Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lets feel bad for John Walker Lindh.

Terrorism: A truly astounding suck piece by Fareena Alam that makes out Lindh as just a lost soul who got caught up in something bad then got railroaded. The supporters are trying to make this privileged result of liberal parents as needing a second chance. He got caught fighting with the Taliban against his country and got what he deserved. End of story.

UK Muslims don't have to assimilate

UK: or even intergrate on common terms, just on what they think is okay for them according to this article by Ajmal Masroor.

Islam does not see any problem in integration. In fact, it strongly encourages Muslims to take full part in society and its institutions. At least this is what the faith says. In reality it may not be the case. While I am not justifying the lack of integration of Muslims, I am extremely alarmed by the lack of honest and serious debate around the topic.

Firstly, integration needs a comprehensive definition. It needs all stakeholders to agree on a set of common values. In my view, integration could be defined as "the bringing of people of different racial, ethnic or religious groups into unrestricted and equal association, as in society and its institutions". Integration could also mean a process of desegregation, ie. dismantling of ghettos and removing barriers. Integration is the total opposite to disengagement.

Secondly, when I explain that Islam encourages integration, I ask you not to confuse it with assimilation. Islam would be opposed to any notion of assimilation. Integration is not about socially engineering a new generation based on no distinct faith, ethnic or cultural identity. This is precisely what assimilation would do. Islam proposes people to become loyal to their faith but their cultural or ethnic differences a reason for greater interaction and celebration.

Thirdly, integration it is not a one-way street. Minority communities do not have a moral obligation to integrate into the majority community. Such a suggestion assumes the majority communities’ values, lifestyle, cultures and customs are superior. This is simply an arrogant supposition. Integration must have an element of give and take and willingness to share.

Integration is not the end but simply a process where people of all background come together to make connections and develop shared values mutually. The outcome is a cohesive and integrated society. Integration is like a watch. A watch has small components inside; each component by itself can not be called a watch, although they may function individually. However when all the components are arranged in an orderly fashion the watch works perfectly.

Assimilation is not the loss of faith, ethnic or cultural identity. It is the absorption and adaption of a minority faith, norms, culture into majority's society. That is what makes the watch works so well not as Masroor suggests which would be ramming a square peg into a round hole. The entire premise of the article is the majority must bow down to the requirements and wants of Islam as he sees fit.

The arrogance and problems that result from it comes from the majority feeling put out that they are the ones who have to change and be told that everyone's culture is on par with each other which is not true. Intergration as Masroor puts it makes all of his beliefs, norms and culture okay while the majority must adjust itself to make a "cohesive and integrated society." It is a slick argument that sounds good but in reality leads to more probelms.

Hallmark cards respect to black mothers.

Culture: I would say this is a low point when Hallmark does research that says this card will sell well to this particular segment of the population.

"....Hallmark provides a darn good barometer of social breakdown—transformed, with all the cheerful non-judgmentalism of capitalism, into a business opportunity.

For years now, as one stared with increasing despair at the studly stud, dirty old man, and bathroom “humor,” new categories of card were blossoming luxuriantly. “Celebrating your divorce” or “For my second stepmother” cards began popping up regularly among the “From the dog” or “Incompetent duffer” standards. And this year’s display at a Manhattan stationer’s did not disappoint.

In the small section devoted to Hallmark’s “African-American” line (of course there is one; it is called “Mahogany”), two card pockets advertised “For mother on Father’s Day” options. One card had apparently already sold out. The other was a tasteful and ingeniously designed card in the Mahogany line’s characteristic earthtones, with a lovely charcoal drawing of a beautiful black woman in one-quarter view.

The front of the card read:

for My Mother


You hear a lot of talk

these days about

children growing up

without a father—

without this

and without that.

You hardly ever hear

About the mothers who,

In spite of everything,

Raise their children to be strong,

To believe in God, to work hard

To make their lives worthwhile . . .

The message inside the card continued:

That’s the story

I’d like to tell

Because that’s

How you raised me.

In spite of it all,

it’s our story . . .

I made it because of you.

Have a wonderful day.

You have to admire Hallmark’s willingness to take the bit in its teeth. With 70 percent of black children born out of wedlock, with marriage a moribund custom in inner cities, Father’s Day does pose a problem. Hallmark has solved it with aplomb. The light scorn directed at the complaints of “children growing up without a father—without this and without that,” as if fathers were as discretionary as Tivo, is both an inspired way of minimizing the problem and a fair articulation of how fathers are viewed in poor black communities, and by large swathes of the aging feminist establishment as well.

There were no “For mother on Father’s Day” cards among the rest of the store’s Father’s Day offerings, only in the “black” section (though of course the 48 percent Hispanic and 25 percent white illegitimacy rates are no cause for celebration).

This is not a good sign.

Friday, June 15, 2007

UK black kids have it rough when it comes to crime.

UK: Rough enough for MPs to ask for a safe house program. Rap culture gets the blame as well.

Safe houses need to be set up for young people who want to escape from gang violence but need protection to do so, an influential committee of MPs recommends today.
The report on young black people and the criminal justice system also warns that boys and young men who lack the involvement of a father in their lives can develop "father hunger" - a trauma that leaves them vulnerable to peer pressure and involvement in gang culture.

The MPs also challenge radio and television broadcasters to tackle concerns that rap, grime and hip hop music glamorise violent, criminal lifestyles.

The inquiry by the Commons home affairs select committee comes after three black teenagers were shot and killed in 11 days in south London in February and two black schoolboys were stabbed to death in the space of six days. In London in 2006, 75% of the victims of gun crime and 79% of the suspects were black.

The MPs say the over-representation of young black people at all stages of the criminal justice system poses a "serious crisis" for all sections of the black community. They are particularly concerned at the prediction - confirmed by ministers - that three-quarters of the young black male population will soon be on the DNA database as a result of disproportionate arrest rates and the alarming growth in the numbers in custody.

John Denham, the chairman of the committee, said the primary cause was social exclusion, including educational underachievement, school exclusion, deprivation and poor housing.

The report says these factors "interact in a 'web of disadvantage' compounded by other trends within black communities, such as lack of father involvement and the lack of positive role models, and the presence of powerful alternative negative role models in media and popular culture".

"There needs to be closer attention on the way we can enable young people to escape from involvement in criminal groups and activities," said Mr Denham. "There is a practical challenge about how we support a young person who wants to move out of it, if they are living in a community where varying factors work to draw them back." Safe houses run by community groups, not the police, should form a key element in the development of gang exit programmes, the MPs say.

Giant naked pole dancer ad in trouble at Gatwick

Media: I give it a 7/10 for ingenious advertising. Pic at the link.

GATWICK Passengers landing at Gatwick airport are being greeted by a giant naked pole dancer. The 9,000 sq m (100,000 sq ft) image is painted on grassland under the incoming flight path.

Planning officers are investigating whether permission was granted for the advertisement, which promotes a website. The Council to Protect Rural England said that the display was “a tacky advert which set a nasty precedent”.

Norway Journalist charged with crab boiling.

Norway: A crime to boil crabs in Norway?
Aftenposten's food writer Yngve Ekern has been charged with animal cruelty by animal rights group NOAH after an article about cooking crabs

The case against Ekern has been dismissed and instead referred to the Conciliation Board, reports trade newspaper Journalisten on its web site, but there will be repercussions.

Ekern angered animal activists with his description of preparing crabs on the beach while his children were watching. He described throwing the crabs into hot oil after bashing them on a cutting board, a process that didn't kill all of them.

The article also outlined how to boil crabs, and included recipes.

