Sunday, September 30, 2007

Burmese Bloggers Record the Unrest

As the crisis in Myanmar (Burma) unfolded before the eyes of the world, the response was underwhelming. The UN has done nothing while the people of Burma wait for some international response, some support from the outside world to the chaos and suffering.


Monks marching peacefully and citizens who gathered in the streets seeking democracy and basic human freedoms were shot down by junta troops. There is no official death count, no official count of innocent people beated and killed because soon after the crackdown, the Burmese government began shutting down the blogs of individual bloggers identified as dissidents and by Friday had completely shut down the Internet to allow access to only government websites.

But there are still a few free voices out there. ko htike's prosaic collection is the blog of a student in London whose blog contains many disturbing stories and images of the crisis as well as a listing of names, addresses and ages of people known to have been killed in the protest. I would warn you about the graphic images, but I think everyone needs to see them.

Another blog that is chronicling and supporting the dissident bloggers is Burmese Bloggers Without Borders. I quote their mission statement here:

When certain significant events unfold unexpectedly, we can no longer sing only melodious tunes. Instead, we find ourselves gathering whatever strength we can find, to survive in the turbulence of historical flame. Regardless of where we may be, we are bounded by our love for Burma. Freedom is our sky. Justice is our life. Peace is our nature. We create this blog to share our genuine feelings about Burma and its path to freedom.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cruise Extortionist Found Dead

The man who tried to extort between $1.2 and $1.3 million from Tom Cruise has been found dead. Police have called it a suicide.

David Hans Schmidt who was under house arrest was found dead when his surveillance tracker showed no activity and he had not checked in. He was well known for deals involving celebrity secrets, photos and videotapes. He had apparently obtained pictures of Tom Cruise's ultra-secret wedding to Katie Holmes and was trying to extort a little cash out of the star with threats of releasing the photos if Cruise didn't cough up the money.

Based on the money he must have made in the past with deals on Tonya Harding's wedding night video and various other celebrity items of compromising nature, it seems odd that a man who faced a very short prison term of only two years and a fine of $250,000 would commit suicide. It's hardly likely he was ashamed of himself. But I don't think I would get involved with Cruise and the Scientology crew - they have powerful friends. And powerful enemies.

Maybe when the intergalactic ruler Xenu gets here, he will release his satellite photos of the secret Scientology wedding of Cruise and Holmes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tom Cruise Building Shelter Against Intergalactic Alien Attack


Tom Cruise is building an underground bunker in case of alien attack, The Daily Mail reports today. The report is taken from the US magazine Star.

According to the report, Tom is fearful that a deposed galactic ruler named Xenu, is planning on attacking Earth. Tom is reportedly building the shelter on his Colorado estate, Telluride, to the tune of $10 million. The bunker will accomodate 10 people, including Tom, wife Katie Holmes, daughter Suri and his two adopted children from his former marriage to Nicole Kidman. The report doesn't state if Nicole is welcome to hunker down in the bunker in case of intergalactic attack.

Cruise has denied the reports through a spokesperson who said that Tom is not building on his property.

Of course he denies it, he doesn't want Xenu to find out about it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fire Station Goes Up in Flames

A firefighter on duty in Bishopville, South Carolina, woke up choking and coughing to find that the fire station was ablaze.


Brian Eargle got out of the building and drove two of the fire trucks away from the fire statiion. He then fought the blaze with a hose from one of the trucks until other firefighters could arrive to assist.

Officials said the fire started in the lounge of the station and the cause is under investigation.

Tennessee Will Arrest Smokers Who Buy Out of State


If you live in Tennessee and are caught buying your smokes in another state, you could face arrest.

Tennessee has raised state revenue taxes on cigarette sales in the state but is concerned with losing raises for legislators sales because citizens who live close to bordering states with lower cigarette taxes are tempted to buy their smokes elsewhere. So they have made it a crime to bring cigarettes from other states into Tennessee.

Agents are watching the borders and out-of-state stores that sell cigarettes to see where people are going to buy their "contraband". Motorists seen buying quantities of cigs in another state will be stopped, charge with a crime and could have their vehicles seized.

“This shows once again that Reagan Farr and the Department of Revenue are more interested in turning Tennessee into a police state than doing their job of collecting taxes,” said Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.


The statute specifies that vehicles used to transport more than two cartons of cigarettes are carrying contraband and subject to seizure. Agents have been instructed to seize any vehicle transporting more than 25 cartons and those transporting 3-24 cartons are "at the officer's discretion".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Ruling in Craig Plea

Judge Charles Porter took Larry Craig's motion to withdraw his guilty plea under advisement today and it could be as late as next week before he issues a ruling. That would make it after Craig's given resignation date of September 30. It is unclear at this time if Craig will decide to stay on in the Senate beyond that date but he has said previously that he would reconsider his resignation if the judge ruled in his favor.

Craig's attorney, Billy Martin, argued that the plea was not handled properly as well as making an argument that Craig did nothing for which he should have been arrested. Minnesota law allows guilty pleas to be withdrawn if a "manifest injustice" is shown. There is no exact definition of the term under the law, it is up to judges to decide.

Craig did not attend the hearing today.

Remote Control Crime

A bank robbery has been committed by a man claiming to be an innocent victim that was coerced into the act by others who strapped a bomb to his chest and threatened to blow him up. This is not the first time that a man claimed to have been kidnapped and forced to commit a crime or have an explosive device on his body blown up.

