Saturday, February 11, 2006

An isolated incident

Inside the cockpit of an airliner parked at the gate.

Captain Fred Flyer (pushing his shoulders back against his seat and focusing hard on the instrument panel): “Pete, start the pre-flight.”

First Officer Peter Pilot (opening the pre-flight checklist binder): “Roger.”

Fred (staring out the forward widow, with a gloomy look on his face): “Beth is gonna leave me, Pete.”

Peter (turning his head slightly to his left): “Sir?”

Fred (starting to cry): “My wife is divorcing me.”

Peter (taken aback): “Fred, I’m sorry to hear that.”

Fred (turning his head toward his co-pilot): “She found out about Bambi and Gretchen and the gambling and…” (pilot’s voice trails off, and he stares glassy-eyed at his co-pilot)

Peter (eyes wide, disbelief in his voice): “Shit, Fred, are you drunk?”

Fred (turning his attention again to the instrument panel) “Could be yes, could be no. But you’re okay, right? You’re sober, right?”

Peter (switching his radio to the airline’s private communication frequency): “LA Base, this is LAX flight 1020.”

Airline’s Los Angeles flight operations: “Flight 1020, this is LA Base, go ahead.”

Peter: “LA Base, this is the co-pilot, we’re at the gate in pre-flight, the captain is ill.”

Flight Ops: “Does the captain require medical attention?”

Peter (disgusted): “No, but two gallons of black coffee couldn’t hurt.”

Flight Ops: (after a long pause): “Understand, a supervisor will be there shortly.”

Peter: “Yeah, and scare up another captain.”

Pilot Arrested, Suspected of Being Drunk

[American Airlines spokesman Tim] Wagner said the airline had begin [sic] an internal investigation into the arrest, which he called an "isolated incident."

The article recounts five reported intoxicated-pilot incidents (American Airlines, America West, British Airways, Finnair, United Airlines) in the last four years.

Hey, shouldn't she pay for a second passenger ticket too
Voodoo head found in air luggage

FORT LAUDERDALE, Feb. 11 (UPI) — U.S. immigration officials have arrested a Haitian woman in Florida after airport screeners found a human head in her luggage.

Myrlene Severe, 30, has been charged with failing to declare the head on a customs form and transporting "hazardous material," the BBC said.

Severe said that the head was to ward off evil sprits, officials said.

She was stopped at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport on a flight from Cap Haitien in north Haiti.

"Severe stated that she had obtained the package, which contained a human head, from a male in Haiti for use as part of her voodoo beliefs," the U.S. Attorney's Office said.


“Students” admitted to college find filling out a financial aid application difficult. Makes you wonder what their SAT scores were, as well as what the college’s admission criteria might be: Is he/she breathing? If yes, admitted; if no, wait-listed.
More Poor Students Not Applying for Aid

Even as the price of college rises, more low-income students who would likely get federal financial aid aren't even bothering to apply.

A new report by the American Council on Education estimates 1.5 million students who would probably have been awarded Pell Grants in 2003-2004 did not apply for them. That's up from ACE's estimate in a previous survey of 850,000 who missed out on aid in 1999-2000.

A major reason is probably confusion over the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. On Sunday, at stations set up in high schools, libraries and other buildings across in 25 states, volunteers will help students and families with the forms as part of a program called College Goal Sunday...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Every village needs an idiot. The AP is blessed, it has many. Toni Locy is in the running for 'Idiot of the Month'.
Libby Says Leaks Authorized, Papers Show

WASHINGTON - A former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney told a federal grand jury that his superiors authorized him to give secret information to reporters as part of the Bush administration's defense of intelligence used to justify invading Iraq, according to court papers.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in documents filed last month that he plans to introduce evidence that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, disclosed to reporters the contents of a classified National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 2003.

The NIE is a report prepared by the head of the nation's intelligence operations for high-level government officials, up to and including the president. Portions of NIEs are sometimes declassified and made public. It is unclear whether that happened in this instance…
Ms. Locy might have gained clarity had she spent two minutes searching the Congressional Record using "NIE and 2003 and wmd" as the search criteria in year 2oo3. For then she would have found this:
"I thought it important to include in the Record the declassified portions of the National Intelligence Estimate released by the White House this past Friday. [July 18, 2003] This NIE clearly states the consensus view of our intelligence agencies that Saddam Hussein was attempting to reconstitute his nuclear capacity."

