Saturday, April 15, 2006

Europe updates its dictionaries
EU Removes 'Islamic Terrorism' from its Dictionary

The European Union (EU) also admitted that the concept of “Islamic terrorism” is misused by racist groups in Europe and terror networks such as al-Qaeda.

The Union, taking action to rid such expressions, which are offensive to Muslims, from its dictionary, searches for new concepts behind closed doors. The European bloc is expected to release its new dictionary in June.

Works are underway to eliminate the expression “Islamic terrorism” from the EU’s current dictionary…

Instead of expressions like “Islamic terrorism” and “Islamofascist,” a phrase the United States insistently uses, Brussels is trying to develop new concepts that will not cause offense to Muslims...
Other changes (shown in red below) will also be incorporated.
spine·less \'spIn-l&s\ adj.
1 : free from spines , thorns, or prickles
2 a : having no spinal column : INVERTEBRATE, b : lacking strength of character : see EUROPEAN UNION

cow·ard·ice \'kau(-&)r-d&s\ n.
: lack of courage or resolution : see EUROPEAN UNION

panty·waist \'pan-tE-"wAst\ n.

The Weather Channel: Clueless in life as well as the weather
Weather Channel Crew Accused of Trespass

McMINNVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Three members of a video team for The Weather Channel have been charged with trespassing for allegedly refusing to leave the property of a woman who was killed by a tornado.

Edward John Lazano Jr., Bradley Reynolds and Jorma Brandon Duran were freed on $500 bail each after their arrests Wednesday, The Southern Standard reported. Calls seeking comment Saturday from the Warren County sheriff's office were not immediately returned.

They allegedly were videotaping on the property of Sherry Bruce, who was killed when storms struck the area on April 7.

"There are eight no trespassing signs posted on the property," Bruce's brother-in-law, Lynn Boren, wrote in warrants filed against the video team. "They were asked at least six times over 30 minutes to leave."...

Some good news: the fifth columnists in the Fourth Estate are drowning in their vitriol
Lagging Ad Sales Contribute to Earnings Decline at Newspaper Chains

THE newspaper industry continues to flag financially, with three companies — The New York Times, Tribune and McClatchy — reporting sharply lower first-quarter earnings yesterday.

Executives of all of the newspaper companies said they were hurt by stagnant advertising, particularly in the automotive and entertainment categories, and a continuing rise in the cost of newsprint. The Times Company and Tribune also cited the cost of severance packages after cutting hundreds of jobs…

At The New York Times Company, profit fell 69 percent, to $35 million, or 24 cents a share, down from $111 million, or 76 cents a share, in the first quarter of last year. The company attributed much of the decline to a big gain that it reported last year after it sold its headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. The company and The New York Times newspaper plan to move into new headquarters nearby in the second quarter of next year.

Total revenue at the Times Company rose 3.3 percent, to $832 million. Internet businesses now account for $62 million, or 7.5 percent of all revenue. Last year, they accounted for 4.5 percent. The company attributes the growth largely to its acquisition last year of About .com, a consumer-oriented Web site...

Friday, April 14, 2006

America’s ‘first black president’ admits he failed “African-American males”
A Great Clinton Regret: Race Disparity

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former President Clinton said Tuesday that one of his "great regrets" was failing to do more to bridge the economic and social gaps between white and black people in the United States…

"The idea that I live in a country I spent my lifetime trying to make better, but there's still hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people, most of them people of color, who will die before their time, drop out of school, go to prison, never have a chance to live their dreams, is galling and painful to me," Clinton said… [Ed. – One can only imagine how painful is it to actual black people]

"I don't know how you have a great country that is a beacon of hope for the world for peace and freedom and democracy if you let a third of any group of people wind up going to prison sometime in their lives," said Clinton. [Ed. – Yeah, we should probably wait and put criminals in prison after they’re dead]

nar·cis·sism \'när-s&-"si-z&m\ n

Prof. Sally Jacobsen: You are free to speak as long as I approve of what you say.
Display on abortion destroyed
400 crosses removed; NKU prof investigated

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - A professor at Northern Kentucky University said she invited students in one of her classes to destroy an anti-abortion display on campus Wednesday evening.

