Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ah yes, the Slutty Bride trend is now here.

Culture: Pushed by those walking the red carpet, the young generation Yers (I am Gen X, i got the right :P) are pushing the bridal gowns to basic slut mode.

THE gown was almost wanton — fluid but curvy with a neckline that plummeted dangerously. “It makes me feel sexy and beautiful,” said Natasha DaSilva, who slipped it on for a fitting last week.

Cut away at the rear to reveal a tattoo at the small of her back, the dress suggested a languorous night in the honeymoon suite.

Except that Ms. DaSilva, who will be married on Long Island in September, plans to wear it at the altar.

“Why not?” she asked. “I want to look back in 20 years and feel like I looked hot on my wedding day.”

Ms. DaSilva, 26, thinks of herself as adventurous, but not so brash that she is about to cross a line. Dressing for a wedding as if it were an after-party is accepted among her family and friends. “For my generation, looking like a virgin when you marry is completely unappealing, boring even,” she said. “Who cares about that part anymore?”

Ms. DaSilva is typical of a growing number of brides flouting convention by flaunting their curves. More vamp than virgin, many are selecting gowns that bare a generous expanse of cleavage, midsection, lower back or thigh, temptress styles that may be better suited to a gala or boudoir than to a church or ballroom.
“Brides today absolutely want to look sexy and glamorous,” said Mara Urshel, an owner and the president of Kleinfeld, the venerable Manhattan bridal salon. In recent months, the store has seen a spike in demand for plunging necklines and negligee looks, one that has only intensified since the spring bridal collections began arriving in stores. For brides shopping now for gowns to wear at summer or early fall weddings, “there is a lot of freedom of choice, and these girls exercise every bit of it,” Ms. Urshel said.

Determined to look torrid on their wedding day, they are picking dresses modeled, say, on the one worn by Christina Aguilera, who was married in 2005 in a gown with a plummeting neckline and ruffled fishtail hem. Or maybe the hope is to emulate Sarah Jessica Parker, who, in the forthcoming film version of “Sex and the City,” spills out of the front of her wedding dress.

“Young women increasingly look to the red carpet for style ideas,” said Millie Martini Bratten, the editor in chief of Brides magazine. “They are very aware of how they look,” she added. “They diet, they work out. And when they marry, they want to be the celebrity of their own event.”

As if the institution of marriage hasn't suffered enough, marrying with class is now out of vogue.

Another memo for women... enough with the damn tramp stamp. You are not unique if every other freaking "wild" woman has it. Its like a guy getting the barbed wire on his arm. It just makes you another follower.

Bill Keller: NYTIMES readers are slow and dense.

Media: That is what I get out of the piece.

The embattled executive editor of the New York Times defended its John McCain story Friday with a novel explanation for the flood of critical e-mails the newspaper received: slow-witted readers.

"Personally, I was surprised by the volume of the reaction," Bill Keller wrote in a Times Web site Q&A forum. Readers posted 2,000 comments and sent in 3,700 questions.

"I was surprised by how lopsided the opinion was against our decision, with readers who described themselves as independents and Democrats joining Republicans in defending Mr. McCain from what they saw as a cheap shot," Keller added.

The problem, Keller went on, is that readers didn't get it.

"Frankly, I was a little surprised by how few readers saw what was, to us, the larger point of the story."

That point, he said, was that McCain, "this man who prizes his honor above all things and who appreciates the importance of appearances, also has a history of being sometimes careless about the appearance of impropriety, about his reputation."

While some press watchers defended the Times, others said the problem wasn't dense readers.

"I don't want to fault the journalists," said Columbia University journalism Prof. Todd Gitlin. "But the article as it ran was a mess and not the highest point of journalism."

Subprime bailout; who is innocent tough to figure out.

Nation: Taxpayers are going to take on the chin over this as usual.

"But even if the government did buy up millions of mortgages and force mortgage holders to take losses, the biggest problem could still lie ahead: deciding which struggling homeowners should receive breaks on their mortgages.

Administration officials have long insisted that they do not want to rescue speculators who took out no-money-down loans to buy and flip condominiums in Miami or Phoenix. And even Democrats like Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, have said the government should not help those who borrowed more than they could ever hope to repay.

But identifying innocent victims has already proved complicated. The Bush administration’s Hope Now program offers to freeze interest rates for certain borrowers whose subprime mortgages were about to jump to much higher rates. But the eligibility rules are so narrow that some analysts estimate only 3 percent of subprime borrowers will benefit.

Bank executives, meanwhile, warn that the mortgage mess is much broader than people with subprime loans. Problems are mounting almost as rapidly in so-called Alt-A mortgages, made to people with good credit scores who did not document their incomes and borrowed far more than normal underwriting standards would allow.

Borrowers who overstated their incomes are not likely to get much sympathy. But industry executives and consumer advocates warn that foreclosed homes push down prices in surrounding neighborhoods, and a wave of foreclosures could lead to another, deeper plunge in home prices.

Right or wrong, the arguments for rescuing homeowners are likely to be blurred with arguments for rescuing home prices. At that point, industry executives are likely to argue that what is good for Bank of America is good for the rest of America."

Yes, the "trips to Auschwitz" is a pathetic gimmick.

UK: Just an observation from across the pond, if you are going to do something like this sending two kids and a teacher from every school while paying for barely half the cost. Something this monumental shouldn't be half assed for the sake of putting on a list of "look at what we did!"

David Cameron was facing intense political criticism last night after including student “trips to Auschwitz” on a list of government gimmicks.

The Tory leader was resisting opposition calls to apologise about the reference to visits, organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, in a list of “Gordon Brown’s 26 gimmicks” included in a speech.

The document, sent out in response to a similar list from Labour, of 50 Conservative achievements since 1997, included: “Honours for sportsmen”, “Prison ships”, “Deep cleaning of hospitals” and “New border police”. No 4 on the list was “Trips to Auschwitz”.

Tory sources defended the listing. They said they were not seeking to criticise the trips themselves but were highlighting the way that the Government announced the funding arrangements. “We have made it quite clear that it was not trips to Auschwitz that we are calling a gimmick,” one said, adding that there were other things on the list that they support, including smear tests for cancer.

In November 2005 the Government announced £1.5 million of funding for the trust to support its “Lessons from Auschwitz” project for teachers and sixth form students. The funding enables the trust to facilitate visits to Auschwitz for two students from every school in Britain. This month the Government announced that it would continue funding to support the project until 2011.

A spokesman for David Cameron said the visits were included on the list because the Conservatives believed that the Government had “spun” this funding announcement.

“The Government was trying to suggest in a press release earlier this month they were going to fund two children from every school. The problem is they said they would pay for it in full.

“But when you look at the analysis, the schools have to pay £1.9 million. So what exactly is the Government paying for?”

The Tories say they would pay for the trips in full from the lottery, without asking schools and colleges to contribute. But last night Mr Cameron’s remark was condemned privately by Tory figures and publicly by those involved with the visits.

Shame on the Jewish leaders in this piece who have joined in the pile on when clearly Cameron wasn't putting down trips to Auschwitz but how they are done in the first place.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Der Spiegel: Obama, Change You Can't Believe In.

Politics: Obama mania tonight as Gabor Steingart looks at Obama as the new tech bubble waiting to burst.

"...Nevertheless, if Obama is elected he will eventually be forced to disappoint his voters. Politics in a democratic society is a balancing of interests, not a revivalist meeting. It takes finesse, experience and power to transform ideas into reality. Hope and optimism can enhance these qualities, but they cannot replace them. Obama's message is more of a promise to heal the nation than a campaign platform.

The future Obama is promising seems foggy and indistinct. He wants to change the rules of engagement in politics, but he neglects to explain how and in what direction. He wants to write a new page in the history books, but what handwriting does he plan to use to make his entry? He wants to drive out lobbyists, but if he does, who will champion the interests of union members, war veterans and chemical corporations? He wants to negotiate with the world's dictators, but to what end, exactly?"

Read it.

Barack Obama the gun grabber Part Deux

Politics: Last week I pointed out that Obama is no observer of gun rights. Bob Owens over at Pajamas Media writes an excellent roundup on how awful Obama is on the second amendment and anything he says about gun rights should not be believed.

The weakness? Barack Obama’s utter disdain of firearms (especially handguns) and a refusal to recognize the rights of law-abiding Americans to own the most common and relied-upon types of firearms.

