Saturday, December 31, 2005

Predictions for 2006

I have but three:
  • The steepest-twelve-month-decline race between MSM subscriptions, NYT’s stock price, and Hollywood box office receipts will go down to the wire.
  • The Spanish Army will be deployed along the Pyrenees to stem the flow of French refugees following “La nuit du feu,” when every automobile in France is torched in just 12 hours.
  • New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin will end his “Nagin for Governor” campaign when he and his staff are informed that the election is not until 2007.

Fund raising - Palestinian style
Freed British aid worker to continue work in Gaza

LONDON (AFP) - A young British aid worker held hostage for two days with her parents by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip plans to continue her work there, she said in a statement.

Kate Burton, 24, who was freed with her visiting parents late on Friday night, "remains committed and passionate about working alongside the Palestinians", said the statement issued via the Foreign Office in London…

A series of people have been kidnapped in Gaza since mid-2006 [Ed. – the French use a lunar calendar, who knew?], most released unharmed within a matter of hours after the captors submitted demands for jobs or payment to the Palestinian Authority…
It appears the process has been honed to six steps:
  1. Locate a moron, preferably a female Western “aid worker” bouncing around Gaza or the West Bank seeking “peace in our time.”
  2. Make up a name for your little band of brothers, being careful to include the English equivalent of “brigade” or “martyr” or “liberation” in the moniker.
  3. “Abduct” your “hostage” without mussing her hair.
  4. Anonymously notify CNN, Agence France-Presse (AFP), and the BBC.
  5. Discreetly keep the Palestinian Authority (PA) apprised of your whereabouts at all times. (This protects your brigade from other brigades until the con is over and allows the exchange to go ever so smoothly).
  6. Claim credit in your brigade’s name, then it’s off to the local café for some tea and a few drags on a water pipe.

Harvard: We smell… Don’t ask.
Magna Cum Saudi

Representatives of autocratic theocracies that finance terror, oppress women and consider homosexuality a capital crime are welcomed at Harvard and other campuses. But not the U.S. Marines…

Looks like James Risen, Eric Lichtblau and Dana Priest may be a little preoccupied in the coming year*
Justice Dept. Investigating Leak of NSA Wiretapping
Probe Seeks Source Of Classified Data

The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into recent disclosures about a controversial domestic eavesdropping program that was secretly authorized by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, officials said yesterday.

Justice prosecutors will focus their examination on who may have unlawfully disclosed classified information about the program to the New York Times, which reported two weeks ago that Bush had authorized the National Security Agency to monitor the international telephone calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens and residents without court-approved warrants, officials said…

In another recent case, the CIA general counsel's office notified the Justice Department in November that classified information had been disclosed in a report by The Washington Post on the existence of secret "black site" prisons in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Justice officials declined to comment yesterday on whether that referral has also led to a full criminal probe…

Here’s where the Washington Post and the NY Times published classified information and here’s the law and penalties regarding same.

* - not to mention a whole lot of scrambling at the CIA

Friday, December 30, 2005

Ah, the Angry Left of Academia

Aging, isolated boomers who never grew up, yearning to instill their chronic unhappiness in every young soul they encounter.
Univ. of Michigan Suspends Coca-Cola Sales

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The University of Michigan suspended sales of Coca-Cola products on its three campuses over allegations that the company permits human rights and environmental abuses abroad.

The suspension, which begins Jan. 1, will affect vending machines, residence halls, cafeterias and campus restaurants. Coke's contracts with the university are worth about $1.4 million…

Michigan's decision was prompted by a complaint last year from Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality…
Coca-Cola’s revenue this year will be $23 billion; $1.4 million is .006% of that revenue. And, in fact, the impact to Coca-Cola is even less than that, as the local distributor marks up his cost to the going market price (i.e., the $1.4 million). So, the only people truly hurt by the suspension are the distributor owners and employees (i.e., labor) working and living in Ann Arbor.

And who are Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality. Here’s their website. It would appear this issue wasn’t even important enough to make their “glorious past.”

Q: What’s the difference between a duck?

A: One leg is both the same.

Hey, that makes as much sense as this:
Meeting on open meetings is closed

TUCSON, ARIZONA. County officials plan to hold a closed meeting Tuesday to talk about the state open-meetings law…

What you don't see with your eyes,
don't invent with your mouth.

UN concern at Guantanamo feeding

There are credible allegations [Ed. - from whom?] that Guantanamo hunger strikers are being force-fed in a cruel manner, the UN special rapporteur on torture has said.

