MAXINE

"Aim at Heaven ... you get Earth thrown in - Aim at Earth and you get neither" - C.S. Lewis

Friday, March 31, 2006

Booze Health Benefits Studies Drowning In Flaws

A man in a liquor store. An international team of researchers have found that most studies suggesting that moderate drinking staves off heart disease are flawed (AFP/File)

It never fails, come St. Patrick's Day, Spring Break, Graduation, the Holiday season, hey! - a slow news day, there are these stories about scientific studies that extol the health virtues of drinking alcohol (...in moderation).

Some truth about how these studies were conducted are coming to light and the results are a little woozey.

Excerpts from AFP via Yahoo News -

Studies showing health benefits of alcohol are flawed
Thu Mar 30, 6:17 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Most studies suggesting that moderate drinking staves off heart disease are flawed, an international team of researchers concluded in a report.

In the suspect studies, people who had cut back or quit drinking because they were ill, frail or on medication were counted as "abstainers," whose death rates were compared to that of drinkers, said the study released in San Francisco.
--
"These findings suggest that caution should be exerted in recommending light drinking to abstainers because of the possibility that this result may be more apparent than real," said Tim Stockwell of the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria.
--
Too few studies have been done without the "abstainer error" to conclude that drinking has health benefits, the researchers said.
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This Attitude Should Scare You - A Rant ...


The attitude expressed in this photo should scare every citizen of the U.S. This is why MAXINE believes this whole immigration issue is not really about opportunity, freedom and citizenship. This flap is about illegal occupation and squatters rights without the recognition of the rule of law.

We fought a war (the Mexican-American war). We won the war (the treaty was signed in 1847 just one mile from where I live - Campo de Cahuenga). We put a system in place that is the envy of the world ... not just of Mexicans ... that represents the values of American Culture. Get on board, or go home - but definitely get over it. This is OUR hard fought for HOMELAND and that is the true history! No, we will not give it back or allow you to just occupy it.

This goes for you Canadians too ... well, the really socialist ones anyway!!

... 'nuff said.

The Cost Of Freedom - The Home Front

Photo: Shell Oil in Kowloon, Hong Kong c 1988

This from USA Today-

Ethanol shortage could up gas prices
By James R. Healey, USA TODAY Thu Mar 30, 6:45 AM ET


Gasoline prices will be unusually high and shortages might occur this summer, because the U.S. ethanol industry can't keep up with the demand for fuel-grade alcohol to mix with gasoline, the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration told a Senate committee Wednesday.

Merely "short-term challenges," countered Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol trade group. Whatever can't be produced here can be imported, he said.

But imported ethanol, mostly from Brazil, carries a 54-cents-per-gallon tariff that would boost fuel prices even more, unless it were waived. (Story: Energy independence spurs Brazil to boost ethanol goals)

Ethanol - grain alcohol made mainly from corn in the USA - is being promoted by the auto and ethanol industries and the government as a substitute for gasoline, usually in a mix called E85 that is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline.
--
EIA has forecast summer gasoline prices averaging about $2.50 per gallon, or 12 cents more than last year. It has not, however, directly blamed ethanol shortages.

EIA reported Wednesday that U.S. inventories of gasoline - though still robust - dropped 5.4 million barrels last week, the biggest drop since the week ended Aug. 22, 2003.

The wholesale price of gasoline for summer-month delivery rose several cents a gallon, to about $1.91.

Ethanol, by contrast, ranged from about $2.49 to $2.52.
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Actually, this is good news because some of the fuel consuming public has found a way to participate in the war on terror. Demand is up for E85. This article is just reflecting the cost of freedom on the home front.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

E85 Incentives vs Hybrid Power

(Photo: urbanext.uiuc.edu)

These two articles illustrate the difference in the 'greening' of America approaches and the freedom from our addiction to oil.

This from AP via Convenience Store News -

Kansas Offers More E85 Outlets

HUTCHINSON, Kan.--Although only ten gas stations in Kansas are curently offering E85 fuel, more gas stations are now poised to offer the ethanol-gasoline blend, reported the Associated Press.

Officials say three more will come on line in the next 40 days and an additional 20 are possible by the end of the year, according to the report.

"It's starting to take off like wildfire," Robert White, deputy director of the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, said of E85 sales. White told AP that demand is rising as more vehicles capable of using the fuel are produced.
--
In Kansas, people who buy a vehicle that can use e85 gasoline are qualified for a $750 tax credit if they purchase 500 gallons of fuel in the first two years. State and federal tax credits also cover about 70 percent of the distributors' costs in converting a regular fuel line to an E85 line, AP reported.

Last week, the Kansas Legislature passed a bill lowering the tax on E85 from 24 cents to 17 cents per gallon. That bill awaits Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' signature, AP reported.

"It makes the tax fairer, because with the flat tax for all fuels you were actually paying more per mile when using E85," Sue Schulte, communications director for the Kansas corn growers and grain sorghum producers associations, told AP. "And it encourages the use of E85, too."

Read All>>

Although some people think this is a better idea.

This excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter -

March 22, 2006
New Lexus Hybrid Sedan Emphasizes Performance Over Efficiency

Are you looking for a high-performance luxury sedan, but hoping to avoid fuel economy in the teens? The new Lexus GS 450h may be your dream car. The sedan's fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 28 mpg on the highway doesn't break any mileage records, but the GS 450h does set a new performance level for hybrids. The rear-wheel-drive sedan accelerates to sixty miles per hour in only 5.2 seconds; according to Autos.com, that places it on par with the Porsche Cayman S.
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This is exciting that an automobile company is producing a HYBRID car that is among the quickest 10% of all production automobiles but I believe this misses the point in aid to the world war on terror.

Isn't it the point to become less addicted to oil based products and thereby reduce the major funding source of radical Islamic fascists?

For every gallon of E85 consumed, a gallon of oil based petrol fuel is not. A fair trade as MAXINE sees it!

Grinding Meathead - Sausage Out, Chorizo In?

(Photo: tastingmenu.com)

In a suprising move rarely seen in California politics, a major political figure, in control of hundreds of millions of dollars, resigns. Rob Reiner tendered his resignation today and suggests to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that he appoint his equally liberal political associate, Hector Ramirez. Gov. Arnold, felt comfortable "cooking" with similar meat. A new "controversy meal" is served.

Excerpts from LA Weekly, Bill Bradley's New West Notes -

FLASH: Rob Reiner Out Of First 5 (With Updates Throughout Day)
March 29th, 2006

Controversial movie director/initiative promoter Rob Reiner has resigned his long expired term as chairman AND member of the California Children and Families Commission (aka First 5). Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed Para Los Ninos chief operating officer Hector Ramirez to replace him. Para Los Ninos is a very well-respected nonprofit family service organization in the Los Angeles area which receives funding from First 5.
--
UPDATE: Support for Reiner's Preschool for All initiative, Proposition 82 on California's June ballot, has spun downwards to barely more than 50 percent in new polling, a perilously low level of support for a complex fiscally-oriented ballot measure.

Prop 10 is funded by a 50 cent a pack tax on cigarettes. Prop 82 would be funded by an income tax surcharge on high-income Californians. In both cases, Reiner's stewardship of taxpayer money is at issue.
--
UPDATE: Schwarzenegger may have created another controversy for himself with the appointment of Hector Ramirez as First 5 Chairman. Ramirez is a political associate of Reiner's. The Proposition 82 campaign was launched at an event outside Para Los Ninos. Ramirez served on the executive committee of the First 5 LA's Preschool For All Initiative, which was, as I reported earlier, Reiner and First 5's initial attempt to institute a publicly-funded universal preschool program and served as a model for Prop 82.

Ramirez is also a leading member of the National Council of La Raza ("The Race"), an advocacy organization on a variety of issues, including immigration reform, in which it is frequently opposed to Schwarzenegger's policy.