You may remember the case of Brian Wells, the pizza delivery man who, in 2003, claimed to have been kidnapped by robbers and had a locked collar full of explosives placed around his neck. He claims he had been forced to commit a bank robbery while fitted with the collar which the kidnappers later detonated before police experts could determine how to remove it. Police have since stated that their investigation indicates that Wells was a willing participant in the robbery.

Bombing began to be a popular way of social expression way back in the 60s, when radical groups like the Weather Underground bombed in pursuit of peace (yeah, I didn't understand it then either). Suicide bombers have become nearly daily news as they blow up innocent people in the pursuit of political goals. Now bombs strapped to human beings seem to be the new wave of the future in the remote commission of crime.

The latest robber/victim is an employee of the bank that was hit and says that he was kidnapped at gunpoint by two men, fitted with the explosive device and instructed to go into the bank through the drive-thru door. He then handed out a large sum of money to the thieves. Police were able to remove the device and blow it up. Police have not determined if it was a real bomb, and questions remain as to whether the bank employee was a true victim or participant in the crime.

If he was a participant, he has to be a very stupid man considering what happened to the last guy who agreed to wear a bomb to rob a bank. As the member of the group who is to be left behind as the innocent victim, there's always the possibility that you may squeal to police and the very real possibility that your cohorts will take the necessary steps to keep you silent.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

California Gives Kids Lead-Laced Lunchboxes


A campaign to promote healthy eating amongst kids backfired in California when it was discovered that the lunch boxes that the state distributed contain lead. The lunch boxes were imported from China.

The lunch boxes have logos and slogans promoting eating fruits and vegetables and were given away at health fairs and other events. However, testing on the linings of the lunch boxes showed they were contaminated with lead. Lead exposure in children can lead to brain damage.

Parents weren't notified until last week of the lead danger, even though public health officials had stopped ordering the lunch boxes in July. Mark Horton, director of the Department of Public Health said they were waiting for conclusive test results. Parents are understandably angry that they weren't notified sooner.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Officials Smoking Over Shop's Ads on Cigarettes

A shop owner in Darwin, Australia has got himself into some trouble with health authorities for displaying advertising that counters the warning labels and defies the Commonwealth Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act.

Colin Thompson displays signs that tell customers that smoking calms the nerves and soothes the mind. He says he personally believes it is not harmful.

In the US, we are quite used to seeing the warnings on cigarette packages. Tidy little sentences like "SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health" are neatly printed on the side in blended font and colors so they don't interfere with the overall design of the package.

Australia however, has gone to a much more prominent warning campaign. Warnings are written specifically to be frightening and disturbing graphics are displayed. The warnings must, by law, cover 30% of the front of the package and 90% of the back.


Actually, this warning could go on a package of donuts or pastries with a warning to diabetics that uncontrolled diabetes could lead to gangrene of the feet and other extremities. But the government nannies haven't gone that far...yet.

Mr. Thompson hasn't said anything so far that isn't true. For smokers at least, and women smokers in particular, nicotine does have a calming effect in times of stress. Nicotine also has analgesic properties, inhibiting pain receptors in the brain. In fact, the CDC issued a report stating that doctors and nurses in hospitals should be aware that patients may need increased narcotics post-operatively as they will be deprived of nicotine during their hospital stay. As long as Mr. Thompson speaks the truth, even if it is not the popular message, how has he broken the law?

Health officials have been round to Mr. Thompson's shop and taken photos of his signs. Perhaps he should just have a sign that reads "For now, smoking isn't illegal - we legally sell cigarettes, the choice is yours".

Seniors Form Picket Line Over Donuts


A group of men picketed a senior center in New York to protest the center's decision to refuse donations of donuts and other pastries that directors felt were poor nutritional choices. Officials, worried about the rates of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure among the elderly, banned the donut donations to the chagrin of many of the center's elderly visitors.

Strangely, these seven men in their 70s and 80s felt they ought to be treated as adults and not children. They picketed outside the senior center carrying signs that said "Give Us Our Just Desserts" and "They're Carbs, Not Contraband".

The picket line was organized by a former labor union official, Joe Hajkowski who claimed the issue was respect and that the seniors were never consulted on the decision. He said the decision implied that they were senile and unable to make choices for themselves.

In a particularly sensitive quote, Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said ""Senior citizens can walk down to the store and buy doughnuts. Nobody's stopping them".

Friday, September 21, 2007

Video of Police with Fake Bomb

Here's the video of the police showing MIT student Star Simpson's fake bomb shirt which she considered "art". Note the back of the black, hooded sweatshirt says "Socket to me".

You Don't Have To Be A Rocket Scientist

I realize that just because you attend MIT it doesn't necessarily mean you are a rocket scientist. It should mean you are of fair intelligence though, as it is one of the most respected institutions of higher learning. But it doesn't always follow that having a high IQ means that you possess common sense.

Star Simpson, 19, a student at MIT showed a considerable lack of common sense when she showed up at Logan International Airport with a phony bomb strapped to her chest. Wearing what appearedto be a computer circuit board with putty and wiring attached, Simpson drew the attention of an information kiosk employee who alerted authorities.

