Saturday, April 5, 2008

Earth Day Weekend. 15,000 powerless in Melbourne, Australia.

Enviro: Via Tim Blair.

The Age: MORE than 15,500 households in metropolitan and outer Melbourne face a bleak weekend as they struggle to get through their fourth day without power.

One power company, Alinta East, was last night unable to guarantee that all its 10,000 customers would be reconnected before Monday.

And another, SP AusNet, said late yesterday that it still had 5500 customers, mainly in the Dandenongs and outer eastern region, without power.

A spokesman said it hoped to return power to several thousand customers at the weekend


Don't get mad, just think of it as saving Mother Earth from your horrid pollution that you create every single day. Somewhere, a polar cub has ice to play on for just a bit longer before it breaks up and it gets eaten by a killer whale or something.

Obama's "100 year war" big lie.

Politics: Via Instapundit.

MIXED MESSAGES CONTINUE:

This afternoon Obama says McCain "wants to continue this war in Iraq maybe for another 100 years," and his traveling press secretary says "John McCain is not a warmonger and should not be described as such."

Obama really needs to quit with that "continue this war for 100 years" line. He's been busted repeatedly on it. Is that a new kind of politics -- to keep repeating a falsehood even after it's been exposed?


Its the big lie on display and you know its bad when even CJR goes after him. But since he is Black Jesus and never wrong it will continue right thru till November without anyone calling him out on the campaign trail.

Footbaths approved for Indianapolis Airport

Culture: Last September this erupted as a ploy for using taxpayers money for a certain religion but as student groups/ACLU did in Michigan they passed it as a sanitation issue even though it is specifically for one religion which is going to cause an issue.

Floor sinks to accommodate prayer requirements for Muslim taxi drivers will be installed at Indianapolis International Airport by fall.

David Dawson, a spokesman for the airport project, said this week that two bathrooms, one for men and one for women, will have the sinks. Both will be in a 900-square-foot building where taxi drivers gather before picking up passengers at the terminal.

Many of the taxi drivers are Muslims who pray five times a day. The prayer involves many rituals, including washing the feet.

Drivers now use hand sinks at the existing terminal, which has caused safety hazards.

"The result of that is there is standing water on the floor and structural stress on the sink," Dawson said.

That created a sanitation problem and was the main reason the floor sinks were proposed, he said.

Osmand Djama, 44, a taxi driver who uses the facility, said about 180 taxi drivers, most of whom are men, use the bathroom, making it unsanitary.

According to Dawson, the cost of the sinks is estimated at $750 each. They are expected to be installed by the end of October, the same time construction on the new midfield terminal should be completed.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Obama and Clinton scared by the Philly Cheesesteak?

Politics: If you can't stand up to a Philly Cheesesteak with whiz, what will you stand up too?

What, no whiz?
Sen. Barack Obama sampled $100 ham, but didn't chow down on a cheesesteak during a visit to the Italian Market yesterday.

During a half-hour tour of the market, Obama sampled wares at Claudio Specialty Food and DiBruno Brothers - where he noshed on a Spanish ham that retails for $99.99 a pound.

Staff at DiBruno's told him the ham only recently became available because it was previously barred by the FDA.

"All I know is it tastes good," Obama said. As good as whiz with onions?

In fact, neither Obama nor Sen. Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has made the traditional stop at South Philly cheesesteak establishments Pat's or Geno's.

But Obama last night told a crowd of supporters gathered at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, "I'm going to get a cheesesteak the next time I come."

Clinton spokesman Mark Nevins said he wanted her "to have an opportunity to visit the Philadelphia landmarks, including the great cheesesteak places."

Are cheesesteak stops more risky today than in the past?

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., was mocked for ordering his sandwich with swiss cheese during his 2004 run for president. And Geno's has recently come under fire for hanging a sign that demands patrons order in English.

"I think some of the places that were must-stops, aren't must stops any more," said political analyst Larry Ceisler. "I think that the Kerry experience was certainly a bad experience and I think the candidates look at that. Also, I don't think they want to take the chance of the immigration issue."

Obama chatted with Claudio owner Sal Auriemma who complained that the weak dollar was hurting shops that import their merchandise.

Obama told him: "You need a new president, somebody who is going to get the economy in shape."


I was thinking they could have stopped at Pats but realized that would make them look like even worse cowards because of the two issues mentioned. Someone is going to eat a cheesesteak if they want to win in Penn, its just tradition.

Speaking of living high on the hog. $99.99 for a pound of ham? In the words of Jules.

"Well we'd have to be talkin' about one charmin' motherf***in' pig. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?"

See-Dubya points out that Obama may not be able to relate to the everyday ordinary foods.

One line that landed a little flat, though, was when Mr. Obama sympathetically noted that farmers have not seen an increase in prices for their crops, despite a rise in prices at the supermarket.

“Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?” the senator said. “I mean, they’re charging a lot of money for this stuff.”

The state of Iowa, for all of its vast food production, does not have a Whole Foods, a leading natural and organic foods market. The closest? Omaha, Minneapolis or Kansas City.

Mr. Obama, perhaps sensing a lack of reaction from the crowd, moved along to the next topic.


I missed out on the whole organic craze, who figured that stuff you could grow in your backyard with soil and manure could be sold for a premium as the healthy alternative for status people.

Children being labeled as sexual harassers

Edumacation: All thanks to stupid zero-tolerance laws. Little kids don't know any better and its all about learning. Half the stuff I did as a kid(FIXED!) would be under harsh penalities these days. They have taken the serious deliberation and thought process out of dishing out punishment for a one size fits all.

In his seven years, Randy Castro has been an aspiring soccer player, an accomplished Lego architect and a Royal Ranger at his Pentecostal church. He also, according to his elementary school record, sexually harassed a first-grade classmate.

During recess at his Woodbridge school one day in November, when he was 6, he said, he smacked the classmate's bottom. The girl told the teacher. The teacher took Randy to the principal, who told him such behavior was inappropriate. School officials wrote an incident report calling it "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive," which will remain on his student record permanently.

Then, as Randy sat in the principal's office, they called the police.

"I thought they were going to take me to prison," Randy said recently. "I was scared."

Prince William County school officials would not comment on Randy's case, citing student confidentiality. They said the call to police was the result of a misunderstanding.

Randy is only one of many children to be dealt with harshly as schools across the country grapple with enforcing new zero-tolerance sexual harassment policies and the fear of litigation.

The Virginia Department of Education reported that 255 elementary students were suspended last year for offensive sexual touching, or "improper physical contact against a student." In Maryland, 166 elementary school children were suspended last year for sexual harassment, including three preschoolers, 16 kindergartners and 22 first-graders, according to the State Department of Education. Statistics for the District were not available.

In 2006, a kindergartner in Hagerstown, Md., was accused of sexual harassment after pinching a female classmate's buttocks. A 4-year-old in Texas was given an in-school suspension after a teacher's aide accused him of sexual harassment for pressing his face into her breasts when he hugged her.

Ted Feinberg, assistant director of the National Association of School Psychologists in Bethesda, said he had never come across a case of sexual harassment in elementary school in his three decades in the schools. To label somebody a sexual harasser at 6 "doesn't make sense to me," he said. "Kids can be exploratory in behavior, they can mimic what they see on TV."

Randy sat on the lower bunk in his bedroom recently and explained what happened Nov. 26 on the playground at Potomac View Elementary School. Katherine DeLeon, a classmate who regularly came over to play, was kneeling on a bench, talking to friends. He said he saw another boy race over to the girl, whack her on the bottom and run away, giggling and pretending he hadn't done it. He did it twice more, Randy said.

Randy said he thought it looked like fun, so he joined in, hitting her and running away twice. "Every time he hit her, she laughed," Randy said. "When I hit her, she told the teacher."

