Archives for the Month of October 2006 on Through the Magnifying Glass
Sigma Chi Fraternity at Johns Hopkins Suspended over "Hood" Party
The Sigma Chi fraternity at Johns Hopkins University was suspended because they held a "Halloween in the Hood" party that drew protests by black students.
It would appear that an invitation to the party, posted on the Facebook.com web site, encouraged guests to wear "regional clothing from our locale" with jewelry including "bling bling ice ice, grills" and "hoochie hoops."
Outside the fraternity house, a skeleton pirate was found hanging on a noose.
Black Student Union members protested the party saying the appearance of the image and the language of the invitation highlighted racial tensions at Hopkins and the strained relations between the University and the surrounding community. Protestors had signs depicting a historical lynching next to a picture of the fraternity's skeleton.
The University suspended the fraternity pending a full investigation. Sigma Chi's international headquarters has suspended the chapter's operations for 45 days and said further disciplinary action was possible. At a campus forum, members of Sigma Chi apologised for the actions of the author of the invitation.
The Baltimore branch of the NAACP intends to explore legal action against the fraternity and the university.
Does this show absolute proof that the fraternity is being racist against African-Americans? The media such as MTV and BET have glorified hip-hop culture where people boast about their "bling bling jewelry" and their "hoochie hoops." It would seem that if a white person said that, he or she is labeled a racist or making fun of blacks.
Now, the invitation was done in poor taste. In fact, in any Halloween party, people do dress up as hip-hop stars, gangsters, rappers, and what not. Should they be labeled race-hating persons if a white person was wearing them? It would seem to me that wearing any black-associated costume is a no-no for everyone else.
For Black Student Union members trying to link a skeleton pirate being hanged to a racist lynching is an extreme example at best. Obviously, pirates are usually hanged if they are captured. So what if the name of the party did not include the word "Hood," would the hanging skeleton be still considered a racist portrayal of a lynching? If that is the case, then I have to say that there are people out there who believe everyone is out to get them just because of the skin of their color. Sounds to me that it is more about racist paranoia.
But it doesn't stop there. The NAACP has to get in on the kill. Come on here, black students were not lynched or killed off. Suddenly, a party theme done in poor taste means that the whole University is considered to be insensitive to racial relations. Perhaps they can blame the Pirates of the Caribbean movie for showing hanging pirates. Yep, Johnny Depp is racist so let's go boycott Disney for making such a racist film.
This was an incident blown out of proporation. It would seem the University and the Sigma Chi international fraternity are more fearful about lawsuits and are willing to put up these fraternity members as the scapegoats. Then Johns Hopkins students would need to attend diversity training and have to sign some sort of multi-cultural pledge. Multi-cultural correctness gone amok.
Now this would all be different if this fraternity had racial problems in the past. If this was their first bad incident, it would seem that the reaction has gone quite overboard. It would seem more likely that the Black Student Union wanted the publicity to embarass the school. That is how I see that given the facts that are laid out. If there is any new information, I sure want to see it.
11/2/06 - The chapter has expelled social chair, junior Justin Park, for posting the advertisement on Facebook.com. The Black Student Union (BSU) continues on the warpath with demonstrations throughout the week, calling on Johns Hopkins to punish the fraternity severely. It has also challenged the administration to pursue a number of institutional changes that they "claim" are necessary to fight the latent undercurrent of racism on campus that has been ignored for years.
General sentiment at the party never thought that the pirate hanging decoration outside of the house party resemble a mockup lynching. This includes fraterntiy members and party attendees. It would seem more students were offended by the invitation than by the theme name for the party.
Marvin Cheatham, president of Baltimore chapter of NAACP, stated they had no plans to pursue legal action against the University.
I wonder how other Greeks at Johns Hopkins are responding to this.
Back to BSU complaints... it seems that the party was just one issue on top of a haystack. They have claimed that whtie and Asian students routinely snub black students when it comes to forming study groups, there aren't nearly enough black tenured faculty members and white faculty advisors routinely pressured black students to either change majors or drop courses; and the assumption that black students are unqualified to attend Hopkins and got a free affirmative action pass. It sounds to me there is a lot of pent-up frustration and the "hood" party just opened the floodgates.
Another shot at this "lynching" costume... black students claim that the hanging pirate was meant to symbolise a lynching. Suddenly, they are painting themselves as the victims. Come on here! Pirates were hanged. That is what they get for piracy. All hangings were NOT lynchings, and not all lynchings involved hanging.
11/3/06 - In response, the University will provide additional diversity training to students and faculty members, and plans to incorporate the history of racism into the campus curriculum and workshops, and better communication with multicultural groups.
Seems like students will have to sign a pledge to uphold the political correctness world of multiculturalism. Looks like I do not see any ban on hanging skeleton pirate decorations implemented yet.
But really, how much more diversity training is needed? Now everything what you say or type can be construed as offensive and racist. What happened to common sense?
11/5/06 - BSU protestors still think not enough is being done to address their concerns
11/8/06 - When you think about it... it was a Korean student that wrote the Facebook.com invitation. He called it "satirical" when some complained about the first version. He re-did and made it even more offensive. So I guess blacks are also calling Asians racist too. Just imagine when more hispanic students are at Johns Hopkins.
So Justin H. Park has been made the scapegoat. His statement: "I am not a racist - anybody who knows me will attest to the fact," Park wrote in the apology. "That my statement has been misconstrued as derogatory and hateful to a certain group of people is especially hurtful to me."
NAACP have claimed that Hopkins leaders are allowing a "racist" atmosphere to persist on campus. Really??? Hmm, I wonder if they got the data to prove that.
Sigma Chi - Kappa Upsilon Chapter Suspended
Johns Hopkins News Letter - Sigma Chi's Long Night
Johns Hopkins News Letter - Protests Erupt Over Allegations of Racist Sigma Chi Party
JHU Gazette - Steps Taken to Address Recent Racial Concerns
Baltimore Sun - Hopkins targets campus racism
Baltimore Sun - Hopkins protestors see little improvement
Case Technology Tax
I applaud Greg Szorc's efforts to point out the truth behind the Case Technology Fee that is being levied upon the whole student body, undergraduate, graduate, and professional, next academic year.
The fee will increase from $400 to $425. Instead of limiting the fee to on-campus undergraduates, it will now cover undergraduate commuters, graduate, and professional students.
The original intent of the tech tax was to cover the costs of networking equipment for students. This makes obvious sense why only on-campus students had to pay it. Lev Gonick has stated that the revenues from this "fee" will cover a broad range of ITS services. It's short-speak for general operating budget.
Applying the one fee with no specific criteria is unfair to students. The usage levels of an on-campus student versus a commuter student is quite different, and places an additional burden on the off-campus student since he or she would have their own Internet connection setup. The windfall from such an increase is expected to generate at least $4 million in revenue for ITS.
Also, on-campus undergraduates were told in the beginning that the fee was to help cover the cost of all networking equipment in the SER rooms in the residence halls. This was part of the building of our gigabit network. The fee did not cover the Internet pipe or support. These features would be covered by the University budget through ITS.
Thus, the original intent of the Tech Fee has changed, very likely with no student input in the matter.
Another problem is whether this Technology Fee will lead to other "separate" fees being levied upon the students. Only the Student Activity Fee was a fee created and voted by students. Will there be a new student center fee? A new dining tax to support the Silver Spartan? Intramural fee for participating? Yep, it's all speculation, but it can happen.
The University could be doing this just to avoid giving students another double-digit increase in tuition.
Commuter students should feel upset since they now have to pay the University ISP in addition to their local ISP. Hmm, another way to pressure them to move on-campus?
More details to come...
Case Forum - IT Tech Fee Coming to All Students
Time to give the other side a shout out!
Iranian Threatens West Ham United's Spirit
When living in the UK, I became a passionate fan of West Ham United F.C., a East London team. They were promoted via the playoffs into the Premier League in 2005, and I purchased a season ticket for their first season back in the top flight. In that year, we reached 9th place, a finalist in the FA Cup, and a spot in Europe through the UEFA Cup.
For the 2006-07 year, many fans have held high expectations for the club...another top half finish, perhaps reaching the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup and so on. Instead, West Ham suffered 12 games without a win, got kicked out of Europe, and an early exit in the League Carling Cup.
All of this is probably attributed to Iranian businessman Kia Joorabchian. He engineered the transfer of Argentinians Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez to West Ham, and was probably called the coup of the transfer season. Yet, Joorabchian wanted to buy the club too. However, his takeover bid dragged on through September, October, and now into early November.
This Friday is the final deadline for the Iranian to present the 80 million pound buyout offer to take over WHUFC. One issue that the club's bankers have with the offer is whether the new consortium will pay off the club's debts of 23.5 million pounds, or have them serviced.
At the same time, it appears the club has rebuffed Eggert Magnusson's Icelandic group buyout offer. The strange thing is that Magnusson was unable to hold any negotiations to discuss his offer, so it seems there are some behind-the-scenes action going on.
Unfortunately, if West Ham chooses to accept Joorabchian's offer, the Iranian will sack popular manager Alan Pardew. Even though the club has suffered several back-to-back defeats, most fans love him for the being the manager that got them back into the top flight and for reaching the FA Cup Final and a 9th placing in the standings last year.
If his intent to rubber-stamp his image of "his" West Ham onto the whole club, it will prove unpopular with all the fans and supporters that are out there.
I find it unsettling that West Ham has chosen to ignore rival bidder, Icelandic biscuit baron Eggert Magnusson. He did offer to buyout the club for as much as 100 million pounds. Plus he is also head of the Football Association of Iceland, and a member of the UEFA's executive committee. It would seem he would make quite a respectable person to head a new West Ham club.
Joorabchian is an agent. Much of his takeover offer is supported by Israeli backer Eli Papouchado. His company, Media Sports Investment Ltd, is somewhat of a mystery. It purchased Brazilian club Corinthians last year. Rumors have been flying whether his company is being backed by Russian bankers. He is more intent at re-casting the image of West Ham in his stead, ignoring long years of tradition and style that make up the Hammers' attacking philosophy.
In any case, the Iranian could be the wrong choice for this aspiring club.
The Independent - Joorabchian to meet deadline for launching West Ham takeover
The Sun Online - Hammer blow for Pardew
The Guardian - Joorabchian takeover at West Ham expected by end of week
Taxes, Terrorism, and now Gay Marriage
For the past several months, President Bush has been boasting about how his tax cuts improved the U.S. economy and how people are enjoying having more money to spend from their pockets. He also defended his administration's policies against terrorsm and protecting national security.
But with fiscal conservatives unhappy with the increase in federal spending and the size of the government and military hawks becoming more nervous about rising losses in American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush has decided to bring up gay marriage to portray Democrats as being out of the mainsteam or against traditional family values.
By twisting the results given by the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples must be given all the benefits of married couples, Bush suggested that this "activist court" was trying to destroy the institution of marriage. Yet, he fails to mention that the court has referred the final decision to the state Legislature to decide whether civil unions or gay marriage should be approved. Plus, Bush does support civil unions, but he chooses not to mention that fact to social and religious conservatives.
The President and Republicans are hoping that social and religious conservatives, their most faithful and loyal followers, will turn out in large numbers to vote to keep their party in control of Congress. Yet, should these voters be confident? Bush did fail to bring about a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Or push for a total ban on abortion and suppressing obscenity.
But are moral issues under threat? Bush seems to want voters to see Democrats as being immoral and unethical, and unworthy. It seems to me that he wants people to see them as the party of sin versus Republicans, who are the party of the righteous.
I find it unfortunate that Bush is trying to use moral and social issues as our most major problems facing this country. Instead, it should be national security, terrorism, and economic security. He still fails to tell the people how he is going to help alleviate our $8.5 trillion national debt. At this point, he is giving so much praise to his administration for cutting the national deficit in half, and fails to mention that voters are paying over $400 billion in interest payments towards the national debt.
Another way to distract voters. sigh!
Could US Soccer get Klinsmann?
The US Soccer Federation (football) may get Jurgen Klinsmann as their new coach for their national team. The agreement has yet to be finalised and there are still 4-5 other candidates vying for the job.
The new coach would replace Bruce Arena, who saw the national team crashed out of the 2006 World Cup in the group stage.
If you did not know, Klinsmann was the national coach for Germany, and led their soccer (football) team to a third-place finish at this year's world cup.
BBC Sport - Klinsmann has talks over US role
Duke Lacrosse Rape Victim Case is becoming a farce
It was somewhat incredulous for the Durham District Attorney, Mike Nifong, not to interview the rape victim about the incident months after it occurred. Even though it would be difficult to recount that "horrible" day, the memory would still be fresh. Many people would consider that given the months past, the person could change her story by a bit to fit her alibi or "refute" the alibis of the accused Duke players.
This new relevation where the second dancer that attended the event with the victim has revealed that the she told her to "go ahead, put marks on me" after the alleged attack. Dancer Kim Roberts made the new allegation in an interview with Chris Cuomo on "Good Morning America."
Obviously, by revealing this new evidence, it would place more doubt on the prosecution case against the Duke players. Also likely, the victim's family and supporters will accuse the second dancer of being intimidated or even a liar. Kim Roberts said she would be willing to take a lie detector test about the new information. But in any case, she have proved herself as an unreliable witness to either the defense or the prosecution.