NKU police are investigating the incident, in which 400 crosses were removed from the ground near University Center and thrown in trash cans. The crosses, meant to represent a cemetery for aborted fetuses, had been temporarily erected last weekend by a student Right to Life group with permission from NKU officials.

Public universities cannot ban such displays because they are a type of symbolic speech that has been protected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Witnesses reported "a group of females of various ages" committing the vandalism about 5:30 p.m., said Dave Tobertge, administrative sergeant with the campus police.

Sally Jacobsen, a longtime professor in NKU's literature and language department, said the display was dismantled by about nine students in one of her graduate-level classes.

"I did, outside of class during the break, invite students to express their freedom-of-speech rights to destroy the display if they wished to," Jacobsen said.

Asked whether she participated in pulling up the crosses, the professor said, "I have no comment."

She said she was infuriated by the display, which she saw as intimidating and a "slap in the face" to women who might be making "the agonizing and very private decision to have an abortion.'"

She said she was infuriated by the display, which she saw as intimidating and a "slap in the face" to women who might be making "the agonizing and very private decision to have an abortion.'"…

NKU President James Votruba said any evidence of criminal conduct in the incident will be turned over to prosecutors. He said he appreciated the emotional nature of the abortion debate and was glad that diverse viewpoints are represented at the school, but he condemned the destruction of the crosses.

"Freedom-of-speech rights end where you infringe on someone else's freedom of speech," Votruba said.

"I don't buy the claim that this is an act of freedom of speech, to destroy property."

He said he was gathering information about the extent of Jacobsen's participation.

"I don't know if she was pulling up the crosses, but I think she was out there with the students. If so, as far as I'm concerned, she went outside the conditions of her employment," Votruba said…

Sheehan: Her lights are on, but there’s nobody home
Sheehan Returns to Protest Near Bush Ranch

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- Peace activist Cindy Sheehan returned to Texas on Wednesday for another war protest near President Bush's ranch, although he was to spend the weekend at Camp David…

A novel suggestion
Cosby Urges Parents to Take Active Role

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Bill Cosby's first appearance here in five years wasn't for telling jokes, but to implore parents to be involved in all aspects of their children's lives.

"If you're not doing that, then you should be ashamed of yourself," Cosby said Thursday as the moderator for discussions on parenting, education and social responsibility at Xavier University.

The 68-year-old comedian's appearance was part of the nationwide tour "A Call Out With Cosby."…

I applaud Mr. Cosby’s efforts, but face it: When parents have to be told to take an active role in their children’s lives, should the kids involved grow up to become solid citizens, it will be through no fault of their parent(s).

Here’s a surprise: Gaza degenerates into camps of warring thugs

Who knew that a kleptocracy governed by terrorists and gangsters and populated by people steeped is self-perpetuating victimhood would collapse when it was left to its own devices?

Ariel Sharon, that’s who.
Militant camps sprout in growing Gaza instability

KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip -- Militant squatters loyal to rivals Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are turning open lots in the Gaza Strip into ad hoc military bases, a development that some fear will lead to open warfare between rival Palestinian factions.

Leaders at the camps say they are acting in the name of the Palestinian uprising against Israel, but the growing presence of what are essentially guerrilla training camps comes at a time of growing instability in Gaza.

"Everyone is showing their strength under the umbrella of the resistance," said Tawfik Abu Khoussa, a former spokesman of the Palestinian Interior Ministry. "If there is a little problem between the factions, maybe they will start a civil war."

Shaken by Israeli artillery barrages and choked economically by the closing of its main commercial passage to the outside world, Gaza has been engulfed by a yawning power vacuum after January's parliamentary elections in which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party was routed by Hamas.

The camps -- many of which have sprung up amid the rubble of the former Jewish settlements -- are marked by barbed wire, a tent and a banner of whatever militia has laid claim to the territory.

The camps are used for rifle practice and to recruit new members to the ranks of what Palestinians call "the resistance."