"Showing how to boil living crabs is encouraging law-breaking. Crabs are also covered by the Animal Protection Act, and animals shall not be exposed to pain," NOAH leader Siri Martinsen told

"It is highly probable that crabs have the ability to feel pain. We know too little about it and the animals should get the benefit of the doubt," she said.

Never fear, Norway's food safety authority is on the case of this vexing question.
Ekern was saddened by the charges and will meet NOAH at the Conciliation Board on Monday.

"I think on should turn up and hear what NOAH has to say, and I am especially looking forward to hearing an alternative method of boiling crabs, because they are traditionally boiled alive," Ekern said.

Senior researcher Stein Martinsen at the Institute of Marine Research does not have good news for NOAH.

"It is difficult to kill shellfish in other ways than boiling. I know some who hack lobsters in two, but they have a tiny brain that is not so easy to hit," Martinsen said.

Personally, he lets the crabs get very cold before boiling them.

"They get practically anesthetized lying in the refrigerator. If you then make sure that the water is boiling, it goes quickly," Martinsen said.

Norway's Food Safety Authority will establish a committee to examine the question of what crabs can feel during the boiling.

Now I feel for crabcakes, anyone got a good recipe? Hook me up

Why Isaiah Washington was let go from 'Grey's'

Entertainment: Via as the Gay Mafia makes a mention or it could be Washington on top of his slur was just too much of a pain to work with on the set.

The decision was made by executives including ABC Studios President Mark Pedowitz, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson and Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney. ABC and the studio declined comment this week, but Washington said he was "saddened" by the outcome.

"I can only apologize so many times. I can only accept so much responsibility," he told in an interview published Wednesday. "... Isaiah will go on and do what I love to do. And I have to go about the business of letting people know what's written about me is not the truth." (Read Washington's side of the story)

Gay rights leader Neil G. Giuliano said Washington was caught up in changing attitudes toward anti-gay vitriol -- the same backlash felt by Ann Coulter after she derided John Edwards with the same f-word Washington employed.

"All of this is crescendoing, with people saying, 'Enough is enough,' " said Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Hollywood's image as an unbiased haven for gays is overstated, Giuliano said. But he did field outraged calls from producers, writers and actors -- both gay and straight -- after Washington's remarks. Giuliano said he told the callers to make waves at the networks, and "I have good reason to believe most of those folks, who are not shy, made their feelings known."

One black gay activist sees the lobbying far differently. Jasmyne Cannick, a friend of Washington's, said the case reflected a division between Hollywood's powerful white gays and lesbians and those who are minorities.

"The ones calling for (Washington's) head are what I refer to as the gay Mafia," Cannick said.

There may have been more behind the decision than intolerant language. Bryan Birge, who was working as a costumer in 1997 on the police drama "High Incident," said Washington erupted in anger on the set and then grabbed him after Birge asked him to remove a magazine from his pocket for an upcoming scene.

"It was bizarre," Birge told The Associated Press. "The guy is less than easy to be around."

NAACP may look into it but I guess not too hard.

Gay rights groups that had demanded Washington apologize say they didn't seek his firing and gained nothing by it. Those who might have jumped to his defense, whether co-stars or those taking interest in the plight of a black actor, were silent or measured in their remarks.

"If he's being let go because of that incident, I'm not sure the punishment fits the crime," said Vic Bullock, executive director of the Hollywood bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP has asked ABC for "further clarity," Bullock said.

Tavis Smiley, the national TV and radio talk-show host and author, said Washington's words cut too deep.

"As a society we are still grappling with the notion of forgiveness and redemption," Smiley said in an e-mailed comment. "What this incident shows us, not unlike the Don Imus matter, is there is some pain so deep, that an apology, no matter how sincere, just doesn't suffice."

I will remember this when Tavis starts on with his kinfolk/skinfolk nonsense.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hamas runs over Fatah? Blame Bush or Israel or

Middle East: Everyone else but the Palestinians according to the Boston Globe and Wash Post Glenn Kessler

Globe Editorial:
The Hamas campaign to eradicate Fatah from Gaza is certainly not the sole cause of Gazans' misery. They long suffered from Israel's suffocating occupation, and then from Ariel Sharon's foolishly unilateral withdrawal in 2005, a move that allowed Hamas to bid for power with the misleading claim that its rockets and suicide bombings had driven Israeli soldiers and settlers out of Gaza. Gazans were victimized as well by the corruption and misrule of Yasser Arafat's Fatah cronies.

Israel can't win, they withdraw which is what all the haters and Palestinian groupies wanted and now it is one of the causes letting Hamas in power.

Kessler says this is all Bush's fault.

Five years ago this month, President Bush stood in the Rose Garden and laid out a vision for the Middle East that included Israel and a state called Palestine living together in peace. "I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror," the president declared.

The takeover this week of the Gaza Strip by the Hamas militant group dedicated to the elimination of Israel demonstrates how much that vision has failed to materialize, in part because of actions taken by the administration. The United States championed Israel's departure from the Gaza Strip as a first step toward peace and then pressed both Israelis and Palestinians to schedule legislative elections, which Hamas unexpectedly won. Now Hamas is the unchallenged power in Gaza.

The people elected Hamas knowing full well what was in store but its everyone else's fault this civil war has happened. At any point will papers stop treating the Palestinians like spoiled children and put some responsibility on them for their own situation? Arafat and his cronies played the cause for decades like a violin making millions for themselves with nothing for the people to show for it.

Fatah being called the moderate party is highly amusing and shows how much you can stretch that word out and Hamas is Hamas. This was inevitable, but somehow its everyone else's fault but their own which is why this problem has persisted for so long. Israel has had to put up with pressure to give up this and compromise on that. How about people start doing the same on the Palestinians?

Update# Of course just giving money to the Fatah's West Bank and trying to freeze out Hamas's Gaza is not exactly what I had in mind.

The New Bat Suit.

Entertainment: Via Superhero and I like it, it seems like a suit you would see in the real world rather than an outlandish comic suit.

Arnold: Want to learn English? turn off the Spanish.

Culture: This is not the politically correct answer but it does help if you immerse yourself in the other language.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a gathering of Hispanic journalists that immigrants should avoid Spanish-language media if they want to learn English quickly.

"You've got to turn off the Spanish television set" and avoid Spanish-language television, books and newspapers, the Republican governor said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

"You're just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster," Schwarzenegger said.

"I know this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect thing to say, and I'm going to get myself in trouble," he said, noting that he rarely spoke German and was forced to learn English when he emigrated from Austria.

Schwarzenegger was responding to a question about how Hispanic students can improve academically. Many journalists for Spanish-language organizations in the audience were surprised by the remarks.

"I'm sitting shaking my head not believing that someone would be so naive and out of it that he would say something like that," said Alex Nogales, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Hispanic immigrants need Spanish-language media to stay informed and "function in this society," Nogales said.

That is not the point he was making you twit. If I end up in France and need to learn French fast, along with lessons, watching French media, reading books and using almost every minute to learn French. Arnold is saying the more you surround yourself with English especially the younger kids, the faster you will be forced to learn it. I seriously doubt he means no spanish media forever.

I am getting tired of World of Warcraft myself.

Entertainment: WoWInsider points to numbers that people are starting to leave or not playing as much WoW as before.

When I read on Warcraftrealms that players have been steadily leaving WoW since the release of the expansion, I admit surprise. There is so much content in TBC I can't imagine anyone getting bored. I can already hear the heckling from the back of the room as I say this, but think: the top raiding guild just downed Illidan.

