Friday, March 31, 2006

Holy Cow! "Harry Caray bandit" robs bank


Yes, a bank-robber apparently dressed as the late baseball play-by-play announcer Harry Caray, whose catch phrase was "Holy Cow" robbed a bank Wednesday in Palos Heights, Illinois.

(Coincidentally, I grew up in Palos Heights.)

Baseball season starts on Sunday, with the Cleveland Indians visiting the world champion (Oh, enjoyed typing that) Chicago White Sox.

Go Sox!

Incidentally, Harry Caray, before he took on the Chicago Cubs job, was the voice of the White Sox for ten years.

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John Dean: Bush worse that Nixon

Now that was a hard headline to write. I'm so accustomed to hearing how President Bush is worse than Hitler....

I'm surprised John Dean wasn't asked about a Hitler comparison.

John Dean (must be something about that last name that gives people BDS Syndrome) testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today, arguing in favor of some sort of reprimand against President Bush over the alleged domestic spying abuses.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) wants the Senate to censure Bush, something John Dean, a convicted Watergate conspirator, feels could be an over-reach.

From AP:

Nixon White House counselor John Dean, testifying on behalf of a Democratic resolution to censure President Bush, asserted Friday that Bush's conduct in connection with domestic spying exceeds the wrongdoing that toppled his former boss from power.

I feel compelled to mention this seemingly unrelated side note: Martin Sheen played John Dean in the made-for-TV movie Blind Ambition.

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Denmark to have first hijab-clad TV talk show host


Lately best known for the brouhaha over the Muhammad cartoons, Denmark is back in the news again, and yes, it involves Islam.

Asmaa Abdol-Hamid, pictured on the left, will co-host a Danish TV-talk show with Adam Holm. She told Islam Online.net that she's "seeking to project a good image about hijab-clad Muslim women in Denmark."

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Sharon Stone bombs twice

Basic Instinct 2, Sharon Stone's new film, is out today. The New York Times review comes this way from Ed Driscoll via Allahpundit/Michelle Malkin:

It should come as no surprise that "Basic Instinct 2," the long-gestating follow-up to Paul Verhoeven's 1992 blip on the zeitgeist screen, is a disaster of the highest or perhaps lowest order. It is also no surprise that this joyless calculation, which was directed by Michael Caton-Jones and possesses neither the first film's sleek wit nor its madness, is such a prime object lesson in the degradation that can face Hollywood actresses, especially those over 40. Acting always involves a degree of self-abasement, but just watching trash like this is degrading.

Sharon Stone is headed to Chicago next month for a fundraising Jan Schakowsky fundraising event. Jan is a far-left congresswoman from Evanston, I'm one of her unfortunate constituents.

From Lynn Sweet's Chicago Sun-Times blog:

Sharon Stone, the sexy star of the sizzler "Basic Instinct 2,'' which opens today, hits Chicago next month to headline a fund-raiser for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

Stone will be featured at Schakowsky's "Ultimate Women's Power Lunch'' at the Chicago Hilton. Some 1,500 attended last year, when Jane Fonda was the marquee draw.

Stone and Schakowsky became friends during the 2004 presidential campaign, when they were part of a "Women on the Move'' drive for Sen. John Kerry that paired female pols and stars.

"We got a chance to really bond and become friends,'' Schakowsky said.

Sizzler?

Well, maybe her co-worker Roger Ebert liked it. Let's find out.

"Basic Instinct 2" resembles its heroine: It gets off by living dangerously. Here is a movie so outrageous and preposterous it is either (a) suicidal or (b) throbbing with a horrible fascination. I lean toward (b). It's a lot of things, but boring is not one of them. I cannot recommend the movie, but ... why the hell can't I? Just because it's godawful? What kind of reason is that for staying away from a movie? Godawful and boring, that would be a reason.

Not a sizzler. Better than Jane Fonda's Monster In Law? It wouldn't take much to top that stink bomb.

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Tony Blair: Gone by Christmas?

Even during last year's parliamentary campaign there was rampant talk British Prime Minister Tony Blair wouldn't serve very long as the nation's leader.

According to London's Telegraph, Blair may step down before Christmas.

Tony is having an annus horribilis, the peerages-for-loans scandal in Blair's Labour Party is having a demoralizing effect on the ruling party in Britain.

If Blair does step down, look for President Bush to be blamed for the resignation by the mainstream media.

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Scalia gives "dismissive" gesture that DePaul prez thinks is obscene


Pat Curley of Brainster e-mailed me a Boston Herald article this afternoon about the growing controversy over a gesture made by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia inside Boston's Holy Cross Cathedral.

It just happens to be the same gesture former DePaul Professor Thomas Klocek made to those thin-skinned Muslim students in the fall of 2004 that led to his dismissal.

Scalia, in a letter to the Herald insists the gesture, shown above, is not obscene. His explanation pretty much matches what Klocek said: "I'm outta here." Scalia says it means "I could not care less."

Here's what Steven Plaut has the skinny-on-the-chinny in the Autonomist Blog:

(Oh, thanks for the graphic!)

In the "minds" of the administrators at DePaul "University," using this same dismissive gesture is considered an unforgivable act. DePaul's president, Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, wrote the following words regarding Klocek's firing:

"...while students were passing out literature at a table in the cafeteria, Mr. Klocek confronted them in a belligerent and menacing manner. He raised his voice, threw pamphlets at students, pointed his finger near their faces and displayed a gesture interpreted as obscene." (Emphasis added)

DePaul was looking for any excuse to fire the conservative Klocek, whose only real transgression was that he dared defend Israel to some leftwing campus radicals.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

College Republican group counters PC-think in California

And it was inevetible that some of these people pushed back...
Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles, 1950.

From Bruce Thorton of the the Jewish Press:

Hats off to the University of California at Riverside College Republicans. They recently hosted a program that contrasted the vile anti-Semitic slander that saturates the Muslim media with the cartoons of Mohammed that sparked riots throughout with Muslim world. Of course this exercise in constitutionally protected free speech was noisily protested by the campus Muslim group, the same people who, when they’re not squealing about "hate speech," host speakers like Amir Abdel Malik Ali, who recycles the standard catalogue of anti-Semitic lunacy repackaged as "pro-Palestinianism" and "anti-Zionism."

Here is my favorite part:

Given the craven careerism of the typical college provost, dean, and president, then, and given the left-wing prejudices or lazy indifference of most of the faculty, it’s up to students to make their university live up to its role as protected space for what Matthew Arnold called "the free play of the mind on all subjects." This doesn’t mean that university officials should censor or limit any speech, but rather that they should encourage and insure through their control of facilities and funds that speech is balanced, that as many points of view as possible are available, and that no point of view is allowed to be intimidated or in turn to silence others.

Hat tip to Steven Plaut.

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Best Buy may lay-off employees

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Best Buy Co. may lay off some workers as the nation's largest consumer electronics retailer looks to rein in spending, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

A memo from Best Buy President Brian Dunn this month asked managers to find spending to cut, Best Buy spokeswoman Susan Busch said.

It's very hard for the retailer to find places to cut without overlooking its payroll. Best Buy's stores likely have long-term leases. In the competitive arena of consumer electronics, it's difficult to imagine them extracting meaningful price cuts from its suppliers. They've probably squeezed them pretty hard already.

In an e-mail to me, Marshall Manson of Edelman Public Relations points out to that Wal-Mart, on the other hand, plans to add 100,000 jobs this year. Yet the AFL-CIO and others on the left continue to crusade against the retail giant as "anti-worker."

Best Buy stores are non-union.

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Another voice on DePaul's hypocrisy

This one goes back a couple of months, but Penraker gives DePaul a good Fisking, and I'm a bit jealous since I didn't think of it first.

And this little Gulag even says this on its website:

Diverse: Motivated by a deep respect for the God-given dignity of each person, we believe that tolerance and understanding stem from honoring different viewpoints.

