29 June 2006

Greenberg on the Ol' Gray Lady

When in doubt, ask a man from Arkansas:

Do you think that style-setter of American journalism — The New York Times — would have run its expose of still another terrorist-tracking program if it had found out about it when the program was first set in motion, in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks? Would the Times have rushed the story into print and given it the front-page play it did last week if smoke was still rising from the charred ruins of the Twin Towers, and the ashes of the dead were still being excavated as around-the-clock crews sifted through that mountain of debris?

But that was then. Now, doubtless in large part because of programs like the one the Times has just outed, the terrorist attacks that were going to follow Sept. 11 haven't materialized. Not yet. So concerns about national security now take second place to politics as usual, and journalism as usual.

Have the rights of the innocent been in any way abused? The New York Times offers no such examples. Let it be noted that the banking cooperative that provided American authorities with all these leads — the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT — requires that government investigators produce the name of someone they suspect of a link to terrorism before it will release this information.

So let us now praise those Europeans who cooperated with American authorities to track down the bad guys. They renew the hope for solidarity in this war on terror. Unlike The New York Times.

28 June 2006

Wither Duluth

Two stories from today's news, both about Duluth, the one-time bustling, prosperous inland port and gateway to the Scandinavian Riviera. I think you can connect the dots without too much prodding by me. First we have this:
Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson is calling for big layoffs of municipal employees. He says cuts are needed to cover the costs of health care for retired city employees. The cuts would eliminate eleven police officers and five firefighters. Duluth Fire Chief John Strongitharm says he's already seven firefighters short. And Police Chief Roger Waller says it would amount to nearly an entire shift of police officers. He says that would be "a devastating blow to public safety."
and then we have this:

Duluth is one of the first three U.S. cities to become Eco Municipalities, a promise to become part of the Swedish-born sustainability program. Last month, the Duluth City Council passed a resolution pledging to move toward the four basic principles of sustainability drafted in the Natural Step program:

- Use fewer natural resources.
- Use fewer man-made or synthetic chemicals.
- Cause no additional degradation to the Earth.
- Meet all human needs (WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL EXACTLY?)

The council's action was a "resolution of intent" to move Duluth toward ustainability, said Sandy Sweeney, Duluth's energy coordinator. Facing a huge budget shortfall, the city has little or no money for new programs, even those that might be popular and environmentally sound. But that hasn't stopped the effort.

The Duluth municipal pension system is so shot, they're laying off cops and firemen, but don't let that stop the hair-brained sustainability dogma from overrunnig Miller Hill.

Duluth is being run by people who are not serious. If the civic entity that is Duluth is to be saved, it needs to have its decisions made by serious people. You want sustainability? Try sustaining the balance sheet of your big Play Town.

Daily Big 12 Humor

And I don't even know anyone who went to a Big 12 school.

Q: What does the average Texas A&M player get on his SATs?
A: Drool.

Q: What do you get when you put 32 Arkansas cheerleaders in one room?
A: A full set of teeth.

Q: How do you get a Nebraska cheerleader into your dorm room?
A: Grease her hips and push.

Q: How do you get a Colorado graduate off your porch?
A: Pay him for the pizza.

Q: Why do the Texas Tech cheerleaders wear bibs?
A: To keep the tobacco juice off their uniforms.

Q: Why is the Baylor football team like a possum?
A: Because they play dead at home and get killed on the road.

Q: What are the longest three years of a Kansas State football player's life?
A: His freshman year.

Q: How many OU freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None - that's a sophomore course.

Q: Where was O.J. headed in the white Bronco?
A: Stillwater, Oklahoma - he knew that the police would never look there for a Heisman Trophy winner.

Q: Why did Texas choose orange as their team color?
A: You can wear it to the game on Saturday, hunting on Sunday and picking up the trash along the highways the rest of the week.

27 June 2006

Daily Twain

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and the government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain

26 June 2006

Easier to Deny Than Pay Attention

With the World Cup going on, there have been plenty of columns written by American sports writers that trash the event and the sport of soccer/football. The commentary ranges from pithy crap about the relative lack of scoring in a typical contest to something hair-brained about not being able to use your hands and other nonsense.

Just as bad as the ignorance from NFL and NBA shills are the complaint letter from the shrieking folk that think soccer is the only sport that matters. Get over yourselves.

This was a decent reply though, which merits posting:

It's great that football writers think they know how to "fix" soccer, the world's most popular sport. So as a soccer fan, here are a few suggestions how to fix American football:

-The pads have to go. If this is a man's game, they are not needed.
-It takes three hours to play a 60-minute game. I'm no math major, but there's some sort of disconnect there.
-How am I supposed to cheer for a team that has only been in existence for five years? There's no history, or it has been erased when they up and left wherever they used to play.
- Keep more stats. I'd like to know how many felonies and misdemeanors the players have committed.
-Do something about the announcers. I'd rather listen to fingernails on chalkboards than John Madden commenting on points so obvious a 2-year-old could explain them to me. BOOM!
-Insert more thought into the game. Soccer is free-flowing and organic. Football is too structured. Grown men needing older men on the sidelines telling them what to do? Absurd.