Exactly how long will it be until an average raiding guild, let alone a casual one, will be able to accomplish the same feat? Love it or hate it, the expansion increased not only the lands we were able to visit, but the quest lines we could follow, the races we could play, the factions we could prove ourselves to.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of things I have the opportunity to do in the game now, to the point where I have trouble picking most times and end up bouncing between doing my daily quests on my mage and leveling my Draenei priest. Why then are people leaving the game? Is it that they see it as something conquered once you reach 70? Is it that despite how much content Blizzard puts out it just never is enough? What do you think Blizzard can do to stem this downward spiral?

The commentators pretty much said when you pause and take a look, there is really nothing new even in the expansion. Its just just redressed/reskinned sameness presented to the player. Take for example, the quest to get a netherdrake. Everyone was excited before the quest got activated, but now you hear grumblings about it is really not that hard which it is not. The hard part for me was grinding out 5000 gold to get the epic mount riding skill which leads to the netherwing quest line which is just more grinding but you are limited to 10 quests a day. By the end I knew where every ore would spawn on the map.

Other complaints are the new instances are too short or boring, the requirements to raid is ridiculous c-blocking, the new limits on the amount of people on raids is bad. That casual player( me) has only lots of grinding to look forward in absence of being in raids or doing instances.

The quests lines in the expansion are not as fresh as you think they would be since in most cases its basically grinding by killing x amount of monsters or enemies. The other aspect is that with the new content, Blizzard did nothing to keep the old content fresh or even update it. One on the wish list is to be able to use flying mounts in Azeroth. Blizzard said that would take a lot of work.

My question is why wasn't this though of when you were beginning to make the expansion? It would open up new possibilities say people with flying mounts could skip fighting up Blackrock Spire and just fly up to take a shot at Nefarian.

The other mistake is so many of the wanted crafting recipies are now BoP or BoE ones can only be gotten in high level instances or raids. That cuts down making many of the crafting skills viable moneymakers also considering many drops are better than crafted ones which was a problem before the expansion.

Then you have the PvP parts with arena teams and new battlegrounds which I have yet to hear make playing them over and over again grinding(there is that word again) out honor as being very worthwhile. PvP overall in the expansion has been a bust in terms of players being really happy with it.

I guess some of these problems come from Warcraft not being fresh in how you play or how the game is meant to be played. Blizzard can go so far in giving content without messing with a successful formula without it being called WoW. But over the next 6 months I would hope they have been busy working on different things other than just more grinding quests and willing to try something new.

Immigration Amnesty bill set to pass next week

Immigration: Time to get back on the phones and emails to remind the GOP their asses are on the line if they pass this hideous bill. The tricks they are pulling to do so just assumes everyone is stupid.

Details of the immigration compromise remain to be finalized, but top Democratic sources say Reid has closely monitored the behind-the-scenes dickering over policy changes and a finite list of amendments due for consideration. Based on the latest updates on the policy and amendments, Reid will approve the compromise and move late Thursday to put the bill back on the calendar for Senate consideration in the middle of next week.

"He's going to bless it and he's going to get the Senate back in the business of dealing with immigration," said a source in the Democratic Senate leadership.

The principal change to the bipartisan immigration compromise that Reid shelved last week is the addition of $4.4 billion in added border security spending. That money will be added to the base bill to return to the floor. Any other changes to the immigration bill will have to be made through the amendment process.

The base immigration bill seeks to tighten border security, put an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants on a path to permanent residency and create a temporary worker program.

Republican leaders have promised to produce enough votes to curtail debate on the bill and proceed to final passage. Last week's impasse arose after Reid twice failed to collect the 60 votes necessary to limit debate and move toward final passage.

With the GOP votes in hand and a finite list of amendments to be offered by 11 Democratic and 11 Republican senators, Democratic sources said Reid is now determined to see whether the legislation can survive the amendment process intact. If it does, the Senate could vote on final passage of the bill by next Friday, Democratic sources said.

GOP sources tell FOX News that the new bill has enough support from Republicans for Reid to prevail on a procedural vote to get the bill to final passage.

Rightwingnews pointed out the plan in place to give cover to people. It would be vote to cut the debate and since only a simple majority is needed to pass the bill, Senators can claim they voted against it to their voters at home. Even this border money put it will never make it to a bill given to Bush to sign. I guarantee by the time this bill gets to him after being put thru the ringer in meetings with House/Senate members, any part that has tough enforcement measures will be thrown out or void by another part of the bill. Ted Kennedy is the overlord of this bill. This is truly a shamnesty.

Look at how border enforcement is going to be funded.

Under the legislation as drafted, money for border enforcement would be collected gradually as illegal immigrants pay the fines and fees needed to achieve legal status. The letter asked Bush to secure the border before other elements of the immigration measure go into effect, and the president agreed in his remarks to the Associated Builders and Contractors.

The entire bill is built around giving amnesty first to fund enforcement second. What is so damn insulting that they are not even skilled enough to hide what a sham process this really is to their base.

EU's carbon trading scheme 'set to fail'... again.

Environment: The first part of this scheme failed because it was deemed to lax, the second part which was to tighten the sales of credit looks to be a slight of hand

The first phase of the ETS - which covered around 40% of the EU's emissions - has been accused by critics of falling short of its promises because the CO2 limits were not strict enough.

Moreover, the large polluters were given credits free of charge.

For firms that managed to cut emissions easily, they then had a surplus of carbon credits, which they could then sell for a profit.

Next phase

Now the EU has set new limits for the next phase of the scheme for a number of nations including the UK, Germany and Luxembourg. Others are yet to be finalised.

But the WWF's new report called Emission Impossible shows that the next phase of the ETS - which runs from 2008 to 2012 - could also fail "because of the potential for very heavy use of imported credits".

In practice this means that large polluters could buy carbon credits from projects overseas that claim to reduce emissions.

The WWF questions whether these projects are all genuine emission reduction plans.

The ETS could become "a messy and deeply flawed market for a virtual commodity that only really benefits the traders", WWF warns.


The destruction of black America, by black America

Culture: A lashing out by Melvin Roach who seems to have given up. Why he is "surrendering" to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity is mystifying.

Reform math battle in New Jersey

Edumacation: Meh, Just teach the kids math the way it was meant to be taught and stop all this nonsense. It worked for nearly everyone on the planet for centuries why bother to change it up? Reform mathers would have to prove they built a better mouse trap.

This is Broward County.

Media: Drudge posted it early yesterday and quickly turned Broward County into a joke.

Rush Limbaugh has long been a thorn in the side of liberals, but now, because of him, some Democratic politicians don't even want to join with a local radio station to broadcast hurricane information.

Radio station WIOD, AM 610, has been the official channel for emergency information from Broward County government for the past year. The County Commission, all Democrats, balked at renewing the deal Tuesday, unable to stomach the station also being home to Limbaugh's talk show.

Commissioner Stacy Ritter said she did not want to support a station that's out of step with area politics. Ritter, a Democratic stalwart in the state Legislature before being elected to county office, cited talk shows hosted by Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and WIOD's partnership with Fox News.

"They have every right to speak, but we don't have to do business with them," she said.

Limbaugh responded to the commissioners Wednesday on his radio show. He said the county's qualms about WIOD are a sign of out-of-control partisanship in the nation. He quipped that if the county wanted him off the air, all that officials would need to do is schedule emergency press conferences during his broadcast from noon to 3 p.m.

"They are politicizing the delivery of emergency news, which is non-partisan," said Limbaugh, who lives in Palm Beach. "They are making weather a partisan issue."

Limbaugh has long been a fixture on WIOD, but no county official raised an issue about him or the other shows when the deal was approved for the first time a year ago.

The deal with WIOD would ensure that news conferences are broadcast start to finish live from the county Emergency Operations Center in Plantation. Emergency managers became concerned during hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 that radio and television stations preempted their announcements in favor of news out of Miami.