Oops - another lie.

But they immediately reveal why they can't stand free speech:

You’ll find multiculturalism everywhere, from the faces of our employees and students to the dynamic nature of our classroom discussions.

Oh, I bet those classroom discussions are simply scintillating - all of the kids have been carefully taught to answer in proper manner - or be charged with "harassment". I bet they even have a "Room 101", complete with head-cages and a few lab rats.

With more than 200 student organizations, you’ll also find others who share your interests, from social activism and professional groups to intramural sports and cultural clubs.

You know, it used to not even be "social activism" if the college encouraged it; this sort of takes the fun out of it.

As FIRE notes, DePaul disciplined a teacher last year for engaging in a heated discussion with Muslim Students - who obviously have been taught to play the system and use it to terrrorize those who date to stand up to them.

Here's more on the that teacher, fired Professor Thomas Klocek.

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Welcome Pajamas Media readers

The Ronald Reagan post is here.

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Ex-Gov George Ryan's big shot law firm finding out nothing is free

Winston & Strawn is the law firm that is defending former Illinois Governor George Ryan in his corruption and racketeering trial. "Clout heavy" is the best way to describe the firm; its CEO is Jim Thompson, one of Ryan's predecessors as governor.

Dan Webb, former US Attorney for Northern Illinois is Ryan's chief litigator.

Winston & Strawn is defending Ryan for free. It could be called pro-bono, the Ryan, although not rich, is certainly not poor. On Winston & Strawn's web site, there's a page dedicated to the firm's pro-bono work, curiously, the Ryan case is not among those proudly listed by Winston & Strawn.

The business section of the Chicago Tribune has an article about how expensive the free defense of George Ryan is for the firm.

Free registration may be required:

The cost of devoting Dan Webb, the firm's top litigator, and a small army of other lawyers to Ryan's criminal defense reportedly has cost Winston & Strawn almost $20 million. The tab stood at $10 million in November, the firm said. Indirect costs, such as a loss of new clients, are impossible to measure.

The decision to defend Ryan on a pro bono basis already has created serious dissension in the firm as partners fret that their share of the firm's profits has been dented by the cost, a source close to the case said. If Ryan has to be retried, the simmering discontent could turn into vocal resistance, the source said.

Webb, according to the Tribune, reportedly charges $750 an hour for his legal work.

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Political correctness at Chicago's Adler Planetarium


How low will the forces of political correctness stoop?

Well, all the way down to the basement of Chicago's Adler Planetarium, that's for certain.

I took Litte Marathon Pundit there Tuesday afternoon. She's on spring break from school this week, and her third grade class is spending a lot of time discussing astronomy.

The planetarium underwent a major expansion in the 1990s, I hadn't been there since the project was completed.

My daughter liked our day-trip a lot, and that was enough for me. Almost.

My probing eye picked up some frightening political-correctness in the astrolobe section of the planetarium. Astrolobes were devices commonly used, prior to the invention of the sextant, for navigation. However, these instruments were also used to predict star positions, and in the Islamic world, they were utilized to find the precise direction of Mecca so a Muslim could pray in the right direction.

Hence the Muslim interest in astrolabes.

The text pictured appears above the Adler astrolabe collection, it reads:

In the Middle Ages, the Islamic from Seville (Spain) to Samarkand (Uzbekistan). The position of each astrolabe on this map shows where it was made.

Non-Muslims, such as Jews and Christians, prospered under tolerant Islamic rule. (Emphasis mine.) Throughout this vast area, people studied the sky using tools created in the great Islamic cities.

Huh? What does the (alleged) Muslim toleration of Jews in Christians in the Medieval Muslim world have to do astrolabes?

In my opionion, absolutely nothing.

According to numerous sources, including Robert Spencer's The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades):

The astrolabe was developed, if not perfected, long before Muhammad was born.

As for the Muslim tolerance of Jews and Christians that the Adler display referred to, it was not any type of tolerance that a multi-cultural society would recognize.

Jews, Christians and members of other faiths living in Muslim lands during the Middle Ages were forced to pay a jizya, a poll tax to the Muslim rulers. Conversion to Islam would get them out of that responsibility. Death or slavery could be the fate for those who didn't pay up--or convert.

Have you heard of the Janissaries? No?

From Wikipedia:

The first Janissary units comprised war captives and slaves. After the 1380s Sultan Selim I filled their ranks with the results of taxation in human form called devshirmeh. The sultan’s men would conscript as a form of tax in-human-kind a number of non-Muslim, usually Christian, boys – at first at random, later, by strict selection – and take them to be trained. In later centuries they appear to have favored essentially Greeks and Albanians (who also supplied many gendarmes). Usually they would select about one in five boys of ages seven to fourteen but the numbers could be changed to correspond with the need for soldiers. Later they would extend the devshirmeh to other Balkan countries. Local residents could hardly be expected to appreciate the custom, although there is evidence that some Christians sought to have their children recruited as a way to gain social advancement. In some cases bribes were given and ages were lied about.

Then there are the Corsairs from what is now Algeria, as Bernard Lewis writes in What Went Wrong? : The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East:

...the Barbary Corsairs from North Africa were raiding the coasts of England and Ireland and even, in 1627, Iceland, bringing back human booty for sale in the slave-markets of Algiers.

St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of the Vincentian Order was perhaps the most famous slave captured by the Barbary pirates.

(Chicago's DePaul University, a subject much blogged about here, takes its name from him.)

Let me return to that statement above the Adler's astrolabe exhibit:

Non-Muslims, such as Jews and Christians, prospered under tolerant Islamic rule.

Simply put, that statement is a lie.

Thanks for the link: Dearborn Underground

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March 30, 1981: Ronald Reagan shot in Washington


It was twenty-five years ago today that John Hinckley nearly ended the nascent presidency of Ronald Reagan-- but the Gipper pulled through. Three other men were wounded that day, most notably White House Press Secretary Jim Brady, who never fully recovered from a gunshot wound to his head.

From Reagan's autobiography, An American Life:

Monday - March 30

I put on a brand-new blue suit for my speech to the Construction Trades Council. But for some reasons I'll never know, I took off my best wristwatch before leaving the White House and put on an old one Nancy had given me that I usually wore only when I was doing chores outside at the ranch. My speech at the Hilton Hotel was not riotously received - I think most of the audience were Democrats - but at least they gave me polite applause. After the speech, I left the hotel through a side entrance and passed a line of press photographers and TV cameras.

I was almost to the car when I heard what sounded like two or three firecrackers over to my left - just a small fluttering sound, pop, pop, pop. I turned and said, "What the hell's that?" Just then, Jerry Parr, the head of our Secret Service unit, grabbed me by the waist and literally hurled me into the back of the limousine. I landed on my face atop the armrest across the back seat and Jerry jumped on top of me. When he landed, I felt a pain in my upper back that was unbelievable. It was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt. "Jerry," I said, "get off, I think you've broken one of my ribs."

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Five Muslim groups call for end of boycott against one Danish firm

Danish Dairy company Arla Foods is reporting an easing of the Muslim boycott against its products. Its products, not other products, according to this Arla press release.

The notorious Danish Muhammad cartoons of course inspired the boycott.

The Arab News reports that five Islamic groups have urged Muslims to end the boycott against Arla, but the it's apparently still on other Danish firms.

From that paper:

"We decided to exclude the products of Arla Foods since the company has not only condemned the sacrilegious caricatures but it had also supported our constructive action against the publication of these questionable cartoons," said Soliman Hamad Al-Buthi, spokesman from the Riyadh-based International Committee for the Support of the Final Prophet (ICSFP). "This action demonstrates that we are prepared to extend a hand of friendship with anyone who respects our religion."

No word on if Arla spoke up for the Danish companies still being boycotted.

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Ryan trial: No quick verdict

Deliberations started again this morning in the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan.

