Archives for the Month of August 2007 on Through the Magnifying Glass

Private contractors in Iraq are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they screw things up

The Rip-off in Iraq: You Will Not Believe How Low the War Profiteers Have Gone

The US government mailed 360 tons of cash to Iraq. 360 tons!!! and they could not account for $8.8 billion of the $12 billion sent.

Suddenly, being a private contractor seems to be quite a lucrative profession.

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I love these things...

When Custer Battles was caught delivering broken trucks to the Army, a military official says the company told him, "We were only told we had to deliver the trucks. The contract doesn't say they had to work."

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The companies that are not to be trusted:

Parsons
Custer Battles
KBR
Bechtel
Wolfpack

Olbermann re-enacts Senator Craig Bathroom Scene

Doen't Olbermann have anything else better to do?

Keith goes ahead and re-enacts in "Dragnet" style of Senator Craig's public restroom encounter with an undercover police officer.

Download video

I would bet as an encore, he can re-enact the death of Princess Diana by being one of the paparazzi chasing her car in Paris.

One gas station to avoid and others that try to scam motorists

I know it's in Orlando, but hopefully the blogosphere can work to force this gas station out of business.

The Landing Strip gas station is located on Semoran Boulevard, just north of Orlando International Airport.

Motorists are fuming mad when they saw the $4.499 price for a gallon on the lcd display of the gas pump.

The problem is that there are no signs displaying the prices at this particular gas station. The local news station WKMG asked station manager Bob Barnes how he can get away with charging the prices when other gas stations are offering $2.60 or $2.70 a gallon.

His response: "Well, mainly it is volume. As you can see, the pumps are practically full. Everybody knows what the price is because they have to hit the little lever and they see the price above the lever. And that is how you get away with it."

Is this illegal? Nope. According to the state, the high prices are not illegal. Businesses can charge whatever the market bears for gasoline, unless the governor has declared an emergency.

Also, there is no state law requiring businesses to erect gas signs showing how much customers will pay.

* * * * *

Basically, the gas station owner is betting that when you drive up to the gas pump, lift the lever, and see the high price, you would still go ahead and fill the gas tank up, or perhaps partially, because it would be inconvenient to stop and drive to another gas station nearby.

Since his station is next to the Hertz and Thrifty rental shops, and are the last pumps before the airport, I bet most customers are rental car users. They could be in a hurry to catch their flight, and they are willing to pay the outrageous price.

Honestly, if any Ohio gas station tries to do the same thing, just pass the word, and boycott them.

No more tag, it's harassment

A bit protective are we? It would seem that the Discovery Canyon Campus elementary school in Colorado Springs, CO has banned tag on its playground after some children complained they were harassed or chased against their will.

Link

Assistant Principal Cindy Fesgen: "It causes a lot of conflict on the playground." Running games are still allowed as long as students don't chase each other, she said.

I can interpret that to mean no basketball, football, soccer, and track. They are indeed chasing each other for the ball, but on a literal basis, they are definitely "chasing" each other.

Also, at a meeting about the ban, only two parents complained, but most others did not object. Hmm, a bit of majority-silent treatment. No one wants to be the whiner.

Back in 2005, two elementary schools in the nearby Falcon School District did away with tag and similar games in favor of alternatives with less physical contact. School officials said the move encouraged more students to play games and helped reduce playground squabbles.

Say good bye to dodgeball. Are we getting too fragile here?

UEFA Champions League 2007/08 Draw

The draw is over! Here are the group stages:

Group A
Liverpool
Porto
Marseille
Besiktas

Group B
Chelsea
Valencia
Schalke 04
Rosenborg

Group C
Real Madrid
Werder Bremen
Lazio
Olympiakos

Group D
AC Milan
Benfica
Celtic
Shakhtar Donetsk

Group E
Barcelona
Lyon
Stuttgart
Rangers

Group F
Manchester United
Roma
Sporting Lisbon
Dynamo Kiev

Group G
Inter Milan
PSV Eindhoven
CSKA Moscow
Fenerbahce

Group H
Arsenal
Sevilla/AEK Athens
Steau Bucharest
Slavia Prague

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For something funny and a bit dirty, click here (YouTube video)

Nokia next to offer iPhone look-alike

Not a surprise. Do you really think Apple has a lock down on the interface design? A good many phones out there were heading in the same direction.

Plus you should always check the European and Asian sites of the respective phone manufacturers and see what gadgets are coming out for those regions. Usually, it would take months before they appear in the US.

Link

If we are supposed to be for regime change, how about Myanmar?

Why haven't we brought democracy to Myanmar (Burma)?

Jim Carrey makes a YouTube video urging people to join the US Campaign for Burma and Human Rights Action Center

AP - Protests spread around Myanmar

CNN.com - Jim Carrey: Help Aung San Suu Kyi

Wikipedia - Aung San Suu Kyi

The junta controlling Myanmar has been cracking down on protestors ever since they quadruple fuel prices in the country.

These recent actions have led to condemnations by the United States, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.

* * * * *

Said the United States: "The United States calls for the immediate release of these activists, and for an end to the regime's blatant attempt to intimidate and silence those who are engaged in peaceful promotion of democracy."

Said France: "France is also deeply concerned by the use of force by pro-government militias in Rangoon against peaceful and democratic demonstrations. The military junta will be held solely responsible for the consequences that this unacceptable repression may have on the demonstrators.

Said the United Kingdom: "The British Government condemns the detention of a number of Burma's '1988 Generation' student leaders on the evening of 21/22 August. Those detained, and their colleagues, have exercised their right to peaceful protest at the harsh economic burdens being heaped on the long-suffering Burmese people. We support their call for the restoration of democracy and genuine political dialogue. We urge the Burmese government to free them immediately'.

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On the 26th August, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, expressed concern over reports that student leaders and other protestors have been arrested by the Myanmar authorities following a series of peaceful demonstrations against the sharp increase in the prices of fuel.

Remember Aung San Suu Kyi's "Freedom from Fear" speech:

"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."

She was the 1991 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for "her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights."

Taslima Nasrin

taslima_nasrin.jpgWe all heard of Salman Rushdie, now here's another example. Taslima Nasrin is a Bangladeshi writer who finds herself without a nation at the moment. She fled her native country after writing a critique of Islam for India, and now it looks like she needs to leave that country as well.

Ms. Nasrin, a medical doctor turned writer, made international headlines in the 1990s after her debut novel Lajja, or Shame, was released in Bangladesh and sparked such intense Muslim antagonism that she was forced to flee her homeland.

Nasrin's writings express her thoughts on religion, feminism, and sexuality clearly--issues that are not often expressed in the open in the traditional Muslim society of Bangladesh.

Recently, in March 2007, an Indian Muslim group offered a bounty of 500,000 rupees for her beheading.

While living in West Bengal, she was physically assaulted in early August by a Muslim religious group at the launch of a translation of one of her controversial novels in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.

A week later, in Calcutta, Muslim clerics issued a "death warrant," threatening to kill Ms. Nasrin - who is Muslim, although a critic of Islam - if she did not leave the country.

Senior FB leader Bhaktipada Ghosh said while India is a secular society, "we cannot tolerate attacks on any religion here." He wants her deported in order to protect that this so-called secularism that apparently cannot abide anyone questioning Islam.

Desperate to stay, Nasrin has offered to surrender saying that she will stop criticizing Islam in order to stay in the country.

Indian politicians are not even helping her because it would disrupt their ruling coalition.

Quite sad.

Globe & Mail - Muslim groups press India to expel author

Obama tells folks what they do not want to hear

damn the preconceptions!!!