Three Duke lacrosse players — Dave Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann — were charged last spring with rape and kidnapping for the alleged attack on the exotic dancer, who had been hired by the men to perform at the off-campus party.
All three men have vigorously declared their innocence, inside and outside of court.
Based on the latest new information, the prosecution cannot prove beyond any unreasonable doubt that the three Duke lacrosse players are guilty of the charges specified.
This story will never be over. I would not even be surprised if certain folks called the whole thing a consipracy.
According to The News & Observer newspaper, the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case told co-workers at a Hillsborough strip club that she was going to get money from some boys at a Duke party who hadn't paid her, the club's former security manager said.
Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong stated nearly a month after the party, the woman appeared too traumatized to talk about what had happened to her. Throughout the April 11 meeting, the woman seemed near tears and had trouble making eye contact.
In contradiction, the former security manager, H.P. Thomas, said that less than a week after the party, the woman seemed fine, and weeks later, realized a friend of his had a video of her dancing at the club in the early hours of March 26.
The accuser never gave any indication that the party was a bad time, let alone that she was assaulted or raped, Thomas said.
Sounds quite fishy. It is becoming more apparent that her goal is to extort money from the Duke lacrosse players.
DNA testing conducted by a private lab in the Duke lacrosse rape case found genetic material from several males in the accuser's body and her underwear _ but none from any team member, including the three charged with rape, according to a defense motion filed Wednesday.
The case should be dismissed and the dancer should be charged with perjury.
Breitbart.com - DNA Tests Reportedly Clean Duke Players
NYS announce surplus at least $1 billion
Quite interesting for a state government that is so complex that even a newly elected state rep or senator would have trouble handling.
According to the govt, New York is on track for an over $1 billion surplus for the 2006-07 fiscal year. They got better than expected economic growth and lower spending levels for the surplus.
When anyone mentions the word "surplus", two things happened:
1) Republicans would call for a tax-cut, to return unnecessary money back to the residents
2) Democrats would call for additional spending to "shore" up needed projects to benefit residents
Even more likely, both parties would love to add more local projects to keep their voters happy.
Instead, the surplus money will go to several funds, including the state's Rainy Day Reserve Fund. The Governor's office reports so far that there is over $3 billion in total reserves.
For a state such as New York, it's not enough.
Gosh, if only the federal govt can produce a surplus...
WROCTV - NYS Budget
Democrats & Republicans Ignore Fiscal Responsibility
David M. Walker is in one of the safest jobs in the federal government. He is the comptroller general and heads the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government. He is currently serving a 15-year term that runs through 2013.
He is basically the nation's accountant-in-chief and possibly the most ignored person by both political parties.
He is talking about the country's dirty little secret - impending financial ruin.
It is a problem that most voters do not take seriously since tackling the defict and the national debt do not break the top ten issues facing voters each election season.
Their basic message is this: If the United States government conducts business as usual over the next few decades, a national debt that is already $8.5 trillion could reach $46 trillion or more, adjusted for inflation. That's almost as much as the total net worth of every person in America - Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and those Google guys included.
Why is America so fiscally unprepared for the next century? Like many of its citizens, the United States has spent the last few years racking up debt instead of saving for the future. Foreign lenders - primarily the central banks of China, Japan and other big U.S. trading partners - have been eager to lend the government money at low interest rates, making the current $8.5-trillion deficit about as painful as a big balance on a zero-percent credit card.
Yep the government is sending interest payments overseas to foreign banks. Thus, the country is at the mercy of foreign lenders who may lose their enthusiasm to financing the U.S. debt.
What can we do? Sacrifices must be made. Our politicians continue to focus on the war in Iraq, social issues, and cutting taxes, but federal spending continues to go up. Certain taxes must be raised, benefits need to be re-figured in order to avoid macroeconomic meltdown.
All of us are basically giving our children and grandchildren a bankrupt country to live in, or perhaps a country that may no longer exist.
The last six years of Republican rule have produced tax cuts, record spending increases, and a Medicare prescription drug plan that has been declared fiscally unsound. Nice job!
Usually, fiscal responsibility is good when one party controls Congress and the other controls the WHite House. When President Clinton handled a Republican Congress during the 1990s, spending limits and other legislative tools helped produce a surplus.
No matter how high the national debt has become, Walker is not optimistic.
"Realistically what we hope to accomplish through the fiscal wake-up tour is ensure that any serious candidate for the presidency in 2008 will be forced to deal with the issue," he says. "The best we're going to get in the next couple of years is to slow the bleeding."
Slow the bleeding. This is very scary to know that our federal government will not be able to reduce its debt by a significant margin to help its finances.
I hope that in any Q&A with 2008 presidential candidate, they MUST be asked how they will handle a $8.5 trillion national debt. I would not be surprised when Bush steps down, our national debt is hitting $10 TRILLION!
Poll: Less Government please
CNN poll finds most Americans still agree with the bedrock conservative premise that, as the Gipper put it, "government is not the answer to our problems -- government is the problem."
2001 - Discretionary spending was $649 billion
2005 - Spending is at $968 billion
Data: Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
72 percent said the size of the federal government has increased in the past four years
86 percent said federal spending has gone up during the same period
54 percent said govt is trying to do too many things
Quote from Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, a 110-member caucus that supports limited government and lower taxes - "I believe that as a movement, we have veered off course into the dangerous and uncharted waters of big government Republicanism."
Quote from Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona - "Conservatives came to office to reduce the size of government and enlarge the sphere of free and private initiative. But lately, we have increased government in order to stay in office."
Is There Progress Through Loss?
A good editorial by Peggy Noonan on the OpinionJournal (WSJ). She talks about why some conservatives may want a Congressional loss this November in order to further the conservative agenda, not Bush's conservative agenda, but the "real" conservative agenda.
I really like this sentence:
First thing you do when you get power is move to keep power. And after a while you don't have any move but that move.
But is this true... [voters] want to fire Congress because they can't fire President Bush?
Just less than two weeks to see how it plays out.
Britain criticises US gambling ban
Britain's culture secretary compared the U.S. crackdown on online gambling to the failed alcohol ban of th Prohibition.
At the online gambling summit attended by 30 countries which includes Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand, they will discuss ways to regulate the industry, including the protection of minors and keeping the industry free of crime.
As expected, the U.S. has declined to participate.
Antigua, a strong defender of Internet gambling, will bring up the U.S. ban to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Why do we think that an absolute ban will always work? It seems there are people who are unwilling to research and find different ways to solve the problem, and just say "just ban it and leave it alone."
Either Congress should repeal the Ban on Gambling or the WTO should penalise the U.S. until the law is rescinded.
Yep... Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth ...the egotistical, D-List celeb from Donald Trump's The Apprentice Show.
I really thought she would just disappear from the spotlight. She is just one of those reality-show contestants that wanted to milk her 15 minutes worth of fame way too much.
So why is she back in the news? She got implants!!!
Why pull a "Pamela Anderson?" Please just go home and mind your own business. Your spotlight has been turned off permanently!
11 Years under House Arrest
11 Years... the length of time for Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest in Myanmar (Burma). She is a pro-democracy activist and leader of the National League for Democracy.
She was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her peaceful and non-violent struggle under a military dictatorship.
One of her most famous speeches was "Freedom from Fear" speech, which begins:
"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."
Her NLD party won the general elections in 1990, instead the military junta nullified the results and refused to hand over power.
Suu Kyi continues to be imprisoned under the 1975 State Protection Act (Article 10 b), which grants the government the power to imprison persons for up to five years without a trial.
11 Years where a country has been under military dictatorship.
Strange enough, the U.S. has been using diplomatic pressure through the UNSC but no actual action is being undertaken. In September 2006, the UNSC voted to put Myanmar on the agenda docket. (Wow! What progress!)
No unilateral force yet... very strange.
US Foreign Policy: example of double-standard
While the U.S. has been pursuing economic sanctions against Iran and North Korea through the United Nations Security Council, there is one detail left out that most people did not know.
Back in the day when India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear test, the United States BLOCKED enforcement of Security Council Resolution 1172, which calls on India and Pakistan to eliminate their nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Instead, President George W. Bush signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with India and has announced the sale of nuclear-capable fighter-bombers to Pakistan.
The U.S. has also BLOCKED enforcement of Security Council Resolution 487, which calls on Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the trusteeship of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and continues its close strategic cooperation with Israel.
Since the U.S. loves to snub Security Council resolutions at will, other member nations are asking "Hey if the U.S. tells the UNSC to f*ck off, then so can we!"
Jihad Watch: Abdul Rahman
Remember Afghan citizen Abdul Rahman. He made international news last spring when he converted from Islam to Christianity. He was arrested by the government and put on trial for apostasy. He was then spirited away to safety in Italy.
Jihadists in Afghanistan then went and kidnapped Italian journalist, Gabriele Torsello, and demanded that Abdul Rahman be returned to their country to be tried for his crimes.
Yet, it is quite obvious that if Rahman returns to Afghanistan, he will either be killed by extremists or be sentenced to death since that is the punishment for apostasy.
Moderate Muslims have maintained that Islam contained no provision against apostasy. M. Cherif Bassiouni, Professor of Law at DePaul University said "Leaving Islam is not a capital crime."
I guess Prof. Bassiouni needs to check IslamOnline which explains that “if a sane person who has reached puberty voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be punished. In such a case, it is obligatory for the caliph (or his representative) to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does, it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.”
To be killed over religious conversion is not civilised.
The Italian government should refuse to extradite Abdul Rahman back to Afghanistan. The Afghan government must control its ability to maintain freedom of conscience and religion if it hopes to continue the support of the United States.
I am about this close...
Honestly, would it be great to see both Democrats and Republicans thrown out of Congress? Instead of voters being anti-incumbent, how about anti-establishment?
How about electing a new national party that does not have establishment ties with multi-national corporations or special interest groups?
How about a party where it does not always have to answer to the unions, think tanks, lobbyists, and other so-called "political" elements?
Perot's Reform Party was an excellent example but its presence was mostly concentrated on the national election, not the state or local levels.
I really hate it when Democrats and Republicans accuse independent candidates of being politically inexperienced. Obviously, they're experienced because they got the money from their lobbyists and special interests and biased pollsters.
Who knows if the media and polling organisations are downplaying third-parties from becoming more powerful?
Would it require a billionaire like Ross Perot to jump start a third national party?
Would people stopping thinking of third-parties as being the "contributing" factor to the defeat of a major party candidate?
If voters are sick of a scandal plaguing one major political party, why choose the other major party as the saviour and not a third-party?
Should the Federal Elections Commission reduce the percentage needed to qualify for the presidential debates?
UK wants global warming tax on holidaymakers
In a thisislondon.co.uk article, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said holidaymakers should be charged a "global warming tax" of up to 50 quid under plans aimed at forcing airlines to reduce gas emissions.
In her keynote speech, she urged Brussels to encourage airlines to fly more fuel-efficient planes and deter people from travelling by air.
Experts say it would put 50 quid more on a flight from London to California, 35 quid to New York, and between 5 and 10 quid for inter-Europe travel.
However, her comments seem to have been contradicted by the Department of Transport document - said: "In some circumstances, air transport may be a viable alternative and cannot be ruled out from the onset."
Shadow Transport Secretary Chris Grayling (opposition) branded the plans "ridiculous" and accused the Government of having "no idea" on how to tackle global warming.
Now, even though it's a European issue, I am concerned about Alantic travel. Flying is perhaps the best viable method between our two continents where it would take about 7-8 hours. Being encouraged to travel by cruise ship will take days to complete. Thus, Beckett's reasoning would make no logical sense in this type of situation.
Travelling by train in Europe is quite ideal because of its extensive rail network, on-time schedule, and reliability. I cannot say the same for Amtrak at this point.
David Zucker's new political ad
Remember filmmaker David Zucker (Airplane) made a naughty political ad about Madeleine Albright and North Korea? Well, he made a new advertisement, this time, it's about the taxman.
If Democrats want to roll back tax cuts, just do it to the really wealthy ones. But what defines rich? If a person was making $100,000, is that considered to be too rich? In some places it may be true, but in other places, people earning $100,000 barely keeps them going.
Both Democrats and Republicans say they want to protect the middle class, so what is the income range for that group? According to various sources, it could be as low as $35,000 to about $52,800. However, some data mentioned that it could go as high as $100,000.
Middle class can be defined as consisting of all those who are neither "poor" nor "rich" or one may define the middle class as being a relative elite of professionals and managers, defined by lifestyle and influence.
So if a rollback of tax cuts is being considered, politicians should know who they are hurting. By all means, I am sure you can tax up the wazoo on Donald Trump and Bill Gates, but do not assume a person earning $100,000 is that well off. A lot of factors are involved so keep that in mind.
Tennessee Republicans Question Ford's Playboy Party
Republicans are criticising Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. for partying with Playboy playmates at a Super Bowl Party last year.
Even though the Ford camp has been giving varied answers on whether he had attended such a party, Republicans have been advertising two commercials questioning his moral values because of his partying lifestyle.
Ok so everyone... attending a Playboy-sponsored event or mansion party is taboo to running for elective office.
Let's add liquor-sponsored events too since they always include beautiful babes.