There will not likely be a verdict today, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The forewoman of the jury sent a note to the trial judge asking her "to determine the court holidays if any" in the month of April.

Marathon Pundit back in good graces with Technorati

Hey, after weeks of my complaining-including drama queen posturing--Marathon Pundit is finally being picked up by the internet search engine Technorati again.

The only difference in the equation I can think of is that Technorati has a new home page design.

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Nation of Islam hate crime panel member says Ill. governor knew of her Farrakhan ties

Last month, as I posted here, a major story in Illinois was the disclosure that Ill. Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed Claudette Muhammad to the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes in 2005.

Muhammad is the minister of protocol for Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

Stung by that revelation, and further embarrassed by the resignation of four Jewish members of the hate crimes panel, the governor claimed to reporters he was unaware of Muhammad's membership in the controversial group.

Not so, says Muhammad, who told the Chicago Tribune that Blagojevich did know that she was part of the Nation of Islam.

From the Chicago Tribune, free membership may be required:
In a March 2 letter to Blagojevich, commission member Claudette Marie Muhammad said she was "very, very, very disappointed" that the governor told reporters he was only recently aware she was on his Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes. Blagojevich made the remarks earlier while refusing to dismiss Muhammad in the wake of a controversial speech by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Five Jewish leaders quit the panel in response.

"Mr. Governor, your comment stating that you were unaware of my religious affiliation and the fact that I was a top aide to Minister Farrakhan is not true," wrote Muhammad, who did not return telephone calls about the letter recently obtained by the Tribune. "You and I spoke. We took pictures ... I have written to you numerous times, all the letters of which were on our Nation of Islam stationery and, when I signed my name, I always indicated `Chief of Protocol to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan' as my title."

As is usually the case with Blagojevich when faced with a difficult question from the media, he handed the task to an aide, who still claims Blago didn't know, wasn't aware....

Blagojevich, a Chicago Democrat running for re-election, undoubtedly hopes that this whole mess will fade away. As I've written before, he can't afford to lose any part of Illinois' large black vote.

The dilemma for Blago is more acute now, because State Senator James Meeks, an African-American with close ties to Jesse Jackson and his congressman son, began circulating petitions last week to run as an independent for governor this fall.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blogroll addition: Wall Street Cafe

Blogger La Ventanita, who is blogs at Wall Street Cafe, describes himself as a "Cuban American - Born in exile raised with Cuba in my heart."

Naturally his blog focuses on Cuban issues, but he blogs about all kinds of other issues as well.

Click here to visit his blog.

Ryan trial uproar may lead to criminal background checks for jurors

Criminal background checks for jurors could become widespread. Privacy advocates will of course be against such attempts by state and federal courts to screen out lying jurors.

What I've learned is that the trial of former Governor George Ryan is just the latest incident of jurors lying about criminal records when filling out their pre-trial questionnaires.

Here is what AP found:

A year ago in Florida, a judge sentenced a 19-year-old high school dropout to four months in jail for not mentioning his arrest record when he was called for jury duty. The juror said he didn't intentionally try to hide anything when called for jury duty, saying he had problems reading a questionnaire that asks whether prospective jurors have a criminal background.

In 2004, the judge overseeing Massachusetts trial courts said that state needed to do a better job of screening jurors for criminal backgrounds that might bias their consideration of a case. Robert Mulligan spoke out after three jurors were dismissed and a mistrial declared in the case of a man accused of killing a 10-year-old girl. The jurors allegedly lied about not having criminal records.

According to that article, the state's attorneys in two southern Illinois counties routinely screen potential jurors for past criminal indiscretions.

Here is the scary part:

Los Angeles-based jury consultant Phil Anthony, chief executive of DecisionQuest Inc., said rigorous juror selection would weed out what his industry calls the "stealth juror" -- someone willing to hide their background or biases to get on a high-profile case for notoriety, profit or "to make a statement." Nearly one in five would-be jurors fall into that category, "an accelerating trend," he said.

And the trial of a former governor is just the type of trial to attract that kind of juror.

I must be old-school. I though people looked for ways to not serve on a jury, particularly for months-long trials. However, the influence of television shows such as "Law & Order," as well as the cable TV network Court TV are showing their influence on society.

From a John Grisham novel? Ryan trial to continue for now, judge does not rule out mistrial


Just a few minutes ago, Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer ruled that the corruption trial of former Ill. Governor George Ryan will continue. Two alternates will replace the two jurors who were dismissed for lying about their run-ins with the law in their juror questionnaires.

Deliberations were halted after a week when the Chicago Tribune alerted the chief federal judge in Chicago about the two jurors and their questionable backgrounds.

But there still could be a mistrial, as CBS 2 Chicago reports:

U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer refused a defense motion for a mistrial but said she would entertain such a motion if she later came to believe the deliberations were not continuing fairly with the two new jurors.

Conspiracy theorists are enjoying the bizarre turn of events the Ryan trial has taken.

Among that ilk is the belief that the feds tipped of the Tribune on the shady backgrounds of the two jurors, because the deliberations were not going the prosecution's way.

The dismissed jurors are under a gag order issued by the Judge Pallmeyer. This hasn't stopped Marvin Brown, the adult son of dismissed jury member Evelyn Ezell from commenting to an ABC 7 Chicago reporter, "My mom feels sorry for George Ryan because now no one is on his side."

Suspicions are also being cast on the motivation of Winston & Strawn, the clout heavy law firm run by one of Ryan's predecessors in the governor's mansion, Jim Thompson.

That firm is defending Ryan--for free. Estimates are that the firm has spent $10 million dollars defending former Governor Ryan, who was Thompson's lieutenant governor until 1991.

Does loyalty alone explain Winston & Strawn's reasoning to agree to "comp" George Ryan's legal bills?

Other Chicago lawyers are openly hoping for a mistrial, stating the behemoth law firm "deserves" having to take Ryan as a client for free in a second trial.

Amazing as it is, the one-term Republican from Kankakee is being pushed to the background of the case as the unusual turn of events in the juror deliberations have ignited the imagination of those following the case.

As for his co-defendant, lobbyist Larry Warner, he's been for the most part been ignored in media reports about the trial.

Ryan and Warner are on trial on various corruption, racketeering, and mail fraud charges, including contract rigging and sweetheart deals.

Does this like it comes from a John Grisham novel? Yes, but the trial isn't over yet, and we're headed into uncharted territory.

Oh, that's what an eclipse is!

I found this Associated Press headline on Duluthsuperior.com:

Eclipse tomorrow will blot out the sun

Intrigued? The total solar eclipse (when the moon blocks the sun) will cover a large swath of the planet, from Mongolia to Brazil.

And if Marathon Pundit happens to be your sole source of news, I have to point this out:

Don't stare at the eclipse!

Or the non-eclipsed sun, either.

Chicago Tribune names two dismissed Ryan jurors

The one media outlet that has been kicking butt in covering the trial of former Ill. Governor George Ryan, particularly the disastrous jury deliberations, is the Chicago Tribune.

Today the Tribune (free registration may be required) named the two dismissed jurors. Robert Pavlick of Buffalo Grove is the man who presumably lied about his driving-under-the-influence conviction and other behind-the-wheel transgressions during the time when Ryan was in charge of the office that oversees driving-related concerns.

The other dismissed juror, Chicagoan Evelyn Ezel, apparently was charged but never convicted on drug and other charges.

Both jurors checked off "no" on their juror questionnaire in September:

Have you, or has any close friend of relative ever been charged with or accused of a crime?

In a separate article, the Tribune explained to its readers how the uncovered the information on the two jurors. Routinely in high-profile trials, reporters will retrieve background information on jurors and use that information to "flesh out" the jurors as the reporters note the motivations of the panel members who reached a verdict.

And the reporters discovered the two bombshells. They forwarded their findings to a top federal judge in Chicago.

Friend-of-the-blog Eric Zorn has the story-behind-the story.