In his answers to the 1998 Illinois State Legislative National Political Awareness Test, Obama said he favored a ban on “the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.”

By definition, this would include all pistols ever made, from .22 target pistols used in the Olympics to rarely-fired pistols kept in nightstands and sock drawers for the defense of families, and every pistol in between. Obama’s strident stand would also ban all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, whatever their previously legal purpose.

In 1999, Obama proposed to make it a felony for the gun owner if a firearm stolen from his residence and used in a crime was not “securely stored” — effectively negating the homeowner’s right to self-defense.

That same year, Obama bravely voted “present” on a law that would require teens 15 and older to be tried as adults for firing weapons on or near school grounds. Obama also proposed the idea of banning businesses that sell firearms from operating within five miles of a park or school — restrictions that would treat gun shops worse than “adult” businesses trafficking in pornography.

From 1998-2001, Obama sat on the board of directors for the Joyce Foundation, a left-wing group which today funds grants to anti-gun organizations such as the Violence Policy Center (which advocates total handgun prohibition, reinstatement of the Clinton-era “assault weapons” ban, and the ban of other firearms), the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (which favors the registration of all handguns, seeks to overturn Ohio’s “concealed carry” law, ban standard capacity magazines, and ban economical handguns along with many semi-automatic firearms based upon their appearance), and Handgun Free America (which advocates a complete ban on civilian handgun ownership).

Then there is the hunters guns and target shooting answer which you have to put in context.

Buried deep in the “Issues” section of Obama’s web site under “Additional Issues” is a PDF document that can only be described as an attempt to talk around Obama’s real position on firearm ownership. In a section where the campaign claims to “respect” the Second Amendment, the document states:

Millions of hunters own and use guns each year. Millions more participate in a variety of shooting sports such as sporting clays, skeet, target, and trap shooting that may not necessarily involve hunting. As a former constitutional law professor, Barack Obama understands and believes in the constitutional right of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting.

Tellingly, Obama’s campaign only addresses the gun rights of hunters and specific shotgun-only shooting sports, and only then in vague terms.

At no point does Obama recognize an individual right to own handguns, or explicitly recognize a right for Americans to use a firearm to defend themselves or others. The site explicitly states that Barack Obama recognizes civilian gun ownership for two just purposes, “hunting and target shooting.”

Watch your guns people.

Obama hanged around 60's terrorists.. nice

Politics: Always a good thing to have on your resume to brush up on your liberal bio about meeting with terrorists.

In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, to a few of the district’s influential liberals at the home of two well known figures on the local left: William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

While Ayers and Dohrn may be thought of in Hyde Park as local activists, they’re better known nationally as two of the most notorious — and unrepentant — figures from the violent fringe of the 1960s anti-war movement.

....Neither Ayers nor the Obama campaign would describe the relationship between the two men. Dr. Young described Obama and Ayers as “friends,” but there’s no evidence their relationship is more than the casual friendship of two men who occupy overlapping Chicago political circles and who served together on the board of a Chicago foundation.

But Obama’s relationship with Ayers is an especially vivid milepost on his rise, in record time, from a local official who unabashedly reflected a very liberal district to the leader of national movement based largely on the claim that he can transcend ideological divides.

In one sense, Obama’s journey toward the cultural and political center is not unusual among national politicians. But its velocity is.

No its not, its a shell game of the worst kind. Now I understand why he is so eager to meet with America's enemies because he doesn't have a no voice not to associate with people like this and even refuse to condemn/reject them.

Like many of the most extreme figures from the 1960s Ayers and Dohrn are ambiguous figures in American life.

They disappeared in 1970, after a bomb — designed to kill army officers in New Jersey — accidentally destroyed a Greenwich Village townhouse, and turned themselves into authorities in 1980. They were never prosecuted for their involvement with the 25 bombings the Weather Underground claimed; charges were dropped because of improper FBI surveillance.

Both have written and spoken at length about their pasts, and today he is an advocate for progressive education and a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago; she’s an associate professor of law at Northwestern University.

But — unlike some other fringe figures of the era — they’re also flatly unrepentant about the bombings they committed in the name of ending the war, defending them on the grounds that they killed no one, except, accidentally, their own members.

Dohrn, however, was jailed for less than a year for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating other Weather Underground members’ robbery of a Brinks truck, in which a guard and two New York State Troopers were killed.

“I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough,” Ayers told the New York Times in 2001.

And their rehabilitation in establishment circles, even in Hyde Park, has its limits.

.....“Ayers was a terrorist. Bernardine Dohrn was a terrorist. Ayers has never offered one word of apology — he glories in it, thinks it’s terrific. And that to me is not what I would call acceptable or mainstream behavior,” said Dan Polsby, a former law professor at Northwestern who is now dean of George Mason University Law School. “If Obama takes a different view on that — well, OK, that’s data about Obama.”

Exactly and what is Obama's answer to this sort of association?

Obama’s campaign dismisses the notion that his relationship with Ayers should be seen through the lens of the latter’s violent past, or his present lack of regret for the bombings.

“Sen. Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence,” said Obama’s press secretary, Bill Burton. “But he was an 8-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost 40 years ago is ridiculous.”

He described Ayers as “a professor of education at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a former aide to Mayor Richard J. Daley,” referring to printed reports that he had “advised” Daley on school reform.

As Bloomberg News reported recently, Obama and Ayers have crossed paths repeatedly in the last decade. In 1997, Obama cited Ayers’ critique of the juvenile justice system in a Chicago Tribune article on what prominent Chicagoans were reading. He and Ayers served together on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago for three years starting in 1999. In 2001, Ayers also gave $200 to Obama’s state Senate reelection campaign.

Many details of the 1995 meeting are shrouded by time and by Obama’s and Ayers’ refusals to discuss it.

If he can't get away from this sort of domestic garbage, how the hell is he going to deal with more dangerous international variety?

Honor Killings increases in Finland.

EU: First Sweden acknowledges an increase there and now Finland.

Honour-related violence increases in Finland
Immigrant women's organisation supports victims of violence

Young immigrant women who have lived in Finland for a number of years, are most likely to face conflicts between norms of Finnish society and their own culture.

Women like these are the ones that most frequently contact Monika - Naiset liitto, a multicultural organisation set up ten years ago to help immigrant women and children who face domestic violence, says Reet Nurmi, the organisation's executive director.

Nurmi defines honour-related violence as actions perpetrated by those who feel that a woman's behaviour has hurt the honour of her husband or family.

There are no precise figures on the frequency of the problem. Monika-Naiset was contacted 28 times last year over alleged honour-related violence.

According to the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, domestic conflicts involving issues of honour have emerged among immigrants from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

Reet Nurmi says that the police do not always know how to investigate the cultural factors behind acts of violence.

Oh Hai, Iran Could Have Enough Uranium for a Bomb by Year's End

Iran: Someone is going to be horribly wrong and my money is on the NIE.

New simulations carried out by European Union experts come to an alarming conclusion: Iran could have enough highly enriched uranium to build an atomic bomb by the end of this year.

Could Iran be building an atomic bomb? When the US released a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) late last year, it seemed as though the danger of a mullah-bomb had passed. The report claimed to have information indicating that Tehran mothballed its nuclear weapons program as early as autumn 2003. The paper also said that it was "very unlikely" that Iran would have enough highly enriched uranium -- the primary ingredient in atomic bombs -- by 2009 to produce such a weapon. Rather, the NIE indicated "Iran probably would be technically capable of producing enough (highly enriched uranium) for a weapon sometime during the 2010-2015 timeframe."

It didn't take long for experts to question the report's conclusion that Tehran was no longer interested in building the bomb. And now, a new computer simulation undertaken by European Union experts indicates that the NIE's time estimates might be dangerously inaccurate as well -- and that Iran might have enough fuel for a bomb much earlier than was previously thought.

As part of a project to improve control of nuclear materials, the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, Italy set up a detailed simulation of the centrifuges currently used by Iran in the Natanz nuclear facility to enrich uranium. The results look nothing like those reached by the US intelligence community.

Obama senate votes reveal rule by emotion personality.

Politics: There is a couple of irritating quotes given by Tom Curry in this piece that shows insight to a "President" Obama and its not good for the rule of law.

'No' on Roberts and Alito
Obama said in opposing Roberts, “far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak.”

Later, Obama criticized Roberts claim that he acted as an "umpire."

"But the issues that come before the court are not sports; they’re life and death," Obama argued. "We need somebody who’s got the empathy to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom."

