Saturday, February 18, 2006

Mardi Gras? Non. Samedi Mince? Oui.
Mardi Gras Crowds Small but Celebratory

NEW ORLEANS - The first of the major Mardi Gras parades with marching bands, brightly decorated floats and flying plastic beads rolled down New Orleans' streets Saturday, greeted by small but celebratory crowds.

Despite the widespread destruction from Hurricane Katrina, officials decided to allow a scaled-back Mardi Gras celebration this year. New Orleans parades, put on by private groups, were restricted to one corridor to help cut the cost of police protection and trash pickup.

Five parades rolled back-to-back in New Orleans on Saturday under cloudy damp skies through neighborhoods left mostly unscathed by the Aug. 29 storm. More were scheduled for Sunday and next weekend, leading up to Fat Tuesday on Feb. 28...

David Gregory looks in the mirror and then dissembles
The Week That Was At The White House

...Yet the debate playing out in the blogosphere, cable airwaves and on talk radio pits the Vice President against an allegedly left-wing, overly cynical, prissy White House press corps in a tizzy because it wasn't the first to know and angry because it hates the President and Vice President anyway. This is nonsense. If you believe an accidental shooting by Vice President Al Gore would not be met with the same press scrutiny, I think you are not being honest with yourself...

32 and still a boy
Lachey Seeks Support, Jewelry From Simpson

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- In divorce papers, Nick Lachey is seeking spousal support from Jessica Simpson, and he wants his jewelry back…

Lachey, 32, also asked for "miscellaneous jewelry and other personal effects," part of Simpson's earnings from after the date of separation and other assets…

The couple, who starred in their own MTV reality show, "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica," had no prenuptial agreement and in her petition, Simpson asked the court not to grant Lachey spousal support.

Lachey, who gained fame as a member of the boy band 98 Degrees, had more earning power when the couple wed in October 2002. However, Simpson's fame skyrocketed during the marriage. The 25-year-old singer-actress reportedly earned more than $30 million last year, including earnings from her big-screen debut playing Daisy Duke in "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie.

The Cook County Sieve
Inmate Captured 2 Hours After She Escaped

CHICAGO (AP) -- A series of escapes from the county jail was already bizarre: In one case, an inmate slipped into a laundry truck to flee. In another, a guard is accused of helping six others breaking out to boost the political campaign of a sheriff's candidate.

On Friday, the trend turned even more strange when Sheriff Michael Sheahan personally apprehended the latest fugitive, a woman who authorities said escaped from a hospital when her guard left to take a phone call…

"You can't trust a prisoner, and this is just another example of an individual that works for us that made a mistake, and he'll be dealt with," Sheahan said.

Before this month, no inmates had escaped from the jail in the previous 10 years. Cook County Jail typically houses 10,000 inmates…

On Feb. 10, a member of an inmate work crew slipped out of jail in a laundry truck; he was caught the next day, but that night six more inmates escaped. All were recaptured in just over 24 hours.

In addition, a woman visiting her inmate boyfriend allegedly smuggled in a gun through a plexiglass divider, resulting in a Feb. 1 shooting that left three inmates with minor injures…

Friday, February 17, 2006

The MSM filter

Apparently, the ‘crack’ NY Times photographers and WABC camerapersons aren’t really that good. Their reports (including video at WABC website) don’t provide any photos of the peaceful protesters. Not to worry was on the job. The pictures there are quite a contrast to the MSM reports that follow below.
About 1,000 Muslims Protest Cartoons at U.N.

About 1,000 Muslims held a peaceful rally and prayed in a park near the United Nations today to protest the dozen caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, originally published in a newspaper in Denmark, that have set off a series of violent demonstrations around the world...

Muslim protestors gather at Danish consulate

(New York -WABC, February 17, 2006) - The global protests over published cartoons depicting the profit Mohammed come to New York City today. At this hour a peaceful demonstration is getting underway outside the Danish consulate...

Whittington (in a gentlemanly fashion): You press are ignorant twits
Harry Whittington's hospital statement
Man shot by Vice President Cheney says accidents happen

…For many years my family has been friends with the Armstrongs down in Kenedy County. We have visited with them for over 25 years and have had some wonderful trips and visits – pleasant memories that we cherish forever. However, this past weekend encompassed all of us in a cloud of misfortune and sadness that is not easy to explain – especially to those who are not familiar with the great sport of quail hunting.