Katherine's mother, Margarita DeLeon, who was contacted by school officials shortly after the incident, said that her daughter didn't like being hit but that she quickly forgot about it. "We didn't pay attention to it, because we know it's just children playing around," she said. "He didn't mean anything by it. I'm upset with the school."

The other problem is you could scar a kid and actually turn him or her into a truly bad kid because of confusion on how to act. You could also turn them into a wallflower.

*update* bleh, fixed the horrid grammar errors.

Fat kids banned from riding the donkeys

UK: You know you got problems when even the mighty sturdy pack animals of the world are saying no mas.

Overweight children are to be banned from riding seaside donkeys, under new rules designed to protect the animals.

In the face of the growing concerns about obesity among the young, children weighing more than eight stone will be barred from enjoying a tradition dating back to the heyday of Victorian seaside resorts.

The rule, in a new code of conduct to save beach donkeys from undue stress, which was drawn up by the British Equine Vets' Association and The Donkey Sanctuary, will apply to every one of the 850 seaside donkeys still working in the country.

Besides banning overweight children, the 2008 code says that donkeys can work only six days a week and must have a full day's rest. They must also have a rest of at least one hour at lunchtime or in the early evening.


There are people who don't have that good a schedule.

Mugabe starts a crackdown.

Africa: He is not leaving quietly if at all as the muscle starts to reassert itself in the form of his thugs.

The ebbing regime of Robert Mugabe began its fightback in earnest last night, launching raids against opposition offices and foreign journalists in what many feared was the start of a campaign of intimidation.

Paramilitary police raided opposition offices at a hotel in central Harare, ransacking rooms as riot police moved in to arrest foreign journalists at a guest house in the capital.

George Sibotshiwe, spokesman of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said that the party’s headquarters in the centre of Harare and offices in Meikles hotel in the capital had been raided. “They took nothing. They simply ransacked the place,” he said.

As many as four journalists were arrested, including a reporter from the New York Times, in a separate raid on Harare’s York Lodge hotel, where many correspondents were staying.

USAToday asks: NBA wealth or college glory?

Sports: Last I checked, glory didn't pay the bills or keep the roof over your head. The problem is a few years down the road, a lot of the young guys coming out are just not ready and their new found wealth is easily pissed away especially with the hanger-ons they have around them.

Chavez Orders Cement Nationalization

World: Another day and another bonehead Chavez move.

President Hugo Chavez has ordered the nationalization of Venezuela's cement industry, saying his government cannot allow businesses to export raw materials needed to tackle a national housing shortage.
Chavez said cement companies will be paid fair compensation for the forthcoming state takeover, which in his comments Thursday he called "a strategic industry."

Most of the cement market in this South American country, which has suffered from a severe housing shortage for years, is supplied by foreign companies.

Mexico's Cemex cement company controls almost half the market. Most of the remaining market is controlled by France's Lafarge and Switzerland's Holcim Ltd.

FIU class chooses beer over term paper

Nation: At least this is a huge step up from those courses about teaching the career of Madonna.

The beer-brewing class at FIU has grown increasingly popular since it was first offered three years ago. Its professor, analytical chemist and wine expert Barry Gump, says the class helps round out his students' knowledge of the food and beverage industry.

`NEW HOBBY'

''I want my students to understand what goes into craft brewing and craft beer,'' Gump said. ``There's nothing wrong with common commercial beer, but craft beer is more flavorful and has more texture.''

He added: ``Plus, they'll have a new hobby. It's something that will always be a conversation piece.''

The ground rules are few. All students must be 21 or older. Each must agree to be serious about beer brewing and tasting.

There's one other rule, but it's unofficial: At the beginning of class, grab a glass and fill it up with the brew du jour. Thursday, it was a clovey German weizen, or wheat beer.

This semester, 17 students are taking part, including Hailey Burke-Morgan. She enrolled hoping to broaden her professional horizons; the 21-year-old hopes to work for a major wine or liquor distributor.

''We usually only study wine and spirits,'' Burke-Morgan said. ``This class is strictly beer -- how you make it, where it's from.''

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ken Livingstone got baby mamas all the place.

UK: Via the Daily Mail.

Ken Livingstone last night sensationally admitted he has fathered three children in secret, in addition to the two he has already.

The London Mayor revealed he has five children by three different women as he tried to pre-empt revelations in a book being published next week about his private life which could dent his bid for re-election.

All are under 18 and the 62-year-old Left-winger is said to play an active part in their upbringing but he refused to provide further details.
Mr Livingstone insisted that he was entitled to keep his family life private.


Dent his chances? This is a resume enhancer in that city.

When did autism become an insurance mandate?

Nation:I'll be the bad guy again. You have a mother in South Carolina who won putting a law in effect to force insurance companies to cover austim. Gov. Crist says insurance companies are making record profit, so let them cover it as well.

Both cases and others around the country, people want insurance companies to cover it. Fine, but are the insurance companies going to be forced to cover every single illness and treatment in existence? What will happen are premiums will go up unless someone limits them which in that case the companies simply go out of business or leave the health insurance sector because it costs too much. This is a backdoor expensive way to socialized medicine.

There is also a ridiculous growth in people who think everything should be free or be covered by companies just because something has happened to them. I am for cutting down health care costs, but this emotional reaction to say "YOU PAY IT!" is going to backfire unless some common sense is involved.

In the end the insurance company always win because we the customers have to pay for everything in the end.

Australia goes back to mining more uranium.

Australia: Pushed by former PM John Howard, Labor came in no more nuke plants and no new uranium. Well, as all slinky skunky governments do, promise one thing, wait a couple of months and break it.

THE Federal Government has quietly resurrected John Howard's plan to expand uranium mining in Australia.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, an enthusiastic industry advocate, has reconvened the Uranium Industry Framework, a hand-picked advisory group appointed by the previous government.

Policies on its agenda include a forthcoming information campaign, paid for by the uranium industry, to address public concern about uranium mining.

The group also wants to introduce national rules for the industry, better training for workers exposed to radiation, and a national register recording mining workers' levels of exposure to radiation.

There is a separate strategy to use uranium mining to improve the economic fortunes of indigenous communities and to improve "engagement" between traditional owners and mining companies.

But Mr Ferguson says the Government will not pursue an idea the previous government flirted with — over-riding state bans in Western Australia and Queensland that prevent new uranium mines or other nuclear activities.

Uranium mining remains an extremely sensitive subject in the Labor Party. An emotional debate at the party's national conference last year resolved, by the narrowest of margins, to drop a long-standing ban on new uranium mines, but Queensland and WA declared they would keep their laws preventing new mines.

Mr Ferguson says Canberra will not override those states, but says it is only a matter of time before mining developments occur in those states, which have large uranium deposits.

"Queensland and Western Australia, at a point, will fall into line," Mr Ferguson said. "The uranium industry will open up."


He says exploration for new uranium deposits is under way in all states, including WA and Queensland, and new mining developments are likely in the Northern Territory.

He says Australian uranium will play an important role in powering nuclear reactors in other countries wanting to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama and the Hijacked Airplanes scenario.

Politics: "Costs and Benefits?" This should be an easy answer for someone in charge but Obama turns it into a lousy answer that must have disappointed his #1 fan Chris Matthews.

Asked about a scenario that sounds like a rerun of 9/11, Obama's first instinct is to say "what you want is somebody who's going to get all the facts and gather good intelligence" and who can weigh the "costs and benefits."

The national security adviser calls the president at three in the morning and tells you a couple of commercial jets have been hijackacked by al Qaeda and are headed toward the Capitol, Matthews asked Obama at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. “What do you do?’’

“Well look,’’ Obama replied, “I am hestitant to engage in hypotheticals like that.’’