Democrat Barack Obama has a habit of telling interest groups what they don't want to hear, even at the risk of alienating audiences critical to the prospects of a presidential candidate. ... For example:

a) Obama told the National Education Association that performance-based merit pay ought to be considered in public schools.

What's wrong? If the teacher's class ace the final exams, then the teacher ought to be proud and happy to get a check based on that.

b) Cuban exiles are considered one of the keys to winning Florida, but he disagreed with leaders who want a full embargo against Fidel Castro's government and instead called for allowing travel and money to the island.

Has an embargo really worked all these years? It's time for a new plan and engage Cuba....and those Havana cigars.

c) Michigan voters play an important role in national politics, but Obama visited Detroit to lecture the state's biggest industry for failing to improve automobile fuel efficiency.

Honestly, how can you still keep a vehicle running with less than 20 mpg in 2007?

Videohybrid

Videohybrid is a video site with social features like video requests, voting and commenting. The site also has a ranking system for "hunters" who go and find video requests. Videohybrid hosts a lot of illegal content including full-length movies and TV shows, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the inevitable legal issues. Users can find a large array of video content including full-length movies, like The Bourne Ultimatum, because Videohybrid pulls videos from other video sites and allows users to upload illegal video content.

How long before the site gets taken down?

Two high school students from San Jose, CA started the site. Any guess if the server is hosted outside of the US?

They even had the nerve of putting in a script where if you visit the site with an IE browser, you get directed to page with a link to download FireFox.

Looks like Bourne Ultimatum is the most popular movie followed by Hairspray and Ratatouille.

Pro-Iraq Ads refused by MSNBC, CNBC

Honestly, these pro-Iraq television commercials are just a drop in the bucket. They are probably outnumbered several times by commericals that are against the war. So why refuse to air them?

This commercial is produced by Freedom's Watch. It basically supports the current effort in Iraq, and urging Congress not to pull the plug on our troops. They have been aired on Fox News and CNN.

ABC News attacks Freedom Watch as some sort of shadow White House shop to advocate for the war.

But CNBC and MSNBC have run issue ads on other controversial topics so why no to Freedom Watch's?

What if? US conducts a surprise attack on Iran

It is a scenario that most people would either want or not want to happen. Imagine getting out of bed, and turning on the television, and you find breaking news on CNN, Fox News, BBC, or whatever channel reporting explosions occurring in the Iranian capital city of Tehran and airstrikes against military and nuclear sites.

The military response scenario comes from the paper, "Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMD in the Middle East," written by British scholar and arms expert Dr. Dan Plesch, Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy and Martin Butcher, a former Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and former adviser to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.

The paper essentially concludes that the U.S. military probably has plans in place that can destroy Iran's WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus, and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President Bush giving the order.

Several points were mentioned:

1) The attack would be multi-front scale, but no ground invasion. Focusing on WMD facilities only would leave Iran with too many retaliatory options, so Bush would choose a plan that would destroy most of Iran's military and security infrastructure. It would leave the regime vulnerable to civilian disorder.

2) Airbases hosting US bombers (B-52, B-1, B-2, F-117A, etc.) and long range missiles would be ready to destroy thousands of targets in Iran in just a few days.

3) The proximity of US forces already in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can attack Iranian forces, the regime, and the state at short notice.

4) Armed popular resistance in the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan, and Khuzestan, plus possibly UK military action.

5) The use of nuclear weapons is an option, but very highly unlikely to be used in such a conflict. Human, political, and environmental effects would be devastating.

6) Israel is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons but with its current military capability, can only wound Iran's WMD programmes.

7) How would the UK react? While the Brown government and the public are against more war, they would probably still support US' actions because of their view that Iran must not acquire the bomb.

8) The US is of course keeping their military plans secret, so the chances of military confrontation is high.

Both Plesch and Butcher believe that the US will not confine its airstrikes to just nuclear sites. They foresee a "full-spectrum approach," designed to either instigate an overthrow of the government or reduce Iran to the status of "a week or failed state." To substantiate this assumption, they noted the administration's National Security Strategy which includes eliminating Iran as a regional power.

They do acknowledge that such a full-scale intervention would encounter substantial potential risks and impediments. I would surmise that such risks would include high opposition within the Congress, public disorder, increased global tension and hatred of the US, world condemnation, etc. It would also bode ill for the President's party in the next general election.

In terms of strategy, a wider form of air attack would do two things... one is to delay the Iranian nuclear program for a sufficiently prolonged period of time and create an opportunity for the political opposition in Iran to overthrow the current regime. The consequences and rewards would be extremely high. If the full-scale attack fails, the US would be damaged severely on the world stage. Whatever remaining credibility or goodwill will go down the toilet. Bush's last months as President would be pretty bad. If the attack succeeds and the Iranian regime falls, half of the international community would applaud it, the other half would criticize it. But the US should not occupy Iran. The Iraq-occupation should deter any notion of doing the same thing to the Iranians.

Link

Colbert: Educational Video on DNA

Jihad: The Musical (a satire or just plain offensive?)

While in the UK...

Supposedly following in the footsteps of "Springtime for Hitler," the hilarious musical-within-a-musical of "The Producers," comes "Jihad: The Musical." It premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

It tells the story of Sayeed, an Afghan peasant who is lured into training to be a suicide-bomber in a Western city. It doesn't show "respect" for fundamentalist ideas; it quite rightly pours acidic scorn on them.

It's not a Bush-Cheney hymn, or a Republican attack ad. It even makes fun of Fox News too.

Early reviews in the UK are mixed. Some do mention that the musical is trying to be satirical like what the Producers did with Hitler. Now it depends if people are going to laugh or take the musical too seriously. Attendance has been pretty full at their shows. It looks like the satire is against extremists and the exploitive media.

It is up to you to decide. Is it offensive or just plain dirty humour/satire?

You can watch the YouTube video of "I wanna be like Osama"

Over 155,000 hits

Is Microsoft buying out Sweden's vote in ISO?

As reported by stupid.domain.name, Microsoft stuffed one of the meetings of the WG17 of SIS/ITS with its partners and got a majority vote to push the OODF/OOXML question.

IBM and other representatives left the meeting believing it was a farce. The vote was 25 for, 6 against, and 3 abstained.

Has Sweden been bribed? Let's see when the official OOXML vote comes up.

Kucinich calls for more 9/11 hearings

How many more hearings should we go through? Now it's like the 9/11 commission did not do enough, and Kucinich wants another round of interviews, reports, and hearings. The 9/11 truthers won't shut up. They believe everything is a government conspiracy. They're the one-issue folks and they are pretty much outnumbered by the rest of the good-minded folks.

It is pretty much ridiculous for people to say they won't vote for Ron Paul because he won't re-open the 9/11 investigation. How about getting the government to re-open the Kennedy assassination?

Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are opposites trying to show the truth, but I really doubt you can put them together as a presidential team.

Ron Paul would do a better job with fiscal responsibility.

"College Week" - CNN's American Morning

The hosts pick a Democrat and Republican student for the show.

First surprise was the Republican student going for Ron Paul. The hosts instead asked which "top-tier" candidate she would pick.

Second surprise was the Democrat student preferring any Democrat candidate because no one wants Bush. It doesn't matter who it is as long it is a Democrat.

* * * * *

Democrat Rachel Moore weighs in for her side: "It doesn't really matter who gets the ticket because anybody could be a better president than President Bush at this point, and let's focus on just a Democrat winning in 2008, and put aside everything pre-primary politics."

"That's not the question," interjects Sanchez. "If you had to pick somebody, who would you pick?"