We all assume certain risks in whatever we do, whatever activities we pursue. And regardless of how experienced, careful and dedicated we are, accidents do and will happen – and that’s what happened last Friday [sic]…

My family and I are deeply sorry for all that vice president Cheney has had to go through this past week. We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we’ve had this week. And we hope that he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves…

I also thank all of you for understanding the best you can that medical attention was very important to someone my age. And you haven’t failed to give my age

A scene from the movie ‘Fat Chance’
Judge Denies Padilla's Request for Bail

MIAMI (AP) -- A federal judge refused to set bail for terror suspect Jose Padilla on Friday after hearing about his extensive travel overseas and his history of skipping bail in criminal cases.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke upheld another judge's ruling that Padilla would remain jailed without bond because he likely would attempt to flee prosecution and remained a danger to the community.

Padilla, a 35-year-old U.S. citizen and former Chicago gang member, is charged with being a recruit for a North American terror cell that provided fighters, money and supplies to Islamic extremists around the world.

He was held for 3 1/2 years by the military as an "enemy combatant" before he was charged in civilian court late last year.

Federal prosecutor Stephanie Pell said Padilla had a history of arrests and convictions for violent crimes - including murder as a juvenile in 1985 - and had forfeited bond by failing to appear on four other occasions. Padilla had been arrested previously on charges including assault and battery, marijuana possession and illegal weapons, and he served a year in Florida prison for a weapons conviction, records show.

Padilla also has a wife and children overseas, has used aliases and has traveled in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Pell said.

"He has the motive and the way to leave, and he will do so," she said...

The prolific will inherit the earth

These excerpts are from a recent Mark Steyn piece in The Australian (the whole thing is here). Ignore the pro vs. anti abortion vitriol and consider Steyn’s facts and logic. If you’re an American and have small children (or grandchildren) it’s worth the read. Especially if your expectation is that, when they’ve grown, your offspring will have the same rights, freedoms and liberty you’ve enjoyed.

But here's one we know the answer to: Why is this newspaper [The Australian] published in the language of a tiny island on the other side of the earth? Why does Australia have an English Queen, English common law, English institutions? Because England was the first nation to conquer infant mortality.

By 1820 medical progress had so transformed British life that half the population was under the age of 15. Britain had the manpower to take, hold, settle and administer huge chunks of real estate around the planet. Had, say, China or Russia been first to overcome childhood mortality, the modern world would be very different.

What country today has half of its population under the age of 15? Italy has 14 per cent, the UK 18 per cent, Australia 20 per cent - and Saudi Arabia has 39 per cent, Pakistan 40 per cent and Yemen 47 per cent. Little Yemen, like little Britain 200 years ago, will send its surplus youth around the world - one way or another…

In attempting to refute Vale's argument, this newspaper praised the nation's maidenhood for lying back and thinking of Australia and getting the national fertility rate up from 1.73 births per woman in 2001 to 1.77, "well above rates in developed nations such as Italy, Spain, Japan, Germany and South Korea".

Well, pop the champagne corks! ... The countries cited are going out of business. Seventeen European nations are now at what demographers call "lowest-low" fertility - 1.3 births per woman, the point at which you're so far down the death spiral you can't pull out.

In theory, those countries will find their population halving every 40 years or so. In practice, it will be quicker than that, as the savvier youngsters figure there's no point sticking around a country that's turned into one big undertaker's waiting room: not every pimply burger flipper is going to want to work himself into the ground to pay for new shuffleboard courts at the old folks' home.

In 2005, some 137 million babies were born around the globe. That 137 million is the maximum number of 20-year-olds who'll be around in 2025. There are no more, no other sources; that's it, barring the introduction of mass accelerated cloning (which is by no means an impossibility). Who that 137 million are will determine the character of our world.

The shape's already becoming clear. Take those Danish cartoons. Every internet blogger wants to take a stand on principle alongside plucky little Denmark. But there's only five million of them. Whereas there are 20 million Muslims in Europe - officially. That's the equivalent of the Danes plus the Irish plus the Belgians plus the Estonians.