We don't need to change soccer to make it more accessible to Americans; we need to learn to appreciate it for what it is.


I don't care if sportswriters don't like the footy, nor do I want them converted. However, this is credibility check for them and for their employers. If your job is to write about sports, how credible are you for an out-of-hand dismissal of an event so huge and a sport so popular worldwide?

In other sections of the newspaper, there are people who write about film, food and theater. Would you take these commentators seriously if they categorically dismissed Martin Scorsese, Italian food and William Shakespeare respectively?

I guess what they say is true; the only thing worse than a sportswriter is one that takes himself seriously.

24 June 2006

One More From the Fairgrounds

Ten Thousand Reasons Al Queda Hates Us

Every summer, the Minnesota Street Rod Association fills the state fairgrounds with a whole lotta cars that all happen to have been screwed together by 1964.

Yup; they got everything. Big, little, stock, outrageous, some burning high-octane racing fuel, some burning oil, but every one has a story. Every one is individual. Every one represents the wonderful things that go on in a free society.

It's impossible to pick a favorite, even if you suffer from narrow tastes. For me, one rock-solid test of a hot rod's appeal is the "gallons test." Flip a car on it's back like a capsised turtle. The more water it holds in its fenders, the cooler the car. To wit:

For a car guy, the annual summer show is a must. For fundamentalsit Muslim freaks, it's death by 10,000 cuts.

23 June 2006

Your Great Society Sequel Will Have to Wait Out in the Hall

Here's an interesting and timely read, as not only hurricane season spools up again, but hurricane blame season is surely not far behind.
Houston wouldn’t be the setting for this unprecedented experiment if it hadn’t risen to the occasion as no other government—federal, state, or local—did after Katrina. How did it mobilize so quickly?

A social-services expert might think that, being such a small-government town, it would have been overwhelmed by the influx: recently branded one of America’s “meanest cities” by a homeless-advocacy group, Houston spent less than $1,500 per person in city funds last year, compared with New York’s $5,000. It has one public-sector worker to serve every 130 citizens, compared with one for every 22 in New York. About 6 percent of New Yorkers live in public housing; less than 1 percent of Houstonians do. Houston has no income tax, and nearly everyone you meet there boasts that the city is a “business city” with “business interests.”

But that’s no measure of Houston’s generosity. All it proves is that Houston never entwined its budget with radical entitlement politics in the sixties and seventies. Yet when Houston saw a crisis of humanity, it acted.
It's a long read, but that's how you learn; by reading everything you can.

Balm For the Wounds

A little something for Iran (and perhaps Saudi Arabia) as they fail to advance to the next round of the World Cup.

Public Interest Sacrificed for Profit

I can hear the mantra in Bill Keller's office - must win Pulitzer . . . must win Pulitzer . . . to hell with a legally-conducted national security matter . . . must win Pulitzer . . .
Excuse me, but no one voted to put Bill Keller in charge of our national security, and the laws covering classification of materials does not have an option for journalists to invalidate their clearance level. The continuing arrogance of Keller and his two reporters has damaged our national security, and in this case on a ridiculously laughable story that tells us absolutely nothing we didn't already know in concept. They keep pretending to offer news to their readers, but instead all they do is blow our national-security programs for profit.

This story is only good for one thing, and that is an attempt to blow the program and stop our ability to follow the money. The New York Times apparently wants to stage itself as a publication written by traitors for an audience of idiots.
And as Glenn Reynolds points out:
What's interesting to me is that when you talk about military force, we're supposed to use law-enforcement and intelligence methods instead. But if you use law-enforcement and intelligence methods, people shout "Big Brother" and the Times runs stories exposing them.

21 June 2006

The Best and the Brightest

I guess nobody who works for CBS news has ever seen Tora, Tora, Tora.

Being the legacy media means never having to say you're sorry, like when your broad staff of editors and fact checkers faked their way through junior high. I'm sure this will all be fixed one Katie assumes the position, unless China starts using Japanese astronauts first.

Minneapolis - You're Soaking in it!

In Minneapolis, the shills that ran the teachers' pension fund have mismanaged it so thoroughly that now, in order to meet its obligations, the fund will have to be rolled into the State of Minnesota statewide pool. All Minnesotans now get to pay for this board's inaptitude.

Now, that sort of failure, shockingly, didn't result in any prosecution. In fact, the board is so misguided and insulated, they gave fat severance payoffs to the dopes that ran it into the ground in the first place, knowing that the board was going to cease to exist.

