Monday, February 28, 2005

New Weapons Against Religious Extemism

Dr. Pipes' raises good points on how to combat extreme Islamist though here in the US using new laws: I qoute in it's entirety:

Deport Saudi Diplomats on Religious Freedom Grounds? With the passage of the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004," it is now possible (according to section 5502, on p. 108) to deport "foreign government officials who have committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom." This is then spelled out to mean "Any alien who, while serving as a foreign government official, was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom, as defined in section 3 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998."

That section specifies "particularly severe violations of religious freedom" to mean
systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, including violations such as—

(A) torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
(B)prolonged detention without charges;or c
(C)landestine detention of those persons; or
(D) other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.

William West, formerly of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, writes me that
Such violations are administrative (civil) statutes, not criminal statutes, and so are retroactive from the date of enactment of the law.

One can only speculate how many foreign government officials from majority Muslim countries might fall into this category, especially from places like Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, Iran and a number of other authoritarian Islamic regimes who sponsor religious hatred against any religion other than Islam and even against moderate Muslims. The recent Freedom House report on the vitriolic Saudi-provided religious hate literature found in American mosques is just a beginning.

This is powerful new law, and it will be very interesting to see how the U.S. government enforces it.

Further, such violations would arguably also be human rights violations. That means that former foreign government officials who came to the United States and became naturalized U.S. citizens could, as human rights violators, be subject to revocation of that naturalization. This is provided for under Section 5501 (on page 107) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. They are also subject to investigation by the Department of Justice's newly re-empowered Office of Special Investigations (Section 5505, on p. 108).
(February 28, 2005)


Saturday, February 26, 2005

State auto insurance claims fund out of money

Blago's budget woes continue...from CBS 2 Chicago

By JOHN O'CONNOR Associated Press Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) You might want to drive defensively around official state vehicles. Illinois has run out of money to pay some auto-accident claims.
With a $1.6 million insurance fund exhausted, 62 Illinois motorists or their insurance companies are awaiting $233,000 for accidents involving state vehicles. And new money won't be available until the next budget year starts in July, so more accidents and more delays are likely.

The rest of it is right here.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Daniel Pipes on the Tribune's "US Citizen" Headline

Professor Daniel Pipes is possibly the most insightful commentator on the Middle Eastern politics and the War on Terror. From his blog.

How the Mainstream Media Headlines the Abu Ali Indictment The American government yesterday indicted Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a raging Islamist, with plotting to kill the president of the United States. Details have emerged about his attending the Islamic Saudi Academy and the University of Medina. His fervent hatred of the United States apparently led to his joining up with Al-Qaeda. He had connections to Ismail Royer and the paintball jihadists. His mother wears a niqab. Islamist organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) jumped on his cause.

Given all this, how might mainstream media headline the story of Abu Ali's indictment? Here are three examples:
Chicago Tribune: "U.S. citizen charged with plot to kill Bush"
The Guardian: "American accused of plotting with al-Qaida to assassinate Bush
"The New York Times: "American Accused in a Plot to Assassinate Bush."

And then there is this gem:
Detroit Free Press: "Valedictorian suspect in plot on Bush's life."
Comment: Yet again, over-sensitivity to Muslim sentiments obstructs the plain telling of facts – as though Abu Ali's citizenship or class rank were the key factor in motivating him.

A useful headline would read something like "Islamist Charged in Plot to Assassinate Bush." (February 23, 2005)

Dave Matthews' Band's Troubles Continue

Well, now the architectural tour co. which one of Dave Matthews' drivers "sprayed" last August is suing the self-proclaimed "environmental rocker."