You do the mathematics. If you want the reality of Europe in a nutshell, walk into a supermarket belonging to the French chain Carrefour. You'll be greeted by a notice in Arabic: "Dear Clients, We express solidarity with the Islamic and Egyptian community. Carrefour doesn't carry Danish products." It's strictly business: they have three Danish customers and a gazillion Muslim ones. Retail sales-wise, they know which way their bread's buttered and it isn't with Lurpak.

That's Vale's second point. If a society chooses to outsource its breeding, who your suppliers are is not unimportant.

"I've heard those very silly remarks made about immigrants to this country since I was a child," says [Democrat Lyn] Allison.

"If it wasn't the Greeks, it was the Italians or it was the Vietnamese."

Those are races or nationalities. But Islam is a religion, and an explicitly political one - unlike the birthplace of your grandfather it's not something you leave behind in the old country. Indeed, for its adherents in the West, it becomes their principal expression - a Pan-Islamic identity that transcends borders.

Instead of a melting pot, there's conversion: A Scot can marry a Greek or a Botswanan, but when a Scot marries a Yemeni it's because the former has become a Muslim. In defiance of normal immigration patterns, the host country winds up assimilating with Islam: French municipal swimming baths introduce non-mixed bathing sessions; a Canadian Government report recommends the legalisation of polygamy; Seville removes King Ferdinand III as patron of the annual fiesta because he played too, um, prominent a role in taking back Spain from the Moors.

When the fastest-breeding demographic group on the planet is also the one most resistant to the pieties of the social-democratic state that's a profound challenge. Yes, yes, I know Islam is very varied, and Riyadh has a vibrant gay scene, and the Khartoum Feminist Publishing Collective now has so many members they've rented lavish new offices above the clitorectomy clinic. I don't claim to have all the answers, except when I'm being interviewed live on TV. But that's better than claiming, as most of Vale's disparagers do, that there aren't even any questions…

Thursday, February 16, 2006

When you have given nothing, ask for nothing*
Hamas Wants Off Terror List

A senior Hamas official called on the United States Thursday to remove the militant Islamic group from Washington's list of terrorist organizations and to open a dialogue without preconditions.

Moussa Abu Marzook, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, told The Associated Press the U.S. should deal with Hamas "as it is, and later there could be a dialogue...but there should be no preconditions."

"Hamas is not the only side that wants peace. ...All the Palestinians want peace because they are the only people whose rights have been encroached upon and who have been expelled from their lands," Abu Marzouk said.

Abu Marzouk described as "absolutely unacceptable" Israel's call for Hamas to start an unconditional dialogue with the Jewish state, saying "Hamas...was chosen by the Palestinian people...this is democracy..."
* - Albanian Proverb


Idolatry crushes athleticism
‘Idol' Trounces Olympics in Ratings War

NEW YORK (AP) -- The winter Olympics proved no match for television's gold-medal winner, "American Idol." Fox's phenomenally successful contest crushed the Olympics in head-to-head competition on Tuesday night, 27 million viewers to 16.1 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The Olympics recovered a bit after "Idol" went off the air, but its overall audience of 18.6 million was the least-watched winter Olympics telecast since Nagano's closing ceremonies in 1998, Nielsen said.

Since its opening on Friday, the Turin games have been running well below the 2002 Salt Lake City games in viewership interest. Much of that was expected, but Tuesday's ratings was the first alarming sign for NBC that increased TV competition has taken a toll...

There isn’t anything in Revelation about all this, is there?

Gumbel: No blacks, hence ‘world’s greatest athletes’ a joke

And, oh yeah... A GOP convention is whitey town.

“Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention… So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they’re done, when we can move on to March Madness — for God’s sake, let the games begin.”
Bryant Gumbel - February 6, 2006
on HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel
speaking about the 2006 Winter Olympics

I, for one, think it takes a lot more skill, agility, and courage to be on a level surface in an air-conditioned arena bouncing a ball on a wooden floor and then throwing it through a hoop, then it does to hurtle down a frozen snow-covered slope at breakneck speed while navigating through the gates of a giant slalom, for time.