"From 16 years old, the children have to be a part of a faction," said Abu Harwun, a commander of a militia affiliated with Fatah known as the Abu Reesh brigades.

The camps "raise the hope" of teenagers who are recruited fresh out of high school so they can be prepared for the "military life," he said…

The camps are deserted during the day, but they awaken at night with activity. The sites are a launch pad for the rocket attacks into Israel that have spurred a weeklong barrage of retaliatory Israeli shelling, killing 17 Palestinians…

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why not just buy everybody a houseboat with a self-positioning satellite dish?

This is just stupid. US taxpayers will end up paying tens of billions of dollars so that 250,000 dimwits can live below sea level in what amounts to a tourist attraction.
FEMA: La. Homes Must Be Raised Off Ground

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A few residents guessed correctly when they figured their moldy, mud-stained homes might have to be lifted off the ground to qualify for flood insurance or federal rebuilding aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines released Wednesday are meant to help residents rebuild in ways that comply with early drafts of flood maps showing how high water is expected to rise during a once-in-a-100-year storm. The so-called flood advisories also detail how well the city's levees would protect residents.

The guidelines recommend that thousands of homes and businesses in the area be raised at least 3 feet. Property owners who ignore the guidelines risk losing out on government aid to rebuild and could miss an opportunity for lower flood insurance premiums...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bankers, unions, & pols: Wal-Mart in banking? Hey, no way, that would force competition
Wal-Mart stoppers mob hearings

A stream of officials from the banking industry, unions and consumer groups -- allies for once -- urged federal regulators yesterday to reject a bid by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to expand its empire into the banking business...
Given Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones legislative track record in 109th congress (bills passed: 0 of 17) plus her apparent lack of knowledge of the banking and retail industries, one wonders why her party and the banking and union lobbyists would want her to take the lead in the public hearings. Perhaps they knew they could count on her to demagogue the issue with statements like this:
"Given Wal-Mart's massive scope and international dealings, it is not possible to rule out a financial crisis within the company that could damage the bank and severely disrupt the flow of payments throughout the financial system," said Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Ohio Democrat, who heads a group of lawmakers opposed to the company's application. "The potential losses to the FDIC are staggering. Our country is extremely fortunate that Enron and WorldCom did not own banks."...

Here’s the real reason banks and unions don’t want Wal-Mart in the banking business:
Wal-Mart's bid for federal deposit insurance for a state-chartered bank in Utah -- which would handle the 140 million credit-card, debit-card and electronic-check payments the company processes each year…

By handling its own payment processing, Wal-Mart would save the fraction of a penny per transaction it pays two large banks for the service, adding up to millions of dollars a year…

Supporters say a move by Wal-Mart into banking would benefit consumers by lowering fees and prices in an industry needing more vigorous competition…

As the article points out, Wal-Mart “[accounts] for an estimated 10 percent of the U.S. retail economy.” Guess what happens to unionized processing centers and bankers' payment transaction fees when a lower-cost entity, robust enough to handle 10% of the transactions, shows up on the block. If you were a small retailer and likewise wanted to lower your transaction costs, to whom would you turn?

Monday, April 10, 2006

La rue régit la France*
Bowing to Pressure, Chirac Replaces Law

PARIS - President Jacques Chirac on Monday scrapped a controversial part of a youth labor law that triggered massive protests and strikes, bowing to intense pressure from students and unions and dealing a blow to his loyal premier in a bid to end the crisis.

Unions celebrated what they called "a great victory," and also were deciding whether to keep up the protests. The top two student union UNEF and FIDL said they would press on with demonstrations Tuesday across France.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who devised the law, had faced down protesters for weeks, insisting that its most divisive provision — a so-called "first job contract" — was necessary to reduce high unemployment rates among French youths by making it easier for companies to hire and fire young workers…

A somber Villepin, in a TV appearance, said his original legislation was designed to curb "despair of many youths" and strike a "better balance ... between more flexibility for the employer and more security for workers."

"This was not understood by everyone, I'm sorry to say," Villepin said.