Dave was part of the Vote for Change tour which was nominally a pro-Kerry swing states concert tour last year, but in reality was an anti-Bush city to city bash. No surprise, as the tour's organizer was the hard left PAC, Move

We'll keep an eye on this story, and see if DMB starts whining about overzealous trial lawyers. The Dave Matthews Band has not been shy about filing lawsuits, as they've been aggressive about suing CD bootleggers. In those cases, DMB was legally in the right, but you have to wonder how much money these bootleggers cheated DMB in royalties. Probably not a lot, as a Dave Matthews Band fan couldn't walk into a Wal-Mart or other major retailer and buy one of these CDs. And as is often the case in the music bootleg business, it was probably fans making CDs for fans.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Chicago Tribune Headline "U.S. citizen charged with plot to kill Bush"

Yeah, that much is true according to the Tribune article. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was born in Texas of Jordanian immigrant parents. He was the valedictorian of Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, VA.

This school promotes, or promoted until they got caught, extremist rhetoric. As an August 2004 article in the Washington Times pointed out:

"One page in the manual for the first-grade textbook instructs teachers to tell students that any religion other than Islam is false. "These first-grade students are very impressionable," said Kamal Nawash, a Palestinian and practicing Muslim who runs the six-month-old Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. "The extremist version of Islam encourages violence. We don't need to be teaching that anymore in this diverse world. We need to teach people to get along."

Of course, none of this is in the Chicago Tribune article, but a 30 second web search directed me to this article. But the Trib thought it important to emphasize that Mr. Ali is a US citizen. The important part, the frightening part, was left out. Shame on the Trib.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Thousands attend Paris IL Welcome Home Troops Rally

Paris is a small town, so a turnout of 5,000 to welcome home the 1544th Transortation Co. (which acc. to the AP suffered the 2nd most fatalities of any guard unit in Operation Iraqi Freedom), is monumental.

An excerpt from the CBS 2 Chicago site:

Crowds stood up to 10-deep along flag-lined streets as three charter buses dropped off soldiers for the long-awaited homecoming. In desert camouflage, guardsman paraded past pole-mounted signs bearing all of their names as people cheered and cameras clicked.

Two fire department ladder trucks draped a massive flag across Main Street. ``They told us to expect a crowd, but I didn't expect anything like this,'' said Lt. John Harvey, 26. ``It's overwhelming.''

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said the event was the largest of the dozens of military farewells, homecomings and funerals he has attended since the war began two years ago.

Read here for the rest.

Paris IL unit back home from Iraq today!

The 1544th Transportation Co. National Guard unit from Paris, IL will be back home today. Five of the soldiers were killed in action, 33 were wounded (the highest casualty rate of any Illinois unit).

There will be a welcome home rally this afternoon in downtown Paris.

George Will on Blago

Urbana, IL native George Will wrote about Governor Rod Blagojevich a few days ago. He was not impressed.

Sleek is the mot juste to describe Blagojevich -- elegant dark suit, glistening white shirt, subdued tie and a shock of jet-black hair that Elvis would have envied. He has mended his ways since being criticized for sending six Illinois State Police cars and 10 bodyguards for his fund-raising trip to Beverly Hills, where at one point they blocked intersections to speed his passage.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Kerry's daughter part three

Going back a couple of posts, Vanessa Kerry is raising money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which--according to it's web site--is a teaching affiliate of Harvard University.

In the interest of fair play, for those interested in donating money for basic cancer research, here is Vanessa's Donor Page.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Kerry's daughter, part two

In the below post, it mentions that Vanessa Kerry is a Fulbright Scholar. Interesting paragraph from the Fulbright Scholar Program web site:

"The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the United States Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions in foreign countries and in the U.S. also contribute financially through cost-sharing and indirect support, such as salary supplements, tuition waivers and university housing. The Congressional appropriation for the Fulbright Program in fiscal year 2001 was $118.7 million. Foreign governments, through their binational commissions or foundations, contributed an additional $28 million directly to the Fulbright Program."

Okay, she may be a smart woman, and deserving. But shouldn't the scholarship go to someone who (financially) needs it? And did Vanessa get special treatement because she is a daughter of a senator?

Kerry's daughter to run Boston Marathon "just like her Dad."

Read more here about John Kerry's famous Boston Marathon run, from Blue States for Bush.

