Archives for the Month of November 2006 on Through the Magnifying Glass

Mob Rule on College Campuses

Cinnamon Stillwell's article about Mob Rule on College Campuses (off SFGate.com)

America's college campuses, once thought to be bastions of free speech, have become increasingly intolerant toward the practice. Visiting speakers whose views do not conform to the prevailing left-leaning political mind-set on most campuses are at particular risk of having their free speech rights infringed upon.

While academia has its own crimes to atone for, it's the students who have become the bullies as of late. A disturbing number seem to feel that theirs is an inviolate world to which no one of differing opinion need apply. As a result, everything from pie throwing to disrupting speeches to attacks on speakers has become commonplace.

Conservative speakers have long been the targets of such illiberal treatment. The violent reception given to Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group, at Columbia University in October is a recent example. Gilchrist had been invited to speak by the Columbia University College Republicans, but was prevented from doing so by an unruly mob of students. What could have been mere heckling descended into yelling, screaming, kicking and punching, culminating in the rushing of the stage and Gilchrist being shuttled off by security.

The fact that the rioting students could be heard yelling, "He has no right to speak!" was telling. Apparently, in their minds, neither Gilchrist nor anyone else with whom they disagree has a right to express their viewpoints. In any other setting this would be called exactly what it is -- totalitarianism. But in the untouchable Ivy League world of Columbia, it was chalked up to student activism gone awry. While condemning the incident, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has yet to apologize to Gilchrist or to conclude the supposed investigation into the affair. In other words, mob rule won the day.

Bay Area PC Intolerance

Such behavior is certainly not limited to East Coast universities. Last February at San Francisco State University, former liberal activist-author turned conservative activist-author David Horowitz had his entire speech shouted down by a group of protesters. Composed primarily of students and other members of the Spartacus Youth Club, a Trotskyist organization, the group stood in the back of the room shouting slogans and comments at every turn.

Even this was not enough to warrant their removal, so Horowitz and his audience, which included me, simply had to suffer through the experience. Horowitz, whose speech centered on his Academic Bill of Rights, took on his critics and attempted to engage them in dialogue, with varying degrees of success. But those who actually came to hear him speak, whether out of sympathy for his views or out of a desire to tackle them intellectually, were unable to do so fully because of the actions of a few bullies.

It is not only conservative speakers who are at risk of having their free speech rights trampled upon on American college campuses. Those who dare criticize radical Islam in any way, shape or form tend to suffer the same fate.

In 2004, UC Berkeley became the locus for bullying behavior during a speech by Islam scholar Daniel Pipes. I was witness to the spectacle, one I'll never forget. Members of the Muslim Student Association and other protesters formed a disruptive group in the audience, shouting, jeering and chanting continually. They booed loudly throughout and called Pipes everything from "racist" and "Zionist" (which in their minds is an insult) to "racist Jew" -- all because Pipes had the audacity to propose that moderate Muslims distance themselves from extremist elements in their midst; that in tackling terrorism authorities take into account the preponderance of Muslim perpetrators and that Israel has a right to exist peacefully among its neighbors.

This was hardly the first time that UC Berkeley students had espoused hostility toward speakers with "unpopular" views or those hailing from "unpopular" countries such as Israel. Nonetheless, it was a wake-up call for many in the audience who had not yet experienced first-hand the intimidation of the mob.

Muslim Reformers Silenced

Recently, reformers from within the Muslim world itself have been on the receiving end of such treatment. Whether it be the work of student groups or faculty, insurmountable security restrictions and last-minute cancellations have a strange way of arising whenever such figures are invited to speak on college campuses.

Arab American activist and author Nonie Darwish was to speak at Brown University earlier this month, when the event was canceled because her views were deemed "too controversial" by members of the Muslim Students' Association. Given that Darwish is the author of the recently released book, "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror," such claims are hardly unpredictable. Like most Muslim reformers, Darwish must overcome the resistance within her own community, aided and abetted by misguided liberal sympathizers, in order to get her message across.

Darwish was born and raised a Muslim in Egypt and later lived in Gaza. It was during this time that she had several experiences that led her to reject the anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism with which she was indoctrinated as a child. She eventually emigrated to the United States and has since dedicated her life to exposing the ways that hatred and intolerance are crippling the Muslim world and leading to violence against non-Muslims.

Her pro-Israel views led to an invitation from the campus Jewish group Hillel to speak at Brown University. Unfortunately, the very same organization later backed out, fearing that their relationship with the Muslim Students' Association would be harmed by the experience. But if such a relationship is based on mutually assured censorship, then it's hardly worth preserving. In the end, all of Brown's students missed out on what would undoubtedly have been a thought-provoking experience.


Word has it that Brown University has re-invited Darwish to speak, no doubt in response to the furor, so perhaps students will have that opportunity after all.

Terrorists Recant

Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist turned Christian convert and outspoken anti-jihadist, fared slightly better at Columbia University in October. Shoebat is the author of "Why I Left Jihad: The Root of Terrorism and the Return of Radical Islam." He was invited to speak by the Columbia College Republicans, along with former Lebanese terrorist Zachariah Anani and former Nazi Hitler Youth member and German soldier, Hilmar von Campe. All three have renounced their former anti-Semitic views and dedicated themselves to exposing radical Islam in a no-holds-barred fashion.

They managed to give their presentation, but the turnout was greatly impacted by last-minute changes to security policies implemented in the wake of the Jim Gilchrist debacle. As a result, 75 to 120 people who had RSVP'd for the event were turned away at the door because only Columbia students and 20 guests were allowed to attend. An e-mail sent out 3 hours before the event was the only forewarning, and as one would expect, most of those planning to attend didn't receive it in time. The event had been widely advertised in the blogosphere, and those denied entry were not only greatly inconvenienced but also greatly disappointed.

Members of student groups who had boycotted the event were much cheerier at the prospect of a low turnout. A post at the blog for the Blue and White, Columbia's undergraduate magazine, expressed eagerness for "pretty pictures of empty chairs." Unfortunately, they got their wish, to the detriment of open discourse at Columbia.

Illiberal Mob Rule

It's a sad state of affairs indeed when the figures of moderation and reform that many who call themselves liberal or progressive should in theory support are instead shunned in the name of political correctness. For how can one expect to promote progress while helping to stifle the voices at its heart?

People such as Shoebat and Darwish, who literally risk their lives to call attention to a grave threat to all our rights, are the true freedom fighters of our day. But far too many accord that label to those who choose to effect political change by blowing themselves up in a crowd of civilians or by randomly lobbing rockets into homes and schools or by promoting hatred of other religions. By excusing such behavior and simultaneously helping to suppress reformers, liberal student groups are in fact aiding the very totalitarian forces they claim to oppose. They have in effect become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

It would be nice if we could look to our colleges and universities as the bearers of progress, but at this rate it seems an unlikely prospect. If we are to truly promote an atmosphere of intellectual openness, respectful political debate and the free flow of ideas on campus, then we must stem the tide of thuggery, bullying and intolerance that threatens to subsume future generations.

Otherwise, we cede the day to mob rule.

The Cristal & Jay-Z

Just another potshot at Jay-Z. It would seem one of his unknowing fans sent him a bottle of Cristal champagne at his table. Given his recent announced boycott of the champagne, he went ahead and pour the expensive liquid onto the floor. The club was Marquee.

How about giving that bottle to another table or some other people that would like to enjoy the expensive brew?

While it's not the bling-bling of hip-hop and rap artists, it is still good for everyone else.

ahh, now i know why SIM chips are not popular here

180px-T-Mobile_SIM_card_front_and_back.jpgAccording to Wikipedia:

The use of SIM card is mandatory in the GSM world, whereas the SIM is not very popular in the CDMA world.

T-Mobile is also based in Europe, so that's why all of their phones have a SIM chip. Verizon, being based only in the US, has theirs built-in.

I got a fellow co-worker that wants to replace her phone. She wants my chocolate, but it's the euro version, not the verizon one, but she cannot buy one off a reseller because her verizon phone has no SIM chip so she cannot switch. Bollux!

hmm, looks like no SIM for Verizon (except for worldphones i think), Nextel, Sprint, Cingular/ATT (though they are in the process of converting to GSM eventually. yay!).

Could China or Japan Re-Think Investing into Dollars?

Today, Wall Street took a tumble. Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.3%, falling 158.46 points to 12,121.71. S&P 500 fell 1.36% and the NASDAQ was down about 2.21%.

The decline in stocks followed comments Friday by a Chinese central banker, who expressed concern about the possibility of a depreciating dollar.

"The exchange rate of the U.S. dollar, which is the major reserve currency, is going lower, increasing the depreciation risk for East Asian reserve assets," according to an academic paper by Wu Xiaoling, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China.

The dollar has not been doing well against the euro (around 1.31) and the sterling pound (1.93). For the Euro, we are almost at a 20-month low.

Wu's comments follow a Nov. 9 statement by Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank governor of China, who said his country plans to diversify its assets, likely away from the dollar.

The composition of China's $1 trillion of currency reserves remains unclear, but many speculate that at least 70% of it is in dollars. In recent months, the country has been buying U.S. Treasury bonds with dollars from its massive trade surplus with America. Were it to throttle back on its purchases--let alone start selling Treasurys--U.S. interest rates could be expected to markedly increase, putting pressure on American housing, indebted consumers and small businesses.

Anaylsts and finance strategists are downplaying these facts, which I think is a mistake.