"I'd pick a Democrat," responds Moore, to the hosts' amazement. "Let's face it..."

"You're going to make a great senator one day," quips Sanchez.

...

Sanchz follows up: "If it was Porky Pig, would you vote for him just because he's a Democrat?"

"Now, that's taking it a little far," says Moore.

Sanchez: "So you do consider who the person is, right?"

"I didn't say that, sir," says Moore.

"It's time for a Democrat to win. Let's focus on that first."

Comptroller General - David Walker Continues to Sound the Alarm

Is anyone listening?

Yes, the video has an end plug for Ron Paul, but if you believe we should reduce the size of our government, stop spending more than what is taken in, and get rid of corruption and red tape, then he is your man. He is probably more truthful of what we are facing than Romney or Giuliani.

Not really the right coherent answer by Miss South Carolina Teen USA

Lauren_Caitlin_Upton.jpgLauren Caitlin Upton represented Miss South Carolina Teen USA. She graduated with a 3.5 GPA from Lexington High School, and was a varsity athlete and student leader.

She actually participated in pageants to help improve her communication skills.

Unfortunately, that was not the case when host Mario Lopez asked a "thought-provoking final question" selected at random.

The question was: "Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the United States on a world map. Why do you think that is?"

Lauren Caitlin answered: "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps, and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq everywhere like, such as and I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., er, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children."

Mario Lopez couldn't stop her because of pageant rules, but I think he should have just to save her and the rest of the tv viewers.

"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno joked, "People in South Carolina [are] filing out now."

Fox News Channel's Andrew Levy sarcastically noted, "Whitney Houston says she no longer believe the children are our future."

One person, Pete Garbacki, commented that "the only intelligent thing she did was to specify 'U.S. Americans.' Canadians and Mexicans are also 'Americans' technically. We are of the United States. That is actually an intelligent thing that many of your readers are too dense to understand."

Caitlin said she "completely misunderstood" the geography question posed to her. "I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't expecting [the question]. I lost my train of thought."

Here's the video

Talk Radio loves it!

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I wonder if they are going to start "dumbing" down next year's questions.

Vatican takes to the skies, Ryanair delivers a cheapshot

The Vatican launched the world's first airline for Catholic pilgrims. The inaugural flight travelled from Rome's Fiumicino airport for the shrine of Lourdes in France.

They hope to serve approx 150,000 pilgrims a year on its chartered Boeing 737, run by Italy's Mistral Air.

Ryanair, the cheapest low-fare, screw the customer airline in Europe decides to take a cheapshot at the Vatican.

"Ryanair already performs miracles that even the Pope's boss can't rival, by delivering pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela for the heavenly price of 10 euros," in a statement released by the airline.

It would be a miracle if you actually take care of the passengers for your mistakes.

Creative or Annoying Advertising Schemes

New York Times has two articles...

1) Would you let your vehicle become an advertising spot for a couple of hundred dollars each month?

2) Will airlines resort to covering overhead luggage covers and the backside of your tray table with lavish advertising?

Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock

KryptoniteNYFU.jpgThe Washington Post had a nice article about the rising theft of bicycles and using the Web to sell them to unsuspecting buyers. One particular bike rider, Martin Moulton, had a good ending when one of his friends spotted his stolen 2005 Cannondale on Craigslist. With the help of police at the last-minute, he was able to recover his bike. The seller was released when it was found out that he was just a third-party person selling the bike on behalf of the person that "found" it.

Is it possible for others to find their stolen bike on Craigslist or even eBay? There's always a chance, but for most folks, the odds of getting back their bike is pretty slim. Even if you report the stolen bike, had it registered including the VIN inscription, it does not substantially increase your chances of finding it again. The VIN can guarantee that the bike is rightfully yours, but that's the easy part.

The best way to prevent theft is to secure it properly and with the best tools that are available. Slate.com did a review of the top bike locks, and the top two are the Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit U-Lock (shown on picture above) and the OnGuard Brute STD U-lock.

The Kryptonite New York lock retails for $89.95, its pertinent thickness is 18mm, and only weighs 4.6 pounds. There is a free anti-theft warranty too: $4,500 for one year.

It was subjected to the following tools: an 18-inch crowbar, 30-inch bolt cutters, a hacksaw, three special blades, and a claw hammer.

At most, it took approx 42 minutes using the hacksaw to break through the 18 mm shackle.

The OnGuard Brute lock goes for $69.95 and has a 16 mm shackle, weighs 4.5 pounds, and it also has a free anti-theft warranty of $3,001 for one year.

Sawwing on the 16 mm shackle for five minutes took about 3 mm deep. At that rate, it would take 35 minutes to cut through.

* * * * * *

The STD U-lock for the Kryptonite (KryptoLok $29.99) and OnGuard (Bulldog $29.99) are much more vulnerable. For the Kryptonite, it took the Slate.com columnist less than a minute to break through the shackle. The included mounting bracket was just flimsy plastic.

For the OnGuard, it was indeed durable against the cutting, but the staff at the bike store told the author that the sturdy-looking mounting bracket would eventually snap off. On a stroke of good timing, a customer walked in with a broken OnGuard mount. If you are in NYC, the Bulldog is not recommended.

bike_locks.jpgUnless you got several U-locks, it is best to buy the highest quality out there. If you got a woven steel cable lock, throw it in the trash. A hacksaw and bolt cutters can slice through them quite easily. That's why they don't have zero theft protection.

Even the KryptoLok U-lock does not carry a zero-theft warranty.

If you got an expensive bike, buy an expensive lock. While Case Protective Services offers bike locks for rent, find out what models they are offering, and check out their reviews on the net. Sometimes, they may not have the best option for you.

As such, be aware of where you are securing your bike. Of course, it does not help the fact that some bikes have been stolen right off the bike rack in an open area or near a building. It would be quite interesting if a person was busy hacksawing a bike for 30 minutes and managed to carry it away without anyone doing anything. If you got a mobile phone, use it and call 3333 or 911. If you got a digital camera, use it. If you see a security officer walking by, alert the person to the theft in progress.

Quite a lot of bike thefts during July.

Back in London, and it's sunny!

Work has brought me back across the pond to London for 2 weeks. After the first week of rain and overcast weather, the sun finally came over the Bank Holiday weekend. It is probably one of the best weekend weather I have ever seen.

walkingthrulondon1.jpg

Walking thru Trafalgar Square. There was also a Jesus gathering right behind Nelson's column.

walkingthrulondon2.jpg

A great view of the London Eye and Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

walkingthrulondon3.jpg

Walking along the London Jubilee Bridge from Embankment to South Bank

walkingthrulondon4.jpg

We're at low tide, and there is really a beach!

walkingthrulondon5.jpg

Some sand sculpture artists take advantage of the low tide.

walkingthrulondon6.jpg

St. Paul's Cathedral in the distance from the south London side

walkingthrulondon7.jpg

Walking towards St. Paul over the London Millennium Bridge

walkingthrulondon8.jpg

You can see London Bridge (foreground) and Tower Bridge (background) - facing east from the Millennium Bridge

walkingthrulondon9.jpg

Of course, a nice close-up view of St. Paul

Another week to go.

engadget reports iPhone unlock success

Yes, it is true, and bad news for AT&T and Apple, the iPhone can be used with your competitors!

iPhone unlocked: AT&T loses iPhone exclusivity

See the video in AVI or MP4

What to do if your GF finds porn on your computer

Written from a woman's perspective, a very embarrassing tale of confronting the boyfriend after finding porn on his computer. "Every one does it. It is normal." Haha, you'll have to do better than that!