On top of that, again with the board's end looming, the board has decided to squirrel away $1.5 million into some kind of trumped-up trust fund, just for the hell of it, so it seems.
The state auditor has accused board members of the failing Minneapolis teachers pension fund of creating an illegal $1.5 million trust for themselves and a top manager shortly before the fund is scheduled to merge with a larger state pension operation. Auditor Pat Anderson directed aides to secure records from the Minneapolis fund, but they retreated Tuesday after a confrontation with pension officials at the fund's downtown offices. "They told our staff to get out," Deputy Auditor Tony Sutton said. "They kicked our staff out."

Anderson and others have criticized the Minneapolis fund's leaders for contributing to a financial crisis that left it with only 45 percent of the money needed to meet obligations to 13,500 current and future retirees. That forced the bailout and merger, which the Legislature approved last month with the help of $18 million a year in state taxpayer money for the next three decades. An attorney for the $1.5 million trust, Tom Heffelfinger, defended its legality. He described it as a way to ensure that the Minneapolis fund pays creditors and meets other legal obligations that might survive the merger, and to insure board members and executive director Karen Kilberg against potential lawsuits.
How about that: Using taxpayer money to indemnify the frauds from their well-documented failures with taxpayer money.

"It's pretty well-established that government can't be setting up trusts like this," said Attorney General Mike Hatch, whose office is opposing the pension fund's efforts in Hennepin County District Court to legitimize the trust. "You have to have specific authority to undertake such an action, and they don't have that kind of authority." In April Anderson denounced the ($330,000) severance package for Kilberg, calling it "a brazen act by the board to provide a golden parachute to an outgoing employee at taxpayer expense." Kilberg did not return telephone calls Tuesday, and Ann Downing, president of the fund's board, said about the accusation of illegal conduct: "I don't want to comment on anything until I've seen it," and hung up the phone. The Minneapolis fund has asked the court to approve the trust and indemnify board members and Kilberg.
Congratulations, Minneapolis, you've really got yourself a fine operation here. I'm thrilled that my wallet will be used to prop up all this jive.

The Light of 21 June

Summer's here. Don't miss it.

Do summer stuff. Read in a park. Kick a ball. Open the windows. Let the dog get dirty, because you can always wash 'em outside when you get home.

Summer-y lunch today - Zwielbenkuken, spaetzel, carrot/apple salad and sweet & sour red cabbage. Only thing missing was a pilsner and a nap.

They're making an effort to play summer-y tunes on KEXP today. Thankfully the disc was skipping when the trotted out the cliche "Hot Fun in the Summertime." C'mon, staff, let's move on.

Last Saturday on Sound Opinions, Greg and Jim also worked over summer music including an interesting discussion of "All Summer Long" by the Beach Boys. They said while the band's trademark soaring harmonies are without peer, Brian Wilson also deserved credit for being a terrific lyricist, and that he shows a bit of beach band subversion in that song.

Miniature golf and Hondas in the hills. When we rode the horse we got some thrills.

Again, Brian Wilson; here's a guy, they continued, who did not surf, didn't particularly like to drive, didn't like to leave his house, didn't like his brothers, or the band, or stardom, yet he had the summer teen experience lyrically nailed. Check out the podcast of the show from the site.

Sunset isn't until 9:37 in Noyes.

Solstice. Wring it out.

20 June 2006

Government Will Always Go to the Head of the Line

Europe is our past and our future. Even with unchecked illegal immigration, most of the population of the United States traces its ancestry to Europe. Many of the fundamentals of our laws originate in old Europe, and from mass transit to regional currency to universal health care Europe is always held up as an example of what the US should aspire to.

What? Ye Olde Europe is broken? The socialist uptopia is out of money? Oh, that's OK, just confiscate the funds from those who happen to have earned it, and it'll all be fine . . .

The Swiss National Bank has criticised as dangerously populist and conflict-laden a plan to use its profits to help shore up the state pension scheme. The so-called Cosa initiative, spearheaded by the Swiss Social Democratic party (SP), is that (the profits) of the central bank would be diverted to the Old Age and Survivors' Insurance Fund (AHV/AVS).

"You already know the SNB's position on this topic: we consider this initiative to be angerously populist, since it presents an unrealistic picture of our profit potential," said SNB chairman Jean-Pierre Roth at its half-yearly news conference in Geneva yesterday. "In view of the growing financial needs facing the Old Age and Survivors' Insurance Fund (AHV/AVS) in the coming years, the gradual reduction of our distribution potential will inevitably lead to continuous tensions between political circles and the SNB."

"Even if our independence were left intact, this conflict-laden climate would be detrimental to our credibility in the markets. It is widely accepted that shielding the central bank from political pressure constitutes an important factor in the preservation of monetary stability. In fact, this is why there is no country whose central bank has become the direct financial source of funding of a social security scheme."