Forbes - An Overcast Day On Wall Street

Forbes - China Raises Red Flag On Dollar

Microsoft's Zune player flops

iTWire - Why consumers are angry with Microsoft over Zune

As predicted by many iPod zealots, the much heralded launch of Microsoft's Zune music player has been a flop - they're moving about as fast as an elephant with arthritis. The few favorable reviews are punctuated with some real hissers that quite often sound angry. Why do so many reviewers and consumers seem to be angry with Microsoft over Zune?

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Honestly, if you bought a Zune player, return it, and either buy an iPod or wait for another competitor to offer a better viable alternative.

FCC overzealous with indecency rules

Fox, CBS Broadcasting Inc., NBC Universial Inc., and NBC Telemundo License Co. are suing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), challenging the way the agency metes out punishment for airing shows that contain profanity.

We all remember the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson during the Super Bowl halftime show. The FCC levied a heavy fine on CBS because of it.

Fox is challenging what it calls an unprecedented campaign by federal regulators to punish broadcasters for airing "unintentional and isolated expletives" during broadcasts.

David Fiske, a spokesman for the FCC, released a statement saying: "By continuing to argue that it is OK to say the F-word and the S-word on television whenever it wants, Hollywood is demonstrating once again how out of touch it is with the American people. We believe there should be some limits on what can be shown on television when children are likely to be watching."

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Because of the overzealous actions by the Parents Television Council and other groups, they intend to make prime-time television a kids-only category for everyone else.

It took years for prime-time tv shows to say "bitch, butt, ass, jerk, slut, tramp, bullshit (sometimes)."

Anything before 8PM should be restricted in using profane language or violent scenes. After 8PM or 9PM, it should be allowed. If parents or kids are offended, change the goddamn channel! This is called responsibility. You have cable or satellite? Use the parental control feature!

Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction caused an uproar was all exaggerated. How can one event define the nature of our prime-time networks? Are people stupid or naive? So a mistake was made, it was not intentional. Live television with no delay shows the best of the creative and editorial process.

I want to see "Saving Private Ryan" in its entirety on regular TV. I do not want any censorship. I want to see naked breasts at 9PM! If you don't like it, change the channel or block it. Leaving it to the federal regulators is unnecessary government intervention. Some groups want this because they do not want to handle the responsibility.

And after midnight, I want to see soft porn on FOX!

I will get off my soapbox. Have a good Thanksgiving everyone!

Fox calls FCC indecency rules 'radical'

They're not hungry, they have "Low Food Security"

The U.S. government has the audacity to tweak its own terminology and declare that all Americans in our country are not "hungry" anymore. Instead of referring nearly 11 million Americans who face a constant struggle with hunger, the government has classifed them as people with "very low food security."

This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 35 million Americans had difficulty feed themselves in 2005 and of those some 10.8 million went hungry.

Last year's report labeled families who don't get enough to eat as having "food insecurity with hunger."

This year's report has now labeled those same families as having "very low food security."

Supposedly the National Academies, which advises the government on science and medical issues, recommended the change.

Shame on them! Shame on the people who are trying to re-word or trying to skew phrases with different semantics.

Article

Hoboken: Archstone Hudson Park - Outrageous Rent Increases

I am going to mention this since one of my good co-workers lives there, and the actions by management are quite reprehensible.

The Hudson Park condo known as 77 Park in Hoboken was recently completed in 2000 and holds approximately 300 rental units, 450 parking spots (public/private). It is located near the Hoboken PATH station, about 2-3 blocks away, and is along the Observer Highway and railroad tracks leading to Hoboken Terminal.

A little over 2 years ago, it was taken over by Archstone Properties. (See notice indicating the takeover). It was originally run by The Pegasus Group.

Recently, some residents of Hudson Park were starting to get their next projected rent increase for next year. While a few were receiving increases of about 7 percent, others were notified of rent increases of 24 percent to 35 percent!

As stated on hoboken411.com, one tenant was offered a 8-month lease with a rent increase of 7%. At the end of that lease, he was offered another 8-month lease with another increase of 7%. So this was a 14% increase in a 16-month period. Another tenant's lease was raised from $1800 to $2800. He refused the new price. Another one had $2100 going up to $2900 (35%), and one had $2500 to $3100 (24%).

Because of these exorbitant and unfair increases, a group of residents passed out a flyer and wanted to get together in the gym to voice their concerns and sound out some ideas on how to address the price increase.

Well, it seems that the building management found out about the meeting and released a "Courtesy Update" to all residents on the 21st of November. (The same day where the tenant meeting about the rent increase was supposed to ake place.)

The eventual tenant meeting was held off-site.

The notice regarded the flyer by the "Concerned Tenants" as unapproved by management and was not given permission to be distributed to apartment residents. It also noted that the gym was not an "appropriate" meeting place to hold a discussion, and that the lobby should have been used instead, but further stated that permission was still needed nevertheless.

It claimed that some residents were offended by the "surreptitious" nature of the delivery of the flyer. (Cheapshot excuse.)

The management's reasoning on the huge rent increases:

1. Claimed that "extensive" market surveys showed apt rates increasing significantly in the greater New York area

2. Argued that the prior owner (Pegasus Group) did not raise rents in response to changing market conditions

3. Believed that rental rates "slipped" well below the value of apt housing at Hudson Park condo

4. Believed that residents were enjoying this "temporary pricing benefit" as a courtesy by current management

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A snapshot of Archstone's rates for the property:

archstone-rates.jpg

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It is true that condo property located in Hoboken have appreciated in value because of its proximity to New York City, and more luxury rentals and condos are still being built in the area. Of course, the Hudson Park condo is not registered under the Hoboken rent control ordinance.

The rent control law currently being applied to the older multi-family properties limits rent increases to the CPI or 7.5 percent max each year. If a tenant vacates, the rent can be raised up to 25 percent for the new tenant. Yet, this condo and newer properties being built are not applicable (an agreeemnt with the Hoboken town council?).

While a few can argue that this huge rent increase is not surprising, the issue is that rents usually stay in line with wages and inflation. How can raising your rent by 55 percent be considered reasonable? If inflation goes up 2-3 percent, and your salary raise goes up 5-6 percent, this would mean you would be hard pressed to support your current living arrangements.

Even some residents argue that the "luxury" condo is not really that great. No significant improvements have been made to the building. There were past incidents of water pressure loss and a mice infestation.

Obviously, the management really wants to squeeze as much as money as possible out of the renters. It is true that residents can take their business elsewhere, but does this mean we should surrender without a fight? It is true people can advertise the fact that the management operating Hudson Park are liars and are willing to charge expensive rental leases, but there will always be people willing to afford those prices. Yet, Hoboken is not New York City. It is not Chelsea, Soho, or the Upper East/West Side.

It would seem that everyone is sympathetic to the Hudson Park residents. Action should clearly be taken since the management is attempting to "suppress" the residents' efforts to join together. It is using the "safety policy" to prevent any meeting to be held in the gym, and while it has suggested the lobby as an alternative meeting place, it seems that management has placed one of their staff members in the lobby to keep "an eye on things."

It is true that renters do not have property rights. But is a rent increase of 30-60% conscionable and reasonable?

Update 12/04/06

The tenants are getting together tonight again to address the rent issues. I wonder if management will try to get someone from their side to attend. It would be miraculous if a management person shows up and actually listens to the complaints and criticism of their rent increases. Perhaps a "tar and feather" would be an enjoyable conclusion to the meeting.

It would also appear that Archstone is implementing their higher-than-normal rent increases at other properties. Washington Post has a piece on the Archstone Newport Village located in Alexandria, VA. The article noted that after the original owner, Charles E. Smith Residential Realty, merged with Archstone back in 2001, there were more frequent rent increases, and certain amenities were now charged separately from the rent bill.

"We were finding that many of our customers were looking for short-term leases, and Archstone decided to test whether customers should receive price breaks for those leases," explained Jessica Janez, Newport Village's assistant manager.

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If you take a look at the opinions of Archstone properties across the country, you may find similar complaints about their fee structure, unreasonable excuses why your rent has to go up 35%, and poor quality of management of the property. Likewise for property that were taken over by Archstone. It would seem they are pursuing a relationship where they will clean you out of whatever cash you may have for their high rent price and other so-called "administrative" fees. They are more interested in high turnover than retention.

Update 12/12/2006

Here's a link to rentometer on the 77 Park property. An average rent of $2,900 per month at this property places it higher than the other nearby rental properties in Hoboken.

Also, the Hoboken Reporter has an article on it.

Brown University Re-Invites Nonie Darwish

Nonie Darwish, born in Egypt and raised as a Muslim, is the author of "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror." She was invited by the campus Jewish group, Hillel, to tell Brown students about the radicalism she grew to despise in her own culture.

With Muslim organisations on campus calling her "too controversial," Hillel cancelled the event. It was afraid that it would upset its "beautiful relationship" with the Muslim community.

Brown's women's center also backed out of co-sponsoring the event despite that it agrees about Darwish's concerns about the treatment of women. It would seem that Darwish was not going to also condemn Israel for shooting Arab women used by terrorists as human shields, or for insufficiently protecting Israeli Arab wives from their husbands.

Darwish says "Speaking out for human rights, women's rights, equality, or even peace with Israel is a taboo that can have serious consequences" in the Arab world. She argues that her own community - in the Middle East and in America - is hostile to criticism, even from Muslims. She claims that after 9/11, many in Egypt believed that it was a "Zionist consipracy."

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According to Michael Graham's blog, Brown University has re-invited Nonie Darwish.

(See Hillel's statement on the event)

It would seem that Hillel sole sponsorship would shown a bias against "radicalism" in the Islamic world. If Jewish students brought in a speaker that criticises Islam, then it would hurt relations. They argue that it will be the same case if a Muslim group brought in a speaker that demeaned Judaism. So instead, the University will sponsor the event since it will provide the proper academic context for all.