Goodbye Good Samaritan

Are there any "Good Samaritans" left in this country?

rage_ibrahim.jpgIn St. Paul, MN, as many as 10 people witnessed a man raping and beating a woman early Tuesday in the hallway of an apartment building, police said Wednesday.

NO ONE STOPPED IT.

The victim even attempted to knock on one of the doors, yelling for the occupants to call police. A man inside supposedly told police that he made the 911 call, but he didn't even open the door to check what was going on. However, police found no record of the call according to an affidavit. So basically, the man was just lying.

Police later arrested Rage Ibrahim on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. He was later charged with two counts of rape: first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

St. Paul Police Cmdr. Shari Grey oversees the department's sex crimes unit: "It was horrifying. I can't describe how it sent chills up my back, watching this woman get assaulted and people turning their backs and doing nothing."

Police have evidence of a video recording showing the attack.

Here's the sickening part. As the woman screamed, five to 10 people - men and women - peeked out their apartment doors to see what was happening or started walking down the hallway and retreated after witnessing the assault. You have to wonder if these neighbors knew each other, some of them could have got together and stopped the rape.

Police say someone did call 911, but reported it as drunken people in a hallway, not a violent assult, so police thought it was just a disturbance. Now if it was classified as an assault, the police response would have been quicker.

The first 911 call came at 2:43AM, police arrived at 3:25AM. That's 42 minutes.

This is reminiscent of the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder which has coined the term "Genovese syndrome" - or bystander effect. Genovese was stabbed to death outside a Queens apartment building while many people looked on from their windows but didn't step in to help. There were approximately 38 people that saw the murder. Only one person called police, but it was too late, Genovese was already dead.

Back to this...when police arrived on the scene, they found Ibrahim and a woman on the floor, both naked from the waist down.

Ibrahim told the officers they were just drunk and she was her girlfriend, but the woman told them he had drugged and raped her.

The surveillance video showed Ibrahim striking the woman five times including the sexual assault itself. This lasted for about 90 MINUTES!

Another shock to police was that Ibrahim told police that if he wanted to assault the woman, he would have done it in the apartment!

Also shown in the video, a man did approached the two people, but turned around. The building manager spoke with the person and asked why he did not call police. The man replied, "I thought they were drunk. And I left."

The woman suffered numerous scratches, cuts, and bruises on her legs, face, and shoulder.

Ibrahim stated he got scratched on the lip, arm, and "everywhere."

* * * * *

Even though there is evidence that Ibrahim has committed this awful crime, he has a defender. Omar Jamal, the Executive Director of the Somali Justice Center said that the assailant is innocent of the charges. It seems he is the "Al Sharpton" of the Somali community in St. Paul, playing both sides of any domestic violence cases there.

Jamal (who was not even at the scene of the crime, and is basing on Ibrahim's side of the story) stated that the accused went into the hallway after the woman because he thought she was too drunk to drive. They struggled over the car keys, and "he is saying there was a huge misunderstanding," he said, adding that the police report does not show "the truth of what happened that night."

"He did not rape her," Jamal said.

Given that most residents in the building were Somali, Jamal said that they tend to mistrust and fear the police. "The only system they know (from Somalia) is a military, totalitarian government that tortures and executes people," he said. "Their understanding is a system that oppresses and that kills. People have no rights. They are used to keeping quiet and not saying anything." Based on this, it would have influenced their behavior on whether to act or not.

This would depend if some of the residents have only been in the country for a short period of time, but I rather think it is more culture-effect than worrying about the government going after you.

The question I posed to Jamal is if the residents are unwilling to call the police, why they did not act to stop it themselves? Could it be that in a domestic violence situation for Somalis, the male is dominant? If they saw a man beating up a woman, they would probably assume she deserved it. Some advocates believe that such things are considered taboo for them, so they would want to keep it in-house instead of letting someone [law enforcement] from the outside intervene. He did say that women are strongly discouraged from reporting it.

So we need to change that.

If we are outraged at dog killing, how about spousal abuse?

Update 8/24/07:
I wonder how PETA supporters would feel about this. In Michael Vick's pending plea agreement, he will admit to a single felony conspiracy charge of interstate commerce for the purpose of dogfighting. Vick will admit that he was present when dogs were put down, but will maintain that he did not personally kill any of the dogs. The deal will ignore more damaging information reportedly provided by Vick's co-defendants to federal investigators.

Federal prosecutors would recommend 12 to 18 months prison time, but U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, who has a reputation for ordering harsh penalties, can use some discretion. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the maximum penalty would be five years, so it depends if the judge is going to follow the prosecutor's recommendation or give Vick the maximum penalty.

Now of course we are not sure what the state charges will be. The grand jury is supposed to meet next month. The state could also charge Vick with illegal dogfighting and gambling.

* * * * * * * * * *

michael_vick.jpgWhether if you support or don't support Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, you really have to ask him only one question... "What were you thinking?!?!?"

First, he spent almost a month telling the National Football League, the Atlanta Falcons, and anyone else who would listen that he was innocent of the charges brought against him. He kept on denying about his alleged involvement in a dog-fighting ring. On TV and on the radio.

Then his so-called friends jumped ship. The other three that were accused made plea agreements and pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and promoting dog-fighting, and all would testify against Mr. Vick's November trial that he financed the dog fights at his property in Virginia, provided money for gambling, and participated in the hanging or drowning of dogs that did not perform well.

What could Vick do? On August 27, his lead defence lawyer, Billy Martin, announced that his client would plead guilty in a compromise deal. He will plead guilty to a single conspiracy count and that the recommended sentencing range will be 12 to 18 months in prison. Vick will appear next Monday in the U.S. District Court in Richmond.

However, it is likely that he and his three co-defendants will also face state charges by Virginia. Gerald G. Poindexter, the commonwealth's attorney covering Vick's home town of Newport News stated "They have admitted dogfighting. That's a state crime. They have admitted killing animals. That's a state crime, and a very serious one." Dogfighting is a felony in Virginia, punishable by up to five years in prison.

But why did he do it? Based on the evidence, it seems he has been running this dog-fighting operation since 2001 to April of this year. It seems he had nothing to gain and everything to lose from this. He was hailed as one of the most athletic quarterbacks in NFL history and because of that, the Atlanta Falcons signed Mr. Vick to a 10-year contract worth at least $130 million dollars in 2004. That's $130 million dollars!!! With all the success, why did he continue his bloody participation against man's best friend? Why did this successful man choose to have a hobby in brutality and torture of dogs?

In the meantime, Michael Vick is expected to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to find out what punishment awaits him. Since he will plead guilty to federal charges, he would be in violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy, which empowers Goodell to fine, suspend, or impose a lifetime ban on a player. Now the interesting part is that by pleading guilty to that federal conspiracy charge, a fine or suspension would be warranted. However, the state charges will be more serious, and if Vick is convicted of animal cruelty and gambling, then Commissioner Goodell would have no choice but to impose a long suspension or lifetime ban.

The head of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP has urged the NFL to allow Vick to play in the league again after he serves his sentence.

Chapter President R. L. White said "As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation without a permanent loss of his career in football. We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country."

But the one thing I take offense was White saying that Vick's crime was that it was "a dog." But it's was not just one dog. It was so many dogs. Dogs that have been abused repeatedly, injured, or killed.

New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury does not help the debate either. He tried to compare dogfighting with deer hunting. I think hunting deer and training dogs to tear each other to shreds are not the same. Perhaps Marbury should watch a video of both, then tell us whether if they are the same.