Manfred Nowak's comments came after it emerged that the number of detainees refusing food at the prison camp had more than doubled since 25 December.

Some 84 inmates are now refusing food, according to the US military.

But a Pentagon official said there was no evidence that they had been treated in an inappropriate way.

Mr Nowak has not been to Guantanamo, and turned down an invitation to the camp because the US refused to give him unrestricted access to the detainees.

He told the BBC that he had received reports [Ed. – again, from whom?] that some hunger strikers had had thick pipes inserted through the nose and forced down into the stomach.

This was allegedly done roughly, sometimes by prison guards rather than doctors. As a result, some prisoners had reported [Ed. – to whom was this “mistreatment” reported and how did Mr. Nowak get wind of it?] bleeding and vomiting he said.

"If these allegations are true then this definitely amounts to an additional [Ed. – additional to what?] cruel treatment," Mr Nowak said.
In case you’re curious, here’s what a “UN special rapporteur on torture” is and does.

I’ll bet Manfred is one helluva report writer.

The WaPo’s Dana Priest, al Qaeda’s best hope in the US
Covert CIA Program Withstands New Furor
Anti-Terror Effort Continues to Grow
Ms. Priest epitomizes a Western mindset that the Osama bin Ladens of the world are counting on for victory; and she and her ilk haven’t a clue.


I can just see Dana Priest reading The case for surveillance and then, puzzled, tilting her head - much as a dog does when it hears a high-pitched whistle.

Dim and dimmer

That would be the Associated Press and the New York Times.

Captains Quarters does an excellent job of exposing them as the MSM’s dimwitted versions of Chicken Little and Henny Penny.

While the NY Times may not have a clue, investors do.

And get a load of the AP’s description of itself:
Founded in 1848, The Associated Press is the backbone of the world's information system serving thousands of daily newspaper, radio, television and online customers with coverage in all media and news in all formats…

AP's mission is to be the essential global news network, providing distinctive news services of the highest quality, reliability and objectivity with reports that are accurate, balanced and informed…

Thursday, December 29, 2005

‘Sopranos’ convict club growing
Report: 'Sopranos' Actor Says He's Sorry

NEW YORK (AP) -- A young "Sopranos" actor accused in the slaying of an off-duty police officer said in a jailhouse interview he's sorry and didn't know his alleged burglary accomplice was carrying a gun.

Lillo Brancato Jr., who appeared opposite Robert De Niro in "A Bronx Tale" and more recently was in several episodes of "The Sopranos," was charged with murder and other counts in the Dec. 10 shooting of Daniel Enchautegui during a gunfight…
Apparently, comment was not sought from Vincent Pastore or Robert Iler

La La Land aka S.F. Bay Area
Address can add up to bad feng shui

Hayward, Dec. 28 (UPI) — It's hard to avoid unlucky street numbers in Hayward, Calif., a newspaper report says.

In Hayward, there are five numbers on almost every mailbox and it can be hard to avoid bad combinations, the Alameda Times-Star said.

The Bay Area has become more ethnically diverse, and that means accommodating practices such as feng shui, an ancient Chinese art of balance.

Real estate agent Lisa Coen, who launched her own feng shui consulting firm several years ago, said she has advised developers on how to make homes marketable to potential buyers who, for instance, would not want to live at the end of a cul-de-sac. Or who would not purchase a home where a door opens onto a staircase.

A rigid county code established the house street numbering system long ago, but builders are beginning to object, the newspaper said.

Coen said feng shui is "all about having the energy meandering through your home rather than having it get stuck."

Sometimes the cheapest solution is to have harmonious street address number combinations, she said.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Count your fingers
Ex-Enron Accountant Strikes Plea Deal
It is a sad fact that the likes of the Enron executives under indictment are not unique in American business. To be sure, the number of their ilk, overall, is so small that the crimes they commit have little real impact on the health of our economy. But, there are enough of these vampires lurking about to cause tens of thousands of their companys' honest employees and stakeholders severe emotional and financial hardship after they and their cronies have sucked a company dry.

Interestingly, most honest businessmen can spot these guys a mile away and steer clear of them (though, regrettably, they likewise rarely put the authorities onto them). At the same time many investment firms, supposedly after a robust due diligence, heartily embrace them.

One of my mentors once told me, “If your first instinct after shaking a man’s hand is to count your fingers, don’t do business with him.”

There was an occasion when I was introduced to one of these guys now under indictment; I counted my fingers, twice.