That is what the Supreme Court Justices should be in a word umpires and the rule of law. You start acting like on emotions and empathy you have another idiotic Ruth Ginsburg on there citing international law and her own personal feelings which doesn't make good decision making.

Although illegal immigration may have momentarily subsided as an issue in the national media spotlight, the problem is no closer to being resolved than it was in 2005 when Obama entered the Senate.

Obama voted against one measure in 2006 that would have denied citizenship or other legal status to illegal immigrants.

And he voted against another last year that would have allowed police to question individuals about their immigration status if the officers had probable cause to believe that the person was not lawfully present in the United States.

Last October, Obama, along with 37 Democrats, 12 Republicans and independents Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, voted to move to a final vote on the “Dream” Act (the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), which would allow illegal immigrants under age 30 to remain in the United States and gain legal status if they attend college or join the military.

The motion fell eight votes short of the 60 it needed for passage.

The bill would also have allowed illegal immigrants, if they passed background checks and became permanent legal residents, to qualify for lower in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities.

“We should not punish undocumented children who were brought to this country illegally through no choice of their own by keeping them in the shadows,” Obama said, criticizing what he called “the politics of division and fear.”

No surprises here that Obama is an open border fanatic.

On another contentious social issue, Obama’s voting record on abortion legislation gives every indication that as president he would support the Supreme Court’s decisions that have made the procedure legal in most cases.

Last August he voted against a proposal to codify a Bush administration policy that gives states the option of providing medical insurance to unborn children under the State Children's Health Insurance program.

He also voted “no” on a 2006 bill to prohibit the transportation of a minor girl across state lines to obtain an abortion, if this would circumvent parental consent or notification laws in her home state.

Obama supporting killing babies is again not a surprise.

He also voted “no” in 2006 on repeal of the tax on inherited wealth, the estate tax, which is scheduled to rise to 55 percent in 2011.

The other side of the fiscal coin is spending. Outlays on rapidly growing entitlement programs, such as Medicare, now account for 44 percent of all federal outlays.

Obama voted against a measure by Sen. John Ensign R-Nev., to require Medicare beneficiaries with annual incomes over $160,000 to pay higher premiums for their prescription drugs in Medicare Part D.

I think a pattern is emerging.

In June of 2006 Obama voted against a measure offered by Feingold and Kerry that would have required President Bush to withdraw most United States troops from Iraq by July 1, 2007.

Most Democrats joined him in voting “no” as only 13 Democrats (and no Republicans) voted 13 for it.

But in September 20, 2007, Obama was one of 28 Democrats voting for a Feingold measure that ordered Bush to begin withdrawing most U.S. forces from Iraq within 90 days.

'Yes' on Iraq funding cutoff
The bill would have cut off funding for the Iraq deployment by June 30, 2008. Feingold’s measure would have allowed U.S. troops to stay in Iraq to “conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda” and other terrorist groups.

So in summary, Obama is a tax and spend abortion loving surrending liberal Democrat. Nice to have it summarized.

Happy slapping a UK Cop by teenager.

UK: In this case police brutality would have been justified. A couple of taser shots would be have been nice.

Illegal alien arrested in Minnesota schoolbus crash.

Immigration: What is interesting is why the main paper in Minnesota, the Star Tribune at Last update: February 21, 2008 - 10:19 PM still doesn't have the information that the local Fox station had at Last Edited: Thursday, 21 Feb 2008, 5:12 PM CST that the driver was illegal.

Authorities have confirmed that the the driver of the van that struck the school bus that killed 4 students on Tuesday is an illegal alien.

Officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement are checking to see where she came from and how long she's been in Minnesota. FOX 9 has also learned that the name she gave to police, Alainiss Morales, is an alias.

23-year-old Alainiss N. Morales was taken into custody on suspicion of criminal vehicular operation. She was arrested by the State Patrol Thursday afternoon and is being held in Lyon County Jail. County Attorney Rick Maes told the Marshall Independent charges could come later Thursday or Friday

The Star Tribune.

Morales worked at the Jenny-O turkey plant in Willmar for three months ending in January, according to Julie Kraven, a spokeswoman at Hormel Foods in Austin, which owns Jenny-O.

Federal immigration officials are assisting the State Patrol's investigation of the crash and are looking into Morales' background, according to Tim Counts, local spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Via Malkin.

Noose professor reprimanded for plagiarism.

Edumacation: What kind of college allows a person who has been cited in 24 cases she plagiarised to keep her job?

Columbia University said Thursday it has sanctioned for plagiarism the African-American professor on whose office door a noose was found last fall.

Madonna Constantine, professor of psychology and education at the university's Teachers College, was not dismissed, the university said.

Thursday's announcement came after an 18-month investigation, conducted by the law firm of Hughes Hubbard and Reed, said Marcia Horowitz, a Teachers College spokeswoman.

In a report presented in December to Teachers College administrators, the firm concluded that in two dozen cases, Constantine's published works contained language similar to passages in papers written by others, including a former teacher at the school and two of Constantine's former students.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Walmart getting the business as Target chic falters.

Business: To paraphase an old joke. Target is where you get an ironing board with a name, Walmart you get the same board cheaper with no name and Kmart you get the same board that falls apart.

As consumers scale back on spending in the face of a softening U.S. economy, at least one analyst suspects that more shoppers are choosing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over rival Target Corp.

Sagging home prices, higher gas prices and job cuts have Americans paying close attention to how they spend their money. Investors are taking note — since late November, shares of Wal-Mart have soared, outperforming Target by double digits. Target shares are testing year-plus lows, while Wal-Mart touched a nearly three-year high earlier this month.

...Citi Investment Research analyst Deborah L. Weinswig said Wal-Mart's "low-price message" resonates better with consumers, who are trying to scale back on spending and get the most for their dollar. "Based on our proprietary survey findings, an overwhelming 87 percent of customers surveyed said that Wal-Mart had the lowest prices," Weinswig wrote in a note to investors Thursday.

Weinswig also said Wal-Mart provides a "one-stop shopping experience" for consumers, allowing them to purchase food, consumables, groceries, and discretionary items in one visit. This is important because consumers have been consolidating trips to cut down on gas use.

"Target is not perceived as a destination for basic needs, which we believe is why the retailer's traffic trends are weaker than those of Wal-Mart," Weinswig wrote

Walmart has done a good job refocusing their business instead of trying to compete with the gaudy cheap chic that is Target. Now the low price mantra is helping.

Rising Factory Costs Erode China's Edge

China: It was inevitible as China develops and standards are elevate enough inclusing wages to make their edge dull.

"....Costs in China are climbing nationwide, but the greatest pain is being felt in the south, where about 14,000 Hong Kong-run factories could close in the next few months, said Polly Ko of the Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong, which neighbors Hong Kong.

To adapt, many multinational manufacturers—including Intel Corp., iPod-maker Hon Hai Technology Group and Japanese companies like Canon Inc. and Sony Corp. are expanding operations in Vietnam.

Auto parts makers are decamping for the Middle East and Eastern Europe, textile-makers to Bangladesh and India.

Thousands of smaller Hong Kong, Taiwan or Chinese-run factories in south China's traditional export hub of Guangdong are closing or moving out.

Meanwhile, Chinese inflation has risen to its highest point in more than 11 years, jumping 7.1 percent in January, as snowstorms worsened food shortages. The biggest price hikes have been for food, but analysts say longer-term pressures on prices for manufactured goods will persist.

Will. I. Am. coming out with second Obama song.

Politics: As Black Jesus keeps the hope-a-dope express steamrolling down the track picking up more passengers.

"Now, two weeks after Obama delivered another speech — this one from his hometown of Chicago, after a triumphant Super Tuesday in which he won 14 states — Will is at it again, booking time in a Los Angeles studio to record yet another pro-Obama tune.

"Right now, since we're in the early stages, I think the song is gonna be called 'We Are the Ones.' It's inspired by a line in his speech after Super Tuesday, when he was in Chicago: 'We are the ones we have been waiting for,' " he told MTV News. "It lit another inspirational fire in me when he said that in his speech. So I decided to get to work on another track. We're lining up people to appear on it right now, and that's the easy part, because people are just passionate to want to be a part of it. There's no casting ... the inspiration is the casting director."