Let's throw out Spring Break out too.
If you want to run for office, you MUST be morally perfect. So no drinking, partying, having sex before marriage, drugs, skinny-dipping, and eating red meat.
Why not dump all of the candidates and create genetically perfect humans instead?
A Republican Loss in November would be a good wake-up call
The Republicans should lose power. When the GOP first took over Congress in 1994 with their Contract on America, the voters looked at this party having a set of ideas and principles that they trusted. Most of us probably felt that was the time for a change in power. We got tired of decades of Democratic control and the usual politician answers. Even though Republicans have been in control, more or less, for about 12 years, they had done quite enough, and they cannot blame the Democrats for all their troubles.
Today, only 16 percent of Americans approve of its performance.
The economy has been doing well, but take a look at the Republican principle on smaller government. According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, federal spending has increased by 45 percent during Bush's presidency, three times as fast as it did under Bill Clinton.
Don't blame Osama. Non-military spending has gone up by 44 percent. So far, GOP's grade on fiscal management is pretty much an F.
How about free trade? Republicans passed steel tariffs. It surrendered its leadership during the Doha round of the world trade talks. Passing a trade agreement with Jordan does not seem to be a significant example.
How about defense? This would have been the Republican's strongpoint, but progress in Iraq has been floundering. There are issues with its contracting procedures and the way they award deals to certain companies. Why military purchases now cost more and takes longer to build? It would seem that Republicans have not been doing well in supporting military veterans.
Instead of accepting blame or being proactive in combating corruption and special interest influence, they have blamed Democrats, liberal organisations, and conspiracy theorists. To most people, they represent a group more absorbed with staying in power than doing something effective with it.
Perhaps giving the Democrats a chance to control one or both chambers of Congress will give a good wake-up call to the Republicans. We certainly do need it. At this stage, voting Democrat seem to be the lesser evil this year. Of course, voting third-party would be great but there is no strong independent party out there yet. Both parties are pretty much the same. Both lack concrete ideas to solve Social Security, immigration, and a plan to fix Iraq.
So for the next two years, seeing a break in Republican control of our entire federal government would be nice to have.
Hey media folks - this politician said "injun time"!
Remember everyone critcising Republican Senator George Allen (Virginia) for using the word "macaca" to a person of Indian descent. Now people are saying he lost the chance to run for President because he has made racist and insensitive remarks.
Here's one for you. Democrat Steve Kagen, candidate for Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District, used the phrase "injun time" at an Aurora Healthcare forum.
According to a recording of the remarks, Kagen opened by introducing a staff member.
"I want to thank you for driving me around the district this morning. I really appreciate you getting me here almost on time," he says to laughter. "Our excuse, uh, in Oneida was, well we are on injun time. They don't tell time by the clock. Our excuse here is I'm a doctor and we're never on time."
So he said "injun time". Isn't that demeaning to American Indians?
So far I haven't seen this plastered on every national newspaper.
Oh wait, he kinda apologised for his "unfortunate" remark.
"I did not mean any harm by my words, and I humbly apologize if I offended anyone. That was not my intent. Instead of words, however, let's talk about actions. I have been a great supporter of Native American issues during this campaign and am proud of the strong relations I have with Native American communities in the 8th Congressional District. John Gard, meanwhile, has repeatedly taken aim at Wisconsin's Native Americans, working to dismantle tribal sovereignty, targeting Indian economic development, and shamelessly using the tribes as a political pawn against the Governor." -Dr. Steve Kagen
So should we just drop it? Or got absolutely nuts?
Most would say "he's sorry, all is forgiven"
Why do I see this reaction only for Democrats, but not for Republicans?
Oneida Tribal Chairman Gerald Danforth said "Indian time" was "one of those cliches for why you might be late for an event."
Ok, so "Indian time" is ok to use? Alright, you gave me permission.
Another example of hypocrisy.
And better yet, let's stop with the "racism" excuses and accusations. Have we gone off the deep end with politically correct phrases? Honestly, have any of us heard the word "macaca" before? So if I mentioned it while talking, would you call me a racist?
Free Speech Debate Continues at Columbia U
As noted in the Columbia Spectator, the Student Affairs Caucus adopted a resolution addressing the Minutemen incident which will be sent to the full University Senate for approval.
Some students have objected to this resolution because it is disproportionately directed towards disciplining the protestors and not the Minutemen and their supporters.
One attendee from the Law School Senate open forum on the resolution quoted "This whole veneer of protecting free speech kind of betrays [the Senate's] true intentions ... they should also be passing something that says we support our Latino students' right to be here without being attacked."
Another stated "I don't really see anything of substance in this [resolution] ... is everybody allowed to come here? Are we going to be cool if the KKK is stomping through campus?"
One student suggested that controversial speakers should be balanced by inviting a guest with an opposing agenda, in order to "create a forum for debate, as opposed to a stifled situation where one side is spewing out one particular view and creating a hostile environment."
/ Soapbox on
It would seem a good part of the student body are sympathetic to the International Socialist Organisation and Latino Caucus' right to stage a disruptive protest. They have continued to reason that they are the victims, and the Minutemen and their supporters were the instigators. This is based on the knowledge that a Minutemen supporter (outside the Columbia community) had kicked a protestor in the head. By this violent act, they believe that everyone should focus their efforts on the Minutemen group for their "dangerous" behaviour and the College Republican student organisation for their lack of control. For them, they would applaud themselves for using their "aggressive" passive disobedience in bringing out the true nature of the Minutemen.
Who knows if certain students within the governing bodies are looking for some excuse to de-recognise the Columbia College Republicans group. It would seem the logical step to stop a group from bringing controversial speakers on campus.
The idea of bringing an opposing speaker "to create a forum for debate" is supposed to be used for actual debate events and competitions. Why should groups, liberal and conservative, have to bring an opposing speaker for a lecture event? If we want to debate, then stage an actual debate or arguing competition. Even if this idea is implemented, I would want to see a pro-choice student group invite a pro-life speaker and vice versa. I want to see a capitalist speaker invited to an ISO event and vice versa.
Furthermore, the idea is somewhat unoriginal. So because of this Minutemen event, this student suddenly had a vision of bringing opposite speakers to a controversial lecture. My god, I am sure I did not think about that before! I am quite sure that none of the liberal or Democratic groups had problems about bringing their own speaker and suddenly this idea appears after a conservative group bring theirs. Quite an example of hypocrisy.
Of course I support that criminal procedures should be taken if the identity of the Minutemen supporter is discovered. But I will ask that indentifiable student protestors that rushed the stage be penalised too. Despite the so-called "hostile" speech by Stewart and Gilchrist, the protestors limit themselves to heckling and protest chants. Rushing the stage crossed the line. It is quite simple.
/ soapbox off
Jon Stewart has his say with the Columbia protestors:
Jon got it right.
One way to handle a heckler
During the Connecticut Senator debate between Joe Lieberman (I), Ned Lamont (D), and Alan Schlesinger (R), a heckler was interrupting Lieberman's closing statement.
Schlesinger had enough with the heckler, stood up, and yelled "Show some respect for Senator Lieberman, leave this audience now."
Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO: 24 years in prison
Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling has been sentenced to 24 years, 4 months in prison, the harshest sentence given out for corporate fraud in America.
He was the last top former official to be punished for the accounting tricks and shady business deals that led to the loss of thousands of jobs, more than $60 billion in Enron stock and more than $2 billion in employee pension plans when Enron collapsed.
Michael J. Fox - Stem Cell Research & Claire McCaskill
This ad was shown during the World Series in St. Louis.
Naturally, it was a political ad, but you have to feel so sad seeing him try to give his message in his condition.
Some call it exploitation believing that Democrats are being desperate. Some believe stem cell research are killing the unborn. Yet, we do not do enough to adopt unwanted children or people forget that artificial insemination also involve embryos being destroyed in order to produce a baby for infertile couples.
For some of you that believe that Michael is play-acting, think again. He has Parkinson's Disease.
I am curious, should sacrifices be made to benefit the entire society as a whole? If you knew there was a chance to cure cancer, would you sacrifice a few for the many?
I know one for sure, some politicians view embryos as unborn voters. Disgusting.
Opponents have hit back with a political ad responding to Fox's. It includes Royals player Mike Sweeney, former St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl quarterback Kurt Warner, actress Patricia Heaton, actor Jim Caviezel, and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan.
Seems to be overkill including 5 celebrities against Michael J. Fox.
In the commercial, Sweeney says "Missouri, don't be fooled." Suppan says "It makes cloning a constitutional right. Don't be deceived."
Again, groups are equating embryonic stem cell research to cloning since it will generate fear into the American public that scientists are trying to grow body parts and throwing out the rest.
Others are criticising Fox for exaggerating his physical condition. But you know what? The likely end result for many Americans with Parkinson's is what Fox is enduring.
It would be difficult for Republicans and conservative groups to attack Michael J. Fox directly. He is quite a popular actor and mostly everyone knows his condition when he went public in 1998.
Barron's: Republican Majority
Barron's Online article stating that the Republicans will barely maintain their majorities in both houses of Congress.
Their method: the campaign finances
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, House races back to 1972 showed that the candidate with the most money has won about 93% of the time. In recent years, it was closer to 98%.
Obviously, I am sure everyone will disagree with the author since this year is no ordinary year where the stakes are much greater than how much cash is in your campaign chest.
The author did note that in 1958, 1974, and 1994, the wave of anti-incumbent sentiment was so strong that money did not trump voter outrage.
More Iraqi Dead
So another 44 Iraqi people were reported killed across the country. Militants targeted police recruits and shoppers doing last-minute purchases to mark the end of the Ramandan holy month.
The U.S. military announced the deaths of eight soldiers, raising to 86 the number of American servicemembers killed in October.
U.S. President George W. Bush stood firm in his support for al-Maliki, saying he "has got what it takes to lead a unity government." But the president noted the urgency the new government faces to stop the killing.
"I'm patient. I'm not patient forever, and I'm not patient with dawdling," Bush said. "But I recognize the degree of difficulty of the task, and therefore, say to the American people, we won't cut and run."
So far, it seems that al-Maliki is not strong enough take on the dissenting factions in his government.
Cut-and-Run, Mr. President?
How about Search-and-Destroy? Sweep-and-clear?
I find it unsettling for the President to call the American people "cowards" if we leave Iraq. We are spending billions in Iraq with no end in sight. Hundreds of millions dollars are supposedly lost by the Iraqi government. We have a secretarian civil war on our hands.
By the end of 2006, we will have spent almost $420 billion on Iraq and Afghanistan.
One good thing that Senator McCain did on one of the recent war spending bill. He sponsored an amendment (passed 98-0) ending the practice of submitting war emergency bills separately. "We're adding hundreds of billions to conveniently named emergency expenditures" that do not have to be accounted for in the budget, he said.
The amendment would only apply to war spending and would allow additional emergency Pentagon spending with justification.
Marquette University: Anti-Dave Barry
A Dave Barry quote:
"As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government."
This quote was seen on Ph.D. student Stuart Ditsler's office in Marquette University. On Sept 5, Philosophy Dept Chair James South sent Ditsler an e-mail stating that he had received several complaints and therefore the quote was taken off his door. South wrote, "While I am a strong supporter of academic freedom, I'm afraid that hallways and office doors are not `free-speech zones.' If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note."
FIRE has an article on this.
Come on here, the quote can be true if our government chooses to intrude on the rights and privacy of the people that are being governed by it. I have to imagine if Distler had Homer Simpson's quote on alcohol, would that get removed?
No extra-large portions
The one thing that I appreciate while staying in Europe was that the restaurants always know what is the proper portion to serve out.
It looks like in the United States, having extra large portions seems to be the normal way, and the basic expectations among fatty Americans.
In a USA TODAY survey, most restaurants are dishing out portions that are 2 to 4 times bigger than the government's recommended serving sizes.
A typical restaurant meal alone would contain at least 60% more calories than the average meal at home.
The survey noted that older chefs tend to serve smaller portions, and younger chefs dish larger ones. It seems that seeing a empty plate after dinner is a no-no. Oh yes, they want to give you a large-sized portion just to see if you can manage to eat it all.
Restaurants worry that customers would notice the small-sized portions if they tried to cut back. Why worry??? Who knows they will seek out a buffet restaurant offering unlimited food for only $8.95 and they can eat till they gain a waist size or two. Honestly, buffet eateries should disappear as well as all-you-cat eat promotions. They just ruin your food intake.
This is why dessert is always skipped.
Basic Vehicle Necessity: Rear View Camera for Parking
The problem we have here is being able to parallel park correctly. As we go to the movies, shop, or just drive to some destination, we often find owners trying to fit their vehicles into a tight open space along the sidewalk or being unable to determine how much space should be left over when you finished parking. I am sure most of you including myself have backed a bit too much, and hit the front bump of the vehicle behind you. I am sure very few of you have moved back a bit too quick, and causing the vehicle's alarm to go off.
In recent news, Lexus announced that their LS model will come with a "Park Assist" feature. Yet, the price tag for a luxury model would be pretty much out of the price range of many college students (except for the most rich =P). Mercedes and BMW have also announced similar features.