Simpson was soon surrounded on a street outside Terminal C by police with machine guns. Luckily for her, she obeyed orders to stay still and put her hands up.

"It's good that she responded", said Maj. Scott Pare, the airport commanding officer for the Massachusetts State Police. "She's lucky she's in a jail cell rather than the morgue."

"I'm shocked and appalled that somebody would wear this type of device to an airport in this time. We're currently under (terror threat level) Orange, the threat is there against aviation and we did have MP5 officers respond to the scene immediately," Pare said.

Simpson, who is from Hawaii, said the hoax device was a work of art and she was proud of her artwork. On her Web site, Simpson described herself as someone who loves "crazy ideas" and has been "traveling the world and saving the planet from evil villains with my delivered-just-in-time gadgets."

Simpson was charged with disorderly conduct and carrying a hoax device. She was released this afternoon on $750 bail.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Soil Samples Prove We Own North Pole Says Russia

Russia is serious about its claims to the North Pole, now that's they're certain of it's potential worth. As enough arctic sea ice melts and it becomes possible to tap the seabed's previously inaccessible resources, Russia is stepping up claims by first planting a Russian flag and now by presenting soil samples that they say prove that the Lomonosov Ridge, which runs along the bottom of the arctic seabed belongs to Russia.

Their claim is that the continental shelf connects the Arctic with Siberia and that soil and rock samples will prove ownership. Russia will present the findings to the United Nations.

Presently, five nations that have a coastline in the Arctic have a 320 km economic zone north of their shore. Those nations are Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark via its ownership of Greenland.

Will OJ Finally Go To Jail?

Well, OJ Simpson is out on bail but facing 10 counts including kidnapping and robbery with a deadly weapon. If convicted the charges are enough to put him in jail for life. This news brings great satisfaction to those who believe that 12 years ago, OJ got away scott-free after murdering his ex-wife and her friend, Ron Goldman.


I only recently came to understand that some people believe it's politically incorrect to say that OJ is a murderer, and I am not really sure why. Everyone believes he did it, he believes he did it and I believe he did it. I am even willing to believe that he may have done it while pumped full of steroids that exacerbated his rage. That doesn't mean he's innocent. And neither does a verdict of "not guilty" mean he's innocent, that just means the jury was unconvinced beyond a reasonable doubt.

To be fair, it's beginning to look like OJ was the victim of a set-up in this case. Thomas Riccio didn't tell collectible dealers Beardsley and Fromong the whole story, he didn't tell OJ he was taping the whole thing and he didn't turn the tape over to the cops first, he sold it to TMZ.com.

The only way OJ can hope to get out of this thing is if all his cohorts testify that he didn't know they had weapons or that they were going to impersonate police officers, detain and rob the collectors or threaten them with guns. How likely is that to happen? I suspect they will all be giving OJ up to prosecutors in exchange for better deals for themselves.

It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for OJ.

Almost.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Taser Kills Woman in Florida

Another story about tasers has emerged from Florida, the case of 56-year-old Emily Delafield of Green Cove Springs.

Delafield called 911 in April of 2006 and told the dispatcher that her life was in danger. The police were sent to Delafield's home where they found her armed with knives and a hammer which she was swinging at police and family members.

Delafield suffered from schizophrenia, and was reporting to the dispatcher that the danger was coming from her sister who was waiting on her property to harm her. Police used a taser to subdue her, tasering her ten times in under ten minutes. Delafield, who also suffered from heart disease, died as a result.

Did I mention that Delafield was in a wheelchair?

When confronted by this mentally ill, disabled woman of 56 in a wheelchair the police tasered her - not once, but ten times. The medical examiner's report lists her death as a homicide.

Delafield's family is preparing a lawsuit against the Green Coves Springs Police Department.

Did Andrew Meyer Stage His Arrest?


There's a lot of speculation today about whether Andrew Meyer, the University of Florida student who was tasered and arrested at a John Kerry forum, could have staged the whole thing for media attention. A look at his website, which we linked to yesterday, shows that he's an aspiring news journalist and a fellow of healthy ego, referring to himself as The Andrew Meyer.

Did he stage the arrest? I don't think so. He certainly had his barrage of questions for John Kerry well prepared and was determined to be heard and seen, even giving a video camera to a fellow student with the instructions to tape him. When it appeared he would not get to ask his questions due to time constraints, he cut the line and charged to the microphone. It was then that police followed close behind him, eventually pulling him away from the mic when it was cut off.

The rest was just a happy circumstance for Meyer. He played the arrest like a veteran show-stealer, crying out for help, demanding to know "What did I do?" and pleading "Don't tase me bro'". The arresting officers note in their report that when he was out of sight of the cameras and out of earshot, he told the officers they had done nothing wrong. Beyond anything else, Meyer seems to be enjoying the notoriety.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Country of Belgium for Sale on eBay

Looking for a little real estate? Maybe something on the continent? If you had moved quickly enough and got your bid in, you could have purchased Belgium.

A Belgian teacher placed an ad on eBay, offering the country for sale. He hoped it would bring attention to the political rift and power struggle now begin waged in Belgium and in an effort to convince his countrymen that it is a country worth keeping.

eBay Belgium pulled the ad today after receiving a bid of $14 million.

Why Andrew Meyer Was Arrested

More information is being released about what happened at Florida University when student Andrew Meyer was tasered and arrested after asking Senator John Kerry a series of questions which never got answered because police hauled Meyer away.