Though the "Ones" project is still in the early stages, MTV News heard a snippet of the song, and, in keeping with the spoken-word feel of his "Yes We Can" track, it's pretty minimal: little more than some Rhodes piano chords, some "We Will Rock You" handclaps and a chanted chorus of "O-Ba-Ma! O-Ba-Ma!"

"I kept it real simple and bare to the bones because it's really more about what people are saying," Will said.

So far comedians/actors George Lopez and John Leguizamo have recorded spoken parts for the track, and a publicist for the project told MTV News Jessica Alba, Ryan Phillippe, Ben McKenzie, Macy Gray and the Black Eyed Peas' Tabu are slated to participate. And rumor has it that Beyoncé is trying to clear up her schedule to make an appearance too. The whole thing is coming together with a spur-of-the-moment kind of feel (in the studio, Will was collaborating with a New York-based percussionist via online chat service Skype), and it looks like that's the way it'll be until the song is finished. "

Another Dutch citizen that gets thrown under the bus.

EU: Have the Dutch just gone so weak to appease everyone they don't understand how sad it makes them look to everyone else?

The woman who drove over and killed a Moroccan thief in Amsterdam three years ago has been living in secret locations since, for fear of retaliation. At the order of the judge, the woman has however been tracked down and taken to court.

The woman is being tried for causing the death of Ali El Bejatti. On 17 January 2005, this Moroccan youth opened her car door and snatched her handbag. The woman reversed against the boy, who was on a scooter. He was crushed against a tree, broke his neck and died.

The woman has been in hiding for three years, according to her lawyer Cees Korvinus. She is so afraid of reprisals that she moved from hiding-place to hiding-place, De Telegraaf quoted the lawyer as saying yesterday. The police advised her to go into hiding after the incident, according to the newspaper.

....The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) announced yesterday it was demanding a jail sentence of 30 months for the woman. The OM is charging her with manslaughter because she deliberately took the risk of seriously injuring El Bejatti

The session began two weeks ago in the absence of the woman. On Wednesday, the judge had her tracked down at a secret address to appear. Korvinus says she is dead scared that her appearance will unleash a sort of 'fatwa,' De Telegraaf reported. A psychiatrist has confirmed that the woman is "in a state of constant fear of death."

The woman has stated that the collision was an accident. The Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) initially concluded this as well, but later decided to prosecute her after all.

On the day of his death, Ali El Bejatti had appeared in a court. He stole the woman's purse only hours after the OM demanded a 24-month jail sentence against him for an armed robbery.

But the poor woman gets the heat so the public order and social cohesion stays together. Wretched cowards.

Court: German hostages have to pay for freedom

Germany: Unless you are the one who puts yourself in harm's way, I can see paying back the government but if its just by chance it seems wrong.

Germans held hostage abroad have to pay towards the costs incurred by the government in obtaining their release, a court in Berlin ruled Thursday.

The judges said the foreign ministry was entitled to claim 12,640 euros (18,580 dollars) from a 35-year-old physiotherapist who was kidnapped in South America five years ago.

The money covered the costs of a helicopter that was used to whisk the tourist to safety from the jungles of northern Colombia where she spent 10 weeks in captivity in 2003.

An earlier court hearing ruled in the woman's favor, saying there was no legal precedent for the leveling of charges relating to the freeing of hostages.

Obama and Hillary open border fanatics.

Immigration: Either gets elected you can kiss any sort of immigration enforcement good bye as both say no to the border fence, yes to illegals getting tuition breaks. That portion of the debate scared the hell out of me.

Plus Obama's line saying meeting with the American president should not be a "privilege that has to be earned" by foreign leaders shows a pathetic lack of backbone. Basically any despot or tyrant gets legitimacy because he asks for a meeting. That will work well in Cuba or Iran.

U.N.'s Ban says free speech must respect religion

World: In other words, free speech is good just don't do Mohammed cartoons, censor yourself.

The Oscars brings the doom, gloom and narcissistic views.

Entertainment: Once a year the Oscars come around which means you get articles like this that insults the majority of people who don't see the genius that goes on with nominated films. Then they wonder why Oscar ratings are so low over the last couple of years.

Howard Suber, founding chair of UCLA's Film and Television Producers Program and author of "The Power of Film," said he has never seen a bleaker view of human nature in a group of films since the French cinema of the 1960s.

"A film like 'There Will Be Blood' is decidedly un-American," he said. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as sadistic oil prospector in the early 20th century who will do anything to create wealth and gain power.

un-American? You just described J.R. Ewing.

This year's five nominees for best film look likely to score the second-lowest box office total for the group in 20 years, with their ticket sales equaling an anemic 3 percent of the overall 2007 domestic box office of around $9.7 billion.

Many of 2007's big hits -- "Spider-Man," "Transformers," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" -- were escapist fantasies and raunchy comedies, "mostly aimed at 11-year-olds, like most movies," said Los Angeles Daily News film critic Bob Strauss.

The some 5,800 voters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, however, are adults who work in the industry and favor serious dramas that look at complex questions of human nature, which is why a movie like "No Country", a meditation on declining society morals, scores well with Oscar voters.

But regular moviegoers, said Suber, don't want to face the reality of the world, which right now includes the war on terrorism, the U.S. housing crisis and an ailing economy.

"Audiences don't want to see realistic films about the war in Iraq. They want to escape all the bad news," Suber said.

Or it could be that the movies about the war in Iraq are anti-American, anti-military pacifist pieces of badly made junk that hasn't garnered any sort of audience even the leftists who cheer on these sorts of movies. The idea that Adults favor serious dramas and complex questions of human nature in Hollywood. How the hell do you explain Crash winning? The Hollywood liberals do not get the rest of the country, but it is never their fault, but everyone else.

UK: Middle Class kids tend to shun lower class kids

UK: The conclusion of this study is when well-meaning multicultural parents send their kids to crappy public schools in the UK. Their kids still do well educational wise but socially they stick with people of their own middle class background while looking down on the lower class poor "chavs." Other news, the sun is hot.

Sending middle-class children to inner-city comprehensives simply fuels class tensions, according to a study.

Some parents from comfortable homes choose local schools with poor academic records so their children can experience social diversity, the researchers found.

But instead, the middle-class children made friends almost exclusively from those with similar backgrounds - and shunned working-class pupils as "chavs" or "white trash".

If white, they were more likely to make friends with those from middle-class ethnic minorities than fellow pupils from working-class homes.

In many cases, the middle-class children did well at school. But although their parents wanted them to mix with those from other backgrounds, many did not.

In some cases, they viewed the "chavs" with "barely disguised disgust".

"Our research found segregation within schools with white middle-class children clustered in top sets, often benefiting from gifted and talented schemes, with little interaction with children from other backgrounds, said a report on the study, by academics from three universities - Cambridge, Sunderland and the West of England.

"The children rarely had working-class friends and their few minority ethnic friends were predominantly from middle-class backgrounds."

The research tracked 124 middle-class families in London and two other major cities who chose to send children to local comprehensives often "demonised" by other parents.

Most children in the study, who were tracked over 30 months, had "gone on to perform brilliantly in GCSEs, A-levels and then on to university entrance, including a much higher than average entry to Oxbridge".

But despite entering into a "social mix", there was less evidence of "social mixing", the academics said.

Attitudes among both parents and children in the study smacked of "cultural and intellectual superiority" that undermined attempts to build community relations, it said. The findings question the view prevalent among education commentators that children of all backgrounds must be taught together to promote cohesion.

I like how superficial some parents are to send their kids to crap schools so they can be so social diverse. Instead of worrying about their education which thankfully doesn't suffer because of desire not to end up like the kids they look at with disgust. Here is the classic liberal take by the Guardian.

Children from white middle-class homes suffer no academic disadvantage from going to badly performing state schools, according to research which suggests that comprehensive education is not necessarily a second-class option.

Leftwing parents sometimes opt for local comprehensives because they want their children to experience a multicultural school life, but the study suggests this is not always achieved as pupils tend to make friends with those from similar backgrounds.

Fiona Millar, state school campaigner and Education Guardian columnist, said: "This destroys the myth that you are giving your child up for a second-class education if you send them to a local school."

Zimbabwe's official inflation hits 100,000pc

Africa: WOOT! Lets try for 150,000pc given Mugabe's great economic plan, I am sure it can be hit within a couple of months.

Robert Mugabe wakes up to his 84th birthday today with a damning present from Zimbabwe's government statisticians - official inflation figures of more than 100,000 per cent.

