Tuesday, February 28, 2006

University of Wisconsin system has 40 felons--including 4 academics--on the payroll

As I've commented before, I could focus this blog on only the craziness emitting from "higher" education and never run out of material.

An article today from Associated Press points out that after a system-wide audit of the University of Wisconsin campuses, 40 convicted felons are on staff at the various UW schools; 27 of them can be found at the flagship Madison campus.

The recent audit is in response to the disclosures last year that the University of Wisconsin was unable to fire three professors convicted of serious crimes. Two of the professors still received their paychecks after their convictions. One professor was convicted of the sexual assault of three young girls, another for stalking, the other for engaging in sexually explicit online convictions with a 14 year-old boy, as well as sending a naked picture of himself to the boy.

From the August 10, 2005 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Under a UW-Madison policy, the professors - whose convictions range from sexual assault to online dalliances with a minor boy and stalking - can't be fired solely because they've been found guilty in a court of law. The university must conduct its own investigation to determine whether there is cause for dismissal. The professors have the right to appeal a dismissal up through the university system and into state court, a process that can take years.

UW-Madison defends the policy, which is common at universities across the country and tied into the practice of granting certain professors lifetime employment
Of the current felons employed by the University of Wisconsin, three of them are faculty members.

From today's AP article:

Two of the workers were convicted of homicide during the 1970s and have been on parole since the early 1990s.

Four employees were convicted of a total of five sexual assaults of a child.

There were 54 felonies committed by the 40 employees. Nine of them were considered violent. The nonviolent offenses included fraud and forgery, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, theft, and drug possession.

The report on felons is part of a larger review the Audit Bureau is conducting of UW System employment practices.

More tomorrow on Marathon Pundit about higher education, as I revisit, once again, DePaul University. March 1 is a bad day for them.

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DePaul/Discover the Networks post

There were some bad links, the fixed post is here.

East St. Louis blues

I've been keeping an eye on the Metro East corner of Illinois, where an under-reported vote-buying scandal is playing out its final notes.

In the 2004 general election, several members of the East St. Louis Democratic Party were implicated in a vote buying scandal--at $10 was offered to each voter.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports tonight that the former head of the East St. Louis Democratic Party, Charles Powell Jr., was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison. His four co-defendants have already received their sentences.

Somehow, outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area, I don't think this story will get much play.

Welcome Eric Zorn readers!

Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune has his regular month in review segment online. Marathon Pundit is one of the featured guest bloggers, as is friend-of-the-blog Cal Skinner of the McHenry County blog.

Freakonomics related news: Last Black Disciple convicted

In the best selling book Freakanomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, there's a chapter entitled "Drug Dealers Living With Their Moms."

The authors discuss University of Chicago Phd sociology student Sudhir Venkatesh, who embedded himself in the Black Disciples street gang for six years.

Venkatesh uncovered a lot of unique insight into the workings of a street gang. His most surprising revelation was that the assumption that drug dealers were making a great deal of money were simply false.

The front line sales force of the Disciples, the foot soldiers, Venkatesh and Freakanomics co-author Levitt learned, made about $3.30 an hour.

So that's why they lived with their moms. Of course the top guys did much better, but there aren't that many top guys--just like any major corporation--in a street gang.

According to today's Chicago Sun-Times, the last of the 43 members of the Black Disciples charged in a federal conspiracy investigation mentioned in Freakanomics, was found guilty of drug charges and shooting an undercover police officer.

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Monday, February 27, 2006

Most significant story of the month

The run-up to the March primary elections, both state and county wide.

There are strong possibilities for a lot of upsets next month.

This post is part of Chicago Tribune columnist, and blogger, Eric Zorn's February in Review segment.

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Winner of the month

Chicago's Shani Davis becoming the first African-American to win an individual gold medal in the Winter Olympics. A few weeks from now, no one will remember the race choice controversies that followed Davis after his win.

This post is part of Chicago Tribune columnist, and blogger, Eric Zorn's February in Review segment.

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Loser of the month

Governor Rod Blagojevich. A disastrous "Daily Show" appearance. More federal investigations of his office. A member of his hate crimes commission is the Minister of Protocol for the Nation of Islam.

This post is part of Chicago Tribune columnist, and blogger, Eric Zorn's February in Review segment.

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The most over-reported story of the month

The closing of Berghoff's. Yes, it was a great restaurant, and yes I enjoyed dining there. Businesses close down, that's the constant in a capitalist system.

This post is part of Chicago Tribune columnist, and blogger, Eric Zorn's February in Review segment.

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The most under-reported story of the month

The Chicago Blackhawks haven't skated on the ice for two weeks because of the Olympics. And almost no one noticed. The Blackhawks, an "original six" franchise of the National Hockey League, has sunk to the level of a cult act in terms of popularity. Mismanagement by the ownership of this once-proud franchise is to blame.

This post is part of Chicago Tribune columnist, and blogger, Eric Zorn's February in Review segment.

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The story to watch for in the upcoming month

The growing outrage of Chicago-area Catholics over Cardinal Francis George's admitted mishandling of the case of alleged pedophile Father Daniel McCormack. Will this turn into another Cardinal Bernard Law-type situation? An activist Catholic group has called for the Cardinal's resignation.

This post is part of Chicago Tribune columnist, and blogger, Eric Zorn's February in Review segment.

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Marathon Pundit internet exclusive! DePaul refuses to run FrontPage Magazine's DTN ad in its school paper

UPDATE: I have no idea how some links went bad. It's fixed!

Chicago's DePaul University is at its favorite game again, stifling free speech. Marathon Pundit was informed this afternoon that DePaul backed out of an agreement to run the linked-below advertisement in the DePaulia, an owned and operated publication of DePaul.

Click here to see the ad that DePaul turned down.

Big thanks to Phil Haskett of Medary.com for hosting the document.

FrontPage Magazine is on online publication, its editor-in-chief is noted author David Horowitz, whose latest book is The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America Horowitz is the braintrust behind the Academic Bill of Rights. Discover the Network also known as DTN, is a project of FrontPage.
Here is an excerpt of the ad copy of that DePaul refused:
In October 2005, DePaul University forbade its own students to protest a campus appearance by Ward Churchill. Churchill is known for blaming the World Trade Center victims for their own deaths, calling them "Little Eichmanns." DePaul's actions came about a year after it suspended Professor Thomas Klocek for engaging students in an academic debate.

Find out why DePaul is considered one of America's 100 most intellectually corrupt campuses. Visit the academia section of www.discoverthenetworks.org.

Discover the Networks is a project of FrontPage Magazine.
For more on Thomas Klocek, click here on the FIRE site.

Also from FIRE, click here for more on DePaul's censoring of a student group protesting Ward Churchill.

For more on the controversial University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, read the Churchill Files from the Rocky Mountain News.

(This post slight revised at 9:55am Feb. 28, in order to clarify the relationship between FrontPage and Discover the Network.)