Seems Andrew Meyer was at the back of the line, and as Kerry had announced he was only going to take a few more questions, it became unlikely that Meyer would get to ask his question so he rushed the microphone and started his staccato barrage of questions about the 2004 election, why Bush wasn't impeached and about whether Kerry and Bush had ever been members of the Skull & Bones society together at Yale. Police were right behind Meyer because they followed him when he rushed the mic.

After the microphone was cut, police then start to take him out of the building. Most videos of the incident start at about this point.

There's a lot more to be learned about Andrew Meyer and his possible motivations over at Meyer's website The Andrew Meyer.com which features columns written by Meyers, some videos (check out the top video under "Sketches") and even a link to the Facebook group supporting Meyer. There are other contributors to the site but everything written or produced by Meyer is signed "The Andrew Meyer".

I think there's plenty of explanation for the theatrics of the arrest to be found here and aside from being tasered it's been a great day for The Andrew Meyer, the website has had over 40,000 hits just today.

The Surveillance Society Clock

I am not ordinarily a big fan of the ACLU, but everyone should have a look at this.

The ACLU have created a Surveillance Society Clock which counts down the time to when individual privacy will be completely eroded and we live in a surveillance state here in the US.

From the ACLU website:

The reality is we are fast approaching a genuine surveillance society in the United States - a dark future where our every move, our every transaction, our every communication is recorded, compiled, and stored away, ready to be examined and used against us by the authorities whenever they want. The ACLU has created this Surveillance Clock to symbolize just how close we are to a "midnight" of a genuine surveillance society. But it's not too late - there is still time to save our privacy.
.

The clock is currently at just six minutes before midnight.

UF Student Tased by Univ of Florida Police

Is it just me or do Tasers seem like a dangerous toy that some police officers just ought not to have? For instance, I had a dart board as a kid but I wouldn't give one to all kids, some of them would use the darts to nail squirrels and the neighbors cat.

Lately it seems that Tasers are being used more often with less provocation than ever before. Remember the case not too long ago where police tasered a man holding a newborn infant, causing him to drop the infant to the floor? How intelligent do you have to be to realize that you're endangering the baby when you taser the man holding him?

And now we have the incident at Florida University where a Andrew Meyer, 21 was overly loquacious in his questions directed at Senator John Kerry. He went over his 3-minute time limit and they cut off his microphone. Fair enough. But after that things got a little bit out of hand. The cops grabbed him and started to push him out of the hall. Meyer asks "Am I being arrested?" but no one answers, he resists and after a struggle, the officers taser him.

The officers don't stop when Kerry says "That's alright, let me answer his question", they just keep trying to remove him. All Andrew Meyer said when the mic went dead was "Thanks for cutting off my mic". There was no threat, and there was no warning from the officers that they were going to physically restrain him. He screams "Help" a few times as they push him down the aisle towards the door and can be heard to plead with the officer not to taser him, and then yelling in pain after they taser him anyway.

Would there have been a scene if officers had not taken the initiative to try to remove Andrew Meyer from the room? Was it necessary to have four officers physically restrain him? I hand it to John Kerry for trying to defuse the situation, but they didn't heed.

Ultimately, Meyer was responsible for the escalation of the incident by not just doing as the officers directed, even if it was unreasonable of them to remove him when there was no provocation. Once he began to resist arrest, they did what they thought was needed to keep him under control. Were they right?

Charges against Meyer are disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. He definitely resisted arrest but I think it was the police officers who initially disturbed the peace.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Robbery in Vegas was taped

TMZ.com has an audio tape of the Las Vegas hotel room robbery that led to OJ Simpson's arrest on felony charges. Apparently, the encounter was taped by Thomas Riccio of the auction house, Univeral Rarities. Riccio was there to help Simpson by backing up his claims that the sports memorabilia belonged to Simpson.

OJ Simpson is clearly not a smart guy. I know, he got away free and clear after having been accused of two murders, but face it, that was a combination of the skill of his defense team and the amazingly inept handling of the case by the prosecution.

So, with a verdict of "not guilty" in his pocket, but suffering a shortage of cash flow, OJ agreed to collaborate on a book - about how he would have committed the murders if he had committed the murders but make sure you understand he isn't saying he committed any murders, just that if he was going to commit murders... etc. Even the money from this insane project is snatched out from under him in a bankruptcy court and all the rights to the book given to the family of murder victim, Ron Goldman.

Then there's this Vegas robbery. OJ has an appointment meet a guy about buying back some of his own personal sports memorabilia items. Okay, I can see where he might be a little steamed that someone stole this stuff and is trying to fence it back to him. But OJ doesn't call the police or get a court order. OJ bursts into the room with at least two guys carrying guns and clearly from the tape, he is in charge of this little raid.

Additionally, Riccio states he has audio tape of Bruce Fromong saying he helped Simpson to hide money in offshore accounts.

Nope, you can't accuse OJ of thinking too much.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Minneapolis - Home of the Larry Craig Bathroom


An editorial in the Washington Post points out what I have been trying to say all along - regardless of what Larry Craig was doing in that bathroom, more than gestures should be required before you charge someone with a crime.

The problem is that Craig did do something very stupid in that he signed and mailed in a guilty plea and now it seems unlikely that he will be successful in withdrawing that plea.