Ms. Locy also writes:
Wilson's revelations cast doubt on President Bush's claim in his 2003 State of the Union address that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq to develop a nuclear weapon as one of the administration's key justifications for going to war in Iraq.
Had Locy spent another two minutes to retrieve the President’s State-of-the-Union Address in question, found here, she would have read Mr. Bush's exact utterance:
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

I don’t see the word Niger or sold or bought or any combination thereof anywhere in that sentence. It says, simply, Hussein was trying to acquire "significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

Either Locy is as dumb as dirt or she has agenda. Whether the former or the latter, who could trust anything she writes?

No US birth cert. or naturalization papers or passport w/ visa or green card? Adios.

Doesn’t seem that complicated to me.
Ariz. Weighs Options for Border Patrol

PHOENIX (AP) -- As public frustration grows over the state's porous border with Mexico, the once-rejected notion of using state police to supplement federal patrols is gaining traction.

One state lawmaker's plan includes $20 million for the Arizona Department of Public Safety to run a 100-member squad to operate surveillance equipment, construct border barriers, target drug and immigrant smugglers and perhaps patrol the border…

Opponents say racial profiling could increase if officers unfamiliar with immigration law began trying to enforce it. They also say investigating crime in immigrant communities could become more difficult, because fewer migrants would cooperate with police for fear of being sent home. [Ed. - conversely, if the illegal were in Mexico he wouldn't be a victim of crime in the "immigrant community"] Local officers also lack understanding of complex immigration law, they say. [Ed. - see above]

"I liken it to police officers pulling over people and asking for their tax returns," said Michele Waslin, director of immigration policy research for the National Council of La Raza, a group that promotes Hispanic issues.

Actually, asking for tax returns wouldn’t be such a bad idea. How many illegals do you think pay taxes or file a return?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Spears substitutes son for air bag
Britney Spears: 'I Made a Mistake'

NEW YORK (AP) -- Britney Spears has taken responsibility - well, some of it - for driving with her baby son, Sean Preston, sitting in her lap.

"I made a mistake and so it is what it is, I guess," Spears tells "Access Hollywood" in an interview that was to air Thursday.

Several photos published Tuesday showed Spears driving her sport utility vehicle in Malibu, Calif., with her 4-month-old son perched on her lap rather than strapped into a car seat in the back seat.

The 24-year-old pop star said she did it because of a "horrifying, frightful encounter with the paparazzi."

In response, X17, the agency that snapped the pictures, said they were snapped "in a very peaceful context, in which photographers exhibited no aggressive behavior..."
Good luck on reaching 1, Sean

We don’t need no stinking free speech
EU mulls media code after cartoon protests

LONDON (Reuters) – The European Union may try to draw up a media code of conduct to avoid a repeat of the furor caused by the publication across Europe of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, an EU commissioner said on Thursday.

In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the charter would encourage the media to show "prudence" when covering religion.

"The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression," he told the newspaper. "We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right…"

The code would be drawn up by the European Commission, the EU executive body, and European media outlets, [Frattini] said. It would not have legal status.

The EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana is to travel to Arab and Muslim countries in an attempt to calm the anger caused by the cartoons.
My predictions about appeasement were way off. All it took was some imams shouting, “BOO.”

Idolatry crushes narcissism
NEW YORK (AP) -- Some humbling news for the pros: By a wide margin, TV viewers prefer the amateurs.

Nearly twice as many people watched "American Idol" than the Grammy Awards Wednesday when the two music programs went head-to-head in prime time, according to preliminary estimates by Nielsen Media Research.

The "Idol" audience on Fox was 28.3 million while the Grammy Awards were being watched by 15.1 million people from 8 to 9 p.m. EST, Nielsen said.

Within that hour, featured performers on "music's biggest night" included Madonna, John Legend, Coldplay and U2. The Irish rockers were the big Grammy winners, earning album of the year and song of the year for "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own."