Yet, the one necessity that is considered to be a normal part of a vehicle in Japan, but as a luxury feature in the U.S. is the backup cam and/or sensor. Parallel parking for large-sized SUVs is probably very difficult given the harder perception to determine the amount of distance available in the rear. Your sideview mirror can help, but remember "objects in mirror are closer than they appear."
Even if you do manage to parallel park, you get out and check, and you notice that you got a lot of space still. Now this is my complaint. In most cases, the driver would just leave the car as-is. It would be nice to get back into your vehicle, and adjust accordingly just for courtesy sake.
I do not see why car dealers should treat the backup cam as a "extra" item for your vehicle. It ought to be part of the base model. It would help avoid potential car damage and limited liability.
If this keeps up, I may have to jury-rig a webcam in the back by myself.
A Driver Rant
Will owners of the Ford F-150 truck please do not park in the first spot in the parking garage row. Did you know that your vehicle extends out quite a lot so it blocks a quarter of the passing way.
Should "Terror" Political Ads scare us?
Above is a GOP ad set to air this weekend called "The Stakes," which prominently features al Qaeda leaders threatening to kill Americans.
It is available on the Republican National Committee web site. The ad is pretty much reminiscent of Johnson's 1964 "Daisy" ad, where a small girl counts to 10 as she picks petals from a flower. When she reaches 10, the camera zooms in on her eye and an ominous voice counts backward from 10 to zero. When the countdown reaches zero, a nuclear bomb explodes, followed by Johnson speaking.
"These are the stakes to make a world in which all God's children can live or to go into the dark," Johnson says on the ad. "We must either love each other or we must die."
Reagan's campaign used a bear to symbolise the threat of the former Soviet Union.
Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney statement:
"Once again we see that the GOP will truly do and say anything regardless of whether or not it's true, they are so desperate to hold onto power. Clearly Republicans are so afraid of their abysmal record they can't offer one example of what they've done to keep America safe."
Republican National Committee statement:
The ad "underscores the high stakes America faces in the global war on terror by using the words of the terrorists themselves as they describe their intention towards the United States."
Will Human Remains remain as a permanent obstacle to rebuilding Ground Zero?
On Friday, New York City announced that it will search parts of the World Trade Center site again for remains of the Sept. 11 dead after several bones were pulled out of an abandoned manhole.
It appears there were bone fragments, and were almost as large as a hand or arm, plus a few personal effects.
The Sept. 11 victims' families have demanded that all construction be stopped at ground zero until remains of all their loved ones are recovered. They also called for a state and federal investigation into the failure of recovering all human remains.
Yahoo AP - NYC to look for more remains at WTC site
Baltimore Sun - More pain, another search of Ground Zero for remains
Diane Horning, where her son, Matthew Horning, who was killed in the attacks, stated at a news conference: "We cannot stress strongly enough that we are outraged by the continued cavalier attitude toward the retrieval of human remains. This new development makes us all physically ill and fills us with renewed pain."
She even suggested that the remains in the manhole could be more of her son since part of his body was found not far from there.
Alright, I am sure all of us do sympathise with the families on that awful tragic day, but we really need to face reality. Ever since 9/11, over 20,000 pieces of human remains have been found, but the DNA in thousands of fragments was too damaged to yield any identification. More than 1,100 of the 2,749 victims have not been recovered.
The remains found in the manhole could be any one of the 1,100 or perhaps any one of the 2,749 victims. The WTC Families for Proper Burial has filed a lawsuit against the city calling for a search and burial. (Ok how many organisations are out there with the name WTC Families or Victims? Too many.) They alleged that the city "does not care" about recovering all human remains and did the process too quickly.
So one unfortunate discovery is an example of widespread carelessness? Everyone has been trying to do their very best. Imagine if remains were found along the Battery Park, should we shut down the entire park and surrounding buildings and do a thorough search? Should residents living in nearby buildings around Ground Zero be subject to fine or prison time if they are alleged to have cleaned up "human remains" that may have floated into their residence? That debris smoke field was quite extensive.
Life must continue on. If new DNA methods are found, they must be used, but in an effective manner. The city cannot just shut down their financial hub for search and burial. Let's be realistic.
Deputy Mayor for Administration Edward Skyler said "The recovery effort after 9/11 was one of our city's finest hours. We will continue to conduct this important work in the same dignified and caring manner as we did in the past, befitting those we lost and this great city."
A lawsuit is not the answer. Let the city be able to do its job to find what went wrong. Involving the state and federal authorities invites more red tape and bureaucratic nonsense.
Space is U.S. Territory?
Since when did space become U.S. territory? President George W. Bush has signed a new National Space Policy that rejects future arms-control agreements that might limit U.S. flexibility in space and asserts a right to deny access to space to anyone "hostile to U.S. interests."
Does this mean that Bush has withdrawn the United States from the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, a multilateral treaty governing space arms control? Here is a list of all space treaties listed under the UN. It would seem that Bush has taken upon himself to make the U.S. the sole regulator of space.
How would this affect the Moon Treaty of 1979, the Convention on the Registration of Space Objects Launched into Outer Space of 1976, and the Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects of 1972?
The revised National Space Policy placed its emphasis on security issues, private enterprise in space, and defining the role of the U.S. space diplomacy to basically persuading other nations that the U.S. position is right, and they are wrong.
The introduction summarises the U.S. posture: "Freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power." One senior administration official remarked unofficially that "this policy is not about developing or deploying weapons in space. Period."
Yet, one think tank, the Henry L. Stimson Center, believes that the policy change would just reinforce international suspicions that the U.S. may seek to develop, test, and deploy space weapons. It would make logical sense since Bush does not want to revise or negotiate any new arms-control agreements regarding space and the Moon. Also, by asserting that it has the "authoritative" right to deny other nations access to space, it would make nations think that the U.S. can try to bomb or sabotage a nation's space launch capability, or if a nation manages to reach space and start deploying satellites and space stations, the U.S. would need to deploy satellite weapons or other space-related weapons to disable or destroy such installations.
The Center for Defense Information states that the new policy "kicks the door a little more open to a space-war fighting strategy" and has a "very unilateral tone to it."
The Bush administration denies this saying the policy will help encourage international diplomacy and cooperation. I wonder if involves facing a loaded gun in the face and being asked to cooperate or face the consequences. One official even said that no new arms-control agreements are needed because there is no space arms race.
I should sit down and laugh about this. Of course we do not want any new arms-control agreements. The U.S. wants to be more flexibility and who knows, they can launch a secret project to deploy certain space weapons that are not covered by the space treaties, so they can just say "Oops" when the whole plot is uncovered! Bush wants to adopt a reactive position, not a proactive position. Who knows if Bush would just call Russia, China, and the UN and say the U.S. is going to withdraw from the space treaties because they do not apply anymore.
Under Clinton, the goals were to "enhance knowledge of the Earth, the solar system and the universe through human and robotic exploration" and to "strengthen and maintain the national security of the United States."
Under Bush, the revised goals are to "strengthen the nation's space leadership and ensure that space capabilities are available in time to further U.S. national security, homeland security, and foreign policy objectives" and to "enable unhindered U.S. operations in and through space to defend our interests there."
A more militaristic tone, don't you think?
Another recent example is the United States being the lone country to vote "no" against a UN call for negotiations on a ban on space weapons. The other 160 countries voted "yes."
The Heritage Foundation applauded the new policy. One defense analyst supported the policy's rejection of international agreements or treaties, and the need to protect military assets and place missile defense components in space. He even suggested that with private enterprise being developed for space use, they would need U.S. "protection."
It would seem justified when China recently "painted" a U.S. satellite (spy or reconnassance?) when it flew over their territory. There has been suggestion that China was trying to blind or perhaps, disrupt the satellite.
The United States wants to be the dominant space power above the planet. It's plain obvious. Of course I am sure some space military hawks would like the whole space surrounding the planet covered with U.S. space weapons, but I do not want to know what would the reaction be from China and Russia if they are forced into a corner.
No wonder the U.S. was opposed to the deployment of the Galileo GPS system (developed by the European Union). Even though their official reasoning is based on the fact that Galileo will provide an unnecessary backup to the U.S.' GPS system, there are military concerns that enemy nations may be able to access Galileo's precisioning to launch coordinated attacks. Galileo is supposed to be operational by 2010.
As for Russia, they have their own system called GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), with about 12 active satellites as of 2004. They hope to reach full operational capability of 24 satellites, with assistance from India, by 2008.
Would the U.S. even try to stop China from deploying a space station or a manned mission to the moon? Currently, the U.S. would be a few years behind in sending a manned mission to our celestial neighbor, but think of how the hawks in the military and in the government would feel to see a Chinese presence on the Moon. Who knows what secret weapons or projects they are setting up there? Gotta love paranoia!
How about a bit of common sense? We should develop a defensive capability space-to-space, not space-to-ground, and with emphasis on stopping an asteroid from hitting the planet. Earth is our only home, and currently, we are quite vulnerable out there.
If we want a space arms race, let's think outward instead of each other.
Washington Post - Bush Sets Defense As Space Priority
Dartmouth Afraid of Active Alumni?
In Wall Street Journal's Opinion section, a Dartmouth alum, talks about an attempt by the University and the Alumni Governance Task Force to re-write the alumni constitution in response to the election of three recent alums (including the author of the WSJ editorial) to the Board of Trustees.
It seems that the intent of these three recently elected alumni board trustee members to make Dartmouth a place of high academic standards, maintaining the importance of freedom of speech on campus, and the need for the institution to strive to remain the best undergraduate program in the country has scared the current establishment.
Each of the three alums utilised the petition mechanism to get onto the board. Each gathered thousands of signatures to get their name on the ballot, and they each defeated the other official candidates for the open position.
In response, the 9-person Alumni Governance Task Force, proposed a new alumni constitution that would force petition trustee candidates to announce their intentions before the nominating committee announced the official slate. This would allow the committee to game each election by choosing its candidates to split the opposition vote. Balloting on this new constitution, which is open to all 66,500 alumni, began in mid-September and will continue until the end of this month.
An example of where the current education establishment is afraid of change and are willing to take steps to maintain the status quo.
WSJ Opinion Journal - The Dartmouth Fracas
Jesus saves Tiger Woods
From the New York Post's Page Six:
Tiger Woods had a Q&A session with guests at the 2006 "Tee It Up with Tiger Woods" event in Los Angeles. According to one source, most people were asking about their swings or golf questions until some guy - a guest of Nike - stood up and said, 'Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? And if not, prayfully, would you?' " The source added, "You could have heard a pin drop. People were mortified. But Tiger was as unflappable as he is on the golf course and responded, 'My father was a Christian - of course Christianity was part of my life - but my mother is Asian and Buddhism was also part of my childhood, so I practice both faiths respectfully.'
I wonder if the Jesus-loving guy was happy with Tiger's answer.
A New Korean War?
While some have played down the possiblity of another Korean War on the peninsula, it cannot be wholly discounted. Today, North Korea has declared that the United Nations sanctions being levied against the country is equivalent to a "declaration of war." It has declared that it would not accept any heavy handed pressure since it was a nuclear power.
In its first official response to the sanctions, the statement said North Korea wanted "peace but is not afraid of war." It would "deal merciless blows" against anyone who violated its sovereignty.
At the same time, intelligence officials in South Korea, Japan, and the United States have detected preparations for a possible second nuclear test. This would indicate that North Korea is more willing to engage in provocative acts against the international community.
But could a resumption of war on the Korean peninsula start up again? South Korea remains optimistic still. Chun Young-Woo, Seoul's lead negotiator in the stalled six-nation talks called it "the usual rhetoric that they have been using" and it was nothing new since the crisis started over the North's nuclear test.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is embarking on a diplomatic drive to persuade Asian allies and Russia to "intensify" North Korea's isolation by enforcing U.N. resolutions. She will visit Japan, China, South Korea, and Russia. She assured her allies that the United States "has both the will and capacity to meet the full range of our security commitments to allies like South Korea and Japan."
She even tried to extend of an olive branch by saying "If North Korea reverses course and embraces the path of cooperation, if it makes the strategic choice to dismantle its nuclear weapons completely, briefly and irreversibly, an entirely new and better future would be open to it and to its people," she said.
At this point, unilateral force by the United States would be disastrous. There would not be a coalition of the willing since South Korea, Japan, and Australia would not go along with it, and it may face intervention by Chinese and Russian forces on behalf of the North Koreans. Thus, the U.S. is using Cold War diplomacy: containment and deterrence.
In an opinion piece, David Sanger of the New York Times, writes that the "United States still boasts the world's largest military, most dynamic economy and a culture that the world snaps up, there is rising evidence that many countries - Russia and the PRC among them - sniff a distinct change in the strategic atmosphere. While North Korea knows it would not last a day in a full-scale war with the United States, it skillfully exploits an American soft point when it stirs fears about its potential to sow havoc among America's Northeast Asian allies and crucial trading partners - Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China."
James Steinberg, dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, served as deputy national security advisor under President Clinton, noted the fact that America was willing to invade Iraq, he said, so it led North Korea and Iran to conclude that they needed nuclear weapons to deter America from putting them in its gunsights next. "And now, by failing to subdue Iraq and move on, we've encouraged them to conclude that there is little risk to them if they just speed forward into nuclear breakout.