(Hat tip:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

‘Teaching’ in the ‘rubber room’
Teacher Unions Are Killing the Public Schools

Bosses, have I got an idea for you: Don't pay your best employees more, don't ease out your least productive workers, and for crying out loud, never fire anyone, not even for the most blatant misconduct on the job.

It works for the public schools, doesn't it?

Actually, it doesn't, but since they're government monopolies, they don't care. They never go out of business. They just keep doing what they're doing, year after year, churning out class after class of students handicapped by a poor education.

Don't get me wrong -- not all public school teachers are bad. Many are talented and passionate, even heroic. Many turn down better-paying jobs because they want to help kids learn. But working hard for public-school students has to be its own reward, because a lazy teacher is paid just as much as a good one -- more if he has seniority…

One New York teacher decided that one of his 16-year-old students was hot. So he sat down at a computer and sent a sexual e-mail to Cutee101.

"He admits this," said [New York City public school Chancellor Joel] Klein. "We had the e-mail."

"You can't fire him?"

"It's almost impossible."

It's almost impossible because of the rules in the New York schools' 200-page contract with their teachers. There are so many rules that principals rarely even try to jump through all the hoops to fire a bad teacher. It took six years of expensive litigation before the teacher who wrote Cutee101 was fired. During those six years, he received more than $300,000 in salary.

"Up, down, around, we've paid him," said the chancellor. "He hasn't taught, but we've had to pay him, because that is what is required under the contract."

Hundreds of teachers the city calls incompetent, racist, or dangerous have been paid millions.

And what do they do while they get paid? They sit in rubber rooms.

They're not really made of rubber, of course. They are big, empty rooms where they store the teachers they are afraid to let near the kids. The teachers go there and sit, hang around, read magazines, and waste time. The city pays $20 million a year to house teachers in rubber rooms.

A new union contract is supposed to make it easier to fire teachers for sexual infractions, but the Byzantine rules for other offenses remain. Insane as most are, some teachers told me they support the firing rules. "You prove I'm a bad teacher!" said one. "And if you can't prove it, don't try it!"…

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."
H. G. Wells

MD Democrats: There are 85,000 black murders, rapists, and robbers that we need to get to the polls if we want to win in November.
Ehrlich to veto bill on felons

ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday vowed to veto a bill that would restore voting rights to felons, including the state's most violent criminals, immediately upon their release from prison.

"I don't think you reward the franchise to those who commit the most horrific crimes," Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, told The Washington Times. "Full restoration of every right is inappropriate."

Dozens of House Democrats have co-sponsored legislation that would allow about 150,000 murderers, rapists, robbers and other felons to vote this year, and the state Democratic Party has endorsed the bill.

The bill's lead sponsor -- Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, Baltimore Democrat -- said yesterday that Mr. Ehrlich's position reinforces the racist underpinnings of the state law that denies the vote to felons, of whom about 85,000 are black.

Mrs. Marriott, who is black, said Mr. Ehrlich's sentiment "reflects the thinking" of Carter Glass, a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901 who said felon disenfranchisement aims to "eliminate the darkie as a political factor."

"We all were raised in a racist society," said Mrs. Marriott, stressing that she was not calling Mr. Ehrlich a racist. "Let us be clear about what were the intentions of these laws."

Mr. Ehrlich said he would not "indulge her" by responding to her comments.

"There are white felons. Every issue isn't a racial issue around here," said the governor, who is seeking re-election.

Democratic lawmakers have attributed the Marriott bill's popularity to their party's aim to oust Mr. Ehrlich and secure black votes after Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican, in 2002 became the first black to win statewide office in Maryland.

According to Justice Maryland, a penal reform group that supports voting rights for felons, about 60 percent of Maryland felons are black and likely Democrats.

Ex-convicts could decide this year's election. Mr. Ehrlich won the 2002 gubernatorial race by about 66,000 votes, and the contest this year is expected to be even closer…

Kicked to the curb
Democratic bloggers abuzz over Hackett exit
Activists angry Marine reservist was allegedly pressured out of Ohio race

WASHINGTON - The Democratic blogosphere was abuzz Tuesday with the news that one of its heroes, Iraq war veteran Paul Hackett, had dropped out of the Ohio Senate race.