But things that like might be predictable, said Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball.

“I don’t think anybody predicted 9/11,’’ Obama said. “And, so, we don't know what kinds of circumstances are going to come up.

''Here's the important thing about that 3:00 a.m. phone call,'' he said. "What you want is somebody who is, first of all, going to get all the facts and gather up good intelligence. The second thing you want is somebody who is able to analyze the situation, the costs and benefits of action.

"We want somebody who is going to be decisive,'' he said. "And I won't hesitate to strike against somebody who would do us harm, if that's what is required.

“If you think about, for example, John F. Kennedy, his biggest mistake was going ahead with military action that hadn’t been thought through,’’ Obama said, in an apparent reference to the Bay of Pigs invasion. “His greatest triumph was actually showing restraint in a very dangerous, difficult situation'' — presumably, the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Sheesh. Three airplanes, al qaeda and heading for the capital. Unless you have remote control to fly the planes down, the answer should be easy if he is all about costs and benefits. Matthews served him up a softball the size of a blimp and he still whiffed.

Obama against concealed carry for Americans.

Politics: As I have said numerous times about Obama and guns rights he is a gun grabber who has not been challenged on it. He gives out these mealy mouth answers about allowing hunters and their weapons but thats about it. He would ban guns in a heartbeat. Its the liberal mindset that the people need to be protected from themselves.

He differs with McCain and Clinton about whether people should be allowed to carry concealed guns. Clinton and McCain oppose outlawing it.

"I am not in favor of concealed weapons," Obama said. "I think that creates a potential atmosphere where more innocent people could (get shot during) altercations."


That is why the dodgy questionnaire is all about Obama, he is at heart a far left liberal concealing his positions.

Six months jail time for raping 13-year-old girl.

Australia: They have some waywood judges serving various aboriginal communities who are letting sex crimes get away with little more than a slap on the wrist.

THE Northern Territory's chief judge has warned men in Aboriginal communities to stop condoning child abuse after a 20-year-old was sent to jail for having sex with his 13-year-old promised bride under her parents' roof.

However, child abuse campaigners yesterday criticised as inadequate the six-month sentence given to the offender by Chief Justice Brian Martin, who accepted that the 13-year-old victim, who fell pregnant as a result of the abuse, had "actively encouraged" the relationship.

Yesterday, in the Supreme Court at Alice Springs, Justice Martin said senior figures in Aboriginal communities "must learn to accept" that sex with children was illegal.

The judge made the comments after acknowledging that both the parents of the victim and offender, as well as senior figures in their remote Aboriginal communities, had accepted the sexual relationship between the 13-year-old child and the man, who was 19 at the time the offences took place, as normal.

Is Rod Blagojevich the next Governor to step down?

Politics: The Rezko trial so far has him being in the center of a lot.

Linking Gov. Rod Blagojevich to pay-to-play politics, the star witness at the corruption trial of Blagojevich fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko said Wednesday that the governor agreed to a plan to cut off state business from a Chicago financier who failed to come up with campaign cash.

Stuart Levine, at the center of the criminal case, said he had been told by Rezko that Blagojevich had signed off on the punishment for Tom Rosenberg, whose equity management firm was trying to work out a $220 million investment deal in 2004 with a state teachers' pension board.

As the deal stalled, Levine testified, Rosenberg began hurling accusations that Rezko and fellow Blagojevich fundraiser Christopher Kelly were putting the screws to him to extract donations for the governor. Levine, a crooked member of the pension panel, said Rezko mapped out a damage-control plan to give Rosenberg what he wanted to shut him up but then lock him out of any new pension investments.

The governor had been briefed on the situation and agreed to the way Rezko wanted to handle it, Levine testified.

"[Blagojevich] felt that this was the last thing that Mr. Rosenberg should get from the state," Levine said Rezko told him.

Mugabe's party loses seats in parliament

Africa: Now to find a way to get him the hell out of there, but the big problem will be his cronies who have lived the good life and will not be easily pushed to the side.

President Robert Mugabe's long-ruling party lost its parliamentary majority Wednesday, bolstering opposition claims that impoverished Zimbabweans voted for change in this struggling southern African nation.

The opposition also claimed victory for leader Morgan Tsvangirai in Saturday's presidential vote, but the state-controlled newspaper predicted a runoff — the first official admission that Mugabe, the nation's autocratic leader of 28 years, had not won re-election.

The Movement for Democratic Change expressed confidence Tsvangirai could win a runoff with an even larger margin, but there were fears an embattled Mugabe would roll out every weapon in his considerable political and government arsenal to stay in power.

Election observer Imani Countess of the Washington-based TransAfrica Forum told The Associated Press that the most frightening conversation she has had in Zimbabwe was with a senior official of the ruling ZANU-PF party discussing a runoff.

"He was very calm and jovial but made it very, very clear that if there was a runoff, that ZANU would use all the state organs at its disposal to ensure victory, and that is very, very worrisome," she said.

New Bill May Speed U.S. Visas for Artists

Immigration: Why? The system to process and obtain visas for everyone is broken and needs to be fix. Giving special consideration to "artists" is a slap in the face.

When it comes to artists trying to obtain visas, notorious performers like Amy Winehouse usually get the headlines. That British soul singer’s application to come to the United States for the Grammy Awards in February was initially denied, with speculation that the refusal was because of her alleged use of illegal drugs.

But as the House of Representatives voted this week to speed up the visa approval process for some foreign artists and entertainers, the heads of arts organization said attention was finally being paid to the real problem: the time, money and complexity involved in getting visas for lower-profile artists, including dancers, singers, musicians and actors.


Go on Youtube or Myspace, if you have talent you will be found.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Is Al Qaeda recruiting Westerners? Duh!

Terrorism: There is this 3 page piece on Newsweek website which asks a stupid question.

"The New Face of Terror; Is Al Qaeda recruiting Westerners to get past U.S. security?

Al Qaeda and every other terror group hit on this idea after 9/11 because it would be easier to get past security and blend in better into society.

Counterterrorism officials in Europe and the United States say that Al Qaeda is not only seeking to recruit Western-born converts like Gelowicz as future terrorist operatives but also native Muslims who can pass for Westerners when going through security checkpoints. A German counterterrorism official told NEWSWEEK that German authorities are doing their best to track suspected militants going to and from the Pakistani border region.

The problem: the most popular travel route for suspects is from Germany to Turkey and then via Iran to Pakistan, and it is very difficult for investigators to determine who among the hundreds of thousands of travelers might be planning an onward journey for terrorist training.

....Gen. Hayden is not the only U.S. official to comment in recent months on the growing threat posed by terrorist recruits with European backgrounds. These suspects may carry European passports, which make them eligible for instant U.S. tourist visas simply by showing up at an American entry port. Earlier this year Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the BBC, "I have to say the biggest threat comes from overseas, and one of the places we are increasingly worried about is Europe."


Converts are considered easier to radicalize because they are eager to show how Muslim they have become to others.

Md. Passes Broad Bills To Stem Foreclosures

Business: The lending industry likes it and if it goes after criminal lenders who defrauded customers so be it.

Maryland lawmakers passed some of the nation's most ambitious legislation to control the housing crisis yesterday by toughening oversight of the mortgage-lending industry and establishing preemptive measures to help people at risk of foreclosure.

Taken together, Maryland's bills are among the most sweeping in the country as legislatures from California to Florida consider proposals to stem the escalating rate of foreclosures.

Components of Gov. Martin O'Malley's legislation package cleared the Democratic-controlled General Assembly yesterday, and other bills advancing in it were widely expected to pass as soon as this morning. O'Malley (D) could sign some of the bills into law this afternoon, and the emergency measures would take effect immediately.