Some think Europe is full of model societies and ultra-refined governance and policy, but Europe and its problems are actually a fully-realized early warning system for the United States. Today we see the price to be paid for the election of spineless politicians who put their own short-term glory ahead of prudent long-term stewardship. In order to perpetuate the cancerous practice of escallating tax and spend, they give away every social "nice-to-have" to everyone, without a thought about the ongoing sustainability and growth of the promised spoils.

19 June 2006

Cool, Refreshing, Thirst Quenching Ethanol

Ethanol is magic! Not only does it take more energy to produce than it yields, and delivers worse miles-per-gallon than gasoline, it also pisses away millions of gallons of water from aquifers. Why, we can't get behind this subsidized bliss fast enough.

City officials in Champaign and Urbana took notice when they heard that an ethanol plant proposed nearby would use about 2 million gallons of water per day, most likely from the aquifer that also supplies both cities. "There was concern about impacting a pretty valuable resource," said Matt Wempe, a city planner for Urbana. "It should raise red flags." It would take about 300 million gallons of water for processing the product and cooling equipment to make 100 million gallons of ethanol each year, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

The demand for water by the two dozen operating ethanol plants in Iowa has not damaged water sources or supplies, said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. Improving technology means new plants use as much as 80 percent less water than plants built just five years ago, and most plants recycle their water so it has more than one use, he said.

Still, the draw on Midwest water supplies is a concern. The possibility of a new ethanol plant is one reason the city of Aberdeen, S.D., decided to seek new water sources, perhaps from deeper wells, Mayor Mike Levsen said. "We felt that for the current demand we had plenty of water to supply them, but that would begin to run us up to our limit," he said.

But hey, what a few million gallons of water per day? I mean, we're going to save the planet if it kills us, right?

Working to Blow Up the Stereotype

Whenever oxymorons are the topic, you'll always get "military intelligence" from somebody. What if, every now and then, there was some reason to have confidence in that phrase, rather than have it trigger automatic derision?
So far, the June 7th strike has led to over 500 more raids. There have been so many raids, that there are not enough U.S. troops to handle it, and over 30 percent of the raids have been carried by Iraqi troops or police, with no U.S. involvement. Nearly a thousand terrorist suspects have been killed or captured. The amount of information captured has overwhelmed intelligence organizations in Iraq, and more translators and analysts are assisting, via satellite link, from the United States and other locations.

Also valuable have been the al Qaeda assessment of their situation in Iraq. The terrorist strategy is one of desperation. While the effort continues, to attempt to trigger a civil war between Sunni and Shia in Iraq, this is seen as a losing proposition. The new strategy attempts to trigger a war between the United States and Iran.

Other documents stressed the need to manipulate Moslem and Western media. This was to be done by starting rumors of American atrocities, and feeding the media plausible supporting material. Al Qaeda's attitude was that if they could not win in reality, they could at least win imaginary battles via the media.
Read it all.

16 June 2006

Generation of the Spoiled

Among the greatest unreported stories in this country are tuition gouging at 4-year universities. At 10-20 times the rate of inflation, the post-secondary educational-industrial complex is a cash machine that would make oil companies salivate. Another story no one is touching is the fantastically high standard of living among those classified as "America's poor" by politicians. Show me anyone in the 'hood without a cell phone, spotless Miami Heat jersey and plenty of smokes & booze. Or with only one clip for the 9, in some cases.

The other huge unreported story is the entire generation of people who are incapable of living with the decisions they make (or don't make). Help me, elected officials, for I have no retirement income. Help me, insurance company, for I need my stomach stapled. Oh no, I'm in the left lane and this is my turn. No matter; I'll just cut across three lanes of traffic this instant to make a right turn because, deep down, I cannot cope with the emotional toil that comes from safely proceeding to the next intersection to turn around.

Here's another manifestation of all the adult children out there who cannot cope with themselves:
SUV owners who are faced with rising gas prices have found a new way to get out from under their high car payments — arson.

After the car was torched, the owners would then contact their insurance company and report their vehicle stolen, expecting their debt to be cancelled. Instead, they were investigated for insurance fraud.

15 June 2006

Saved by the Reds

England is saved from planetary embarrasment by a brace from Liverpool's best. Peter Crouch (pictured below) at 83', and Steven Gerrard at 90' see England through to the next leg of the World Cup.

We'll See You Saturday Night

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Fernando Pisani is in a class of one. The opportunistic right winger scored the first short-handed goal in overtime of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night to give the Edmonton Oilers' a 4-3 victory in Game 5.

14 June 2006

That Uneasy Evolution

The only constant is change.

That being said, if Dietmar Hamann has taken the pitch for the last time as a Red, it'll be a sad day, and certinaly more of a bummer than parting with Fernando Morientes.

Like so many unsung Liverpool heroes, Didi Hamann has been a fantastic servant to the club. He played a key role in Istanbul last year and also helped us win the FA Cup at Cardiff last month. He is Mr Consistent and I hoped he would stay with the Reds until he retired. I wish him all the best for the future.