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Coming tomorrow: Marathon Pundit to participate in Eric Zorn's February in Review

I did this in November on Eric's Chicago Tribune blog.

Eric wrote a well-circulated column on the alleged death of blogging last week. Here is Ed Driscoll's take on that column.

Jamaica, yo problem, part two: The island by car

Read here for part one of Jamaica, Yo Problem.

Also posted on Pajamas Media.

When we decided to travel to Jamaica for a vacation, my family and I decided not to stay in one of the increasingly popular "all-inclusive" resorts, instead we selected the Wexford Court Hotel in the middle of Montego's Bay "Hip Strip."

In that spirit of immersing ourselves in Jamaica, as opposed to walling ourselves in an all-inclusive property, we decided to rent a car and travel outside of Montego Bay, or "Mobay," as the locals sometimes refer to it.

One of my goals of this series, as I stated in my earlier Jamaica post, is to ignite travel blogging--in short do to that travel journalism what poli-blogging has done to mainstream political writing. Travel writing, such as what is found in most daily newspapers, is a sycophantic exercise designed to benefit the hospitality industry.

The car we rented a Toyota Yaris sedan. As with most former British colonies, drivers use the left side of the road, not the right.

I was a bit tense about having to change my driving pattern--I've been driving on the right side of the road, uninterrupted, for 17 years. It'd soon become clear that'd be the least of my worries regarding my two days on the roads of Jamaica.

Negril was our destination for our first day. I drove for about a half mile before I had a close call behind the wheel, as I drove over a massive pothole at full speed. Luckily, no damage was done to the car. In part one of Jamaica, Yo Problem, I wrote about the deplorable conditions of the sidewalks in Montego Bay. The roads in Jamaica are equally awful, they're narrow and filled with potholes.

I asked Morris, a cab driver who drove us to the Half Moon resort on our first full day in Jamaica, about the bad roads. "Why aren't the potholes fixed?" He told me, "The crews are too busy building the North Coast Highway to Ocho Rios." I'm getting a head of myself, because that's where we're headed on the second day of our Jamaican road trip.

Once we got out of Montego Bay, the roads widened and I was almost comfortable driving. Still, I had to be constantly on the look-out for potholes.

The roadsides are pleasantly populated by stands such as this one, where I purchased some mangoes.

Towns were a problem. The roads contract inside villages, the streets in these towns haven't had been widened, in all likelihood, since the horse-and-buggy days. In Lucea, halfway to Negril, on a very tight portion of a street, I sideswiped a high curb that seemingly came out of nowhere. Luckily, the plastic bumper that met the concrete was already scratched on my rental car. A previous driver of the car probably did the same thing I did.

I elected to get full insurance coverage on the Toyota. It cost an extra $50. Just for the peace-of-mind it gave me it was worth it.

Yes, the roads are bad, but the drivers aren't much better. My wife asked me why I was using my lane change signal-- because no one else was. Jamaican drivers like to nudge toward the center of the road, expecting the oncoming vehicle to back off---which is how I ended up hitting the curb in Lucea. As I gained more experience driving in Jamaica, I learned to do the same thing--hold the center of the road--while looking out for potholes.

Negril is unique in Jamaica. From our guidebook, Frommers' Jamaica:

On the arid tip of Jamaica, Negril has had a reputation for bacchinalia, hedonism, marijuana smoking, and nude sunbathing, since hippies discovered its sunny shores in the 1960s. The resort became more mainstream during the 1990s as big-money capitalists built megaresorts, most of them managed by SuperClubs or Sandals. Yet some resorts still reserve stretches of beach for nude bathers, and illegal ganja is still peddled openly.

Our nine year-old daughter was with us, so we planned to stay away from the nudity and pot smoking. Besides, I'd been warned by locals that the nudists who bare it all at the resorts follow the predictable pattern of public nakedness: The ones who take off their clothes shouldn't, the ones that should, don't.

Negril has two places listed in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. One of them is the Rock House, where I'm pictured after finishing lunch there.

More on the Rock House, from Go2Jamaica.com:

Rock House is a hip boutique hotel stretching across the cliffs of Pristine Cove in Negril. Twenty-eight air conditioned rooms have thatched roofs with private sun bathing decks and are nestled in tropical lush gardens. The resort boasts a 60 foot cliff top horizon pool, a laid back atmosphere, and a restaurant serving "new Jamaican cuisine" on a balcony suspended directly over the water. Ladders and stairs carved into the rock lead down to easy water access for swimming and snorkeling on the reef.

Pretty nice place, and pretty expensive too. Lunch was pretty good and reasonably priced, but I'm not sure how this place ended up as one of the 1,000 places to see before you die.

Next stop was Rick's Cafe...and there is no doubt in my mind that this place belongs in that list. Rick's is built on stone cliffs, cocktail sippers and gulpers are entertained by seemingly Olympic-caliber divers who dive for tips off the 60 foot high cliffs, or from a thirty-foot tree above those cliffs.

My daughter and I dove off a shorter cliff, about 25 feet high, a few times, the water temperature was perfect. Viewing the sunset from Rick's balcony is an eagerly anticipated daily event at Rick's, we were told. But the horizon clouded up late in the day, so we missed out on that ceremony.

We walked around Negril a little bit. A typical house, not just to Negril but to most of Jamaica, is pictured here. The people of Negril are not nearly as aggressive in their selling of junk as their counterparts in Montego Bay, and despite the claims in the Frommers' book, no one offered to sell us ganja. Only one prostitute propositioned me in Negril.

These kids were really nice. I gave them my e-mail address, hopefully they'll e-mail me, since they seemed very excited about my putting their pictures on the internet.

After the cloud-covered sunset, it began to rain quite hard. My plan was to drive back to the Wexford that night, then head to Ocho Rios the first thing in the morning. Driving in pouring rain, on the left side of the road, on the worst roads I'd ever driven on seemed to be a foolish idea. A patron at Rick's told us there was a small hotel that had an available guest house. We drove there and stayed there for the night.

The following morning, we drove back to Montego Bay. Since I was familiar with the especially bad patches of road, and the segments of narrow stretches, the trip back was a little less torturous than the way to Negril.

Next, Jamaica, Yo Problem heads to Ocho Rios on the North Coast Highway, a road that is a work-in-progress. William Least Heat-Moon in his indispensable roadtrip book, Blue Highways. A Journey into America, utilized Dante's phrase, "Abandon all hope ye who enter here," whenever he encountered road construction.

William wasn't driving in Jamaica, however, in Blue Highways.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Saudi treatment for substance abuse: Men are better off than women

It should come to no surprise that in Saudi Arabia, a nation where women are sub-citizens, inequality of the sexes extends all the way to treatment for drug addiction.