The crisis has discredited Chirac and devastated Villepin and his presidential ambitions — and thrown into question the government's ability to push through painful reforms to help France compete in the global economy. The new measures increase the government's role in the workplace instead of decreasing them, as Villepin had sought.

Students and other opponents had feared the previous measure would erode coveted job security — and some unions trumpeted the retreat by Chirac and his prime minister.

The labor law "is dead and buried," said Jean-Claude Mailly of the Workers Force union. "The goal has been achieved."

Alain Olive, secretary-general of the UNSA union, said, "After more than two weeks of intense mobilization, the 12 syndicated groups of workers, university and high school students have won a great victory."

UNEF leader Bruno Julliard told AP Television News that the students "want to see how we can take advantage of this power struggle that is now in our favor to garner new victories."

The new four-point plan sent to parliament would bolster existing job contracts, rather than enact new ones. The government would offer more state support for companies that hire young workers.

Villepin drew up the labor legislation as part of his response to last fall's rioting in France's impoverished suburbs, where many immigrants and their French-born children live. The unemployment rate for youths under 26 is a staggering 22 percent nationwide, but soars to nearly 50 percent in some of those troubled areas…

* - The street governs France

Can you spot the imbecile working for the Associated Press?
Man Gets $218 Trillion Phone Bill

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - A Malaysian man said he nearly fainted when he recieved a $218 trillion phone bill and was ordered to pay up within 10 days or face prosecution, a newspaper reported Monday.

Yahaya Wahab said he disconnected his late father's phone line in January after he died and settled the 84 ringgit ($23) bill, the New Straits Times reported.

But Telekom Malaysia later sent him a 806,400,000,000,000.01 ringgit ($218 trillion) bill for recent telephone calls along with orders to settle within 10 days or face legal proceedings, the newspaper reported.

It wasn't clear whether the bill was a mistake, or if Yahaya's father's phone line was used illegally after after [sic] his death...

Let’s do a little math, shall we?

The bill is for $218,000,000,000,000. Wahab closed his father’s account in January so lets assume the billing period for the outstanding bill is 90 days. Also assume the worst possible per minute phone rate of $1.00 per minute and that the line was being charged 24/7. That would mean 2,422,222,222,222 minutes were billed to the line per day (a time span of 1,440 minutes). Therefore 1.7 billion people were charging to that phone number every minute of every day.

Incidentally, the total population of Malaysia is 24,385,858 and the world’s population is 6.5 billion (i.e., over a quarter of the people on Earth had to be in on the scam and they were talking 24/7 to another quarter of the earth’s population. Unless, of course, they were dialed in to the world’s 1.7 billion modems)

Extorter-Reporter - fighting for scoops, gossip, and the Gotham way
N.Y. Gossip Reporter Says He Was Set Up

NEW YORK - New York Post gossip writer Jared Paul Stern, who's accused of trying to extort $200,000 from billionaire Ron Burkle in exchange for positive coverage, says he was set up by the businessman and is being smeared.

Stern said Burkle initiated discussions about the payment, offering money for the writer's clothing line called Skull & Bones.

"He set it up through a middle man," Stern, a freelancer for the newspaper's Page Six gossip column, said in a telephone interview Sunday. "He initiated discussions in a potential investment in my clothing company. That's where the whole money issue originated. He was the first one to bring up any question of payment for press coverage."

Stern is under federal investigation for allegedly demanding $100,000 and a $10,000 a month stipend in exchange for not writing negative stories about Burkle… who has an estimated personal wealth of more than $2 billion…

…[A] statement from [Stern’s] attorney Joseph Tacopina said: "Mr. Stern has been the victim of a smear campaign and expects to be fully exonerated and reinstated in his position."

When reached later by phone and asked to explain the statement, Stern said he questioned the accuracy of the reporting by the Daily News, the Post's rival, which has aggressively pursued the case.

Stern said: "Obviously the Daily News' role needs to be examined." He didn't elaborate.

A spokeswoman for the Daily News rejected the criticism.

"I find it completely ridiculous that a person who has been caught on videotape in an FBI sting operation is making these allegations," Donna Dees said. "It smacks of desperation.”