Understand this. WIOD has the strongest signal that can cover the tri-county(Palm Beach, Broward and Dade) it is owned by Clear Channel who also owns the 940 WINZ station that carries liberal talk. During Wilma last year when most of the tri was out of power for 2 weeks, WIOD did a tremendous job of keeping people informed. They simulcasted on other Clear Channel stations on the FM dial and there is no other station or company down here that can do the same in an emergency. WLRN and WFTL are non-existent down here.

It is an embarrassment by Stacy Ritter to pull a stunt like this which emphasizes her liberalism over the general public safety and demand according to the Miami Herald for WIOD to change programming to get her approval. It shines a light to outsiders on the perception down here that Broward officials overall are yahoos with the intelligence of gnats. I doubt she or others on the commission who rejected WIOD realize how their decision is being played out in public.

It used to be the banana republic politics stayed in Dade County, now it is starting to seep over here.

Florida stops practice of burying gopher tortoises alive.

Environment: How the hell do you come up with this sort of plan in the first place to just now stopping it? This was an unbelievable way of getting rid of wildlife.

Melbourne -- The state wildlife commission voted Wednesday to stop issuing permits to developers to bury gopher tortoises alive, ending a 16-year policy that had been criticized as both cruel and a cause of the species' decline.

But the commission agreed to grandfather in applications to kill tortoises submitted by July 30, a decision that dismayed animal advocates who said it could lead to the deaths of thousands of tortoises.

In light of Florida's growing population, the difficult relations between the state's wildlife and the state's people dominated the discussions Wednesday at a meeting of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The commission considered a plan to manage growing numbers of alligators, a once-endangered species that has made an all-too-vigorous recovery. And with boaters angry about slow-speed zones to protect manatees, the commission voted on a plan to reclassify that species from "endangered" to "threatened."

The gopher tortoise vote ended a policy in which developers were allowed to crush or bury tortoises alive, so long as they paid into a fund for buying and protecting tortoise habitat elsewhere. Under the new policy, developers will have to have tortoises relocated to approved habitat, a change that biologists and activists warn could be difficult to implement because many tortoises have died through careless relocations.

Gaza lurches towards Islamist mini-state

Middle East: As the joke going around the web says, we are going to have a two state solution. Hamas takes Gaza and Fatah takes West Bank.

A new, Islamist mini-state was emerging in the Gaza Strip yesterday, as victorious Hamas forces surrounded and blew up their secular rivals’ last strongholds in bitter fighting that threw the entire future of the Middle East peace process into doubt.

Supporters of the Fatah movement fled to Egypt or surrendered as Hamas leaders predicted that they would control the entire coastal strip by the end of the week.

European Union chiefs said that the deployment of an international force should be urgently considered to curb the bloodshed.

In Gaza, Hamas strengthened its grip as its fighters surrounded die-hard Fatah supporters in isolated, last-stand strongholds. In Khan Younis in the south, Hamas guerrillas tunnelled under a Fatah security base and blew it up with its defenders still inside. Those refusing to give up in other besieged bastions were given two days to surrender.

”This is a victory for Islam and I hope we will build our Islamic state,” said Abu Qatada, a masked 22-year-old Hamas fighter, standing outside the smouldering ruin of the Fatah security base. “We must now complete the job,” he said.

In a symbolic moment, a large crowd of Gaza civilians demonstrating for an end to the internecine fighting came under fire from unidentified attackers who killed at least two marchers.

The Palestinian apologists are going to come out in full force because they realize this gives Israel the right not even to acknowledge Hamas. John Williams tries to spin it as the Palestinians are blameless and its all up to Israel to do all the hard work in getting peace. That is funny considering Hamas wants Israel to cease to exist and they were voted in by the people while refusing to even inch their way to any sort of peace agreement.

One of the refrains I heard in Ramallah was that it is hard for President Mahmoud Abbas to explain the value of meetings with Israeli leaders from which the Palestinian public sees no benefit.

He has to be given something to show for engaging with the Israelis, otherwise those Palestinians who want confrontation will become stronger. That can't be in Israel's interests. On the most straightforward calculation of self-interest, the killing going on next door ought to be the greatest incentive for Israel to work with Palestinian democrats. There is no sign of the Israeli government making that calculation.

And the same applies to the United States. President Bush is rhetorically committed to spreading democracy in the Middle East. But there is no hint of action from Washington to strengthen Palestinian democracy by putting serious political muscle behind a negotiated settlement.

In fact, bleak analysis by the outgoing UN envoy Alvaro de Soto, reported in today's Guardian, makes clear how much Washington's policy has contributed to the grim context of the current fighting.

The typical yapping from the left, it is all America and Israel's fault.

Group announces support for Jefferson

Politics: Support is one thing, but conspiracy theories like this doesn't really help the cause.

NEW ORLEANS - Supporters of a Democratic congressman charged with bribery and money laundering harkened to their civil rights days on Wednesday as they denounced the allegations against U.S. Rep. William Jefferson.


The group, including ministers and the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, alleged the 16-count corruption indictment was the work of a Republican White House and Justice Department scheming to target black Democratic leaders and shift attention from legal troubles of Republican congressmen.

"When it's all over, Bill Jefferson will stand up like Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. He will stand up in the South and he will be victorious," said the Rev. Samson "Skip" Alexander.

The news conference attended by about 50 people was a sign Jefferson hasn't lost friends in New Orleans, which re-elected him to a ninth term from Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District in December 2006 despite an FBI probe of his African business dealings.

Prosecutors say Jefferson used his influence as co-chairman of the congressional Africa Investment and Trade Caucus to broker deals in numerous African nations, and that he demanded kickbacks for himself and for family members. He is also charged with bribing a Nigerian official.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Barbara Walters with the cheap shot on Rosie leaving.

Entertainment: I'm thinking some pent up feelings are being released.

While admitting, "It's very hard for anyone to follow Rosie," boss woman Barbara Walters says she is rather pleased with The View's performance since O'Donnell's famous walkout.
"There are things we've been able to discuss that we weren't able to discuss with Rosie, like heterosexual sex," Walters told Wednesday's On-Air with Ryan Seacrest radio show. "We are perhaps not quite as political [or] vocal about [things], but the Hot Topics have been very fun, and the ratings are up, so we're quite happy. Obviously, the audience is very loyal."

Crime boss grocery owner indicted

Crime: All that is left is to find out he had a Vic Mackey type employed and we got the latest season of the Shield.
A Los Angeles grocery chain entrepreneur was charged with running a lucrative criminal enterprise that orchestrated murders, bribed city officials, laundered money and aided drug traffickers, according to an indictment unsealed today.

George Torres, 50, who owns the Numero Uno grocery stores scattered throughout low-income parts of Los Angeles, was arrested Tuesday and appeared in court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Wistrich on charges of racketeering, violence in aid of racketeering, tax evasion and fraud.

Seven other business partners and associates, including two former Los Angeles planning commissioners accused of taking part in a bribery scheme, are charged in the indictment. Of those indicted, four were named and appeared in court today: Torres; his brother, Hector Manuel Torres, 53, of Arcadia; and former planning commissioners George Luk, 58, and Steven Carmona, 39.

The attorney for Carmona, a onetime member of the Central Area Planning Commission who is accused of taking bribes from Torres, said his client is innocent.

Hollywood racist? Universal hit with racial bias suit.

Entertainment: The EEOC says Frank Davis was fired because he was black. BBC writeup.

Frank Davis, who worked on Universal Pictures' 2003 street racing movie 2 Fast 2 Furious, is heading to a Los Angeles court to seek compensation for his dismissal.