From the Arab News:

“Saudi society is incapable of accepting women as drug addicts; therefore, it is better to treat them as psychiatric patients and not drug addicts,” said Dr. Muhammad Shaweesh of Jeddah’s Al-Amal Hospital.

The hospital has women drug addicts seeking treatment, but with no facilities to handle them, the women are transferred to psychiatric hospitals. Al-Amal Hospital administrators are seeking a building to house a facility. For now it remains a problem.

What the article doesn't mention? Because women are treated so poorly in the Saudi kingdom, circumstances probably create more female addicts there than male.

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Coming tomorrow. Jamaica, Yo, problem part two, the island by car

Here is part one about my visit to Jamaica this month.

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Missouri bans funeral protests in reaction to Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church

Last week I reported on Wisconsin banning protests at funerals, Missouri also enacted similar legislation into law last week. Thirteen other states, according to USA Today, may join them.

What's all the fuss about? Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Phelps first made a name for himself by showing up--with members of his congregation--at the funerals of AIDS victims in the 1990s with placards claiming that God was happy the "fag" died and AIDS is simply God's wrath in the form of disease.

About a year ago, Phelps and his church began showing up at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the claim that God is punishing America for our tolerance of homosexuality. As the picture says above, in Phelps' mind, "God Hates America."

For the family and friends of the deceased--and to any decent human being--protests such as these are reprehensible. An emotionally devastating event such as a funeral should not be forced to endure vile hatred such as the type Phelps spews.

Where is the ACLU? On Phelps' side, of course:

Edwin Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Illinois, says a proposal there that limits the time and distance of funeral protests is too broad.

The limit could be applied to somebody picketing the appearance of a public official at the service or somebody protesting on another issue, he says.

The Illinois branch of the ACLU may be busy soon--Illinois is one of the states with a funeral protest ban bill working its way through the state legislature.

Phelps' church is independent and is not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention or any other Baptist group.

Hat tip to Diane at Respublica.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wal-Mart to expand health coverage benefits for its employees

Like Microsoft, Wal-Mart is an American success story, and that's too much to handle for those on the left-side of the political aisle. Wal-Mart employs a non-union workforce, which further fuels the ire of liberals.

Union membership as a percentage of the American workforce has been declining for decades, from to high of 34 percent in the 1950s to just 12.5 percent in 2006.

Surely Wal-Mart can't be blamed for this steep decline.

Wal-Mart is regularly accused of being stingy with its health insurance offerings. That accusation is inaccurate, as National Review Editor Rich Lowry noted two years ago:

More than 90 percent of Wal-Mart employees have health insurance. Half of those get their insurance through the company, and the rest through other means, whether their parents, or spouse, or Medicare. Many Wal-Mart employees are young people or semi-retired, and thus aren't supporting families. Employment there can be an escalator to success. Two-thirds of the stores' managers are former hourly employees.

Still, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott will announce on Sunday in a speech to the National Governors Association a big improvement in health care benefits for employees, both full and part-time, of the company.

From Bloomberg News:

The world's largest retailer will allow more workers to become eligible for the lowest cost health plan, cut the waiting period for part-timers and allow their children to be covered. Wal-Mart will more than quadruple the number of clinics this year after opening nine in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida and Indiana last year.

Of course, many employers offer part-timers no health care benefits at all.

MarketWatch adds a little more:

The world's largest retailer signed up more than 70,000 associates who lacked health insurance in a recent open enrollment, according to Scott's (upcoming) speech, and "this is just a start."

The linked articles about Wal-Mart's upcoming benefits announcement include criticism of Wal-Mart. But none of the pieces, including ones I didn't link to that I came across, were gleeful in their disdain. Leave it to the New York Times to go the extra mile. From Michael Barbaro's article in Thursday's Newspaper of Record:

The groups have tried, with apparent success, to turn Wal-Mart into a symbol of what is wrong with American health care, triggering legislation in numerous states that is directed squarely at Wal-Mart.

Friend-of-the-blog and fellow Illinoisan Crazy Politico was ahead of Barbaro in covering this story--read about it here.

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Advocacy group calls for Cardinal George of Chicago to resign

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, better known as SNAP, has called for the resignation of Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago to resign because of his inaction in the case of the Reverend Daniel McCormack, a West Side Chicago priest accused of molesting three boys.

An advisory committee to the Chicago archdiocese made the recommendation to the Cardinal that McCormack be removed from his parish in October. However, George appointed a monitor for the priest instead.

Meanwhile, McCormack continued to molest an 11 year-old West Side boy after that monitor was put in place.

From AP:

Saturday's call for Cardinal George's resignation was the first time the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has called for a cardinal or a bishop to step down, said SNAP President Barbara Blaine.

"The national leadership of SNAP has never taken this extreme position before and obviously we don't do it lightly," Blaine said. "Cardinal George has been secretive, deceptive and irresponsible."

The state child welfare agency learned of the review board's recommendation during its own investigation into allegations against McCormack, Jackson said. The agency also learned that McCormack had been sent to a facility for a psychological assessment last year, Jackson said.

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Don Knotts dead at 81

A great one died today, AP is reporting. Comedy legend Don Knotts died in Beverly Hills at the age of 81.

The West Virginia native performed on many TV shows as well as in many films, but of course he'll best remembered as the incompetent deputy sheriff Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show.

The picture is from No Time for Sergeants, Knotts has a bit role in the film that featured his future TV pal, Andy Griffith.

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Members of Congress to continue receiving Hustler magazine for free

I had to dig deep to find this one, but Yahoo! India has an article attributed to a news agency called DPA that shows the generous side of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.

According to the article, Flynt has sent members of congress free copies of Hustler for many years. Perhaps this monthly gift explains the behavior of former Senator Gary Hart.

Some members of Congress have complained about receiving the raunchy rag and have tried to keep it out of the congressional mailroom, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune.

But the unfortunately named (for this topic, at least) Sergeant at Arms of the Senate, William H. Pickle sent a memo to members of Congress stating:

As with any other piece of mail, your office may immediately discard or destroy any unwanted item.

So, men and women of Congress: It's okay to toss out your Hustler magazines.

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Chicago area blogger moves up

I've been meaning to post on friend-of-the-blog Jill Stanek becoming a regular contributor to WorldNetDaily for a while, so here it is. Jill lives in Orland Park (where I went to high school); Orland is a southwest suburb of Chicago.

Her latest WorldNetDaily column is here.

Jill writes about all subjects, but her specialty is pro-life issues.

Jill Stanek.com is her blog.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pat with Brainster cited on NRO for his Krugman research

Great work--what else is new--by Pat Curley of Brainster for nailing--again--looney left Princeton prof and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman for fibbing--again. And as odious as it is for the Republicans, ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff was a bipartisan sleaze, as Pat discovered.

Here's the National Review Online link.