Meanwhile, the men's restroom in question has become a tourist attraction. People working in shops at the Minneapolis airport are being asked for directions to the "Larry Craig bathroom". Curiosity seekers are visiting the facility and taking pictures. Some have commissioned employees of neighboring shops to take photographs of them standing outside the facility.

Robbery Victim Doesn't Want Charges Against OJ


It looks as though OJ Simpson has found himself under arrest once again, this time on charges involving armed robbery. But for those who were hoping that this time he would garner a prison sentence, that hope may be dashed by none other than the victim himself.

Although Simpson entered the room with a group of men, two of whom drew guns and stood guard while OJ gathered up the things that he said were his, Alfred Beardsley says he doesn't want to press charges against Simpson and would be an unwilling witness who is on OJ's side. Beardsley said he wouldn't have even called 911 except that the items were valuable and he would have been held accountable if they were missing.

The items were allegedly taken from Simpson by a former associate Mike Gilbert who appropriated the items as payment for money he says that Simpson owes him.

Beardsley says that Simpson called him on Saturday to apologize and that Beardsley has always believed that Simpson is innocent of the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Of course, prior to trying to sell the memorabilia back to Simpson, Beardsley had unsuccessfully tried to interest the Goldman family in the collectibles.

The Goldmans are currently reaping the profits of OJ's book "If I Did It" which was a top seller on Amazon on its first day of sale.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Man, 68, Jailed over 50 Cent Toll

New Hampshire's state motto may soon be changing from "Live Free or Die" to "Pay Up or Go To Jail".

A Massachusetts resident, Thomas Jensen, 68, spent three days in jail because he refused to give a toll booth attendant 50 cents for his highway toll. Jensen instead handed over two toll tokens which the attendant refused to take. A State Police trooper gave Jensen a citation for refusing to pay up, but Jensen insists he has already paid, he did so when he bought the tokens and the state of New Hampshire should honor them.

New Hampshire stopped accepting the tokens when the state instituted a new EZ Pass system. The NH Dept of Transportation website states there is no redemption for tokens already purchased.

Jensen is probably one of many who travel NH highways and bought tokens to use at the tolls. The EZ Pass system is electronic, travelers purchase a transponder that goes on the windshield or license plate and no attendant is necessary at the toll booth. However, it is obvious that they still accept cash, as you can see in the picture above. There doesn't seem to be any reason not to take the tokens that travelers have already paid for.

When Jensen went before the judge, he was told he could pay a $150 fine, do community service or go to jail. Jensen chose three days in jail.

‘‘Over my dead body was I going to give the state another dollar for the tolls,’’ Jensen said in an interview with the Patriot Ledger. ‘‘I just get offended by people trying to do me wrong,’’ he said. ‘‘They stole the value of these tokens from me.’’

Putin Chides US & Europe for Cold War Thinking


Russia's President Putin has called on Europe and the United States to forget their "silly Atlantic solidarity" and dispense with cold war attitudes.

This statement was made in the same week that British and Norwegian jets were dispatched to intercept two Russian long range bomber fighter jets that had violated NATO air-space near Britain and Finland.

This is the same Russia that is re-arming at a rapid pace, the Russian defense budget having been tripled since 2000, when Putin came into power. Recently, inept officials in the town of Sarov, accidentally posted details of a new "secret" submarine on the internet. Experts who examined the specifications say it appears Russia may be planning to place a small nuclear reactor on a sub which would allow it to remain below surface for up to 20 days.

This is the same Russia that sent a submarine to the North Pole to sink a flag there and claim it.

Yeah, the west should rethink its cold war attitudes.

Friday, September 14, 2007

If I Did It - The Sequel


On Friday, OJ Simpson again found himself being questioned by police, this time in Las Vegas. It was reported that OJ stole some sports memorabilia from a hotel room in Vegas.

But it seems that this time OJ has confessed. OJ stated the items stolen from the hotel room belonged to him. Thomas Riccio of Universal Rarities and one of his customers were to meet with OJ in the hotel room to negotiate a price for the items, which the customer claimed he confiscated because OJ owed him money. OJ entered the room with several men and took the items, without making any payment to the auction house's customer.

Owing people money is the reason OJ has given for his book "If I Did It", scheduled to come out the same day police questioned him in Las Vegas.

OJ has said the book is a fictional account of the murders of ex-wife Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman and not a confession. His purpose in writing the book was to secure money for his children and pay off his huge debts. The family of Ron Goldman successfully sued in a Florida court for rights to the profits from the book to pay the outstanding judgment still owed them from their wrongful death lawsuit against Simpson. Denise Brown, sister of Nicole Brown Simpson has urged a boycott of the book which hit store shelves today.

Of Snacks and OJ


Mike Gravel, Democratic White House hopeful, has been quoted as saying that Americans are "fatter and dumber". Gravel claims that only a friend will tell you the truth. He cites rising obesity rates and declining reading scores. He may have a point.

And it's no surprise that obesity rates are on the rise, Americans seem to have developed an addiction to their high-fat diet, and it starts young. In Orange County, Florida, a 9 year old student was threatened over a snack. After trading a bag of chips for some zebra cakes, one nine-year-old girl decided she wanted both and threatened to shoot her classmate because she wouldn't give the traded snack back. In the note, she told the girl that she would get a gun "...and then I'm going to shoot you back and kill you..."