Having said that, I understand we are all outraged at the animal brutality. I am sure PETA and their 1.6 million membership have made their voices loud and clear saying that dog-killing is bad and people who do that sort of thing should be severely punished. Understandably, they are a group not to be messed with. They did get over $30 million in contributions last year.

Now, if we are so angry about animal cruelty, then we ought to be furious if NFL players commit spousal abuse to their wife or girlfriend and other forms of domestic violence. Somehow all of this is telling me that if a NFL player commits spousal battery, he gets a fine, suspended sentence, and can keep on playing, but if you beat up or kill a dog, you are pretty much banished. Would I expect the same reaction if a player beat up his own kid?

Perhaps the anti-spousal abuse lobby group is not that strong out there. I guess the women advocacy groups are not making that much fuss. Injure or kill an animal... you will get 24/7 news coverage up the wazoo, daily protests from PETA. So do you pick that cute kid or an adorable puppy?

But have people looked at the number of athletes arrested for domestic violence or spousal abuse? If we exacted the same punishment for dog-fighting to domestic violence, half of the league will be in prison. Have you checked out "badjocks.com" or "playersbehavingbadly.com"? Quite sick.

If we are really serious about protecting life, then the NFL and other sports leagues must crack down on spousal abusers and domestic violence.

Vick is only 27. He's going to be stuck with this awful tragedy for the remainder of his life.

Here are two recent examples:

Philadelphia Phillies' pitcher Brett Myers assaulted his wife on a public Boston street and was charged with assault and battery. Major League Baseball did not penalize him, shrugging it off as an off-field incident.

Sacramento Kings' Ron Artest was suspended last season for 72 games for fighting in the stands. In March he was arrested for domestic violence. For that he got what amounted to a hand slap; an immediate two-game suspension and a $600 fine for a player who makes several million a year. Artest pled no contest to the domestic violence charge and was sentenced 100 hours of community service, a 10-day work project and mandated extensive counseling.

My punishment for Michael Vick:
Well, with both federal and state charges, I am expecting that he will be in prison for at least 2-3 years. I would impose a 5-year ban before he can re-join the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons should impose a fine on his salary where a certain percentage will be used to support dog kennels and charity groups. All his sponsorship deals are terminated and they can decide whether to resume them in any type or form after he is released from prison.

Related Articles

Washington Post - Vick Likely Will Face More Charges in Va.

Globe & Mail - What was Vick thinking?

Chicago Sun Times - How many more Vicks are there?

Women's eNews - Beat a Woman? Play on; Beat a Dog? You're Gone

George W. Bush's Presidential Advance Manual

Discovered via Digg

This manual was written by the Bush Administration as guidelines of what to do before the president arrived. Includes - how to hide protestors so the president doesn't have to see/hear them, and if that doesn't work, how to send your own people as a counter-protest to drown them out and block their view.

President Bush uses Vietnam as an excuse to stay in Iraq

saigon_evac.jpgPresident Bush plans to give a speech today (Wednesday) in Kansas City on why he plans to keep the United States mired in Iraq, and he will claim he is doing this because of the "lessons" of Vietnam.

He also plans to make a shock argument that withdrawing from Vietnam has helped "emboldened" today's terrorists by compromising U.S. credibility. Obviously, he cites a quote from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden saying the American people would rise against the Iraq war the same way they rose against the war in Vietnam, according to the excerpts. I would not even be surprised if bin Laden used Korea as an example, Bush would use that as a further excuse to stay in Iraq.

The White House has done this in order "to broaden" our excuse to maintain or perhaps increase U.S. involvement. President Bush also plans to use other historical comparisons such as the U.S. defeat and occupation of Japan after World War II and the Korean War in the 1950s.

First, it seems strange enough for Bush to blame former President Richard Milhouse Nixon for his decision to withdraw American troops from South Vietnam. I guess because he is now dead, Bush does not have to worry about the former President taking a potshot back at him. It also shows the President using historical precedent only when it favors his arguments. But come on here, why blame Nixon for your failures? I kinda figure that Bush could blame his father for not finishing the job in Iraq during the first Gulf War.

In this case, leave the dead out for Bush's sorry excuses.

By the way, Vietnam did implement market reforms after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1994, the U.S. ended its embargo and the two countries finally established normal diplomatic and trade relations in 1995. It is now the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, and its two-way trade is larger than China and India. It is one of the world's most fastest growing economies. It is predicted that Vietnam will become a developed country by 2020 and become the 16th richest in the world by 2050.

For Korea, it was to stop the Communist invasion not terrorists. For Japan, it was a defeated nation, not a bunch of terrorists. Besides, the U.S. occupation forces did not have to deal with multiple factions, religious fanatics, IEDs, suicide bombings, and what not.

What's next? Start blaming the American people for electing the Democrats to take over Congress because it has "embolden" the terrorists to increase their attacks? Start blaming the tax cut opponents for bin Laden's ability to escape capture?

Please stop using fear to scare the American people.

Come to think of it, if Bush was President during the Vietnam conflict, he would have heralded the transformation of the United States into a dictatorship and spark a new war with China and the Soviet Union.

Monster.com hacked

1.6 million entries possibly stolen

Will people please use stronger login and passwords???

Let's crack down on the traffic cop nazis

In NYC. Warning: Video has a few curse words in the end.

NY Daily News - Traffic tix agent is exposed

Apparently, she parked her traffic vehicle next to the fire hydrant. NYC parking law states that there is a 15-foot restriction on either side of the hydrant. Then she went in to buy lunch.

Also, it seems there is a policy where you cannot film a NYPD member because of terrorism.

Don Imus sued by Rutgers player

Update 8/21/07:
Surprise, surprise, Al Sharpton throws his take on the lawsuit. His conditions for Don Imus to settle... one is to pay Rutgers player Kia Vaughn (and any other player who decides to sue Imus) a settlement for her defamation suit, a statement that Imus will affirm not to take "cheap shots at women and blacks or any other group" and a pledge to "refrain from attacks on innocent people who cannot defend themselves." Last, set aside an on-air slot every week for an ombudsman from the National Association of Black Journalists, and "encourage all corporations, including the record industry, to stop subsidizing and promoting people who engage in racist and misogynist language, even in the name of entertainment."

Sharpton: "It was not and is not our desire to interrupt the life of Don Imus. We just want to ensure that he does not interfere with ours."

Well if that's his reasoning, then why interrupt the lives of those three Duke lacrosse players? Sounds to me that Sharpton is being a bit hypocritical there. Cheap shots? With all those rules, you might as well remove every talk show radio hosts across the entire spectrum. Also, it seems Sharpton wants to give a "green light" to the rest of the players if they want some cash to "ease" their suffering. The question is will the rest of them follow Kia's lead? Or perhaps they won't and leave Kia alone under the media spotlight.

Update 8/16/07:
A check on various blogs and newspaper clippings on the lawsuit are mostly negative against the lawsuit. The main reasoning against her lawsuit is the allegation about their reputation being tarnished. Yet, weeks after Don Imus made his offensive remarks, commentators to other distinguised leaders have all said the women carried themselves with dignity and class following the incident. They were called strong, intelligent, career-minded, and so on.

Where is the tarnished reputation?

* * * * *

don_imus.jpgWas this all planned or just "blatant" coincidence? Hours after radio shock jock Don Imus settled his breach-of-contract lawsuit with CBS on Tuesday, Rutgers player Kia Vaughn, a junior on the basketball team, filed a civil lawsuit against him for libel, slander, and defamation.

Of course, she is seeking monetary damages of an unspecified amount.