Best line of the month

“The November election is still 272 days off, but already the Democrats are fighting over why they lost.”
James Taranto’s
Best of the Web Today
February 8, 2006

The big thieves hang the little ones*
Bill to Reform New Orleans Levees Approved

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A panel of lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that would put the state in charge of the levee system in and around New Orleans, but opponents vowed to fight its final passage.

The Senate Transportation Committee endorsed the amendment to the state constitution to meet a congressional requirement that Louisiana take over control of the levees before it can receive funding for a $12 million flood-control study. If adopted, it would mark a significant change from the current system in which more than a dozen local boards manage and inspect the levees.

But some lawmakers pledged to oppose the bill when it is considered by the full Senate.

"The bill is not going to pass in its current fashion," Democratic Sen. Robert Adley said. "There's just no way…"

Critics complain the boards are fiefdoms of nepotism, incompetence and corruption. They blame board members for failing to properly inspect the levees, leading to the failures that left the city submerged in floodwaters during Hurricane Katrina.

Opponents in the Senate said the proposal would protect New Orleans at the expense of surrounding parishes. Others complained they did not want the state meddling in their districts, and some lawmakers defended the existing levee boards as their only hope against future storms…

Sen. Heulette "Clo" Fontenot told supporters they were being used as political pawns by Gov. Kathleen Blanco's administration, which has urged passage of the bill.

"You're being taken for a ride," said Fontenot, a Republican who referred to the proposal as "a political football between the state of Louisiana and our congressional delegation."

Although the levees are largely federal projects, they are maintained by local boards of political appointees. The new, single board backed by Blanco would have experts on hydrology and engineering.

* - Czech Proverb

WaPo’s hard hitting investigative journalism:
New House Majority Leader rents apartment at market price!

Boehner Rents Apartment Owned by Lobbyist in D.C.

Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who was elected House majority leader last week, is renting his Capitol Hill apartment from a veteran lobbyist whose clients have direct stakes in legislation Boehner has co-written and that he has overseen as chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee.

The relationship [Ed. – that would be a landlord – tenant] between Boehner, John D. Milne and Milne's wife, Debra R. Anderson, underscores how intertwined [Ed. - one must always be alert to intertwining, I’m told it can cause eyestrain and rickets] senior lawmakers have become with the lobbyists paid to influence legislation. Boehner's primary residence is in West Chester, Ohio, but for $1,600 a month, he rents a two-bedroom basement apartment near the House office buildings on Capitol Hill owned by Milne, Boehner spokesman Don Seymour said yesterday. Boehner's monthly rent appears to be similar to other rentals of two-bedroom English basement apartments close to the House side of the Capitol in Southeast, based on a review of apartment listings…

Anderson described Boehner as an "excellent tenant" who pays his rent on time...

It would appear that Frick and Frack, aka Washington Post staff writers Thomas B. Edsall and Jonathan Weisman are one step closer to a Pulitzer.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Destiny favors the brave

Yet another reason why American newspapers have bleak futures.

The MSM won’t publish or broadcast the “controversial” Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed. Why? The simple fact is the "journalism" cohort is afraid. It is not, as they state, their sensitivity to cultural or religious mores that stops them; it is fear of reprisal, violent reprisal.

Heretofore, in the name of free speech and freedom of the press, the American media has published, widely, pictures of the Piss Christ and the dung Virgin Mary, and recently, the abuse at Abu Ghraib and Tom Toles’ cartoon of a quadruple amputee in a military hospital bed. And that was all done knowing full well that the only repercussion from those who might take offense would be some letters to the editor and perhaps a call for an economic boycott.

Think about the today's reporters and editors and their kindred spirits – the any-and-all-causes activists, anti-war protesters, and liberal college professors – you have seen, known or come in contact with. Would you want any one of them standing next to you manning a line of defense between your family and a violent enemy (foreign or domestic)?

Today’s New York Times offers A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery. It is whinny round about apology to Muslims about the existence of the cartoons in question. The article also airily publishes, once again, the dung Virgin Mary, a consummate insult to all Catholics. It’s almost as if the Times is saying, “See, we’re on your side, we too despise the false religions of the infidels. So, please don’t hurt us.”