Sanger continues: "It's not only that American hard power is tied up in Baghdad and Kabul; Mr. Bush has acknowledged that soft power - the ability to lead because you are admired - is suffering, too. Abu Ghraib 'kind of eased us off the moral high ground,' he volunteered at the news conference the other day. In short, being a sole superpower isn't what it was cracked up to be 17 years ago. Back then, you could measure a nation's power in throw-weights. Now, it's the amount of weight you can throw around."
Other development include Japan considering re-deploying its naval assets from the Indian Ocean (where they are currently assisting US operations in Afghanistan) to waters near the DPRK.
It will also bring up debate of whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons as a response to DRPK's nuclear test.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Would North Korea invade first? Their forces number approximately 1.1 million soldiers. South Korea has about 690,000 and the U.S. has about 37,000. Not to mention that Pyongyang has about 100,000 in their special forces.
Along the DMZ, South Koreans and Americans are at Watchcon Three condition (surveillance/alert level). Two condition would have been a heightened state of alert. Watchcon One would be a state of war.
Certainly, North Korea's MiG-29s and Su-25S aircraft would not survive against US and South Korea air forces given their current state of readiness and short fuel supply. Thus it would need to utilise a blitzkrieg approach across the DMZ in addition to using their special forces to wreck havoc among South Korean infrastructure and installations.
Seoul, the South Korean capital, is unfortunately in range of the North's 12,000 artillery tubes and 2,300 MLR (multiple-launch rockets/medium-long range) hidden in caves and underground. North Korean jets can reach the capital in about 6 minutes.
North Korea would be favored if their timing is right. A few minutes of confusion would all be needed to carry out a crippling blow against the South's infrastructure, military, and otherwise. It would involve surprise in sending divisions of troops across the DMZ. Even though the mines and early-warning posts would trigger any warning, it would really depend on how fast the response time among the South Korean military forces. At the same time, North Korean special forces would already be conducting acts of sabotage to slow down reinforcements to the front lines.
Even though superiority through air and sea will be controlled by US/South Korea and other allies, land forces will certainly be difficult. No one really knows if Seoul can be defended during the early actions of the attack. US reinforcements will have to come from their Japanese bases (approx 47,000 personnel and 20,000 marines) plus the U.S. Seventh Fleet (USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier).
Additional fleet assets include the USS Stennis and Reagan aircraft carriers task groups which are currently based in the Pacific. Army and air force assets will have to come from either Afghanistan, Guam, and Western U.S. via Pearl.
I am quite sure the North Koreans will be beaten, but are we prepare for the cost for it?
Wikipedia - Korean Demilitarised Zone
Wikipedia - United Nations Command Korea
Latin American UN Seat: Guatemala vs Venezuela
First Round: Guatemala - 109, Venezuela - 76
Second Round: Guatemala - 114, Venezuela - 74
Third Round: Guatemala - 116, Venezuela - 70
Fourth Round: Guatemala - 110, Venezuela - 75
Fifth Round: Guatemala - 103, Venezuela - 83, Mexico - 1
Sixth Round: Guatemala - 93, Venezuela - 93, Mexico - 1
Seventh Round: Guatemala - 96, Venezuela - 89, Cuba - 1, Mexico - 1
Eighth Round: Guatemala - 102, Venezuela - 85
Ninth Round: Guatemala - 107, Venezuela - 81
We have watched the classic movie "War Games" starring Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, and Dabney Coleman. A under-achieving student finds a back door into a military central computer at Cheyenne Mountain, and plays a game, not knowing that he could have started World War III. A good many of us watched Dr. Strangelove, another cult classic.
NORAD, America's vaunted underground war room deep inside Cheyenne Mountain is being retired. The nation's super-secret nerve center was a symbol of both Cold War might and apocalyptic dread. It was even capable of withstanding a near-direct nuclear missile hit.
Since the Cold War ended, the war room was placed on "warm standby" to save money. All the critical work was moved to Peterson Air Force Base, about 10 miles away.
Even though Peterson is above ground, Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said "In today's Netted, distributed world we can do very good work on a broad range of media right here." Also, the U.S. military says the countries that have succeeded the Soviet Union as the main threat to this country -- hostile states such as North Korea and Iran -- do not have the weapons to take out a command center in Colorado.
But the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China do.
Anyway, it costs about $250 million to keep Cheyenne Mountain fully staffed. Efforts to consider modernizing Cheyenne were too expensive or behind schedule. This does not bode well for some of us movie fans that would like to see those large-sized war rooms depicted in Dr. Strangelove, Fail-Safe, and War Games.
Even though there are no official threats against the United States that could result in a worldwide conflict, this underground military base should not be discarded as an old relic of a past Cold War. In the future, we must consider asteroid impacts or alien contact that would require such a facility to be utilised. Besides thinking about science-fiction, the U.S. still sees a potential strategic threat of a surging China and developing "dictatorship" in the Russian Federation.
The bottom line is one can feel somewhat more comfortable with granite rock between you and the outside than just a roof.
Yahoo AP - U.S. Military putting war room on ice
Celebrities adopting children abroad
Recently, Madonna and Guy Ritchie thought it would be great publicity to go all the way to Malawi (a country in southern Africa) and adopt a 1-year old boy. Regardless if her intention was heartfelt in adopting a child who lives in a dilapidated orphanage near the Zambian border, I question the agenda behind it.
Is this to play catch up to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? Another PR move to improve her Raising Malawi charity?
Some may think I am being mean here, but it just seems that every major celebrity couple are going out to Africa or southeast Asia to adopt a child as part of their charity campaign.
Malawian law prohibits adoptions by non-residents, but the government is "willing" to make an exception for Madonna (obviously).
RANT: So no Usher? Give me my refund!
Last week, five-time Grammy Award winner Usher has been out with strep-throat infection, so he cannot perform for the Tony-winning revival of Chicago. With his sickness getting worse, he could not finish his final week.
As a result of his early departure, theatregoers asked for their ticket refunds back, and the production lost an estimated $400,000 in potential revenues. Chicago producer, Barry Weissler, told the NY daily, "We never expected this. He was very sick last week, and it's just gotten worse. Unfortunately, he won't be coming back."
Naturally, when an above-the-title star is absent from a production, theatregoers are entitled to either a refund or a chance to exchange their tickets for another performance.
Despite Usher's early exit, the production earned about $1.7 million.
Understandbly, when well-known actors and actresses feature themselves in a Broadway musical, tickets to these shows sell out pretty quickly. Examples include Usher for Chicago and Nathan Lane & Matthew Broderick for the Producers.
However, it would seem that when a popular actor or actress leaves the show for personal or for sickness, tickets are refunded, and attendance drops. Obviously.
Yet, this "celebrity" factor is probably detrimental to the Broadway musical industry.
Sometimes, the whole musical is not dependent on one person alone. You got the rest of the cast, production crew, orchestra, and staff. Can we just appreciate the fact that we are attending a great musical and not basing our decision solely on the lead actor or actress?
It was unfortunate for Usher to be unable to perform during his last week, but if you refunded your ticket just because of him, then I really feel sorry for you. There was an understudy for Usher, and getting your refund is pretty much an insult to him and the rest of the cast and crew of this Tony award-winning production.
The show ought to not give out any refunds. The understudy actually did excellent in his performance so why should you feel your ticket was less worthy? How about giving your $100 ticket to someone else more appreciative of the musical group, and rent the DVD instead?
RANT: Please Kick off the "Italian" Bachelor
I have not watched the latest season of The Bachelor. Why should I? The latest bachelor wannabe is a so-called "Italian prince" named Lorenzo Borghese. How can this be possible since he was raised up in Connecticut and New Jersey, and he still cannot speak enough Italian to order dinner at the Olive Garden. Besides, everyone should know that the producers enrolled Borghese in an intensive Berlitz Italian language course (ABC denies this of course).
ABC even claims he was born in Milan. Unless I see a birth certificate, he was probably born in the states, and not in Italy. If you check his records, he has been living in New Jersey for the last couple of years.
The "Prince" title is just for show. He does not have a castle or even a claim to some throne in Europe. He probably was not even using the title before he was brought onto the show. Now's he promoting a line of cosmetics called Royal Treatment Pet Care. Yep, great way to milk your title for dog grooming products. I believe he has lowered himself to even below Paris Hilton's stupidest things.
But we cannot just blame him for not even respecting his Italian heritage. The next $64,000 question is why these 27 would-be Cinderallas do this in the first place? For publicity? Trying to find Mr. Right? To find true love in a few short weeks?
"Prince" Lorenzo Borghese says he's in love. Bullsh*t.
He's thinking about marriage. Bullsh*t. He was busy flirting with all the babes at the ASPCA's Young Friends Benefit.
Honestly, do people think him and the winner Cinderalla will still be together after a year or so? Probably not.
Last, will someone please knock off the socialite. That's her profession, believe it or not.
New Recruiting Video from the US Army
Blackfive: The Army's new recruiting video - "Army Strong"
Online Gambling Officially Banned
President Bush signed a bill Friday to help prevent terrorists from sneaking a nuclear, chemical, or germ weapon into the United States inside one of the 11 million shipping containers that enter the nation each year - many without inspection.
The article states the president used the bill-signing ceremony to assert that Republicans were tough on terror.
Of course he failed to even mention that within the SAFE Port Act that was signed into law, it contained the online gambling ban legislation.
So just for everyone's information, most forms of online gambling are now banned as of Friday, October 13, 2006.
Please thank our government for not informing us.
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The effects of the online ban on US gambling:
World Gaming has entered administration.
Sportingbet has sold its US operations for ONE US DOLLAR.
Leisure & Gaming also sold its US operations for ONE US DOLLAR.
Air America Radio files Chapter 11
CNN.com - Air America Radio files Chapter 11
Ha Ha Ha Ha! Honestly, how can it run out of money? Where are all the supporters? Quite embarassing, don't you think?
Assets: $4.3 million dollars
Liabilities: $20.2 million dollars
Sorry Cindy Sheehan, you did not win
At a book fair in Austin, Texas, anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan announced she was a finalist for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
She said, "What I really hope to do with it is to inspire people to do what they can to make the world a better place and to let them know that one person really can make a difference."
I don't think so. So who did the Nobel Peace Prize committee pick?
Today, the Nobel Peace Prize committee announced that Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded was the receipient of this prestigious award for pioneering use of tiny, seemingly insignificant loans -- microcredit -- to lift millions out of poverty.
Through Yunus' efforts, poor people around the world were able to buy cows, a few chickens, or the cell phone they desperately needed to get ahead. The 65-year old economist will use part of his share of the $1.4 million award money to create a company to make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor. The rest would go toward setting up an eye hospital for the poor in Bangladesh.
"Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty," the Nobel Committee said in its citation. "Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights."
Sorry, Sheehan. Protesting the war, staging disruptions, and slapping politicians has been done before. Why would that makes you "worthy" of the Peace Prize?
Also, how did you know you were a finalist? The Nobel committee has not revealed the list of nominees, and has stated only that it had received 191 names by the February 1 deadline.
Trying to get some publicity? Shame!
Newsmax.com - Nobel Peace Prize for Cindy Sheehan?
Washington Post - Bangladeshi Economist, Grameen Bank Win Nobel Peace Prize
Wikipedia - Nobel Peace Prize
Korea's Electricity Grid
Here's a startling contrast of North and South Korea's electricity grids. Now, the picture reflects the state of the grid in the evening. In North Korea, since it is so short of electricity, the whole country is switched off at 9PM - apart from the capital of Pyongyang where Kim Jong-il and his cohorts live in relative luxury.
Is it possible that Republicans decided to forgo their anti-pork crusade and used the last several days of the Congressional session to insert hidden earmarks totaling $11 billion into the FY2006 Defense Department appropriations bill? Was this because of the potential possibility that they will lose control of Congress come November?
According to Robert Novak's Pork for Defense, he mentions about Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska "dressing down" leading anti-pork Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma charging that his crusade against earmarks was hurting the party.
Then the Alaskan pork advocate went ahead and removed Coburn's "report card" clause from the final version of the Defense bill requiring the Pentagon to grade earmarks. The House passed, 394 to 22, the bill, stripped of this reform and containing some 2,800 earmarks worth $11 billion. This pretty much made a mockery of a "transparency" rule passed by the House earlier this year, supposedly intended to discourage earmarks.
Steve Ellis of the non-partisan Taxpayers for Common Sense stated "You would think that with a war and all the controversy surrounding earmarks that the appropriators would hold back a little." Ellis said it was very difficult to find earmarks in the legislation, not because there wasn't any, they were just carefully hidden.
It was quite easy for Stevens since he was the leading Senate conferee on the final Defense bill. Also surprising was page 336 of the bill that stated that there were "ZERO" earmarks in this year's legislation.
Clearly, this is a sham. A disgrace to the American taxpayer.
The so-called "transparency rule" restricts earmarks to "non-federal" spending, so what did the authors do? They defined all Defense expenditures to be "federal." Thus, one earmark for $4.6 million for the Army Center of Excellence in Acoustics at the Jamie Whitten Center at the University of Mississippi gets funded.
President Bush could not veto the defense bill. The overall spending was actually within his administration's figures so why disagree with it.
So will the earmark abuse continue? Definitely.