The Daily Herald has a long profile on Pavlick. He works for Home Depot, and does a lot of volunteer work. The mayor of Palatine, Illinois called Pavlick "the nicest guy on earth" a while back.

But the Daily Herald also reports on a previously undisclosed incident from his troubled past:
Pavlick’s most recent brush — on July 24, 1996 — was on a much different matter.

Apparently distraught by the death of a relative, he was holed up with a weapon at his Buffalo Grove home, 94 W. Forest Place. Buffalo Grove police and local SWAT teams cordoned off a two-block radius around his home and negotiated with him for three hours until he surrendered and was taken to Northwest Community Hospital for an evaluation.

Police confiscated two 12-gauge shotguns from his home. He pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and having no firearm owner’s card and was sentenced to one year of conditional discharge, a type of light probation.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fatina Abdrabboh: Missing Boston Marathoner

Last year Harvard grad student Fatina Abdrabboh wrote what Michelle Malkin called the stupidest op-ed ever, and a this ridiculous piece of tripe.

The New York Times published that op-ed, in which hijab-adorned Fatina describes working out in a Cambridge gym, feeling depressed because people stare at her because she wears a hijab, and that America is mean because of the Patriot Act. Really Mean. But her faith in America is renewed when some kind American picks up the keys she dropped and hands them to her.

And it just happened to be Al Gore in the gym who found the keys.

Undaunted by the inauspicious start as a newspaper guest columnist, Fatina reached another millstone with this Christian Science Monitor op-ed

In that article, Fatina describes the horror she experienced when a woman rolled up the driver's side window of her car when Fatina asked her for directions to Cambridge. Fatina automatically assumed it was because the woman in the other vehicle was repelled by her hijab.

Possibly. But then, maybe the other driver didn't know how to get to Cambridge.

Here is the paragraph from her Monitor op-ed that interests me for this post:

Why is my stance on terrorism my only defining feature? Casual conversations at the grocery store, the gym, the dry cleaner all seem laser-guided, by the way I look, to Islam and terrorism - and never to those everyday conversations that might revolve around other aspects of my life like how I like my Harvard classes, my training for the Boston Marathon, or my recent obsession with my stock portfolio.

A ha! The Boston Marathon. The 110th edition of the world's greatest running race takes place in three weeks. And Fatina hasn't registered for the race.

The Boston Marathon is the one race where runners have to run a pretty elusive qualifying time to be eligible to run in it. And Fatina, according to Marathonguide.com, hasn't run a marathon within the Boston qualifying period that began in September 2004.

Yes, the race organizer, the Boston Athletic Association, does have a back-door entry method for runners raising money for charities.

But one thing is for sure. Fatina isn't entered in the 2006 Boston Marathon.

The BAA is still accepting applications, but I ran with a group of guys yesterday who were running their final 20-miler in preparation for the Boston race.

What are you waiting for, Fatina?

Ms. Abdrabboh is a winner of Ankle Biting Pundits coveted "Buffoon of the Week" award.

A peril of talking in your sleep: A divorce

Interpretations vary widely on this issue, but among some Muslims, it's believed that if the husband utters "I divorce you" three times in succession to his wife, she is then an ex-wife.

Women in Islam don't have the same rights in dissolving marriages.

According to Islam Online, a man uttered "I divorce you" three times in his sleep. Local Muslim clerics told the couple, who have been married 11 years and have 3 kids to separate.

They haven't. And other clerics say they aren't divorced.

It's been commented by many within and outside of Islam that the faith needs a reformation. The divorce laws might be a good place to start.

Ryan trial judge: Trial may not be able to continue

As you can see on the previous posts, Federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer dismissed the two jurors from the George Ryan panel because they apparently lied about their criminal records when filling out their juror questionnaires last fall.

Two alternates will join the jury. But the judge is unsure the trial can continue.

From CBS 2 Chicago:

Pallmeyer said pointedly that there had been "a very significant investment both public and private" in the trial that by any yardstick has cost millions of dollars to hold.

"If we can proceed with this case fairly, if we can continue and continue with the jury and for them to deliberate fairly, that's what my goal would be," Pallmeyer said. "If I can proceed in a process that makes me comfortable, then that's what I intend to do."

She said however that to get deliberations going again, she would have to replace the dismissed jurors with alternates -- something defense attorneys say would violate Ryan's rights.

George H. Ryan is the former Governor of Illinois. A Republican from Kankakee, Ryan, along with lobbyist Larry Warner, is on trial for various corruption and racketeering charges.

Before he was governor, Ryan was secretary of state. Dozens of SOS employees were convicted of various graft charges, mainly for selling drivers' licenses to unqualified applicants. Several secretary of state leases and contracts were later to be discovered to be sweetheart deals. Ryan allegedly received free trips from wealthy campaign contributors, which he didn't report as income.

Of course, Ryan is probably best known as the man who commuted all 167 death sentences in Illinois to life-in-prison. That deed got George an appearance on the Oprah Show shortly after he left office, as well as international renown for his deed.

Illinoisans, particularly Republicans, have a less fond recollection of the one-time Kankakee pharmacist.

Without a doubt, George Ryan made the Illinois Republican Party what it is today.

Ex-Gov. Ryan objects to substitution of jurors

From ABC 7 Chicago:

The two jurors said on questionnaires before the start of the five- and- a- half month trial that they had never been charged with, or accused of a crime. However, public records have since shown that one of the jurors was convicted of drunk driving in the mind 90s and the second juror has a history of drug-related arrests, although she was never convicted.

Two of the alternates on the Ryan-Warner jury were seen entering the Dirksen Federal Building Monday morning. It is not clear if they will be seated on the jury.

Here is the former Illinois' governor statement:

Defendant George H. Ryan, Sr., by and through his attorneys, respectfully objects to the substitution of alternate jurors in the event the Court finds that one or more jurors are unable to perform or are disqualified from performing their duties. The substitution of alternates at this stage of deliberations would violate Ryan's Sixth Amendment right to trial by a fair and impartial jury, would therefore constitute an abuse of the Court's discretion under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure ("Rule") 24(c)(3). That Rule has never been, nor was it ever intended to be, employed under circumstances such as those present here, where jurors have had the case under deliberation for two and a half weeks, during which time there have been numerous notes, questions, and indications of deadlock, all against the backdrop of pervasive media attention. Even if an alternate juror were able to avoid the substantial press and publicity surrounding deliberations, it is simply not possible or reasonable to expect that he or she could engage in meaningful, constitutionally required deliberations with jurors who have already spent two and a half weeks deliberating the case in detail."

My take? Ryan and his lawyers are bluffing.

George Ryan trial jurors not deliberating today

The jury--or what's left of it--was sent home by the judge in the trial. The defense attorneys for the former Ill. governor are meeting with that judge now.

Ryan is getting free legal counsel--$10 million worth--from the prestigious Winston & Strawn law firm.

Do you think the firm wants a retrial?

George Ryan jury deliberations to resume this morning

Well, that's the plan, anyway. There are no indications that the judge, Rebecca Pallmeyer, will declare a mistrial.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Scene from a 20 mile run


I took this photo this morning on the Chicago Lakefront Running Path at 39th Street with my Motoroa V3 RAZR phone. I was 14 miles into my 20 mile run.

North Side Chicagoans tend to look down on the South Siders, but one thing is for sure: The best view of Chicago's skyline is from this spot.

Much of my run this morning parallels the course of the Gay Games Marathon, a subject I will visit this week.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Moron Prince Charles

Wow, here is an Associated Press article that really hammers a good point home.

And I don't write stuff like that very often. I have a lot more about Prince Charles and his appeasement tour in the following post.

An excerpt from the AP story:

Prince Charles took his message of religious tolerance Saturday to an Islamic university that follows Saudi Arabia's strict Wahhabi school of the faith, but he made no mention of the lack of religious freedoms in the country.