Are we declaring that in order to criticise ourselves, we must bring in a speaker from our own group, not a different one? Or does it seem that speakers that set Islam in a negative light are barred? Could it be that Darwish is a Zionist consiprator trying to destroy Islam? It does not look that way. She wanted to show how Islamic women are treated. Is this different compared to how American women were fighting for their right to vote, equality in pay, and their failed attempt for a constitutional ERA amendment? Or how women were treated in historic times in general?

If you want to purchase the book, it is available at Amazon.com.

Note that because of her book, she has been declared an "infidel" in parts of the Muslim world. It is very likely that she cannot return to Egypt without being harmed.

Hmm, interesting to note that no article mentions about Nicole Darwish on the Brown Daily Herald.

The Blogosphere List Speaks!

Not Talking Back

Dean's World

Don Singleton

Issac Schrodinger

Pajamas Media

Kesher Talk

The Natural Truth

Related Articles

New York Post - Dissent Crushed

Get Your US Passport

Did all of you get your passports yet?

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has announced that all air travelers entering the United States will be required to show passports beginning January 23, 2007. This will include returning Americans and people from Canada and other nations in the Western Hemisphere.

This only affect air travelers.

Entering the U.S. by land or sea will require a passport beginning January 2008.

If you want to travel to Windsor or Niagara Falls (Canadian side), or Mexico you will need to present a U.S. passport of alternative security ID card. Your drivers' license and birth certificate will no longer be accepted as official identification.

Homeland Security has estimated that about one in four Americans (25 percent) have a U.S. passport. Quite a low figure compared to other nations.

Agency data on September 2006 showed that 69 percent of US travelers to Canada, 58 percent of US travelers to Mexico, and 75 percent of US travelers to the Caribbean hold passports.

US Department of State - Passport Services

Fees

Age 16 or older: $67 application fee. $30 execution fee. Total $97.

Under Age 16: $52 application fee. $30 execution fee. Total $82.

Renewal: $67 application fee plus old passport

Expedited Service - Add $60

Question

Should US passports be given to Americans at no-charge? Replacements and renewals be subject to a reasonable fee?

Google hits $500 / share

Google Inc has now surpassed $500 per share in today's trading. Its market capitalisation is now worth almost $154 billion dollars. It has almost 5,700 employees.

Yet, do you honestly believe that this company is actually worth that much? The top founders and executives have very little pay but lots of exercisable options that will guarantee them to be either a billionaire or millionaire.

Compared to Microsoft (MSFT) which is trading close to $30 and has a market cap of over $294 billion and 71,000 employees.

Survey: US is most unfriendly country to visitors

A global survey being released today shows the United States as the world's most unfriendly country for international travelers because of rude immigration officers and long delays in processing visas.

The survey, of 2,011 international travelers in 16 countries, was conducted by the polling firm RT Strategies for the Discover America Partnership, a business-backed group launched in September to promote travel to the United States and improve the country's image abroad.

More than half said U.S. immigration officials were rude.

Two-thirds were fearful that they would be detailed on arrival because of a paperwork mistake or saying the wrong thing to an immigration official.

Article

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I think we are nice over here in New York. I got a couple of Brits do a double-take on my car because of the West Ham United stickers.

Cruise-Holmes - a Scientology Publicity Stunt

So the wedding was a sham. Admist the glamour and extravagant ceremony, we now found out that they got "officially" married back in California.

Bracciano Mayor Patrizia Riccioni is thinking about taking back the honorary citizenship she offered the couple before they wed.

The ceremony angered the local priest, Father Nicola Fiorentini, who rang his bells for evening Saturday Mass longer and louder than normal before the wedding began. He said: "It wasn't a wedding at all. It was all just for publicity. I can't believe such an event was allowed to take place in the castle. A pope once stayed there and now we have all this. It's shameful and an offence."

Why they got married in the states? Well, Italy does not recognise Scientology as a religion. So the wedding was not legally binding. Why cannot they be flexible and do the Catholic setup? It would have made it happy for Holmes' parents, but it looks like Cruise was inflexible with that.

In tradition with being a close and secret society, the small village of Bracciano did not even had a chance to see TomKat or the 150 guests that attended the "ceremonial" wedding. Guests were ferried in cars and in blacked-out people carriers.

At each dinner table, a Scientology adviser was present to answer any questions about the unusual ceremony and the "religion" in general.

I wonder if they threw a free "E-Meter Audit Test" for the guests.

Perhaps a donation to the Church after the ceremony was done.

So they are finally married... congrats.

Let the betting commence on how long before they divorce.

Oh yea, they went off on their honeymoon to the Maldives but they did not go alone. Cruise's best man, David Miscavige, is with them. Is he along for a threesome? He's also the head of Scientology. Maybe there's a secret facility on one of those islands.

Democrat Rangel to Pursue Draft

rangeldraft002.jpg
(Thanks to Stubborn Facts - Photoshop Image)

Before 2004, he introduced a bill to reinstate the draft. Even though the legislation was already doomed at the start, Rangel wanted to point out that President Bush would try to do this after the election. Of course there was no relevant proof that this was actually considered by the administration.

Of course, he would suggest it was a "double-secret" plan to draft poor people for Bush's war.

Now, in a Washington Post article, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) will introduce a military draft when the Democrats take over the Congress in January. His reasoning? To deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea, and Iraq.

His quote:

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way."

So if we had a draft, we won't go to war??? We had the draft before and went to war in Korea and Vietnam.

Do we really have a manpower crisis? Recruiting levels have been ok so far this year. The active duty Army have met its retention goal for 2006. Check the figures available from the DoD.

Our active military forces is around 1.4 million troops, plus another 1.25 million in reserve. We are talking a bit under 3 million troops. Does this show we have a manpower issue? I would have thought it is more with logistics and equipment, not men.

Rangel says the draft will have "young people commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals," with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.

Yet Michelle Malkin counters with organisations such as National Health Service Corps, AmeriCorps, National Civilian Community Corps, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), and Citizen Corps Councils/Fire Corps/Medical Reserve Corps.

The Democrats have made all of us fearful that Bush would reinstate the draft and send us to Iraq. Yet, Rangel, a Democrat and incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee is pushing for this draft.

So who is playing the fear-monger?

This draft bill is unnecessary and accomplishes nothing for the American people.

Update

The Democrat House leadership has stated that the "draft bill" is not on their agenda come January.

Harman should be House Intelligence Chair not Hastings

It should be obvious to the American people that California Rep. Jane Harman should be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Yet because he sided with House Republicans, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi does not want to give him the job.

Her pick is not-so-ethical Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings. Even though he was guilty of impeachable offenses as a federal judge in Florida, he won a seat in the House from Florida's 23rd District in 1992.

Regardless of his past impeachment charges, he is backed by the Black Congressional Caucus to be chair of the Intelligence Committee.

Yet his past misconduct as a judge indicates he is not very good in keeping certain confidential information secret.

Are we truly safe in having this representative as Intelligence Chair? Yet the CBC wants him on it.

Will Pelosi give in just to keep her support among the black Democrats? Or will she reverse herself, and keep Harman? Unfortunately, it will be the former.

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Update 11/22/06

TIME is also concerned about appointing Hastings to chair the Intelligence Committee.

In the wake of the downfall of intelligence committee Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham — who is in prison after being convicted for his role in a very different scandal, involving alleged seven-figure payoffs by defense contractors — the way Congress handles the Hastings saga should shine still more light on problems with how the two parties appoint and reappoint rank-and-file members of such a sensitive committee.

Harman would ideally be chair if only he did not offend Pelosi. It is unfortunate to pick Hastings just to carry favor with the Black Congressional Caucus. I understand he did a good job as a committee member, but he's got impeached as a federal job. I consider that a black spot on his record.

Update 11/27/06

Hastings sent a five-page letter out to all House Democrats detailing why the charges against him are false. He rails against journalists and pundits who've covered the allegations against him as ill-informed and too keen to attribute the House's impeachment and Senate's conviction of him as proof enough.

Text of the Letter

Alcee Hastings to Dems: Support me — or Michelle Malkin wins

Let's re-focused here. Hastings was impeached as a federal judge. He was found guilty of betraying his oath and duty that went with that position. Off the Thomas database, transcripts showed that Hastings agreed that the proceedings against him were fair.

He is corrupted. Therefore, he does not deserve to be nominated to chair the House Intelligence Committee.

Update 11/28/06

Congressional Quarterly reports that Pelosi will not go ahead with naming Hastings as the House Intelligence Chair. She is supposed to shut down his bid late today. But Pelosi still has not decided who will get the chairmanship job.

Good job, but that position needs to be filled awfully fast. She should reverse herself and put Harman in charge.

Reuters - Pelosi rejects Hastings bid to head committee

Update 11/29/06

Oh well, Pelosi won't appoint neither of them. She is looking for a compromise candidate, probably Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Tex.), but possibly Rep. Norman D. Dicks (Wash.), a hawkish member of the Appropriations defense subcommittee, or Rep. Sanford Bishop (Ga.), a conservative African American with experience on the intelligence committee.

Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus voiced disappointment (Rep. Melvin Watt of North Carolina): Hastings "would have made an outstanding Intelligence Chairman."

Pelosi tries to make amends: "Alcee Hastings has always placed national security as his highest priority," she said. "He has served our country well, and I have full confidence that he will continue to do so."

Oh please... he [Alcee] was removed from the bench. Therefore, he is disqualified from serving such a sensitive post as Intelligence Chair.

No matter if Alcee showed hundreds of pages that he was ill-treated during questioning or his subsequent acquittal by a Miami jury in 1983, let's look at the bottom line.