Sour old men paint over King’s tribute with rancor
Tribute to Mrs. King

LITHONIA, Ga. - Four American presidents yesterday joined hands and bowed their heads in prayer for civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, but the joyful celebration of her life turned harsh, with one former president and a prominent black preacher bitterly criticizing President Bush for his surveillance of terror suspect.

Nearly 40 speakers took the pulpit during the six-hour remembrance service at a church in this suburb just outside Atlanta.

Ten thousand people heard Mr. Bush say he had come "to offer the sympathy of our entire nation at the passing of a woman who worked to make our nation whole."

"We knew Mrs. King in all the seasons of her life and there was grace and beauty in every season. As a great movement of history took shape, her dignity was a daily rebuke to the pettiness and cruelty of segregation," Mr. Bush said.

He also said that "our sister Coretta" and her husband, Martin Luther King, put their faith in God as they led the civil rights movement that changed America in the 1960s.

"The God of Moses was not neutral about their captivity. The God of Isaiah and the prophets was still impatient with injustice. And they knew that the Son of God would never leave them or forsake them," Mr. Bush said.

Halfway through the service, former President Jimmy Carter scolded Mr. Bush for his terror-surveillance program, which intercepts communications between terror suspects abroad and suspects in the United States….

"It was difficult for them then, personally, with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretaps and other surveillance ," Mr. Carter said as Mr. Bush smiled politely.
[Ed. - Surprisingly, Carter doesn't mention that it was Attorney General Robert Kennedy, a Democrat in a Democratic adminstration, who ordered the wiretapes on Martin Luther King]

Mr. Carter later said Hurricane Katrina was a clear sign that racism is still alive in America. Several black leaders have blamed the president for what they consider an insufficient federal response.

"This commemorative ceremony this morning, this afternoon, is not only to acknowledge the great contributions of Coretta and Martin, but to remind us that the struggle for equal rights is not over," Mr. Carter said. "We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi."

The crowd applauded lustily.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and an outspoken civil rights leader, during his speech about Mrs. King ripped into Mr. Bush.

"She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there," Mr. Lowery said.

The crowd, mostly black but with many white faces, applauded, then stood in ovation.

"But Coretta knew, and we know," Mr. Lowery continued, "that there are weapons of misdirection right down here," he said, referring to the row of presidents past and present on the stage.

"Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor," he yelled as the crowd again cheered...

Carter and Lowery are 82 and 85 respectively and it shows. Having had occasion lately to spend time around elderly men, it is fortunate that those two old cranks didn’t pee their pants as they spewed their venom. Had they done so, pity the follow-on speakers having to stand and speak while avoiding the puddles.

I lived in Atlanta hence Fulton County for 11 years, leaving in 2003. That county’s black/white racial mix is roughly even (45%/48%). And there is a small yet politically powerful black subgroup in that county whose livelihoods depend on sustaining the blacks-are-victims-of-the-white-man meme. So, if you’re wondering why Carter and Lowery got ovations for their insufferable remarks, know that that church was packed with the “we are victims” cadre, and the two racism mongers knew their crowd.

It’s a hunt all right, but it’s for a cancer
Is CIA leak probe a ‘Witch Hunt’?

Feb. 7, 2006 — The director of the CIA has launched a major internal probe into media leaks about covert operations. In an agencywide e-mail, Porter Goss blamed "a very small number of people" for leaks about secret CIA operations that, in his words, "do damage to the credibility of the agency."

According to people familiar with the Goss e-mail, sent in late January and classified secret, the CIA director warned that any CIA officer deemed suspect by the agency's Office of Security and its Counter Intelligence Center (which handles internal affairs) could be subjected to an unscheduled lie detector test. CIA personnel are subjected to polygraphs at regular intervals in their careers, but one former intelligence officer called the new warning a "witch hunt." Others said Goss' e-mail was narrowly focused and did not suggest agencywide, random lie detector tests.

Interesting how the MSM views an investigation into criminal activity, i.e., knowingly divulging classified information and operations, as a ‘witch hunt’ when they and their sources are the criminals being targeted. And make no mistake about it, they are criminals. These bottom feeders (in the CIA and media) believed they were safe because the government is usually reticent to have the salient (and classified) facts revealed during a trial in open court.