To let Didi go, I can only assume that Benitez is very confident of strengthening the squad this summer. I think we'll see Stevie Gerrard back pulling the strings in the centre of midfield while someone will occupy the right.

Jes Smith, Bootle
Hamann is a rock. If it's not meant to be at Anfield, then happy trails.

Who Says Politics & Religion Don't Mix?

. . . and the people said, "Let there be more shrines, for there are not enough."
You've read the book. You've watched the movie. Your kids have sung the school song. You've ridden on the bus. You've admired the seed art. You've been trained at the camp. You've shed tears at the memorial. You've kept the signs in your yard and the bumper stickers on your car years after they've become irrelevant. So what do you do for an encore? How about an uplifting evening at the theater?

A stirring and insightful portrait of Senator Paul Wellstone and his wife Sheila. This new play is filled with the passion, politics and surprises of one of Minnesota's most out-spoken and controversial politicians.

Head Up Municipal Ass

Minneapolis: What a shithole.

My credit card number was stolen, presumably in Minneapolis, while I still retain the card. They found the number, perhaps by stealing mail, perhaps by lifting it from a purchase I made. Several purchases were made using it, including 3 Chinese takeout orders totaling 150 bucks, a Topper's pizza order for 40, and the kicker, a payment to someone's Time Warner Cable account---to the tune of $276.

Easy enough, right? There is someone's name on this cable account, I would call that a lead....right? Well, the Minneapolis fraud investigators wouldn't. When I called the fraud unit, after I took all appropriate measures to ensure that my card and credit were taken care of, I was not able to talk to an investigator. I left a message, with the information that my card was used to credit an existing cable account, as well as an address that a Topper's pizza was delivered to. And I asked them to PLEASE call me (understand you are busy, etc). No phone call, no correspondence, for several weeks. Then, I got a letter. "I'm sorry, Mr _________, but your case does not meet the 'threshold for investigation' at this time.

In my mailbox, on this same day, was a letter from city of Minneapolis code inspectors insisting that I mow a foot wide strip of weeds in between the garages on the alleyside of my house, or face a hefty fine.

Flippant Prediction

"An Inconvenient Truth" is on a fast track to become the environmental "Fahrenheit 9/11"

Gore tells us in the film, "Starting in 1970, there was a precipitous drop-off in the amount and extent and thickness of the Arctic ice cap." This is misleading, according to Ball: "The survey that Gore cites was a single transect across one part of the Arctic basin in the month of October during the 1960s when we were in the middle of the cooling period. The 1990 runs were done in the warmer month of September, using a wholly different technology."

Karlén explains that a paper published in 2003 by University of Alaska professor Igor Polyakov shows that, the region of the Arctic where rising temperature is supposedly endangering polar bears showed fluctuations since 1940 but no overall temperature rise. "For several published records it is a decrease for the last 50 years," says Karlén.

Dr. Dick Morgan, former advisor to the World Meteorological Organization and climatology researcher at University of Exeter, U.K. gives the details, "There has been some decrease in ice thickness in the Canadian Arctic over the past 30 years but no melt down. The Canadian Ice Service records show that from 1971-1981 there was average, to above average, ice thickness. From 1981-1982 there was a sharp decrease of 15% but there was a quick recovery to average, to slightly above average, values from 1983-1995. A sharp drop of 30% occurred again 1996-1998 and since then there has been a steady increase to reach near normal conditions since 2001."

And so it goes.

Whaddaya Mean by Backwards?

About 20 years ago, I got a quickie brake job by a fella who was a glorified shadetree mechaninc; glorified because he actually gave you a recipet for the work he did. Turns out he put the rear drum-brake adjusters in the wrong sides of my Mustang; left one on the right side, right one on the left side. Sure it was dang hard to stop, but as a fledgling motor vehicle master, I didn't crash into anything. The shop he lorded over no longer fixes cars, and I always wondered what happened to that muttonhead . . . until today.
According to a report released by the board today, the root cause of the crash was an error in the craft’s original design. In their design of the probe, subcontractor Lockheed Martin inverted the two accelerometers that were supposed to trigger parachute deployment. “They installed [the sensors] the way the designs said,” Genesis project manager Donald Sweetnam says. “But they were backwards.” Investigators had suspected that this was the cause since as early as October, 2004.

11 June 2006

Weekend Update

Summer's on a brief vacation here on the Tundra, so not much time at the beach. Friday ; li'l kids dancing. Saturday; dinner 'n' cocktails with friends. Sunday; car show/swap meet, naturally, and then a really entertaining movie from Netflix.