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Farrakhan adviser a member of Illinois' hate crime panel

More bad news for Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois. It should be no surprise that he overlooked the fact that Claudette Marie Johnson, an appointee to the governor's Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes, is the minister of protocol for Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. Why is this "more bad news" for Rod? As you'll see a couple of posts down, "Blago" didn't know the Daily Show was a comedy program, and he made of fool of himself when he appeared on the Comedy Central show earlier this month.

As for Ms. Johnson and her title "minister of protocol?" Is that like minister of propaganda and enlightenment, Joseph Goebbels positon?

The Anti-Defamation Leage blew the whistle on the protocol queen at the NOI, as the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Johnson, also known Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad, can't be too bright either. Her role in the Nation of Islam became known when she invited the other members of the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes to this Sunday's Nation of Islam Saviour's Day rally in Chicago.

Here's a lowlight from last year's Saviour's Day event, from the mouth of Louis Farrakhan:

Jewish people don't have no hands that are free of the blood of us. They owned slave ships, they bought and sold us. They raped and robbed us.

Pretty hateful stuff.

Roger L. Simon interviews Rep. Lantos about Google and China

You'll find an interview with Rep. Tom Lantos, D-CA, conducted by blogger/author Roger L. Simon here on the Pajamas Media site.

Roger L. Simon, by the way, has gone out of his way to help me in my blogging. Very nice guy.

The video was shot by Andrew Marcus, who I met last fall at the Ward Churchill protest at DePaul University. Nice guy too.

Lantos discusses the self-muzzling by Google with and Chinese language version of its search engine.

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Illinois governor appears on 'The Daily Show'--Thinking it's not a comedy program

It's hard to believe that there are people who follow politics closely and don't know that Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" is a send-up of real news.

What's even more a amazing is that Governor Rod Blagojevich, D-IL, who is a politician, had until a few days ago no idea that "The Daily Show" is not a legitimate news program.

Naturally, the governor looked pretty foolish on the show.

From CBS 2 Chicago:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich said that he didn't realize it was all a big joke when Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" came to do a segment on him recently, a segment that, among other things, made fun of his last name and suggested he might be gay.

See for yourself, the Blagojevich bit is here.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

"Portgate" bottled up for now: UAE company agrees to delay ports takeover

I wonder if the Secret Service awakened President Bush with this news?

AP is reporting tonight that Dubai World Ports announced that it is delaying its takeover of operations at six major US ports to give more time for the company to convince skeptics in Congress that it does not pose a national security risk.

The proposed takeover is a huge headache for the president, as Democrats smell blood in those harbor waters.

From AP:

The delay did not appease some of the deal's harshest critics.

"If the president were to voluntarily institute the review and delay the contract that would obviate the need for our legislation, but a simple cooling-off period will not allay our concerns," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

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Defense rests in George Ryan corruption trial

This is the trial of the century in Illinois.

I always wanted to write something like that, even if we're only 6 years into the 21st century. Of course the trial has seemingly lasted for a century--it has however, been going on since September.

Soon, but not very soon, the fate of the former Governor of Illinois will be in the hands of a very worn-out jury. Not before, however, the defense, led by former U.S Attorney Dan Webb, was able to fall back on the cheesy show-biz side of the legal world.

From AP:

George Ryan's defense lawyers rested their case Thursday, but not before federal prosecutors ripped into them, saying they had staged an overnight media campaign in which the former governor's wife went on Chicago television stations in a "desperate, orchestrated effort to influence this jury."

"This, judge, is an affront to the court," lead prosecutor Patrick M. Collins told U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, who is presiding over Ryan's racketeering and fraud trial.

Collins said television reporters were brought to the powerful Loop law firm of Winston & Strawn, which is representing Ryan, and granted one-on-one interviews in which Lura Lynn Ryan said her husband had been indicted only because he is an opponent of the death penalty.

"This is fundamentally untrue," Collins said. He said that the parade of reporters to the firm "went on all night last night -- there were people tramping in and out of Winston & Strawn."

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Fatal suburban Chicago car accident draws attention of FBI anti-terrorism unit

On Wednesday morning in the Chicago suburb of Forest View, near Midway airport, there was a deadly multi-car accident. Normally investigations of this sort involve the local police, on rare occasion the National Transportation and Safety Bureau get involved.

But with this accident, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force is on the scene.

One of the victims was Dr. Nofal Lafi Hussein, a native of Palestine.

From ABC 7 Chicago:

Police found checks worth a lot of money, unused credit cards and some other items that to some "could suggest" sinister activities. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force was called in and that has angered relatives of one of the victims.

The Hussein family learned of Wednesday's crash on the Stevenson like everyone else. They saw it on television. Only later would they learn that Dr. Nofal Lafi Hussein was killed and his nephew, whom they identify as Magdi Hussein, was critically injured.

At the scene, police reportedly found high-dollar checks, banking statements, and a dozen unused credit cards in the Hussein's car. They called in the FBI, who called in its Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The Hussein family vehemently denies Dr. Hussein had any ties to terrorism.

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City of Chicago weighs elephant ban

Couldn't resist the headline. Actually, the Chicago's City Council is considering a bill that would ban elephants in Chicago--unless the animals have 10 acres of open roaming space per elephant, CBS 2 Chicago is reporting tonight.

In a congested city such as Chicago, such a demand by the city would mean elephants could not enter Chicago's city limits since finding 10 acres of open roaming space for even one elephant is almost an impossibility.

After the 2004 deaths of two of elephants in Lincoln Park Zoo, animal rights activists rushed in and pressured the zoo into holding off finding replacement pachyderms for the ones that died.

If the bill becomes law, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus most likely will only perform in Chicago's suburbs.

A PETA group, Save Wild Elephants, is involved in this 10-acres-per-elephant campaign.

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Michelle Malkin's blog hacked!

Michelle has agressively pursued the Danish Muhammad cartoons story. Coincidence? Probaly not. See it in her own words.

Marathon Pundit and that coyote ugly story

As you may know, I was prominently mentioned in Christopher Martin's Chicago Sun-Times article about the coyote invasion in Chicago, which of course is America's third largest city.

Coyotes in Chicago? Yep.

Through Eric Zorn's Chicago Tribune blog, where I posted that yes, those were coyotes that Eric took a picture near where both of us live (but not with each other) sometime last month. I commented on Eric's blog that I know what the critters look like, since I'd seen them before in South Dakota and Wyoming, and I also encountered coyote road kill in the Chicago suburb of Niles a few months ago.

That posting caught the eye of Mr. Martin, who e-mailed with a request to conduct a telephone interview with me last week. During that interview, I told him that everything in the above paragraph--and when he asked me if I was afraid of the coyotes, I said "no," since nature had taught the urban coyote to stay away from humans. I mentioned that pets getting ambushed was a concern of mine--albeit a minor one--but I ended the conversation with as far as my daily runs, which take me into the towns of Morton Grove, Skokie, Niles and Chicago, I saw no reason to change my routine.