The FBI has declined to comment…

Does this mean the contraband pup tents and cowboy hats will be confiscated?
Officer Cited for Showing 'Brokeback'

NORFOLK, Mass. - A prison officer faces punishment for showing the gay cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain" to inmates at the state's largest prison, a corrections department spokeswoman said.

Massachusetts Department of Correction spokeswoman Diane Wiffin said the officer, whose name was not released, had not followed standard procedure for screening the movie for excessive violence, assaults on correctional staff, nudity or explicit sexual content…

Is The Washington Post vying to become the ‘paper of record’?

In a previous post I pointed out the idiocy of the assertion by The New York Times that President Bush was ‘leaking’ when he declassified a document and made its contents public. To the mentally stable amongst us, that is known as an authorized release of information.

Now comes a Washington Post (WaPo) editorial saying essentially the same thing. In addition, WaPo points out that the President made the information public to counter a blatant lie by one Joseph C. Wilson, who had used The New York Times editorial page to trumpet his perfidy. The WaPo editorial also goes into a second Wilson lie (the Valerie Plame farce).

I heartily recommend the WaPo editorial, it lays out the facts accurately and succinctly.
A Good Leak
President Bush declassified some of the intelligence he used to decide on war in Iraq. Is that a scandal?

PRESIDENT BUSH was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons. Presidents are authorized to declassify sensitive material, and the public benefits when they do…

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Kerry: I needed more money. Yeeaaah, more money. That’s the ticket
Kerry: Taking Federal Money a Mistake

WASHINGTON - Was it his campaign's slow response to the swift boat advertisements or the remark that he voted for Iraq war money before he voted against it that John Kerry regrets most from his failed bid for the White House?

Neither, according to Kerry's reflection Sunday on what he considered his biggest mistake when trying to wrest the presidency from George W. Bush in 2004.

"I think the biggest mistake was probably not going outside the federal financing so we could have controlled our own message," the Massachusetts senator said on NBC's "Meet the Press."[Ed. – What, exactly, was that message, Senator Kerry?]

The Kerry campaign opted to accept federal money — and federal spending limits and other rules — after he won the Democratic nomination. The nominating convention in Boston occurred more than a month before the GOP renominated [sic] Bush, forcing Kerry to begin spending under federal rules much earlier than Bush…

"I think the most important thing would have been to spend more money, if we could have, on the advertising and responding to some of the attacks," he said…

Some political observers believe the Kerry campaign should have acted more quickly in countering an anti-Kerry group, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, that attacked his Vietnam War record. [Ed. – perhaps Kerry should have followed Bush’s lead and made all of his military records public]

The Bush campaign criticized Kerry relentlessly for his remark about voting for and then against an $87 billion bill for the military and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. The GOP used Kerry's own words to support the contention that he flip-flopped on issues.

As for a run in 2008, Kerry said Sunday he would make a decision by the end of the year. [Ed. – I wonder how many times in the next eight months Kerry will change his mind]

MA Supremes: The demand that the state find a camel or oxen and slaughter it so prisoner Rasheed can eat its meat is not, on its face, an unreasonable request
SJC: State hasn’t justified withholding Muslim feast-day meats

BOSTON - The state’s highest court has ruled that the state prison system has failed to justify denying a Muslim inmate special feast-day meats, such as oxen and camel.

In a unanimous ruling Friday, the Supreme Judicial Court said officials at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center had failed to show why providing the proper meats to Rashad Rasheed on certain holidays was a burden.

The decision reversed a Superior Court judge who dismissed Rasheed’s claim without a trial. The case now goes back to Superior Court for review.

The SJC ruling noted that the state Constitution goes further than the U.S. Constitution to protect the religious freedom of prisoners, The Boston Globe reported.

Justice Robert Cordy, writing for the court, said the Massachusetts Constitution is “more protective of the religious freedoms of prisoners than the United States Constitution, and ... the proper standard of review to be applied to the infringement of such freedoms is consequently more demanding.”…

SJC rulings are to legal reasoning what gibberish is to language.