The lawsuit names Imus individually, but it is also waged against MSNBC, NBC Universal, CBS Radio, CBS Corp., Viacom Inc., Westwood One Radio, and Imus producer Bernard McGuirk.

It claims that Don Imus' nappy-headed ho comment damaged her reputation. For the media companies, it alleges that they "wrongfully, intentionally, willfully...created, tolerated, and maintained an atmosphere in which the making of outrageous statements and comments was acceptable, encouraged, and/or rewarded for many years prior to this occurrence and/or overtly encouraged the statements made."

Attorney Richard Ancowitz
"This is a lawsuit in order to restore the good name and reputation of my client, Kira Vaughn... There's no way these bigoted remarks should have seen the light of day.... Don Imus referred to my client as an unchaste woman. That was a lie."

* * * * * * *

I am surprised it took that long for someone on the Rutgers basketball team to file a lawsuit against Don Imus. He made the nappy comment on April 4 and the lawsuit came on August 14. I really doubt the lawyer's assertion that it was just a complete coincidence on the timing.

It is quite interesting to note Ancowitz statement about "The full effect of the damage remains to be seen." That seems to be a veiled threat to Imus to settle out of court or face the prospect of a more expensive lawsuit.

So far, it is not known whether the rest of the Rutgers women basketball team are supportive of Vaugh's lawsuit. We are not yet sure if Coach C. Vivian Stringer knew about it or even sanctioned such an action.

However, I bet that the moment this lawsuit was reported on the mainstream media, the question on everyone's minds is "Who is Kia Vaughn?" Outside of Rutgers University and the NCAA program, I bet no one knows who she is. Don Imus himself did not mention her name. If you mention Rutgers to some person walking on the street, he or she would likely recall that their women's basketball team reached the NCAA Finals but lost to Univ. of Tennessee, and that Don Imus made some offensive comments about the women on the team, and lost his job.

Come on here, Don Imus did meet with the players and apologized for his remarks. We all thought this whole story would just end, but Kia Vaughn and her lawyer decided to be more greedy and add more fuel to the dying fire. It's a shame, but this is America, and you can sue anybody for just about anything.

With this lawsuit, it will give a negative perception that it was all about the money. This case will cast a shadow over the team, the sports program, and the university for next several months. Kia will now be in the national spotlight more often as compared before.

The weird part of all of this is that Don Imus did not defamed Kia Vaughn specifically. Check his comments on April 4. Kia's name was not mentioned at any point during his broadcast. Is she insinuating that Imus' remarks were more damaging to her than her teammates? That her brand of suffering is greater than everyone else's? Also, she has to prove the word "nappy headed ho" means what she claims it means.

To make sure it was not about her, her lawyer said that some of the money from any damages would be used to create a scholarship program to study the effects of bigoted and misogynistic speech on society. Quite a nice PR move. Then I guess the rest is for Ancowitz and Vaughn. Please... there are other ways to raise money.

Let's move on. But it won't happen. Anyone wants to bet on the possiblity that you will see Kia Vaughn standing between Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson at a news conference applauding the lawsuit?

China acknowledges Tiananmen Square Massacre...for 12 hours

It would seem that the verification & censorship process over at the China Daily and People's Daily needs some fixing.

According to East South West North blog, the online edition of China Daily on August 8 posted an article titled: "China invites the world to Olympics" on its website. Further down the article, it included a paragraph which reads "Security was tight around Tiananmen Square, where troops crushed pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989 with huge loss of life, as crowds gathered for the celebrations."

It seems someone at China Daily copy and pasted the article from Reuters' Nick Mulvenney without checking the content.

So it stayed that way for 12 hours before the censors caught wind of the "offending" sentence and removed it.

The Hong Kong newspapers Apple Daily, Ming Pao, Sing Tao, etc. also had the same article with the Tiananmen Square sentence.

Google's cached version

China Daily "corrected" version

* * * * * *

Speaking of the Tiananmen Square, here's a video "The Tank Man"

The Blue Angels still under attack in SanFran

Update 8/13/07:
The anti-Blue Angels resolution has been tabled 2-1 in committee.

Resolution supporter: "The Blue Angels are totally unnecessary. I believe they are sent here to terrorize this town because we are an anti-war city."

It reminds me of a scene in Band of Brothers where a private remarked that the Captain hated the company. The XO (Lt. Winters) responded that the Captain just hated him.

So to this particular resolution supporter, I am sure the Blue Angels are just gunning for you only, not the city. Besides, if you can check your records, they have been flying air shows over the city for quite a long time.

Link to the resolution

* * * * *

blue_angels.jpgA while back, I wrote a post on San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly's attempt to shut down The Blue Angels, a team of Navy fighter pilots, and their flying performance during Fleet Week. During the week, the flashy blue planes would perform their maneuvers which includes vertical rolls and soaring through the sky with speeds up to 700 miles per hour.

Under the guise of plane safety, Chris Daly introduced a non-binding resolution in the Board of Supervisors Government Audit and Oversight Committee that would call on San Francisco's congressional representatives, including Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, to "use all resources at their disposal to bring a permanent halt to unnecessary flyovers by military aircraft."

If sent out of committee, the full board will vote on it Tuesday (8/14).

With no surprise, his resolution is backed by three peace advocacy groups - CodePink, Global Exchange, and Veterans for Peace, Chapter 69. The primary reasoning alleges that the flyovers pose a public safety threat. They cite that in a 60-year period, there have been 26 fatalities during Blue Angel air shows including a recent one in April where a pilot was killed and 8 people injured in Beaufort County, SC. They also argue that veterans of war "are at risk of being traumatized," that the loud roars from the jets "terrorize small children, seniors, pets, and local wildlife," and that the jet fuel used harms the environment. (cue vomiting sounds)

Fortunately for us, there are only three members on this Committee including Daly. The other two, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier are not supporting the resolution. (cue applause) "[The Blue Angels] are just fantastic. I look forward them every October and I certainly do not support in any way Chris' resolution," Elsbernd said. "There is no way I am going to send this forward," Alioto-Pier said. "We should be proud of our American forces, particularly when we have soldiers fighting in Iraq. I think it's insulting to them and everything that they've done for us."

Well said. In essence, both supervisors essentially said "BITE ME" to Daly and his three peacenik groups.

Fleet Week is a great attraction for all. According to the city, it brings about 1 million people and approx $4 million in revenue. When the Blue Angels did not fly in 2004, attendance and revenue dropped by more than 50 percent.

So right now, it will die in committee, but it probably won't be buried. I am thinking Daly may try to force it on the full Board agenda where he may have more support. In the meantime, peacenik group Global Exchange are collecting signatures petitioning San Fran Mayor Gavin Newsom to stop The Blue Angels.

If you don't want the Blue Angels, I am sure another city would gladly take your place. Harming wildlife? How about shutting down the noisy highways instead? Noise pollution? How about the long hours of cars/trucks honking in the streets? If veterans are that traumatized, I guess we need to ban anything military in the city, take down our American flags, and introduce sensitivity training by Barney.

* * * * *

The Examiner

Lucy Morrow Caldwell: Distorted Journalist

Update 8/13/07:
A spokeswoman for Caroline Hanover gave an explanation: "Before the presidential campaign got underway, Caroline added herself to a list on Facebook as an expression of interest in certain principles. It was not intended as an indication of support in a presidential campaign and she has removed it. Caroline is not commenting on the 2008 election."

The semester is about to start at Harvard and I wonder if the Crimson staff are planning to give their take on the Caroline Giuliani story in their first semester issue.