This is what ended up in the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday:

John Ruberry enjoys his daily jog through Chicago's tree-filled parks. But he doesn't like the half dozen coyotes he's had to run around in the last few years.

"Coyotes should be in the wild, not in the city,'' says Ruberry, 44, who lives on the North Side and jogs along the lakefront. "It's a little scary to know there are so many."

Well, as I commented before, it's great to be in the lead story in a major newspaper. Martin got my age right and spelled my name correctly. However, haven't lived on Chicago's North Side for seven years, and well, none of the stuff I was quoted are things I said.

I did get a few phone calls from people I hadn't heard from in a while, and my family had some good natured laughs about it, so I'll try to focus on the positive.

However, if you work for a big company, as I do, now you know why they don't want you talking to the media. Even if you don't say anything your employer won't approve of, well, you still might end up being quoted on it, if you know what I mean.

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What if they gave a contest and no one came? Over 500 free trips to North Dakota may go unclaimed

Also posted on Pajamas Media.
Last week I reported on the contest being sponsored by the North Dakota National Guard which is offering high school students 540 all-expenses paid trips to the Peace Garden State.

So far, fewer than thirty kids have answered the call, and the deadline for entering is February 28. The North Dakota National Guard is offering 10 students from each state and four US territories the opportunity to come to the state in honor of the 200th anniversary of Lewis & Clark's return trip through there.

As I noted last week, I've been to North Dakota and it's worth visiting.

One of the organizers of the contest is astonished by the lack of interest in the prize, as noted in Ryan Bakken's column in Wednesday's Grand Forks Herald:

"The thought was that it would be a neat opportunity to showcase North Dakota," said Shelle Michaels of Grand Forks, a local all-around go-getter and volunteer helper for the children of the deployed 188th Air Defense Artillery.

Michaels was beating the publicity bushes, trying to stir up interest in the contest. She was baffled by the apathy among our youth.

North Dakotan Bakken, however, is cynical:

What Shelle isn't considering is the teenage mind. Would 10 teenagers from Hawaii leave the beach for western North Dakota? Would 10 teenagers from Colorado leave the mountains for North Dakota? Would 10 teenagers go anywhere where their cell phones might not work?

I think not.

The contest is open to high school students who will be juniors or seniors in the upcoming school year. For more information, click here.

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Technical problems at Marathon Pundit

These problems, which I thought were fixed....are not quite yet. In short, my harddrive has been inundated by spyware...or malware. I did a master reset on my HP Pavilion...and it looks like the spyware is under control. But I have to reinstall a ton of software. Thanks for your patience!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ex-Gov. Ryan won't testify in his corruption trial

Outside of Illinois, former Ill. Governor George Ryan is best known as the man who commuted all of the death penalty sentences in the state to life in prison. That act got him on as a guest on the Oprah show, and the he even was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

In Illinois, Ryan, a Republican, is better known for his alleged role in various corruption scandals while he was Secretary of State in the Land of Lincoln. The SOS office pretty much is what's called the Department of Motor Vehicles in most states.

He's also known as the man who turned the Illinois GOP into a pariah in the nation's fifth most populous state.

After five months of testimony, the trial seems to be winding down. AP reports today that the former governor will not testify in his defense.

For more information on the Ryan trial, has a trial blog, and you can find that here.

Alleged Ohio terror cell was looking to expand into Chicago

Yesterday's news reports were dominated by the federal indictment of four Ohio men accused of operating a terror cell there.

And besides attacking US troops in Iraq and assassinating President Bush as its alleged goal, the group of four was looking to recruit members in Illinois, the Chicago Tribune reports:

The plot also included plans to set up a dummy foundation to raise money for the terrorist operation, funneling funds and computers to co-conspirators in the Middle East, and recruiting at least two people, both from Chicago, for jihadist training, court papers state.

I'm sure we'll here more about other endeavors of this group.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

James Zogby: Saudi PR strategy failing in the US, time to focus on Saudi women

Well, duh. Those print and TV ads from a couple of years ago, you know the ones that proclaimed "Saudi Arabia--an ally in the War on Terror" didn't sway American opinion the way the Saudi kindom had hoped.

What part of "15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi subjects" didn't the royal family understand?

According to the Arab News, James Zogby, brother of the famous pollster and president of the Arab-American Institute, said in a recent speech given in Saudi Arabia:

The country is wasting its resources in trying to reach out to the Americans through their media. Such a strategy has turned out to be counter-productive.

What to do?

Well according to Zogby, the answer is utilize "smart Saudi women" to reach out to the American public.

What Zogby didn't mention is that these "smart Saudi women" aren't allowed to vote in the kingdom, can't drive a car there, are not allowed to travel outside of Saudi Arabia without the approval of either a husband or closest adult male relative, and "smart Saudi women" must wear a veil in public

Hello Zogby: Your "smart Saudi women" idea is a dumb idea.

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Where the Olympic rings curl: The sport of curling

Are you interested in bowling on ice? Then turn off NBC and head over to MSNBC, CNBC, or the USA Network for its coverage of Olympic curling.

Not hooked yet? Sometimes curling is called chess on ice.

As far as I can gather, each curling team consists of four players--they take turns pushing the stone--curling's equivalent to the bowling ball--to get as close as possible to the center of dart board-like target and the end of the rectangular playing surface. The teams take turns pushing the stones; two of the players will utilize floor brooms, which are pretty much the type of brooms that school janitors use--to speed up the onward path of the stones.

Using a pushed curling stone to knock an opponents stone out of the scoring area is a large part of the strategy of curling.

However, after watching curling for a few days, I still can't figure completely understand the game.

But overall, the sport of curling can't be all bad--the game is more mental than physical, which is why there are any curling doping scandals.


Virus problem here in Marathon Pundit land. My computer, not me...think I've got a reasonable good handle on it--finally.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Iranian cleric: Danish cartoons part of Zionist plot to start new crusade

Ayatollah Seyyed Abdolkarim Musavi Ardebili of Iran believes the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is part of Zionist scheme to kick off a new crusade, according to the Tehran Times.

Denmark has a tiny Jewish population. As for the crusades, the soldiers who fought for the cross chose Jews, not Muslims, as their first victims.

Conservative DePaul student group found not guilty of harassment

In what FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is calling a "partial victory," several members of the DePaul Conservative Alliance who held a tongue-in-cheek "affirmative action bake sale" were found not guilty of violating DePaul's Anti-Discriminatory Harassment Policy.

Offering further proof that liberals have no sense of humor, the conservative students were found guilty of misrepresenting the goal of the bake sale.

Undaunted by this slap on the wrist, the DePaul Conservative Alliance is planning an event that will solidify its role a vanguard of free speech--and suspended Professor Thomas Klocek may be the group's guest speaker, according to FIRE.

As regular readers of Marathon Pundit know, Professor Klocek was fired by DePaul after speaking up for Israel in front of some Muslim DePaul students almost a year and a half ago.