Because of the strict segregation of the sexes in Saudi Arabia, Charles and his wife Camilla had to carry out separate functions on Saturday. Camilla visited the first women's charity to be set up in the kingdom, admiring traditionally embroidered dresses and watching a trainee give a haircut to a colleague.

Wow, she watched a woman give a haircut to another woman! I'm sure her mind wandered to the good old days when she was the mistress to the Prince of Wales. All fun, no boredom. Well, I'm sure there was some pre-marital boredom with Charles.

Here is the exclamation point of the AP article:

In its annual Report on International Religious Freedom issued in November, the State Department listed ally Saudi Arabia and Iran as countries of "particular concern" for their hostility to any religion other than their versions of Islam. Every citizen of Saudi Arabia must be Muslim, the report said, and religious freedom is neither recognized nor protected under Saudi law.

Let's hope the notoriously feisty British press slugs Charles hard over his recent comments made in the Middle East--or lack of comments.

Steyn is fine as always, Prince Charles a twit


Via Michelle Malkin's blog, I found the latest Mark Steyn column in the Orange County Register. I'm accustomed to finding it first in the Chicago Sun-Times.

I thought I was the only one to catch this item, but Steyn, in a column mostly about Afghan Christian convert Abdul Rahman, found great irony in the recent comments by that famous English twit, Prince Charles.

My post Thursday post on the subject is here.

Here's is Steyn's take on Charles:

As always, we come back to the words of Osama bin Laden: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." That's really the only issue: The Islamists know our side have tanks and planes, but they have will and faith, and they reckon in a long struggle that's the better bet. Most prominent Western leaders sound way too eager to climb into the weak-horse suit and audition to play the rear end. Consider, for example, the words of the Prince of Wales, speaking a few days ago at al-Azhar University in Cairo, which makes the average Ivy League nuthouse look like a beacon of sanity. Anyway, this is what His Royal Highness had to say to 800 Islamic "scholars":

"The recent ghastly strife and anger over the Danish cartoons shows the danger that comes of our failure to listen and to respect what is precious and sacred to others. In my view, the true mark of a civilized society is the respect it pays to minorities and to strangers."

That's correct. But the reality is that our society pays enormous respect to minorities - President Bush holds a monthlong Ramadan-a-ding-dong at the White House every year. The immediate reaction to the slaughter of 9/11 by Western leaders everywhere was to visit a mosque to demonstrate their great respect for Islam. One party to this dispute is respectful to a fault: after all, to describe the violence perpetrated by Muslims over the Danish cartoons as the "recent ghastly strife" barely passes muster as effete Brit toff understatement.

Unfortunately, what's "precious and sacred" to Islam is its institutional contempt for others. In his book "Islam And The West," Bernard Lewis writes, "The primary duty of the Muslim as set forth not once but many times in the Quran is 'to command good and forbid evil.' It is not enough to do good and refrain from evil as a personal choice. It is incumbent upon Muslims also to command and forbid." Or as the Canadian columnist David Warren put it: "We take it for granted that it is wrong to kill someone for his religious beliefs. Whereas Islam holds it is wrong not to kill him." In that sense, those imams are right, and Karzai's attempts to finesse the issue are, sharia-wise, wrong.

Charles' suck-up tour took him to Saudi Arabia on Saturday, as the Arab News informs us.

Meanwhile on the Charles front, since 2003 Daniel Pipes has been keeping a running log entitled, Is Prince Charles a Convert to Islam?

My take? Probably not. An apologist for Islamic intolerance? Yes.

Leaders of the Baltic States denounce Belarus elections, look for "our Reagan"

The three Baltic States, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, are EU and NATO members. So it should be no surprise that the leaders of these nations have condemned the recent Belarus presidential elections. The Balts suffered terribly during the decades of Soviet rule there.

The countries remember tyranny, they're enjoying freedom now.

Latvia and Lithuania both border Belarus.

From the Baltic Times:

Leaders of all three Baltic states expressed their strong disapproval of the Belarusian presidential election, which resulted in the incumbent Aleksandr Lukashenko mustering 82 percent of the vote. Baltic politicians slammed the poll as undemocratic and non-transparent.

President Valdas Adamkus was quoted in a press release as saying, "Just like the rest of the world, I was surprised by the number of detained election campaign participants, the monopoly on the media and intimidating statements by representatives of the administration. Is that how state leaders should be elected in Europe in the 21st century?"

Here's what one Lithuanian member of parliament had to say:

MP Egidijus Vareikis opined that, while playing by Lukashenko rules, it was not worth considering that any other candidate would win. He drew a parallel to former U.S.-president Ronald Reagan and his strong stance toward the Soviet Union.

"But where’s our Reagan in this case?" he asked rhetorically.

Friday, March 24, 2006

More breaking news in ex-Gov George Ryan trial: Questions surrounding 2nd juror

Honey, I shrunk the jury!

Well, I might be premature with that statement, but the Chicago Tribune is reporting tonight that a cloud is developing around a second juror on the panel of the George Ryan trial.

The former Illinois governor is on trial, along with lobbyist Larry Warner, for various corruption and racketeering charges.

See the posts below this one on the problems facing another member of that jury.

From the Chicago Tribune (free registration required):

Further record searches Friday linked the name of a female juror to an alias. The woman with that alias faced felony drug charges, as well as misdemeanor child neglect and assault charges, records show. She was not convicted of these charges, the records show.

The female juror linked to that alias stated on a jury questionnaire before the trial that she had never been charged or accused of a crime.

A number of public records -- from bankruptcy filings to land transactions -- appear to show that the juror and the woman with several arrests are the same person.

It is unclear what impact the revelation of a second juror apparently shielding past brushes with the law would have on the deliberations in the 5-month-old public corruption trial.

Judge Pallmeyer has promised to reveal the results of her investigation in regards to the other juror, who made his life much more complicated by apparently answering "no" to these queries on his juror questionnaire:

Have you had any good of bad experiences with the Illinois Secretary of State's Office or any other state governmental agency?

Have you, or has any close friend of relative ever been charged with or accused of a crime?

Previous posts on this subject:

Ryan trial DUI juror update

Breaking news: Gov. Ryan trial juror hid '95 DUI conviction

George Ryan case: Mistrial?

This will be the major story next week in Illinois. Nationally it'll be big too, considering former Ill. Gov. George Ryan is well known for his commuting all Ill. death penalty to life-in-prison in 2003.

From CBS 2 Chicago:

The allegations against the juror are that he lied on a questionnaire about whether he or a close friend had ever been convicted of a crime, and as CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, the fallout from that allegation has thrown the trial into an uproar.

There is a question of whether defense attorneys might now ask for a mistrial. They cannot comment on the subject due to a gag order in the case, but defense attorneys were overheard saying the word "mistrial" as they went into a closed-door meeting Friday.

But juror consultant Theresa Zagnoli said, "I think the safest thing the judge can do is dismiss the juror."

Ryan’s defense attorneys are extremely upset that a juror apparently lied to the court during jury selection about convictions of felony drunken driving conviction and weapon possession.

Bring back the punch card ballots?


Tuesday there was a primary election in Illinois. About 40% of Illinois' population lives in Cook County, as do I.

Cook County debuted it's new voting machines for this election. For the last thirty years, voters in America's second-most populous county used the punch card system to exercise their franchise.

After the 2000 punch card ballot debacle in Florida, Cook County began exploring replacing the punch card system.

(Here's a little-known fact: portions of the 2000 Cook County ballot even used a butterfly ballot, the type of ballot that caused enormous confusion in Palm Beach County, Florida.)

Six years after the 2000 election, Cook has new voting equipment. Not just one type, but two: touch screen and optical scan.

When I presented myself to the election judges on Tuesday at Morton Grove's 99th precinct, I told them I wanted to use the touch screen ballot. (The optical scan ballots reminded me too much of stressful exams I took during my school days.)

Sorry, Mr. Ruberry, it's not working. You have to use the optical scan ballot.