With Harare's shop shelves bare of basic commodities and prices rising daily, it is a wonder that inflation can be calculated at all, but the Central Statistical Office's work is a marvel of precision.

"The year-on-year inflation rate for the month of January 2008, as measured by the All-items Consumer Price Index, stood at 100,580.2 per cent," it said in a statement yesterday.

The figure is an increase of 34,367.9 percentage points over December's 66,212.3 per cent, it added.

Independent observers believe the true figures are even higher. A single cigarette now costs Z$500,000.

More Americans Are Giving Up Golf or is there more to it?

Culture: It is a story mostly about Golf, but this section caught my interest.

"The disappearance of golfers over the past several years is part of a broader decline in outdoor activities — including tennis, swimming, hiking, biking and downhill skiing — according to a number of academic and recreation industry studies.

A 2006 study by the United States Tennis Association, which has battled the trend somewhat successfully with a forceful campaign to recruit young players, found that punishing hurricane seasons factored into the decline of play in the South, while the soaring popularity of electronic games and newer sports like skateboarding was diminishing the number of new tennis players everywhere.

Rodney B. Warnick, a professor of recreation studies and tourism at the University of Massachusetts, said that the aging population of the United States was probably a part of the problem, too, and that “there is a younger generation that is just not as active.”

But golf, a sport of long-term investors — both those who buy the expensive equipment and those who build the princely estates on which it is played — has always seemed to exist in a world above the fray of shifting demographics. Not anymore."

Add in the overbuilding of golf courses and not enough time or money in the day, you get a decline in the end.

For Muslim Students, a Debate on Inclusion

Culture: As the fight between the hardliners and the reformers heat up to lukewarm so far in what American Islam will be for the younger generation.

"The debate boils down to whether upholding gender segregation is forcing something artificial and vaguely hypocritical in an American context.

“As American Islam gets its own identity, it is going to have to shed some of these notions that are distant from American culture,” said Rafia Zakaria, a student at Indiana University. “The tension is between what forms of tradition are essential and what forms are open to innovation.”

American law says men and women are equal, whereas Muslim religious texts say they “complement” each other, Ms. Zakaria said. “If the law says they are equal, it’s hard to see how in their spiritual lives they will accept a whole different identity.”

The entire shift of the association from a foreign-run organization to an American one took place over arguments like this.

The Americans won out partly because the number of Muslim American college students hit a critical mass in the late 1990s, and then, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, foreign students, fearful of their visas being revoked, started avoiding a group that was increasingly political.

Some critics view strict interpretation of the faith as part of the association’s DNA. Organized in the 1960s by foreign students who wanted collective prayers where there were no mosques, the associations were basically little slices of Saudi Arabia. Women were banned. Only Muslim men who prayed, fasted and avoided alcohol and dating were welcomed. Meetings, even idle conversations, were in Arabic.

Donations from Saudi Arabia largely financed the group, and its leaders pushed the kingdom’s puritan, Wahhabi strain of Islam. Prof. Hamid Algar of the University of California, Berkeley, said that in the 1960s and 1970s, chapters advocated theological and political positions derived from radical Islamist organizations and would brook no criticism of Saudi Arabia.

That past has given the associations a reputation in some official quarters as a possible font of extremism, but experts in American Islam believe college campuses have become too diverse and are under too much scrutiny for the groups to foster radicals. "

Pythons could slither wild over lower third of America.

Nation: Hold on to your cats and dogs.

As climate change warms the nation, giant Burmese pythons could colonize one-third of the USA, from San Francisco across the Southwest, Texas and the South and up north along the Virginia coast, according to U.S. Geological Survey maps released Wednesday.
The pythons can be 20 feet long and 250 pounds. They are highly adaptable to new environments.

Two federal agencies — the USGS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — are investigating the range of nine invasive snakes in Florida, concerned about the danger they now pose to endangered species. The agencies are collecting data to aid in the control of these populations.

They examined Burmese pythons first and, based on where they live in Asia, estimated where they might live here. One map shows where the pythons could live today, an area that expands when scientists use global warming models for 2100.

"We were surprised by the map. It was bigger than we thought it was going to be," says Gordon Rodda, zoologist and lead project researcher. "They are moving northward, there's no question."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dutch Bank Bans Piggy-Banks to Please Muslims?

EU: Couple of years ago in the UK there was a rash of stories about banks banning piggy banks because they offended Muslims. Now a dutch bank may have done the same.

Fortis Bank will no longer give children a piggy-bank if they open an account. The company apparently is afraid of offending Muslims.

Fortis clients that open a EuroKids account for their children are given a present of a piggy-bank called Knorbert. But the bank is stopping this because "Knorbert does not meet the requirements that the multicultural society imposes on us," yesterday's De Telegraaf quoted a spokesman as saying.

Pigs are considered unclean animals by Jews and Muslims. An Internet campaign in which Knorbert played a leading role has also been halted by Fortis.

According to a spokeswoman, there have been "a number of reactions to the pig" and a new present is being worked on that is "fun for children of any persuasion whatever." As an interim solution, the bank is currently offering a children's encyclopaedia.

Later yesterday, Fortis tried to quash the suggestion that it was influenced by Islam. "The real story is a bit more balanced. "The Knorbert product has reached the end of its life-cycle," was spokeswoman Marianne Honkoop's attempt.

The multicultural part is a dead giveaway the story is true.

St.Louis Post dispatch reporter and CAIR in bed together?

Culture: CAIR either by sheer ignorance of the media or deliberate move by the media has to be pleased with getting LGF and Gateway Pundit labeled as anti_Muslim hate sites as the St.Louis Post Dispatch reporter Tim Townsend and a local station got on the story about a few comments over a minaret being built in St.Louis mosque.

Charles Johnson is rightfully pissed about it and LGF commentator finds out that Tim Townsend is a friend of CAIR representative Khaled Hamid in St. Louis. That explains that quick writeup and shows a conflict of interest. Newbusters, Gateway Pundit has more roundup.

Latino leader upset over change in political tide; La Raza puff piece.

Immigration: In South Carolina they are set to pass some laws making it harder for illegals and that has upset the adovocates who are demanding rights.

Diana Salazar (right) president of the Latino Association of Charleston, discusses her group's position on immigration reform during a news conference in the Statehouse lobby in Columbia on Tuesday.

The House and Senate are expected to begin negotiations shortly on the two final versions of the legislation that attempts to rein in hiring practices of public and private employers and ask the federal government for authority to enforce immigration laws such as deportation, along with many other provisions.

"Undocumented — not aliens because they are not from Mars," Salazar said. "They were not the cause of our terrorist attacks. They are not criminals. They just want to keep their families together."

....Salazar, who is a third-generation American of Mexican heritage, said the issue of illegal immigration should be debated at the federal level. She said the state has many other issues to care for, and sees the change in tide after so many years of apparent indifference as "hypocritical."

"How many years have we Americans turned our face like this and let the flood come in? Have we seen that? Now, we're being hypocritical," Salazar said. "We're tying things up for our own benefit, for our chair, for our next election."

Many illegal immigrants want to be given the right to be issued South Carolina driver's licenses, and she wants to continue to see the state driver's manual offered in Spanish despite legislative efforts to print it and other state material in English only.

"For those who violate the law you have an address, you have an identity, you have a picture and they can be prosecuted as you and I can," Salazar said.

....Rep. Wallace Scarborough, R-James Island, said the legislation is not about treating people in an inhumane way. It's about abiding by the law.

"I am all for them being treated like their human beings — I also want them to be here legally," Scarborough said.

There is also this puff piece in the liberal National Catholic Reporter on Janet Murguia, executive director of La Raza. Same old everyone is racist against illegals and hate speech talking points.

Obama promises amnesty, $10 billion foreclosure fund.

Politics: Joyous just joyous. The requirements for citizenships is very low in his worldview.

Obama began his campaign swing through Texas earlier in the day in San Antonio. At a rally in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood in this majority Hispanic city, Obama said the issue of immigration should not be used as "a political football."

"It's not going to just involve building a big fence all the way across the border. That's not going to work," said Obama, addressing an issue that has angered many border residents.

While some physical barriers will be needed, better monitoring should also be used, and those who are already in the United States should be encouraged to come "out of the shadows," Obama said.

Illegal immigrants should have a pathway to citizenship, provided that they register, pay fines and learn English. Rounding up and deporting all illegal immigrants is impractical, he said.