I don't believe Vanessa has run a qualifying time to be accepted as an official entrant, but the BAA, race organizers, do allow runners raising money for charity to enter and run.

From the Boston Globe gossip column by Carol Beggy & Mark Shanahan.

GOING THE DISTANCE Following in her father's footsteps, Vanessa Kerry is training to run in the Boston Marathon. John Kerry's youngest daughter is studying in London on a Fulbright scholarship, but told friends in a recent e-mail that she's training for the April race. (Her father has said he competed in the late 1970s.) In the e-mail, Kerry said she's running as part of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's marathon team and invited friends to visit the Dana-Farber website and make a donation supporting cancer research. (Among those who've responded are famous friends: singer Carole King and Al Gore's middle daughter, Kristin Gore.) Reached yesterday in Bozeman, Mont., where her mother, Julia Thorne, lives, Kerry declined to specify her reasons for running the marathon, but said that her parents, both of whom have been treated for cancer, are an inspiration. ''It's for everybody I've known who's had cancer," said the third-year Harvard Medical School student. ''It's a way for me to be involved in something positive and proactive after the election."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Obama posturing on Enviro-vote

Don't believe this stuff, Obama is trying to appear as a "moderate." He'll vote the DNC line, but end up, he hopes, appearing as a "centrist" alternative to Durbin, Boxer and Kennedy in preparation for a future presidential run.

Besides, Obama doesn't need southern Illinois' (coal country) votes to get re-elected in 2010. (Assuming he doesn't "move on" before then.

From CBS 2 Chicago:

Sen. Obama The Swing Vote On Environmental Bill
February 14, 2005 5:53 pm Mike Flannery reports.
US/CentralCHICAGO (CBS 2) It may be the toughest vote yet for Senator Barack Obama. He is the swing vote on the Bush Administration's Clear Skies Act.

The power generating industry claims it would reduce pollution, but environmentalists call that "clear lies.”

What was coming out of smokestacks at the coal-fired Crawford power generating plant Monday afternoon contained significantly less pollution than what was pouring out just a few years ago. All sides to the current debate agree on that. What they disagree on is the potential impact of the Bush Administration's rewrite of the Clean Air Act.

“In the last 30 years, the Clean Air Act has reduced pollution by one-third across the country. That’s an indisputable fact that's out there. This will take it down another 70 percent from current regulations. Are we making progress? Absolutely,” said Gary Mack from the Power Generating Industry.

“I certainly hope that Senator Barack Obama realizes that we need strong clean air protection and that the 'clear lies' act will not provide us with the kind of protection that families everywhere need," said Colleen Sarna from the Sierra Club.

It is a dispute that could be decided by Illinois Democrat Obama. Both sides regard the senator as a key to the outcome of a committee vote currently scheduled for this Wednesday. While Senator Obama told CBS 2’s Political Editor Mike Flannery he has not made a final decision, he is certainly is close to one.

“Generally, this does not look like a good tradeoff for Illinois. I’m continuing to talk to them, but my expectation right now is that, if the bill does not change in a significant way, I will probably be a "no" vote,” Obama said.

Senator Obama said he is skeptical of claims that enacting Clear Skies would make it easier for utilities to use coal mined in downstate Illinois, therefore creating more jobs here. The bill's backers hope pressure from the United Mine Workers will change Senator Obama’s mind.“A bill is usually good when you both biz and labor supporting this 7 of the 10 largest major labor unions in the country support this clear skies bill," Mack said. -

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Illinois' Pension Crisis

From John Patterson of the Daily Herald:

SPRINGFIELD - Perhaps the biggest political debate at the Capitol this year focuses on an extremely boring topic - pension payments.

Quick, before your eyes glaze over, think of school kids, paychecks, and poor, disabled or old people needing health care.

How much money the state has for them, and if and when it takes a bigger bite of your salary, may well depend on how lawmakers handle the irksome topic of pensions for thousands of past, present and future government workers. Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to endorse several key changes designed to save millions when he unveils his state budget plan Wednesday.