Senator Coburn is not giving up. He will introduce his Defense report card as a freestanding bill in the lame-duck session after the election. No matter who controls the Senate next year, Coburn will not grant unanimous consent on spending measures and thus require 60 votes to end debate. The question is whether Republican leaders, perhaps chastened by election returns, will join him.
Earmarks for Ohio, Cleveland in particular
It is always difficult to eliminate an earmark (aka pork barrel project) once it has been put in place. One example is the Advanced Technology Program (ATP). According to the Taxpayers for Common Sense, the administration has proposed for the third year in a row to terminate this program. Yet, Congress keeps on restoring the funding for it every year.
ATP funds corporate research and development grants that would easily survive without government support. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that almost half of ATP grant winners "continued their research and development projects despite a lack of ATP funding." Likewise, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that three completed ATP projects duplicated private sector research.
Many of the corporate welfare recipients are mega corporations such as General Electric, Xerox, and Dupont.
Let us focus on earmarks designated for around Cleveland, Ohio. Unfortunately, the data comes from the FY2005 Transportation bill. There were about 245 earmarks totaling $665 million for the state of Ohio.
$1,712,000 to construct a pedestrian bridge from east of Dock 32 to Voinovich Park southwest corner in Cleveland
$4,640,000 to construct the Cleveland Towpath Trail. 6-mile extension towards downtown Cleveland
$400,000 to construct Eagle Avenue Viaduct-Demolition bridge, realignment of roadway to replace bridge and reconstruction of two other bridges in Cleveland
$400,000 to construct an Intermodal Facility at University Circle in Cleveland
$800,000 to construct road with access to memorial Shoreway in Cleveland
$2,500,000 to design and constuct road enhancements for Cleveland Port Authority
$21,970,000 to reconstruct Cleveland Inner Belt and rehabilitation of the Central Viaduct Bridge
$3,300,000 to construct pedestrian bridge from east of Dock 32 to park in Cleveland
$1,280,000 to construct 1,100 foot bulkhead/riverwalk connecting Front and Maine Ave. public right of way in Cleveland.
$1,800,000 to design and construct Towpath Trail from southern Cuyahoga County through downtown Cleveland to Lake Erie
$1,000,000 to establish a Trans-Erie Ferry line from Cleveland, Ohio to Port Stanley, Ontario
$85,000,000 to reconstruct Cleveland Inner Belt and replacement of Central Viaduct Bridge in Cleveland
$6,000,000 to construct, including design and engineering, of 30,000 sq ft terminal building to accommodate the Trans-Erie ferry service
$7,106,000 to the University Circle intermodal facility
$836,000 for acquisition of buses by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
$718,960 to construct passenger inter-modal center near Dock 32 in Cleveland
$3,762,000 to the Euclid Avenue University Hospital intermodal facility
$418,000 to the Fare Collection System Project in Cleveland
$7,106,000 to the Euclid Avenue and East 93rd Street intermodal facility
$125,400 to the Cuyahoga County for transit improvements
$2,508,000 to construct the Cleveland East Side Transit Center
$3,553,000 to the Eastlake Stadium transit intermodal facility
$836,000 to the construction of an inter-modal facility and related improvements at UH facility on Euclid Avenue
Second Try Fails at Columbia University
Universities and colleges should take note on the actions made by Columbia University and learn from their mistakes. Part of me feel somewhat sympathetic to this institution, but how can you defend such actions? It just keeps on getting better and better.
Once again, the Columbia University College Republicans hosted another controversial event featuring two ex-terrorists and a former Nazi (Walid Shoebat, Hilmar von Campe, and Zak Anani respectively) yesterday evening. Persons that were interested in attending the lecture needed to RSVP to the conservative student group to get the paper invitation for access.
At approximately 4:45 in the afternoon, Jewelnel Davis, the advising officer to the Student Governing Board rescinded all the invitations.
It is the decision of the advising office to Student Governing Board groups that at tonight’s event sponsored by the Columbia College Republicans, hosts to the Walid Shoebat Foundation, attendance will be limited to the invited speakers and their staff, CUID holders, and 20 invited guests. You are receiving this email to inform you that unfortunately, your RSVP to tonight’s event cannot be accepted.
Director of the Earl Hall Center
This decision certainly did not please the College Republicans:
From: Chris Kulawik (President of College Republicans)
This was a decision of the administration - the CRs wanted to allow
all individuals with RSVPs. Please join us in directing complaints
to Earl Hall and the Columbia Admin. This is not the first time
they have done something like this.
All my thanks,
The result of rescinding all those invitations:
More pictures and multimedia clips can be found at Atlas Shrugs.
Approximately 125 people were refused entry into the event. About 77 people who has reserved tickets through the RSVP method were disinvited. College Republicans apologised to the speakers for the actions made by the University. Each speaker criticised the lockdown and railed against what they considered to be further encroachment on the freedom to speak and assemble.
Here is a film (made by whataretheysaying) of a Columbia representative pantomiming sympathy to a group of people who were apparently friends of Walid Shoebat. Although the she could have opened the door and talked directly to them at any thime, she chose instead to do this odd mime routine. Her audience was not impressed. Note the her hostile little wave to the camera, and her smile as Shoebat's disappointed friends leave.
Later, the Columbia rep stepped out and stated that the students and the College Republicans were to blame for the mixup (False statement!).
Behind the Scenes politicking
It would seem that several student groups at Columbia University wanted the Walid Shoebat event to be sparsely attended. The Hillel Center did not even posted the event on their online calendar. Through word of mouth, some groups were planning on boycotting the event entirely. According to one BWOG source, they wanted "pretty pictures of empty chairs. Forty people attend, and the thing collapses." This would not be surprising since a lot of criticism in the blogosphere and the mainstream media have been directed at the protestors at the Minutemen event. Could this be some sort of "payback" at the College Republicans for embarrassing them?
Flyers Plastered to the Muslim Students Association prayer room door
According to the Walid Shoebat Foundation, they did not tell anyone to post that flyer over there. Either they are lying, or perhaps someone else must have "planted" those flyers to set the speakers up. One must consider all perspective views on this.
One Editorial to Sum it all up
Wall Street Journal - Opinion Journal - Too Controversial for Columbia
Now I can imagine Columbia liberal economics students burning WSJ papers for being facist.
Kesher Talk - Columbia U trying to avoid embarrassment, cont.
Michelle Malkin - The State of Campus Debate: Colgate vs. Columbia
Official Statement by University President Lee Bollinger Released on the Minutemen Protest
The web page also lists other official releases from various governmental groups and student groups.
I cannot help but notice the Black Student Organisation taking a potshot against the Minutemen and the College Republicans. Essentially they blame the College Republicans for the whole thing.
PETA goes after cockroaches
In addition to combating fur ladies, protecting cats and dogs, and other animals, it has decided to protest on behalf of this little "pest" against theme park operator, Six Flags Inc.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called for Six Flags to cancel a competition in which people will try to break the world cockroach-eating record. The contest is part of a promotion leading to Halloween. This is in addition to the other promotion where customers can get free entry or be able to jump the queue if they eat a live Madagascar hissing cockroach.
PETA has alleged that it has received many calls from children, adults, and even anonymous employees of Six Flags opposing the record-breaking contest and the overall promotion.
Spokeswoman Jackie Vergerio said "Insects do not deserve to be eaten alive especially for a gratuitous marketing gimmick."
The current record holder is Ken Edwards of Derbyshire, England who devoured 36 Madagascar hissing cockroaches in one minute in 2001. The winner will win a season pass for four people for 2007 with VIP queue-jumping status.
Six Flags has countered that the only complaints received were from people who did not have the opportunity to sign up and eat a cockroach because 12 of its 30 parks in the US, Canada, and Mexico were participating in the promotion.
Any health concerns were dismissed since the cockroaches are raised in a sterile environment and were as safe to eat as shrimp or lobster with high nutritional value.
It is strange enough for PETA to go after the one insect that would probably survive in a nuclear war.
PETA, drop the bullsh*t protest, and go back to spray painting fur ladies. Clearly, a waste of money and time.
Reuters News - Cockroach-eating contest bugs animal group
Wikipedia - Cockroach
Interactive Periodic Table
Useful interactive periodic table, which offers all manner of information about the elements obtained simply by mousing over the panels.
Different Multiplication Table Method
Minutemen Protest at CU (Follow Up)
Spanish-language news station Univision has video footage on the melee that ended the Minutemen speaking event last Wednesday night at Columbia University.
The video shows a man wearing a blue baseball cap kicking a protestor during the chaotic rush to the stage. This act, according to protestors, supports their claim that violence was being perpetrated by the Minutemen and their supporters.
Karina Garcia, CC '07 and political chair of the Chicano Caucus, was one of the students on stage stated that she saw protestors being hit and kicked as they tried to climb onto the stage, and one friend was kneed in the stomach.
Another unidentified man was seen trying to tear down the white banner held by several students.
Columbia Spectator - Kicking Visible in Univision Footage
From the video footage, I would definitely agree that the Minutemen supporter should be arrested for assaulting a fellow protestor. However, I cannot support the protestors' arguments that the violence was all the fault of the Minutemen, the College Republicans, and their supporters.
Who rushed the stage? The protestors. They knew by thrusting the environment surrounding the Minutemen, supporters, and security guards into a more hostile atmosphere, physical violence would occur. How can they explain a person trying to take away their banner was an act of violence? They shove and the supporters shove back, and the protestors cry foul, saying they are the victims, and what they were doing was self-defense?!? Ridiculous!
Next, the campus newspaper critcises the media for resorting to sensationalism over the Minutemen protest. In particular, they targeted Fox News for their "unbalanced" coverage of the event. Yet when their editorial mentioned that other controversial speakers such as Norman Finkelstein and John Ashcroft met with peaceful protest, did they also compare the amount of security that were present at those events? Probably not. One would assume that if the amount of security available at Ashcroft's lecture was same for the Minutemen, it was likely that no serious disruption would have occurred.
They argued that the media failed to take into account that the whole student body is not crazy as the protestors that rushed the stage, the provocative actions of the speakers, and the alleged involvement of the College Republicans during the melee.
I am sure most will realise that the whole entire student body are not dedicated to violence and suppressing free speech. Discussing the provocative actions of the speakers is subject to interpretation. Sometimes in order to get the message through, being straightforward and blunt is the best way. If people cannot tolerate such messages without resorting to the use of physical violence, how can we argue in this society? There was supposed to have been a Q&A after the Minutemen speeches. This would have provided a great opportunity for some of the protestors to try to argue the Minutemen's plans. College Republican involvement in the melee should be taken as part of a larger picture. It would seem there was shoving and one or two acts of violence that occurred among their side, but to me, you want the media to concentrate all their efforts on them instead of the protestors. From what I have read, you stated that the protestors went too far. That's pretty light criticism as far as I can tell.
Explain to me how it goes when a group of protestors rushes the stage, should the speaker, the College Republicans, and supporters just let them on and do nothing?
* * * * * *
Columbia University Senate's student affairs committee unanimously passed a Resolution on Free Speech.
The statement is intended to establish a policy for future conflicts over free speech. Encompassing the rights of both speakers and protesters, the statement says, in part, that "the Student Body of Columbia University has a right to invite speakers with varied points of view to campus, and it is unacceptable within our community, to take away someone else's right to express their opinions and viewpoints. ... The Student Affairs Caucus stands behind the principles of free speech on campus, and demands that the Columbia University Community stand firm in our commitment to allow all views to be heard."
Much of the deliberation centered on Wednesday night's events, when student protesters rushed the stage, leading to a brawl and cutting short the speech of Jim Gilchrist, founder of the anti-illegal-immigration Minuteman Project.
* * * * * *
Columbia Spectator - Protestors Hold Press Conference
Late this morning, about a dozen undergraduates who protested last week's speech by Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist convened a press conference with representatives from the National Lawyer's Guild. The students, many of them members of the Chicano Caucus and the International Socialist Organization, defended their actions.
Karina Garcia, CC '07 and Chicano Caucus political chair, said Monday that she and the other protesters had not intended to stop Gilchrist from speaking when they unfurled a pair of banners onstage, but she defended their actions.
"We are sure that if the Ku Klux Klan came to campus, African Americans would be there to protest," Garcia said. "So would we."
(Lesson 1 - Use an obvious example to support your actions)
Martin Lopez, CC '09 and a native of Southern California, identified himself at the conference as the individual who is shown being kicked in the head in Univision video footage of the event. Pressed by a crowd of reporters to describe the incident, Lopez pointed to a series of grainy black-and-white printouts hanging behind him, which showed a frame-by-frame sequence of the attack.
"I am fearful for the immigrants on that southern border if Gilchrist supporters were able to bring violence into a prestigious university," Lopez said.
(Lesson 2 - Use the "victim" as part of your sympathetic message.)
Basically, they are providing an argument that they were victims of overzealous violence conducted by the Minutemen, College Republicans, and their supporters, and that their rush to the stage was actually "peaceful."
It was unfortunate for Lopez who got injured during the melee. I just find it unsettling to see these people use this press conference to paint themselves as the victims.
O'Reilly Factor was in Chicago and they discussed the Columbia incident:
Kerry in '08?