An investigating committee of five eminent federal judges, each with strong civil rights credentials. Those judges, and later more than three dozen others, concluded that Hastings lied to the Miami jury as many as 15 times to win acquittal. That's 15 times!

Enough said.

Washington Post - Hastings, Harman Rejected for Chairmanship

UCLA student tasered

Appropriate use of force? Video shows he was "shocked" five times with the taser.

According to UCPD, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student, refused to produce his BruinCard ID on request and was asked to leave the CLICC Computer Lab in Powell Library.

In a campus police report, the incident began when community service officers, who serve as guards at the library, began their nightly routine of checking to make sure everyone using the library after 11 p.m. is a student or otherwise authorized to be there.

Campus officials said the long-standing policy was adopted to ensure students' safety.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have called for an independent probe to make sure the case's "civil rights aspects" are taken seriously.

I can understand about questioning the use of the Taser on Tabatabainejad, but was this a "racial profiling" incident? Absolutely not. It's probably more about a campus police officer being trigger-happy with his taser.

According to one UCLA student, random ID checks are standard procedure in Powell Library after 11PM, to ensure the safety of students. The checks are performed by Community Service Officers (CSOs), not UCPD officers. CSOs are UCLA students hired by UCPD to aid in security and service activities.

Mr. Tabatabainejad was the subject of a very ordinary, very standard ID card check by his own students. He failed to produce an ID. He was requested to leave multiple times before campus police were called in.

CAIR should not misinterpret this incident as a sign of Muslim insensitivity at UCLA.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The Associated Press is now reporting that Tabatabainejad has claimed he was singled out by the UCPD officer because of his Middle Eastern appearance. His attorney, Stephen Yagman (a high-profile civil rights lawyer), plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the U.S.-born student.

That's one way to paint himself as a victim, not of police brutality, but of systematic discrimination because he is Middle Eastern. Being asked for your student ID is a routine task to ensure the right people are allowed in the computer lab during late hours. How it is linked to the Patriot Act, I do not know.

I think it is right for him to question the appropriate use of force, but playing the race card? So if I am for routine ID checking to promote safety, am I being racist?

I have to wonder if Tabatabainejad is just paranoid and thinks everyone is against him.

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann Interviews a Daily Bruin Reporter on the incident:

Daily Bruin TV has a video article on it:

NBC4 TV:

More evidence against UCPD Police: they "threaten" students that were trying to crowd them as well as those that asked for their badge numbers.

Related Articles

Daily Bruin - Community responds to Taser use in Powell

LA Times - A third incident, a new video

Stanford Daily - Op-Ed: Why I don't trust the police (Interesting to note that the ID requirement is considered to be trivial and meaningless to the author)

Daily Trojan - UCLA tasering demands tough investigation

Shocking Citizen Journalism

Library Journal - Taser Incident in UCLA Library Sparks Outrage, Investigation

11/27/06 Update

Since the taser incident on the 14th, here are some updates.

hotair.com has a current UCLA student stating that the ID policy in Powell is a normal thing and that the tasered student had too many chances to leave the library without incident and became agitated when confronted.

He also found it odd that his fellow students were so quick to organise rallies and protests against police brutality. It seems that this was the first ever incident involving a UCPD officer on campus in quite some time.

Iran denounces the assault on the Iranian-American student at UCLA?!?!?!?!?

Indybay.org already made up its own mind on the incident.

Interesting read by vivekmittal.com

ABC 7 Local Los Angeles has identified the officer that tasered Tabatabainejad

Safety of taser in doubt after UCLA incident - Yale Daily News

Post Chronicle: The Weak After: UCLA Shock...

Houston Chronicle: Too quick to use tasers?

Bronx Principal does "Chicken Noodle Soup"

Ok, a white principal dancing "Chicken Noodle Soup" - so all you PC folks out there... insensitive? offensive?

Look at the video. The kids loved it. Could we just drop any racial accusations and just have some fun? Thank you.

Playstation 3 - How to Avoid a Riot

Stupid idea at Super Wal-Mart in Palmdale, CA: Since it only had 10 PS3 available, they decided to tell the approx 50 customers waiting in line for it that they had to run from one end of the parking lot to 10 chairs, and those that got the chairs would be able to buy it. A riot ensued, and one 19-year old man was injured when he ran into a pole.

Smart idea at Best Buy in Boston, MA: Aware it only had 140 consoles, its employees gave out tickets to the first 140 people in line so everyone could go home.

United States Concerned about Rising China's Military

Administration officials are worried about China become a second superpower to the United States. They cite Beijing's efforts to add submarines, missiles, fighter planes, and other high-tech weapons to its arsenal. Its People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the world's largest fighting force with 2.3 million soldiers.

Its reported military budget has increased 14 percent this year to $35.3 billion dollars, but analysts believe that China's true spending is three times that.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said "there are concerns about China's military buildup. It's sometimes seemed outsized for China's regional role."

Regional role? Has the U.S. started defining what should be the range of influence for other nations? Military planners at the Pentagon are worried that China can challenge their pre-eminence in the Pacific. Rightly so. It is quite obvious that Beijing frowns upon the American presence in South Korea and Japan, as well as their efforts to supply Taiwan with military supplies. It also does not help the fact the Australia and New Zealand are U.S. allies too.

Rice refuses to directly answer questions of whether U.S. foreign policy toward China consists of containing its military power. Instead, she praises their efforts to develop and expand their economy.

A congressional advisory panel is a bit more blunt calling for China to be a more responsible international player and that it should abandon its single-minded pursuit of its "own narrow national interests."

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission calls on the United States to impede Chinese efforts to isolate Taiwan. It also criticised the intelligence community for not setting up an effective program to gather more detailed information about China's military buildup and development.

Some analysts have predicted that by 2025, China's navy could rule the waves of the Pacific. Chinese submarines could outnumber their U.S. counterparts by as much as five to one.

Back in March, Admiral Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, commented:

I’m always asked about the Chinese threat and I say, ‘It’s not a threat,’ because you have to have two things to have a threat, and that’s capability and intent. There is no question that the PLA navy is modernizing and building its capability and is moving very quickly, but what is the intent?

Why is this a difficult question to answer? From time to time, every nation's military needs to upgrade their ships and weapon systems to make them more effective and efficient. China believes that it needs to modernise its military to counter the technology gap with the U.S. and its allies. It does not want to regard itself as a second-rate power anymore. With a $1 trillion foreign cash reserve, it has the ability to expand itself militarily.

A larger Chinese submarine fleet is ideal to counter the U.S. aircraft carrier. This will happen soon. China has already increased production to 2.5 boats per year of their Song-class diesel-electric sub. For the U.S., it hopes to return to producing two submarine boats per year no later than 2012, but it could be too late. Already, the U.S. sub fleet is in decline, and the per-unit cost of producing a sub is surpassing $2 billion dollars, impelling further cuts in the fleet.

Rice: U.S. Concerned About Rising China (AP)

Heritage Foundation - China's Submarine Challenge

The Burger King Song

Back to that wonderful BK song... enjoy!

Kucinich Speaks!

When was the last time Representative Kucinich made headlines?

In an interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, he has called for cutting all funding for the Iraq war. He said:

"We have to determine that the time has come to cut off funds. There’s enough money in the pipeline to achieve the orderly withdrawal that Senator McGovern is talking about. But cut off funds, we must. That's the ultimate power of the Congress, the power of the purse. That's how we'll end this war, and that’s the only way we’re going to end this war."

"We have to take a whole new approach. We’re spending over $400 billion a year, money that's also needed for healthcare, for education, for job creation, for seniors. We have to take a new look at this. We need to be a strong country, but strength isn't only military. Strength is also the economic strength of the people, their chance to have good neighborhoods. We spend more money than all the countries of the world put together for the military."

It is true that $400 billion is a lot, but most of it is money that the government does not have, so using it for healthcare, education, jobs, and seniors are empty promises.

Oh wait, we can solve that! A tax increase!

Earmarks: Democrats, we are watching

While it is true that earmarks cannot be completely eliminated from the federal budget, its abuse must be stopped. Yes, earmarks are responsible for groundbreaking medical, science, energy, and defense projects, but they should be set to a high standard. If an earmark is to be funded, it must be absolutely essential and fits within the federal government's limited responsibilities.

A bridge to nowhere or a project to improve bird migration is not essential and it is a example of bad fiscal ethics.

In 1991, according to the fiscal watchdog group, Citizens Against Government Waste, Congress made fewer than 600 earmarks. In 2005, the number grown to almost 14,000 - many of them inserted in bills at teh last minute, immune to review or challenge.

Most members will say that their earmarks are being justly spent, then why do they refuse to allow sponsors' names be attached to them? It would be impossible to know who authored a provision or whom it's intended to benefit.

So Speaker-to-be Pelosi plans to ask Democrats in January to approve new rules that would require every earmark to have a publicly named sponsor, require sponsors to disclose any financial interest in the earmark, and bar using earmarks to influence votes. An ethics bill she has backed would require a delay before votes on spending bills to allow time to scrutinize earmarks.

So let's hope that when the CAGW reviews the spending bills in 2007, the number of friviolous earmarks should drop drastically.

It would be nice to know what earmarks are being sponsored by Representative Stephanie T. Jones and Dennis Kucinich for their districts.

Opinion - Earmarks are efficient (USA Today)

Opinion - Democrats take half step to limit pork-barrel spending (USA Today)

San Francisco moves further down the road to being anti-military

The Board of Education in San Francisco voted 4-2 (with one absent board member) to phase out the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program from schools over the next two years, despite protests from hundreds of students who rallied outside the meeting.