Ramirez, according to his bio, serves as co-chair of the California Region Education Committee for the National Council of La Raza. The Packard Foundation (based on the Hewlett-Packard Co. fortune), which has worked closely with Rob Reiner on the First 5 program in general and Preschool For All in particular, is a major funder of the National Council of La Raza.
--
UPDATE: Mark Fabiani called a little while ago. Fabiani has very recently come on board as public relations counsel to Rob Reiner. Fabiani has extensive high-level political and PR experience. He is perhaps best known for serving as special counsel to President Bill Clinton handling the Whitewater controversy.
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With Rob Reiner (Meathead to sausage) being able to replace himself with a staunch political ally, it will be hard for him to continue to allege that he was pressured out due to partisan politics. The issue has always been Reiner's possible illegal use of government funds to pursue/fund personal political objectives.

UPDATE: Friday, March 31 - More excerpts from LA Weekly, Bill Bradley's New West Notes -

Rob Reiner's End Game

By the end of last week, it was evident that movie director/initiative promoter Rob Reiner was in very hot political water. The California State Auditor investigation of his California Children and Families Commission, previously not scheduled, was now imminent, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office continued its review, his Proposition 82 universal preschool initiative was in trouble in the polls, his friend Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was pressured by the controversy and involvement of his associates with the commission, and Reiner, hardly a man bereft of public relations counsel, was attempting to hire several high-powered PR and lobbying pros.
--
“The audit is clearly important,” said (California State Auditor Elaine)Howle. Important enough to move ahead of an audit of University of California financial practices. Once begun in mid-April, the audit will take four months.

“I expect to finish in August,” the state auditor said. “I don’t see that as a problem.” Finishing in August will allow time for legislative hearings on the Auditor’s findings.

She described the audit as having a very expansive reach, looking through the commission’s activities from 2004 on.
--
Reiner had put his friend Schwarzenegger on the spot, testing their Hollywood friendship by his refusal to finally step away from the commission, where his term had actually expired in 2004. His half-measure of taking a leave of absence had clearly and predictably failed. So over the past weekend, he spoke with the governor and made clear his intention to resign. The former action superstar agreed to replace Reiner with a Reiner associate, Hector Ramirez, chief operating officer of the highly respected Los Angeles family service organization, Para Los Ninos.
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We will all watch as this "controversy meal" continues to simmer. To date, this whole Rob Reiner controversy has given us Meathead ground to sausage -- momentarily changed to schnitzel -- then added chorizo -- a sausage, schnitzel, chorizo stew seems to be what is simmering and it should be plated and ready to serve by the end of summer.

Thank you Bill Bradley and LA Weekly for showing the MSM (re: LA Times) how to cover, report, and inform citizens of the goings on in Sacramento.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Greater Level Of Disrespect/An American Problem


This level of disrespect for our American values is what MAXINE was trying to point out in previous posts. Again, a large segment of the illegal immigant population believe they have the RIGHT to enjoy our opportunities without being a citizen ...

This from Michelle Malkin -

THE AMERICAN FLAG COMES SECOND

By
Michelle Malkin · March 29, 2006 01:15 AM

You will not see this heart-stopping photo on the front page of the NY Times or on the lead story of the major news networks.
You should (hat tip: Mika and F/R):

03/28 : Student protest
Whittier area students from Pioneer, California and Whittier high schools
walked out of classes to protest the proposed federal immigration bill March 27, 2006. The protestors put up the Mexican flag over the American flag flying upside down at Montebello High. (Leo Jarzomb/Staff photo)
--
Like I said: Welcome to reconquista.

I predict this stunt will be the nail in the coffin of any guest-worker/amnesty plan on the table in Washington. The image of the American flag subsumed by another and turned upside down on American soil is already spreading on Internet forums and via e-mail.

The battle for borders and immigration laws that actually mean something, however, hasn't even begun.

NOTE: An upsidedown display of the American Flag is actually a signal for DISTRESS! An unintended message communicated but definitely noted and taken to heart at MAXINE.

The Language Of Equivocation

(Photo: Carlos Chavez / LAT)

My son-in-law shared a story with me about a conversation he had at work. He works in a service based industry along with many co-workers who are concerned with what congress may do to actually clamp down on illegal immigration.

When he was reading the LA Times during a break, he chuckled to himself over the picture he noticed on the front page. The photo featured a group of high school 'protesters' carrying a Mexican flag (above).

The co-worker asked "What's funny?" My son-in-law responded that if these people are trying to create sympathy to their cause of immigration ... "they might be carrying the wrong flag, do you think?"

The co-worker's response was quite revealing to anyone who cares for the freedoms and commerce our system creates ... "Well, we really do not want to become American citizens."

I am just now listening to an interview with Gov. Bill Richardson (D) New Mexico. Gov. Richardson actually believes the opposite of what was expressed to my son-in-law. That these 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants (squatters?) actually would like the opportunity to gain the respect, dignity, and recognition that comes from attaining citizenship.

This opinion from the New York Post -

THE AMERICA THEY 'KNOW'
By Arnold Ahlert

March 29, 2006 -- THE hundreds of thousands of protesters who took to the streets in favor illegal immigration seem to "know" America better than most Americans. Here's some of what they know:


* The rule of law is irrelevant whenever enforcement becomes impractical, burdensome or politically inconvenient. The thousands of marchers, many illegals, had no fear whatsoever of being arrested or detained.


* The English language is "flexible." Thus "illegal alien" becomes "undocumented worker" - as if the two were actually interchangeable.

* We're the world's leading practitioner of moral relativism - free to say that anyone who opposes massive law-breaking or defends the integrity of American culture is "racist" or "xenophobic."

* The will of the American people is of no consequence. Poll after poll shows a substantial majority opposed to amnesty, guest-worker programs, open borders, drivers' licenses for illegals, etc. - but our politicians care more about courting Hispanic votes. Though Congress has passed seven separate amnesties for illegal aliens since 1986, the Senate's getting ready to pass another.

All sad but true. Just read the transcript of the speeches given at these rallies.

While the protesters covet the opportunities that exist here in the U.S. ... they really want to tear down the freedoms and opportunities that have taken over 200 years to create - it's called An American Culture - and it comes with citizenship!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Eyes (and fingers) Have "IT"


It has to fast, un-invasive, 99%+ accurate, and secure ... but it is an interesting area of Information Technology expansion and application.

This from Business Week Online -

Biometrics: Payments at Your Fingertips
Fingerprints and iris scans will replace keys and credit cards if outfits like Pay By Touch succeed in their biologic mission
Technology - By Alex Halperin


In the future, no one will need pockets. That stuff jingling around in there -- keys, credit cards, checkbooks -- will be replaced by something closer to the body. When you need to open a door or make a purchase, chances are you'll do it with a fingerprint, a voice command, or a computer scan of your eyeball.

That is, if companies like Pay By Touch have anything to say about it. Pay By Touch, a closely held San Francisco outfit, specializes in biometrics, or the technology of identifying people by unique biologic traits -- not just fingerprints, but also irises, palms, and voices. And increasingly, those traits are being used in place of keys, credit cards, and even computer passwords.
--
What's in it for the store? Using fingerprint scanners can accelerate purchase times by minimizing the checkout lane "fumble factor." Because a customer's Pay By Touch account can be linked to several payment devices, retailers can also save money by encouraging people to use accounts that incur lower fees, such as a checking account accessed by debit card. A recent report by Bernstein Research noted that systems like Pay By Touch could increase pressure on credit-card companies to reduce their charges to retailers so they don't lose market share.

BARGAIN ALERT. Supermarket owners overall say they're pleased with Pay By Touch results. "We'd like to encourage anybody who has a checking account to enroll in Pay By Touch," says Trisha Belisle, manager of retail technology at Cub Foods, a Midwest supermarket chain owned by Supervalu (
SVU). She declined to comment on whether it saves the stores money, however.
--
PRIVACY PERIL. Jay Stanley, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union's Technology & Liberty Project, says that information obtained by a biometrics company could threaten consumer privacy, though he doesn't single out Pay By Touch. "The main problem with the situation we're in right now is that the technology is really ahead of the law," Stanley says.