So I did, the judge handed me the necessary voting pen, and I was done in five minutes.

The vote counters in Cook County are not done. Three days after the voting ended, only 88% of the ballots have been counted. As far as I can gather, the missing 12% won't sway results enough to change the projected winners in Cook County of the rest of Illinois.

A disgraceful situation.

According to media reports, the primary cause of the tabulation snafu is the inability of election judges to combine the totals of the optical scan and touch screen machines.

Cook County Clerk David Orr, who is in charge of suburban Cook's elections is blaming the vendor, Sequoia Voting Systems. Sequoia is blaming inadequate training of judges.

The County has the upper hand in this battle, since it has paid Sequoia only $8 million of a $26 million contract.

Hopefully in the next seven-and-a-half months before the general election, all the bugs will be worked out with the new equipment. If not, did the County throw away all those punch card machines?

Back to Florida and that refrain we heard in 2000:

But the first thing we need to do is count all the votes!

Ryan trial DUI juror update

The Chicago Tribune has a lot more this morning on the "DUI juror" in the trial of former Ill. Governor George Ryan. Based on this latest story, it's impossible to believe that the juror forgot about his behind-the-wheel convictions. His license was revoked six years ago, that revocation is set to expire next year.

Free registration may be required:

Court records that match the juror's name show an arrest for drunken driving on Nov. 7, 1994, in Palatine. There was a guilty plea on July 25, 1995, in that case and a sentence of 60 days in jail and 30 months of probation imposed, according to the records. It was unclear if any time was served in jail.

In February 1996, the same man was charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and with violating probation, records show.

In October 1996, those charges were reduced to misdemeanors, and the judge did not impose a jail term.

The Tribune has learned of three other drunk driving arrests by this juror.

From 1991 to 1999, George Ryan was Illinois' Secretary of State. That office issues driver's' licenses--and revokes them.

Breaking news: Gov. Ryan trial juror hid '95 DUI conviction

From my last Ryan post:

It looks like there is a developing story in the George Ryan trial.

And it will be developing into who knows what later today.

The Chicago Tribune has a great scoop tonight in its online edition. Yes, free registration may be required.

A federal judge launched an investigation into a juror in the George Ryan trial Thursday hours after the Tribune reported to court officials that public records appear to show the man had hidden a felony DUI conviction from the court during jury selection.

The revelation cast a shadow over the historic prosecution of the former governor, and could potentially lead to a motion for a mistrial or form grounds for the juror's dismissal with deliberations already underway.

Court records matching the suburban juror's name and other identifying information show a conviction for aggravated drunken driving-a felony-while Ryan was secretary of state in 1995.

In a sworn questionnaire filled out by potential jurors before the trial's start last September, the juror answered "no" when asked if he, a close friend or relative had ever been charged or accused of a crime.

The Tribune also reports that someone with the juror's same name had his driving privileges revoked or suspended several times during Ryan's tenure as Secretary of State.

In Illinois, the majority of what the Secretary of State's office is responsible for is what the Department of Motor Vehicles does in many other states.

The Trib isn't naming the juror since doing so would place the newspaper directly on an ethical landmine, but his name will quickly get out, you can be assured.

And he'll be regretting not marking "yes" on his juror questionnaire when asked if he, a relative, or a close friend had ever been accused of a crime.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wal-blogging: Sushi, expensive wine, and sales tax revenue

This article appeared in yesterday's Chicago Tribune. I've been meaning to do a post on it since then, but Tuesday's local primary election and its fallout have preoccupied me.

Free registration may be required to view the Tribune article.

Plano, Texas is a well-to-do town north of Dallas. And a new Wal-Mart store opened there this week.

And the new store is offering more than "Always Low Prices."

From the Tribune article:

In its boldest effort yet to target upscale shoppers, the nation's largest retailer is opening a new store this week with an expanded selection of high-end electronics, more fine jewelry, hundreds of types of wine ranging up to $500 a bottle, and even a sushi bar.

Wal-Mart says it won't duplicate this format anywhere else. But if plasma TVs, microbrewery beer and fancy balsamic vinegar sell in Plano, those items could be added to stores in other affluent communities.

Time for Macy's to get nervous?

Oh, I'm sure the new Plano store sells a lot of stuff you can find at traditional Wal-Marts. There certainly is a music section, and after a trip to the sushi bar, a shopper can head over there, and purchase the Best of The Tubes 1981-1987, and groove to such tunes as Sushi Girl.

Su-su-sushi (sushi girl)
Mushi-mushi (sushi girl)
Cherry blossom (sushi girl) and rice
Su-su-sushi she’s so nice

Su-su-sushi don’t you cry
Take you to the sushi bar and buy you some
Fillet and claw
Clam and tuna
Gonna eat it raw
She’s my my abaluna

Marshall Manson of Edelman PR sent me this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (No he didn't send me the Tubes lyrics.)

The southern suburbs of Atlanta have some poverty stricken areas. And rather than block Wal-Mart from entering the area, the residents of DeKalb County south of Atlanta are embracing the retailing giant.

From the Journal-Constitution:

DeKalb Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones said new Wal-Mart's location off I-20 will also attract shoppers from outside the county, putting sales-tax revenue in county coffers.

Jones also believes people in the community should welcome the new supercenter, especially because of what it replaced.

"I think it's obvious what people would like, if they have a choice between a dilapidated, crack-infested old building with no jobs versus a thriving retail box with supporting retail shops, providing jobs and services and improving the property value," he said. "I think it's a no-brainer."

About sales tax revenue: It was this Marathon Pundit post that brought my blog to the attention of Edelman.

24,000 Chicagoans apply to work at suburban Wal-Mart
And Chicago has just one Wal-Mart. Two years ago, Chicago's city council turned down a plan to allow a Wal-Mart to open on Chicago's South Side, not too far away from the store that will open Friday in adjacent Evergreen Park. That suburb, not Chicago, will reap in significant sales tax revenue.

Unions, Jesse Jackson and the usual suspects chased away the South Side Wal-Mart. Ordinary Chicagoans seem unfazed by the "boogey-man" reputation the Left has heaped on Wal-Mart, according the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to John Bisio, regional manager of public affairs for the retail giant, there were 24,500 applicants for positions at the new Wal-Mart. All but 500 listed a Chicago home address.

Obviously, these Chicagoans don't care about the High Cost of Low Price.

The final link goes to the hit-job of a movie about Wal-Mart that came out last fall.

Rob "Meathead" Reiner liked it, though. He also liked Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.

Californian held in bizarre Bolivian bombing case


A presumably very troubled man from the small northern California town of Placerville is being held by Bolivian authorities for allegedly setting off bombs at several hotels in the South American nation.

At first glance, the accused, Triston Jay Amero--also known as Claudio Lestat--would be able to supply enough material for a weeklong conference of psychiatrists. At second glance, perhaps a month's worth.

From the Sacramento Bee, (free reg. required):

Bolivian police were puzzling Thursday over the possible motives of a former Placerville resident accused of killing two people and wounding at least seven by setting off bombs in Bolivian hotels. He described himself as a Saudi Arabian lawyer, a pagan reverend, even a vampire, having adopted the name of the main character in Anne Rice’s dark novels.

Triston Jay Amero, 24, ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the El Dorado Union High School District Board in 2002. Amero, who listed his occupation with the El Dorado County Elections office as a "Clergyman/process server," lost during the June 2002 election, having only garnered 5.56 percent of the vote, according to Bee archives.

In Bolivia, Amero said he was running from the law in California, where he served time in juvenile prisons, and has tried for years to renounce his U.S. citizenship while wandering around South America on a shoestring, looking for women - and getting into more trouble. He said he was jailed in Argentina where authorities said he tried to bomb an ATM machine.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's also revealed that Amero/Lestat also has an interest in the criminal career of Ted Kacyzinksi.

Hat tip to our man in Northern California, Third Wave Dave.