In San Antonio he also had a roundtable discussion on his plan to address the growing number of foreclosures. He has called for the creation of a $10 billion fund to help prevent foreclosures and legislation to require more disclosure from lenders.

Great more money to subsidize poor borrowing practices.

Utah guts illegal immigration bill.

Immigration: Nice to see the LDS and business partners run roughshod over the state government to turn the bill into garbage.

Senators are reworking parts of a comprehensive immigration package to make the measure more palatable to the business community and religious leaders, its sponsor said Tuesday.
Sen. Bill Hickman, R-St. George, said he pushed back the Senate debate on his SB81 -- scheduled Tuesday -- until Thursday because some of the refinements to his anti-illegal immigration bill are still being made.

"We're trying to get this bill to be a reasonable piece of legislation that is [as] business friendly as possible and yet maintains the standards we have set forth in the bill and I think we are at that point now," Hickman said.

The revised measure would be a far cry from the original version modeled after an Oklahoma immigration law described as one of the toughest in the nation.
The changes would include revisions requested by leaders from several churches, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that protect the church from liability if they provide food, clothing and other charitable or humanitarian services to undocumented immigrants.

Mormon officials, as well as other religious leaders, have been consulted on the changes and Hickman said he believes they will approve.

Here is what changed.
Highlights of the proposed legislation currently:

* Allowed state and local partnership with federal agencies to enforce immigration law.
* Penalized businesses for employing undocumented workers.
* Provided penalties for people transporting, sheltering or "harboring" undocumented residents.
* Repealed in-state college tuition for eligible children of undocumented residents.

Already changed:
* Dropped proposed tuition-repeal provision.

Among known revisions now in the works:
* Would remove penalties for businesses.
* Would eliminate penalties for "harboring," sheltering or transporting undocumented residents

It would be easier to write a one liner to say we will work with the Feds..maybe than go thru this dog and pony show. This bill has nothing to it thanks to meddling religious and business leaders.

Michelle Obama playing the race card with proud comment.

Politics: Because she and the campaign are digging a hole they cannot get out of with her "Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change." Obama tried to clear it up.

Barack Obama, interviewed on WOAI radio in San Antonio, Texas, expressed frustration that his wife’s comments became political fodder.

“Statements like this are made and people try to take it out of context and make a great big deal out of it, and that isn’t at all what she meant,” Obama said.
“What she meant was, this is the first time that she’s been proud of the politics of America,” he said. “Because she’s pretty cynical about the political process, and with good reason, and she’s not alone. But she has seen large numbers of people get involved in the process, and she’s encouraged.”

Problem is that is not what she said and Captain Ed points out even if she does mean it would discount a lot of political accomplishments here and internationally due to American politics.

She "clarifies" her statement here via video but it still doesn't make any sense until you realize she is playing the race card that Obama won in states he shouldn't have as a black man. Now that fits into the first comment perfectly.

This plays into Kaus's theory she has this chip on her shoulder which leads to her now restricted thesis at Princeton that she was aware of her 'blackness.'

"But Michelle's senior thesis reveals the sociology major was acutely aware of being among the few blacks then at Princeton.

"My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'Blackness' than ever before,'' Michelle wrote in a 1985 thesis entitled "Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community.''

"I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my White professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus, as if I really don't belong.

"Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with Whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be Black first and a student second.''

Early on at Princeton, Michelle wrote, she was determined to "utilize all of my present and future resources to benefit [the black] community first and foremost.'' Yet she now realized attending a launching pad like Princeton would "likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White cultural and social structure . . .

"As I enter my final year at Princeton, I find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White classmates -- acceptance to a prestigious graduate or professional school or a high-paying position in a successful corporation. Thus, my goals are not as clear as before.''

I can see if she is that myopic and distrustful of American society that this run of victories by her husband would stun someone who said “as a Black man, he could get shot at a gas station.” Then it all makes sense. The problem is that may work with the latte sipping upper income white liberal or people like Tavis Smiley/Tom Joyner. But for the rest of the nation she could turn into the Teresa Heinz of 2008.

Jessica Alba is Latino, LATINOOOOOOO!!!!

Culture: This all started with a compliation post by Perez Hilton that picked up by Latino Gossip sites that Jessica Alba because she identified being more American than Mexican. They did took away her "Latina pass." So Alba comes back in this interview with Latina Magazine to get back her Latina pass for life!

In Latina's March 2008 cover story, Jessica Alba gets personal with Editor-in-Chief Mimi Valdés Ryan and directly responds to the rumors that have resulted in her now-commonly used nickname, "Jessica 'Don't Call Me Latina' Alba." Check out some of her revealing answers below, and don't forget to pick up the full story when the issue hits newsstands on February 19!

On her reluctance to walk the red carpet at Latin events: "I'll support those shows, but I can't go on the press lines and have people make me feel bad about myself. Life is too short. I can't change how I grew up, and I shouldn't have to apologize for it. I know I feel close to the Latin community, because that's what I grew up with."

On claims that she's proud to have cut loose from her Mexican roots: "I never said that. Cut loose from what? What the hell are they talking about? Why would I want to cut loose from the only family I know?"

On not learning to speak Spanish as a child: "I wish to God that my dad spoke Spanish to my brother and me, but he didn't grow up with it."

On confusing other men for her dad as a kid: "When I was little, I used to go up to black men and hold their legs, thinking it was my dad all the time. I'd wrap my arms around them, then look up and be like, 'Oh my God!'"

On being accepted for who she is in Hollywood: "I was always trying to figure out: How the hell am I going to be mainstream? How are people going to accept me? When are the going to get a clue that I am American, that this is what America looks like--people like me who are mixed, have different blood, mixed with different ethnicities? When are the people who are hiring for these jobs and writing these screenplays going to realize that?"

On what she wants her baby to look like: "I'm excited for my baby to be brown. I just have to believe the dark gene is going to survive. Cash and I are like, please!"

So she goes from one extreme if you believe the quotes to the other so she can get her Latina pass back which is horrendous pandering for no good reason. Look at that last quote, the kid grows up and sees that quote getting a complex in the process.

Never let the race baiters get to you. There are always going to be haters out there looking for an excuse because they think of themselves as the judges of heritage.

Reporter ticked off Obama forced to substance.

Politics: Looking in on his victory speech which seemed to go on forever, people in his camp must have told him that the lack of substance and all the Tony Robbins like "Yes we can" stuff may be sticking to him. The media who is in love with him won't be too happy if this continues.

A reporter messages as Obama's victory speech — a meatier version of the usual stump — approached the 45 minute mark:

"I hate Hillary. She just baited him into going into all his policy papers [and] making his speeches longer."

Row as ANC moves to disband South African 'FBI'

Africa: It sounds like the ANC doesn't care for people looking into its corrupt politicians. Damn shame they seem to be turning themselves into a banana republic.

The elite South African anti-crime unit that targeted the new African National Congress leader, Jacob Zuma, in a corruption investigation is to be disbanded.

The party claims the FBI-style force known as the Scorpions employed "Hollywood tactics" against Zuma when raiding several of his and his lawyer's properties in 2005.

Zuma, who deafeated the country's president, Thabo Mbeki, for the ANC leadership, is due to stand trial later this year charged with bribery, fraud, racketeering, money-laundering and tax evasion. It is not clear how the disbandment will affect the trial.

The security minister, Charles Nqakula, announced the decision to parliament today. To cheers from ANC deputies, he said: "The Scorpions will be dissolved and the organised crime unit of the police will be phased out and a new amalgamated unit created."

Nqakula insisted that tackling organised crime remained a key government priority.

"We need proper measures, better human and material resources to achieve our goals in the fight against all crime," he said.

The Scorpions represents the investigation arm of the national prosecuting authority. However, police view the unit as invading its jurisdiction.

....The Scorpions also led the inquiry into South Africa's police chief and head of Interpol, Jackie Selebi, who has been charged with corruption for accepting bribes from a convicted drug trafficker in return for protecting drug shipments, passing on secret reports from the UK and interfering with a murder inquiry.

Although the disbandment must be still be ratified by parliament, given the ANC's domination, the move seems inevitable.

Islamic extremism rising in Norway.

Terrorism: Via AFTENPOSTEN.

Norway's state police agency in charge of national security (Politiets sikkerhets tjeneste, PST) reported Tuesday that Islamic extremism "will represent a considerable challenge" for Norway in coming years, and that it sees "indications of rising radicalism" both inside and outside the country.