Speaking of Orange, OJ Simpson is back in the news. Pablo Fenjves, the author of OJ's controversial book "If I Did It" says that he was told by his publisher that it was OJ's confession. He states OJ included details that only the killer would know but later told him that they were lies he made up so people would know it was fiction. In the meanwhile, OJ is being questioned by Las Vegas police regarding a robber at the Palace Station Casino on Thursday night. There was no word on whether any gloves were found at the scene.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Madeleine McCann

As Kate and Gerry McCann become suspects in their daughter's disappearance and rumors abound about diary evidence, sleeping pills and 4-year-old Madeleine McCann's DNA, we are all left wondering what to believe.

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann, missing for 134 days, has had the whole world watching and waiting - perhaps hoping against hope for some good news in the case. Her picture has been splashed across the Internet for months and we've all kept our eyes open, staring just a little too long at every little blonde girl who we imagine might be the missing child.

What we don't want to believe is that we've been duped again by tearful parents pretending that a stranger has snatched their child from them. We don't want another Susan Smith, inventing stories of carjacking, mobilizing police resources, and media resources while commanding our compassion only to find out she had been the cold-hearted murderer of her own children. We don't want to know, or imagine.

The public, for the most part, is still warily supportive of the McCanns, although this begins to be more about our resistance to the idea of their guilt than about the facts. However, there are indications that the abundance of rumors and leaks are beginning to turn the tide of public opinion.

If the McCanns are innocent, then these developments are a new nightmare for parents who have been living with the unimaginable pain of a missing child. However, if the McCanns are implicated in their daughter's death, it will have far-reaching repercussions. Every mother of a missing child will be viewed as a suspect.

It is the hope of everyone aware of this story that tomorrow, Madeleine will turn up alive somewhere in the world. But don't be surprised if the next big development is a tearful confession.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NC High School Says No To Flag


In Sampson County, NC, high school students may not display the flag. A new rule at the high school bans students from wearing clothing that bears the stars and stripes, the symbol of their country. In fact, no student may display the flag of any country.

Following September 11, 2001, there was a resurgence of patriotism. With their country being threatened by outside forces who vowed to destroy it, Americans remembered what the flag stood for and citizens flew it proudly.

But on September 11, 2007, students of Hobbston High School who wished to display their national pride were told they could not wear anything that displayed the flag to school.

The superintendent of schools said they were forced into this decision by controversy over some children who were wearing flags of different countries. School officials didn't want to pick and choose which flags were acceptable.

When you are in school, the school sets the rules and you follow. That's the way it is. If the school has disallowed all flags of whatever country, then that is the rule and everyone must abide by it. But what kind of atmosphere of fear has to exist where a kid wearing a T-shirt with the flag on it is enough to stir controversy? This is just a way of getting out of making tough decisions, a way of avoiding having to tell anyone "You're offending people". More than anything, they wish to avoid the inevitable lawsuit from someone whose behavior or display was offensive. Because no rule can ever single out anyone - no matter what fringe view they support, no matter what hatred they spout - everyone's free speech is curtailed.

It's supposed to work the other way around.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Text of Craig's Motion to Withdraw Plea

This is the text of Larry's Craig's motion to change his plea from Guilty to Not Guilty as filed with the court on September 8. Reading the following will probably not change your mind about whether he was guilty of soliciting sex or not, if you have made up your mind already. But you may notice that his story is not changed from his initial police interview, nor are there any other facts that have come forward since that indicate that Craig did anything more than what is stated in his motion and his statement to the police. Whether you think that his actions were sufficient cause for the officer to arrest him, may be based on your opinion of Larry Craig and his politics. I think that if they were based on the facts and what constitutes behavior for which one can be arrested, you have to agree that there was no basis here for any arrest.

Affidavit of Larry Edwin Craig in support of Motion to Withdraw Plea


I am a United States Senator from the State of Idaho and am the defendant in the above-referenced criminal action. I am over 18 years of age and competent to testify to the facts stated herein, which are based on my personal knowledge.

In May of 2007, I submitted to an interview with the Idaho Statesman, in an effort to subdue efforts on that paper's part to perpetuate false rumors about my private sexual life.
Shortly after that interview, on June 11, 2007, while on a layover at Minneapolis International Airport between Washington, DC and in my home state of Idaho, I entered the men's public restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal, for the sole purpose of using ther restroom facilities.

Anxious at the thought of missing my flight, I glanced into one of the stalls to determine if it was empty.

I entered a stall, eager to move on to my departing gate. While in the stall, I placed my other bag against the front of the stall door and spread my legs. Also while in the stall, I looked down and retrieved a piece of aper from the floor with my right hand.
At no time did I engage in offensive, obscene, abusive, boisterous, or noisy conduct or offensive, obscene, or abusive language tending reasonably to arouse alarm, alarm or resentment to others while in the men's room. Nor did I have any intent to engage in any illegal behavior.

While I was in the stall, I noticed an individual in the stall to my right place police identification in his hand under the divider so that I could see it, and then he abruptly pointed to the door with his finger.

When I exited the stall, I was physically removed from the restroom by Officer Karsnia, the officer in the stall next to mine, taken through the public areas of the airport, and led into a room where I was questioned. Overwhelmed by the events, I acquiesced to the officer's demands and submitted to the interview.