* * * * *

First things first, nothing is safe on the internet. If you post a blog entry, picture, comment, or any document, anyone can see it and use it. For most college students, the fun idea of posting photos and videos on Facebook, MySpace, or College Humor comes with possible but likely consequences.

With that said, we often say that public figures such as government leaders, celebrities, and sport athletes are fair game to the media and everyone else. You got private detectives, paparazzi, bloggers, celeb sites, and even regular fans trying to find any information that can be used for either good publicity or "dirt."

Yet, there was a recent media blitz on the life of Caroline Giuliani, a 18-year-old student who will be attending Harvard in the fall, and is the estranged daughter of Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. She was born when Rudy was married with his second wife, Donna Hanover. Rudy and Donna divorced in 2002. He is currently married with his third wife, Judith Nathan.

Now why haven't we heard about Caroline before? Well, Rudy hasn't really kept in touch with his children from his second wife. We learned that Caroline now uses her mother's surname, Hanover. She also got into Havard University, but Rudy did not know that.

This is where Lucy Morrow Caldwell enters the fray. She is also a fellow student at Harvard, and is a columnist for the Harvard Crimson. On Monday, August 6, she posted an article on Slate.com called "Daddy Dearest: Rudy Giuliani's Daughter is Supporting Barack Obama" alleging that Caroline was a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate. What was her source for this information? Facebook.

How was Ms. Caldwell able to view her facebook profile? Since Caroline listed herself as a member of the Harvard network, she was able to view it. (Note that anyone who is a member of Harvard and Trinity School networks would be able to find Caroline's profile.)

I would assume that through some investigative work, Caldwell managed to find Caroline's relation with Rudy. In her article, she stated that "the future Harvard freshman and recent graduate of Trinity School in Manhattan uses a slight variation of her name" to avoid detection. How slight was it? There is a graphic copy of Caroline's Facebook profile on the story web site with Caroline and the rest of her username blurred out. The actual username was Caroline Rose G. I think that is more than slight. I believe that the columnist had to dig deeper to draw out the connection between Caroline and the presidential candidate. The blurring was done intentionally by Lucy to cause deception.

Next is that we are basing everything on her support for Barack Obama on the fact that she was a member of the group Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack). After Slate.com sent Caroline an inquiry on that, she removed herself from the group. Of course Lucy chooses to hype it up by saying that Rudy's daughter was "proclaiming" about her membership in that liberal group. Yet we do not know whether she joined the group to keep track of what's going on. We do not even know if she really is a die-hard supporter for Barack Obama. It seems we are only interested in just the membership itself, and not the reasons behind it.

Of course Lucy ends the article by saying that the girl "does not reveal why she doesn't want her father to win the White House. She has not responded to e-mail questions from Slate." First, there is nothing in her profile that states that she does not want Rudy to win. I would bet that she tried to ask those questions to Caroline, but she refused to answer them. So Ms. Caldwell chose to draw her own distorted facts.

This was a cheapshot to get the quickest headline, especially on a national level. By choosing to write a sensationalist and speculative article and breaking privacy rules, she is unfit to be a journalist. I wonder if she tried to submit it to the campus newspaper but I guess she needed a place to maximize the impact and publicity so she chose Slate.com, and the rest is history.

Here's another thing: payback's a bitch.

Facebook's Terms of Use (under "User Content on Site"):
You may not post, transmit, or share User Content on the Site or Service that you did not create or that you do not have permission to post.

As a result of violating Facebook's privacy rules, Ms. Caldwell's account was suspended. Of course, she says she has no regrets violating her own agreement with Facebook and invading the privacy of this girl.

She also violated the Journalistic Code of Ethics:
Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence, or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone's privacy. Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.

On CNN's American Morning (see video), it shows Caldwell "bragging" that her time on Facebook "really paid off." If you watch the video, you will see that when asked if Giuliani's daughter endorsed Obama, as her own article stated, she can't actually say she did. It goes to show that she did not have any more conclusive evidence.

It is also sad to see every other media jumping on the bandwagon creating sensational headlines.

Chicago Sun-Times: "Giuliani's daughter jumps onto Obama bandwagon"

Boston Herald: "Sorry, Dad, I Like Obama"

NY Times: "Is Giuliani's Daughter an Obama Supporter?"

Gothamist: "Giuliani's Daughter Must Really Hate Him"

CNN too:

* * * * * * * * * *

By gaining the national spotlight for a few days by dragging Caroline with her, we should take a look at Ms. Caldwell's information.

lucy_caldwell.jpg

lucy_details.png

She currently lives in Adams House C-42 and her email is caldwell@fas.harvard.edu. Since she sent questions to Caroline, so surely it is fine for people to send questions to her. Note that this information is public without restriction.

Correction:
At least I acknowledge my mistakes rather than for others that choose to ignore it. According to this link, Caroline was born July 22, 1989, so yes you are correct that she is 18 years old.

Response to Anonymous comment #2:
Fine, I shall act decent and remove her phone number, but her e-mail is public knowledge so anyone can choose to protest and share their feelings over her actions. Also, Ms. Caldwell is a '09 graduate so that would make her 2 years older, but her journalistic experience requires much more improvement. If she wants to present a well thought-out analysis on why Caroline wants to support Obama, get the facts and sources to substantiate it. Don't do a one-sided piece.

Also, Ms. Caldwell should know the consequences. She put her own neck out there. She does not get a free pass. The point is that she presented a piece of gossip news as a good journalistic article which is utter crap. Then she goes on CNN and brags about it. She was even happy that she broke Facebook rules to do this. Who's more ignorant? Also, bare in mind that many online news outlets do publicize their e-mail addresses and contact information. I would be happy to publicize the Crimson newspaper main line so visitors can voice their discontent.

Another thought on privacy violation:
Yes, Caroline's profile was not exactly private. Only those that went to Trinity High School, Harvard University, friends, and members of the Obama group can see it. Caldwell went beyond and somehow found a connection to Rudy Giuliani. She probably checked other sites and found photos matching both, or she confirmed her suspicions by trying to ask Caroline and got no answers, and assumed that this was Rudy's daughter. The way Facebook verifies user information is not that perfect. Also, the violation is copying the entire Facebook profile over to another network. Not really a huge no-no, but Facebook did not want to take any chances.

Do we really know Rudy's daughter?
Some blogs have applauded Caroline for speaking her mind. A well independent-minded daughter they cry. But did they talk to Caroline? Nope. Then how do they know? They don't, it's all speculation. Just by listing as a member of Barack's group, she must possess the qualities of a Democrat, so that's it. Quite a stupid way of finding out the truth.

The lawless House of Representatives

bad-ethics-small.jpgOver the last few years, Republicans in Congress were criticized for keeping votes open as long as possible, vote switching at the very last minute, and other ways to stifle the Democratic minority. When the Democrats were elected to control Congress, they promised that such acts would not happen. They gave us an image of an ethical, open, trustworthy party, aiming to break the lying impression that most voters have of the government.

On Friday, August 3, this did not happen.

The House was voting on a Republican procedural motion designed to make sure illegal immigrants would not get certain benefits from an agriculture spending bill. The electronic tally showed a 215-213 tally in favor of this, but when Rep. Michael McNulty, D-NY, gaveled the vote to a close, he said the GOP measure failed on a 214-214 tie.

215-213 electronic vote in favor. McNulty concluded 214-214 tie. The usual process was that clerk would hand McNulty the final tally, but he did not follow that.

Then he re-opened the vote so Democratic arm-twisters managed to convince a few of their members to switch their votes. The end result was a 216-212 against. So from a +2 in favor to a -4 against... quite an outrage.