The bills include making the most egregious mortgage schemes subject to criminal prosecution, extending the foreclosure timetable from 15 to 150 days and prohibiting prepayment penalties and transactions in which homeowners are tricked into signing over their houses to third parties.


But looking at some of what has passed and idiot lawmakers demanding a bailout of everyone.

O'Malley's bills have received overwhelming support in the legislature, although some lawmakers from suffering communities questioned whether the measures will do enough to help people who have lost their homes or are behind in their payments.

"They need a federal bailout from Congress," Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George's) said.

Sen. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles) said the state government "just doesn't have the financial wherewithal to really help people out."


In the end it looks like they are going to prop up a bad market without letting it correct itself.

Swiss soccer ref stands by his 'crusader' whistle

World: Well this is a different controversy.

Riyadh, 2 April (AKI) - Swiss football referee Massimo Busacca vowed he would wear a whistle with the Swiss Cross symbol on it during of the Saudi championship on Wednesday, despite anger voiced in the Kingdom at the 'crusader' item.

"I have respect for all religions, including Islam, but I don't see anything offensive in this and am optimistic. I will not give up my 'crusader' whistle," he told pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat.

Many in Saudi Arabia had called for Busacca to sport a different whistle to avoid offending Muslims. He has previously refereed several soccer matches in the Kingdom.

The Swiss Cross is Switzerland's national flag and also forms the world famous Swiss army knife logo.

But Muslims associate the Christian symbol with the bloody medieval crusades to conquer Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

DVDs, farms and pressure cookers for Cubans

Cuba: What is stunning to me is that to the left, especially the hollywood leftists this was paradise on earth and only now they are getting a chance to buy DVD players and pressure cookers for the first time!

The other angle is if the pace keeps up like this it would be a shot in the arm if President Bush loosened the restrictions a bit allowing Cubans to send money to relatives to let them buy this all this merchandise.

Cubans snapped up DVD players, motorbikes and pressure cookers for the first time Tuesday as Raul Castro's new government loosened controls on consumer goods and invited private farmers to plant tobacco, coffee and other crops on unused state land.

Combined with other reforms announced in recent days, the measures suggest real changes are being driven by the new president, who vowed when he took over from his brother Fidel to remove some of the more irksome limitations on the daily lives of Cubans.

Analysts wondered how far the communist government is willing to go.

"Cuban people can't survive on the salaries people are paying them. Average men and women have been screaming that at the top of their lungs for many years," said Felix Masud-Piloto, director of the Center for Latino Research at DePaul University. "Now after many years, the government is listening."

Many of the shoppers filling stores Tuesday lamented the fact that the goods are unaffordable on the government salaries they earn. But that didn't stop them from lining up to see electronic gadgets previously available only to foreigners and companies.

"They should have done this a long time ago," one man said as he left a store with a red and silver electric motorbike that cost $814. The Chinese-made bikes can be charged with an electric cord and had been barred for general sale because officials feared a strain on the power grid.

On Monday, the Tourism Ministry announced that any Cuban with enough money can now stay in luxury hotels and rent cars, doing away with restrictions that made ordinary people feel like second-class citizens. And last week, Cuba said citizens will be able to get cell phones legally in their own names, a luxury long reserved for the lucky few.

The land initiative, however, potentially could put more food on the table of all Cubans and bring in hard currency from exports of tobacco, coffee and other products, providing the cash inflows needed to spur a new consumer economy.


Wait, thats a HD-DVD, don't do it old man!

Fernandez vs Argentine Farmers

South America: Typical leftist, see someone making money, lets tax it and redistribute the wealth. At some point, part of the population becomes the producers while the rest become parasitic organisms demanding to be taken care of by Mommy government.

"Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner urged farmers to end roadblocks and called on her supporters to defend the country's economy.

``Stop hurting Argentines and allow the trucks to travel,'' Fernandez said at a rally in Buenos Aires. ``Let's defend the economic and social achievements we've attained in the past five years with intelligence and democracy.''

About a hundred thousand government backers, some banging drums and waving flags portraying Argentine revolutionary Ernesto ``Che'' Guevara, filled the square in front of the presidential palace today to support Fernandez and pressure farmers to end a 20-day strike over higher export taxes. The farmers didn't say when the strike will end and will hold a rival rally tomorrow in the farming town of Gualeguaychu.

.....Windfall Tax

Fernandez, who succeeded her husband Nestor Kirchner on Dec. 10, has framed the surcharge as a tax on windfall profits based on near-record prices for Argentina's agricultural commodities.

``Let Argentines get food, let factories get supplies and let stores get goods,'' Fernandez asked striking farmers during her speech today in Plaza de Mayo.

``We have to support the president's attempts to redistribute wealth,'' said Carlos Basallo, 33, a nurse who attended the rally with his wife and three daughters. ``I will never forget that five years ago I traveled to work in an empty bus -- now that bus is crowded because there are more jobs.''

The tax on soybeans, the country's biggest export, was raised to as much as 44 percent on March 11 from 35 percent. Economy Minister Martin Lousteau said last night the tax is currently 41.5 percent because it's based on international prices that have recently declined.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Parents demand BBC be their child's caretaker.

UK: I don't like BBC but hell this is just stupid. Put your own damn kid to bed.

The BBC has been inundated with complaints from angry parents of toddlers after it scrapped bedtime transmissions of In The Night Garden, one of its most popular children's shows.

Designed to relax the under-fives before bed, In The Night Garden (ITNG) is a slightly surreal series in the mould of The Magic Garden and Teletubbies, featuring chants and nonsense talk by brightly coloured characters such as Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka.

The BBC's decision on Monday to pull the 28-minute episodes from CBeebies' Bedtime Hour - although they are still broadcast on the same channel in the mornings - has prompted outrage from parents, who have launched a petition on the Facebook website for the evening transmissions to be reinstated.

Ruth Bodycot Wood, one of more than 60 people who had signed it by yesterday afternoon, wrote: "Cbeebies are having a laugh… My four-year-old refused to believe it was bedtime because ITNG hadn't been on and it was daylight outside."

Another parent wrote: "It's a bloody outrage. Bring back In The Night Garden. We miss Igglepiggle."

School cancels show over Muslim students violence.

EU: As more Dutch officials cower like beaten dogs.

NIJMEGEN, 02/04/08 - A school in Nijmegen yesterday cancelled a cartoon exhibition about discrimination following threats by Muslim pupils. Before this decision was taken, the exhibition was already literally destroyed.

Muslim pupils of the ROC Nijmegen, a large school with largely immigrant pupils, pulled cartoons from the walls shortly before these were to be presented officially. They also threatened to set the school alight. The school management decided to call off the opening.

In the exhibition, artists expressed their vision on discrimination in a humorist manner. "My expectation was that the pupils would be able to laugh about it", Ralph Sluis stated. He heads a local anti discrimination organisation. Sluis was the exhibition's coordinator.

A total of fifteen cartoonists worked on the exhibition. According to Sluis, the trouble was sparked by a work by cartoonist Peter de Wit, which shows two women in niqabs, the all-covering Islamic garments.

In the cartoon, one niqabed woman tells the other: "You filthy Muslim". The other one replies: "Yes I know, I'll wash". This woman smells bad, the cartoon shows.

The cartoon's message is that someone is not filthy if they wear a niqab. "A small group of pupils interpreted the cartoons in an entirely different way than the artist intended", Sluis stated.


The ability of debating without resorting to violent threats seems lost on Dutch Muslims which casts a bad light on every other Muslim.

Film 'Worse than Fitna' Abandoned over Fatwa Fear

EU: The animated film has been abandoned because of fears of a fatwa and the inability of the Dutch government to protect him and his family. The way the Dutch government is acting they would have given him to Iran as an appeasement offering.