The ACLU does not object to biometrics technology itself. "We need a law to prevent against the dark side of new tech to make sure they are not used against us" by the government mandating it or companies selling it, Stanley says.

Read All>>

Where would we be if the ACLU wasn't there protecting us from our silly selves?

Republished at Symblogogy - All Things Automatic Identification & Data Collection!

Tying Environment To Marketing Strategy

Side View of Itasca, Illinois OfficeMax Headquarters

Killing two birds with one stone - No, this is not an avian flu update!

This release from OfficeMax via RetailWire Newsletter -

OfficeMax Launches Nationwide 900+ Store Rollout of Ink Refill Station Program
Challenging Consumers to Be Environmentally Responsible, Save Money By Refilling Computer Printer Ink Cartridges

ITASCA, Ill., March 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Determined to persuade millions of Americans to save money and be environmentally responsible by refilling their old computer printer ink cartridges rather than buying new ones, OfficeMax kicked-off one of the most ambitious service launches in the Company's history. The OfficeMax Ink program, which involves installing Ink Filling Station kiosks that will enable consumers at nearly 900 OfficeMax stores by Fall 2006 to refill empty ink cartridges at up to 50 percent savings over buying a new cartridge, is the first step in OfficeMax's new Ink Initiative. The Company-wide Ink Initiative is designed to provide OfficeMax customers with a total ink solution spanning the purchase of new ink cartridges (either branded or OfficeMax's own label), the refilling of empty ones, and the recycling of ink cartridges that have reached the end of their useful life.
--
"Throughout the world, consumers throw out 300 million ink cartridges a year -- and because cartridges are made of materials which do not degrade in landfills for 1,000 years, empty ink cartridges are an environmental challenge," says Ryan Vero, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for OfficeMax.
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Loyalty Card Preference Survey Results

It strikes me those consumers who like to use loyalty cards, should be allowed a choice of use redemption options.

This from Progressive Grocer -

When Using Loyalty Cards, Adults Prefer Discounts at Each Supermarket Visit: Study
MARCH 28, 2006

-- BALTIMORE -- Forty-nine percent of adults prefer a discount on specific products during each store visit, vs. 34 percent who prefer to accumulate points for a larger reward or payoff at stores that offer a frequent buyer or loyalty card program, according to the proprietary "Customer Focus 2006: Grocery" study from targeted advertising, media, and marketing services provider Vertis here. More specifically, 51 percent of men age 50 and over and women age 35 to 49 who have loyalty cards prefer a discount as opposed to amassing points, the study found.

"From the results of our study, we have noticed a shift in reward programs and an increase in usage among younger demographics," said Vertis v.p., market insights Jim Litwin in a statement. "This presents an opportunity for marketers to better understand different demographics and apply this knowledge to effectively target consumers."
--
Additional finding were as follows:

-- If a store offered a frequent buyer or loyalty card program, 51 percent of professional/white-collar adults would prefer a discount on specific products during each visit, compared with 46 percent of blue-collar adults surveyed.

-- 42 percent of Hispanic consumers prefer to accumulate points for a larger reward or payoff, vs. 34 percent of total adults.
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You guessed it; the majority of people who can afford the "delayed gratification" approach already know that we are NOT serious about the enforcement of our immigration laws.

White House Chief of Staff Resigns

White House Chief of Staff Andy Card is seen at the Reagan Office Building in Washington, DC November 3, 2004. Card will resign on April 14 and be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

In a news cast cut-in on IMUS In The Morning broadcast - MSNBC, the crowd on IMUS made these comments (paraphrased) observing Andrew Card's demeanor.

"He looked as if he had a couple of hooded gunmen off to the side"

... "He should have been sat down in front of the podium with a hood on with demands of the release of prisoners from around the world."

Or this, "... we see Andy get into a cab and drive off before the final, in cab, interview" (ala The Apprentice)

... "and the rest of the staff is being told, as they leave the room, our approval ratings are down so your task this week is to get them back up, and if they aren't up, we will go to the board room where one of you WILL be fired!"

This from Reuters -

Chief of Staff Card resigns
25 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House chief of staff Andrew Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

Card will depart the White House on April 14.

--
"It is something he initiated," the official said.
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Afghan Christian Convert Released Now Missing

We should all pray for his safety. This could get very ugly.

After a whitewash of a dismissal, do we now have a "kick 'em to the curb", prison justice type of release?

Why wasn't he released into the custody of people who wanted to take him in a safe haven country?

This from AP via Yahoo News -

Christian Convert Vanishes After Release
By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 2 minutes ago


KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity quickly vanished Tuesday after he was released from prison, apparently out of fear for his life with Muslim clerics still demanding his death.

Italy's Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini said he would ask his government to grant Abdul Rahman asylum. Fini was among the first to speak out on the man's behalf.


Rahman, 41, was released from the high-security Policharki prison on the outskirts of Kabul late Monday, Afghan Justice Minister Mohammed Sarwar Danish told The Associated Press.
"We released him last night because the prosecutors told us to," he said. "His family was there when he was freed, but I don't know where he was taken."

--
On Monday, hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting "Death to Christians!" marched through the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to protest the court decision Sunday to dismiss the case. Several Muslim clerics threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.

"Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it," said senior Cleric Faiez Mohammed, from the nearby northern city of Kunduz. "The Christian foreigners occupying
Afghanistan are attacking our religion."

Rahman was arrested last month after police discovered him with a Bible during a custody dispute over his two daughters. He was put on trial last week for converting 16 years ago while he was a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan. He faced the death penalty under Afghanistan's Islamic laws.
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Let the man live with his beliefs.

UPDATE, 12:28 PM, PST -

Afghan Convert in Hiding After Release
By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writer 45 minutes ago

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity was freed from prison and went into hiding Tuesday in Kabul after Muslim clerics threatened his life. Italy said it may grant him asylum.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Respect, Dignity, Recognition

The protest march in downtown Los Angeles went from Broadway and Olympic to City Hall. (Bob Chamberlin / LAT) Mar. 25, 2006

It is more about pandering, voting block, and degradation to the rule of law. If you listened to the Mayor of LA speak yesterday, you would think that the rule of law and actual citizenship of the nation stand for nothing.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa briefly addressed the rally."We cannot criminalize people who are working, people who are contributing to our economy and contributing to the nation," Villaraigosa said. So Tony, we are criminalizing because we want to have our laws enforced.

Mayor, Mayor, ... who is breaking the law here? It is the "un-documented" workers who are choosing to break the law (lawbreaker, criminal).

Respect, Dignity, Recognition was printed on a protest sign at the immigration rally here in Los Angeles over the weekend. Respect, Dignity, & Recognition are given when one stands up to be recognized by applying for work permits and respect is achieved by participating in the process of LEGAL IMMIGRATION - once legal, one achieves dignity!

Opinion from the New York Post -

IMMIGRATION: A FIRST STEP
By ABBY WISSE SCHACHTER

March 27, 2006 -- STARTING WITH ENFORCEMENT MAKES SENSE. It's showdown day for immigration reform - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's deadline for the Judiciary Committee to approve a bill, or he'll send his own enforcement-only bill direct to the floor.


At issue is whether the next step is that sort of enforcement-first approach, or whether Congress should include other steps toward comprehensive immigration reform. The problem with the second approach is that "steps toward" comprehensive reform don't solve the immediate crisis any better than enforcement alone.
Read More>>

Sunday, March 26, 2006

'05 Champ Wins For New Team By .014 Seconds

Photo Credit: danwheldonfans.com

The first race of the 2006 season had a classic IRL finish ... side-by-side at over 200 MPH at less than a tenth of a second seperation. The finish was the 9th closest finish in IRL history.