Only in Illinois: Book store is "all Lincoln all the time"

Yes, it's true--there is a bookstore in Illinois, sometimes called the Land of Lincoln, that has only one category of books: Abraham Lincoln ones. You'll find the bookstore on Chicago's North Side.

The name of the bookstore? What else, the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop.

As ABC 7 Chicago reports, the store was founded in 1938, and has been run for the last 21 years by Dan Weinberg.

From that story:

Weinberg says old Honest Abe was great for many reasons. He was a strong leader with strong ethics and high morals. But more than anything, long before television, he was the first great communicator.

"The great speeches are great speeches," said Weinberg. "Some of the best in American history, and he was able to inculcate the great ideas of America and place them before the people and the world."

Thousands of books, thousands of pieces of memorabilia. It's a museum, but it's also a book shop and that means everything is for sale, like the second earliest photo ever taken of Lincoln. It was taken in Chicago.

"It's Lincoln in '54, 1854," Weinberg said. "Holding an Illinois state sign, an anti-slavery newspaper and look at the Brillo pad of hair he has."

Wisconsin--with Rev. Phelps in mind--bans funeral protests

The Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, has made a name for himself of late by picketing the funerals--accompanied by his congregation--of soldiers killed in Iraq. Phelps operates under the delusion that God is angry at America for our toleration of the gay lifestyle, the "good reverend" celebrates each soldier's death.

Similar legislation is in the works in Illinois and Oklahoma, but today in Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle signed legislation banning protests near funerals, AP reports today. Expect Phelps to sue, claiming the new law is in violation of the constitution of the country he professes to hate.

Curt Gowdy, legendary Red Sox announcer, called first Super Bowl, dies

Another voice from my youth is gone. Legendary sports announcer Curt Gowdy died in Florida today. For years he was the NBC voice for the Saturday's "Baseball Game of the Week," as well as the lead announcer for NBC's AFL and AFC football games.

And for many years Gowdy was the play-by-play announcer for the Boston Red Sox.

Gowdy was a Wyoming native, there is a state park there named in his honor.

Austrian court sentences holocaust denier Irving to three years

British holocaust denier and prolific author David Irving will have plenty have time to write another book, since he's been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty for violating a 1992 Austrian law which applies to "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media, according AP.

He should have asked for a change in venue for his trial: to Iran.

More from the AP article:

I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," Irving told the court before his sentencing, at which he faced up to 10 years in prison.

He also expressed sorrow "for all the innocent people who died during the Second World War."

But he insisted he never wrote a book about the Holocaust, which he called "just a fragment of my area of interest."

"In no way did I deny the killings of millions of people by the Nazis," testified Irving, who has written nearly 30 books.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Chicago Tribune print edition covers the cartoons, directs readers to a Belgian web site to view them

In Sunday's Chicago Tribune perspective section, Pat Oliphant has an article about the Danish cartoon controversy (free registration required) where the cartoonist explains why he wouldn't undertake a similar project about Muhammad.

Of course the Trib didn't publish the cartoons on the print or internet editions. In the print edition, the Tribune gave a rough description of some of the cartoons. At the end of that little article, readers are directed to the Brussels Journal web site, specifically at http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/698, to see what all the fuss is about. Couldn't they have just shown the Muhammad drawings?

Oh, to see the cartoons on that site, you have to do some scrolling.

Look who's in the top story of the Chicago Sun-Times this morning

It's me.

The opening paragraphs of that article:

John Ruberry enjoys his daily jog through Chicago's tree-filled parks. But he doesn't like the half dozen coyotes he's had to run around in the last few years.

"Coyotes should be in the wild, not in the city,'' says Ruberry, 44, who lives on the North Side and jogs along the lakefront. "It's a little scary to know there are so many."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

North Dakota National Guard offering free 540 trips to the Peace Garden State

...and according to AP, only 28 people have entered, 12 of them from North Dakota.

Okay, let the jokes fly, but I've been to the Peace Garden State, and it's a great place. That's me in 2004 running in the North Dakota Badlands near Medora, one of the places the winners--and their chaperones--will visit this summer.

Anyone who knows any high schoolers who will be juniors or seniors next year should tell them about the North Dakota National Guard essay contest.

From AP:

A National Guard essay contest is offering 10 selected high school students from every state and four territories a free trip to North Dakota this summer.

The Guard's Lewis and Clark Youth Rendezvous is being planned to bring the 540 students to North Dakota Aug. 13-18 to educate them about the journey of explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark nearly 200 years ago.

Two chaperones from each state and territory also will get the free trip, the Guard said.

The students will be selected based their thoughts about the military value of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The competition is open to those who will be high school juniors or seniors in August 2006.

Learn more on the Lewis and Clark Youth Rendezvous web site.
It's up to me to get the word out about the contest--too bad my daughter is only nine.

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New bounty offer for cartoonists' death: Indian provincial official offers $11 million

As long as liberals are going to keep demanding that Americans refer to Islam as a "religion of peace," it would be a big help if Muslims would stop killing people. Ann Coulter, November 28, 2002.

Well they're at it again. Yesterday a Pakistani cleric offered a reward for killing the Danish cartoonist who drew those pictures of the Prophet Muhammad. Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi apparently was unaware that 12 artists created the much reviled portraits when he made his announcement.

To the east in India, the eerily similarly named Muhammad Yaqoob Qureshi, minister of state for Haj and Minorities Welfare in the Uttar Pradesh of India upped the ante, offering 11.5 million for the death of the 12 cartoonists.

From the Arab News:

The minister’s remarks sparked a nationwide furor and demands for his immediate arrest and resignation. When contacted by Indo Asian News Service yesterday (Saturday), Qureshi repeated his declaration and said: “Muslim women of Uttar Pradesh have decided to give away their jewelry to weigh in gold any one who beheads the cartoonist, while I would collect 510 million rupees and donate it to him.

“Our protest is against none other than the United States which is solely responsible for masterminding a war against the Muslim world,” he said. “The Indian government should sever all diplomatic ties with the United States and recall its ambassador,” Qureshi said by telephone from Meerut.

(The article is inconsistent on the matter of whether the Indian Qureshi is aware that more than one person drew the cartoons.)

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Not playing dead in Peoria: Cops ticket SUV three times with dead man inside

The Peoria Police must be quite vigilant in their ticket-writing. The cops in that central Illinois city probably all have carpal tunnel syndrome, based on the AP story below:

Police in Peoria now say three parking tickets and a tow-away sticker had been placed on the sport utility vehicle in which a dead man's body was found last week.

Officers confirmed yesterday that someone in the parking-enforcement division had issued the tickets and sticker to the SUV, which was parked illegally near Methodist Medical Center. The ticket writer did not see the body of 46-year-old Michael Hudson of Decatur inside the black Mercedes.