It would seem that Massachusetts senator John Kerry may run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. I do not know if trying for a second time would be better for him, but let's look at history. Since Adlai Stevenson in 1956, Democrats have not renominated a past losing presidential nominee.
Kerry would enter a crowded field that would include Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, or former Vice-President Al Gore.
But the war veteran senator is pretty much intellectually boring. Even though he may have outfought President Bush in the presidential debates back in 2004, his long-winded answers and his campaign mistakes (remember his quote - "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.") just made people feel very small, and comparing him to Bush, voters picked the lesser of two evils.
I really do not see it. The last sitting senator to even win the presidency was John F. Kennedy in 1960. He lacks passion and I don't really think he would be able to rouse up interest in the electorate to consider voting him into the White House. Of course, he has potent connections in the Democratic Party, but he has his chance.
John Kerry, step back and let someone else go for it. You are yesterday's news.
Intellectual Savages at Columbia
Today's Hotair.com by Michelle Malkin
(Firefox Users: Looks like the embedded code does not work properly, click here to view the clip)
I would be happy to offer a place for the opposite side on this post. Just send me the link.
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Historical Perspective - May 16, 2002 article about Peace in the Middle East Rally at San Francisco State University where Palestinaians and their supporters cornered Hillel students after the rally ended.
It is very likely that when the market closes on Columbus Day, Google and YouTube will announce a $1.65 billion acquisition stock deal.
Yet it seems that YouTube has already signed three content and licensing deals with CBS, Universal Music Group, and BMG Music. Will Google cancel these deals if they acquire YouTube?
Let's look at the windfall of about $1.5 billion if such a deal goes through. Hypothetically, Sequoia Capital will get a $500 million return on their $30 million initial investment. The founders will get a chunk of it too, and their 60 employees should walk a way with a couple of million each.
It goes to show that Google Video just turned out to be a bad product and YouTube is the answer to their video problems.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Google, has announced that it will purchase YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. YouTube will operate as an independent unit of Google once the deal closes and will retain the YouTube brand name. No YouTube employees will lose their jobs and Google will still maintain their own online video business.
CNN Money - Google to buy YouTube for $1.65 billion
Ki-moon Ban to be next UN Secretary-General
With the rest of the candidates withdrawn from the race, Ki-moon Ban, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade will become the next Secretary-General of the United Nations on January 1, 2007.
He will be the first South Korean to hold the post, and the first Asian to run the UN in more than 30 years.
Ban has topped each of the four straw polls conducted by the U.N. Security Council on July 24, Sept 14, Sept 28, and Oct 2. In the fourth poll, he emerged as the only candidate with the support from all five permanent members, each of whom as the power to veto candidates.
Today, the Security Council has officially nominated Ban as its choice to succeed Kofi Annan. The 192-member General Assembly is expected to formally elect him later this month.
YouTube Trying to Censor 'They Came' video
YouTube has been trying to ban the video "They Came" created by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin
It shows Islamic extremists persecuting against people who disagree with them or going against their religion.
YouTube has even "threatened" to cancel Michelle's account if she keeps on trying to post the same video or another similar one. This has led to other YouTube users to post her videos across the whole online community.
The debate is whether this video is totally inappropriate. But then we should go and start removing videos that depict sniper or suicide attacks against American and Iraqi police forces. Or videos showing Islamic protestors calling for the death of Rushdie and other authors that have critcized Islam.
If people choose to disagree with the video, then they should post their own response to it, instead of trying to ban it or going after the author itself.
North Korea Conducts Successful Nuclear Test
After months of waiting, the North Koreans finally did what they threatened to do... conduct a nuclear test.
Apparently, the test was conducted underground at approximately 10:36AM (1:36AM GMT) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Senior U.S. officials said the United States is consulting with allies around the world and would push for sanctions Monday at a 9:30AM meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York.
South Korea's defense ministry has raised their military alert level.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, the force of the blast was 5 to 15 kilotons, equivalent to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
China was given a 20-minute warning ahead of the test and in turn passed the information along to the United States, Japan, and South Korea.
In light of this, here's a graphic on the range of North Korea's missles:
As you can see, half of the United States including Alaska and Hawaii will be under threat.
The US Geological Survey registered a 4.2 seismic event
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Full text of the nuclear test announcement carried by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA):
"The field of scientific research in the DPRK (North Korea) successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, Juche 95 (2006) at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation.
"It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under a scientific consideration and careful calculation.
"The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA (Korean People's Army) and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defence capability.
"It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the area around it."
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Many nations have condemned the NK nuke test
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According to confidential sources, US ambassador John Bolton told the Security Council that a North Korean attack on South Korea or Japan will be treated as an attack on the United States.
North Korea's ambassador Pak Gil Yon remained defiant, saying the Security Council should congratulate the country for its nuclear test instead of passing "useless" resolutions or statements.
Mob Rule at Columbia
In a follow-up to my previous article about the Riot at Columbia University (free speech under fire), mob rule is pretty much the answer to people who are opposed to their "undisputed" position.
As an example of comparison, a conservative speaker was invited by Democracy for America at Macalester College to participate in a panel debate about the war in Iraq on the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
No one disrupted the panel debate and no one chased the conservative speaker from the dais. (Frontpage Magazine) Even though the audience was unenthusiastic about his point of view, no violence occurred.
Unlike Columbia University...
* * * * *
It is actually interesting to note one point made by Captain's Quarters in his article.
The purpose behind the use of Arabic in their "No one is ever illegal" banner
You kinda expected only Spanish and English, so why Arabic? Jim Gilchrist and his Minutemen are patrolling the border between the US and Mexico, so English and Spanish would clearly be the most obvious choices. Was this a cheapshot directed at discrimination being used against Arab immigrants? Or is there a hidden agenda behind there?
In our academic institutions, students, faculty, and staff learn different viewpoints. We should learn to accept them at face value even though we may disagree with them.
The Chicano Caucus, the African-American Student Association, and the International Socialist Organisation were bent on making their voices loud using easy slogans to denounce and criticise. They did not care if the rest of the audience wanted to at least listen to the founder of the Minutemen Project. They probably think that allowing this individual on campus was too much for them and they had to react in a violent way.
It is also quite ironic for this to happen at Columbia since this is where the most prestigious school of journalism is located.
I would even suggest to Princeton Review to install a "Suppression of Opposing Viewpoints" category. Columbia University would certainly acheive top spot there.
We also should go back to one junior student, Ryan Fukumori, who stated that the Minutemen "had no right to be able to speak there."
Remember the Constitution? Remember the First Amendment? Remember the phrase "the right to free speech?" I will leave it out there for that person to retract his illogical statement.
Kulawik, president of Columbia College Republicans, believed "we wanted to hear views we don't usually hear at Columbia. I'm quite ashamed of the university and my peers. I expected them to listen and ask tough questions."
They did listened, and instead of tough questions, they responded with tough action.
We are the victims...
In a NY Times article, senior Columbia student Monique Dols (History) mounted the stage in protest and unfurled a banner. “We have always been escorted off the stage and the event continues,” she said, adding that this time the protesters were attacked.
“We were punched and kicked,” she said. “Unfortunately, the story being circulated is that we initiated the violence.”
Obviously, since security guards and event organisers were trying to remove you from the stage and you resisted. What a wonderful excuse to paint yourself and everyone else who rushed the stage as the victims.
This clearly does not mean the whole entire student body and faculty at Columbia University are in favor of suppressing opposing viewpoints with violence. However, the student body should look at this event and reflect. They should realise not to let ultra-fringe type groups dictate their thoughts and actions. The Student Council at Columbia should take action to show that they do not support this type of protest and that constructive debate should be upheld.
Los Angeles Times - Minuteman Founder Forced from N.Y. Stage
TigerHawk Blog - Interdicting speech at Columbia
Fox News (Talking Points) - O'Reilly Interviews Marvin Stewart (Minutemen) about Columbia protest
UCLA's Daily Bruin criticises disruption in their editorial
NY Sun - Violence at Columbia
The Chronicle - Anti-Immigrant Speaker Greeted with Brawl at Columbia U.
The Harvard Crimson - Ivy Infusion: Columbia's Battle of Lexington
NY Post - Columbia's Speech Thugs
Finally, the major newspapers are covering it:
Washington Times - Crazy at Columbia
New York Times - Columbia Investigating Protests That Stopped Speaker
New York Times - Silencing of a Speech Causes a Furor
San Jose Mercury News - Mayor criticizes Columbia students who stormed stage
NY Post - Columbia Prez Talks Tough
Narco News - Free Speech Threatened at Columbia University
* * * * *
Now, the College Republicans at Columbia are adding more fuel to the fire. The NY Sun is reporting that they will host two ex-terrorists and a former Nazi at their next lecture event next week. Scheduled for October 11, it will feature a former Palestinian Liberation Organisation terrorist, Walid Shoebat, a former Lebanese terrorist, Zachariah Anani, and a former member of the Hitler youth and Nazi soldier, Hilmar von Campe.
Mr. Shoebat runs an eponymous organisation, the Walid Shoebat Foundation, which "cries for the justice of Israel and the Jewish people." It opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.
US Newswire - Two Ex-Terrorists, Former Nazi to speak at Columbia U
Riot at Columbia University (Free Speech Under Fire)
Got your attention? Good. The one thing I appreciate about our democracy is the ability for people to argue to opposing viewpoints without consequence. No matter if we are offended or insulted by another person's arguments on any controversial issue, they do have a right to express that opinion, and vice versa.
Moments after Gilchrist took the podium, students from the International Socialist organisation, and other unaffiliated individuals stormed the stage. It is alleged that the Columbia Public Safety officers did nothing to stop them from getting on stage. It was all captured by CTV's Natalie Yammine on tape. Here's another report by the New York Sun on the event.
The students than unrolled a banner that read, in both Arabic and English, "No one is ever illegal." As security guards closed the curtains and began escorting people from the auditorium, the students jumped from the stage, pumping their fists, chanting victoriously, "Si se pudo, si se pudo," Spanish for "Yes we could!"
Mr. Stewart, another member of the Minuteman Project, was African-American and the first speaker before Gilchrist. Protestors interrupted his speech by calling him a racist, a sellout, and a black white supremacist.
One fellow Columbia junior student, Ryan Fukumori, said "These are racist individuals heading a project that terrorizes immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border. They have no right to be able to speak here."
“The way that we reacted is just what we want him to realize. We do not accept racism in New York or anywhere else, but that’s the reaction that he gets from New Yorkers and I hope that he gets the message,” said one student.
(So New Yorkers get violent if they don't like something.)
“There’s a disconnect between their message and what they actually do and that’s what I have a big problem with,” added another student.
(Easy, the patrolling the border aren't they?)
“He has a history of being aligned with white power forces and racist forces throughout the U.S.,” said one protester.
(Do you have his KKK membership card?)
“Minutemen are not a legitimate voice in the debate over immigration,” added another. “The Minutemen are a group of racist vigilantes who stand on the border with their rifles and call it open hunting season on anyone with brown skin.”
(They are starting to patrol the US-Canadian border too. Are they still racist if they are targeting French and other nationals?)
In response to the actions of the protesters, Columbia College Republican President Chris Kulawik, stated the student protesters "rush to vindicate themselves with monikers like ‘liberal' and ‘open-minded,' but their actions, their attempt to condemn the Minutemen without even hearing what they have to say, speak otherwise. On campus, the Republicans' flyers advertising the event were defaced and torn down.
The college newspaper, Columbia Spectator has more.
Conservative journalist Michelle Malkin has more.
Members BWOG attended the event and did a real-time blog commentary as the events unfolded. (Link)
The NY Daily News reports
NY1 News reports
The Gothamist - Minutemen Insanity at Columbia
Quando.net - 1st Amendment Right? What 1st Amendment Right?
Here are some groups that spread the word about the Minutemen lecture:
Flactivist - Notice
Columbia Spectator did a previous article on groups that prepared for the protest - Link
Posting on Google Groups - Link
A.N.S.W.E.R. - Link
O'Reilly Factor (FoxNews) - Talking Points 10/05 - O'Reilly gives his opinion on the protest at Columbia
Bad News in Coverage
So far, I have not seen the Columbia protest mentioned on CNN.com, ABCNews.com, MSNBC.com, news12.com, starledger.com, or USAToday.
* * * * * *
According to the Rules of University Conduct at the University:
The Rules of University Conduct (Chapter XLI of the Statutes of the University) provide special disciplinary rules applicable to demonstrations, rallies, picketing, and the circulation of petitions. These rules are designed to protect the rights of free expression through peaceful demonstration while at the same time ensuring the proper functioning of the University and the protection of the rights of those who may be affected by such demonstrations.
The Rules of University Conduct are University wide and supersede all other rules of any school or division. Minor violations of the Rules of Conduct are referred to the normal disciplinary procedures of each school or division ("Dean's discipline"). A student who is charged with a serious violation of the Rules has the option of choosing Dean's discipline or a more formal hearing procedure provided in the Rules.