THE HAGUE, 02/04/08 - Ehsan Jami is not to release his animation film The Life of Mohammed. After consultations with his advisors, Jami is abandoning the plan to show his film, which was to be released on 20 April.

"Minister Hirsch Ballin (Justice) has stated that he fears the film will drive a wedge through our society. That was never my intention", said Jami. He added however that he does not believe the Dutch government is capable of protecting him against death threats.

One of Jami's advisors is philosopher and columnist Afshin Ellian. Like Jami, Ellian was born in Iran. Last week, Ellian stated that the young Jami (22) perhaps failed to recognise the consequences of the release of his animation film for his safety.

The abandoned film contains a drawing depicting the prophet Mohammed with an erection. He is seen leading a 9 year old girl to a mosque bearing a swastika, in order to have sex with her. According to Jami, the cartoon represents the story of Mohammed who marries Aisha, as described in the Koran.

In his own columns, Ellian criticises Islam and Dutch appeasement politics on an almost daily basis. In spite of this, he advised Jami to abandon the film because Jami will likely be faced in his view with a Fatwa similar to the one issued against Salman Rushdie following the publication of his book The Satanic Verses.

Ellian believes Ayatollahs will judge The Life of Mohammed much more harshly than MP Geert Wilders 'film Fitna, which came out last week. This is partly due to Jami being a former Muslim and an Iranian, thereby increasing the risk of a Fatwa. Also, he is not an MP as Wilders is.

Rev. Wright going to live with RICH WHITE PEOPLE!!!!

Nation: Go Rev. Jeremiah Wright! All those years spitting on RICH WHITE PEOPLE!!!!! decrying middleclassness and all that funky wannabe radicalism you spewed out every Sunday and conspiracy theories, where do you retire too? Not with the people to keep on fighting the good fight but to a gated community with a million dollar plus home.

"....Barack Obama had hoped the retirement of his fire-breathing pastor would put the controversy to rest. But the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is retiring in luxury — with all the trappings of the white "middleclassness" he warns his flock to avoid.

Wright is forsaking South Side Chicago and the black ghetto for a gated golf club community in Tinley Park, an affluent suburb. The area has seen a boom in growth from mostly non-Hispanic whites buying upscale homes in new subdivisions like Wright's adopted Odyssey Club neighborhood, which boasts some of Tinley Park's largest homes and a mix of townhomes. It adjoins the Odyssey Country Club and golf course.

"It's really suburban sprawl," said Michael Mertens, Tinley Park's economic development director. "It's a lot of people wanting their own homes and more space."

Nothing wrong with that; it's the American dream. Except that Wright has condemned that dream (along with America) in sermons he's delivered to the 8,000 mostly black congregants of Trinity United Church of Christ. He says it's all part of a white conspiracy to get blacks hooked on middle-class materialism and separate them from the inner-city and their African roots.

He also preaches the gospel of "Black Liberation Theology," a false Christian doctrine promulgated by Marxist-leaning black writers of the 1960s that espouses "economic parity" and other collectivist claptrap.

The concept of practicing what you preach is apparently lost on Wright.

After decades of lecturing blacks to remain loyal to the black ghetto and eschew the white suburbs, he's now building a 10,340-square-foot mansion in the white suburbs. Among its amenities: an elevator, a rubberized exercise room and room for a future theater and indoor swimming pool.

Wright has made a lucrative career of convincing other blacks they can't succeed on their own. For decades, he's collected their alms in exchange for a steady diet of bitterness and resentment.

Shouting "God damn America" for its treatment of blacks, Wright got his parishioners hooked on misplaced anger in the South Side so he could cash out in Tinley Park.

Perhaps this is "sharing in the prosperity," as Obama has so eloquently rephrased redistribution of income. Funny how those who demand economic parity end up taking the biggest share."


His flock is a bunch of suckers. 10 to 1 he is driving a 300 around. Wright played up the paranoia and now that he has the ability he is going to retire in the same "evil" scenario he told others not to do. But considering the amount of black elites that called Trinity home for so many decades, it was all just a show of keeping it real.

Wealthy residents enrolled in N.J. health program for poor

Nation: Its New Jersey, what did you expect? A well runned over bloated complicated welfare program?

The audits, which come with state struggling to pay for health care for the poor and uninsured, found:

, Some beneficiaries failed to report all income on NJ FamilyCare applications. Applicants authorize the program to match applications with their tax return, but the state isn't checking all tax files, allowing people with incomes of $295,000, $186,000 and $177,700 to enroll.

, About 13,000 NJ FamilyCare participants weren't sent renewal applications, though regulations require eligibility be determined annually. The audit found $43.1 million was paid to these participants from July 2005 to September without knowing if they remain eligible.

, The state failed to try to collect $4.6 million owed to NJ FamilyCare by 16,300 people.

, The state paid $2.1 million from July 2005 to December for medical equipment that should have been paid for by nursing facilities.

, The state is failing to monitor medical equipment providers. For example, it found a provider billed the Medicaid program $30,000 for 48,000 adult incontinence briefs, though the audit found only 10,000 briefs were purchased. Auditors said they've referred this and other examples to state criminal investigators.

, The state isn't properly calculating Medicaid reimbursements. For instance, auditors found the state paid $8,181 for a wheelchair that should have cost $5,705.

, The state spent $6.7 million in state and federal money more than was needed to rent oxygen equipment and buy adult incontinence briefs.

, The state, from July 2005 to December, sent as many as three blood pressure monitors to Medicaid patients, even though many come with warranties and are replaced for free by drug store chains. The audit found the state could have saved $100,000 by denying these claims.

"The audit's findings are very troubling," said Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Morris. "They call into serious question the state's competence to run health insurance programs."

Corzine will just raise taxes somewhere to fit the shortfall, residents will whine and just keep voting in more tax and spend liberals. Lets be honest, most of these people who vote for those kinds of politicians want a handout.

Cubans can now stay at their own hotels.

Cuba: What? You didn't know that Cubans were banned from their own hotels and weren't allowed cell phones or DVD players? You actually believe those Hollywood types who called it paradise? Whatever Raul is doing, these are some curious moves. I am guessing more a Chinese type economy in the coming years.

Raul Castro's government opened luxury hotels and resorts to all Cubans Monday, ending a ban despised across the island as "tourist apartheid" and taking another step toward the creation of a consumer economy in the socialist state.

Cuba has made a series of crowd-pleasing announcements in the past few days. Cubans with enough cash will be able to buy computers, DVD players and plasma televisions starting Tuesday, and soon they'll even be able to have their own cell phones - consumer goods only companies and foreigners were previously permitted to buy.

But the latest surprise, allowing ordinary citizens into luxury hotels and resort beaches long reserved for rich foreigners, is a particularly symbolic victory for Cuba's everyman.

"I was born here and live here. I believe, as a Cuban, I have the right to it all," said Elizabeth Quintana, a Havana resident. "It's good. Really good."

While there was no official word from the government, hotel employees said Ministry of Tourism officials told them that as of Monday, Cubans can stay in hotels and resorts across the island, and pay to use gyms, hair salons and other previously off-limit facilities. Cubans can even rent cars for the first time.

For now, few Cubans can afford a night at a hotel on a government salary, but that could change if Castro succeeds in increasing his citizens' spending power.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Obama's political mentor pork filled politician.

Politics: If this was a Republican, all hell would break loose. But now he is considered an important ally who got things done.

Emil Jones Jr. helped Obama master the intricacies of the Legislature. When Democrats took control of the state Senate, Jones, though he risked offending colleagues who had toiled futilely on key issues under Republican rule, tapped Obama to take the lead on high-profile legislative initiatives that he now boasts about in his presidential campaign.