During my interview, I repeatedly asserted my innocence and I told Officer Karsnia that I disagreed with his interpretation of the events in the men's restroom, but he indicated to me that he believed I was lying.

Officer Karsnia told me several times during the interview that I could plead guilty to an undisclosed crime, pay a fine, and be "done" with the situation. I believed him and, based in part on his representation, I decided to plead guilty.

At no time during that interview did Officer Karsnia explain to me the nature of the charges against me or the potential consequences.

Deeply panicked about the events, and based on Officer Karsnia's representation to me regarding the potential outcome, my interest in handling the matter expeditiously, and the risk that protracting the issue could lead to unnecessary publicity, I did not seek the advice of an attorney on the date of my arrest, and I made the decision on that date to seek a guilty plea to whatever charge would be lodged against me.

On August 1, 2007, following my decision in June, I signed a petition to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, even though I believed that I was not guilty of any criminal offense. That Petition was drafted by the prosecuting attorney in this action. Because I continued to seek a speedy resolution of the matter, I did not seek the advice of an attorney before entering my plea.

I hereby assert that I am innocent of all charges lodged against me, and I wish to change my plea from Guilty to Not Guilty.

Larry Edwin Craig

Go here for the full motion text

Monday, September 10, 2007

Iran Bans Billiards

Iran is cracking down hard on the "immorality" in its society. Over 100 thousand warnings have been handed out for inappropriate dress to the women of Tehran and we know they don't like cool coiffures for men, either. Please, no style, we know that is decadent and leads to crime.

But the big crackdown is on those places that men and women may meet socially, coffee houses and billiard halls. Police are taking their cue (bad pun intended) from the con artist in the play The Music Man and blaming a rise in "social and ethical crimes" on the existence of these establishments.

According to the student news agency ISNA, the police have shut down 3,000 billiard halls and coffee shops. Also targeted are people illegally watching satellite TV. Television is a known purveyor of western decadence.

Rollo thinks they should hand out copies of the lyrics to The Music Man so police will know what to be on the lookout for:

Youth'll be frittern away,
I say your young men'll be frittern!
Frittern away their noontime, suppertime, choretime too!
Get the ball in the pocket,

Oh, yes we got lots and lots a' trouble.
Shirt-tail young ones, peekin' in the pool
Hall window after school, look, folks!

Are certain words creeping into his conversation?
Words like 'swell?"
And 'so's your old man?"
Well, if so my friends,
Ya got trouble,
Right here in Tehran city!
With a capital "T"
And that rhymes with "P"
And that stands for Pool.



Story

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Osama bin to the hair salon


A new video tape, ostensibly showing us the new and improved Osama bin Laden was released this week. In it, we see a younger, more fit bin Laden whose greying locks and beard have been neatly trimmed and restored to their youthful black.

In the video, Osama warns America not to follow the Democratic party, all they will do is raise taxes (as if that is telling us anything we didn't already know). Claiming that global warming and the mortgage crisis are more than democracy can handle, he urges us all to convert to Islam where our total financial obligation to the government will be a 2.5% alms. It sounds as if the hair-dye fumes got to him.

Interestingly, Osama was also spotted in Australia as part of a phony Canadian delegation to the APEC meeting. Members of the cast of the popular show The Chasers War on Everything turned up for the APEC meeting in a car with badges that read "Insecurity" while carrying a passenger dressed like the Al Qaeda leader. They were waved on through three checkpoints before anyone stopped them. What is really interesting is that most of the ire surrounding this stunt is being placed on the TV show and not on the security police that let them through checkpoints to a spot close to the sensitive meeting of the heads of state of many nations.

Some viewers of the show commended the police officers who laughed along with them, but shouldn't they instead be slightly ashamed of themselves? Commissioner Andrew Scipione says the comedians drove into a restricted zone full of police snipers and might have been shot. He also added that just because they got through an outer security checkpoint doesn't impact the "standard of the entire security operation".

The TV show's executive producer, Julian Morrow said the team had no intention of entering a restricted zone and didn't endanger anyone.

"Was it irresponsible? I wouldn't think so. Hard to say," he said.

"No, no. We had no intention of harming anyone. Sorry guys ... Lucky it was us and not Al Qaeda."

Friday, September 07, 2007

Craig Arrest Unconstitutional

Larry Craig is still reconsidering his resignation depending on whether or not he is successful in withdrawing his guilty plea. Although several news outlets have reported an aide as saying that he most likely will resign, the clever and resourceful Joseph Farah at World Net Daily has brought up a little wrinkle that could iron out the entire situation.

It's a paragraph in Article 1: Section 6, of the US Constitution that states no member of Congress can be arrested while traveling to or from official session.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.


WND points out that Craig did cast a vote on a motion on the Senate floor the same day as his arrest at the Minneapolis airport. His arrest occurred at noon, he was voting in the Senate at 5:55pm.

In the released transcript of Craig's statement at the police station, he clearly tells the officer he has to catch a plane. Obviously, he was going back to Washington on official business.

For more, read the article at World Net Daily

CPSC Proclaims US Exports "Dangerous"

In the wake of a third recall of toys made in China and as China blames the recalls on everything from US protectionism to the failure of Mattel to keep a close enough eye on Chinese manufacturers, the Washington Post proclaims that the US is just as bad and our exports are nothing to hold up as a standard.