Hudson had been reported missing February Sixth, and his body was discovered in the back seat three days later when someone walked by and noticed a foot against the passenger-side, backseat window.

Will the estate of the deceased have to pay those parking tickets?

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Tonight: CAIR Chicago to hold town hall meeting about the Danish cartoons

The event will be held in Villa Park, a suburb west of Chicago, at the big mosque there. From the CAIR Chicago press release:


February 15, 2006

A Panel of Muslim Leaders & Activists to engage Muslim and non-Muslim audience, media

(CHICAGO, 2/15/06) – Following the Press Conference at 6:00 at the same facility, the Chicago Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations will hold an open community forum on the cartoons in conjunction with the Chicago Chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). The Public debate and discussion will address many questions related to the controversy and the ensuing reactions around the world. Members of the audience and the represented media will have an opportunity to ask questions or to comment.

WHAT: CAIR-Chicago & ICNA-Chicago Open Town Hall Meeting on Prophet Cartoons
WHEN: Saturday, February 18, 6:30PM
WHERE: Meeting Hall, The Islamic Foundation of Villa Park 300 West Highridge Road Villa Park, IL 60181
CONTACT: Ahmed Rehab, (312) 212-1520, (847) 971-39631 E-Mail: communications@cairchicago.org

Amongst many questions to be addressed: why did the cartoons register such strong reaction from Muslims around the world? Where does one draw the line between freedom of Speech and hate speech? Who is to blame for the clash? What are the lessons learned? How do we move ahead from here?

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Iran protests Lithuanian paper running Muhammad cartoons

Lithuania has stepped up to the plate--even though they don't play baseball there--as the Respublika newspaper there reprinted the Danish Muhammad cartoons, the Baltic Times reports.

The Iranian government is upset about it--of course, it doesn't take a heck of a lot to upset the Islamic regime in Iran.

From the Baltic Times:

The (foreign) ministry stated in a press release that it had received a note from Iran saying that the cartoons, which first appeared in Denmark and have since been reproduced in several European publications, including Lithuania’s Respublika on Feb. 8, have drawn an angry response from Muslims around the world.

The note also said that Muslims cherish their own values, while respecting the prophets and saints of all religions, the ministry reported. The Islamic Republic stated that freedom of the press should not be used as an excuse for insulting other people’s religious beliefs.

In response, the Foreign Ministry said it respected all people’s religious feelings, but did not vindicate actions aimed at restricting freedom of the press, so it rejected the accusations against Lithuania.

Someone needs to remind the mullahs in Iran that newspapers in a free society are not controlled by the government.

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Hecklers greet Cindy Sheehan at Chicago college

Cindy Sheehan spoke at Chicago's St. Xavier University Thursday night. Her visit to the Southwest Side of Chicago was a spirited affair, but not in the ways Cindy--or St. Xavier--had hoped. Her speech was interrupted a few times by pro-war protesters.

From ABC 7 Chicago:

Supporters of the war staged their own demonstration outside of Shannon Hall. They sang "God Bless America."

"We believe in the men and women of our troops. We back our troops 100 percent," said one war supporter.

"Freedom doesn't come free," said one pro-war protestor. "You pay a price."

From a Marathon Pundit post earlier this month, here is a collection of irresponsible comments and writings that Cindy has made since she became "Mother Sheehan."

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Muslim cleric issues death threat over Danish cartoons

The Danish cartoon controversy seems to be headed down a predictable path. Today a Pakistani Muslim cleric issued a death threat to the Danish cartoonist who drew the now infamous Muhammad cartoons. There was more that one cartoonist, however. Either the CBS report is wrong or the cleric, Qari Saeed Ullah, erred on this matter.

From CBS News:

"Oh God, please punish those who dared to publish these sacrilegious cartoons ... Give enough power to the Muslim countries and enable them to take revenge," said Qari Saeed Ullah, a prayer leader in Islamabad.

More from the same article:

A Pakistani cleric offered a 1.5 million rupee (US$16,700) reward and a car for anyone who kills the Danish cartoonist who drew Prophet Muhammad, while another Islamist leader was put under house detention, amid fears of more deadly demonstrations Friday, officials said.

Jamaica, yo problem, part one: The island by foot

Also posted on Pajamas Media.

Last week Marathon Pundit went on a vacation to Jamaica.

I only had a general understanding about the place; namely it's warm there, it has beaches (it is an island), its most famous son was Bob Marley--and a lot of people there smoke marijuana, or as the Jamaicans call it, ganja.

Jamaica's unofficial national slogan is, "Jamaica, no problem."

We'll see about that.

This is my first attempt at travel writing. In mainstream newspapers, travel reporting, although at times informative, is not the best place get an honest appraisal of a vacation destination. The goal of a travel writer is to get the reader into a pleasant state of mind, so the many ads in the travel section are closely read, and hopefully, acted upon. In essence, newspaper travel experts are suck-ups to the travel industry. And they have the benefit expense accounts while visiting these exotic destinations.

Whereas I paid for my trip to Jamaica out of my own pocket.

Whose opinion would you trust?

My wife, daughter and I arrived in Jamaica last Wednesday; our hotel was the Wexford Court in Montego Bay, on the north shore of the island. The Wexford is somewhat of an anomaly in Jamaica. The trend in Jamaican vacations is the all-inclusive resort. Guests are fenced into a beachfront property such as Sandals, and everything they need is on the property: Food, drink, shops, recreation, and of course, the beach. At the all-inclusives, the beaches are private. These resorts also have jet-ski rentals, snorkeling areas, and boat tours. People like us staying at a traditional hotel--well, we're on our own for that stuff.

Unless they work there or if they're paying customers, regular Jamaicans aren't allowed in the all-inclusives.

The Wexford is on Montego Bay's "Hip Strip," filled with shops, boutiques, restaurants, and bars. The Hip Strip--its proper name is Gloucester Avenue--is also packed with the people of Mobay, the nickname for Montego Bay. The Hip Strip we learned is also the home of the "Mobay Hustle."

An hour after we got settled at the Wexford, my family and I left the property and walked to the beach across the street. Within a minute, we were approached by locals trying to sell us plastic-bead bracelets. We politely said "no." He persisted. We had to walk away.

Maybe a minute later, a group of three, including a woman who looked like she was in her late teens, approached us, offering to sell us pretty much the same merchandise. The woman was wearing a bikini, with a see-through bikini-bottom that left nothing to the imagination.

The appeal of the Jamaican all-inclusives was becoming clear to me.

Then a different man, who told us his name was David, yelled out to us, saying that these were "bad people." He was older, in his mid-40s, and offered to find a place where we could shop. My wife's luggage hadn't made it to Jamaica yet, and the clothes on her back were all she had. Warily, we took him up on his offer.