Dan Wheldon, last year's champion for the Andretti/Green Racing team became the winner of his first race driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. During the last 20 laps, Wheldon and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske traded the lead in side-by-side fashion with Wheldon on the outside. Behind them, racing three wide much of the time were Sam Hornish - Team Penske, Dario Franchiti - Andretti/Green Racing, and Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing ... all with a ringside seat to the outside pass that won the race.

From indycar.com -

Wheldon edges Castroneves for victory
Sunday, March 26, 2006 By indycar.com staff

"Hopefully we put on a good race on a very sad day," said Wheldon, the reigning IndyCar Series champion. "It is a very entertaining series, and certainly one of the most competitive in the world."

Wheldon and Castroneves were wheel to wheel coming out of Turns 3 and 4, and rubbed tires at least twice.

"That's one of the things about the IndyCar Series; everybody respects each other an immense amount," said Wheldon, who led eight laps. "Whenever you run side by side with Helio, he gives you just enough room, and hoepfully I do the same."
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Rahal-Letterman Team Pulls Cars, Driver Death

Driver Paul Dana of St. Louis, Mo. is seen at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla. Saturday March 25, 2006. Dana died after a two-car crash Sunday, March 26, 2006, during the warmup for the season-opening IRL IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (AP Photo/Luis Alvarez)

It is a sad, sad day. May God bless the family and survivors of Paul Dana.

AP story via Yahoo News -

IRL Driver Paul Dana Dies After Crash
By MIKE HARRIS, AP Motorsports Writer 12 minutes ago

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Driver Paul Dana died after a two-car crash Sunday during the warmup for the season-opening IRL IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The other driver, Ed Carpenter, was awake and alert at a Miami hospital, IRL officials said.
Dana, 30, a former motorsports journalist with a degree from Northwestern, was a rookie who competed in three IRL races for Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing last year with a best finish of 10th in the race at Homestead.


The Toyota Indy 300 race was expected to be run as scheduled. Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing for which Dana was to race this season, said the team's other two cars — driven by Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice — will be pulled out of the race.

Dana's wife, Tonya, was in Indianapolis, where the couple lived, and was notified of her husband's death while attending a church service.

"Obviously, this is a very black day for us," Rahal said. "This is a great tragedy."
Read More>>

Paul Dana would have been 31 on April 15th.

UPDATE: 1:40 PM, PST - Ed Carpenter does not have any broken bones. Currently receiving full body CAT scan tests.

It's Time To Drop The Checkered Flag!

Logo Credit: indyracing.com

Today is the day the first American series open wheel race of the 2006 season will held. The flag drops in Homestead, Florida on the first of fourteen races, eleven of which are staged on oval tracks. This racing series was spawned by Tony George, the owner of the Indiapolis 500 (to be raced later this year).

This from the Indy Car Website -

Sunday, March 26, 2006
Who will win? It's anyone's guess, and everyone has one
By Dave Lewandowskiindycar.com

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Three points to consider when watching or listening to the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at 3:30 p.m. (EST) on ABC, IMS Radio Network affiliates, and also simulcast on XM Satellite Radio IndyCar channel 145 and indycar.com:

Parity: Sure, with each of the 20 cars having the same Honda HI6R Indy V-8 engine, there will be a more level playing field. But that only goes so far; more will be in the hands of the drivers and their pit crews. “Eighty percent driver and 20 percent pit stops,” said Helio Castroneves, who will start on the front row alongside Marlboro Team Penske teammate and pole winner Sam Hornish Jr. “Because the equipment seems to be similar, small differences in a setup will make a big difference on the racetrack. The team and driver that find that better is definitely going to be in good shape.”

Old guard: Don’t discount Eddie Cheever Jr. and Buddy Lazier. Sure their programs are new and they’ll be starting from the rear of the field, but experience goes a long way. Both will make a statement.

Next generation: Marco Andretti has the pedigree and P.J. Chesson the Car Melo. The first is a household name at age 19 because of his grandfather and father. The latter will be a household name before the season is half over.
--
One thing is for sure, the season will kick off today with high energy (and we’re not only talking about the ethanol/methanol blended fuel).
Read All>>

Now, if only we all drove those cars, we wouldn't be addicted to oil anymore ... hummmm?!

The first race of the primarily road course, open wheel racing series, "Champ Car World Series" comes in a couple of weeks in Long Beach (April 9th) ... Now That Is Racing!!

These cars run on streets, airports, dedicated road courses and one fabled oval known as the "Milwaukee Mile". It is an American series that is contested internationally (similar to Formula One) and features racing venues in the US, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Australia. By the way, these cars run on Ethanol/Methanol blended fuel as well.

It is time for the 2006 season to begin!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Protest, What Protest?

Demonstrators gather to protest federal legislation that would build more walls along the U.S. - Mexico border and make helping illegal immigrants a crime, in front of City Hall in Los Angeles, Saturday, March 25, 2006. ( AP Photo:Ann Johansson)

To be honest, I was driving through downtown today and it looked the same (have you ever been in Downtown LA on a weekend day?). Nobody ever goes to downtown LA on the weekends except shoppers … Latin culture shoppers with Banda music blaring into the streets from about every fifth store front. It looked like a brisk business day.

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo News -

Thousands March in L.A. Over Immigration
By PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer (Associated Press writer Bob Jablon contributed to this report)

LOS ANGELES - Tens of thousands of immigrant rights advocates from across Southern California marched Saturday in protest of federal legislation that would build more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border and make helping illegal immigrants a crime.

The march followed rallies on Friday that drew throngs of protesters to major cities around the nation.

On Saturday, demonstrators streamed into downtown Los Angeles for what was expected to be one of the city's largest pro-immigrant rallies. The crowd was estimated at more than 100,000, said police Sgt. Lee Sands.
--
Elger Aloy, 26, of Riverside, a premed student, pushed a stroller with his 8-month-old son at Saturday's Los Angeles march.

"I think it's just inhumane. ... Everybody deserves the right to a better life," Aloy said of the legislation.
--
"They say we are criminals. We are not criminals," said Salvador Hernandez, 43, of Los Angeles, a resident alien who came to the United States illegally from
El Salvador 14 years ago and worked as truck driver, painter and day laborer.

Francisco Flores, 27, a wood flooring installer from Santa Clarita who is a former illegal immigrant, said, "We want to work legally, so we can pay our taxes and support the country, our country."
Read All>>

Well Mr. Flores was the only person interviewed for the article that has it right ... on several counts:

He is a former illegal immigrant (former lawbreaker), operative word - former.

He wants to work legally.

He wants to pay taxes.

He wants to support the country ... His country (I think he means the USA?)!

Why is he protesting, he wants what every American wants ... legal immigration and respect for our laws ... eventually.

UPDATE: 6:35 PM, PST
From AP - Immigration March Draws 500,000 in L.A. ... Must have been a sale!

The Face Of Taliban Fear

A TV frame grab, aired on March 22, 2006, shows Abdur Rahman holding a translated version of the Bible at a Kabul court.
(Reuters TV/Reuters)

What will happen when Abdur Rahman, 40, goes to trial in Afghanistan for believing that Jesus Christ died for his sins and, by believing this is so, he will have everlasting life?

This simple belief, shared by billions of humans throughout the world, is against the constitutional law in Afghanistan ... save for one small caveat. The Afghan constitution says it will abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines freedom of religion.

News item from Reuters -

Afghans grapple for solution to convert crisis
By Robert Birsel – Reuters

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan officials, trying to resolve a crisis over an Afghan who may face the death penalty for converting to Christianity, struggled on Saturday to satisfy conflicting international and domestic demands.

The controversy over the man who abandoned Islam, Abdur Rahman, 40, threatens to drive a wedge between Afghanistan and the Western backers who ensure its security and finance its development. Rahman's trial is due to start in a few days.