And when Obama wanted a promotion to the U.S. Senate, Jones provided critical support that gave the little-known legislator legitimacy, keeping him from being instantly trampled by the front-runners.

"He's been indispensable to Barack's career. He wants to see a black president before he gets called home," said fellow state Sen. Rickey Hendon, a Democrat.

While Obama got vital help from Jones, the two men have sharply different political styles, and Jones may not be a political asset in a White House campaign.

Jones, 72, is an unabashedly old-school politician. A former sewer inspector for the city of Chicago, Jones has relatives on the state payroll, steers state grants to favorite organizations and uses his clout to punish enemies and bury GOP legislation.

Obama supporters see the alliance as an example of Obama's ability to get things done by working with all kinds of people. Critics see it as hypocrisy -- Obama refusing to speak out against the kinds of abuse he claims to oppose.


How come getting things done seem to be little more than you scratch my back and I will return the favor.

As Senate president, Jones assigned Obama to handle major, headline-grabbing legislation.

At a time when flaws in the state's death penalty system had created a furor, Obama was picked to negotiate a bill requiring police to record their interrogations in murder cases. He was also put in charge of long-discussed legislation to curb racial profiling in traffic stops and was a key player in a new ethics overhaul.

These were complicated issues and Obama's Senate hopes could have been damaged if he had failed. But he passed them all with overwhelming support and still cites them as evidence of his ability to find common ground among groups with sharp differences.

State Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, laughingly accuses Jones of a little "bill-jacking" -- taking issues that other senators had been working on and giving them to Obama. Trotter, for instance, said he had hoped to be named chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee but the job went to Obama instead.

In an e-mail, Obama described Jones "a powerful advocate for those who need a voice" and someone with "passion for public service."

Critics offer a different picture.

When Jones married a state employee, she suddenly got a 60 percent raise. His son got a state job that wasn't advertised to the public. A nephew and stepson got computer consulting jobs from a college that received a $4.5 million grant for computing needs.

He has blocked bills sponsored by legislators who challenge him, and dug up an obscure Senate rule to reverse the passage of a consumer-friendly measure opposed by electric companies that had donated to his campaign.

Abner Mikva, a longtime Obama friend and former legal counsel to President Bill Clinton, rejects the idea that Obama should shun Jones and other similar politicians.

He argues Obama was smart to learn from Jones and pass important laws with him, while keeping a distance from Jones' ethical problems.

"Purists usually end up dying pure but without many accomplishments," he said. "True reformers learn how to build coalitions."


Even when those coalitions are nothing more than pigs at the taxpayers trough making themselves fat.

States Are Hit Hard by Economic Downturn

Nation: Women and children hardest hit by cuts.

"State budgets have been hit hard by a worsening national economy, including rising costs for energy and health care. In addition, fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis -- declining home sales, deflated property values and mounting foreclosures -- has caused a slide in states' anticipated tax receipts. Revenue from property taxes, sales taxes and real estate transfer taxes is affected.

At least half of the nation's states are facing budget shortfalls, some of them severe, and policymakers in most of the states affected are proposing and passing often-painful measures to trim costs and close the gaps. Spending on schools is being slashed, after-school programs are being curtailed and teachers are being notified of potential layoffs. Health-care assistance is being cut for the elderly, the disabled and the poor. Some government offices, such as motor vehicle department locations, will start closing on weekends, and some state workers are receiving pink slips.

Some analysts worry that the impact is being felt disproportionately by the most needy.

"It's disappointing, the extent they tend to focus their cuts on the most vulnerable," said Iris J. Lav, deputy director of the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank that monitors state budget issues. "It does appear to disproportionately affect low-income people."

Unlike the federal government, which can run deficits, almost all states are required by their own laws and constitutions to balance their budgets. Many states are just now hammering out their budgets, so some targeted programs could still be saved in last-minute negotiations.

In most states, talk of raising taxes has become politically perilous, particularly with residents already hurting from falling housing values and a worsening economy.

Only half a dozen states have approved, or are considering, tax increases, including Maryland and Michigan, both of which raised taxes in 2007. In New Jersey, which has a $3 billion deficit, Gov. Jon S. Corzine (D) has proposed eliminating or reducing most property tax rebates. In New York, facing a $5 billion shortfall, an idea in the General Assembly for a new income tax for people making more than $1 million per year died last week after the Republican-controlled Senate, and Gov. David A. Paterson (D), strongly opposed it.

Instead of raising taxes, most states with shortfalls are curtailing services, and the effects are already being felt nationwide. Some of the most dramatic cuts are being made in California, Maine and Rhode Island, according to budget experts, with New Jersey not far behind."

....A recent 50-state survey by the Associated Press showed that hundreds of thousands of poor children, the disabled and the elderly stand to have their health coverage eliminated as a result of budget cuts, and more than 10 million people would lose access to dental care, specialists and name-brand prescription drugs.

Budget experts said they see a repeat of the pattern that happened during the recession of 2001: States generally cut health services and medical benefits first, because these costs are often rising more rapidly than others, and the savings tend to be immediate.

Subsidies to higher education are also a favored target for budget cuts -- mainly because policymakers often believe that universities can find money from other sources, such as private donations or higher tuition.


Governments are crack heads and tax revenue funds the spending addiction. None of these state thought maybe the booming economy and higher tax revenue may come to an end, perhaps we should think about saving and more importantly not spending so much.

Instead wash, rinse and repeat. Money comes in, spending skyrockets, economy goes down, tax revenue falls and now moaning and crying because they were not fiscally responsible in the first place.

Obama and the dodgy questionnaire comes up again.

Politics: Via Instapundit and HotAir.

POLITICO:

During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion– positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he’s projected during his presidential campaign.

The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group’s detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.

Late last year, in response to a Politico story about Obama’s answers to the original questionnaire, his aides said he “never saw or approved” the questionnaire.

They asserted the responses were filled out by a campaign aide who “unintentionally mischaracterize(d) his position.”

But a Politico examination determined that Obama was actually interviewed about the issues on the questionnaire by the liberal Chicago non-profit group that issued it. And it found that Obama – the day after sitting for the interview – filed an amended version of the questionnaire, which appears to contain Obama’s own handwritten notes adding to one answer.


Busted. (Via Hot Air, which notes "Those positions won’t even fly with a large number of Democrats, let alone in a general election. The Hillary Clinton campaign has already begun making the argument to superdelegates that Obama holds extremist views so out of touch with the American electorate that he can’t possibly win in November. The questionnaire will bolster that argument, especially on guns, where the Democrats had tried to soften their stance since Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee in 2000.") This also underscores Obama's disturbing tendency to scapegoat his own staff rather than take responsibility, something he's demonstrated on more than one occasion.
posted at 08:33 AM by Glenn Reynolds

This story about the questionnaire adds the final piece that was raised last year by USATODAY which the group that gives it out said his excuse that an aide filled it in sounded bogus.

IVI-IPO officials say it's inconceivable that Obama would have let a staffer turn in a questionnaire with incorrect answers. The group interviewed Obama in person about his answers before endorsing him in that 1996 legislative race, and he didn't suggest then, or anytime since, that the questionnaire needed to be corrected, they said.

Tapper at ABC lists numerous instances where Obama blames his staff for a screwup.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, campaigning in Idaho over the weekend said "there are people who say, `Well, he doesn't believe in the Second Amendment,' even though I come from a state — we've got a lot of hunters in downstate Illinois. And I have no intention of taking away folks' guns."
In 1996, however, Obama said in a questionnaire that he "supported banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns" -- a fairly extreme position.

"Well he has to speak to his own record, which has obviously changed over a relatively short period of time," shot Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.

HOWEVER, it should be pointed out that this appears to be yet another example of Obama not being able to get good help.

You guessed it -- his campaign says this questionnaire was filled out incorrectly by a staffer. (Read more on that HERE.)