The Board eliminated the program because of the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gay service members.

This is the same reasoning used to say no to having the famous battleship USS Iowa as a waterfront museum.

About 1,600 San Francisco students participate in JROTC at seven high schools across the district. The $1.6 million annual cost is shared between the school district and the military.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Mayor Gavin Newsom chastised the board for their decision:

"The move sends the wrong message," he said. "It's important for the city not to be identified with disrespecting the sacrifice of men and women in uniform."

If people want to participate in it and their families want them to participate, I think they have a right to participate without putting them in the political peril of being in this ideological debate,"he said.

He called severing ties with the JROTC "a bad idea" that penalized students without having any practical effect on the Pentagon's policy on gays in the military.

* * * * * * * * * * *

They just wanted to feel good to themselves banning anything military. So I guess the Board can now censor the libraries and ban anything military-related. No Veteran's Day or Memorial Day parades too.

Yet opponents of the program did acknowledge that the program is popular and even helps some students stay in school and out of trouble.

True enough, cadets and instructors argued that the program teaches leadership, organisational skills, personal responsiblity, and other important values. Perhaps the Board peaceniks should take a course to actually learn about it.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Other unfortunate quotes:

Former teacher, Nancy Mancias - "We need to teach a curriculum of peace."

Sandra Schwartz of the American Friends Service Committee, an organisation actively opposing JROTC nationwide - "We don't want the military ruining our civilian institutions. In a healthy democracy.. you contain the military. You must contain the military."

Board member Dan Kelly voting to eliminate - "It's basically a branding program, or a recruiting program for the military."

* * * * * * * * * * *

I can imagine what alternative program the Board members can come up with. Perhaps something a bit socialist, anti-miltiary, violence does not solve everything, we should be peace-loving and friendly. Essentially, a program on how to be a wuss.

Board member Mark Sanchez, another opponent of the program, thinks the 1,600 students should not complain about it. "I think people should not despair too much," he said. I guess if someone was going to eliminate a gay-advocate program, he would be protesting 24/7, lodging legal lawsuits, and other ways to stop it. Is he doing this to serve the best interests for the 1,600 students? Absolutely not.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The costs:

It is a $1.6 million dollar program. The military pays $586,000 or half of the salaries of 15 instructors (all retired military personnel). The district pays the other half, and $394,000 in benefits.

If the distict wants to go and surrender, I think the seven schools should do a joint-independent program and keep the JROTC alive. I would really believe there are some groups out there willing to help support the $1.6 million cost. Perhaps the nearby districts can do something about it too.

Note this, the program is voluntary, not a requirement. 1,600 students wanted to participate in it because it is a good-learning experience. The peaceniks are just on some fantasy land thinking the program is there to brainwash them and make them into violent soldiers.

Related Articles

San Francisco to Boot JROTC Programs (Fox News)

School Board votes to dump JROTC program (San Francisco Chronicle)

John Kerry left out

The Senate Democrats selected Harry Reid (D-NV) as their senate majority leader for the 110th Congress that will convene in January. Charles Schumer (D-NY) will be the Vice Chair of the Conference, Patty Murray (D-WA) will be Secretary of the Conference, and Dick Durbin (D-IL) is the assistant majority leader.

Where is John Kerry? Should he have expected a leadership position because of his campaign efforts? Or is he somewhat a liability? Could this predict a lower chance of success for him to try to run for President in 2008? Clearly, Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is expected to throw her hat in the presidential race, and most would probably favor her over Kerry.

Regardless if Kerry made a bad joke in trying to link Bush with Iraq, and instead saying that uneducated people are sent over there, he has made too many mistakes. If you look over his past policy statements on the military, he is more anti than pro. He is just betting that people have a deficit attention span and just focus on what he has done recently, then what he has done in the past.

Apple iPod on planes

Good news for iPod lovers. Apple has reached a deal with six major airlines (Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM, and United) that will let passengers play video and music from their iPod on in-flight entertainment systems in 2007.

The airlines will offer passengers iPod seat connections which can power and charge their iPods during flight, and where they can pipe their videos to the seat-back displays.

A False Photograph by US News & Time Magazine

usnews_photo.jpg

We must remember not to assume that a photograph is truly authentic. Take the example above. The cover photo from U.S. News & World Report is from their July 31st edition. With the title "Lebanon's new ruins", it implies that the destruction that you see there is a Lebanese town, with an armed Lebanese man identified as a "Hezbollah fighter near Beirut."

But upon closer inspection:

actual_photo_usnews.jpg

It's a garbage dump! And the armed fighter? It is ex-Reuters cameraman Adnan Hajj. He's pointing a gun at the site of the explosion.

A week after this edition, TIME publishes the photo in their magazine.

Both claim that the fire is the result of a wreckage of an Israeli jet trying to target Hezbollah trucks. Wrong!!!

* * * * * * *

Interesting site... Reuters Photo Fraud

No more free speech on CBS Evening News

logo_cbsnews.gifThe CBS Evening News with Katie Couric had a free-speech segment at the end where any person could speak their mind.

Well, it looks like that idea is about to die off. One fellow blogger recorded a free speech segment, but it looks like CBS won't air it.

He complained that the content he wanted to speak about was being discussed by the producers. That is not free speech, that is controlled speech.

So the free speech segment on CBS News is a dead idea. For those that want to record something, use YouTube or Blip or digg this. The mainstream media cannot handle independent media types from saying the real truth.

Greek Life: ??????

With so many different aspects to speak about, I could not find the right title for this post. I graduated as a Greek alum, a proud brother of Phi Kappa Theta. During my last year at Case in 2000, our chapter won the Agnar Pytte Greek Cup and the National Founders' Cup, having excelled in philanthropy, academic achievement, campus involvement, and our overall rush program. By joining such an organisation, it has helped me become a more outgoing and successful person today.

It is unfortunate to hear that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity, an established chapter at Case since 1905, was de-recognised by the University because of its past history and alcohol violations. It follows other sad stories of other chapters such as Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) which was kicked off-campus around 2003-2004, and they were founded at Case in 1876. It seems interesting to note that there was no coverage on FIJI being de-recognised by the University at that time. Another chapter was Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) fraternity which was ousted around 1994-95 for a series of violations. If you did not know, the Pikes trashed their house after they knew they were being kicked out. Ultimately, that house was repaired and renovated and became home to the Alpha Phi sorority.

Throughout the years, the Greek Life Judicial Board has tackled drug and alcohol violations, hazing, and other incidents. From time to time, chapters are found "responsible" for those actions and are sanctioned. These sanctions can range from required community service, risk management and alcohol seminars, dry parties, social probation, or even "going dry" permanently.

Yet besides all of this negativity which is figured prominently in the media, Greeks have contributed much to the University and the community. Our philanthropic efforts are second to none. Greeks tend to do better academically, and they are most likely to be involved with campus life and hold a leadership position. Somewhat recently, both Panhel and IFC were recognised nationally for their achievements and efforts at Case.

It would seem that the Greek image at Case is pretty good. Greek involvement has remained at around 30 percent of the undergraduate student body.

Yet, could the loss of SAE increase further scrutiny on the rest of the fraternities and sororities? It does not help the fact that Greeks have a negative stereotypical image across the country. We have all seen news stories of fraternities being suspended or kicked off campus for violations across a wide spectrum. In April 2006, a Phi Delta Gamma fraternity has been suspended by the University of Vermont because of homophobic hazing and underage drinking. In August, Theta Chi fraternity at Miami University at Oxford was suspended for hazing and underage drinking where a fellow student had to be taken to the hospital. At the beginning of this month, a SAE chapter at the University of Central Florida has been suspended when police found young men crawling on hands and knees, screaming profanity and wearing women's underwear, fairy wings, and a diaper at their house.

It should not be a surprise when a Case chapter does a pledge trip to another college or university, they would likely encounter a higher level of hazing and alcohol usage. If you try to compare a state school like OSU to Case, we look pretty tame to them.

So should Case Greek Life maintain strict adherence to its policies and regulations? To a certain degree, yes. I am aware that these rules are supposed to ensure the safety and well-being of students, but not to the point of assuming they are guilty until proven innocent, and not the other way around. I find the current judicial bylaws skewed to favor the prosecution. As such, the rights you would find in a regular courtman are not found in a greek judicial hearing. While I have been reminded that this is a private university and certain rights are not afforded to the defendant, then why hasn't it been changed to reflect that? Should it be time for a committee of students and faculty to review the existing judicial bylaws and see if any necessary changes should be made? Has there been any review of said bylaws in the past five years?

With so much legal scrutiny, some chapters are considering having closed parties or holding them off-campus. With the latter, it creates a more dangerous situation where there is no controlled risk management. But if you want to hold an open party, you got to follow the guidelines. Even though it is necessary and supposedly meets University, Greek Life, and FIPG regulations, it is certain to cause trouble for the fraternity or sorority if something goes wrong. I believe that these rules are even more complex and stringent than in years past. No wonder some groups just do not want to deal with it anymore.

I could still remember when the guidelines require fraternity members be limited to two guests at a party. Now, chapter houses are expected to hold 150 people. This previous rule was always cited as a charge against the Greek chapter. I find it unfair because it was a given that parties did violate the 2-person limit and it only comes up when an alcohol violation occurs.

Is it even possible to hold a perfect open party? Perhaps. That would depend on the security officer's report on the event. What remains unsaid is that there could be an off-chance of a report filed by a fellow GLA or judicial member that happened to be at the event. It is not a surprise there. Whether you can explain it could be a concerned student or some plainclothes police person, it is a possiblity to consider.