Walking down a major street is quite unique in Mobay. Lets start with the sidewalks, that is, when there is a sidewalk. On Gloucester Avenue, within one block a fairly wide sidewalk can quickly narrow into a single-file thoroughfare--and then the sidewalk will merge into the street, in other words--there is then no sidewalk. During that transition, the sidewalk is often pocked with potholes.

There are no shortage of taxis in Montegeo Bay. And walkers are reminded of that, every empty cab will slow down, or stop, offering tourist a ride. Usually by honking. It's quaint at first, but the noise...noise...noise...makes a pleasant walk, well, unpleasant.

Taxis in Jamaica have maroon license plates. However, illegal cab drivers, driving with regular-issue white plates, also would honk at us, hoping we'd hop in their jitney vehicles.

Then there are the unsolicited offers to sell ganja: "Hey, mon, want to buy some ganja?" Luckily, my daughter is too young to know what that means. To be fair to those drug sellers, according to the Frommers' Jamaica book I read, the open availability of marijuana--possession of which is illegal on the island, is one of the chief draws of tourists to Jamaica.

However, I don't drink, nor do I imbibe in pot-smoking, but I was there anyway.

My wife got a dress at the craft market pictured on the left. Haggling is part of the Mobay experience. We were told the dress cost $45. The Frommers book pointed out that everything in the craft market was overpriced--only morons don't haggle. We got the dress for $15, which is the same price we saw the dress on sales at the brick-and-mortar stores on the Hip Strip.

Oh, haggling is part of the buying experience at the "regular" stores, too.

I'm a life-long Midwesterner, and in this part of the country, haggling, outside of car dealerships and flea markets, is something I almost never have to deal with.

At the craft market, there was a fair share of junk being offered, but also, many artists were selling their own paintings, wood carvings, and jewelry.

Jamaicans are very creative, perhaps the most creative people on the planet.

There was a new annoyance we encountered at the craft market. Offers to braid my daughter's hair. Big tip for you future travelers to Jamaica. Get your girls' hair-braided immediately. This will drastically cut down on Mobay hustle solicitations. We waited five days before our daughter got her hair braided, before then, we had to contend with constant "Can we braid the cute girl's hair" offers.

David took us to the City Centre area of Montego Bay, a very congested place, as you can see. The whiff of ganja was strong.

Unfortunately, Montego Bay--and as we discovered later--other parts of Jamaica are messy places. Littering is a serious problem, as you can see. The picture on the left was taken in the City Centre.

In Montego Bay, and beyond, almost every store or craft market hut has at least one Bob Marley portrait. He's venerated in Jamaica. I like his music too, which I mentioned to several locals. I found out, however, that mentioning the number of illegitimate children Marley fathered--anywhere from six to ten by most accounts--quickly earned me dirty looks and comments such as "dat is just a room-ahr."

David our guide did a good job showing us around Montegeo Bay, we paid him $15 for his hour with us. He asked for $50.

It's the Mobay way.

Most of the time in Jamaica, I was with my wife and daughter. A few times I walked around on my own, or I went running. (After all, I am the Marathon Pundit.)

The first night in Montego Bay, I ventured out to buy a shaving razor. While searching for a store, a man who said his name was "One-two" asked me what I looking for--he didn't know where to find a razor, but he told me he'd drive me to a club called "The Upper Deck," where I can find the finest Jamaican women.

I told him my wife wouldn't approve.

The next night, in front of the Wexford, a woman named Corrina asked me where I was staying. I told her, and she suggested that I take her with me. I pointed out my wife to her, she said that it was okay, and she offered to perform a sexual act on her. Luckily, my daughter was out of earshot.

Jamaica, yo problem!

I went running a few times on the island, a unique experience. Several cabs stopped to offer me a ride. Why would they want a sweaty, shirtless man in their cab? Besides, runners rarely carry cash. I got a few offers to purchase ganja--I don't believe the sellers were acting in jest. At a street crossing on my last day there, I had to stop to let some cars go past. A woman came up to me, she wanted to know where I was staying...I told her, and she asked if I could take her back to my hotel.

Back in Illinois, the biggest excitement I get while running is having to out-run a stray dog.

So yes, Jamaica has problems.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the goals of my vacation blogging is to turn the world of travel writing upside down--in short, to do to political writing what blogs have done.

Look for part two of Jamaica, yo problem next week. It gets scarier, as I sit down on the right side of the front seat and drive a car. The sidewalks are bad in Jamaica. Visit Marathon Pundit next week and find out what condition the roads are in.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bryant Gumbel on blacks in the Olympics

Bryant Gumbel made a fool of himself the other day with these comments:

Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the games look like a GOP convention.

Uh, Bryant, Jamaica regularly sends a bobsled team to the Olympics. An all-black group of bobsledders. I learned the Jamaicans take a lot of pride in that team, and they're damn good athletes, too. Good enough to give you a thorough thrashing, Bryant.

And Bryant, there is a Jamaican Bobsled Cafe you can visit in Montego Bay, if you'd like to learn more
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Peeing British cop files human rights complaint against Lithuania

Kevin William Pitt, a British police officer, ought to think about leaving the police force and going to law school, since his frame of mind probably suits the legal profession better than writing parking tickets all day.

Pitt was fined 200 litas, about $60, for urinating on the office building of the president of Lithuania, the Baltic Times reports.

Last week a Lithuanian court rejected Pitt's appeal, so Pitt decided to file a human rights complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

Lithuania must not be a very oppressive nation, since Pitt's petition to the EU court regarding his "right to go" is the first human rights complaint against Lithuania to be brought before that body.

His "right to go" might also be called "Pitt's right to piss."

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Jyllands-Posten Editor-in-Chief decries "special treatment" of Muslims

Carsten Juste, the Editor-in-Chief of Jyllands-Posten, the paper that published the Mohammad cartoons that have inflamed, in some cases literally, the Islamic world, made some comments recently that will hardly soothe the feelings of Muslims, as reported in Islam Online:

"It turned out that the freedom of the press crumbled much more quickly than I thought," Jyllands-Posten Editor-in-Chief Carsten Juste told the Danish Christian daily Kristelig Dagbladet, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"It seems to me that the freedom of the press the world over is being limited as Muslims are being given special treatment," he argued.

I believe Mr. Juste would agree with the statement I've been making here for a while:

Islam demands more from non-believers than any other religion.

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Illinois Civil War records now online

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, has put online a treasure trove of information that will greatly please genealogists, historians, and civil war buffs: Illinois' Civil War muster rolls are now online.

Says White's office, from a press release last week:

"Personal information about the more than 285,000 Illinois soldiers who served in the Civil War is now available through our website and this will be a boon to genealogists and historians looking for information," White said. "This information was taken mainly from large, bulky ledger books that in the past could only be accessed through research at the Norton Archives building in Springfield

The data base is here. Let's put my last name, Ruberry in and see what comes up:


Joseph Ruberry: my great-grandfather.

The photo is of a 19th century cannon, but taken a couple days ago during my Jamaica trip.

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