International pressure on Afghanistan to respect Rahman's religious freedom and release him from jail has been met in Afghanistan by calls for him to be tried under Islamic law and executed, and a threat of rebellion if the government frees him.
Read More>>

UPDATE - AP, 5:26 AM, PST

Case Dropped Against Afghan Christian

POLICHARKI, Afghanistan - An Afghan court has dismissed the case against a man who converted from Islam to Christianity for lack of evidence, an official said Sunday.
--
On Sunday, he was moved to a notorious maximum-security prison outside Kabul that is also home to hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida militants. The move to Policharki Prison came after detainees threatened his life at an overcrowded police holding facility in central Kabul, a court official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Gen. Shahmir Amirpur, who is in charge of Policharki, confirmed the move and said Rahman had also been begging his guards to provide him with a Bible.
Raed All>>

This is very good news but the question has to be asked.

Is not a dismissal due to a lack of evidence a whitewash of the issue before the court, shouldn't there have been a ruling that - in fact - religious freedom is legally enforced in Afghanistan? And on that basis, Abdur Rahman was wrongfully charged in the first place?

Give the man a Bible! The fear is still here.

Friday, March 24, 2006

More About The New York Times & Scamming

This from the Washington Post -

Of Media Mistakes and Explanations
By Howard KurtzWashington Post Staff WriterFriday, March 24, 2006; 8:51 AM

Stop the presses: The New York Times has been
scammed again :

"An article in The Metro Section on March 8 profiled Donna Fenton, identifying her as a 37-year-old victim of Hurricane Katrina who had fled Biloxi, Miss., and who was frustrated in efforts to get federal aid as she and her children remained as emergency residents of a hotel in Queens.

"Yesterday, the New York police arrested Ms. Fenton, charging her with several counts of welfare fraud and grand larceny. Prosecutors in Brooklyn say she was not a Katrina victim, never lived in Biloxi and had improperly received thousands of dollars in government aid. Ms. Fenton has pleaded not guilty.

"For its profile, The Times did not conduct adequate interviews or public record checks to verify Ms. Fenton's account, including her claim that she had lived in Biloxi."

As Reagan said, trust but verify. This is particularly unfortunate since the Times admitted six days ago buying a bill of goods from a former Abu Ghraib prisoner who claimed to have been the hooded guy photographed on that box.

I mention this as a backhanded way of getting into a discussion about media transparency. The Times, in my view, has made great strides on that front since Bill Keller took over in the wake of the Jayson Blair debacle. I've generally found Keller candid and accessible (except when he made a decision that he could not detail why the paper held the domestic eavesdropping story for a year without compromising confidential sources).
Read More>>

If you read on you will see the word overstretched again, however, it is used to speculate about a military draft. MSM News people interviewed for this article diffuse their own lazy, scamming ways by trying to work/massage in a "hot point" political discussion - This Is Rich!

Let us just say, in a paraphrase, that "the truth does not justify the means" at The New York Times.

Reporting Bad News In Iraq is ALL About Budgeting!

Yep! That is what the big media person said here in this USA TODAY article.

Excerpts -

Reporters in Iraq under fire there, and from critics
By Mark Memmott, USA TODAY

As they begin a fourth year covering the war in Iraq, journalists there face increasing threats to their safety and increasing criticism of their work.


It started as arguably the best-covered war in history: Hundreds of reporters traveled with the military as it invaded Iraq, and then hundreds more moved freely around the country as troops secured Baghdad. Today, it has become for some journalists the least-covered war.

Newspapers and other media have cut the number of reporters in the war zone. The reporters who remain in Iraq find leaving their hotels or rental houses difficult for fear of being killed or kidnapped.
--
"Have we undercovered the good news?" asks John Burns, Baghdad bureau chief for The New York Times. "We probably have. But there's nothing willful about it. I would enter a plea of mitigation that we are overstretched."
Read All>>

So, the reason this MSM card carrying New York Times bureau chief in Baghdad has to offer up is that they are "OVERSTRETCHED".

Okay, so it has absolutely nothing to do with the ease of paying Iraqi stringers and/or gleening digital content from enemy websites for explosive footage and photos, or agenda focus because we (the MSM) hate Bush, love Democrats, and Socialism. Yea, right!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good Story From Iraq ... Largely Ignored!

Story NOT picked-up by the mainstream media. MAXINE waited nearly 20 hours to post this account just to see if it might catch on anywhere. Few outlets joined in.

This from AP via Yahoo News -

Iraqi Insurgents' Raid on Jail Thwarted
By VANESSA ARRINGTON, Associated Press Writer 3-22-2006 8:23 PM, PST


BAGHDAD, Iraq - Emboldened a day after a successful jailbreak, insurgents laid siege to another prison Wednesday. This time, U.S. troops and a special Iraqi unit thwarted the pre-dawn attack south of Baghdad, overwhelming the gunmen and capturing 50 of them, police said.

Although the raid failed, the insurgents' ability to put together such large and well-armed bands of fighters underlined concerns about the ability of Iraqi police and military to take over the fight from U.S. troops. Sixty militants participated in the assault, which attempted to free more jailed Sunni insurgents, police said.

The attack on the prison in Madain, 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, began with insurgents firing 10 mortar rounds. They then stormed the facility, which is run by the Interior Ministry, a predominantly Shiite organization and heavily infiltrated by members of various Shiite militias.

Four police officers — including the commander of the special unit — died in a two-hour gunbattle, which was subdued only after American forces arrived. Among the 50 captured, police said, was one Syrian.

The U.S. military did not respond to a request for comment about its role in the counterattack. The raid came a day after 100 Sunni gunmen freed 33 prisoners and wrecked a jail, police station and courthouse in Muqdadiyah, a town northeast of Baghdad near the Iranian border.
Read More>>

Iraqi special unit - ALLRIGHT. It seems that some of the problem of the lack of broad based reporting comes from editors based here and not in Iraq. If this story caught my eye, why didn't catch the eye of any other outlet than YAHOO?

UPDATE: Fox News and Washington Post weigh in.

Go Ahead, Go On Strike, Then Go Home - REALLY!

Leonardo Salazar, left, and Eaulojea Martinez, center, join a "A Day Without an Immigrant" rally in Philadelphia. (Photo Credit: By Bradley C. Bower -- Bloomberg News)

Excerpts from the Washington Post -

Immigration Debate Heats Up
Undocumented Workers Rally as Tough Measures Are Considered
By
Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff WriterWednesday, March 22, 2006; Page A03

PHILADELPHIA -- The phones started jumping off their hooks early on that "Scary Tuesday," so named because callers were spreading panic in this city's Spanish-speaking community. They said federal agents were hauling illegal immigrants from their jobs and deporting them.

Osmin Amilca of Guatemala ran home and locked the door. Daniel Tetl of Mexico shut off the lights at work and cleaned in the dark. "It was the craziest day of my life," said activist Peter Bloom, who fielded dozens of calls, including one from a man who said that agents were right outside his front door. "People were literally hallucinating."

Activists say the debate in Washington over the toughest proposals against illegal immigration in recent times was the reason behind the panic. The fear and paranoia were so strong on that Tuesday, Jan. 31, that the Italian Market at Ninth Street and Washington Avenue virtually shut down because illegal immigrants refused to come to work at meatpacking plants, vegetable stands, fish markets and restaurants.
--
Pro-immigrant activists are planning an April 10 protest in 10 cities that could pull tens of thousands of immigrant workers from their jobs.
--
Such a day was carried out with mixed results on Feb. 14 in Philadelphia, when about 5,000 immigrants rallied on Independence Mall, according to the activists who organized it. But downtown civic groups said the economic impact was so small that they barely felt it.
--
Opponents of illegal immigration were unsympathetic. Chris Simcox, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, said Diaz and others are not "representing the immigrant community" but rather "representing the illegal immigrant community."

"I'm sorry that they're fearful that we're going to enforce the law," Simcox said. "Maybe that's a sign that they should return home and reenter this country by our rules. Then they would have nothing to worry about. They could hold their heads high."
--
On Martes de Miedo -- Tuesday of Fear -- men carried half their family savings with them in case they were picked up, Diaz said. Mothers did not go to work for fear their children would return from school and discover that their parents had been deported.