Notice I was not in Ottawa, but others were:

The world's political elite, top thinkers and powerful business folk gathered here for an annual, ultra-secretive Bilderberg conference as heavy security kept conspiracy theorists and curious onlookers at bay. Global luminaries such as former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, US banker David Rockefeller and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands were greeted at the airport by limousine drivers holding single-letter "B" signs late Thursday, said local reports.
They were quickly whisked away to the Brookstreet Hotel in a serene suburb of Ottawa for three-day talks on oil markets, security concerns tied to Iran's nuclear ambitions, terrorism, and immigration, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

But skeptic Daniel Estulin, who flew from Spain to try to cover the conference, said their intent is to "create a world government ruled by an elite group of people whose main objective is to control all the natural resources on the planet."

10 June 2006

We're Number One!

Actually, they're #1, across that too-narrow river:
An FBI report to be released Monday will say that violent crime reports in Minneapolis increased more last year than any other Midwest city and that the jump is among the tops in the United States. The crimes of homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery increased by 35 percent from 2004, compared to an average 5 percent increase for cities of similar size to Minneapolis across the nation, according to FBI crime statistics given to interim Police Chief Tim Dolan on Friday. Violent crime rose an average of 2 percent nationwide.

And according to Minneapolis police data, there were 2,524 reported violent crimes through June 5, up 35 percent from 1,874 at the same time last year. And serious crime, which includes violent crimes plus burglaries, theft and arson, is up 19 percent.

The increase in Minneapolis' violent crime reports is alarming but not surprising, Mayor R.T. Rybak said. He said the city has responded to the crime upturn through new initiatives that aim to crack down on gang activity, reform juvenile offenders and turn at-risk youth away from unlawful lifestyles. Rybak also said he's tried to get more state and federal resources to put more police on the street.
There's your Minneapolis in a nutshell: They're perpetually one more after-school program away from Utopia.

In the Same Boat

I've just always been in the dog camp. I've known some amusing cats, but let's face it - can you ever really trust 'em? No way.

The dog's agenda is short an open and will not change some random morning. Scratch my neck. Fill up that bowl. Make sure I get to bark at the unknown, and let's get that leash out, my bipedal provider.

Lileks gets dogs, and his is and old fart like mine are.

For him there's no yesterday. There's not even a winter, behind or ahead. There's just the smell of the lake and the cool balm of the water. He wasn't wondering whether this was our last summer together.

He was stiff the next day, but when I said "Lake?" he got up and headed to the car. More slowly than before, but still game. Let's go, boss. Let's go.

09 June 2006

Chalk One Up for Mr. Stockman

Stockman reminds us over at The Motley Fool that Zarqawi got blown up in . . . a safe-house.

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Fill Her Up; Check Under the Hood

Three gas station owners report for their first day in prison. The prison guard asks one of them, "What are you in for?" He replies, "The government says I charged customers more for my gasoline than other gas stations. I'm in for price gouging."

The guard looks at the second man. "And you?" He answers, "I charged less for my gasoline than everyone else. I'm in for anti-competitive pricing."

The guard looks to the third. "And you?" He shrugs. "I charged the same price for my gasoline as all the other gas stations. I'm in for collusion."

Now That's Leadership

"Money's tight! What do I do? What do I do?"

Worst-case scenarios for balancing St. Paul's 2007 budget could slash 212 city employees — including 115 police officers and firefighters — or require a 23 percent property tax increase, city officials said Wednesday. Neither extreme is likely, but Mayor Chris Coleman and members of his administration raised the specter to point out the severity of the city's financial woes, which include a $15 million projected budget deficit.
To even propose those two options is childish since neither would be tolerated, even by the new mayor's most lemming-like followers.

When asked if he'd set a limit on how much taxes could go up before facing serious political repercussions, Coleman said he had not. "The worst thing you can say is 'No new taxes.' The second worst thing is trying to forecast what the max you can allow is," he said.
No, 'no new taxes' is not the worst thing you can say. In fact, it should be the first priority. When will the modern, caring, sensitive politicinas get the horese back in front of the cart and realize that cities do not exist to tax citizens and invent things on which to spend the money, cities exist because of citizens who have decided that certian limited roles must become municipal.

The city also unveiled a Web-based "Budget Cruncher" tool that lets citizens try their hands at balancing the city budget and fixing the $15 million deficit. Go to http://www.stpaul.gov/ to try it and for more information.

If you follow the link to the budget tool, you can see what kind of a scam process our city faces. The tool only allows you to adjust the highest-profile or politically-charged budget items like police and fire protection, criminal prosecutions, libraries and code enforcement. Wanna hack out all the lame stuff? Not an option. Of course it lets you raise taxes to the moon, though. The whole thing is very a disingenuous stunt from the mayor and a classic finger-in-the-wind move. Why did we even bother with an election?

And They're Off!

Germany 4 - 2 Costa Rica, and Josie couldn't be happier.

Good doggie . . . now please come off the ceiling.