Norway's contribution to NATO forces in Afghanistan is the main reason Norway is now viewed as a "legitimate target" of Islamic extremists, the PST claimed in its latest terrorism evaluation.

The PST, in charge of intelligence gathering in Norway, repeated earlier claims that most Islamic extremist activity in Norway comes in the form of support operations for terrorist activity overseas. It occurs "primarily in the form of money transfers to persons or groups overseas that are believed to be tied to extremist Islamic organizations," wrote the PST in its evaluation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Iguanas the new hotness in the UK.

UK: Yep and 10 years from now the headline will be "IGUANAS OVERRUNS THE UK IN THE WILD!"

Pet shop customers are shunning hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits in favour of iguanas, skinks and newts.

And it's all because of the David Attenborough Effect.

According to the Pets At Home chain of shops, demand for reptiles and amphibians has doubled since the naturalist's BBC series Life in Cold Blood began last month.

Staff warn prospective buyers to check out the costs and problems of owning certain creatures which might require special diets and the right heat and light for 24 hours a day.

They can also live for 20 years or more, and many come from tropical or humid climates and will not survive if released into the wild by owners bored with them.

Next week, Sir David looks at snakes, and Pets At Home is preparing itself for increased demand for popular breeds.

More worrysome and serious is the arrival of the so-called Franken-Fish.

Wellington, NZ Airport turns ugly

World: I really hope no one used public money to pay for this design, it looks like two spoiled pumpkins or they tented the terminals to get rid of bugs. The officials who approved it must have been Australians.

Wellington Airport has unveiled its design for the final element of its international passenger terminal, which it is calling "the Rock".

The unique addition forms only part of its international terminal upgrade, the first stage of which was completed last year.

The second stage, due to be completed in 2009, will feature expanded and redesigned international departure lounge building with extra lounge seating for 660, improved waiting and queuing areas to gates, additional toilets and a new cafe, as well as another airbridge.

Steven Fitzgerald, Wellington Airport CEO, said the $39 million Rock's radical departure from traditional airport design worldwide was entirely deliberate.

"What is set to become New Zealand's newest iconic building, The Rock combines functionality and capacity with what will be a memorable visitor experience."

Mr Fitzgerald said The Rock was edgy and "in keeping with our Wild at Heart attitude, reflecting Wellington's status as a vibrant and daring cultural city."

Even more amazing, the inside of this hideous building is worse on the inside. Its like the Pontiac Aztec of airport terminals.

MSNBC suspends one for Osama/Obama foulup.

Politics: If they have the graphics in alphabetically order, it may be a good thing to move Osama way over to its own category.

The AP's David Bauder reports NBC News reprimanded the employee responsible "for mistakenly flashing a picture of Osama bin Laden on MSNBC as Chris Matthews talked about Barack Obama."

TVNewser first reported the story last night, not long after the mistake happened. MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines tells Bauder, "This mistake was inexcusable." Someone in the network's graphics department, whom MSNBC would not identify, was responsible for the error. The nature of the reprimand is not known.

Bauder reports the Obama campaign immediately called NBC to complain, and Matthews apologized on the air a few minutes later.

Insignificant former CNN producer fights the power.

Media: While bringing truth to power against the evil MSM and Media companies who insult his liberal way of thinking. The gist is Chez Pazienza former producer( of many producers) on American Morning got fired because he was writing a blog that is not allowed under CNN employee policy. Now he is all fired up and ready to take CNN down with the tapping of keystrokes. TvNewser has the summary of the lengthy and really myopic post.

Fired CNN producer Chez Pazienza is firing back on his own blog and on Huffington Post. TVNewser first reported last week about the American Morning producer who was fired after his blogging was discovered.

In a lengthy blog post jointly published on Huffington Post and Pazienza's personal blog last night, he details his entire experience at CNN and the circumstances which led to his firing.

Pazienza's post touches on various aspects of his time at CNN. He describes newsroom meetings, corporate self-evaluations and the general mood at American Morning.

He also called out, by name, some of the big names of his network. "I watched qualified, passionate people worked nearly to death while mindless talking heads were coddled," he wrote. "I listened to Lou Dobbs play the loud-mouthed fascist demagogue, Nancy Grace fake ratings-baiting indignation, and Glenn Beck essentially do nightly stand-up."

One thing that is clear by the end of the post is that Pazienza doesn't seem to be rushing back to television. "The mainstream media doesn't believe that new media can embarrass them, hurt them or generally hold them accountable in any way, and they've never been more wrong," he writes. "I'm suddenly in a position to do all three, and I know now that this is what I've been working toward the last few years of my career."

The guy has an ego a mile long.

I'm dead sure though that my superiors never concerned themselves with my ability or inability to remain objective at work, given my strong opinions; they worried only about an appearance of bias (specifically, a liberal bias), and apparently they worried about it more than any potential fallout from firing a popular blogger with an audience that was already large and was sure to grow much larger when news of his firing put him in the national spotlight.

It's probably right about now that I should make something perfectly clear: I'm not naive -- I always understood that CNN, like any big company, might be apt to fire whoever it damn well pleases so long as the law remains intact at the end of the day.

Should they have fired me though?

Probably not, and only arrogant myopia would make them think otherwise.

I listened to Lou Dobbs play the loud-mouthed fascist demagogue, Nancy Grace fake ratings-baiting indignation, and Glenn Beck essentially do nightly stand-up -- and that's not even taking into account the 24/7 Vaudeville act over at Fox News. I watched The Daily Show laugh not at our mistakes but at our intentional absurdity.

I mentioned calling Jacki Schechner -- so what did she tell me?

"Think about how frustrated and disillusioned most of the American Morning staff is."

Not simply frustrated and disillusioned, but outright miserable.

And then she reminded me that in the past year-and-a-half, nearly 20 mid to high-level people have left American Morning; many of them quit with no other job to go to -- they just wanted out of the business. That speaks goddamned volumes, not simply about the show but about the state of the entire profession.

CNN fired me, and did it without even a thought to the power that I might wield as an average person with a brain, a computer, and an audience. The mainstream media doesn't believe that new media can embarrass them, hurt them or generally hold them accountable in any way, and they've never been more wrong.

I'm suddenly in a position to do all three, and I know now that this is what I've been working toward the last few years of my career.

Awhile back I was watching a great documentary on the birth of the punk scene, it closed with former Black Flag frontman and current TV host Henry Rollins saying these words: "All it takes is one person to stand up and say 'fuck this.'"

I truly hope so, because I'm finally doing just that.

And I should've done it a long time ago.

Now you have four clues to the classic truth to power characteristics in his post. He cites Jon Stewart, garbages Fox News, ends with the Henry Rollins who is fighting the power every day and sees himself as being freed from the chains of corporate America to bring you the reader the wisdom of his words. He got fired because he didn't follow the employee handbook and now thinks of himself as a martyr for the cause. In the words of a great man, " A man has got to know his limitations."

Australia's Immigration minister a bit of a wuss.

Australia: Perhaps he should get an easier job instead of this post which seems to require some confidence and moral values on how to decide immigration cases.

THE Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, is rethinking his godlike sway over the fate of would-be immigrants whose appeals pour into his office at the rate of more than 11 a day.

Pleas for ministerial intervention from refugees and others whose requests to settle in Australia have been rejected by officialdom have soared to more than 4000 a year, more than 10 times the level of 12 years ago.

"I have formed the view that I have too much power," Senator Evans told a Senate estimates committee yesterday. "I think the [Immigration and Citizenship] Act is unlike any other act I have seen in terms of the power given to the minister to make decisions about individual cases.

"I am uncomfortable with that, not just because of concern about playing God, but also because of the lack of transparency and accountability for those decisions and the lack in some cases of any appeal rights against those decisions."

Senator Evans said he believed the ministerial intervention powers were established to be used in rare cases, but had now become "very much the norm".

Intervention by the minister may be sought by those who have exhausted their rights before the Refugee Review Tribunal or the Migration Review Tribunal. Senator Evans said many cases involved difficult decisions such as balancing the rights of children and those with a criminal history. There were "no easy solutions".

Typical center-left politician, hand wriggy and undecided.

David Hicks jihadist diary training revealed.

Terrorism: I could have sworn all his leftist groupies down in Oz said he was misunderstood. Good luck when he snaps and starts shooting up the place.

DAVID Hicks's handwritten "jihad diary" gives new insight into the sophisticated terrorism training he underwent, exploding claims that he was an innocent abroad.