Exactly how Blagojevich and lawmakers handle the issue holds the key to not only this year's budget but every budget for the foreseeable future.

For perspective, consider a year-old child crawling around on the floor today. Fast forward 40 years and that now-41-year-old adult is among the Illinois taxpayers who, if nothing changes, will collectively shell out $15 billion to cover the 2045 pension payment because past politicians ignored pension contributions and spent the money elsewhere.

"We're damning our grandkids," said Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat.

The whole article is here.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Culture of Sleaze, Springfield Style

Joe Birkett, DuPage County State's Atty and potential GOP candidate for governor, is calling on Governor Rod Blagojevich to joinMayor Daley in banning state contractors from donating to his campaign funds. Always the cautious politician, Blagojevich is "considering it." The CBS 2 Chicago site has the entire story.

One sad but accurate quote from Birkett:

“We're a national disgrace, because we're known not as the State of Lincoln and Reagan now. We're known as the Land of Corruption,” Birkett said."

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Chicago culture of sleaze (and worse) runs in the family

As I type this, on the front page of the Internet edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, there is an article about John "Quarters" Boyle, who despite being convicted of stealing over $4 million in tollway change in the 1990s, still manages to hold a City of Chicago job. This guy couldn't pass a background check to work at Target or Wal-Mart.

Always busy, "Quarters" has apparently has been shaking down private trucking firms for political contributions. Yes, the Hired Truck Scandal continues to grow. Read about that here.

Meanwhile, also on that same front page is a story about Chicago Fire Department Lieutenant, Jeffrey Boyle was arrested yesterday for setting fires on Chicago's far northwest side and in the suburb of Park Ridge. Coincidentally, in the neighborhood where I work!!

John and Jeffrey are brothers. Read about the firefighter by day/arsonist at night here.

Only in Chicago.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Sun-Times Michael Sneed Caught Peddling Stale News (Again)

This is the second time this year Eric Zorn has caught Michael Sneed hawking news "scoops." A knowledgeable source has told me Sneed has been doing this four years, but the new media is not letting her get away with it:

From Eric Zorn's renovated blog:


Today's lesson from the Michael Sneed Famous Columnists School:

WRONG: Daily Herald columnist Erik Krol’s column last Friday, “Schillerstrom is likely to skip statewide run in 2006,” concludes that DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom’s statements make it highly doubtful that he will enter the GOP gubernatorial primary.

RIGHT: Tipsville . . . Sneed hears DuPage County Board Chairman Robert Schillerstrom will not run for statewide office in 2006…

Bush's Popularity Jumps

From Newsmax:

President Bush's popularity ratings have climbed to their highest level in a year, mostly due to the successful elections in Iraq and optimism stemming from the president's State of the Union address.

According to a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, Bush's job approval stands at 57 percent, the highest since January 2004, after U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein.

The new numbers are definitely an improvement from the election season, said The Washington Times, which noted that Bush "had the worst job-approval numbers of any re-elected president since World War II."

Gallup showed the president with only a 48 percent job approval rating, coupled with a Time magazine poll showing only 49 percent.
Now, however, the president's popularity has rebounded, as has the public's opinion of his actions and goals.

In fact, according to USA Today, "majorities now say that going to war in Iraq was not a mistake, that things are going well there and that it's likely democracy will be established in Iraq."

Read more here.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Birkett weighing run for governor

Joe ran a good race for Illinois AG three years ago....

Birkett weighing run for governor
By Eric Krol Daily Herald Political Writer
Posted Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Joe BirkettDuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett is exploring a bid for governor, focusing his political aspirations on the state's top elected office instead of a rematch for attorney general.While the 49-year-old, three-term Republican from Wheaton won't make up his mind until mid-summer, Birkett said the thrust of a campaign would be cleaning up a state government in which Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich "has festered the pay-to-play culture."

"The governor inherited the office from George Ryan and said he was going to change the way we do business in Springfield, and he's made a mockery of that promise," Birkett told the Daily Herald Monday in an informal announcement of his exploratory bid. "He's raising money at a record pace. He's outpacing George Ryan. There's no question this state is hungry for new leadership."