The leak of this Secret memo outlining the internal probe is an attempt (and another crime) aimed at garnering support and sympathy within the liberal media and members of congress for the criminals. Why would they risk another leak? Because both the CIA’s Office of Security and its Counter Intelligence Center as well as the Department of Justice are aggressively pursuing the leaks and that was not part of the leaker’s game plan.

It would appear that Director Goss is moving to cut out the disease before it metastasizes.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More than a few tongue depressors short of a gross

Have you gone to a hospital or doctor’s office recently and left shaking your head, wondering if health care administrative staffs are dominated by GED program wash-outs?

If you’re nodding ‘Yes’ as you read this then count Amy Spurling, manager of finance at a Massachusetts bank, as a kindred spirit.
Brigham sent bank new moms’ records

A world-renowned Hub hospital has been mistakenly faxing confidential patient information — including the results of tests for sexually transmitted diseases — to a Boston investment bank despite repeated attempts by the bank to stop it.

Nearly every week for the past six months, the bank has received the personal medical records of three to four women who had just given birth, sent by fax from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The private data of nearly 30 patients has been faxed to the bank, which has asked not to be identified…

Spurling, who shredded all the hospital faxes, said yesterday that she had called Brigham and Women’s Hospital about a dozen times in the past six months. The latest patient record was faxed to the bank yesterday.

Hey, you want tripe? Come and get it.
Mystery of Author 'JT LeRoy' Unravels

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- One of publishing's most bizarre mysteries appears to finally have been solved.

The writer penning the novels of "JT LeRoy," a purported 25-year-old former male prostitute and drug addict, has been unmasked as a 40-year-old woman who allegedly undertook the ruse to get her work recognized.

LeRoy never existed and Laura Albert authored the books, according to a lawyer for her estranged partner, Geoffrey Knoop.

Knoop, 39, who apologized for playing a role in the hoax, said the stress of keeping it secret had become too much to bear. The couple split in December after 16 years and were trying to work out custody of their young son.

"He's wanted to come clean and let JT fade away," attorney Eric Feig said of Knoop late Monday. "He wanted to take the high road."

He's also secured a movie deal to tell his side of the story, Feig said.

The unveiling of LeRoy comes at a time when the literary world is questioning the work and identities of other authors with hard luck stories. Nasdijj, an award-winning Navajo author, is now believed to be a white writer named Timothy Patrick Barrus. James Frey acknowledged fabricating or embellishing parts of his memoir, "A Million Little Pieces." St. Martin's Press recently added a disclaimer to an upcoming book by Augusten Burroughs, another memoirist who has been challenged...
Interestingly, in this article, ‘LeRoy’s’ various publishers - Bloomsbury, St. Martin’s Press, Last Gasp - are nowhere associated with “his” work. Just sloppy reporting or perhaps publisher publicists working overtime?

Barry thinks he’s untouchable and, given the sad state of District governance, he might be.
Barry faces prison for tax failure

Federal prosecutors say D.C. Council member Marion Barry deserves to be "prosecuted and punished" and faces 12 to 18 months in prison for failing to file income-tax returns under federal sentencing guidelines.

In addition, Mr. Barry "has not filed his delinquent tax returns; nor has he submitted drafts of those returns," prosecutors yesterday said in a memo to U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson.

Mr. Barry, the former four-term D.C. mayor, pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor tax charges for failing to file federal and local returns on more than $500,000 in income from 1999 to 2004. He is scheduled to be sentenced tomorrow in U.S. District Court in the District…

But in the memo to Judge Robinson, Assistant U.S. Attorneys James W. Cooper and Thomas E. Zeno said the federal "government is unable to abide by its promises regarding sentencing unless and until defendant Barry satisfies this obligation of the plea agreement."

The prosecutors noted that Mr. Barry had agreed to file all delinquent returns and arrange for payment of all taxes and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue and any other required tax authority.