"It was really, really bad," said Raul Castro, who closed his Mexican restaurant for lack of business that day.
--
On the following Thursday, Romero said, he sold 12 airline tickets to people who have since returned to Mexico, an assertion that could not be confirmed. "I've never sold that many tickets," he said. "They said they would have to go back anyway."
Read All>>

Please quit whining if you are here illegally. Gaining respect is a two way street.

Is it to much to ask that our laws are to be respected and enforced? Please show up at these rallies and work boycotts, maybe then our laws will be enforced.

Freedom is not free, but it can be relatively easy to obtain. Petition the world to change the country you are born into (the UN?) or move to the United States legally … please have a working knowledge of English; it will help ease the transition.

MSM Giant Has A Big Problem

This from the New York Post -

BOSTON AD SKID CHILLS TIMES
By KEITH J. KELLY

March 23, 2006 -- The New York Times Company yesterday warned of a first-quarter slump, pinning the blame squarely on weak advertising business at the Boston Globe and other Times-owned papers in the region.


The warning came as company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. planned a trip to Boston next week, creating anxiety in the newsrooms of the Globe and other New England Newspaper Group papers.

Times officials insist, however, that the Sulzberger visit is "routine" and that no more cutbacks are planned.
--
The warning was a "disaster," according to Ed Atorino, an analyst at Benchmark Inc. "The Boston Globe seems to be having some major problems in help wanted, retail, across the board."

Atorino said the group's 12 percent decline in February ad revenue was "probably the worst of any major newspaper group."
Read All>>

So let us get this straight, ad revenues are down due to weak advertising business – yea - right!

People do not trust the mainstream press to deliver a clean, clear balanced message so they do not buy as many papers.

Advertisers, facing an economy that’s clicking along (yesterday, the DOW closed up 81 to 11,317 and change) have to advertise, so they place their message where it is expected to be delivered to people who believe in capitalism and buy products.

MSM, facing a business model in decline, refuses to look at the obvious for answers. “Nope, it’s the WEAK Advertising business”. It is a little like Hollywood complaining that nobody goes out to see all of their “Award Nominated/Award Winning” movies.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Grinding Meathead - Changing Sausage To Schnitzel

Rob Reiner must be living a blessed life. The minute his head is put into the meat grinder, Governor Arnold decides to step in and make this whole mess his own. That is how one makes schnitzel out of sausage. Californians are goin'a eat this up.

Excerpts from Bill Bradley's New West Notes at LA Weekley -

Arnold Makes The Reiner Mess His Own

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has made the Rob Reiner mess his own. After weeks of avoiding questions on the matter, Schwarzenegger told the Fresno Bee editorial board yesterday afternoon he will not replace the controversial chairman of the California Children and Families Commission, who he described as “a friend.”

It was previously revealed here that Reiner, although a very liberal Democrat who considered running for governor this year, was a special guest at private parties during the Arnold Inaugural festivities in November 2003. He was on the “Friends and Family” list for inaugural gala activities.
--
** Under Reiner’s leadership during the Schwarzenegger Administration, the commission undertook highly questionable activities, using taxpayer money to promote Reiner’s political agenda of stimulating demand for more state spending on preschool. This includes a state contract for $67.5 million in advertising signed on June 28, 2004. Which Reiner told me last week during his disastrous appearance at the Sacramento Press Club that he didn’t know about. That was only one of a number of telling points he said he didn't know about.

** Top officials in the Schwarzenegger Cabinet were involved with the Reiner Commission but raised no alarms about practices that even the governor has said, long after the fact, look bad.

** The governor rejected the recommendation of his highly touted California Performance Review that the commission -- which currently exists as an independent agency sorely in need of oversight -- be brought under the department of health and human services.
--
2 PM UPDATE: Sac Bee columnist Dan
Weintraub speculates that Schwarzenegger and Reiner cut a deal.
Read All>>

Remember, the results of the audit that is underway are not known. The handle still turns and it is beginning to look like "schnitsage" or "sautzel"!

MSNBC Question Of The Day ...

MSNBC QUESTION OF THE DAY

Is the media providing an accurate picture of the situation in Iraq?

Yes

No - X

Comment:

Richard Engle, in his package this morning on MSNBC, said it best when asked how Iraqi's view their future ... (paraphrase) ... "Iraqi's have a hopeful, positive view of their future in the long term."

And that is just the point; the MSM is focusing on the immediate sucesses of the terrorist war of the insurgents and not the long term political war FOR the balance of representation of all Iraqi's.

The MSM has no interest in the success of the long term goal - a FREE Iraq.

Last year, it was all about the strife in Kurdish Mosul. There, the insurgents have LOST their war. Why not do a follow up in-depth report on that success??

Or is it is just easier and cheaper to "show the BOOM".

Ed Jenks
Toluca Lake
maxine-log@blogspot.com

Mainstream Cable News Outlet Ship Sinks A Little Lower

When a business model begins to degrade from within ... it is time to change the model.

Excerpts from a posting at Captain's Quarters -

March 22, 2006
Gallup Dumps CNN

In a move that shows the decline of a once-dominant media empire, CNN has lost Gallup as a partner as the pollster notes the sharp drop in viewership for the cable news service. In a memo to staff, Gallup's CEO explains that they intend on launching their own "e-broadcasts" and will operate independent of any news network:

"We have had a great partnership with CNN but it is not the right alignment for our future. The longtime partnership has been very helpful to The Gallup Poll as it put us "back big" fifteen years ago when our famous Gallup Poll had lost most of its national coverage. Our CNN partnership helped us make a great comeback. We had a great run as we just cut our 4000th segment this week. ...

WHY.

1) CNN has far fewer viewers than it did in the past and we feel that our brand was getting lost and diluted combined with the CNN brand. We have only about 200 thousand viewers during our CNN segments.

2) We are creating our own e-broadcasting programs and we don't want to be married to one broadcast network. We don't want to move to another network like CBS or Fox but rather become our own network. We cannot do this while married to CNN.

3) By dissolving our partnership with CNN we believe that Frank and other Gallup analysts will be seen as more independent so they will be more likely to be invited on a wide variety of television shows rather than primarily linked to CNN. We believe with this new found independence, we will get covered by more broadcast media because we are not the poll of their competitor."

CNN's Reaction?
(Media Bistro)

"We want to make it clear that the decision to not renew our polling arrangement had to do with Gallup's desire to produce their own broadcasts and not about CNN viewership figures. In fact, Gallup had negotiated with us for four months in an effort to extend the partnership. "

CNN then went on to describe their "monthly reach" as the largest in cable news -- but they combine the viewership of all their ancillary channels to reach that conclusion. Gallup has little interest in CNN Headline News or CNNi or CNN-SI, their sports channel. They want news viewers at the flagship channel, and those numbers have dropped precipitously in the years since Fox News launched its service.

Captain's Quarters concludes,

This argument is self-defeating. CNN has partnered with Gallup for fourteen years -- and now they want us to believe that Gallup can't count?
Read All>>

Again, when a business model begins to degrade from within ... it is time to change the business model. Gallup has recognized this and has made changes for a new course. Maybe it is due time for CNN to see the handwriting on the wall.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

To The MSM: Get Out Of The Hotel And See Iraq

This morning I watched NBC's TODAY Show. There was an interview segment hosted by David Gregory featuring James Carville and Laura Ingraham that focused on events being reported out of Iraq. The greatest point in the interview was made by Laura when she challanged NBC to do a week of remotes from different cities in Iraq.

This account from News Busters website -

Like a top point guard, Laura Ingraham tenaciously fought through the Gregory-Carville double-team to make her case. She pointed out that NBC and the Today show expended huge resources to cover the Olympics and even to answer the question "Where in the World is Matt Lauer?" She suggested that they devote some of the same resources to broadcast the Today show directly from Iraq, that they accompany troops, speak with US and Iraqi military personnel and with villagers and see the reality on the ground.