Hackett, a civilian lawyer and a major in the Marine Corps reserves, caused a sensation last year when he nearly defeated Republican Jean Schmidt in a special election in a heavily Republican congressional district in southern Ohio.

At first blush, Hackett’s exit seemed good news for the Democrats since it removed the danger of a costly primary and left seven-term Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown a clear shot at defeating incumbent Republican, Sen. Mike DeWine.

But left-leaning Democratic bloggers helped lift Hackett to his near-victory last year and some are irate that their man appears to have been squeezed out of the race.

Hackett said Monday party leaders pressured him to leave the race and made phone calls to his donors urging them to not contribute to his campaign.

“I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party leaders, as well as behind the scenes machinations, that were intended to hurt my campaign,” Hackett said in a statement issued by his campaign Tuesday.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday afternoon that over the past several months he’d had a number of conversations with Hackett…

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair, Sen. Charles Schumer, refused to comment on the Hackett withdrawal, referring all questions to DSCC spokesman Phil Singer, who issued the following statement: “Neither the DSCC nor Sen. Schumer reached out to donors to ask them to take sides in this race. Paul Hackett’s statesman-like decision will help us win one of the most important Senate races in the nation...”
And has-been Democratic pol Gary Hart lays the ultimate blame for what Hackett describes as ”behind the scenes machinations” where? Why at the feet of the Republican Party, of course.
Gary Hart: Pressuring Paul Hackett To Abandon Campaign is Old Politics at its Worst

Now, it seems, my Democratic party is once again imitating the Republican party in a desperate effort to regain power.

Nelson sings, "Inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to slip out."

Is this AP report intimating that Nelson is gay? I can't decide. Read the whole thing and check out the photo they picked to run with the article. It seems to me that the entertainment industry, especially Hollywood, can’t decide whether being gay is a badge of honor or something to gossip and twitter about.
Willie Nelson Releases Gay Cowboy Song

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Country music outlaw Willie Nelson sang "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" and "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" more than 25 years ago. He released a very different sort of cowboy anthem this Valentine's Day.

"Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other)" may be the first gay cowboy song by a major recording artist. But it was written long before this year's Oscar-nominated "Brokeback Mountain" made gay cowboys a hot topic.

Available exclusively through iTunes, the song features choppy Tex-Mex style guitar runs and Nelson's deadpan delivery of lines like, "What did you think all them saddles and boots was about?" and "Inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to slip out…"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Perry: They saved my life but I sensed dislike

I read this article and immediately had questions I thought the reporter should have tried to answer. They are below, in green.
Victim in bar rampage charges he was mistreated because he is gay

NEW BEDFORD - A victim of a teenager’s violent rampage in a bar here has filed a complaint with the state alleging he received poor treatment by paramedics because he is gay.

Robert R. Perry, 52, of Dartmouth, was struck in the head with a hatchet and shot in the back when 18-year old Jacob D. Robida attacked patrons of Puzzles Lounge on Feb. 1. Two other men were injured in the attack.

In a complaint filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Perry says the New Bedford paramedics took too long transporting him to the hospital, were physically and verbally abusive, and shared private medical information with his family without his permission. [Ed. – what was the nature of this ’private’ information and which members of his family were given the information?]

“There wasn’t just hatred in the bar that night,” Perry said. “We had hatred in the ambulance, too.” [Ed. – Who is the ‘we’? Who else, other than Perry and the paramedic(s), was in the ambulance?]

“I don’t have a comment,” James Trout, director of New Bedford’s EMS Department, told The Standard-Times of New Bedford.

Perry said that as a director for clinical services for Mercy-General Ambulance Service in Boston, he knows the procedures paramedics are supposed to follow. For example, he said the 25 minutes the ambulance waited at the bar before heading to St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford was too long. [Ed. – How did Perry know that, was he checking his watch?]

“Twelve minutes on-scene for a gunshot victim in our system is considered a maximum,” Perry wrote in a letter to New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang. [Ed. – It appears the EMTs knew what they were doing because Perry survived while, apparently, suffering no further injury from their treatment. Is there a state-mandated maximum time-on-scene or is Perry’s ‘standard’ his own?]