UPDATE 8:05PM CST: Dave has a picture of Lestat on his site, linked above. Wall Street Cafe points out the power of blogging by directing me to this Chilean newspaper site, which published a picture, a more frightening one, of Amero/Lestat.

George Ryan trial judge investigating juror on personal matter

It looks like there is a developing story in the George Ryan trial.

From the Chicago Tribune (free registration required):

The federal judge presiding over the trial of former Gov. George Ryan announced this afternoon that she is investigating a personal matter involving a juror in the case.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer declined to reveal anything about the investigation but said she dismissed the jury, in its eighth day of deliberations, to pursue the matter.

Pallmeyer stressed that the investigation is not related to two notes she received from jurors this week that stated they are having personal difficulties with deliberations.

The judge is keeping the subject of the investigation under seal, but what it's all about will be revealed "no later than Monday morning."

Ill. 6th District Dems: Don't Rahm candidates down our throats

Previous posts on this subject:

Congressional race to watch this fall: Illinois' 6th District
Durbin on election night on Bush, Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth's candidacy

Chicago area residents tend to be clannish and suspicious of outsiders. And more so than other people, they don't like to be told what to do. Or how to vote.

Tammy Duckworth, an Iraqi war veteran and double amputee barely won Tuesday's primary for the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Peter Roskam in Illinois' 6th District.

Duckworth doesn't live in the district, and had a lot of outsiders, such as John Kerry, Hillary Clinton--as well as nationally known Illinoisans such as Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, and Chicago Congressman Rahm Emanuel promoting her candidacy.

Rahm Emanuel is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; in short he's in charge of getting more Democrats elected to Congress.

Duckworth received 44% of the vote, followed closely by Christine Cegelis, who came close to defeating longtime 6th District Congressman Henry Hyde in 2004.

Lindy Scott finished third on Tuesday.

Don't look for a Rahm Appreciation Day in Chicago's western suburbs any time soon.

From the Chicago Tribune (free registration may be required):

The close primary reflected Cegelis' many supporters who had stuck with her since her first race and bristled at Duckworth's late entry and massive push from leaders such as U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

York Township Democratic Party Chairman Doug Cole said the 40 or more precinct committeemen in his township who supported Cegelis or Scott may vote for Duckworth in the fall because "we can't stand Roskam," but they're unlikely to work for her campaign.

Duckworth lives in the neighboring 8th District, and her campaign was the product of "top-down politics as foisted upon us by Rahm Emanuel. Not only do they not need us, they don't want us, so we'll take the message," Cole said.

Scott wished Duckworth well Wednesday but said he was "disappointed by the uneven playing field" in terms of money and media attention that confronted him and Cegelis.

Day 8 of deliberations over in George Ryan trial--still no verdict

Another day and no verdict in the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan. The jurors won't reconvene until Monday. They have a lot of soul searching to do. Not only do they need to reach a verdict, but they have to begin getting along with each other. And they need, I guess, to behave as proper jurors.

The judge for the trial, Rebecca Pallmeyer, released to the press the statement she gave to the 12 jurors.

From CBS 2 Chicago:

Dear Jurors,

You 12 are the jurors selected to decide this case. In your deliberations I expect you to treat your fellow jurors with dignity and respect.

As I understand from your notes, you may be having some difficulties during your deliberations. As I told you earlier you have two duties as the jury.

Your first duty is to decide the facts from the evidence in the case. This is your job and yours alone. Your second duty is to apply the law that I give you to the facts.

You must follow these instructions, even if you disagree with them. Each of the instructions is important, and you must follow all of them.

Finally, I remind you that any deliberations in this case must be conducted only in the jury room among all of you.

Private discussions about this case outside the jury room among any smaller groups is a violation of your sworn duty.

Yours Truly,
Rebecca Pallmeyer

German state might quiz potential Muslim immigrants on holocaust, will show racy film

Last week the Netherlands announced that would-be Muslim immigrants to Holland would have to watch a film showing topless women and two gay men kissing each other.

If they viewers can't tolerate the images, they don't get into Holland.

According to Islam Online.net, the southern German state of Hessen is proposing to expand on the Dutch idea, by adding a question and answer session to its immigration screening process including queries about Israel and the holocaust. The Hessen proposal, still awaiting approval from Berlin, may be adopted by other German states.

From Islam Online:

"What do you know about the Holocaust? Define Israel's right to exist? Are you offended when you see two homos kissing one another?"...etc. These are some of the questions in a racy test would-be immigrants in Germany may have to sit in for, also including watching sex scenes.

More...
"Some Muslim countries apply death penalty over aspects in day-to-day life that we consider normal," said Stephan Mayer, member of the CUP (Christian Union Party).

He cited short skirts and homosexual acts in public as examples of normal behavior in Germany.

Norbert Geis, a fellow party member, echoed a similar stance.

"Bathing naked in public may draw criticism. But something like this should be accepted (by immigrants) in Germany," Geis said.

There is a smattering of opposition about the immigration proposal from all over the German political map in Germany, particularly about the sex stuff.

There have been calls in the West for Europe to stand up and be proud of its heritage and its immeasurable contributions to civilization. I'm pretty sure showing DVD clips of topless babes to Muslims was not what those voices had in mind, but hey, it's a start.

March Madness at FrontPage Magazine

FrontPage Magazine is having its own March Madness tournament to decide who is America's worst professor.

Free registration is required.

Michael Bérubé, an English professor at Penn State University (he was formerly at my alma mater, the University of Illinois) is leading the pack, and the strength of his effort has vaulted Penn State into first place in the teacompetitionon.

Good news for Penn State, since it's usually a bystander in that "other" March Madness.

Regular visitors to Marathon Pundit will recognize quite a few of the names in the elite field of awfulness.

Among the profs I've blogged about in the tournament are Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, Sami al-Arian, Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, Ron (Maulana) Karenga, and Mark LeVine.

Chicago's DePaul University, one of my favorite blogging subjects, has two entrants in the tournement: Norman Finkelstein and Aminah Beverly McCloud.

Good luck. And may the worst professor win!

George Ryan trial update: Impasse

The jury in the George Ryan corruption trial resumed deliberations about a half an hour ago.

There is some sort of impasse, and of course rumors that the trial will end up with a hung jury are growing.

The disagreements among the jury seem to be based on personal issues, according to the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune (free registration required).

From the Trib:

On Tuesday, a TV producer stationed outside Pallmeyer's courtroom overheard a juror tell other jurors as they boarded a public elevator that the name-calling had to stop.


There was a "Fitzmas" sighting yesterday, as the Tribune reported:

The seriousness of the impasse was apparent when U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald and First Assistant U.S. Atty. Gary Shapiro waited outside the courtroom for a lengthy period as lawyers in the case met privately in chambers with the judge for more than an hour.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Teleconference Thursday on how public relations people can tap the blogosphere

Three weeks ago I had a long post on how Wal-Mart's public relations firm was seeking out bloggers it viewed as sympathetic to the retail giant--including this blogger--and tipping them off to new stories they can blog about if they wish.

On Thursday Bulldog Reporter's PR University will have a teleconference on how public relations professionals can utilize the blogosphere to get their messages out.

From their website:

What to do when a blogger sandbags your company, news or CEO? What's the smartest--and most fruitful--way to build long-term relationships with bloggers in your space? How can you best track what's being said about you or your company online--and what are the "new rules" for reaching and influencing blogs read by the stakeholders you want to reach? Join Bulldog Reporter's PR University for an exclusive panel of top media bloggers and the PR experts who successfully pitch them to earn the answers to these and many more critical questions designed to demystify the blogosphere. You'll walk away with practical tools and tactics for successfully incorporating blog outreach into your communications strategy.