Instead, pointed out Ingraham, the MSM's approach is to stand on a balcony in the Green Zone, reporting on the latest IEDs, killings and reprisals. A timorous Gregory replied: "And you think Iraq is safe enough [to do what Laura proposed]?" Ingraham: "Yes. I was not on the hotel balcony. I was out with the U.S. military. It can be done in any part of the country." Laura attempted to continue, but Gregory cut her off: "I get the anti-network point."
Read It All>>

However, it was this article posted at Real Clear Politics by Jack Kelly (Jack Kelly is national security writer for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio) which drove the point home with greater authority. (ht: Hugh Hewitt)

March 21, 2006
Ignorance Pervasive in Reporting From Iraq
By
Jack Kelly

My friend Bill Roggio, an Army veteran and Web logger who was embedded with U.S. Marines in Iraq last fall, was a guest Saturday on a segment of the CNN show "On the Story." The topic was news coverage from Iraq.

"On the Story," which airs at 7:00 p.m. EST, gets even lower ratings than the average CNN show, so there's a question of how representative of American public opinion audience reaction is. But before the segment with Bill began, host Ali Velshi conducted a little poll.

"Give me a show of hands if you have confidence in the news coming out of Iraq," Mr. Velshi asked the studio audience. "It looks like about 30 percent of you.

"Let's see a show of hands of those of you who don't have confidence like (Defense Secretary) Donald Rumsfeld says," he asked. "That looks like 90 percent of you."

Mr. Roggio gave the media a D+. Reporting often is inaccurate, usually lacks context, and often aids al Qaida, he said.
--
It's also significant that Operation Swarmer was conceived by, and largely planned and executed by, the Iraqi army. An air assault is the second most difficult tactical maneuver for ground forces (only crossing a river under fire is more difficult), one which requires meticulous planning. That this one was pulled off essentially without a hitch indicates how far the Iraqi army (which, for all practical purposes, didn't exist a little more than a year ago) has come in a very short time.

"The reporting on Operation Swarmer is a microcosm of the sub-par reporting on the Iraq war," Mr. Roggio said.
--
CNN correspondent Abbi Tatton implied that because Bill is a former soldier, his view is biased. "Are you not too close to this to be objective yourself?" she asked.

Consider the implications of this attitude. Would a reporter who is a lawyer (such as Fox News' Megyn Kendall) be considered biased in covering the courts simply because she actually knows something about the law? Would a reporter who is a doctor (such as CNN's Sanjay Gupta) be considered biased simply because he actually knows something about medicine? Yet news organizations consider it proper to have our wars covered by people who are unclear about from which end of the rifle the round comes.
--
Actor and antiwar activist Richard Belzer said he knows more about the war in Iraq than do U.S. servicemen in Iraq because he "reads 20 newspapers a day." But 20 biased, shallow and incomplete accounts don't add up to the truth.

Note: Other web based reporting sources - new media voices, like Michael Totten, Michael Yon, Victor Davis Hanson, and Robert Kaplan, have reported directly from Iraq and most have judged the MSM coverage to be inadequate.

Trends & Shifts In Supermarket Niche Marketing

This From Progressive Grocer via FMI -

Supermarkets Move to Specialty Services: FMI Study
MARCH 21, 2006

-- WASHINGTON -- Faced with stiff competition, food retailers are making an effort to stand out from the crowd by rolling out target market-focused stores, and offering more specialty services, according to "Facts About Store Development 2005," the Food Marketing Institute study released yesterday."

Shifting consumer behaviors and attitudes, shorter product lifecycles, new store concepts and competitive pressures from a broad range of retail formats are driving a fundamental change in the way food retail companies do business," noted FMI s.v.p. Michael Sansolo in a statement. "There is no longer a 'one format fits all' supermarket. Understanding the specific needs of your targeted consumers and delivering what they need are essential for success."
--
Notable trends outlined in the report include the following:
--Space for cooking demonstrations is offered by 72 percent of new stores, as consumers with less cooking experience who seek to enlarge their range of skills increasingly view cooking as a special event.
--Over half (53.7 percent) of the companies surveyed have a coffee bar in at least one store, and slightly fewer (52.2 percent) have introduced dollar aisles, addressing consumers' dual desires for convenience and value.
--The addition of low-carb food sections appears to be declining, with fewer than half (49.4 percent) of all retailers now offering them.
Read All>>

Monday, March 20, 2006

Need Abandonment Nets Market Niche Filled

This from AP via the New York Post -

LUXE HOTELS TAKE DINING SKY HIGH

March 20, 2006 -- BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Pistachio-crusted blue fin tuna topped with shaved fennel and blood oranges. Prosciutto and burratta mozzarella on bone bread, garnished with arugula. Grilled chicken with avocado and chipotle aioli.

--
The trend toward gourmet travel offerings by hotels began to take off when high fuel prices and competition from no-frills carriers forced many domestic airlines to trim costs by closing kitchens, industry observers said.

"You saw them starting to deal with the void of what domestic airlines have been offering," said Albert Herrera, vice president for hotels and resorts at Virtuoso, a network of travel agents that specializes in luxury trips.
Eat It All>>

We will know we have fully evolved when the airlines begin to serve fresh, medium rare, In-N-Out Double-Double's hot off of the grill at 30,000 feet (... with fries)! Now that would be a gourmet travel offering!!

Risky Business At Viacom

Actually, this follow up on the 'South Park' dust up is being posted just because it is great to see Tom Cruise as a 'South Park' character - love it!

Excerpts from E! Online via Yahoo News -

"The Closet," the Controversy--and Cruise
By Joal Ryan Fri Mar 17, 8:49 PM ET


"Trapped in the Closet," a South Park episode featuring a literally closeted Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Tom Cruise and a primer on Scientology, was abruptly pulled from Comedy Central's schedule, and replaced with a nearly eight-year-old chestnut spoofing the Bottom of Form Sundance Film Festival.
--
Cruise, a Scientologist who has staunchly defended his religion and an avowed heterosexual who has successfully sued people and publications that have suggested he is in the metaphorical closet, was pegged as the culprit in the South Park switcheroo in a report Thursday on HollywoodInterrupted.com.

The blog reported that the star "threatened" to sit out the publicity cycle for Mission: Impossible 3--presumably meaning no interviews, no photo-ops, no Oprah couch--if "Trapped in a Closet" aired again on Comedy Central.
--
This is not the first time Cruise has been linked to the closing of "Closet." In January, Britain's Sun reported the episode would "never" air in the United Kingdom because TV executives there were "scared [Cruise] will sue." (The episode apparently aired without incident in Canada a few days later.)

This also isn't the first time Comedy Central has been accused of caving. Last December, a Catholic rights' group took credit for the network pulling reruns of South Park's Virgin Mary-skewering ninth season finale, "Bloody Mary."
--
Comedy Central would not say if "Trapped in the Closet" will reair at a later date, or if it will be included in South Park's syndication package.

Video clips from the episode, including the bits with Cruise and the closet, and Stan and the Scientologists, can be found on the Comedy Central Website.

In a bit of timing that is said to be coincidental and not at all related to the "Closet" controversy, South Park begins its 10th season next Wednesday.

NOTE: Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures are owned by Viacom which is set to release the new Tom Cruise movie - "Mission: Impossible 3"

- Censorship Is A Risky Business -

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Grinding Meathead - A Dedicated Website

How long has "Meathead" remained in office without being reappointed?

Find Out Here>>

The Devil Is In The Details

The devil is in the details:

It seems that the latest big Hollywood entertainment vehicle will pass this speed bump into movie immortality.

With little or no evidence, writers are fighting over the copyright claims of religious “Historical Conjecture”.

On this basis alone, “The Da Vinci Code” should be vetted for every detail and suspected at every turn.

This From Reuters -

"The Da Vinci Code" copyright case winds up
Sun Mar 19, 2006 6:37 AM ET
By Mike Collett-White


LONDON (Reuters) - A court case in which two historians accuse Dan Brown of copying their work in his novel "The Da Vinci Code" is due to finish on Monday, ending one of the most closely watched copyright claims of recent years.

