-inch rims cruised past, rap music blaring at full volume.

Adding tension to the activities in Williams' old Crips neighborhood, members of traditional rival Blood gangs took their place in line under the watchful eye of Los Angeles police officers across the street...

Permanently reduce their wages and benefits by 1% a day until they return;

if the strike goes two weeks, fire the lot of them. I’m sure within its 8 million residents NYC can find another 33,000 people willing to drive a bus or train for $55,000+ per year.
New York City Transit Workers Strike

NEW YORK (AP) -- Subways and buses ground to a halt Tuesday morning as transit workers walked off the job at the height of the holiday shopping and tourist season, forcing millions of riders to find new ways to get around.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had said the strike would cost the city as much as $400 million a day, joined the throngs of people crossing the Brooklyn Bridge as he walked from a Brooklyn emergency headquarters to City Hall. Other New Yorkers car-pooled or rode bicycles in the cold; early morning temperatures were in the 20s…

The union called the strike around 3 a.m. after a late round of negotiations broke down Monday night. Union President Roger Toussaint said the union board voted overwhelmingly to call the strike.

"This is a fight over dignity and respect on the job, a concept that is very alien to the MTA," Toussaint said. "Transit workers are tired of being underappreciated and disrespected…"

"They have broken the trust of the people of New York," said Gov. George Pataki. "They have not only endangered our city and state's economy, but they are also recklessly endangering the health and safety of each and every New Yorker…"

"Enough is enough," said Craig DeRosa, who relies on the subway to get to work. "Their benefits are as rich as you see anywhere in this country and they are still complaining. I don't get it."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Follow the money
Tutoring program kicked off school site

A nonprofit group that has tutored poor D.C. students for more than 15 years has been kicked out of its only school site because the school's new principal says no paperwork has been filed to allow the group to use the facility.

Project Northstar, a D.C. tutoring program founded in 1989, has used the cafeteria of Lemon G. Hine Junior High School at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast for one of its weekly tutoring classes since 1994.

But Willie Jackson, who became Hine's principal late last month, asked Northstar to leave Dec. 5, saying the program did not file a yearly building-use agreement, as required by the public school system.

"It just doesn't make sense," said Sylvia Davis, 52, whose three foster children attend the weekly program. "Why would a school want to shut down a program that's helping children? It's really hard to find tutoring, and if I had to pay for it, I wouldn't be able to afford it. There's a lot of children in this community that need help…"
Were I Amy Doolittle, the Washington Times reporter covering this story, I’d want to see what tutoring program replaces Project Northstar at Hine Junior High. Then I’d dig to find what, if any, connection the replacement program has to the school’s new administration.