Your Presenters:
Shel Israel, Co-Author, "Naked Conversations"
Alice Marie Marshall, Owner, Presto Vivace, Inc
Tom Foremski, Editor, Publisher, founder, Silicon Valley Watcher
Jeremy Pepper, Group Manager and Online Communications Specialist, Weber Shandwick
Moderator:
Brian Pittman, Director of Content, Bulldog Reporter's PR University

Why you--and everyone on your team--should attend this PR University training session:

Many in PR still haven't figured out how to approach blogs--much less tap their awesome power and influence. Simply put, many communicators seem reluctant to approach these online pundits--and with good reason: An influential blogger could derail your company news, product launch or expert's credibility without so much as a second thought.

On the other hand, a favorable review in a key blog could give your idea the stamp of approval traditional media often needs to see before it can take the story to mainstream America. The bottom line is this: Internet buzz is critical to protecting your brand--and blogs represent an often overlooked (yet key) component of making sure your online strategies support the reputation you've worked so hard to create.

Audio Conference at a Glance
Date: Thursday, March 23, 2005
Time: 1PM EST; Noon CST; 11AM MST; 10AM PST
Place: Your telephone or speakerphone
Cost: $279 per dial-in site (unlimited attendance per dial-in site)
To register: Click here or call 1-800-959-1059

The good news: You can now leave the guesswork behind and confidently incorporate advanced--blog relations--into your arsenal of communications tools. Join our exclusive panel of top bloggers and cutting edge PR pros who successfully pitch bloggers day in and day out for a practical training session designed to demystify the blogger mindset, today’s best blog-pitching practices and turn you and your team into blog PR experts.

Don't waste your money on this one.

For starters...

There is this sentence:

An influential blogger could derail your company news, product launch or expert's credibility without so much as a second thought.

I'm sure the public relations staff at DePaul University would disagree with me, but I try to be very fair in my criticism. So do other bloggers who give a damn. Coincidentally, the responsible bloggers have the highest readership. Why is that? Bloggers who mislead their visitors soon have fewer site hits.

Only two of the four presenters are bloggers, and only Foremski's blog Silicon Valley Watcher is any good.

As opposed to $279, here is my 2 cents. A business that does something stupid, unethical, or illegal should beware of the bloggers. If you get caught, confess and move on.

And treat bloggers with the same respect you'd give to a mainstream media reporter.

Please deposit your 2 cents in my PayPal account.

Lesson over.

Juror removed from Lodi terror trial

Apparently there is another high profile case experiencing difficulties. (See previous post.) The big trial I'm referring to is Hamid Hayat's terror case in Lodi, CA.

Dave Logan, aka Third Wave Dave reports that juror Andrea Clabaugh has been removed from the panel because she disclosed that years ago she dated a deputy sheriff.

No big deal....

But this is what Clabaugh told the Sacramento (free registration required) Bee:

Beyond a reasonable doubt hasn't been proven at this point," Clabaugh, 39, said in a hallway interview with reporters.

The government is nearing the end of its case.

Prosecution of the 23-year-old Hayat is built primarily on a videotaped admission to FBI agents that he attended a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and initially lied about it when questioned by agents, and on secretly recorded conversations he had with Naseem Khan, an FBI informant.

"I felt like he was being badgered" by FBI agents, Clabaugh said of the confession. "I felt like he was giving them information because they refused to believe he didn't know anything. It seemed like he was fed names by the agents. It didn't seem like Hamid actually volunteered anything."

The most surprising revelation of the trial has been the testimony by Khan that al-Qaeda's second-in-command, erstwhile pediatrician Ayman Al-Zawahiri, lived in Lodi in the 1990s, although the defense disputes that allegation.

Ryan trial: Jurors having "difficulties"

The jurors in the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan have been deliberating for eight days. According to the Chicago (free registration may be required) Tribune, jurors sent a note to the trial judge explaining they're having "difficulties" during the deliberations. The judge did not say what those difficulties were.

In short, don't look for a verdict today.

Congressional race to watch this fall: Illinois' 6th District

Longtime Republican Congressman Henry Hyde, best known for his role as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee during the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings, is retiring after 32 years representing his suburban Chicago district.

In 2004, Hyde's Democratic opponent got 44% of the vote, the highest a Hyde challenger ever achieved.

Naturally the Democrats view the 6th as a good possibility to win a new seat for their side this fall. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin recruited Tammy Duckworth to run for the Democratic nomination in the 6th District. Tammy is an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in action while co-piloting a Blackhawk helicopter. Her right arm was also shattered.

In addition to Durbin, Senators Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton came out for Duckworth in the primary.

Expect a lot of big names visiting Chicago's suburbs this fall stumping for Duckworth.

But Duckworth won't be expecting a cake walk. Her Republican opponent, Peter Roskam, has a $1 million war chest. Duckworth has some baggage--she doesn't live in the district. The epithet "carpetbagger" was tossed at her during the campaign.

UPDATE 8:46PM CST: Brainster has his own insightful analysis of the Duckworth contest.

Topinka gets GOP nod

Judy Baar Topinka will face off against incumbent Democrat Rod Blagojevich in the race for Illinois' governor this fall.

It'll be an entertaining contest, both candidates are known to make unusual comments on a regular basis.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Topinka gives pep talk, Oberweis more reserved

Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka just gave a speech, not a victory speech, really more a pep-talk. The Riverside Republican I thought did a good job, but the Fox 32 staff panned her.

It looks like Judy is going to win, but it's a bit early to know for sure.

Jim Oberweis gave a speech about 15 minutes later. He didn't sound too confident.

Joe Birkett, who I've had the pleasure of meeting, will be the Republican Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, he defeated State Senator Steve Rauschenberger.

Results are coming in slow tonight. The new voting machines being used in Cook County, where Chicago is, are getting the blame.

The power of blogging: Rich Miller on Fox Chicago.

Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax Blog just appeared on Fox 32. He noted that he's been publishing his Capital Fax newsletter for years, but it was his blog that got him noticed by Fox Chicago--and so he got his first election night analysis gig tonight.

Lincoln and Churchill defeated in 8th District Republican primary

I couldn't resist the headline. David McSweeney is the winner in the Northwest Suburban 8th Congressional District. He'll face first-term rep Melissa Bean in November.

From the Daily Herald:

With 73 percent of precincts reporting the vote totals were as follows:

• 38 percent for McSweeney

• 30 percent for Kathy Salvi

• 25 percent for Robert Churchill, a state senator.

• 4 percent for Aaron Lincoln, a Wauconda attorney

• 2 percent for Gurnee anti-tax activist Ken Arnold

•1 percent for James Mitchell, a former Lake County Board member

Oberweis is optimistic

West suburban dairy businessman Jim Oberweis is doing--so far--better than expected tonight in his quest to become the Republican Party's nominee for Governor of Illinois. Judy Baar Topinka, the state treasurer, is the favorite tonight.

J. Matt Barber was just on Fox 32 Chicago talking up Obi, he's Oberweis' press secretary.

Barber's best known outside the state as the man who lost his job last year allegedly because of a column he wrote critical of the homosexual lifestyle.

Matt has since filed suit against Allstate.

Durbin on election night on Bush, Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth's candidacy

Heard this on WLS-AM radio just now. Senator Dick Durbin, responding to a question about the president's press conference today.

"...he virtually has no plan to stabilize Iraq and no strategy for getting our troops home."

Durbin, along with other prominent Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Illinois' other senator, Barack Obama, have endorsed Iraqi war veteran Tammy Duckworth in her bid to become the Democratic nominee in Illinois' 6th Congressional District. Republican Henry Hyde, who has represented the area for over 30 years, is retiring.

If Duckworth wins, expect an enormous amount of national attention to be focused on this contest.

It many ways, a fall race with Duckworth as the Democratic nominee will parallel last year's Ohio contest between Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett, a Democrat running in a Republican district. Hackett lost a close election.

Illinois' 6th District is not as conservative as it once was, but it's still viewed as a Republican district.

Republican State Senator Peter Roskam is running in the Republican primary in the 6th Congressional District.