The lawsuit has been hailed as a landmark challenge to a major Hollywood studio on an issue that civil rights campaigners say is often swept under the carpet.

America's Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has accused Universal Pictures of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by replacing Mr Davis with an assistant director who was Caucasian.

"From the very beginning it was pretty obvious they didn't want me on this film," Mr Davis told the BBC.

The film was directed by John Singleton, who is also black. Mr Singleton appointed Mr Davis, with whom he had worked on previous projects.

"This was a huge opportunity. It was historic in the sense that in movie history - it seems strange - until this project there has never been a black director and a black first assistant director on an $80m summer release movie," said Mr Davis.

Prosecutors sound confident.
Prosecutors are confident that they can prove their case.

According to Anna Park, a regional attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, there is ample "circumstantial evidence" to prove that race played a part in Mr Davis' sacking.

Ms Park believes that the case highlights a broader problem in Hollywood, that few people are willing to discuss.

"The Commission has been informed that over the years there have been flagrant violations... very few people have been willing to come forward for fear of blackballing and unfortunately it has come true.

"Mr Davis has not worked in the three and half years that he has brought this to our attention."

AP report is different saying he was fired according to Singleton who at first backed him for being not up for the job.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Universal Pictures four years ago claiming first assistant director Frank Davis was fired without cause even after director John Singleton, who also is black, objected.

"They simply did not trust having two African-Americans behind the cameras," Robert Rose, an attorney for the EEOC, said Tuesday in his opening statement.

The studio has denied the allegation, saying Davis could not handle his duties on a complicated, big-budget film that contained numerous action sequences and stunts.

Singleton, who hired Davis to work on "2 Fast 2 Furious," was expected to be a key witness, saying in a prior deposition that he thought race may have played a role in Davis' dismissal.

However, the director testified Tuesday that he made an "executive decision" to let Davis go after several film crew members complained about him.

Davis was in charge of the filming schedule and acting as a liaison between the director and other crew members. Singleton testified there were disputes over the amount of time allotted for filming the 2003 action movie. He said the film's producers, not Universal executives, first approached him about firing Davis.

"If all your different production heads are having problems with the (assistant director), then you have to make a change," Singleton said.

An attorney for Universal told jurors the studio was concerned Davis was unprepared for a production meeting, was absent at times and lacked "command" of the script.

"Nobody made Mr. Singleton do anything he didn't want to do," attorney Steve Cochran said in his opening statement.

Singleton has never been one that struck me as being a wimp about situations like this and would raise hell about it. If Davis was a problem he had to go but on the other hand I don't see the EEOC taking up this case on a whim without evidence. A case to watch as it may bring up dirty secrets on what really goes on behind the scenes.

Gaza civil war looms

Middle East: I still think it was a tremendous move by Sharon to get out of Gaza and one of the reason is to prove this point. There is no way anyone but Israel haters can look at what is going on in Gaza and what might happen in the West Bank then come to Israel to say they must bend over backwards to make peace. The Palestinians have shown they cannot govern themselves and electing Hamas was a terrible mistake.

The Palestinians’ rival leaders were both targeted yesterday as increasingly brutal factional fighting pushed the three-month-old unity Government to the brink of collapse.

Mahmoud Abbas, the President and leader of the secular Fatah Party, accused his Islamist rivals Hamas of staging a coup, and threatened to pull out of the coalition. After an emergency meeting of its executive last night, Fatah announced it was suspending participation in the Government until the fighting stops.

The violence engulfing Gaza in recent days appeared to be spreading to the West Bank, edging the conflict towards full-blown civil war. In Gaza Fatah security forces were losing ground to groups of well-armed and organised Hamas gunmen, who seized control of Fatah’s main security compound in northern Gaza and other key security posts.

Gunmen fired a rocketpropelled grenade at the home of Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian Prime Minister, and Mr Abbas’s Gaza City offices were later shelled.

Huge backlash against boycotting Israeli universities

UK: I don't think the union realized how fed up people were of their nonsense.

As the discussions rumbled on, most of those in the hall for the University and College Union's (UCU) first annual conference on May 30 realised their decision would have ramifications beyond British academia. Few, however, could have predicted the scale of the backlash when the resolution, which called on the UCU to circulate a boycott request by Palestinian trade unions to all branches for "information and discussion", was passed by 158 votes to 99.

Within hours it was headline news in Britain and Israel, within days it was making waves in Europe and north America, and soon every newspaper from the Kansas City Star ("A stain on British academia") to the Turkish Daily News ("Israel discusses retaliation to boycott threats") was in on the act.

Tony Blair phoned the Israeli prime minister to reassure him that the motion did not reflect wider public opinion. In Israel, MPs began drafting a bill to label British imports - allowing consumers to stage their own counter boycott.

But in the two weeks since the vote, it is the US that has had the biggest surge of activity among the anti-boycott camp. About 2,000 American scholars - including at least nine Nobel laureates - have vowed to stay away from any event from which Israelis are excluded. A Democrat from suburban Philadelphia, Patrick Murphy, has moved a resolution in the House of Representatives, condemning the vote and calling on members of the UCU to reject the boycott. Thirty other members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors.

Alan Dershowitz, the prominent lawyer and Harvard law professor, says he has mustered a team of 100 high-profile lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic to "devastate and bankrupt" anyone acting against Israeli universities.

"If the union goes ahead with this immoral petition, it will destroy British academia," Dershowitz told the Guardian last night. "We will isolate them from the rest of the world. They will end up being the objects of the boycott because we will get tens of thousands of the most prominent academics from around the world to refuse to cooperate and refuse to participate in any events from which Israeli academics are excluded. It will totally backfire."

As the global ramifications of the vote became clear yesterday, the leaders of the newly formed UCU met in central London to discuss their next move.

Moonves: viewers reject hearing news from woman

Media: No, people are just rejecting hearing news from Katie Couric. I said it before, the evening news anchor has to have a certain gravitas to them to be successful. Katie never had that in part of the whole perky Katie image from the Today show. The hype and ground breaking earth shattering promotion they put on for her did not help but push up expectations way too high.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said on Tuesday that his network's evening newscast has struggled with Katie Couric as anchor in part because many Americans "don't want their news from a woman."

The comments from Moonves, who hired Couric away from NBC's top-rated morning show "Today" last year for a salary reportedly worth $15 million a year, came as he lashed out at her predecessor, Dan Rather, for disparaging his old newscast.

Rather, who resigned as anchor after 24 years in March 2005 and left the network last year in a departure clouded by a scandal over his reporting of President George W. Bush's military record, said that CBS News and its network rivals were moving toward more celebrity coverage and away from hard news.

"The mistake was trying to bring the 'Today' show ethos to the evening news and to dumb it down, tart it up, in hopes of attracting a younger audience," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program on Monday.

Tom Shales of the Wash Post has a writeup on this feud between Rather and CBS news. But who the heck is Chuck Scarborough?

Rather said that he never planned an attack on the "Evening News" or on Couric, but that he was asked about it by Chuck Scarborough, who has replaced the deposed Don Imus on morning radio and MSNBC-TV. "He asked me directly what I thought," Rather said. "It is my wont to answer a question directly. It was not planned."

My suggestion still stands, lets bring in Mélissa Theuriau for a tryout when Katie is on vacation. Lets see if people really won't take news from a woman.

Finally messing with expandable posts.

Hackosphere blog came up with a way to get a workable read more into blogger. No excuse on why blogger doesn't have some sort of widget or even built in option in the first place.

Don't snitch going strong in Toronto among youths

Crime: Nothing like a bunch of liberal law students further making it worse to solve crimes by the police.

Shortly after the shooting death of Jordan Manners, the 15-year-old Toronto student, eighth-grade students at nearby Oakdale Park Middle School were called to an assembly. The subject: relations with the police. It's a hot issue in that part of town. The community is in an uproar over the shooting and allegations are flying that police have been heavy-handed in their hunt for Jordan's killer.

But the group invited by the school to address the students weren't interested in improving relations with the police. They were there to fan the flames. Their message to the 12- and 13-year-olds was simple: Don't trust the cops. They are not your friends. They deserve to be hated and feared, because they are bullying, brutal and racist. For good measure, they handed out an offensive little leaflet called "Survival Tactics: Dealing with Police." It kicks off with a reference to Rodney King, the black man who was beaten up by the Los Angeles police several years before these kids were born. "Although it may be difficult, be polite when they are insulting and bullying you," the brochure reads.

Who were these anti-cop propagandists? They were law students from nearby Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. They are volunteers with an outfit called Community and Legal Aid Services Programme, CLASP.

Glenn Stuart, who directs the program, told me that CLASP works with many local schools, starting as early as Grade 5. Its goal is to teach the kids their "rights." In these sessions, students are encouraged to relate incidents of police harassment and alleged brutality. Each kid gets a wallet-sized reminder entitled "Know Your Rights." It has an illustration of upraised fists - presumably representing the masses rising up against their oppressors.

Canada is not immune to bad schools where the kids are running close to feral while everyone else gives up or just can't help to change it. The whole you're a victim routine does nothing but make matters worse.

Needless to say, the police aren't included in these programs. That's because they're the enemy.

In fact, Toronto's police have made admirable efforts to expand community policing and outreach programs. Some officers spend hours of their own time volunteering with youth groups. And yet the cone of silence remains an tough obstacle to solving crimes and protecting the community from thugs. In this neighbourhood, it's better to go to jail than be a snitch. Hundreds of people turned out to mourn Jordan Manners and to demand that the city, the schools, the province and the federal government do something to stop the killing - but scarcely anyone was willing to help police catch the killer.

CLASP's well-meaning law students are mostly middle-class and white. I doubt if any of them have heard a random gunshot in their lives. Oakdale Park's students are largely a mix of Caribbean (mainly Jamaican), Southeast Asian (mainly Vietnamese) and other kids from immigrant backgrounds. Many come from disorganized, single-mother families where discipline is scarce, and they have a multitude of learning problems. The unwitting effect of the messages CLASP sends will be to keep them in the underclass forever.

Apart from hating the police, what other lessons are students learning in Canada's most at-risk schools? The main lesson is that there are no consequences for bad behaviour, or for lack of effort, or contempt for school. Although many of these students can barely read or write, the pressure to show "success" in such schools has grown intense. Teachers are simply not allowed to fail them, because that is said to hurt their self-esteem. (Last year, for example, the York Region District School Board failed just six Grade 8 students out of 8,064.) Nor are teachers allowed to deduct marks for handing in assignments late, or for routinely skipping classes. Teacher after teacher has told me: "The kids are in charge. We aren't."

Adolescents who lack structure in their lives need firm guidance and clear expectations. Instead, the schools offer a therapeutic approach that demands nothing and excuses everything, and pretends that self-esteem can be built without accomplishment. In this world of endless rights but no responsibilities, students learn that they are systematically victimized by society - starting with police and teachers. They learn that their troubles are everybody else's fault. They learn that mainstream values - such as respect for the law - are contemptible. This is called "empowerment."

French minister unveils plans to curb immigration.

Immigration: Who would have thought France would have tougher, more sensible immigration plans than America.

Paris, 12 June (AKI) - France’s new minister of immigration and national identity, Brice Hortefeux, on Tuesday presented to the French government's top consultative body, the Council of State, a bill aimed at cutting the number of immigrants and making it more difficult for their family members to join them.

Before being allowed to enter France, immigrants will have to pass a certificate in French proficiency and knowledge of 'the values of the Republic' in their home country and if necessary undergo a maximum of two months' training there, French daily Le Figaro revealed.

Under the bill, immigrants who promise to undertake further training in France will stand a better chance of obtaining a longterm residency permit and to be allowed to complete the necessary procedures for family members to obtain a permit of stay, Le Figaro reports.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dry cleaner Judge goes to trial.

Nation: He is choked up over a pair of pants and he is a judge. That ought to comfort people trying cases in his courtroom.

WASHINGTON - A judge had to leave the courtroom with tears running down his face Tuesday after recalling the lost pair of trousers that led to his $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner.

Administrative law judge Roy L. Pearson had argued earlier in his opening statement that he is acting in the interest of all city residents against poor business practices. Defense attorneys called his claim "outlandish."

He originally sued Custom Cleaners for about $65 million under the District of Columbia consumer protection act and almost $2 million in common law claims. He is no longer seeking damages related to the pants, instead focusing his claims on two signs in the shop that have since been removed.

Mr.Wizard dead at 89

Entertainment: I watched the show on Nick and in reruns, but he was known by a couple of generations going back to 50s and 60s. They don't make shows like these anymore which is a damn shame.

Don Herbert, who explained the wonderful world of science to millions of young baby boomers on television in the 1950s and '60s as "Mr. Wizard" and did the same for another generation of youngsters on the Nickelodeon cable TV channel in the 1980s, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Herbert died at his home in Bell Canyon after a long battle with multiple myeloma, said Tom Nikosey, Herbert's son-in-law.

A low-key, avuncular presence who wore a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a tie, Herbert launched his weekly half-hour science show for children on NBC in 1951.

Broadcast live from Chicago on Saturdays the first few years and then from New York City, "Watch Mr. Wizard" ran for 14 years.

Pregnant women like our 14th amendment.

Immigration: You read this and you feel your blood vessels getting ready to burst.

Weston · Veronica Pita recently traveled from Venezuela to South Florida just to give birth to her son and guarantee that he grows up a U.S. citizen.

Worried that President Hugo Chavez may claim guardianship rights over children, dozens of Venezuelan women have traveled to South Florida in recent months to give birth, local doctors say.

The women generally arrive on tourist visas when they are seven months pregnant and return home six weeks after delivery.

Most say they think their children's U.S. citizenship will exempt them from future Venezuelan government measures. Others say they want their children to enjoy the benefits of U.S. citizenship should the family eventually move here.

Roberto Infante, director of research at the Florida Institute for Reproductive Sciences and Technologies in Weston, has coordinated care for about 30 Venezuelan expectant mothers since December.

They are not the only ones who enjoy our 14th and think this place is a safety net.

Statistics tracking women who travel to the U.S. to give birth are not available, experts say.

But immigration officials and advocates of stricter immigration laws say so-called "birth tours" are common. Thousands of middle-class South Korean women travel each year to the United States to give birth to U.S. citizens who can avoid their country's military draft.

U.S. clinics along the Mexican border offer services to border-crossing, pregnant Mexican women that include delivering and processing their birth certificates, passports and other documents for a set fee, according to information from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"Clearly, we are setting ourselves up to be taken advantage of," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform in Washington, D.C., who favors a stricter interpretation of the 14th amendment. The amendment establishes that, with a few exceptions that include the children of foreign diplomats, any child born on U.S. soil is a citizen.

I don't like Chavez and think he is a banana republic wannabe dictator, but this baby tourism to take advantage of our system is even worse. America has become a open-air market for everyone to take a piece out of it without actually putting in the work for the privilege of being in America or calling themselves Americans.

Guardmen arrested for smuggling illegals.

Immigration: Now you are going to wonder how many more have been corrupted.

EL PASO, Texas — A trio of National Guard soldiers assigned to help stop illegal immigration in South Texas instead ran an immigrant smuggling operation using cell phone text messages, according to court records filed Monday by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Laredo.

In a series of text messages uncovered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after Pfc. Jose Rodrigo Torres was arrested on Thursday, the three soldiers allegedly negotiated the details, price and number of people who would be smuggled north, the complaint said.

Immigration enforcement subject to congress.

Immigration: The not so dead Amnesty bill in the Senate has this wonderful bit of news in regards to getting tougher enforcement.

Supporters of the Senate bill acknowledge that the nation’s experience with the 1986 law has made their job harder. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the current bill was “dramatically different from the 1986 act,” because it places more emphasis on enforcement and more conditions on the granting of legal status to illegal immigrants.

But many senators are skeptical. Under the Senate bill, they note, most new enforcement measures are “subject to the availability of appropriations,” meaning Congress would have to provide additional money to finance them.

Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, said he supported amnesty in 1986 “based on the very same promises we hear today.” But that law did not work, Mr. Byrd said, and “I will not vote to make the same mistake twice.”

Technically the enforcement part is there and subject to the whims of a Democrat led congress who will surely provide the funds without a fight. Yeah right.

I support this feminist argument on engagement rings.

Culture: Yes, say no to rings women! It is just a way of keeping you down in an ancient custom where women are playing a weak gender role. Stand up and say no to engagement rings! Men's payche...I mean Men will love you even more for being an unconventional woman in today's society.

On the face of it, the engagement ring's origins as a financial commitment should make modern brides-to-be wary. After all, virginity is no longer a prerequisite for marriage, nor do the majority of women consider marriageability their prime asset. Many women hope for a marriage in which housework, child-rearing, and breadwinning are equitably divided. The engagement ring doesn't fit into this intellectual framework. Rather, its presence on a woman's finger suggests that she needs to trap a man into "commitment" or be damaged if he leaves. (In most states today, if a groom abandons a bride, she is entitled to keep the ring, whereas if she leaves him, she must give it back.) Nor is it exactly "equitable" to demand that a partner shell out a sixth of a year's salary, demonstrating that he can "provide" for you and a future family, before you agree to marry him.

For those who aren't bothered by the finer points of gender equity, an engagement ring clearly makes a claim about the status of a woman's sexual currency. It's a big, shiny NO TRESPASSING sign, stating that the woman wearing it has been bought and paid for, while her beau is out there sign-free and all too easily trespassable, until the wedding. (There might be an equitable case for pregnancy rings, since bearing children is inherently unequal—but that's its own can of worms.) In fact, many ads, including a recent series by Tiffany, imply that giving a ring results in a woman's sexual debt—as these parodies brilliantly capture.

The author is correct, say no to the gaudy materialistic custom of engagement rings.


You will live green in Denver or else

Enviro: The beatings, mantra and taxing the hell out of your wallet will continue until morale is restored. Save the planet and shut up.

Denver is gearing up to fight global warming, and residents may soon be asked to make personal sacrifices to help save the planet.

The new plan is aimed at making Denver a national leader in reducing gas emissions that have been linked to global warming, giving a major push to alternative energy, stepping up recycling and changing building codes to encourage energy conservation.

But the proposal also contains some ideas that may be unpopular, such as penalizing heavy users of electricity and natural gas and basing auto insurance premiums on the number of miles traveled.

Global Warming has given the go ahead for every nanny politician to go nuts in trying to control people's behavior under the guise of saving the planet.

Monday, June 11, 2007

NAACP and CAIR suffering from downturn in membership.

Nation: Always felt CAIR overstated its membership. The other question is that 7 million number CAIR likes to throw around to boosts its perceived power. According to the PEW survey, the estimated number is around 2.4 million.

NAACP has no one to blame but its own stupidity in not changing with the times and staying relevant. The Baltimore chapter head quits because in his words the leadership needs "a real serious wakeup call."

Gaza descends into all out warfare.

Middle East: It is bad enough for the people wanting Israel and Jordan to come back to take power away from Fatah and Hamas.

At least 14 people have died in clashes between rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas, despite the declaration of a new ceasefire.
Three Fatah supporters were killed in a gun battle inside a hospital in the town of Beit Hanoun.

In Gaza City, three members of one family, all of them Hamas supporters, were shot dead.

A senior militant from the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was also killed in the northern Gaza Strip.

Fatah says one of its senior militants Jamal Abu al-Jedian was among those targeted by gunmen who shot him 41 times in his hospital bed in Beit Hanoun. His brother was later found dead, Fatah said.

"Everybody is shooting at everybody," said one doctor quoted by Reuters news agency.

Belgium's Socialist/liberal parties lose

Belgium: France wasn't the only place where the left took a bit of a drubbing.

The eight-year term in office of Guy Verhofstadt, the Prime Minister of Belgium, appeared set to end after voters strongly backed the Flemish Christian Democrats in an election yesterday, early results indicated.

Mr Verhofstadt’s chief rival, Yves Leterme, the Flemish Minister-President, who wants more power devolved to his Dutch-speaking region, was the big winner and is favourite to be the next prime minister if he can build a viable coalition.

Voting is compulsory for the 7.7 million voters in Belgium.

Mr Verhofstadt’s liberals, who share federal power with the socialists, went into the election as the strongest party in Flanders in terms of seats, but slid to third place, according to early results and projections. Mr Leterme’s Christian Democrats and their small nationalist allies N-VA increased their share of the vote to beyond 30 per cent in the northern region that is home to 60 per cent of Belgians.

In French-speaking Wallonia, the Socialist Party slipped after a series of local embezzlement scandals and was running neck and neck with the centre-right liberal Reform Movement.

Ecologist parties made strong gains in both regions, giving them a prospect of entering a coalition. The far-right Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang also gained some ground.

Voters choose from separate francophone and Flemish party lists, depending on where they live. The federal Government normally consists of majorities in both regions.

Economic concerns was one of the factors.

Leterme said a Christian Democrat-led government will push for more regional autonomy for Flanders, Belgium's Dutch-speaking northern half, and for southern Francophone Wallonia - talk that scares Walloon politicians who fear Dutch-speakers are out to break the country in two.

``It is absolutely necessary that in the years ahead we shift'' more economic powers to Flanders and Wallonia, said Leterme.

The comment reflects irritation in Flanders - home to 60 percent of the 10.5 million Belgians - that politicians in Wallonia resist the kind of free-market reforms that are increasingly common in Europe.

Entertainment/Gossip news

Entertainment: Eddie Murphy faces off with Scary Spice on if he is the daddy.

L&O "Criminal Intent" stars come back without a raise. It was stupid looking for one considering the show was this close to be cancelled.

Wesley Snipes: Race a factor in tax evasion charges. One thing about the government about taxes, they go after everyone especially if you have money.

Father of Senegalese cinema dead at 84.

DAKAR, Senegal - Sembene Ousmane, the father of Senegalese cinema and one of the pioneers of the art in Africa, died at his home over the weekend after a long illness. He was 84.

Barbara Walters with news from Paris Hilton on the View and Good Morning America.

BET heading for the Japanese market.

Entertainment: On behalf of America, I am so sorry.

BET Networks is entering the Japanese market with "106 & Park," a hip-hop countdown show that will bow on MTV Japan this fall. Hosted by Rocsi and Terrence, the show will air weekly duringa one-hour block, in English with Japanese subs. Rocsi and Terrence recently came to Japan to tape footage for the inaugural show. Duo had a whirlwind tour of meetings with Japanese rappers and DJs, visits to clubs, record stores, clothing shops and other hotbeds of local hip-hop culture.

On May 26 the pair also made an appearance at MTV Video Music Awards Japan, a live show that reached 6.7 million homes on the MTV Japan strand.

"I'm proud to share our black culture with our newly found Japanese fans," Terrence said.

Just want Japan needs, BET version of "black culture."

Immigration/Amnesty bill coming back before the 4th?

Immigration: That would be a sick irony if they even dared to pass it anywhere near that date.

WASHINGTON, June 10 — Senate Democrats opened the door to reviving the stalled immigration measure on Sunday, calling on Republicans to resolve their internal divisions and produce an agreement on how to move the legislation forward.

With Bush administration officials and Republican authors of the overhaul saying they had not given up on the bill, the spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said Mr. Reid would be willing to try again if Republicans agreed to a defined number of amendments and a time limit on debate.

“If and when Republicans can agree on a limited number of amendments and agree on the need to get this bill passed, Senator Reid is committed to finding room on the Senate schedule as soon as possible,” said Jim Manley, the spokesman, who said President Bush needed to play a role as well. “The hope is that he can apply enough pressure to provide the votes we need to get the bill out of the Senate.”

What is wrong with the GOP? Here is the message, the majority of people want immigration reform, this bill is not it. How about listening to the concerns of the majority of the country who oppose this damn thing and figure out how to address it.

Even if there is a new agreement, it is unlikely the Senate would return to the bill immediately. On Monday the Senate is to consider a politically charged proposal for a “no confidence” vote on Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, followed by a week or more of debate on energy legislation. Given high gasoline prices, Democratic leaders of the Senate are intent on showing the public they are taking steps to curb energy costs.

But Mr. Kyl predicted Sunday that the Senate would return to the bill and pass it before its Fourth of July recess, even though he acknowledged that the immigration battle was taking a political toll on the Republican Party.

“There is no political winner in this for us,” Mr. Kyl said on CNN. “But sometimes there are big problems that have to be addressed, and there’s no political gain in it and maybe even political loss. You’ve got to do it, nonetheless.”

Do what? Pass a bad bill that will crush the GOP for years to come? Good idea.

Foreign missionaries filling Europe's spiritual void.

Religion: As Europe's old ways of religious teachings fall out of favor, the news ways of the converted outside of Europe are coming to try and make religion relevant again.

"....In the middle of all the keyboards, drums and hallelujahs, Stendor Johansen, a blond Danish sea captain built like a 180-pound ice cube, sang along and danced, as he said, like a Dane -- without moving.

"The Danish church is boring," said Johansen, 45, who left the state-run Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church three years ago and joined this high-octane interdenominational church run by a missionary pastor from Singapore. "I feel energized when I leave one of these services."

The International Christian Community (ICC) is one of about 150 churches in Denmark that are run by foreigners, many from Africa, Asia and Latin America, part of a growing trend of preachers from developing nations coming to Western Europe to set up new churches or to try to reinvigorate old ones.

For centuries, when Europe was the global center of Christianity, millions of European missionaries traveled to other continents to spread their faith by establishing schools and churches. Now, with European church attendance at all-time lows and a dearth of preachers in the pulpits, thousands of "reverse missionaries" are flocking back, migrating from poor countries to rich ones to preach the Gospel where it has fallen out of fashion.

The phenomenon signals a fundamental shift in the power, style and geography of Christianity, the world's largest religion. Most of its more than 2 billion adherents now live in the developing world. And as vast numbers of them migrate to Europe, as well as to the United States, they are filling pews and changing worship styles.

Churches in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, South Korea and the Philippines have sent thousands of missionaries to Europe to set up churches in homes, office buildings and storefronts. Officials from the Redeemed Christian Church of God, a Pentecostal church based in Nigeria, said they have 250 churches in Britain now and plan to create 100 more this year. Britain's largest church, run by a Nigerian pastor in London, attracts up to 12,000 people over three services every Sunday.

The trend is vivid in Denmark, where charismatic preachers from Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, India, Iran and Latin America have set up vibrant Protestant and Catholic churches."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sarkozy party 'set for landslide'

Politics: As the socialists take a beating and smaller parties could be shut out.

Projections after the first round of France's parliamentary elections suggest President Nicolas Sarkozy's party is heading for a landslide.
Although most seats will not be decided until next week's second round, polling firms said Mr Sarkozy's UMP party would win at least 383 of the 577 seats.

Analysts say a big majority would allow the new president to press ahead with his sweeping economic reforms.

What sort of reforms?

Mr Sarkozy has said he will hold a special session of parliament in July to initiate his first set of political reforms, which include tougher immigration rules and more freedom for universities.

A new finance bill will mean that overtime earnings are no longer taxed, inheritance tax is abolished for most people and overall individual taxation is capped at 50%.

A sad moment for the GOP when France gets a leader while we are stuck with well...idiots.

Muslim women abuse soldier at troops hospital

UK: As Labour MP could give a damn about security concerns thinking the military wants its own little kingdom.

A British Army officer has been abused by Asian women while on a hospital visit to troops injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Company Sergeant Major Neil Powell was surrounded and heckled by three young women in the unprovoked verbal attack at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham.

The women, in traditional Asian dress, ranted about the presence of British troops in Muslim countries.

The incident took place in a public area of the hospital used by both civilians and military personnel.

In recent months the standard of treatment for soldiers at Selly Oak has been widely criticised. Military personnel have called for greater protection and privacy away from civilian patients and visitors.

One MP thinks this is a bit much.

A colleague said: "He is normally a very placid character, a gentle giant. But he was fuming, understandably, after what happened.

"He couldn’t believe it. CSM Powell just had to stand and take abuse from these screaming and very aggressive women. I don’t think a guy would have got away with it.

"A lot of soldiers are worried that something more serious could happen. There isn’t much security here."

But the Labour MP for Selly Oak, Lynne Jones, refused to back calls for more secure facilities for troops.

She said: "The soldiers seem to want a little empire consisting of their own designated staff and facilities, a fiefdom.

"The point of basing the Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak was to make the most of the range of experience here. The priority should always be the standard of clinical care.

"When I’ve visited the military ward it has been cluttered with staff."

I guess when someone murders a soldier at the hospital, then Jones will be more concerned.

Roller pigeon lovers killing off predators.

Nature: Where the heck is PETA in all of this, this is a goldmine for them. A choice between magnificent birds of prey and rat with wings.

Showing a visitor through the Hillsboro shelters where he raises "roller" pigeons, Ivan Hanchett described how he trapped hawks so they wouldn't bother his precious flock.

He suffocated the hawks in garbage bags, he said, and put them in the trash, noting he had "never seen a hawk that could hold its breath more than three seconds."

Hanchett went on: Oregon aficionados of the roller pigeon -- a special breed flown in competitions -- commonly capture and kill hawks and falcons that attack the smaller birds. A friend in Canby captured 30 hawks in 45 days.

Hanchett's mistake was that the person touring his place was an undercover agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who spent months investigating the dark side of the little-known sport.

The agent described the tour in new federal court documents released Friday that allege Hanchett and other leaders of an Oregon roller pigeon club -- the Northwest Roller Jockeys -- carried out a campaign of destruction against some of the country's most prized and protected birds.

Federal officials said the number of birds of prey killed in Oregon and Washington may number near 1,000, enough to put a serious dent in species such as peregrine falcons that only recently bounced back from near extinction.

The 14-month federal investigation led to misdemeanor charges against Hanchett and two other Oregon men for violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Two of them -- Pete Kaufman, 34, of Portland and Mitch Reed, 29, of Mount Angel -- pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday. U.S. Magistrate John Jelderks released them pending trial.

The whole article is interesting for until now little known hobby. They seem like zealots in killing off the hawks.