Having said all of this, it does not mean the rest of us are off the hook. We are expected to safeguard our chapter's well-being and trust one another in doing that. We should be fair and do our very best to preserve our accomplishments and our unique traditions.

But I also call upon Greek Life to be watchful but to be fair and reasonable. Trust is something that we all need to keep our wonderful Greek community together.

Another Military Video: Just funny or still inappropriate?

I really have to wonder if it was right for soldiers to bring their digital cameras and videos. Perhaps most of them are alright, but there are always a few which are questionable.

In this video, a female GI in a maintenance section gets duct-taped and put on a pole. The video is about 4 minutes long where a laughing female is getting wrapped in heavy tape.

According to poster "wickedharleyluva" on YouTube, he claims "This is what happens in Iraq when there are no Hummers to fix and your the only chick in the section...AND the only Yankee in a Louisiana unit!"

As you watch the clip, the female and and the guys are just enjoying themselves, and she was not under any such duress.

Author's Opinion

It's funny. Duct tape can be certainly be used to tie a person up pretty easily. In college, pranks often involve tying a fellow friend up. One time, one of brothers failed to get our soda machine re-filled, so he got duct-taped to our mascot cardboard guy and we paraded him around.

But in today's world of political correctness and the information superhighway, I can imagine the following things:

Taxpayer advocate groups criticising the waste of duct-tape for non-government purposes.

Anti-military groups criticising the waste of manpower and effort on silly morale-positive where soldiers are trying to enjoy themselves.

Women groups criticising the "aggressive" manhandling of the female soldiers and crying abuse when she is being duct-taped.

Peace groups calling for the soldiers to return home because it shows they are just ignorant. They might even suggest that these soldiers do not care about the Iraqi people.

John Kerry calling for soldiers to return because they are stupid and only know how to do pranks to each other.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Clearly, the folks at the Pentagon won't be happy with it. For the soldiers in the other ranks, they will just laugh quietly to themselves. It's always the officers that are concerned since it's all political, and for the grunts, they are trying to act human. On one side, these folks are defending our freedom and killing the insurgents, and on the other, they can still act and joke around just like you and me.

China: Being Stingy with its UN Financial Contribution

Japan has proposed to the UN Budget Commitee a way to redistribute the financial burden among the organisation. According to their draft, the permanent five veto holders would pay a minimum amount of 3 or 5 percent of the UN budget.

Ok, that's sounds reasonable. Of course this arrangement would not affect France, the United Kingdom, or the United States since they are currently contributing 6.2 percent, 6 percent, and 22 percent respectively. However, it would boost China's contribution of 2.053 percent and Russia's 1.10 percent as assessed in 2006.

The most vocal opponent to the idea is China.

The country's administration has argued that its "crushing" population of 1.3 billion people should qualified the country as poor??? Its evidence: 23.5 million Chinese earning less than $85 US in 2005.

China's total foreign exchange reserves has reached $1 Trillion Dollars. That's $1,000,000,000,000!

It is quite strange to note their opposition giving their increasingly influential role at the UN. They have protected the deficient system of regional rotation in selecting the next secretary-general. It was mostly the Chinese oil interest in Sudan that has delayed robust action to stop the genocide in Dafur. Most recently, China's seat in the Security Council has prevented a stronger reaction to North Korea's nuclear test. Because of this, China has a responsiblity to pay more to an organisation that has been a very effective instrument in helping the country achieve its foreign policy goals.

If you want to make an anti-Bush conspiracy video, make sure it is true

The one thing that annoys me is people trying to suggest there is a government conspiracy and there is evidence debunking it. How can people believe you if your conspiracy theory is proven to be a lie?

Below is a YouTube video posted by Mike McIntee alleging that the White House cropped out the "Mission Accomplished" banner when President Bush was announced an end to combat operations in Iraq. He tells everyone about the black bar at the bottom of the video and believes that the video has been doctored.

Yet another YouTube user, pudgenet, decided to check out McIntee's story. It would appear that every other video on the whitehouse.gov web site also has a black bar at the bottom of the video screeen.

Oh look! That black bar could have been a CNN, MSNBC, or FoxNews rolling banner. It would have caused some legal issues if the White House were to post those videos without permission. You can go ahead and check out the videos at the May 2003 page. Besides, I found one photo of a wide-angle view of Bush having his speech, and you can see "Mission Accomplished" banner on the tower.

It is quite interesting to note that McIntee's video has been viewed almost 200,000 times, likely due to word of mouth, and his video links posted on major blog and news sites. Yet, the video that is refuting his claim has been viewed over 21,000 times. I would not be surprised if those bloggers that have linked McIntee's video to their site, have not updated their sites with this new information.

According to Michelle Malkin, Mike McIntee is a liberal blogger from Minnesota. So it would appear that he was bored in his office, and decided to find something within the White House archives that could reveal a conspiracy of some "serious" nature.

Frankly, the "Mission Accomplished" doctored conspiracy is so weak. It does not even compare with the conspiracy theorists about the government being behind 9/11 or the missing "W" button from the computer keyboards when Bush's presidential staff were moving into the White House. At least the latter was a bit humorous.

So for Mr. McIntee, you should really update your video to respond to the evidence that your theory is false. If you are too busy removing comments from your YouTube video that suggest your theory was wrong, then your story is quite, quite, quite false.

Off the Political Wire...

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, may not see himself debating the country's position in the Security Council next year. After been given a recess appointment by Bush when the Senate was out of session, his prospects for official confirmation took a blow when outgoing Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee announced his opposition to the nomination.

Speaking for outgoing Sen. Chafee, he may consider switching parties when seeking future office. Some Republicans would not mind that.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman will leave his position in January. Outgoing Maryland Lt. Gov Michael S. Steele has been offered the party chief job.

Apparently, Republicans are angry at Bush for sacrificing Rumsfeld.

DNC Chair Howard Dean promises there won't be attempts to impeach President Bush.

Lieberman should act as a true independent

Sen. Joe Lieberman, who won re-election as an independent, has a message for his Senate colleagues in the next Congress: Call me a Democrat.

I really believe he should keep his "independent" credentials. Since it is obvious he will side with the Democrats to give them a 51-49 edge over the Republicans, he should use his leverage to force a more civil Senate.

Joe could be worried about not getting his seat as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. I would rather think the Democrats would give him the chairmanship just to curry favor with him.

I do hope he will use his "independent" status to become a bipartisan senator to bridge the gap between the two political parties.

AP - Lieberman: Call Me a Democrat

Update 11/12/06

Sen. Joe Liberman has refused to slam the door on possibly moving to the Republican side of the aisle.

"I'm not ruling it out but I hope I don't get to that point," he said. "And I must say -- and with all respect to the Republicans who supported me in Connecticut -- nobody ever said, 'We're doing this because we want you to switch over. We want you to do what you think is right and good for our state and country,' and I appreciate that."

Boston.com - Lieberman refuses to close door on switching parties

I really think he should not switch but don't expect him to vote 100% with the Democrats. Even with a 51-49 majority (assuming Lieberman and the other independent, Bernard Sanders (Vermont) side with the Democrats), bipartisan issues will be the only way for legislation to get through. House Democrats should take care to recognise that.

Orange Coast College Student Trustees Ban Pledge of Allegiance

american_flag.jpgAt Orange Coast College in California, student leaders went ahead and banned the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at their meetings, saying they see no reason to publicly swear loyalty to God and the U.S. government.

According to Reuters, the move was lead by three recently elected student trustees, who ran for office wearing revolutionary-style berets and said they do not believe in publicly swearing an oath to the American flag and government at their school.

Jason Bell, the student trustee who proposed the ban stated "That ('under God') part is sort of offensive to me. I am an atheist and a socialist, and if you know your history, you know that 'under God' was inserted during the McCarthy era and was directly designed to destroy my ideology."

He also said "Loyalty ought to be something the government earns through performance, not through reciting a pledge."

Called the flag salute "irrelevant to the business of student government." Also said nationalism is something that divides people.

The line drawn over patriotism and religion has infuriated some of their classmates -- prompting one young woman to loudly recite the pledge in front of the board on Wednesday night in defiance of the rule.

"America is the one thing I'm passionate about and I can't let them take that away from me," 18-year-old political science major and College Republicans President Christine Zoldos told Reuters.

"The fact that they have enough power to ban one of the most valued traditions in America is just horrible," Zoldos said, adding she would attend every board meeting to salute the flag.

The OC Register has more.

Author's Opinion

The underlying vote only affects their student trustee meetings. I would assume that most colleges and universities do not have any requirement that students should recite the Pledge at the start of classes. Most student governments do recite or acknowledge the Pledge or American flag at their meetings.

One of their main concerns was the phrase "under God." We all know the 2002 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that declared the recitation of the pledge to be unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the ruling on procedural grounds.

Bell's claim that the "under God" phrase was offensive to his atheist and socialist ideology seems quite selfish. One has to ask if their election platform included a ban on the Pledge at their government meetings. In any case, the decision is a symbolic one at best. They did not ban the use of the Pledge at other student group meetings. I would expect most groups would just ignore their proposed motion if they tried it.

Perhaps he can start throwing away his money since "In God We Trust" is stated on it. Who knows, maybe him and his socialist colleagues will ban the flag from their meeting room or not have the flag or the national anthem displayed at any student government ceremonies.

Since it is a student-run organisation, the college is not getting itself involved. As part of our democratic process, I would be sure that the next student government elections, the socialist trustees will be voted out of office.

11/15/06 Update

A nice socialist view at the Workers World

Prejudiced patriotism by the LA Times

Is the Pledge of Allegiance misapplied to force indoctrination? Some have said that the Pledge is a hypocritical example. Or could it be that it is an easy target to attack? Who knows if the trustees would push to ban the American flag from their meetings...