This headline especially demands attention as an example of apologetics for badly made imports:

U.S. is Big Exporter of Dangerous Toys

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, US companies regularly export goods that do not meet US safety regulations.

Dangerous exports included pacifiers, toys, cigarette lighters, fireworks, clothing, chemicals and carpets. Shipments went to Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Colombia, the Czech Republic and the Philippines, the CPSC said.


Well, now I completely understand the headline. If some country were shipping cigarette lighters and fireworks for my kids to play with, I'd be pretty upset too.


Wait a minute though, why are these countries accepting shipments of substandard goods? Are they willing to accept these dangerous carpets and clothing because evil US companies won't meet their standards? Or could it be that they meet local standards, just not those of US consumer watchdog groups? Maybe in the Czech Republic, people know that a cigarette lighter is flammable and so it doesn't have to carry a warning label to that effect. Maybe, it's only in the US that we assume consumers are so incapable of taking care of themselves that we need to set up government nannies to watch over them.

So while adult purchasers of cigarette lighters in the US are being warned that usage could possible cause flame, China exports millions of lead-laced toys for US babies to play with and we self-flagellate as we always do, making sure we proclaim that we're no better than they are.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Craig Supporters - Boycott the Airport

At least one group of supporters of Sen. Larry Craig, The American Land Rights Association, are suggesting a boycott of Minneapolis airport where they say that Craig was the victim of a sting operation. Unfortunately, I can't see many people being able to re-route their travel plans just to silently voice an opinion on what has become a completely political issue.

Craig has said he will re-consider his resignation if he is successful in removing his guilty plea and having the disorderly conduct case agaist him dismissed before September 30.

In a particularly shameful manner during this election season, his own party has for the most part abandoned Craig, fearing repercussions from the scandal.

The liberals and gay groups are just happy that an opponent has fallen in a spectacularly satisfying way, arrested for soliciting gay sex. But can anyone believe that they could have managed a conviction if this had gone to trial?

--"What did you observe the defendant doing, Sgt. Karsnia"?

--"Well sir, he was tapping his foot".

Am I the only one who doesn't care whether he was trying to arrange for a little gay sex or not? Does no one care about civil rights, false arrest and the need for prosecutors to justify their existence by their conviction records?

Source

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Falling is Easy - Landing is Hard

It's not nice to kick someone when he's down, but sometimes they make it so easy.

Piers Morgan, of the Daily Mail once mocked President Bush for his spill from a Segway, the two-wheeled motorized transportation contraption, which the makers say will never fall over. His words have come back to haunt him after he fell off a Segway in Southern California and broke three ribs.

Four years ago, when Morgan worked at The Daily Mirror, he ran a headline that proclaimed:

"You'd have to be an idiot to fall off, wouldn't you Mr. President."

It added: "If anyone can make a pig's ear of riding a sophisticated, self-balancing machine like this, Dubya can."

To his credit Morgan wrote these words in Live magazine this week: "Since only he and I appear to have ever fallen off one," he said, "I think the makers of the Segway can probably still justifiably claim the machines are 'idiot-proof.'"

What else can I say? Go watch the video on Breitbart.

additional source

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Craig Resigns - Media Wins, America Loses

Larry Craig resigned Saturday, stepping down from his seat in the Senate. Finding virtually no support from his party, he announced that he would resign from the Senate effective September 30.

The headlines since the story broke have continually called this a sex scandal. But where was the sex? No one had sex, Craig didn't even solicit sex. And even if Craig were looking for gay sex, that isn't a crime according to the Supreme Court.

Using what lawyer, actor, commentator and former White House speechwriter Ben Stein called "gestapo tactics" Craig was arrested for little more than tapping his foot.

What escapes the attention of his gloating opponents who feel that a hypocrite has had his comeuppance, is that this arrest, this railroading of an American citizen makes everyone a little less safe and erodes our rights just that much more.

I don't care what Craig was doing in that stall. This is simply a case of police entrapment. An officer observes Craig tapping his foot and sees his hand under the stall and immediately shows a badge, arrests him for lewd conduct and hauls him off to the police station where he is told that unless he pleads guilty to a misdemeanor of "disorderly conduct" his career will be ruined.

It's a sad day for Larry Craig and the 45% or so of his constituents who still support him. But it's an even sadder day for Americans. If we don't learn to look beyond partisanship and concentrate on what really matters, then what we have so long cherished will no longer exist. Our rights and freedoms have just been diminished, and with full media frenzy, we all seem to approve.

Cat High on Cocaine

In Sydney, Australia, a veterinarian treated a Himalayan cat that had accidentally been locked in a cupboard. The cat was pacing and fidgety, with dilated pupils and displayed signs of general nervousness. The owners at first denied that the cat could have been exposed to any moldy food or toxic substances but eventually came clean and admitted the cat might have licked a couple of plates that had been used to serve cocaine to guests at a dinner party. Tests revealed the cat was indeed, high on cocaine.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State University has published an article about the effects of second-hand smoke on pets.


It stands to reason, they offer, that if second-hand smoke is bad for people, it is also dangerous to pets. They cite possible increased cancer rates in cats and dogs and a higher incidence of lung cancer in birds. However, Rollo's experience is that nothing will kill an annoyingly chirpy parakeet - they live on for years.


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