The complaint was filed with the DPH’s Office of Emergency Medical Services. In it, Perry alleges the paramedic treating him slammed an oxygen mask over his face when he asked repeatedly why the ambulance was not leaving for the hospital. [Ed. – perhaps the paramedic was attempting to quiet someone who he/she thought was becoming hysterical. What is the first response for treating hysteria?]

In an e-mail response to Perry’s letter, Lang said the city is taking his complaint seriously, and that he forwarded a copy of the letter to the city’s acting police chief, David Provencher... [Ed. - Why wouldn't the mayor take the complaint "seriously?" Does Perry have a history of making complaints that shouldn't be taken seriously?]

Europe and Islamofascism, a primer
Is “Old Europe” Doomed?

Losing Civilization

What Will Europe Really Do?

Here’s a fun NYC civil service job – tracking used ‘city’ condoms
NYC to name-brand free condoms

New York, Feb. 14 (UPI) — The city of New York has been giving away free condoms for almost nine months, but now plans to give them away with a city logo on the packaging.

While the concept won't be ready for a few months, the city's Health Department made the announcement Monday, in time for Valentine's Day, the New York Daily News said.

Department spokeswoman Sandra Mullin told reporters the effort was more about packaging than branding.

"We wanted to develop condom packaging that was noticeable and memorable so that we can later track the effectiveness of our distribution," she said. [Ed. - So, does someone go around looking for the torn wrappers or do these things leave a mark?]

The city has handed out about 9 million free condoms at Health Department clinics since June.

City officials told The New York Times said that a "New York condom" was not a part of the branding campaign pushed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg since he was elected. Under his guidance, the city receives a royalty from the sale of products that legally use the Police and Fire Department logos.

Here’s hoping they starve to death
Saddam Says He's on a Hunger Strike

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Saddam Hussein and three former officials in his regime on Tuesday told the court handling their trial that they were on a hunger strike in protest of the judge overseeing the proceedings.

Saddam said he had not eaten in three days, while his former intelligence chief, Ibrahim Barzan, said he had been on strike for two days. Their claims of a hunger strike could not be independently confirmed. The defendants are being held in U.S. detention, and U.S. officials could not immediately be reached to comment.

Investigative judge Raid Juhi did not deny the defendants were refusing food when asked about the strike after the day's three-hour session. "This is an administrative problem that the court is working to verify and it will work also to solve it... with the responsible parties in the custodial authorities," he told reporters.

"But, as you could see, the defendants are in good health," he said.

Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman, who took over the court last month, has worked to impose order in a court where outbursts and arguments have frequently overshadowed the testimony...

Don’t forget your mittens, Sweetie

There was a blizzard up and down the East Coast and it was cold in DC, so Dana’s mommy dressed him up snuggly before letting him out of the house.

Michelle Malkin has more.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Some perspective from a bumper sticker
I’d rather hunt with Cheney than…

Ain’t American entrepreneurship great.

Democrats (until 2/12/06): Bush's illegal "domestic spying" stomps on our civil liberties

Democrats (2/12/06): "Never mind. Oh, and Republicans are mean."

Spying Necessary, Democrats Say

Two key Democrats yesterday called the NSA domestic surveillance program necessary for fighting terrorism but questioned whether President Bush had the legal authority to order it done without getting congressional approval.

Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) said Republicans are trying to create a political issue over Democrats' concern on the constitutional questions raised by the spying program...

Dem·o·crat \'de-m&-"krat\ n
1. a member of the Democratic party of the U.S.

(photo:Aaron Logan)

Aurora government's collective IQ will never reach 50
Boy charged with felony for carrying sugar

A 12-year-old Aurora boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project this week has been charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug, Aurora police have confirmed.

The sixth-grade student at Waldo Middle School was also suspended for two weeks from school after showing the bag of powdered sugar to his friends.

The boy, who is not being identified because he is a juvenile, said he brought the bag to school to ask his science teacher if he could run an experiment using sugar.

Two other boys asked if the bag contained cocaine after he showed it to them in the bathroom Wednesday morning, the boy's mother said.

He joked that it was cocaine, before telling them, "just kidding," she said.