Should Democrats Impeach the President?

With both houses of Congress now in Democratic control, will the new leaders carry out their pledge to attempt to remove President Bush from office?

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stated in the New York Times:

“I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said during a news conference.

Pelosi also said Democrats, despite complaining about years of unfair treatment by the majority GOP, “are not about getting even” with Republicans.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, Democrats should know that before 1994, they controlled the House for 40 years. They lost 54 seats due to a series of scandals and the public's perception that the House leadership at the time was corrupt, and general dissatisfaction with Congress. During that time, they did not treat the Republican minority that well either. This year, it was the Republicans turn to suffer the same fate.

Even though most are probably pleased that the Democrats are back in control, they should know that voters wanted a change of leadership and direction, not for total revenge. Kicking the Republicans out of power was enough for that.

But the voters certainly do not want to see months of hearings on the President's conduct during the war in Iraq, torture of prisoners, and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Of course, we would like to have some type of investigation started, but a prolonged "witch hunt" will cast Democrats in a negative light.

We want solutions to illegal immigration, border and domestic security, the national debt and deficit, Social Security, the prescription drug bill overhaul, terrorism, and foreign leadership.

I do not want to see on CNN 24-hour coverage of hearing after hearing on why Bush sucks or what he did wrong. We have seen that already, in some degree or another. The American people are giving the Democrats a chance to do something different, and I hope that Pelosi and her close allies will temper their impeachment and hearing threats and focus on the issues.

If they fail to do so, the voters will respond in kind in 2008.

Former Brooklyn Rep. Liz Holtzman's book: "The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens" is definitely unnecessary in today's political climate. Voters do not want to deal with a 2-year impeachment fiasco. Bush is not running again. People just have to deal with a lame-duck president for another 26 months.

Holtzman has said "Impeachment has to have the support of the American people."

Absolutely correct. Right now, there is no overwhelming support for it.

Allen to concede

Incumbent Virginia Senator GF Allen will concede the election at approximately 3PM EST.

With over half of the canvass votes counted, Democrat candidate JH Webb Jr has maintained a 7300 vote lead. It seems very unlikely for the totals to change to the other side.

Rumsfeld Resigns

Over the wire.... Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has resigned from his position.

Reports that Ex-CIA Chief Robert Gates will become next Defense Secretary

Congress: Democrats Sweep!

After twelve years of Republican rule in the House, Democrats have taken back control, picking up 33 GOP seats. This will give them a majority of +16. (Republicans 201, Democrats 234, Independent 0)

In the Senate, Democrats have taken control. It will be 49 Republicans and 51 Democrats.

The two remaining decided races:

Montana
Jon Tester (DEM) 198,302 49% Declared Winner
Conrad Burns (REP)* 195,455 48% (incumbent)
100% of precincts reporting

Margin of victory is about 2800 votes in favor of Tester

Virginia
J H Webb Jr (DEM) 1,173,809 49.55% Projected Winner
G F Allen (REP)* 1,166,493 49.24% (incumbent)
G G Parker (IND-Green) 26,231 1.11%
Write Ins 2,364 0.10%

Total: 2,368,897 (99.88% of precincts reporting)

Margin of victory is about 7300 votes in favor of Webb

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The +16 majority projection is by MSNBC.

Fox News has so far projected a Democratic majority of +5.

CNN currently has Democrats with a +9, with 14 races still undecided.

Nice Site: Frontpages scanned from newspapers across the country

Britney Spears Files for Divorce

spears_kfed.jpgA break from the political bickering.

Britney Spears has filed her divorce papers in Los Angeles County Superior Court citing "irreconcilable differences." She has asked for both legal and physical custody of the couple's children with Federline getting reasonable visitation rights.

Know that the couple have a prenup before marrying.

For me, I can say thank god! D-list star K-Fed, or maybe no-list star, has enjoyed too much of Britney's goodwill to maintain his partying lifestyle.

Link to the Divorce Petition

Update 11/12/06

I don't believe it. After Britney filed her divorce papers, Kevin Federline filed his own petition, demanding over half of her fortune, custody of their children, and legal fees and maintenance (spousal support). His bargaining chip is a sex tape they made near the beginning of their relationship. It is said that the tape contains an uninhibited range of love-making and sexual games.

Kevin has told Britney she should comply with his demands otherwise the whole world will see her having sex. He is currently in talks with an Arizona company in putting the four hour video online for over almost $50 million dollars.

So Britney can push for the prenup that they both signed and face her sex tape being publicised to the whole world, or give in and let K-Fed take almost half of her fortune, seeing her kids, and also receiving spousal support since his album has bombed.

It is very sad since he's the one who broken up the marriage and he can use the law to get what he wants plus the leverage he has for the tape.

Britney found Federline in bed with another woman. That's infidelity.

He has been romping with Vegas hookers.

He has snorted cocaine and popped ectasy.

He has squandered millions on 24-hour gambling sessions and booze.

News of the World - Oops, I Vid It Again

US Midterm Elections 2006

Today, Nov 7th, is the day where the voters will decide to stay with a one-party in control of the federal government or a divided government (not necessarily a bad thing) for the next two years.

As such, election coverage of today's vote will be quite detailed, massive, and perhaps up to the point of overload. Here are some recommended links:

Pajamas Media - Election '06 Video Coverage

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire - includes a new Polimetrix poll suggesting a 50-50 split in the Senate

Rasmussen Reports - Bush's Job Approval at 45%, Disapprove at 52%

The Club for Growth - Election Predictions

TCS Daily - Election Predictions by the staff

Election Projection.com (Currently predicting a 3-seat majority for Democrats in the House and a 2-seat majority for Republicans in the Senate)

Captain's Quarters

Real Clear Politics Tuesday

CNN Special Coverage: Election 2006

MSNBC Election Coverage 2006

Fox News - You Decide 2006

C-SPAN - Campaign Network

Electionline.org

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Running News Wire

Justice Dept deploys 850 poll watchers to 69 jurisdictions in 22 states

Machine problems in PA

Court hearing in Indiana to extend voting for another 2 1/2 hours due to electronic machine problems.

Same thing in Tennessee. Democrats asking that voting hours be extended

Motion filed in Denver District Court to extend voting hours in Denver for 2 hours, polls would close at 9PM. Computer problems.

Vote rigging charges in Utah

Two Central Florida counties are giving voters incorrect ballots

Kentucky Poll Worker Charged with Choking a Voter

S.C. Governor Forgets his Voter ID, Turned Away by Poll Worker

Voter turnout in Buffalo, NY abnormally high

Indiana: Judge in Delaware County has ruled that polls will stay open until 8:40PM b/c of earlier computer glitches

Missouri: Despite voter ID requirement being struck down in that state, top election official Democrat Robin Carnahan was asked for his ID.

Indiana: Apparently in Marion County, about 175 of 914 precincts turned to paper because poll workers did not know how to run the machines. No training???

Poll Workers Struggle with Vote Machines

Redstate Blog: In wards 7, 19, 51 in Philly, PA, the crowds are going wild. Inside several voting locations, individuals have poured white out onto the polling books and the poll workers are allowing voters to go into the polls and vote without first registering. Several individuals are on hand demanding that voters vote straight Democrat.

RNC lawyers have headed to the scene of the incidents, which are occurring in mostly hispanic precinct locations. The District Attorney has also been contacted.

More from the ground: Reports of voter intimidation by son-in-law of Philadelphia City Commissioner in 19th Ward. Carlos Mantos is not allowing Republican poll watchers with valid poll-watching certificates monitor polling places.

Why I don't like partisan secretary of state people oversee elections

At Bernalillo County precinct 603 in Albququerque's NE Heights - where there are over 2400 registered voters, [Mary] Herrera (who is also running for Secretary of State) only sent over 150 ballots. They ran out. A long time ago.


"Las Vegas" show takes a pot shot at sexual harrassment

The second episode of Las Vegas, Season 4 had a few scenes where the cast did an executive sexual harassment seminar. Of course by now, most people knew Danny (Josh Duhamel) was fraternising with Delinda (Molly Sims) which is pretty much a no-no in a lot of corporate environments. The first scene does not really go into depth about sexual harassment, but some of the cast including Ed's (James Caan) voice recorder try to make a few pot shots at different scenarios where they can be accussed of SH.

Near the end of the episode, Danny gets the cast and executives of the hotel together and makes an apology for the seminar for being confusing, lame, stupid, and a waste of their time. He then announces that Delinda was his g/f. He explains that in Las Vegas, you can get sex, riches, and dreams, so there is a lot of temptation out there.

He then laid out a few simple rules:

Guys - Don't be creepy, if you ask a girl out, and she says no, that's it.

Women - There is a difference between a guy being a jerk and sexual harassment. Use common sense, you got plenty of it.

Gay or straight, young or old, the golden rule is the standard.

Knuckleheads or those that cannot help themselves will see Danny or the corporate lawyer.

Is it possible to treat this with simplicity and know that a lot of people have a good decent amount of common sense to deal with the complex world of sexual harassment? With rules and guidelines on how we say, behave, and treat other colleagues, we are basically walking in a minefield everyday.

Ohio Decides

Is it possible that the Republicans' turnout machine in Ohio could backfire? Voters have given Republicans statewide control for about 10 years and it has resulted in scandals, an unpopular war, a defensive President, and where the current governor (Taft) has a microscopic approval rating.

Will Republicans choose to vote for the GOP based only on the reason that they do not want Democrats to be in control of Congress? Are they willing to "overlook" the scandals and the ethics violations and keep with the current party?