They also pointed out that a pre-sentence investigation report in the case has calculated a sentencing guideline of 12 to 18 months in prison, based on the offense and Mr. Barry's criminal history. The Ward 8 Democrat served six months in prison after his arrest in 1990 following an FBI sting that caught the former mayor smoking crack cocaine.

In the memo, prosecutors say Mr. Barry, 69, tested positive for cocaine and marijuana use Nov. 17 and warn of "sanctions, such as revocation of release," if Mr. Barry tests positive again.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Hypocrite or propagandist or just scared spitless?
US media shy away from reproducing Mohammed cartoons

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US media has so far largely shied away from reproducing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed carried in several European newspapers, citing the potentially offensive nature of the drawings…

"If I were faced with something that I know is gonna be offensive to many of our readers, I would think twice about whether the benefit of publication outweighed the offense it might give," Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor at the Washington Post, told AFP.
Hiatt first came to my attention when I previously referenced the article below in this post.
Joint Chiefs Fire At Toles Cartoon On Strained Army

Fred Hiatt, The Post's editorial page editor, said he doesn't "censor Tom" and that "a cartoonist works best if he or she doesn't feel there's someone breathing over their shoulder. He's an independent actor, like our columnists." Hiatt said he makes comments on drafts of cartoons but that Toles is free to ignore them.

Asked about Sunday's cartoon, Hiatt said, "While I certainly can understand the strong feelings, I took it to be a cartoon about the state of the Army and not one intended to demean wounded soldiers."
And yet another cartoon enters the fray.

Jawa Report)

Senator Looney….er… Leahy speaks
Gonzales Defends Legality of Surveillance

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted Monday that
President Bush was "acting with authority" both under the Constitution and federal law in eavesdropping on Americans without warrants as part of the war on terror…

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the panel's senior Democrat, said that while al-Qaida terrorists should be monitored, Bush chose to illegally wiretap Americans' conversations without safeguards to protect civil liberties.

"My concern is for peaceful Quakers who are being spied upon, and other law-abiding Americans and babies and nuns who are placed on terrorist watch lists," Leahy said.

All they lacked were their Syrian Army uniforms
Rioting with well-planned spontaneity

It was one of those unpredictable Lebanese Sunday mornings. The ski slopes in the mountains overlooking Beirut would have been crowded with skiers enjoying the brilliant winter sunshine. Walkers were out along the Corniche, strolling in designer tracksuits. Downtown, the chic restaurants were preparing for lunchtime. And there were a few men on scooters riding around town broadcasting an imminent protest.

It wasn't long before the heavily-laden coaches and minivans began to arrive from Beirut and the rest of Lebanon. They were all full of young, often bearded men who wore headbands and carried identical flags with calligraphic inscriptions in Arabic such as: "There is no god but God and Mohammad is his Prophet" and "O Nation of Muhammad, Wake Up…"

The police seemed to know the demonstrators were coming and had turned out in force with barriers, barbed wire fences and several large fire trucks. Just a day earlier, the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus had been torched by a furious mob, repeating the violent protests that have spread across the world from Gaza to Afghanistan to London. On Saturday night, anticipating trouble, the Danish diplomatic staff in Beirut flew home.

The mob stood in the street, chanting their fierce condemnation of the Danish cartoons that spawned this rapidly-spreading crisis. By 11am, the Lebanese police and army were firing tear gas at the crowd. The protesters threw volleys of stones. Some stuffed cotton wool into their nostrils to stifle the effect of the gas…

The mob grew fiercer, and finally the police withdrew. As they moved back, the crowd smashed their way into the building housing the Danish embassy and set it ablaze. From the burning building they hung a banner that read: "We are ready to sacrifice our children for you, O Prophet Muhammad." By now dozens of people had been wounded or arrested and at least one person was killed, a protester apparently caught up in the fire at the embassy building.

The many politicians representing Lebanon's fractured sectarian society sensed this was suddenly a situation a long way out of control. "It is the work of infiltrators," said Saiad Hariri, a prominent Sunni politician. "These acts have nothing to do with the Prophet. They are harming Muslims…"

And then in the early afternoon, as suddenly as it had all begun, it ended. The leaders of the mob turned to the angry young men beside them and told them it was time to leave. Obediently the crowd thinned out and began walking back to the buses, even as the Danish embassy continued to burn. By 3pm there wasn't a single protester left on the street. Later, the Lebanese interior minister, Hassan Sabei, announced his resignation.