The confessed terrorism supporter used a school exercise book - complete with boy's-own images of fighter aircraft - to write up the detailed instruction he received in weapon use, explosives and military tactics from Islamic extremists in Pakistan.

After describing how "to kill a VIP", Hicks noted that guerilla war involved "sacrifice for Allah". He sketched the mechanism of the telescopic sight of a sniper's rifle and the circuitry of deadly rocket-launched warheads. The exercise book was released yesterday by federal magistrate Warren Donald who, in easing the interim control order covering Hicks since his release from jail last month, found that, on balance, he remained at risk of committing a terrorist act or of undertaking further terrorism training.

Hicks, now living in Adelaide, revealed in the book that he had been trained to carry out armed raids and ambushes, and to designate potential targets including police and railway stations.

....Hicks is believed to have sent his "jihad diary" home to Adelaide before it was seized, along with other documentation, in raids by ASIO and Australian Federal Police on the homes of his parents and other relatives.

The magistrate released a rambling letter to his mother, Susan King, sent soon after he arrived in Pakistan. Hicks said he wanted her to understand why he had taken up arms in an Islamic jihad.

Satan was aligned with Western society, which was "full of poison" introduced by Jews, he wrote. "Muslims fight against Jews and they kill them," he wrote, purporting to quote an Islamic text, the Book of Hadith.

Mr Donald said Hicks's failure to appear at the hearing to confirm the terms of his control order meant the case against him had gone unchallenged.

But lawyer David McLeod said Hicks was still too "fragile" to give evidence in person.

Mr Donald reduced the requirement for Hicks to report to police from three times a week to twice a week, and sliced two hours off his curfew. He allowed Hicks to apply for permission to reside outside South Australia, though he will continue to be barred from travelling overseas.

Mr McLeod said Hicks was no threat to the public.

Yeah, he sounds stable.

Danish Cartoonist ordered to leave hotel.

Denmark: The protestors have won and this is what happens when you don't have the backbone to stand up for yourself.

Copenhagen - Threatened Danish newspaper cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been asked to leave the hotel he has been staying at, media reports said Tuesday. "I suspected this could happen," Westergaard told the Berlingske Tidende newspaper after the hotel management asked him and his wife to leave by Thursday, citing fears for the safety of other guests.

Westergaard's depiction of the Prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban was one of 12 published in newspapers that sparked violent protests in 2006 by Muslims around in the world.

A week ago, security police said they uncovered an alleged plot to murder Westergaard and arrested three men in the city of Aarhus. Two Tunisian nationals face deportation.

Acting on advice from police, the cartoonist has since November lived at secret locations over the alleged plot.

More Muhammad cartoon protests and Danes Muslims don't get it.

Islam:Here we go again.

Egypt banned editions of four foreign newspapers including the New York-based Wall Street Journal and Britain's The Observer for reprinting the controversial Danish cartoons criticizing the Prophet Muhammad, the state-run news agency reported Tuesday.

Two German newspapers, Frankfurter Allgemeine and Die Welt, were also banned, according to the Middle East News Agency, quoting Information Minister Anas el-Fiqi. The papers are only sold in Egypt at newsstands specializing in foreign publications.

The issue of the cartoons, which exploded in 2006, returned to prominence recently when more than a dozen of leading Danish newspapers reprinted the 12 cartoons in a gesture of solidarity after police revealed a plot to kill one of the artists.

...The re-emergence of the cartoon issue also prompted thousands of students to demonstrate in the southern conservative university of Assiut against the insults to Islam's most revered figure.

"Anything but our prophet," students led by their dean and professors chanted while marching around campus. "Jews, Jews, watch out, the army of Muhammed will return," they also said.

Danish Muslims are asking why and still not getting the concept of free speech and expression.

"A lot of people are afraid of Islam today in Denmark and when they are afraid of Islam it means they are afraid of me too," says Sofian, who was born in Denmark but feels he no longer has a future there.

"When the same thing happens again it's tiring and we despair," says Kamran.

"I am hurt, as I was the first time," says Feisal, who works in marketing and was also born in Denmark. He believes the problem is not Danish society but the media.

"The Danish press should have learned from their previous mistakes and the only thing the Muslims are asking for is respect, nothing else".

Feisal says he cannot understand why the media keeps focusing on the idea that Muslims are trying to take their freedom of speech away from them.

"It's the media who started it this time, so I feel a lot of it is their fault," agrees Kamran, who also thinks there has been some positive dialogue with ordinary Danish people.

Der Spiegel: "Obama: The Messiah Factor."

Politics: I will take credit for first calling him Black Jesus, but now even Ze Germans have found religion.

G.I. Joe movie logo. No more American color scheme.

Also no "Real American Hero" tagline. That was the old color scheme most people grew up with in the 80's on the left.

Slash Flims has the logo that has shown up at the New York Toy Fair. It looks like the logo for a sneaker. Very generic looking and still angry about it being some Brussels based group instead of U.S.A

Father 'stones 14-year-old daughter to death'

Iran: It looks like the women in this family never had a chance at anything good in life.

A man known as Sharif has reportedly stoned his fourteen-year-old daughter to death in southeastern Iran because for allegedly having a relationship with a man.

Sharif's wife reported him to police after he and a friend killed the girl in Zahedan, capital of Baluchistan province.

Sharif showed no sign of remorse, telling police who interrogated him: "I suspected that my daughter had a relationship with a man and I had to stone her to death as she had besmirched my honour."

"I had no other choice," he said, telling police how he had carried out the stoning.

Two sisters, Azar and Zohreh Kabiri, 27 and 28 years-old respectively were earlier this month sentenced to death by stoning for allegedly committing adultery.

The women each have one child. They are from the suburb of Shahriar, near Karaj, north of the capital, Tehran.

The Kabiri sisters have already received 99 lashes each.

KLM turns away Geert Wilders

EU: A misunderstanding or something much worse that speaks of KLM mindset?

SCHIPHOL - Airline KLM refused to take Geert Wilders on a flight to Moscow on Monday morning because of problems with the Freedom Party (PVV) leader's security.

After consultation the delegation of which Wilders was a part departed for Russia without him. KLM says that the MP had "specific requests regarding his security." Since these requests had not been submitted to the airline in advance, they could not be met, a spokesperson said.

Wilders denies this vehemently. "There were absolutely no extra requests made. This trip was prepared and they knew I was coming."

Parents Rise Up Against A New Approach to Math

Nation: Yet another deranged new way to do math method hits the schools to make kids worse off by complicating tried and true methods of solving math problems.

The debate over "Investigations in Number, Data, and Space," a Pearson School series used in thousands of elementary classrooms, including some in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Howard counties, is one of the newer fronts in the math wars. Such battles over textbooks and teaching methods are fueled in part by the anxieties of parents who often feel powerless over their children's education, especially in subjects they know.

The curriculum, introduced in the 1990s and updated in a second edition issued last fall, offers one answer to the nation's increasingly urgent quest for stronger elementary math education. The nonprofit organization TERC, based in Cambridge, Mass., developed "Investigations" with support from the National Science Foundation.

Some experts and parents find it wanting. "There's very little substance. I read through all the kindergarten curriculum. It's wishy-washy," said Steve Santee, an engineer whose daughter Olivia is in first grade at Cedar Point Elementary School in Prince William. "My wife and I are very fortunate. She's a former math teacher, and we can teach her all the way up to calculus."

Look at how messed up a kid can get from this nonsense.

One recent day at Springwoods Elementary School in Woodbridge, third-graders used a mix of methods to solve word problems. Some had difficulty grasping what skill to apply for which problem. For instance: "There are 28 desks in the classroom. The teacher puts them in groups of four. How many groups of desks are in the classroom?"

Ilana Cooper and Audrey Mishler teamed up on the problem. Audrey drew hash marks in groups of four on her paper but stalled. She broke out a set of plastic cubes. Maybe her tactile senses could help.

"How about 4 times 28?" Audrey asked Ilana.

"Yeah, that sounds good," Ilana said.

The teacher, Rhonda Ellington, came over. She put cubes into groups of four. A few minutes later, Audrey and Ilana used their fingers to count the groups of cubes. They arrived at 7, the correct answer.

If you were teaching the fundamentals of math, the poor kids wouldn't have to bust out cubes and hash marks to figure out how many groups of desks there are in the first place. Stop screwing around and just educate once in a while.