Happy World Cup Day

The whole world is watching. Don't be a dunce. Keep up on the action. Beware the badgers.

08 June 2006

#1 Terrorist Strikes Again

Within the last 16 hours it seems that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Gonzales and Coulter all had a hand in violating the civil rights, the human rights, and very likely hurt the feelings of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I'll be looking forward to statements of condemnation from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Sierra Club, the Walden Woods Project, the Minneapolis City Council and the Central Corridor Committee.

Of course you remember Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He's the one that flunky failure W will never get, and now that he's been got, the same crowd will say it doesn't matter that he's been eliminated. The goal line is moving as I type this.

Meanwhile, the always-quoteable Al-Qaeda whackjobs promise to keep on keepin' on, making sure that everyone is either as Muslim as them or are promptly killed, 'cuz, you know, that's what ants, sheep and other cavemen are prone to do.

Anyway, congrats to Iraq for taking a big step forward on the journey to national stability. From early reports it look like a team effort by Iraqi security forces, Jordanian intelligence, and coalition air superiority. I tired to get more info from MPR this morning, but they were begging for even more money.

Anyway, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is over. Now if we can just get the other foreign-born fanatical freaks out of Iraq those folks can get to work putting the pieces back together.

06 June 2006

Wit - Above All Else

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend... if you have one."
George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."
Winston Churchill, in reply

05 June 2006

The Short Life of Net Neutrality

No doubt about it - power and priviledge are corrupters, no matter if you're a fitness pimp, a moss-covered education hack, or the largest online presence on Earth:

After sending the Google Help Desk a query concerning the matter, Salvato was informed that there had been complaints of "hate speech" at his website, and as a result, The New Media Journal would no longer be part of Google News. As evidence of his offense, the Google Team supplied Salvato with links to three recent op-eds published by his contributing writers, all coincidentally about radical Islam and its relation to terrorism.

Unfortunately, this was not the first conservative e-zine to be terminated in such a fashion. On March 29, 2005, Rusty Shackleford, owner of The Jawa Report, received a similar e-mail message as Salvato informing him that: "Upon recent review, we've found that your site contains hate speech, and we will no longer be including it in Google News." For those unfamiliar, The Jawa Report focuses a great deal of attention on terrorist issues and how they relate to radical Islam.

A year after Jawa was cut from Google News, Jim Sesi's MichNews.com was banished on April 12. In Sesi's case, the three pieces provided as examples of "hate speech" were articles by conservative writer J. Grant Swank, Jr., all about - you guessed it - radical Islam and terrorism.

See a trend here?
Yea, the trend is to not upset the Boeing-As-Missle Gang or the Fertilizer Bomb Boyz.

Look, I wholly believe any private entity may do and say and cover what it wants. Just don't PRETEND to be in favor of everyone's opinion and access only to slam the door when the subject matter rubs you the wrong way.

03 June 2006

Canada - One Step Forward, One Step Back

Ooop dere Toronto way; seems some nice young men of were planning to make things go boom.

Police also said they seized about three tonnes of the commonly used fertilizer ammonium nitrate. Just one-third of that material was used in the bombing of a U.S. federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people in 1995.

Officers fanned out across the Toronto area on Friday to make the arrests. They later delivered the suspects to the Durham Regional Police Station in Pickering, east of Toronto. The 12 adult suspects, who face terrorism-related charges, were to appear west of the city in a Brampton courtroom later on Saturday. All of the suspects are residents of Canada and most are Canadian citizens of various backgrounds, officials said.
Funny thing is that all these nice young men of obvious Scandinavian, Japanese and Caribbean descent:

1. Fahim Ahmad, 21, Toronto, Ontario
2. Zakaria Amara, 20, Mississauga, Ontario
3. Asad Ansari, 21, Mississauga, Ontario
4. Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30, Mississauga, Ontario
5. Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, Mississauga, Ontario
6. Mohammed Dirie, 22, Kingston, Ontario
7. Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24, Kingston, Ontario
8. Jahmaal James, 23, Toronto, Ontario
9. Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19, Toronto, Ontario
10. Steven Vikash Chand alias Abdul Shakur, 25, Toronto, Ontario
11. Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, Mississauga, Ontario
12. Saad Khalid, 19, Mississauga, Ontario.
What, Canada? Pacifist Canada? Loving, accepting, open-bordered, other-cheek turning Canada? What have they ever done? They're not in Iraq and they only begrudginly sent troops to Afghanistan after all the heavy lifting was done. Oh, yea . . . that's why they're targeted: Canada just isn't Muslim enough for some people

Good catch. I hope there rest of the world is watching.