We've been following Mr. Obama's "The Buck Stops Over There" blame-his-staff trend since last June and, more recently, in December.

Bang bang.


BTW, lets be clear about Obama and guns, he is a gun grabber of the highest liberal order.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

David Hicks wants to profit from his story.

Terrorism: Poor guy, I would feel sorry for him except for the part that he is an Al Qaeda supporting Jew hating Taliban loving terrorist. I do want to see him try to explain all of his activities as youthful mistakes.

FORMER Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks has told supporters he should be able to profit from telling his story because he never committed a crime.

Hicks - a convicted terrorism supporter - was allowed to talk publicly about his experiences for the first time after a US-imposed gag order expired yesterday, but he has remained tight-lipped.

Adventurer and businessman Dick Smith revealed Hicks wants to profit from his story - predicted by media analysts to be worth up to $1 million.

Hicks said he agreed to a plea bargain in a US military commission only to avoid being "locked up forever" after spending more than five years at Guantanamo Bay.

"He says he has never supported terrorism but the reason he agreed with the plea bargain is that if he didn't sign up he would be locked up forever," said Mr Smith, who has mentored Hicks since his prison release.

"He says to me that he has never ever supported terrorism and that it is quite unfair that he shouldn't even earn $5 an hour to write his book, and I said: 'Well, that is how it is'."

"My personal advice is earn nothing from it. Tell your story and remain poor," he said.

Hicks' father, Terry, said the gag order and proceeds-of-crime laws had frustrated his son since his release from Adelaide's Yatala prison.

"He is frustrated at these so-called laws brought out to stop him from doing things," he said.

"This is something he can't understand."

Newsweek to lose 111 staffers

Media: As the old liberal dinos circle the wagon trying to stay viable in a changing media world. It makes for great entertainment.

Chinese nationals angry over Tibet coverage.

Tibet: A big rally in Toronto organized by Chinese students though Tibet supporters say its the Chinese government.

Several hundred people rallied at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday afternoon at a rally reportedly organized by Chinese students wishing to show support for their homeland.

The group waved both Chinese and Canadian flags and chanted "One China!" while patriotic Chinese music played on boom boxes.

Demonstrators said China has been unfairly portrayed by the media during the recent violent clashes with Tibetan monks.

"We just want to let the Western media know ... not to twist the truth," said Chinese student Jeff Wang.

"Propaganda, just propaganda," said pro-China demonstrator Yang Chao. "If you know the truth about what's really happening in China, it's nothing like what's being reported."

But Tibetan supporters and peace activists denounced the rally, saying the Chinese Consulate forced visa students to organize the event.

"I think it's a scam, I think it's a shame," said activist Dora Nipp. "They are visa students, and they are students who are being controlled by the Chinese Consulate here. They were down in Chinatown buying flags because that's what they're told to do."

"The pressure from the Chinese government, the long-arm of the Chinese government, stretches all the way here to Toronto," said Tibetan-Canadian Tenzin Bhuti.

Those who attended the pro-China event denied the event was staged.

"That's absolutely not true," rally spokesman Alexander Lao said of the allegations. "This event was organized by a bunch of students."


Other students are taking to the internet to express their anger.

From YouTube videos to Facebook to Web sites created to criticize news reporting, the message is emphatic: Western media are irresponsible and Tibet will never be independent.

"To all you bandwagon jumpers who know nothing about chinese history and to all you bashers, let me give you some solid FACTS why Tibet was, is and always will be a part of China," says the opening statement of a video on YouTube that the site says was viewed nearly 2 million times by Saturday.

The protests, led by monks, began peacefully on March 10, the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. They erupted in violence on March 14. The Chinese government says 22 people have died, while Tibetans abroad put the death toll at 140.

The unrest has cast a harsh light on China just as it prepares for the Beijing Olympics. Foreign governments have called for restraint and for independent monitors to ensure human rights are respected.

"Imagine everyday you open the news and it's all saying bad and biased words towards your motherland: crackdown, killing, burning," Liu Yang, a graduate student in biology at the University of Chicago, said in an e-mail.

"I don't understand, they struggle for press freedom and fairness, but why would they lose their conscience now?" she wrote. "Isn't the media independent, instead of being a mouthpiece?"

College professors and several students agreed the sentiment wasn't confined to just a few fervent patriots.

"Most of my friends here hold similar views," said Kevin He, a doctoral candidate who is president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association at UCLA. "I have been talking about this issue with people from other organizations across the North America. They pretty much share the same opinions."

Trinidad lawmakers in laptop spat

Trinidad: Again showing how not serious the government is in T&T, you have this ridiculous nonsense.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad - Trinidad's main opposition leader has been suspended from parliament after he failed to ask permission to use his laptop computer during a debate and ignored a request to put it away.

Party leader and former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday then refused to leave the building Friday after legislators voted 23 to 11 in favor of his suspension. The house speaker summoned police, but several supporters surrounded Panday, preventing authorities from reaching the silver-haired legislator.

Lawmakers did not come to blows, but the session was canceled amid yelling from both sides.

The parliamentary speaker has the power to implement a rule that legislators need his approval before using any electronic devices, and their use must be related to the debate. It is unclear why Panday was using his computer.

Panday said he will attend parliament's next session, despite an order prohibiting him from doing so.


Murder and crime rate is sky high, people are leaving the country in droves and this becomes a pressing matter.

Mugabe clings to power as he gets a beating at the polls.

Africa: You know its bad when you rig the vote and you still a whooping at the voting booth.

Robert Mugabe's grip on power in Zimbabwe looks to be loosening.

Opposition leaders claimed to have ended his 28 years of brutal and economically-disastrous rule with a sweeping election victory.

But there were fears that the 84-year-old dictator may be planning to defy the result of Saturday's poll and launch another crackdown.

His spokesman warned that "premature" victory claims by the opposition would be seen as an attempted coup, adding ominously: "We all know how coups are handled."

The government's failure to announce any results and Mugabe's unexpected absence from public view fuelled the belief he had been badly beaten at the ballot box, despite widespread vote-rigging.

There were reports that his military leaders had been called to a crisis meeting, and riot police and other security forces were sent into the densely populated suburbs of the capital, Harare, where opposition support is strong.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, insisted last night: "We have won this election. This trend is irreversible."

UK: Muslim convert kicks people off bus to pray

UK: Obviously missed the lessons of doubling prayer time if you missed it somewhere along the line. He needs to be fired, you have a job to do and just because you screwed up your prayer time doesn't mean everyone else has to suffer for that mistake. Beyond arrogant and a disgrace.

A MUSLIM bus driver told stunned passengers to get off so he could PRAY.

The white Islamic convert rolled out his prayer mat in the aisle and knelt on the floor facing Mecca.

Passengers watched in amazement as he held out his palms towards the sky, bowed his head and began to chant.

One, who filmed the man on his mobile phone, said: “He was clearly praying and chanting in Arabic.

....Yesterday the driver, who said his name was Hrun, told The Sun: “I asked everyone to get off because I needed to pray. I was running late and had not had time.

“I pray five times a day as a Muslim — but I don’t normally ask people to get off the bus to do it.”

Muslims pray at pre-dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and evening.

A spokesperson for bus company London United said: “We are aware of a reported incident involving our route 81.

“We are currently undertaking a full investigation into the matter.”

Detroit Attorney Office recused from the Al-Hanooti case

Nation: The entire place has excused itself. How does that happen that not one person in that place can be a part of this trial? When will someone outside of Detroit take a look at what is possible incestious relations that may have damaged this office?

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit confirmed Thursday the entire Detroit office has been recused from the Al-Hanooti case, but officials would not say why. The case is instead being handled by government lawyers from Washington, D.C.