Press Release by the Chicano Caucus on the riot:
On behalf of the Chicano Caucus Executive Board, I would like to clarify for the Columbia community any misunderstandings that may have arisen from tonight's chain of events. While we were the chief organizers of the protest outside Roone Arledge, we were not responsible for any of the actions that led to the termination of the event. It is unfortunate that the series of events escalated to a point of violence. We feel that it is important to discuss and bring to light important issues concerning immigration, though they should be done in a peaceful manner. While we do not agree with Mr. Gilchrist and his organization's views, we respect everyone's right to freedom of speech and regret that his opinion was not heard.
Chicano Caucus President
* * * * *
Press Release by Members of the International Socialist Organisation:
We celebrate free speech: for that reason we allowed the Minutemen to speak, and for that same reason we peacefully occupied the stage and spoke ourselves. Our peaceful protest was violently attacked by members of the College Republicans and their supporters, who are the very same people who invited the Minutemen to our campus in the first place. The Minutemen are not a legitimate voice in the debate on immigration. They are a racist, armed militia who have declared open hunting season on immigrants, causing countless hate crimes and over 3000 deaths on the border. Why should exploitative corporations have free passes between nations, but individual people not? No human being is illegal.
* * * * *
Robert Hornsby, a Columbia spokesman, said the university "deplores the disruption that took place."
Note: Yet, later today, the University has decided to put the entire blame for the riot on the College Republicans for bringing a controversial group on campus. It is very likely the group will be punished, not the groups which stormed the stage and caused the violent confrontation. Strange enough, according to some eyewitnesses, security at the event was not sufficient.
Party for Socialism and Liberation Spin it their way
In their latest stab at the day's events, they alleged that Minutemen thugs attacked their members who stormed the stage to disrupt the speech. Quite a way for them to spin them as the victims when they are the ones who stormed the stage in the first place as a show of violent protest.
I do have to wonder if the protestors knew the exact objective of the Minuteman Project. Did they do enough research? Or did they instead just listen to the tirade of other students or unaffiliated individuals without evidence? Causing 3000 deaths at the border is pretty far-fetched, and I would not be surprised if anyone attempted to get evidence supporting that fact, they would be called a racist.
The Columbia University student government should pass a resolution condemning the violence that took place at the event, the administration should take action to prevent similar reactions from occurring in the future, and the protest groups involved should apologise for their actions and lack of responsiblity. I find the response by the Chicano Caucus to be unworthy of an apology. Their mention that the actions were "unfortunate" shows that they knew violence would be the end result and did not do enough to restrain their members and other protest groups.
The International Socialist Organization knew what would happened when they sent two of their members on stage to unfurl the "No one is ever illegal" banner.
The obvious intent of the protest is to disrupt Mr. Gilchrist's speech. It is that simple. They knew by advertising the event publicly, it would allow other individuals to attend and cause undue violence.
Question 1: Is it even possible to consider that members of the Minutemen could be pro-immigrant but anti-mass immigration?
Question 2: Are the Minutemen really are racists? How can ensuring a secured border relates to racism? If you catch someone going through your back fence, are you a racist?
Question 3: A protestor stated that "the Minutemen are not a legitimate part of the debate on immigration." You telling me that the International Socialist Organisation is legitimate? That's absolute bollux!
Question 4: Protestors are demanding full rights for immigrants. Please define "full rights." They would need to pay taxes, right? They would need to actually obey our laws, right?
Columbia University alumni should contact the University President to note their disgust at the way the administration handled the event. Every other alumni and student at every institution should register their displeasure too.
US envoy gives "manly" threat to North Korea
Good morning everyone. Over the wire, North Korea has announced that it will stage a nuclear test in order to show defiance against US aggression.
In response, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill stated, "We are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea." He also stated, "If they think that by exploding a weapon, that somehow we will come to terms with it, we won't."
Hill said, "We would have no choice but to act and act resolutely to make sure (North Korea) understood, and make sure every other country in the world understands, that this is a very bad mistake."
However, he would not exactly said what actions will be taken if North Korea conducts a nuclear test.
Of course, no "resolute" action was taken when North Korea announced that it had manufactured up-to-date nuclear weapons.
Yet, what actions would be considered "resolute?"
Both Japan and the United States promise to levy international sanctions on the North Koreans if a nuclear test occurs. Yet this tool has pretty become ineffective in recent years and it's more of a quick-fix than an obvious solution of international diplomacy.
Japan, China, and South Korea have announced a series of joint summit meetings during the next week to repair damaged ties and coordinate a strategy for dealing with North Korea. Do you mean to tell me that this was not thought of before? We have had six-nation talks, three-nation talks, summits, joint conferences, and the usual political rhetoric.
Shall the US continue the course for a diplomatic solution or military strikes? I am assuming that neo-con factions within the White House, probably lead by Cheney and Rumsfeld are lobbying the President to send the USS John C. Stennis task force to the Sea of Japan as a show of force and perhaps, a staging ground for missile attacks on suspected North Korean nuclear sites. The carrier task force is currently in the Pacific Ocean.
The question on everyone's minds is whether the US will conduct a pre-emptive strike on North Korea. What would be the reaction of the DPRK? Of South Korea? China? Russia?
The answer is a Catch-22. Either action would affect the entire Pacific region.
Harry Potter causes more school shootings?
Laura Mallory, a mother of four from Loganville, GA, is on a quest to get the Harry Potter books on the banned list allegedly arguing that they promote the Wiccan religion and violence.
She inherently believes that Harry Potter promotes evil and is responsible for the rash of deadly assaults at schools during the last two weeks. The wizard books would promote a decadent culture where school shootings happen.
Of course, she reasoned that reading the Bible would not cause any problems. She even stated that children would be unable to differentiate reality from fantasy. Plus it is unsuitable for children to "cast" spells and imitate Harry Potter in class.
This is Mallory's second public campaign against the popular fiction series after trying to do so back in August 2005.
The Gwinnett County Board of Education responded that banning Harry Potter would also include other well known books such as "Macbeth" and "Cinderella."
Daily Mail - 'Ban Harry Potter or face more school shootings'
The Board of Education of Georgia will conduct a hearing over the Harry Potter books after Mallory's appeal. At every level of the school process, her request to have all Harry Potter books removed was denied. The case will be ruled in December.
Non-Allegiance will get you arrested
According to informationliberation.com, the new torture legislation that passed 65-34 in the Senate contains information that damages the fabric of our civil liberties. This clearly reminds me about the Articles of Allegiance mentioned in the movie, V for Vendetta.
Now informationliberation is a well known liberal site, so some may feel they could be exaggerating about the legislation, but I do need to note the following to you.
This 80-page legislation, known as the Military Commissions Act of 2006, passed the House 253-168 on the 27th of September, and was introduced to the Senate on the same day. It suffered a setback when several senators led by John McCain opposed the legislation regarding the definition of Article III of the Geneva Conventions. Eventually, a compromise was reached and was heralded by the opposing senators and the administration as a "breakthrough" for human rights.
Yet, our politicians failed to mention about other aspects of this legislation.
In section 950J, it would criminalise any challenge to the legislation's legality by the Supreme Court or any US court.
"No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action whatsoever, including any action pending on or filed after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission under this chapter, including challenges to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions under this chapter."
Sub-section 27 of Section 950V states:
"Any person subject to this chapter who with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign power, collects or attempts to collect information by clandestine means or while acting under false pretenses, for the purpose of conveying such information to an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a military commission under this chapter may direct."
Subsection 4(b) (26) of Section 950V includes the following definition:
"Any person subject to this chapter who, in breach of an allegiance or duty to the United States, knowingly and intentionally aids an enemy of the United States, or one of the co-belligerents of the enemy, shall be punished as a military commission under this chapter may direct."
As for the Geneva Conventions, the legislation states:
"No person may invoke the Geneva Conventions or any protocols thereto in any habeas corpus or other civil action or proceeding to which the United States, or a current or former officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent of the United States is a party as a source of rights in any court of the United States or its States or territories."
It has been alleged that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been threatening federal judges not to try to stop the legislation through lawsuit or injunction.
These sections of this legislation are clearly open to interpretation but if abused, can be used to declare open season on US citizens who are not in "perfect" allegiance to Bush and the USA.
It could be even possible for the government to declare a citizen of the US to be an "enemy combatant" without due process and protections guaranteed under the Bill of Rights. What we thought could happen only to foreign citizens / detainees can now happen to US citizens and legal residents.
Can it be true that we now need to pledge allegiance to the President instead of the flag or the freedoms for which it stands? Is it true that any diversion from our allegiance will result in arrest, torture, and conviction in a military tribunal, not in a court of law?
Bush recently cited the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, which even labels conspiracy theorists as terrorist recruiters.
One last thing, the definition of being a terrorist now includes destruction of any property, violent activity near a designated "protected" building, illegal occupation of property and theft.
It's pretty scary. I even wonder if making this information public is indirectly helping the enemy. Could any of the conservative folks take a look at the sections above in the legislation and make the same conclusion?
It's time to ask questions, and it's time to ask them now. It is our duty to probe any piece of legislation that is being considered by this administration and this Congress. Who knows what other things are buried in the hundreds or thousands of pages of red tape our politicans have passed over the years.
Since the bill was different in the Senate than in the House, the latter will vote on accepting the Senate version of the legislation, and pass it to President Bush for his signature.
Another air passenger gets "profiled"
Seth Stein, a UK British Jewish architect, was pounced by a fellow passenger an hour into the flight. As he settled down with a book and a ginger ale, the father-of-three was grabbed from behind and held in a head-lock.
The other passenger allegedly stated that he was Michael Wilk, and was with the New York Police Department, and told Seth that he was acting suspiciously and should stay calm. He then went ahead and took Mr. Stein's passport and iPod.
The cabin crew and the captain of the aircraft had to do a security check, which ultimately cleared him. After this was made known, the so called NYPD passenger went back to his seat.
One strange fact is that this Michael Wilk was certainly on the NYPD's official register of officers, but he retired 25 years ago. Officials told the designer that he may have worked for another law enforcement agency but have refused to say which one.
While it may be alright for passengers to take proactive precautions to "protect" the rest of the crew and people on the plane, it could proved disastrous if a "innocent" passenger reacts violently to be judged a terrorist. Now, of course, we must do what is necessary to protect ourselves but we must act with common sense and not act unilaterally.
If you do happen to see a passenger acting suspicious during the flight, alert a member of the flight crew. This is the most sensible and often first step that needs to be taken. Obviously, if you do see a passenger about to do something that could hurt any passenger or the damage the plane itself, then your "survival" instinct would kick in.
I see this becoming a problem especially with paranoid passengers that believe that anyone who is "foreign-looking" is automatically suspect. I could imagine, along the most extreme case, of a racist passenger asking that every non-white person be double-checked with security. This could definitely happen, no matter how unlikely!
Also in the news article, there is a tendency of passengers to immediately think terrorist before everything else. Earlier this month, a plane from London to Washington, D.C. made an emergency landing, after passengers alerted crew to the behaviour of a female traveller. It turns out she had a panic attack.
Online Gambling takes stab in the back
Online gambling takes a heart attack in the United States after the US Congress passed legislation prohibiting the use of credit cards, checks, and electronic fund transfers for it. Even though it was passed directly by the House, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was attached as a rider to the port securities bill in the Senate, guaranteeing its passage.
President George W. Bush is expected to sign the bill into law within two weeks, thereby making it illegal for finance companies to collect credit-card payments from customers using Internet gaming sites.
As a result, most online gaming companies listed in London, have lost more than half their value today. PartyGaming lost as much as 62 percent. Sportingbet shed 73 percent, and 888.com slid 50 percent. All three are expected to suspend their business with the US once the act is signed. The industry has taken a beating after US authorities arrested BetonSports chief executive David Carruthers and Sportingbet chairman Peter Dicks over alleged illegal Internet gambling on sport.
Online gambling is a 15 billion dollar industry worldwide.
It seems that Las Vegas would benefit from such a ban since they would love everyone to travel just to their city and gamble there. I wonder if they have some sort of paranoia about losing their business to online gaming companies.
Also note that horse race betting, state lotteries, fantasy contests, and certain online gaming activities are exclusively protected under the new law. You have to assume that certain special interests were rewarded for their "contributions" to some members in Congress.
To suggest that the ban on online gaming is supposed to improve social stability in our society is a load of bollux! The argument that these Internet gaming sites are a front for money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing is easily debatable. Are they saying that gambling in Las Vegas is "clean" gambling versus online?
The main sponsor of the legislation in the Senate, Senator Jon Kyl from Arizona, called Internet gambling a moral threat. He even called it an Internet version of crack cocaine. Strange that he is doing nothing about the Las Vegas gambling mecca nearby in Nevada. His state has its own lottery. Isn't that morally wrong too?
This is just blatant social and cultural authoritarianism. It encroaches on a person's individual freedom and unnecessary governmental interference in our private lives. How can this solve our social ills when other forms of gambling are sanctioned by the federal and state governments? An ineffective solution.
Americans will always want to place a small bet on a sports contest or playing a bit of cards for entertainment. Over time, it will take needless resources to prohibit and enforce the law on online gaming. It is similar to trying to prohibit alcohol during the Prohibition Era. Legalised gambling is a significant social and economic force in this country.
Let us have the right to gamble as we see fit. Banning online gaming outright does not solve the problem.
Bloomberg.com - House Approves Measure to Restrict Online Gambling in the U.S.
CNN.com - US ban sparks Web gaming crisis