I don't know if this situation pays any political capital for Stephen Harper, but the Liberal Party is still smarting enought from losing control of the government last time around they're now using children as money-laundering mules to thwart capaign finance laws.
Two 11-year-olds donated $10,800 to Joe Volpe's Liberal leadership campaign, and their 14-year-old brother gave another $5,400. The sums were from children of former Apotex Inc. vice-president Allen Shechtman and were among the 20 donations totalling $108,000 to Mr. Volpe's campaign from five current and former executives of the firm and 15 of their family members.
Surely the national party wouldn't condone such a shell game, right?
The national Liberal Party said yesterday it has no reason to investigate donations to leadership candidate Joe Volpe from current and former executives of a generic drug firm and their relatives, but some Liberal MPs said they have qualms about accepting money from minors.

Mr. Volpe has received donations of $5,400 each from five current and former executives of Apotex Inc. and 15 of their relatives, including some who are under 18.

Companies are banned by law from donating money to a federal leadership campaign and individuals cannot donate more than $5,400. The law also prohibits individuals from donating money on behalf of someone else.
Ah Canada . . . 'tis a confusing place. As if this is some sort of tipping point; I'm in the camp of the Oil come the finals.

01 June 2006

It's Not Easy Being Greenpeace

Especially when you're stumped for catchy hyperbole:

Before President Bush touched down in Pennsylvania Wednesday to promote his nuclear energy policy, the environmental group Greenpeace was mobilizing. "This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet decrying the "threat" posed by the Limerick reactors Bush visited.

But a factoid or two later, the Greenpeace authors were stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor. We present it here exactly as it was written, capital letters and all:

"In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."
I guess it's forgiveable to be disingenuous frauds if you're correct in your thinking, eh comrade?

Like Sands Through the Hourglass . . .

so are the bounces of Little Green Footballs. Start at the top and keep reading. It's very intersteing and revealing.
At 3:23 am, this creature used our contact form to send the following email with the obviously phony Hotmail address ‘zionistpig@hotmail.com’ and the subject line, “You bunch of wankers.”

I look forward to the day when you pigs get your throats cut....

Well, isn’t that tolerant. But this particular death threat is a bit different from the run of the mill hate mail we get around here, because an IP lookup on the sender reveals that he/she/it was using an account at none other than Reuters News: RIPE
Whois Database:
It's quite the saga and is an efeective demonstration of how good detective work should be among the most highly-compesnated skills on Earth.

Are the Sign Carriers Watching?

Fast forward 4 or 10 or 20 years from now, when whackjob Iranian 'leadership' is threatening some part of the world with its nuclear weapons . . . you know, the ones that only the United States tried to prevent them from acquiring way back in '05/'06.

Unfortunately, at whatever level of engagement we find our nation, in this future there will be the inevitable policy-come-lately's, still with the Kerry/Edwards sticker on the rusty Civics, who holler from the rooftops, and whine on the editorial pages, and carry signs on street corners lamenting our/Bush's failure to have dealt with Iran diplomatically back when we could have prevented the escalation.

What? The Bush White House IS trying to deal with Iran diplomatically?

The US shift puts the ball squarely back in Iran's court. In a sense, Ms Rice's statement was Washington's response to the open letter written last month by the country's hardline leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Despite the president's anti-western and anti-Israeli rhetoric, Iran has repeatedly offered to hold talks with the US. By conceding Iran's right to civilian nuclear energy and dangling a wide range of incentives, Ms Rice has called Mr Ahmadinejad's bluff.

If, after serious consideration, Iran formally rejects the offer and the accompanying carrots-and-sticks package to be finalised in Vienna today, the US will be able to say that it has tried its best. And western nations, plus Russia and China, will almost certainly agree. They will be much more likely to unite behind Washington in seeking coercive UN security council action against Tehran. Ms Rice will have achieved her "coalition of the willing".

Not only is the administration doing the right thing, it is again going it alone. So far there has been no effort on the part of Russia, China or India, to say nothing of the laughable UN, to mitigate Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions.

More from the Washington Post:

(Iran) will try to dodge the choice it will be presented or reject it altogether. It will look for support to actors such as Mohamed ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who has publicly undercut the decisions of his own board and the Security Council by proposing that Iran be allowed to continue uranium reprocessing. Tehran also will count on the Bush administration's critics in Europe and Washington to decry the offer to negotiate as unworthy and to insist that the United States offer Iran unconditional bilateral negotiations on all issues.

Ms. Rice made it clear yesterday that no such "grand bargain" is on the table. Were the Bush administration to propose such a scheme, Iran would surely pocket the concession of de facto U.S. recognition while continuing to pursue its nuclear program. Fragile European support for sanctions would quickly give way to pressure on Washington to offer Tehran greater and greater concessions. If, on the other hand, Iran accepts the coming offer, it's possible that Iranian-U.S. talks could evolve into a larger discussion of security issues -- Iraq, Lebanon, global terrorism -- that would benefit both countries, though it's hard to imagine that happening under Iran's current government. For now, the administration has rightly put the focus on forcing Tehran -- not Washington -- to make a choice.