The indictment alleges that an ex-Iraqi Intelligence Service officer asked a former official with the Life for Relief -- Muthanna Al-Hanooti -- to publicize the damage of U.S. sanctions. As part of that, the indictment alleges, Al-Hanooti helped organize a trip to Iraq by a congressional delegation. Al-Hanooti allegedly received a potentially lucrative oil contract from Saddam's regime in return for his services.

The indictment alleges that Life for Relief paid $34,000 for the trip, but then was secretly reimbursed by the Iraqi Intelligence Service through an intermediary.


Via Powerline.

Obama: Having babies is a punishment.

Abortion: I will call it a Freudian slip only because unlike Tong Phuoc Phuc a couple of posts down, sex education and availability is a means to an end so women will not have abortion. Obama thinks abortion is part and parcel of sex education and should be just another procedure that society shouldn't make a fuss over. Ben Smith who is one of these Obama lovers fails to see that point and praise him for his middle of the road evasive answer.

Out in western Pennsylvania, the issue of abortion can strike a nerve. Democrats there often describe themselves economic liberals and social conservatives who favor gun rights and oppose abortion rights.

So, it was not unusual to see a woman stand near the end of Barack Obama’s town hall meeting in Johnstown, Penn., and offer a hurried, passionate plea for him to "stop these abortions."

The ability of politicians like Obama to thread the needle between their own support of abortion rights and their constituents' opposition can be deteminative in Pennsylvania. And Obama, who supports abortion rights, handled the questioner deftly.

"This is a very difficult issue, and I understand sort of the passions on both sides of the issue," he said. "I have two precious daughters — they are miracles."

But politicians must trust women to make the right decisions for themselves, he said.

"This is an example where good people can disagree," the Illinois senator said. "The question then is, are there areas that we can agree to that everybody can get behind? We can all agree that we want to reduce teen pregnancies. We can all agree that we want to make sure that adoption is a viable option."

The exchange appeared to be prompted by Obama's earlier comments that he does not favor abstinence-only education, but rather comprehensive sexual education that includes information on abstinence and birth control.

"Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old," he said. "I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information."

Flirting females baffle men, say researchers

Culture: We are men, of course flirting women are lost on us. Unless it relates to sports, signs and signals confuse us while small talk confuses us while trying to figure out if its a yes or will this be a pepper spray night over a misunderstanding.

Just make it easier for men by just coming on to us in a lustful manner so we are sure of your intentions. There is still a chance it will baffle us, but no harm in trying.

But research suggests that the flirty female is wasting her time. Men, it seems, are blind to the subtle seduction techniques of the opposite sex.

Short of pouncing on the object of her lust, a woman's non-verbal signals of sexual interest often prove sadly lost on the young male brain, according to a study to be published next month in Psychological Science.

Researchers at Indiana University used nearly 300 undergraduates of both sexes to test students' abilities to spot a come-on. The students were asked to view images of women and categorise them as friendly, sexually interested, sad or rejecting.

Each undergraduate reported on 280 photographs, which had been sorted into the four categories based on surveys by different groups of students.

Male students scored worse for accuracy than females - and they were particularly confused by amiability and amorousness. The men commonly mistook women's sexual signals as merely friendly and were prone to see friendliness as a blatant advance.

According to the researchers, rather than going through life thinking: "She wants me", men often find themselves trying to navigate a foreign world of social signals without a phrasebook.

Kathy Lette, the best-selling author, said the research was further evidence of women's superiority. "Women are fluent in body language, men just have the gift of the grab," she said.

"It is really confusing for women. The average bloke either doesn't realise that we fancy them until we are giving birth to their children in the labour ward; or he presumes all women fancy him all the time.

The Big Apple's Little Boom

Culture: How shocking, if a city is not a crime ridden drug infested hell hole with crap schools, parents will more likely stay there with their kids. Amazing. The income level of this select group shouldn't be too surprising considering it is Manhattan we are talking about here.

"Once upon a time, Manhattan was an island of adult thrills and vices. In the national imagination, it was a place of artists, musicians, socialites, Wall Street bankers -- or of hustlers, runaways, addicts, murderers. But it was not on the radar of the typical white, middle-class couple as a place to raise children.

Now demographers say Manhattan is increasingly a borough of babies, and more and more of them are white and well-off.

The number of children younger than 5 in Manhattan has increased about 30 percent since 2000, said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. The increase is driven by white toddlers, whose numbers have gone up by 60 percent, according to the 2000 census and the 2006 American Community Survey, he said. For the first time since the 1960s, young white children outnumber their black or Hispanic counterparts in Manhattan, demographers say.

"It's surprising," Frey said. "It's a selective part of the white population, a lifestyle of people who want to have children and can afford to live in the city."

Indeed, according to Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College, the median household income for this group of children was $280,000 in 2005.

In a reversal of a decades-long trend of flight to the suburbs, affluent couples are deciding to stay, at a time when crime is low, some schools have improved and urban life has a new allure, said Kenneth T. Jackson, a professor of urban history at Columbia University.

That decision, a sign of rapid gentrification, is being repeated in several cities, such as Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and the District, all areas where the numbers of young, white children have risen at a much higher rate than the numbers of young children overall -- figures that in some cases have even decreased."


But on the other hand...

Already, some of the unlikeliest sections of Manhattan have become havens for white babies.

Alphabet City in the East Village, which a decade ago was famous for its post-punk scene and its heroin markets, now is rife with hipster preschools for tattooed and pierced rock-and-roll parents, and baby boutiques that sell $112 onesies made by Italian designers.


Yeah...can't wait for this bunch to come of age and infect society.

Vietnam man runs 'abortion orphanage'

Abortion: Tong Phuoc Phuc is doing one helluva a job and a great inspiration to others with his selfless act.

The 41-year-old Catholic from the coastal town of Nha Trang has opened his door to unwed expectant mothers in a country that logs one of the world's highest abortion rates. In 2006, there were more than 114,000 abortions at state hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City—outnumbering births.

Most pregnant, unmarried Vietnamese women have few options. Abortion is a welcome choice for many who simply cannot afford to care for a baby or are unwilling to risk being disowned by their families.

The communist government calls premarital sex a "social evil." Abortion, however, is legal and performed at nearly every hospital. And unlike in some Western countries where the issue is hotly contested, the practice stirs little debate here.

But shelters for women who want to keep their babies are rare. Phuc promises them food and a roof until they give birth, and then cares for the children until the mothers can afford to take them. In the past four years, he's taken in 60 kids, with about half still living in his two houses.

"Sometimes we have 10 mothers living here ... sleeping on the floor," says Phuc, a thin man with dark, weathered skin and teeth stained brown from years of smoking. "The problem is that a lot of young people live together and have sex, but they have no knowledge about getting pregnant. So they get abortions."

Phuc says he made a deal with God seven years ago when his wife encountered complications while in labor with their son. He vowed that if they were spared, he would find a way to help others. As his wife lay recuperating after the difficult birth, he recalls seeing many pregnant women going into the delivery room but always leaving alone.

"I was wondering, 'where are the babies?'" he says, cradling an infant in each arm. "Then I realized they had abortions."

Phuc, a building contractor, started saving money to buy a craggy plot of land outside town. He then began collecting unwanted fetuses from hospitals and clinics to bury in graves on the property. At first, doctors and neighbors thought he had gone mad. Even his wife questioned spending their savings to build a cemetery for aborted babies.

But he kept on, and now some 7,000 tiny plots dot the shady hillside, many marked with bright red, pink and yellow artificial roses.

"I believe these fetuses have souls," says Phuc, who has two children of his own. "And I don't want them to be wandering souls."

Read it.

Here are pics of the cemetary where he buries the aborted babies. A Sobering reminder.