Aurora police arrested the boy after a custodian at the school reported the boy's comments. The youngster was taken to the police station and detained, before being released to his parents that afternoon…

The district issued a written statement, which said: "The dangers of illegal drugs and controlled substances are clear.

"Look-alike drugs and substances can cause that same level of danger because staff and students are not equipped to differentiate between the two..."

Mysteriously, Bill’s calm, Hillary’s not.
On Podium, Some Say, Mrs. Clinton Is No Mr. Clinton

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 — Like her husband, Hillary Rodham Clinton can work a room, remembering names and personal details, and dazzling acquaintances along the way. And like Bill Clinton, she can master arcane details of public policy, wowing experts in several fields.

But as a public speaker, Hillary Rodham Clinton is no Bill Clinton, and that became all too apparent at Coretta Scott King's funeral last week, when the two made a rare public appearance together.

The crowd burst into boisterous applause and a standing ovation as Mr. Clinton took the stage and delivered his address, off the cuff, with what many said was the mellifluence of a preacher.

But when it was Mrs. Clinton's turn at the microphone, the room became more subdued, as she offered more formal remarks, in her characteristically deliberate and measured style.

To her critics and admirers, the moment was a reminder that for all her skills as a politician, Mrs. Clinton is not known for her ability to move people with the power of her oratory, something that could prove a liability should she run for the presidency in 2008.

"She is going to have to learn to bite her lip," offered former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, referring to the former president's knack for doing just that (à la Elvis) during emotional high points in his speeches...

Sex calms nerves before public speaking – study

LONDON (Reuters) - Forget pretending you are talking to one person or concentrating on a single point in the audience -- having sex is good way to calm nerves before giving a speech or presentation.

But Stuart Brody, a psychologist at the University of Paisley in Scotland, said it has to be full sexual intercourse to get the best results.

He studied nearly 50 men and women who recorded their sexual activities for two weeks and analyzed its impact on their blood pressure levels when under acute stress, such as when giving a speech.

Brody discovered that the volunteers who had sexual intercourse were the least stressed and had blood pressure levels that returned to normal more quickly than people who engaged in other types of sex...

Gore: I’m a panderer and I can prove it
Gore Decries Treatment of Arabs Post 9-11

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia - Former Vice President Al Gore told a mainly Saudi audience on Sunday that the U.S. government committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and that most Americans did not support such treatment.

Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.

"The thoughtless way in which visas are now handled, that is a mistake," Gore said during the Jiddah Economic Forum. "The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States."

Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been "indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable…"

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Carter: Senile or just an obnoxious old man?
Carter allowed surveillance in 1977

Former President Jimmy Carter [82], who publicly rebuked President Bush's warrantless eavesdropping program this week during the funeral of Coretta Scott King and at a campaign event, used similar surveillance against suspected spies.

"Under the Bush administration, there's been a disgraceful and illegal decision -- we're not going to the let the judges or the Congress or anyone else know that we're spying on the American people," Mr. Carter said Monday in Nevada when his son Jack announced his Senate campaign.

"And no one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated under this secret act," he said.

The next day at Mrs. King's high-profile funeral, Mr. Carter evoked a comparison to the Bush policy when referring to the "secret government wiretapping" of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

But in 1977, Mr. Carter and his attorney general, Griffin B. Bell, authorized warrantless electronic surveillance used in the conviction of two men for spying on behalf of Vietnam.

The men, Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, challenged their espionage convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which unanimously ruled that the warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.

In its opinion, the court said the executive branch has the "inherent authority" to wiretap enemies such as terror plotters and is excused from obtaining warrants when surveillance is "conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence reasons…"

When Mr. Bell testified in favor of FISA, he told Congress that while the measure doesn't explicitly acknowledge the "inherent power of the president to conduct electronic surveillance," it "does not take away the power of the president under the Constitution."

Jamie S. Gorelick, deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, agreed. In 1994 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Miss Gorelick said case law supports the presidential authority to conduct warrantless searches and electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes.

Earlier this week, however, Mr. Carter said it was "ridiculous" for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to say the spying is justified by Article II of the Constitution…

"Just when you thought that the Democrats' image of being soft on defense issues couldn't get any worse, enter the sage wisdom of President Jimmy Carter to save the day," said Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.