Blagojevich campaign spokesman Pete Giangreco declined to engage in a war of words.
"The governor hasn't declared for re-election yet," he said. "If (Blagojevich) does run, we'll look forward to exchanging ideas with whoever the (Republican) nominee is."

Blagojevich, who has $11 million in his campaign fund, has taken his ethical lumps lately. His father-in-law, Chicago Ald. Dick Mell, claimed and then recanted allegations that appointments were being traded for campaign contributions. State and Cook County authorities are probing nonetheless.

Read more here.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Chris Matthews: What Eason Jordan story?

From the National Review's "TKS," formerly "The Kerry Spot" column:


Hugh Hewitt was on the Chris Matthews Show on Sunday. During the “tell me something I don’t know,” section of the show, Hugh brought up the Eason Jordan comments:

CM: Hugh?
HH: Senior CNN News Executive Eason Jordan at Davos last week accused the American military of targeting journalists and killing 12 of them, repeating the same assertion that he had made earlier in Portugal a month — that American military had tortured journalists. This has become a huge story on the internet and the new media, it broke through in The Washington Times on Friday, it will break in the major media over the weekend —

CM: He blames US officials for trying to kill Americans?

HH: American military targeted 12 journalists and killed them. Big story next week.

CM: I think you've beaten the band, Hugh.

Fascinatingly, from this exchange it seems clear that Chris Matthews hasn’t heard anything about this story.

More here:

Friday, February 04, 2005

Al Sharpton Calls for KFC Ban

Al hasn't been in the press recently, so this gets him back in the game...

From Yahoo!

Sharpton is urging the black community to join the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' boycott of the franchise, the animal protection group announced Thursday.

"If KFC wants to take our money and use it to pay for sloppy practices that hurt animals, I say we send them a message that this is not going to happen," Sharpton says in the ad.

Sharpton and PETA are seeking improvements to KFC's practices regarding the defeathering and debeaking of chickens, as well as a halt to using growth-promoting drugs. Last June, PETA recorded footage of the mistreatment of birds at a KFC supplier in West Virginia.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Big Story in Blog-land--But ignored by the Mainstream Media

This excellent scoop is from Forumblog, The World Economic Forum Weblog:

"During one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War, Eason Jordan asserted that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by US troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted. He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others. "

The whole blog entry is here.

Eason Jordan, to be fair, did backpedal a bit. But he did not retract his statement.

HOWEVER, I discovered on Free that Eason Jordan is the same CNN executive who said he withheld reports of atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq so he could keep the CNN Baghad bureau open and have the ability to interview the since-ousted thugs and killers from the Baathist regime.

This article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review nicely sums it up.

Very little (so far) about this in the mainstream media. Do a Yahoo! News search, you'll see.

Congressman Gutierrez on the new American Girl doll

It's no wonder that the Democrats keep losing elections when they choose trivial issues such as this.....

Politicians beat up on American Girl doll, by Andrew Herrmann, Chicago Sun-Times

Feb 2, 2005

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Chicago) Tuesday invited the president of the company that makes American Girl dolls to visit Pilsen after the firm angered some Hispanics by describing the neighborhood in a storybook as "dangerous.'' Meanwhile, Ald. Daniel Solis (25th) said he had set up a meeting for next week with a representative from Mattel, American Girl's parent company, to discuss what he said was "probably an unintended mistake.''

The Wisconsin-based American Girl rankled some when it set the back story of a new doll in Chicago. The storybook describes how a Mexican-American girl named Marisol Luna moves to suburban Des Plaines after her parents fear for her safety. In the book, which accompanies the $84 doll, Marisol's parents tell her "It's time we get out of this neighborhood.''

Pilsen is not specifically named but the family is described as living across the street from Harrison Park at 18th and Damen. Says Marisol in the book: "[My mother] explained it was no place for me to grow up. It was dangerous, and there was no place for me to play.'' More to read here.