The police returned in force, and with nothing to do they began taking photographs of each other in front of the burned-out building. Firemen hosed down the blaze. Crowds of Filipino maids returned from their day off back to their jobs in the homes of the wealthy, while the wealthy were out patching up their cars. Dozens of street sweepers hosed down the roads and collected the debris of the day.

This guy needs to accidentally fall down the steps in one of the courthouse stairwells, several times
Moussaoui Removed From Court for Outburst

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) -- Proclaiming "I am al-Qaida," Zacarias Moussaoui was removed from a federal courtroom in Alexandria on Monday at the outset of jury selection in his terrorist conspiracy trial. The judge told prospective jurors that those who are chosen will decide whether he lives or dies.

The acknowledged al-Qaida conspirator, often a volatile figure in the courtroom, got into an argument with U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in the first minute of the proceedings, demanding "I want to be heard," and "this trial is a circus." He said of his lawyers, "These people do not represent me."

He left with his hands on his head, offering no resistance. Less than an hour later, he was brought back when a fresh pool of prospective jurors had been ushered into the courtroom. He stood up at the defense table and said again, of his attorneys, "I do not want them to represent me."

Again, Brinkema had him removed…

Moussaoui is the only person charged in this country in the Sept. 11 attacks. He pleaded guilty to six conspiracy counts, admitting he came to the U.S. to join al-Qaida attacks on buildings but denying specific knowledge of the Sept. 11 plot…

Liber saves Islamofascists the trouble and ‘burns’ own books
Swedish publisher withdraws textbook

Stockholm, Feb. 6 (UPI) — A Swedish publishing company Monday withdrew a religious textbook because it contains two images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

The book published by Liber was aimed at intermediate-level high school students, The Local reported.

The pictures were taken from a 14th century Persian manuscript and a 13th century Iraqi manuscript. The book was published in 1993.

The actions coincide with a series of demonstrations around the world protesting newspaper cartoons depicting Mohammed as a terrorist. A statement published by Liber on its Web site made no mention of the controversy.
The Burning of the Books
A significant event that occurred on May 10, 1933, in Germany was the burning of the books. Although this event affected many people in Germany and around the world, it is explained in only one or two paragraphs in most books. When one reads about the book burning in the novel Stones from the River, many questions about the event arise: Why did the event occur? Which authors were targeted? Who organized the burning? What were the reactions of people around the world? And how does knowledge of the event help the reader understand the novel Stones from the River?

The goal of the burning of the books, according to The History Place, was to rid Germany of any book that contained “unGerman ideas” and, therefore, was unfit to read. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, stated, “The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character” (qtd in “May 10, 1933”). This burning was the beginning of a cleansing process, and Marianne Zebrowski claims that it was “only the beginning of Hitler’s attempts to control the minds of the German people” (26)....
[Ed. - my bold and italics]

A repose

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Rolling Gallstones

The Super Bowl XL halftime show featured a “rock band” whose lead singer qualifies for Social Security retirement benefits (Jagger is 63) and he looked it. He didn’t sing so much as shout. Thankfully the band’s members were all able to enter and exit the stage without aid of walkers.

The NFL needs to find the happy medium between a singer who bares her breast and a rock group from the geriatric ward.

Is your cat missing?

If you live near the woman in the center of this photo, Fluffy may be in cat heaven, albeit in multiple pieces.

Get a load of the look on her face (click on photo to enlarge). Think she might have left her meds at home?

These lovelies are card-carrying (or at least placard-carrying) members of World Can't Wait, a front group for the Revolutionary Communist Party.

This photo above (and more) can be found at There, a photo of the phalanx of porta-potties bordering a field devoid of protesters is priceless.