It could be likely that Democrats will make a sweep of all statewide offices barring judicial positions. Will that affect the federal races?

Strickland (D) is predicted a landslide victory over Blackwell.

Brown (D) is also predicted a landslide victory over DeWine.

Republican Voter Drive is really persistent

When I first registered to vote, I listed my affiliation as a Republican. I haven't changed it in a while, but my voting record has been pretty much straight through the middle. I tend to vote Republican for the local and county elections, and state/federal are just mixed.

The last several days, the Republican voter drive campaign has been going non-stop. I think I received about 6-7 flyers from various Republican groups, and two recorded phone calls on Saturday and Sunday about voting "to stay the course."

Saddam Hussein GUILTY

saddam_hussein.jpg

The ousted dictator of Iraq has been found guilty of crimes against humanity in the 1982 killings of 148 people in a single Shiite town and will be sentenced to death by hanging.

As he, his half brother and another senior official in his regime were convicted and sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal, Saddam yelled out, "Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!"

In addition to the former Iraqi dictator and Barzan Ibrahim, his former intelligence chief and half brother, the Iraqi High Tribunal convicted and sentenced Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the head of Iraq's former Revolutionary Court, to death by hanging. Iraq's former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Three defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison for torture and premeditated murder. Abdullah Kazim Ruwayyid and his son Mizhar Abdullah Ruwayyid were party officials Dujail, along with Ali Dayih Ali. They were believed responsible for the Dujail arrests.

Mohammed Azawi Ali, a former Dujail Baath Party official, was acquitted for lack of evidence and immediately freed.

He faces additional charges in a separate case over an alleged massacre of Kurdish civilians — a trial that will continue while appeals are pending.

AP - Saddam, 2 others sentenced to death

BBC News - Saddam Hussein sentenced to death

BBC News - Reaction to Hussein's verdict

ABC News - Shiites Cheer, Sunnis Protest Conviction

CNN.com - Saddam Hussein sentenced to death by hanging

Foxnews - Saddam Hussein Sentenced to Die for Crimes Against Humanity

If you wish to travel around Europe

I encourage everyone not to use Ryanair, the discount Irish airline. Even though they offer flights for as little as 1 pound, they are truly the "no-frills" airline. They are even worse than Southwest. Actually, if you compare Ryanair with Southwest, the word "discount" is taken quite literally.

Customer service is basically zero, and if something happens to your flight (i.e. gets cancelled), expect no or very little compensation. They would blame it on the weather, on the airport, or even the passengers, but never themselves. If the flight gets cancelled, there is no hotel or food comp, and if they ask that you need to go to another airport, they will not offer coach service.

If you are handicapped, you are in trouble right from the start. Ryanair used to charge an elderly or handicap passenger for using an airport wheelchair. After legal action, Ryanair decided to charge every passenger on the flight a handicap fee to finance the use of wheelchairs. Then they said it was the airport's fault, not the airline.

They are also notorious with baggage weight. If you go over, you have to pay a hefty fee. They also nix the ability for passengers to pool their baggage weights together. Rumors have been flying that Ryanair has rigged the weight scales to benefit them.

The seats really suck, and they would re-assign your seat for reasons of load balancing, which is really a poor bullsh*t excuse. Then throughout the flight, they would offer expensive food and snacks and other duty-free products.

I am sure people may think about tolerating Ryanair's cheap attitude, go right ahead. On occassion, there won't be any fuss. But if something unfortunate happens, don't look to Ryanair for assistance.

Trader Gets a Smackdown

The financial industry can be a bit "hostile"

Kanye West is a sore loser again!

Kanye_West.jpgAt the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards, occassional sore loser Kanye West did his immature act again.

Even those he got the award for Best Hip Hop Artist, he was so disappointed at not winning Best Video that he crashed the stage Thursday in Copenhagen when the award was being presented to Justice and Simian for We Are Your Friends.

His tirade, which included several expletives was definitely not scripted.

West shouted, "F**k this! My video cost a million dollars."

"Pamela Anderson was in it, I was jumping across canyons and s**t! If I don't win, the awards show loses credibility. Nothing against you (Justice Vs Simian), but hell man."

He then said, "If I don't win, the awards show loses credibility."

Before the awards, West told MTV, "I should definitely win best hip-hop. I should definitely win that (best video) also."

At the press conference afterwards, West was still angry over the award, saying, "I haven't seen (the Justice and Simian video). Possibly it could have been quite good, but no way better than Touch The Sky.

"That is complete bulls**t, I paid a million. Obviously it's not all about the money, but the response it got transcended everything, it really made great TV. It took a month to film; I stood on a mountain; I flew a helicopter over Vegas. I did it to be the king of all videos and I wanted to walk home with that award.

"(The reason the other video won) - That was some spread the love bulls**t, 'Oh everyone should have an award.' Please press people print, 'Kanye says f**k that!'"

There you have it, this absolutely proves that Kanye West is A SORE LOSER!

Why should people defend him because of this? So he got one out of three awards this year. He should be thankful for getting nominated. He should be thankful for the fans that buy his music. Instead, we see that he only cares about getting some sort of trophy for his accomplishments.

AP Photograph of Kanye West Complaining to Justice and Simian kanye_west_complains.jpg

Global & Mail - Kanye West sore loser at MTV Europe Music Awards

Entertainment News - Kanye's on stage tantrum

Airport Security Risk in Paris, Muslims Barred

According to BBC News, more than 70 Muslim workers at France's main airport have lost their security clearance for allegedly posing a risk to passengers.

These workers, which also includes airport staff and baggage handlers at Charles de Gaulle airport, are said to have visited terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

One man is thought to be a friend of Richard Reid, the British shoe-bomber who tried to blow up a flight from Paris to the U.S. in 2001.

According to security reviews, surveillance, and other evidence, airport officials say some of the workers had frequently visited Pakistan and Afghanistan in the previous year. They also had evidence suggesting one of the workers may have been close to a senior figure in an Algerian terrorist group with links to al-Qaeda.

Some of the workers have sued the airport on discrimination charges.

Georgetown U joins Columbia in Mob Rule

It would appear that suppressing free speech is happening at Georgetown University. Chris Simcox from the Minutemen was invited to speak at their campus. After about 10 minutes into his speech, someone turned on the fire alarm.

Of course there were protestors outside the event, and they all cheered when the fire alarm went off.

Chris Simcox is the head of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, which has engaged in civilian patrols of the US border with Mexico.

Georgetown student group: GU Students United Against Racism, Hate and Violence says while it recognises Simcox's right to free speech, he shouldn't be on their campus.

Hmm, kinda defeats the purpose of having the right to speak your mind.

Update 11/02/06

thehoya.com - Disruption Minimal as Immigration Activist Speaks

Thanks to youwishyouwerejessiesgirl's comments. I wonder if Ryan was trying to galvanise conservatives about another free speech suppression incident. A look at the Minutemen Civil HQ web site shows no mention about any major incident occurring at Georgetown.

I am glad Simcox finished his speech, and there was at least a polite debate of his views. It would seem that protestors just do not want to think of him as a regular guy, but as a racist, insensitive person, but I would guess they are just reading off the pamphlets and flyers given to them.

To note here, the person who commented was attending the lecture, and the Georgetown undergrad Ryan was outside.

Kerry: If you are not smart, you go to Iraq

Poor John Kerry. Honestly, he should just apologise for his "botched" up joke, no matter how much he says he was actually referring to Bush, not the troops.

bannerkerry.jpg

Here's a banner from the troops "stuck in Iraq."

So what did he say?

At a campaign event in California, John Kerry said:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

If he was referring to President Bush, then the words he spoke did not make sense. I do not see how those words would be linked to the President, so therefore, he really mangled his words.

Here's the video:

Bad part to his quote is that the U.S. military is the most educated force in the world (click here for demographics)

Imus responds to Kerry

Update: Kerry Makes Apology

Democratic Sen. John Kerry apologized directly to U.S. troops on Wednesday for comments about Iraq that had prompted a firestorm of criticism from Republicans and President George W. Bush.

"I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended," Kerry said in a statement.

New York Times Lying?

So it looks the New York newspaper decided to show some bias for Kerry by headlining a news piece called "Flubbed Joke Makes Kerry a Political Punching Bag, Again."

If you read the article, the author, Kate Zernike, chooses to mention Kerry's quote in the 18th paragraph! Was this the goal of the writer to hope that the reader would just zone out by that point?

She claims that Kerry actually said:

Mr. Kerry’s prepared remarks to California students on Monday called for him to say, “Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.” In his delivery, he dropped the word “us.”

If you look at the video, he never said "Just ask President Bush."

Again, let's go back to his actual words:

"You know, education — if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq."

Zernike is theorising that the rest of his words were cut off or that we should look at his notes, rather than what he actually said.

A thumbs down for the NY Times.

CNN's Lou Dobbs: U.S. is best democracy money can buy

Lou Dobbs: U.S. is best democracy money can buy

Excerpts:

While the name of the party in charge may change from Republican to Democrat, it's really only a branding issue. And just as my friend James Mtume says, it's still the same bird, just a different wing. And believe me, middle-class America will still be getting the bird.

.....

Corporate America long ago quit talking about corporate citizenship and corporate responsibility, and with both the Democratic and Republican Parties as its tools, corporate America wants you and me to forget that we are first citizens, and that America is first a nation.

.....

Most Americans understand that all the major decisions have already been made. It is now clear to all but those who will not see that both political parties and their corporate masters have placed our middle class in direct competition with the world's cheapest labor, leaving it only a tenuous and failing grip on the American Dream.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Isn't it true? The middle class is being ripped off by both Democrats and Republicans.