It pleases me to no end that the Bush Administration’s Justice Department is vigorously and methodically putting these guys away.

Charges dropped - bird’s corpse buried

Apparently, the bird was innocent

Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy is indistinguishable from statuary
New York Transit Union OKs Tentative Deal

NEW YORK (AP) -- A tentative contract for transit workers reached after a three-day strike stopped the city's buses and subways is heading to union members for final approval…

"I apologize to the public that we went on strike, but overall we got what we wanted," said shop steward James Rodriguez…

[Transport Workers Union President Roger] Toussaint said the contract provided "for a host of other provisions that will go a long way to help in improving the relations" between transit workers and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority [MTA]…

The MTA is a state agency, and the city had no role in the negotiations. A spokesman for Gov. George Pataki declined to comment on the deal

[NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg] said over the weekend that businesses lost $1 billion in revenue over the strike and that the city lost tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and overtime expenses.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Talk about “shooting yourself in the foot”
Update 3: Israeli Jets Hit Militant Base in Lebanon

Israeli jets attacked a Palestinian militant group's training base in southern Lebanon early Wednesday, hours after an Israeli border town was hit by rocket fire, the military said…

In Wednesday's raid, Lebanese witnesses reported warplanes roared over the Syrian-backed group's base, a maze of concrete fortified tunnels built inside a hill that the group has used as a base for decades. At least two explosions were heard.

Other witnesses said two air-to-surface missiles were fired at the planes…

Boneheaded copyediting
Secret* surveillance up sharply since 9/11

* - as opposed to the more politically correct “obvious” or “clumsy” or “don’t-mind-me” forms of continual observation used to fight terrorism

Here’s some vital information
Glass shape 'affects drink size'

People are more likely to pour extra alcohol into short, wide glasses than tall, narrow glasses, a study says.

The US researchers from Cornell University asked 198 students and 86 bartenders to pour a shot of alcohol.

They found students poured 30% more into the short glasses, while bar workers faired only slightly better at 20%, the British Medical Journal said.

The groups poured more than a standard shot measure into both types of glasses…

Moira Plant, professor of alcohol studies at the University of the West of England, said: "The real problem is that people just do not known what constitutes a unit of alcohol.

"Evidence suggests that at home, people will pour themselves larger measures than those served at pubs." [Ed. – Really, who would have guessed it?]

One can only hope that this “news” piece was done tongue-in-cheek or, at least, beer-in-hand.

Plugging the wrong "drain"

Drain A
State's Tobacco Revenue Surges

SACRAMENTO — As an epidemic of tobacco tax evasion drains state treasuries across the nation, California is defying the trend with aggressive, high-tech enforcement that has cigarette tax revenue surging.

State officials are reporting an increase of tens of millions of dollars in tobacco taxes for the first time in years, even as smoking in California declines.

California has taken in more than $124 million in new tobacco-tax receipts over the last 20 months. Officials credit a unique new program that includes stamping every cigarette pack sold in the state with a counterfeit-proof sticker...

Drain B
Illegal aliens cost California billions

Illegal immigration costs the taxpayers of California — which has the highest number of illegal aliens nationwide — $10.5 billion a year for education, health care and incarceration, according to a study released yesterday [Ed. - 12/6/2004]

California is estimated to be home to nearly 3 million illegal aliens.

[Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) President Dan] Stein noted that state and local taxes paid by the unauthorized immigrant population go toward offsetting these costs, but do not match expenses. The total of such payments was estimated in the report to be about $1.6 billion per year...

Here’s a thought: use the $124 million to stem, then reverse the tide of illegals; even if that immigration law compliance program is only 25% successful, you’d still reduce overall spending by $30 for every dollar outlaid in the program.

Differently Authentic*
Ted Kennedy & his staff channel Mary Mapes
Student's tall tale revealed - Confesses fabricating US surveillance story

…Laura Capps, a Kennedy spokeswoman, said last night that the senator cited ''public reports" in his opinion piece. Even if the assertion was a hoax, she said, it did not detract from Kennedy's broader point that the Bush administration has gone too far in engaging in surveillance.
In other words: Hoax, smoax; history, smistory. You’re missing the big picture here! BUSH = BAD! Get with the program, People!

* -

Dead bird taken into custody for daring to startle Oprah and Stedman

Okay, I made that up. But the AP did treat this as a “news” event.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Lacking a club, Neanderthal resorts to GHB

Man sentenced for spiking a drink

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas