Saturday, January 5, 2008

WGA strikes another side deal with United Artists.

Entertainment: Confirming my belief that Nikki Finke and the writers are way out to lunch on the effect of these deals is the excitement over it.

This is big. This is BIG! Because WGA sources just told me that the guild has clinched an "Independent Agreement" with Tom Cruise's and Paula Wagner's re-started United Artists.

This now means that small and struggling UA has a leg up on every other Hollywood studio because it will be able to hire the striking writers. wga.bmpThis is to date the first so-called side deal cut by the WGA with a movie studio since the strike began on November 3rd as part of the guild's newly articulated "divide and conquer" strategy.

The WGA's first side deal with a production company was an "interim agreement" with David Letterman's Worldwide Pants which owns both The Late Show and the Late Late Show airing on CBS.

Breaking the back of someone is Warner Bros signing with Blu Ray. This is a desperate studio with already one flop under its belt trying to get some traction. Big difference.

Idiotic Judge curtails Navy sonar training.

Military: An insane ruling by a judge who cares more about some whales while restricting the Navy from properly training its members. No surprise its a San Fran judge.

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has ordered the Navy to adopt stringent new safeguards intended to improve protection of whales and dolphins during its sonar training exercises off Southern California.

The ruling, issued Thursday by Judge Florence-Marie Cooper of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, orders the Navy to limit its use of medium-range sonar to an area beyond 12 nautical miles from shore. Closer to the shore, marine mammals have exhibited frenzied and disoriented behavior during the emissions of sonar blasts as part of the Navy’s practice missions.

Judge Cooper’s order also outlined safeguards, which include a monitoring session one hour before a military exercise to detect the presence of marine mammals, the use of trained aerial lookouts throughout exercises and a mandatory sonar shutdown when mammals are spotted within 2,200 yards of training maneuvers.

The ruling stems from a long-running legal battle between environmental groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Navy, which has argued that mid-frequency sonar is vital to the training of submarine seamen and other crews who now face a new generation of quiet submarines that cannot be detected by traditional passive sonar waves.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Pentagon official fired for being hard on Islamic extremism.

Terrorism: If this story is correct then it means that the Pentagon is being screwed around by people who are going to be too soft and politically correct to be of much use against Islamists.

Stephen Coughlin, the Pentagon specialist on Islamic law and Islamist extremism, has been fired from his position on the military's Joint Staff. The action followed a report in this space last week revealing opposition to his work for the military by pro-Muslim officials within the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.

Mr. Coughlin was notified this week that his contract with the Joint Staff will end in March, effectively halting the career of one of the U.S. government's most important figures in analyzing the nature of extremism and ultimately preparing to wage ideological war against it.

He had run afoul of a key aide to Mr. England, Hasham Islam, who confronted Mr. Coughlin during a meeting several weeks ago when Mr. Islam sought to have Mr. Coughlin soften his views on Islamist extremism.

Mr. Coughlin was accused directly by Mr. Islam of being a Christian zealot or extremist "with a pen," according to defense officials. Mr. Coughlin appears to have become one of the first casualties in the war of ideas with Islamism.

The officials said Mr. Coughlin was let go because he had become "too hot" or controversial within the Pentagon.

Misguided Pentagon officials, including Mr. Islam and Mr. England, have initiated an aggressive "outreach" program to U.S. Muslim groups that critics say is lending credibility to what has been identified as a budding support network for Islamist extremists, including front groups for the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

Female circumcision is a problem in the UK.

UK: No place for this barbaric practice in todays world and a lot more should be done to prosecute anyone involved.

"It is carried out for a variety of cultural reasons. Such is the secrecy that surrounds the practice that even those aware that it occurs in large swathes of Africa and Asia will be shocked to learn that it is prevalent in Britain.

During a highly disturbing, four-month investigation, however, we uncovered evidence that thousands of British-African girls, in towns and cities throughout the country, have been forcibly "cut".

By conservative estimates, 66,000 women and girls living in Britain have been mutilated. This figure, accepted by the Metropolitan Police, came in a report by a volunteer organisation funded by the Department of Health and carried out with academics from the London School of Tropical Hygiene and the City University.

And thousands more girls are at imminent risk as families club together to fly professional "cutters" from Africa to Britain.

These women "elders" perform the crude operation for up to £40 a time, often on kitchen tables or floors, without anaesthetic, using filthy, blunt knives, razor blades or scalpels.

Many readers will be distressed by our report, but this practice is an abomination which has no place anywhere, let alone in a civilised society, and if it is to be expunged then this is a story that must be told.

4 year anniversary of the Mars rovers

Science: They were only supposed to last 90 days.

Two robots the size of golf carts were given 90 days to squeeze as much science as possible from the barren, dust-swept terrain of Mars. After that, scientists expected nothing more from them than death.

Nearly four years after their warranties expired, however, the Mars Explorations Rovers (MERs) "Spirit" and "Opportunity" continue to play productively in the red dirt.

Spirit celebrates its fourth anniversary of Martian work on Jan. 4, the day it landed in 2004, followed by Opportunity on Jan. 25. Those four Earth years since landing convert to 2.25 Martian years, or 1,501 Martian days called "sols."

"We never thought we'd still be driving these robots all over Mars," said Mark Lemmon, a planetary scientist at Texas A&M University and member of the rover science team. "We joked about driving Opportunity into Victoria Crater, but now we're there, and we're looking at doing even more science. Each day they still work is an amazing one."

Hugo Chavez suffers another embarrassment from FARC.

South America: Year is not starting off well for him.

Venezuelan helicopters chugged home empty from Colombia on Thursday after a failed mission to pick up hostages held by Marxist guerrillas, a new defeat for President Hugo Chavez who is still smarting from a tough year.

The four helicopters marked with Red Cross symbols flew back to Venezuela from the Colombian town of Villavicencio without the hostages they had left to collect from a jungle region.

After several diplomatic spats and a sobering defeat in a referendum on whether he be allowed to run for reelection indefinitely, the leftist Chavez nearly ended 2007 on a high note, drawing widespread praise for brokering the deal to free two women and a child from secret rebel camps.

But the plan collapsed on Monday, leaving Chavez exposed to criticism he had trusted the rebels too much.

"President Chavez is having a very difficult time," said Eduardo Gamarra, a Latin America expert at Florida International University. "He may have compromised his own credibility and the FARC may have taken him for a ride.

Chavez hoped the deal would burnish his credentials as a statesman after developing a reputation for frequent diplomatic squabbles and high-profile insults of world leaders.

A successful hostage handover would also have taken attention away from his defeat at home in the December referendum on sweeping political reforms, his first major poll defeat since he won power in a 1998 election.

Man Using GPS Drives Into Train's Path

Tech: At some point there is just too much technology and faith put into said tech for most people to have access too. Common sense and good eyesight should tell you something is wrong.

Dan Brucker, a Metro-North spokesman, said the driver, Bo Bai, a California resident working in Fishkill, N.Y., was cited for obstructing a railroad crossing.

The spokesman said Bai and his car rental company are liable for the damages, estimated "in the hundreds of thousands of dollars." The accident damaged the train, destroyed 250 feet of third rail as well as overtime costs and loss of revenue.

Bai, a computer technician, told Metropolitan Transportation Authority police that his rental car's GPS system instructed him to turn right as he was crossing the tracks in Bedford Hills shortly after 7 p.m.

Brucker said Bai's Ford Focus became stuck on the running rails. Bai tried to back up, couldn't, and fled the car as the Harlem line train approached.

Great White stalks ocean canoeist

World: Taking a bright yellow kayak into shark terrority in clear blue water doesn't exactly scream stealthy to me.

Alone in his tiny plastic sea kayak, marine biologist Trey Snow had hoped to stealthily track a great white shark. But he had the shock of his life when he spotted a giant fin and realised it was he who was being stalked - by surely one of the most feared killers in the world.

The magnificent creature initially dived to the seabed, inspecting the kayak from below, before rising menacingly to the surface. Luckily for Trey, the 13ft-long shark was more inquisitive than hungry.

UK troops have to change out of uniforms on tarmac.

UK: Geez, why does stories of UK troops getting treated like crap keep popping up?

Scores of soldiers flying home from Afghanistan on Christmas leave were ordered to change out of their uniforms on a freezing runway before being allowed into a civilian airport terminal.

Troops were told not to be seen in public in their uniforms - which they had worn with pride while risking their lives during months of intense fighting against the Taliban.

Last night the Ministry of Defence and bosses at Birmingham International Airport blamed each other for the indignity suffered by the soldiers - which comes amid mounting anger over the treatment of British troops returning from war.

One soldier, who was ordered to undress for "security reasons", said: "It is an insult to the entire Army to force guys who've been fighting in Afghanistan to obey some jobsworth rule when all they want to do is get home to their families.

"So much for a nation proud of its servicemen. The temperature was Baltic on the runway but most of just wanted to get home so we cracked on."

The December 23 flight, carrying 200 personnel, had been diverted from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to Birmingham because of bad weather.

The troops were told they could either wait for coaches to take them back to Brize Norton or else travel home via public transport - in which case they must change into civilian clothes before entering the terminal.

Around 50 chose the latter option and, because there was no room in the cabin, most changed outside.

Last night the airport authorities denied responsibility, saying: "We support our Armed Forces and whatever form of dress they choose to wear at our airport."

Birmingham International Airport: The soldiers were forced to change out of their uniforms on the tarmac after being refused entry to an airport building

The MoD eventually confirmed it has a ban on troops wearing uniform in civilian airports, claiming it was because a small number of airlines ban all uniforms on flights for security reasons.

A spokesman said: "In this case, it appears it was applied a little too rigidly." The policy will now be reviewed.

Sean Penn heads Cannes Jury and how to win easy.

Entertainment: Sean Penn is the lead judge, make sure your film is anti-American, anti-war,anti-Bush, anti-corporate, anti-conservative and pro-socialist/chavez. All or a mix of any of the two will make winning that much easier.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

WGA East staff files complaint over their contract.

Entertainment: It doesn't look good when the union is being slapped by its own employees.

With the writers strike about to enter its third month, staffers at the WGA East have gone public with a dispute with guild leaders over their contract ratification.
The Newspaper Guild announced Thursday it had filed unfair labor practice charges with the Natl. Labor Relations Board against the WGA East, alleging that the guild rewrote language in a previously ratified contract. The filing by TNG, which reps 19 employees at the WGA East, also asserted that the WGA East had threatened a union leader and delayed paying holiday bonuses.

"It's unbelievable that the a union doesn't understand that it can't pick and choosse the language it was to live up to in a contract," said New York TNG prexy Bill O'Meara.

The TNG filing comes two weeks after the WGA East went to the NLRB to resolve what it called "ambiguity" in the contract language covering a four-year deal signed in October, including 3% raises annually along with two years of retroactive pay.

In response to the TNG announcement, the WGA East said the disagreement stems from the Newspaper Guild's interpretation of a 3% increase as a 6% increases for certain employees for 2007.

Tyler Perry joins new Star Trek movie

Entertainment: If nothing else, JJ Abrams has put together an interesting cast.

Tyler Perry will head the Starfleet Academy in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" feature for Paramount.

Perry joins an ensemble that includes Chris Pine, Eric Bana, Winona Ryder and Leonard Nimoy in the film, which chronicles the early days of the Starship Enterprise crew.

Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, Karl Urban, Chris Hemsworth, Zoe Saldana and Clifton Collins Jr. also are in the cast.

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who wrote the screenplay, are executive producing alongside producers Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk. Filming began in November.

Honor Killing in Texas involving two teenage girls.

Crime: Hot Air has the updates. The father is the main suspect.

Leno without writers is pretty good... Letterman with writers

Entertainment: Pretty much the same and as I feared the Late Show got hijacked to push the WGA strike which is a bad sign in the long run. Finke thinks Leno is getting "help" which I don't doubt. But if the WGA is depending on the lack of writers to hurt Jay, this first show is a big disappointment for them.

# Conan is doing pretty good as well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Dutch Universities stopping Iranian Students due to Nuclear Threat

EU: This is slightly odd, I wonder if other Euro countries are doing this?

THE HAGUE, 03/01/08 - The universities of Enschede and Eindhoven are no longer admitting any students from Iran. They say they are forced to do so by the government, according to newspaper Trouw.

The technical universities must state in a declaration that new Iranian students will not in any way whatsoever have access to knowledge on nuclear technology. The universities cannot and do not want to issue this statement because, as they say, their students are entitled to all information available. The third technical university, the TU Delft, does reportedly still admit Iranians.

The three universities were previously warned by the education and foreign ministries to be prudent as far as admitting Iranians is concerned. That insistent request has now been replaced by the declaration, which the universities must send to the Immigration Service (IND) in order to be able to obtain visa for their students, said Trouw.

Enschede's Twente University has informed three Iranian students in writing that they cannot study with it. An internal email by the universiry management to staff also states, according to Trouw, that no more Iranians will be admitted in the future either.

Hugo Chavez offers love and the three zeros of finance.

World: Via Reuters.

CARACAS (Reuters) - If 2007 was Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's year to drive forward a grandiose vision of revolutionary socialism, 2008 could be the year for getting trash off the streets and putting milk on store shelves.

Chavez appears to be softening his combative rhetoric and focusing on supporters' concrete problems after a referendum vote in December defeated his push to create a socialist state and run indefinitely for reelection.

The former paratrooper now vows to tackle problems such as crime, corruption and food shortages and on New Year's Eve he offered an amnesty to political adversaries linked to a failed 2002 coup against his rule.

Although Chavez, 53, may quickly change tack and go on the offensive again, he has started the year with a more humble tone, in stark contrast to a hard-hitting wave of nationalizations and reforms last January.

"There are practical problems that do not belong to any ideology and they have to be resolved," he told state television at the weekend. He also promised to fight corruption and "correct and boost our economy."

His comments follow the referendum defeat of his planned constitutional overhaul and growing complaints that he has not done enough to deal with Caracas' trash-littered streets or the highest inflation rate in the Western Hemisphere.

Inflation skyrocketed last year and he has taken steps.

Venezuelan inflation soared to 22.5 percent in 2007, the highest official rate in Latin America, the Central Bank said Wednesday.

Consumer price increases, Venezuela's highest since 2003, far exceeded the 12 percent annual goal announced at the beginning of 2007 by President Hugo Chavez's government.

Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas called the rate "unsatisfactory" and promised, without giving details, that the government and central bank would introduce new anti-inflationary measures within the next 10 days.

Real inflation could be higher, as the government generally underestimates street price increases, said Gustavo Garcia, an economist at the IESA business school in Caracas.

Prices have risen swiftly as Chavez's government pumps more oil income into social programs, reinforcing his political support and helping to drive 8.4 percent economic growth in 2007.

Venezuela launched a new currency this week — the "strong bolivar" — lopping three zeros from its denominations to simplify finances and boost confidence in the currency.

This tactic sounds familiar...Someone else did this...who was it again.. Oh yeah!

That is a good economic policy to follow

Drivers talking on cellphones slow down traffic.

Culture: They needed a study to figure this out?

Drivers talking on cellphones are probably making your commute even longer, concludes a new study.
Motorists yakking away, even with handsfree devices, crawl about three kilometres per hour slower on commuter-clogged roads than people not on the phone, and they just don't keep up with the flow of traffic, said study author David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

If you commute by car an hour a day, it could all add around 20 hours a year to your commute, Strayer said.

"The distracted driver tends to drive slower and have delayed reactions," said Strayer, whose study will be presented later this month to the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. "People kind of get stuck behind that person and it makes everyone pay the price of that distracted driver."

This is why I would approve of getting these people pulled over for talking on the phone and tasering them.

Starbucks worker complains about the skinny.

Culture: Via Consumerist, Stabucks introduced this new "skinny" drink format which is corp speak for lite. Someone complains about it and I am with her for her first two points, then she veer off into this crap which again reinforces my hatred for the latte sippers.

3) It is politically incorrect. Should we start calling drinks with 2% or whole milk and regular syrups "Fat" or "Obese?" Consider what customers on line waiting for their turn to order their drink will think if they hear the drink before them being called out as "Skinny." It leaves the door open for the next person on line to be offended. Additionally, the word "skinny" itself can have many different interpretations, not all of which are positive. In today's society, the term "skinny" often refers to a person who is considered TOO thin or unhealthy looking. People will not want to order a drink with a name that they associate with an unhealthy appearance.

4) The fact cannot be disputed that in society today, people are just waiting for an opportunity to sue major corporations. Without question, people will be leaping at the opportunity file a lawsuit against the Starbucks Corporation for discrimination. In this country, statistics show that more than two thirds of the population is overweight or obese. Calling a drink "Skinny" could easily be considered a form of size discrimination. This is not exclusive to people who are overweight as a result of their lifestyle or eating habits. There are a number of medical maladies that result in people becoming overweight regardless of eating habits or how they live their lives. Whether the corporation cares to recognize the fact or not, Starbucks is a target by society and there are a lot of people who would love to bring it down. This is just giving them the means to do so. Regardless of whether these people are justified in their claims, it is foolish to believe that people will not use this for their own gains.

5) Aside from customers who do not fit societies standards of "skinny," there are partners that are employed by Starbucks who are "overweight," and it is ridiculous to think otherwise. Imagine going to work for several hours at a time, and hearing the term "skinny" being called out countless times. It will undoubtedly have a negative affect on a person's self-esteem that may already be low from living in a society that is generally not accepting of people who do not fit the mold of a "beautiful" person. It creates an environment that people will not want to be in. It will exacerbate self-image issues that partners of ANY size may have. Why would ANYONE want to go into a store where they will hear potentially hurtful terms called out repeatedly with no regard as to how they may affect people?

So whatever good points she had in 1) and 2) have been dismissed and now this concerned worker is being mocked on both sites and rightly so.

UK welfare benefits so good, no need to work.

UK: I have said this before, but when you become a welfare state, you will turn a large part of your population into parasites who see no need to work. Add a generous and weak immigration policy it will get worse.

High rates of welfare benefits are making the British job market more attractive to foreign workers, an immigration watchdog has said.

Migrationwatch said there was little incentive for many unemployed benefit claimants to get a job because they would hardly be better off for working.

After analysing the benefits system, the group said a family with two children, for example, would get only £30 a week more working on the minimum wage rather than claiming benefits.

It claimed this was one of the reasons more than a million immigrants had come to work in Britain in the last 10 years, despite a pool of millions more Jobseekers Allowance claimants already in the UK.

DNA Test Can ID a Suspect's Race, Police scared to use it.

Crime: Anything that can be used in a useful manner in solving crimes shouldn't be dismissed as much as this test.

In March 2003, investigators turned to Tony Frudakis, a molecular biologist who said he could determine the suspect's race by analyzing his DNA. Uncertain about the science, the police asked Frudakis to take a blind test: They sent him DNA swabs from 20 people to see if he could identify their races. He nailed every one.

On a conference call a few weeks later, Frudakis reported his results on their killer. "Your guy could be African-American or Afro-Caribbean, but there is no chance that this is a Caucasian." There was a prolonged silence, followed by a flurry of questions. They all came down to this: Would Frudakis bet his life on his results? Absolutely.

Quickly changing course, the authorities soon turned up the file of Derrick Todd Lee, a 34-year-old black man with an extensive rap sheet for domestic violence, assault, stalking, and peeping. The police got a subpoena, took a cheek swab, and a few days later had an answer: Lee's sample matched DNA collected at the crime scenes.

Frudakis' test is called DNAWitness. It examines DNA from 176 locations along the genome. Particular sequences at these points are found primarily in people of African heritage, others mainly in people of Indo-European, Native American, or South Asian descent. No one sequence can perfectly identify a person's origin. But by looking at scores of markers, Frudakis says he can predict ancestry with a tiny margin of error.

Since the Baton Rouge case, DNAWitness has been used nationally in nearly 200 criminal investigations. In several, the science played a crucial role in narrowing the suspect field, ultimately leading to an arrest. But its success hasn't made the technology popular with law enforcement. Frudakis' company, DNAPrint, has yet to turn a profit and may not survive much longer.

Part of the problem is cost — basic tests run more than $1,000. But the real issue? DNAWitness touches on race and racial profiling — a subject with such a tortured history that people can't countenance the existence of the technology, even if they don't understand how it works.

....Tony Clayton, a black man and a prosecutor who tried one of the Baton Rouge murder cases, concedes the benefits of the test: "Had it not been for Frudakis, we would still be looking for the white guy in the white pickup." Nevertheless, Clayton says he dislikes anything that implies we don't all "bleed the same blood." He adds, "If I could push a button and make this technology disappear, I would."

Eddie Murphy marries, doesn't remember to follow his own advice.

Entertainment: Via Reuters.

Comedian Eddie Murphy married film producer Tracey Edmonds on a private island in French Polynesia on Tuesday, People magazine reported.

The sunset ceremony, attended by 25 guests, took place off Bora Bora, a Pacific island about 140 miles northwest of Tahiti, People said, citing the couple's representatives.

Murphy, 46, was divorced from his wife of 13 years, Nicole, in 2006. They had five children together. Last year, he fathered a daughter with Melanie Brown of the Spice Girls, but did not acknowledge paternity until four months after the baby was born.

Edmonds split last year with her husband, R&B singer/songwriter Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. They had two sons together.

"Then I'd be on the front page of the African Enquirer like this:"


Pro-illegal immigration forces gather online, phear them.

Immigration: In a hilarious leftist piece on some site called New America Media, the praise is the rise of the "pro" immigrant rights group. It reads more like a bad press release.

Immigrant rights activists are attempting to change the face of the immigration debate in the blogosphere – in spite of a fierce anti-immigration online presence, activists said on Access Washington, a New America Media-sponsored conference call with ethnic media.

Liza Sabater, established blogger of Culture Kitchen and the Daily Gotham, asserts that immigrant rights activists throughout the United States are utilizing the Internet to expand their pro-immigrant discourse and network.

“There is a huge, vast number of pro-immigration bloggers, the bulk of them ethnic bloggers, writing from that experience,” Sabater explains.

Now the big news is that every group or person who is against illegal immigration may have connections to white supremacy groups and any person of color has been cultivated by them.

Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the SPLC describes FAIR as “an organization with a long history of bigotry, one-sided reporting, and of connections to white supremacy groups.” He says several staff and board members of FAIR are affiliated with white supremacist groups, such as VDARE and Council for Conservative Citizens.

FAIR has also “shamelessly accepted, year after year, a total of $1.2 million dollars from the racist organization the Pioneer Fund,” says Potok, who adds that FAIR promotes “racist conspiracy theories, such as the reconquista, meaning that Mexico is involved in a secret plot in conjunction with American born Latinos to recapture the southwestern United States.”

“This is a pure fantasy in the paranoid minds of FAIR and its friends,” he asserts.

Anti-immigration groups, meanwhile, have cultivated their own minority bloggers to voice their messages, in what Sabater calls the “browning of the face of anti-immigration.” These include Asian bloggers like Michelle Malkin and numerous African-American bloggers.

The hell? I have never been in contact with these groups and/or people. But they have somehow cultivated me and other black bloggers into being against illegal immigration. They are good, maybe even illuminati level of good to mold us into being their minions. But with the pro-illegals forces charging forward all hope is lost.

BTW, Does anyone take the Southern Poverty Law Center seriously anymore? I have a feeling their checklist for getting on their race list has become very loose starting with not agreeing with their liberal point of views.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Aussie government wants dumb people as citizens.

Australia: No, I am not being too harsh, here is the sob story from Reuters.

A high failure rate among migrants sitting a citizenship exam introduced by Australia's former conservative government has prompted a re-think of the controversial test, criticized by some as racist.

The test, introduced last year by the government of former prime minister John Howard, asks hopeful Australians a series of questions on national history and values, including their understanding of national values such as "mateship".

But one-in-five of the 10,636 people who have sat the test since its introduction in October last year failed to reach the 60 percent pass required, the West Australian newspaper reported.

New centre-left Labor Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the exam would be reviewed.

"The citizenship test should be about increasing awareness of citizens' responsibilities and, of course, of the Australian way of life," Evans told the paper. "The government will review the scheme in the new year and assess the process."

The test can be taken any number of times as a citizenship requirement after migrants have lived four years in Australia.

....Sam Afra, the chairman of the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria state, said the high failure rate confirmed accusations at the time of its introduction that it was discriminatory.

"The news that 20 percent of applicants are failing the test confirms our fears that the test would exclude people who would otherwise make a tremendous contribution to Australia," he said.

Keeping that in mind, lets review what SMH says about it.

"....The former prime minister John Howard was directly involved in crafting the themes covered in the test. Despite the high failure rate, the test questions, which are drawn from a pool of 200, are comparatively simple and only need be answered in multiple-choice format.

A sample question asks the applicant to say which one of three given values is important in modern Australia: that everyone has the same religion; that everyone has equality of opportunity; or that everyone belongs to the same political party.

Another asks which Australian was most famous for playing cricket: Rod Laver, Sir Donald Bradman or Sir Hubert Opperman. Others questions include the colours of the Aboriginal flag; the number of states and territories in Australia; and where the 1956 Olympics were held.

All the answers are contained in a 46-page booklet that applicants can obtain free over the phone or the internet.

When the test was introduced the immigration minister Kevin Andrews denied it was racist or an election stunt, and said new immigrants needed to better integrate into the community.

The test was opposed by the Liberal backbencher Petro Georgiou, who warned it would create unreasonable barriers for some people wanting to become citizens, especially those who could not speak English or read and write properly.

So the new Aussie government and the professional race groups want to scrap a test where you get the answers very easily because 20% of the people can't get 60% of the answers right. That makes sense.

Edwards ad features laid off worker and I don't care.

Politics: Its one thing to have political ads, but its another to feature someone where the ad only purpose is to be manipulative to the point of the absurd.

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Edwards will run a 60-second closing ad tomorrow and Thursday during the network evening news programs on local affiliates in Iowa. It features a laid-off Iowa Maytag employee -- Doug Bishop, who at points chokes up during an introductory speech -- laying out the case for Edwards, that the candidate looked his 7-year-old son in the eye and said, “I’m gonna keep fighin for your daddy’s job. I promise you that.’

"You know that stuff sticks with you," Bishop says, "That’s the kind of things we need in a leader in this country. Not somebody that’s going to go to a big fundraiser and says write me a check for $2,300, and I’ll let you know you have my support." Bishop later says, "I’m gonna do my best to make sure that my children aren’t the first generation of Americans that I can’t look them in the eye and say you’re gonna have a better life than I had."

How would Edwards be able to fight for this guy's job given the fact Maytag got sold because no one was buying their products?

The town once proudly called itself "The Washing Machine Center of the World." The company's reputation for quality work was symbolized in advertisements by the lonely Maytag repairman, who waited in vain for a service call.

But not enough people have been buying new Maytag products. Stiff foreign competition and lackluster sales and profits have brought several rounds of layoffs. Months of uncertainty preceded word that Maytag was for sale.

All the Dems went on their protectionist rackets last October. Trade agreements are only a small part of the equation. You can't stop foreign competition and you can't put American companies at a competitive disadvantage by screwing around with taxes or forcing them to create jobs because that will only make matter worse. I feel sorry for the guy but what does he expect Edwards to do in reality? Allocate jobs and salary? Force the consumer to pay more for products from manufacturing jobs? This is now a global economy and you cannot take on a protectionist stance anymore without hurting yourself worse than the other guy.

Update: Powerlineblog also points out how disingenuous Doug Bishop is concerning his label as unemployed factory worker and how the town of Newton is doing just fine.

San Fran Mayor engaged to marry. Give it a year.

Politics: The guy is Bill Clinton v.2, he already got caught screwing his best friend's wife which is about as low as you can go on the Male scale.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his girlfriend, actress Jennifer Siebel, became engaged in Hawaii over the weekend, knowledgeable sources said Monday.

One of Newsom's closest friends, high society party planner Stanlee Gatti, confirmed the engagement. The mayor's spokesman, Nathan Ballard, said the mayor popped the question on Saturday.

"Jennifer told me (about it). She was on the phone first, and then he got on the phone," said Gatti, reached in Raton, N.M., where he was on vacation.

Gatti had no details about the proposal, other than that Newsom spoke with his girlfriend's father first and then proposed marriage. No wedding date has been set, Gatti said.

Chinese broadcaster gets humiliated by wife on air.

World: There is a lesson here to be learned.

China state broadcaster CCTV and media watchdogs are reeling from an Internet clip of the country's top TV sports anchor being lambasted by his wife and accused of having an affair at a high-profile Olympics press conference.
Speaking in a controlled voice, Hu Ziwei, wife of CCTV 5 sports anchor Zhang Bin and herself a well-known broadcaster, got onto the stage in Beijing and accused her husband of cheating on her.

This was TV dynamite as Zhang, 38, was presiding over the launch of CCTV Sports' Olympics coverage at the time.

"Today is a special day for the Olympic Channel, and it's a special day for Zhang Bin, and for me, it's a special day, too. Because just two hours ago, I found out that, besides me, Zhang Bin has been having an improper relationship with another woman," she said.

CCTV is trying to limit the fallout after a three-minute clip of the incident, which occurred late last week, became the most watched video clip on the Internet, even though it was cut from the broadcast show.

Video here and the Daily Mail has screencaps plus this juicy tidbit.

As Chinese authorities scrambled to remove it from those, it was switched to YouTube and other international sites they could not control - and they reported that hundreds of thousands of people were watching it.

Chinese reaction to Mrs Hu's outburst was divided.

The nation's leaders, always eager to paint a picture of a perfect society, were said to be deeply embarrassed.

On the streets many people chuckled over the wandering husband's humiliation. But others pointed out that Mrs Hu should not have been surprised because Zhang left his first wife for her.

If you are the man or woman in a relationship and your S.O. left someone for you, don't be surprised if you get cheated on by that person.

David Letterman show to become preachy WGA voice.

Entertainment: Feel the entertainment value rising of watching myopic employees hijack a show for their own personal battles.

UPDATED: David Letterman's Late Show writers go back to work tomorrow. An insider tells me, "Believe me, we understand this is the beginning of a real opportunity to call attention to what has had almost no television coverage in the last two months. So, it's pretty simple. Get the message out, be hysterically funny in the execution, and in so doing, embarrass the AMPTP into full capitulation no later than January 7th. Okay, the 8th."

New Year brings new taxes for Maryland and Virginia.

Nation: As with all tax hikes I say, Suck it Maryland and Virginia, you voted for the bums, especially the liberal governor in MD. The entertainment will come as the Washington Post will run defense against anyone who complains about the tax hikes.

If you plan to sell a home, buy a car or get a vehicle repaired in Northern Virginia, it's going to cost a bit more starting today, because of the transportation bill passed by the General Assembly last year.

Lawmakers gave the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority the power to impose taxes and fees that are expected to raise as much as $325 million a year for road and transit improvements. About $75 million of the annual revenue will be earmarked for Metro and the Virginia Railway Express.


Maryland will begin implementing the largest tax increase in state history today, when higher tobacco, vehicle titling and corporate income taxes and sweeping changes to personal income tax rates go into effect.

The overhaul of Maryland's tax structure, which became law in November after a frantic special legislative session, will generate new revenue to help solve the state government's festering budget problems. Lawmakers also passed legislation requiring about $550 million in budget cuts. The cuts and new tax revenue are expected to close a projected budget deficit of at least $1.5 billion next fiscal year.

In addition to helping balance the budget, the new taxes will raise $400 million more a year for transportation improvements, expand access to government-subsidized health care and help fund efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Rest of the country irritated at NH-Iowa being first.

Politics: It looks like that twit from Ohio, Gov. Strickland has hit on a popular theme.

Despite efforts to evict the two states from the front of the presidential calendar, both managed to hang on for another election cycle that culminates with the Iowa caucuses on Thursday and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 8. As a year of media attention reaches its crescendo, voters in other states are saying enough is enough.

According to a national survey conducted for The Associated Press and Yahoo News, just over half of all voters said New Hampshire and Iowa have an extraordinary amount of influence over who wins the two parties nominations.

"They have way too much - WAY too much - say," said Kevin Thomas of Tacoma, Wash. "California's a big state and they don't have any say, and Iowa's not even half the size of California. It really makes me as a voter wonder what's going on."

Fewer than one in five voters said they favor the current system that allows Iowa and New Hampshire to hold the first contests, while nearly 80 percent would rather see other states get their chance at the front of the line.

"I think they should take turns, maybe take it to a small state like Rhode Island that doesn't have a whole lot of voting power," Thomas said.

Both states have been criticized as unrepresentative of the country given their size and lack of racial diversity. Iowa - population 3 million - is 95 percent white; New Hampshire - population 1.3 million - is 96 percent white. Democrats tried to inject more diversity into the process by adding early contests in Nevada and South Carolina, but Iowa and New Hampshire moved even earlier.

It is not the color of the people but the thinking that gets me which Mickey Kaus also points out.

Letting the presidential nominee be picked by the Iowa caucusers is like letting your antiwar tactics be picked by the last people left at the end of a 4-hour SDS meeting in 1970. The result: the leftist radicals win! [

Monday, December 31, 2007

The new Obama is a Muslim version 2 smear!

Politics: So lets start from the beginning. Ben Smith of Politico who is pretty much in the Hillary Clinton campaign pocket linked to Daniel Pipes over the weekend titled "Was Barack Obama a Muslim?" Smith says this is new version of a cynical smear designed to keep the Obama is a secret Muslim meme alive.

"I don't mean to read Pipes' mind here. Perhaps his intentions are as pure as Bob Kerrey's. But if you consider anonymous e-mailers the utter fringe, Pipes is a big step toward the mainstream.

But the political impact of the piece isn't the tortured argument. It's branding Obama a Muslim, by a subtler means. And it's a way for his Republican enemies, if he's the nominee, to pretend to be in good faith.

The line "He says he's not a Muslim, and I believe him" could start to sound a bit familiar."

This gets picked up by liberal sites like who points out Pipes link to the Giuliani campaign as a scarlet letter. Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic whines a bit about this new "smear."

So if this gets traction, watch these sites blame Pipes for starting it as once again there seems to be this patronizing maternal attitude by the press towards Obama as to protect him like a baby. The fact is Obama plays up his time as kid in a Muslim country as positive points towards dealing with the Muslim world which is just stupid if you think about it.

There are too many branches of differing political and religious items to have to deal with to say because you were around a bunch of Muslims as a kid you get them. The ploy that is a work here by liberal blogs and Ben Smith is to try and say anyone who brings up Obama and Muslim in the same breath has a dishonest motive so lets get them as racist and intolerant of Islam.

Now that is a cynical game and if they want to play that someone could come along and point out the fawning Kristol piece on Obama where he loves the fact Obama can do the Islamic call to prayer(Adhan) picture perfect and goes over the same stupid point of him being well equipped to handle Muslim problems.

Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it'll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as ''one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.''

But that would just be cynical in itself. My concern is not that he is secret Muslim man, but a gun grabber far leftist who believes in the nanny state.

Darrell Reid of the Colts destroys Chris Henry of the Titans

Sports: Video below: This is the hit of the last decade much less the year in the NFL.

Australia to mandate a clean internet access for all.

Australia: I knew the Rudd government wanted to be closer to China but this is a bit too much.

EVERY Australian with an internet connection could soon have their web content automatically censored.

The restrictions are planned by the Federal Government to give greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites.

Under the plan, all internet service providers will have to provide a "clean" feed to households and schools, free of pornography and other "inappropriate" material.

Australians who want uncensored access to the web will have to contact their internet service provider and "opt out" of the service.

Online civil libertarians yesterday warned the freedom of the internet was at stake, while internet providers were concerned the new measures could slow the internet in Australia to a crawl.

They said it was a measure usually associated with oppressive regimes and was no alternative to proper parental monitoring.

But Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said everything possible had to be done to shield children from violent and pornographic online material.

"We have always argued more needs to be done to protect children," he said.

Senator Conroy said the clean feed, also known as mandatory ISP filtering, would prevent users from accessing prohibited content.

"We will work with the industry to get the best policy," he said. "(But) Labor is committed to introducing mandatory ISP filtering."

Senator Conroy said the Australian Communications and Media Authority would prepare a "blacklist" of unsuitable sites.

What the hell did you people down there vote in as a government? Via Tim Blair.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Violence in Kenya over alleged vote fraud.

Africa: Via Reuters.

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Shanty-towns blazed, ethnic gangs fought and the opposition planned further protests as President Mwai Kibaki began a second term in office on Monday after a disputed election that has convulsed Kenya.

Kibaki, 76, showed a steely core by swearing himself in within an hour of being pronounced victor in an election denounced as fraudulent by opposition challenger Raila Odinga and questioned by international and Kenyan observers.

Odinga's supporters said he would be declared president at a rival ceremony on Monday, but police banned the event.

"This is the saddest day in the history of democracy in this country. It is a coup d'etat," said Koki Muli, head of respected local watchdog, the Institute of Education in Democracy.

Kibaki now faces the momentous task of reuniting a country split pretty much down the middle by an election that has brought several dozen deaths, first during campaign rallies and then in an explosion of violence over the results.

The turmoil threatens to deter investors from east Africa's largest economy and damage Kenya's reputation as an oasis of relative stability in a volatile and war-scarred region.

Jail Protests by Militants Win Privileges

Terrorism: The Jihadists all over the world are learning how to game the system and especially the Western ones where they have groups like the ACLU and other apologists who are willingly helpers.

Even as more and more militants are imprisoned around the world — often by governments with records of conducting extreme interrogations — the prisoners are managing to gain a kind of crude leverage over security officials who are struggling to figure out how to handle them.

Draconian, or even strict, treatment of radical inmates can lead to prison unrest and public condemnation, particularly in countries with sizable Muslim populations. At the same time, officials fear that militants given free rein are more likely to turn prisons into prime grounds for radicalization and recruiting.

“More than any time in the modern history of terrorism, the prisons have become a key front in the war on terror,” Dennis Pluchinsky, a former senior intelligence analyst at the State Department, wrote in a report for the United States government earlier this year.

He estimated that there were 5,000 jihadi inmates and detainees worldwide, not counting those held in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that only 15 percent had received life sentences or the death penalty, meaning the rest would eventually be set free.

Here in Morocco, across the Arab world and in European countries like Spain and France, there is a growing realization that catching and convicting militants is hardly the end of the problem. Many are getting sentences of only a few years, and Arab governments continue to release hundreds every year through mass pardons aimed at quelling fundamentalist Islamic movements.

Last April, a meeting in Morocco on radicalization of Islamic prisoners drew representatives of 21 countries. “There is some confusion as to how, in overcrowded and underfinanced prison systems, you deal with these special case prisoners,” said a British official who helped run the meeting, who spoke anonymously, citing normal diplomatic strictures. British officials acknowledge that they erred in the early 1980s when they gave Irish Republican Army prisoners their own cellblock, only to see them carry out fatal hunger strikes that won public support. But the authorities say militant Islamic inmates are even more sophisticated.

Manuals from Al Qaeda instruct prisoners on how to resist interrogations, wage hunger strikes and use prison time to strengthen religious convictions. This month, Australian officials said a group of 40 Muslim inmates, not previously considered extremists, were found using guidance from a manual to organize themselves and stage protests at a prison near Sydney. Officials responded by scattering them among other prisons.

But that is hardly a fail-safe strategy. When members of the Qaeda-inspired group Fatah al Islam, which fought the Lebanese Army for three months this year, were locked up in Roumieh Prison near Beirut, Lebanese authorities found they had been using smuggled cellphones to contact other jailed militants and their families outside.

Some Middle Eastern and European countries are using moderate imams in prisons in hopes of quelling the extremist fervor. “You have to fight their ideology with Islam and against their wrong interpretation of Islam,” said a top Syrian security official.

The biggest concern is that militants will return to the fight once released, despite having been imprisoned, or perhaps because of it.

Reading the whole article is depressing on how easy the jihadists seem to be able to get what they want and the public is to blame.

WGA Strike: When strikers meet up at a 5 star hotel bar.

Entertainment: Brooke Barnes is bringing a bit of the snark in this piece about how each side is trying to avoid each other. But it also brings home how the rest of the public will look at this as a bunch of rich people complaining about richer people.

A dozen striking screenwriters gathered in the bar at the Hotel Bel Air not long ago to decompress after another day on the picket line. Less than 10 feet away sat another strike-weary pair: Peter Chernin, president of the News Corporation, and Barry Meyer, chief executive of Warner Brothers.

Neither group acknowledged the other, although a couple of writers quipped under their breath that the moguls should pick up everyone’s bar tab. Others fretted about being seen hanging out a five-star hotel, an awfully gilded setting for a bunch of guild members complaining about unfair compensation.

Remember when the service workers and auto workers hung out at the Four seasons during their past strikes? Good times.

Similar scenes play out daily in the giant high school cafeteria that is Hollywood, contributing awkwardness to a labor strike unlike any other. The captains of most industries do not mix socially with the rank and file, but the people on opposite sides of this bargaining table often send their children to the same elite schools, dine at the same fashionable restaurants and attend the same holiday parties.

Only a rarefied circle of writers, of course, has the ability to truly mingle with Hollywood’s corporate royalty. The vast majority of writers are average folks who manage a middle-class existence or are unemployed in their chosen profession at any given moment. The union says the average income for a member is $60,000.

But the union also counts as members dozens of creators of hit television shows, who can take home upwards of $5 million a year, and writers who command fees of $1 million for a screenplay or more.

As the strike enters its ninth week, some of the people from both sides are sunbathing elbow to elbow at the Four Seasons Hualalai pool in Hawaii, one of several luxury resorts where Hollywood’s upper echelons jet for winter vacations.

At this point, I just couldn't take this article seriously or feel sympathy for either side. If the WGA thinks having Letterman suck up to them is going to be the bomb that breaks the mogul dam, they are not thinking straight. You just helped out the strongest of the networks who now have a revenue stream coming in and the viewing public will not stick around to see Letterman whine and snark for the writers night after night. That is just a myopic thought process.

Bloomberg Moves Closer to Running for President

Politics: Nothing like a bunch of self-centered pseudo know it alls to think so much of themselves to run themselves as the moral middle.

Buoyed by the still unsettled field, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is growing increasingly enchanted with the idea of launching an independent presidential bid, and his aides are aggressively laying the groundwork for him to run.

On Sunday, the mayor will join Democratic and Republican elder statesmen at the University of Oklahoma in what the conveners are billing as an effort to pressure the major party candidates to renounce partisan gridlock.

Former Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma, who organized the session with former Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat of Georgia, suggested in an interview that if the prospective major party nominees failed within two months to formally embrace bipartisanship and address the fundamental challenges facing the nation, “I would be among those who would urge Mr. Bloomberg to very seriously consider running for president as an independent.”

Next week’s meeting, reported on Sunday in The Washington Post, comes as the mayor’s advisers have been quietly canvassing potential campaign consultants about their availability in the coming months.

Bloomberg running as the Nanny State President should be fun.

France suspends links to Syria until they play nice.

France: In America, Democrats are clamoring to suck up to Syria while France gets tough with them on this issue. How sad is it that the Dems are weaker on Syria than France.

France is to suspend diplomatic contacts with Syria, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced.

Links will be restored only when France has proof that Syria is not blocking progress towards installing a consensus president in Lebanon, Mr Sarkozy said.

Lebanon has been without a president since November, as rival pro- and anti- Syrian factions argue over who should fill the post.

"I ask Syria to... work to create agreement," said Mr Sarkozy.

France "will not make any more contacts with Syria... as long as there is no proof of Syria's willingness to let Lebanon choose a consensus president," he told reporters, during a visit to Egypt.

Belgium cancels News Years Eve fireworks over terror threat.

EU: Via the BBC.

Traditional New year's Eve fireworks in the Belgian capital Brussels have been cancelled because of a security alert.
The Christmas market will close at 1800 instead of staying open all night, and even the ice rink will close early.

"We are still facing a potential threat," a spokesman for the Belgian capital said.

The alert follows police saying they had discovered a plot to free a jailed al-Qaeda suspect, Nizar Trabelsi. He has denied any such plot.

North Korea 'failing on nuclear deal'

World: I am shocked about this startling and unforeseen development.

The US has said North Korea has failed to provide all the information about its nuclear programme it had promised in return for international aid.
A US State Department spokesman said it was unfortunate North Korea had not yet met its commitments and was "slowing down the process of disablement".

Pyongyang agreed in October to declare its nuclear activities and disable the facilities at Yongbyon by 31 December.

In return, regional powers agreed to supply fuel aid and diplomatic rewards.

The exchange was the second part of a deal agreed at six-party talks between China, the US, Japan, Russia and North and South Korea in February, when Pyongyang said it would take the first steps towards nuclear disarmament.

Mexico to use biochip cards to track immigrants.

Immigration: They actually do something about security on their southern border.

Mexico plans to use cards with electronic chips to better track the movements of Central Americans who regularly cross the southern border to work or visit.

Starting in March, the National Immigration Institute will distribute the cards to record the arrival and departure of so-called temporary workers and visitors. They will replace a non-electronic pass formerly given to foriegners who cross into Mexico, which has proven "easily alterable and subject to the discretion of migration agents," the institute said Thursday.

The U.S. government has spent tens of millions of dollars issuing similar visa cards digitally embedded with the holder's photo and fingerprints, but U.S. border inspectors almost never check them, and vehicle lanes are not equipped with the necessary scanners to read them, The Associated Press reported earlier this year.

Mexico detained more than 182,000 undocumented migrants in 2006, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador en route to the United States. But many others cross legally from Guatemala and Belize to work or visit, and the new cards are meant to guarantee their security, the institute said.