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh wrote "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", a work of historical conjecture published in 1982, which shares some of the same themes as Brown's best-selling religious thriller.
--
Both books raise the possibility that Jesus had a child by Mary Magdalene, she fled to France after the Crucifixion and Christ's bloodline survives to this day. They also associate Magdalene with the Holy Grail.

Authors warn that should the historians succeed, there would be serious implications for fiction writers who have always incorporated other people's ideas and research into their works.

Legal experts say the claimants face an uphill task to protect general ideas. "You would hamper artistic creativity if you couldn't write a novel that theorizes about a conspiracy theory," said Boston-based intellectual property lawyer Edward Naughton of Holland & Knight.
--
"If it were otherwise the dissemination and discussion of history, science, religion and like topics would be stultified. Creativity of novelists, TV producers and film makers would be stymied," he (Random House's lawyer John Baldwin) said.
Read All>>

Again, these people are arguing over the potential of delivering a conspiracy theory ... FACTUALLY!

This view of seperating fact from fiction found on the FAQ's page on a webite put up by Sony Pictures (the studio responsible for making "The Da Vinci Code" into a movie) to give their entertainment effort cover -

Question:

Why was this site created?

Answer:

While The Da Vinci Code is an entirely fictional thriller, the story obviously touches on religious issues that concern many Christians. The Da Vinci Dialogue grew out of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s desire to respect those concerns by providing a forum where a wide variety of respected religious scholars could discuss some of the serious questions the movie may raise.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

"Million-Year" War Declared Against Scientology

"South Park" creators Trey Parker, left, and Matt Stone pose at their offices in Los Angeles on Oct. 14, 2005. The battle between the pair and the celebrity-endorsed religion of Scientology, raged on this week in a tempest over a controversial episode mocking outspoken Scientologist Tom Cruise. They said Thursday, March 16, 2006, they won't relent in their feud against the religion, based on the self-help book "Dianetics" by founder/science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. (AP Photo/Ann Johansson)

There has been more bad blood brewing between the creators at Comedy Central's "South Park" and the Church of Scientology ever since Oscar winning singer, Isaac Hayes resigned as the voice of "Chef" (saying he could no longer tolerate its religious "intolerance and bigotry.").

Excerpts from Yahoo Entertainment News & Gossip -

'South Park'-Scientology Battle Rages On
Friday March 17 7:35 PM ET

"South Park" has declared war on Scientology. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the animated satire, are digging in against the celebrity-endorsed religion after a controversial episode mocking outspoken Scientologist Tom Cruise was yanked abruptly from the schedule Wednesday with an Internet report saying it was covert warfare by Cruise that led to its departure.

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!" the "South Park" creators said in a statement Friday in Daily Variety. "Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies... You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!"
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The episode in question, "Trapped in the Closet," which first aired last November, shows Scientology leaders hailing Stan, one of the show's four devilish fourth-graders, as a savior. A cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won't come out. An animated John Travolta, another famous Scientologist, enters the closet to try to get him out.
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On Monday, Stone told The Associated Press, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith in Scientology...He has no problem and he's cashed plenty of checks with our show making fun of Christians."
Read All>>

And all of this time since 9/11, we have been concerned for our safety from the efforts of radical fascist Muslims.

Phishing Tidal Wave - National Consumers League Issues Report

More needs to be done in combating the problem of phishing. Referencing a 57 page report issued by the National Consumers League, participants in a press conference expressed concern that Internet users are becoming more wary of conducting business online because of phishing scams and other cybersecurity problems.

This story from IDG News Service via Infoworld -

Coalition calls for action on phishing
In a report, consumer groups, technology vendors, financial services organizations and law enforcement agencies, calls on Internet companies to step up consumer education efforts
By Grant Gross, IDG News ServiceMarch 16, 2006

Internet service providers (ISPs) and e-commerce sites can employ more tools to combat phishing scams, including "white lists" of legitimate Web sites and using false identification information to scam the scammers, according to a report released Thursday.

The report, released by a coalition of consumer groups, technology vendors, financial services organizations and law enforcement agencies, also calls on Internet companies to step up their consumer education efforts.

Among the more novel techniques recommended by the group was for Internet companies and law enforcement agencies to enter false information, such as bogus credit card numbers, into phishing Web sites, allowing police to find phishing scammers by tracking the use of those false numbers.
Read More>>

Friday, March 17, 2006

Media & Terrorists Get Hit With This Shalaylee Offensive

Soldiers and aircraft are positioned on the airstrip at Forward Operating Base Remagen in advance of Operation Swarmer. Image courtesy of Sgt. First Class Antony Joseph, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade.

This from The Fourth Rail -

March 17, 2006
Operation Swarmer: Legit or Theater?
Swarmer is the latest in a series of Air Assault missions, not a "wag the dog" moment


As soon as Operation Swarmer kicked off, the pundits rushed to assign political motivations to the operation. One author of this school of analysis is Richard Beeston, the Diplomatic Editor of the London Times, who claims the air assault is "politically opportune for both the Bush Administration and the fledgling Iraqi government in Baghdad," "a show of US strength" and a "demonstrate that that they [American and Iraqi commanders], in fact, are in charge."

Rubbish.

Such analysis highlights the shortcomings of the media in covering war, particularly the inability to track combat operations and provide meaningful analysis. Instead of looking at the big picture, a single combat operation is viewed as an isolated incident, and there is little attempt to provide the context for an operation.

Read all of Bill Roggio's Report>>
And this report on Operation Swarmer Near Samarra>>

These posts from The Fourth Rail speak for themselves. Whack 'em, and whack 'em hard. We are even seeing the Iraqi's dancin' the jig in this joint operation.

WBC - Mexico Turns 9th Inning Dbl. Play - USA Out!

Mexico's Jorge Cantu strokes a double. (AP)

No fireworks for Rocket in what could be his last appearance in professional baseball.

Team Mexico - 2 Team USA - 1

AP Story via Yahoo Sports -

The outcome was a stunner, considering Team USA fielded a lineup loaded with All-Stars even without Derrek Lee and Johnny Damon, sidelined with sore left shoulders.

Recap>>

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cheese & The Infidel-Evangelical Alliance

Photo Credit: TIME

Post From Pilgrim:

This is the best article on the early American Baptist and evangelical views I have seen.

These views are often distorted by Falwell and Dobson and Charles Colson, as mentioned in the article.

I was amazed to see such an accurate reading and what I think is good contemporary application.

The book mentioned by George Marsden and Nathan Hatch, the two leading evangelical church historians in America today, is excellent.

Excerpts from Beliefnet, On Belief by Steven Waldman -
A version of this article is also appearing in the Washington Monthly.

Jefferson, Madison & Their Evangelical Pals
Religious freedom resulted from an unlikely alliance: evangelicals and skeptics

Thomas Jefferson stood, dressed in a black suit, in a doorway of the White House on Jan. 1, 1802, watching a bizarre spectacle. Two horses were pulling a dray carrying a 1,235-pound cheese—just for him. Measuring 4 feet in diameter and 17 inches in height, this cheese was the work of 900 cows.

More impressive than the size of the cheese was its eloquence. Painted on the red crust was the inscription: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” The cheese was a gift from religious leaders in western Massachusetts.

It may seem surprising that religious leaders would be praising Jefferson, given that his critics had just months earlier attacked him as an infidel and an atheist. In the 1800 election, John Adams had argued that the francophile Jefferson would destroy America’s Christian heritage just as the French revolutionaries had undermined their own religious legacy. Adams supporters quoted Jefferson’s line that he didn’t care whether someone believed in one god or 20, and they argued that the choice in the election was: “God—and a religious president…[or] Jefferson—and no God.”

But in a modern context, the most remarkable thing about the cheese is that it came from evangelical Christians.

Read It All>>