Apparently Dan wanted to flip the switch
Suspect in Bar Attack Dies After Shootout

GASSVILLE, Ark. - The teenager suspected in a hatchet and gun attack inside a New England gay bar and in the killing of a policeman died Sunday after being wounded in a shootout with Arkansas officers. Authorities believe he also killed a woman he had picked up while driving through West Virginia…

Investigators said the high school dropout from New Bedford, Mass., had dabbled in Nazism, and police there said the attack that injured three men, one critically, at the Puzzles Lounge on Thursday was a hate crime…

"I wish he would have lived and gone on trial," said Dan Sheterom, 51, who lives above Puzzles Lounge and frequents the tavern…

Police in New Bedford had sought Robida on charges of attempted murder, assault and civil rights charges. Had Robida survived the Arkansas shootout, he could have faced the death penalty in the police officer's death.

“Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.”
Paul Gauguin

A Mountain of Greenbacks? Maybe not.

There’s been a lot of hype and more than a few breathless reviews for the movie Brokeback Mountain.

I haven’t seen the movie but I have read several reviews and synopses that report the storyline thus: Two young sheepherders share a summer of homosexual love then move on to become cowboys, each eventually entering into a heterosexual relationship that results in marriage. However, each cowboy secretly pines for his summer-love and the two men eventually hookup again and again and again and realize their love and lust for each other will never die. This complicates then damages their married lives, their families and their work, etc., etc., etc. But, hey, you can't fight love.

Hollywood, the MSM glitterati, and movie reviewers have been falling all over themselves in their rush to praise and promote the film (and its underlying moral) - the film picked up several Golden Globes and garnered the most Oscar nominations (eight) this year, including Best Picture.

So what is the moral of the movie? The reviews would indicate it is this: No matter how many different partners you have, you’ll only ever have one true love (gay or straight) and it’s a beautiful thing and it transcends all other happenings in your universe... and there’s nothing wrong with being gay... and gays are unhappy because of the evil of homophobia and, and, and…

Anyway, I thought I’d see what moviegoers (you know, those people for whom films are supposedly made) think of the film – just see how Brokeback Mountain is faring at the box office.

Here are some statistics:

Films that have been out for same number of weeks as Brokeback.

Film wk's gross cum grosstheatersweeks
The Chronicles of Narnia $4,504,990 $277,867,308 21708
Memoirs of a Geisha $1,557,916 $53,819,92221708
Brokeback Mountain $6,542,081$51,024,34316548

The top five grossing movies for the week ending 1/29/06

Film wk's gross cum grosstheatersweeks
Big Momma’s House 2$27,736,056$27,736,05632611
Nanny McPhee $14,503,650$14,503,65019951
Underworld:Evolution $11,404,172$44,607,26432072
Annapolis $7,681,171$7,681,17132071
Hoodwinked $7,480,089$7,480,08932071

Here are the top ten grossing movies for the last 16 weeks (which seems to be the average cutoff point for yanking a movie whose box office has fallen precipitously)

Film wk's gross cum grosstheatersweeks
Harry Potter (Goblet)$538,126$286,301,03534011
The Chronicles of Narnia$4,504,990$277,867,30821708
King Kong$2,346,555$213,160,17013227
Chicken Little$101,136$133,533,895144813
Fun with Dick and Jane$3,503,874$106,218,18321326
Walk the Line$3,032,741$106,120,470120111
Cheaper by the Dozen$1,129,533$79,670,63911616
The Family Stone$363,543$59,209,6494067
Memoirs of a Geisha$1,557,916 $53,819,92210168
Yours. Mine & Ours$126,315$52,716,64813610

Here are the other four films nominated for the best picture Oscar
(all but one having a discernable "message")

Film wk's gross cum grosstheatersweeks
Munich $1,670,810$40,647,7859806
Good Night & Good Luck $181,307$25,134,58210517
Capote $695,441 $15,305,83732518

Here’s what happened as distribution of Brokeback Mountain expanded

Weektheatersgross/theaterweek’s grosstickets/show*

* - assumes $7.50 per ticket, four (4) shows a day in each theater

I recall a quote attributed, I think, to the Hollywood mogul Louis B. Mayer that went something like, “I’m in the entertainment business, when I want to send a message I use Western Union.”

When you compare the receipts for the entertainment films (however good or bad they are) with those from the "message" films, Mayer's admonition remains a good business model for movie industry stakeholders.