Republicans cried, "shame, shame, shame," and they walked out in protest. Of course, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD, moved for a revote (I guess to settle his own conscience). There was no surprise when the motion failed.

Later, both McNulty and Hoyer apologized to the House for what had happened. Hoyer said "The minority was understandably angry."

Of course they were. The Democrats were being hypocritical. Because of Republicans keeping votes longer, the Democrats changed House rules in January to disallow the practice of holding votes open to affect the outcome. Also, House Republicans refuse to take up further new business (except for two legislative bills) until the matter has been thoroughly investigated.

Democrats whined that the motion was aimed chiefly at forcing swing-district Democrats into a politically bad vote.

Why is it bad? The motion was to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving welfare benefits. It is easy to understand. If I pay taxes, then I should be entitled to some sort of government benefit. If an illegal citizen gets welfare, then he or she gets a "freebie" while we get the bill. How can that be so complicated?

Before adjourning for the wknd, the House agreed to create a special committee to investigate Republican allegations that Democratic leaders stole a victory from the House GOP on a parliamentary vote.

* * * * * * *

Now, the details nearing the end of voting time has been disputed by either side. On most votes that I have watched on C-SPAN, usually there is a flurry of last-minute votes, changes, or what not when time is 00:00 (expired). I really doubt I have seen a 15-minute vote end in exactly 15 minutes.

From the Republicans' viewpoint, they say as time expired, they persuaded three Latino Republicans to change their vote so the motion would pass. Two of them managed to change their vote before McNulty gaveled the vote shut saying it failed 214-214. But the clerk had three of them recorded, so the public tally was 215-213, so therefore the Republicans should have won. They also said that there were no Democrats scrambling to change their votes as time ended.

From the Democrats' viewpoint, as time expired, they stated they had five Democratic lawmakers who wanted to change their votes but could not make it to the clerk. So when McNulty re-opened the vote, the five lawmakers switched their votes. So the official result became 216-212 against the motion.

If I based the vote count on what the Democrats changed back in January, the Republican motion should have passed. McNulty jumped the ball in closing the vote without confirming the final tally with the House clerk. Therefore his 214-214 announcement was in error, and the correct tally was 215-213. He should not have re-opened the vote which would have violated the rules that were implemented in January.

Now I am also not convinced by McNulty's excuse:
"I was the presiding officer and when I was satisfied everyone voted, I called in the vote," said McNulty. "They (minority) made the case that I should have called the vote the split second it went their way, but I had to wait until everyone changed their vote to what they wanted."

How can this be true or false? You saw that the vote was quite close, and people can reasoned that you kept it open until certain votes can be switched to ensure the motion's defeat. I really think we ought to put in an impartial chair overseeing the House session. Plus time did expired, so how can you gavel the vote shut early?

Lou Dobbs' on the Cheated Vote

Forbes.com - Republicans Angry Over House Vote

Rawstory.com - Republicans cry 'shame, shame, shame' on disputed vote (contains video of Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO)

Jim Cramer goes a bit nuts on CNBC

Republican Candidate Ron Paul

Currently, Ron Paul has been in the lead on Drudge Report and ABC News after the latest Republican debate (after being dropped off the poll before protests forced both sites to put his name back on).

Clearly, my favorite candidate on the Republican side.

If you want to donate to him: http://www.ronpaul2008.com/


Alcohol/Hazing Death at Rider University Hurts Greeks

defunct_phitau_chapter_rider.jpgUpdate 8/12/07:
As of now, Anthony Campbell, 51, Rider's dean of students, and Adriano DiDonato, 22, a student who was also fraternity's house manager, pleaded not guilty in previous hearings. Adriano did not speak during his arraignment. His lawyer Paul Norris said, "I don't believe the indictment is fair to individuals like Adriano, and to anybody else who is a resident assistant, that they're somehow now put into a position to monitor every single person's activity."

On Friday (8/11), Michael J. Torney, 21, the former president of the fraternity chapter pleaded not guilty to aggravated hazing in a case involving the binge-drinking death of Gary DeVercelly, Jr., 18, of Long Beach, CA.

Torney's lawyer, Michael Rogers, said his client shouldn't be held responsible for the events that resulted in DeVercelly's death. "He had nothing to do with the demise of this young man," Rogers said.

The lawyer said that the former chapter president did not participate in any hazing and was not even in attendance when the pledges were drinking. "He was shocked the fact that there was a charge brought against him... because he didn't do anything," Rogers said. (cue laughing)

A criminal charge would derail Torney's plans to become a lawyer. Currently, Torney will be attending Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA this fall. Note that this decision was made months before DeVercelly's death.

I would think as chapter officers, we are held to a higher standard and level of responsibility to ensure that nothing disastrous will happen in the fraternity. As president of the chapter, you are the leader and spokesperson of the group. Also, you are ultimately held responsible for actions and conduct of your members. It's not just a title that you can boast on your resume, it shows that the brothers or sisters rely on you to lead them. If Torney was chapter president during that whole year, then he should be held responsible. It does not matter if you were not at the event.

This coming week, there will be hearing for the last two charged: Ada Badgley, 31, the university's director of Greek life, and Dominic Olsen, 21, pledge master of the fraternity's spring 2007 pledge class.

The University has not yet taken any disciplinary action against the five individuals.

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Fraternity deaths such as Scott Krueger (Phi Gamma Delta) at M.I.T. in 1997, Benjamin Wynne (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) at Louisiana State University in the same year, Blake Hammontree (Sigma Chi) at Oklahoma University in 2004, and others have continued to remind the Greek community at Case and at any other college or university that we must be vigilant in combating hazing and alcohol abuse.

We should also be reminded about the death of Stephen Donnelly, a fellow Case student who was a pledge at the Zeta Psi Fraternity. His death prompted an alcohol ban at all Greek parties for six weeks.

While we all take steps to eliminate acts of hazing and educate members on responsible drinking, we must work to let our fellow brothers and sisters at other colleges and universities know what they do, it will affect Greeks everywhere in this country.

devercelly.jpgLast Friday (August 3), a pair of school officials, including the dean of students, and three students from Rider University have been charged with "aggravated hazing" in the death of 18-year-old Gary DeVercelly after he was admitted into the Capital Health System's Fuld hospital in Trenton, NJ, following a night of heavy drinking at a Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house on March 30.

His blood alcohol content (BAC) was .426, more than 5 times the legal limit.

Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr.:
"The ramifications of this for colleges and universities in New Jersey, and across the country, is that it will send some kind of message that the standards of college life, when it relates to alcohol, need to be policed carefully."

Friends and classmates of reportedly informed authorities that Gary told them that he would be drinking vodka during a pledge initiation event at the fraternity house.

People who were charged:
Ada Badgley, the university's director of Greek Life

Anthony Campbell, the dean of students

Adriano DiDonato, residence director and housemaster of the Phi Tau fraternity house

Dominic Olsen, pledge master of Spring 2007 Phi Tau pledge class

Michael J. Tourney, fraternity chapter president

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The grand jury found that the five listed above "knowingly or recklessly organized, promoted, facilitated, or engaged in conduct" which resulted in injury to DeVercelly, as well as William Williams, a freshman who was also hospitalized the night DeVercelly died but survived.

Rider University announced that the Phi Tau chapter has been "dissolved." Also, a new set of policies are being drawn up headed up by a task force of faculty, staff, and students.

If convicted, the officials and fraternity members would face a max penalty of 18 months in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Also note that another 15 people have been charged with providing alcohol to underage people, and 23 have been charged with underage drinking related to the March party. A search of the Phi Tau house resulted in three students charged with drug-related offenses.